EPL: Rafa Benitez hints at Chelsea exit

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Rafa Benitez hints at Chelsea exit
London, Feb 27: Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez has hinted that he doesn't expect to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of this season.

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Benitez's short-term stint runs until the end of this season and the Spaniard seems to have given up hope of being the permamnent manager after fans backlash and poor results on the field.

Unpopular among supporters, poor results in the league and a recent rumour about unrest in the dressing room could have ended Benitez's hopes of extending his stay.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Chelsea's FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough on Wednesday night, Benitez dismissed reports of training ground bust-up with players after the 2-0 loss to Manchester City.

"You know, more or less, how things go in terms of what happens if you lose or win," Benitez said. "I have a job to do and the players are clever enough and realise they will be here next season with long contracts.

"I will be working hard until the end. We have to try to beat Middlesbrough and then move on. My job is to concentrate on the next game, not the speculation," he added.

Benitez reflected on Chelsea's recent failure since he replaced Roberto Di Matteo last November.

"I accept we have had some games where we had to do better. At Manchester City, we still had a penalty and two counter-attacks when we could have scored and made the difference, but we didn't play at the level we could play and that is my concern," he said.

"I think we have had a lot of games we could have won, two or three easily. Reading, where after 93 and a half minutes towards winning and we lost two points. We conceded two at Newcastle when we were ahead. You have to win those games.

"It's not a question of character. It's a question of mistakes, of attention, of a lack of concentration, but we fight till the end. Don't forget, this team finished sixth last year, we have to fight now for the top three," Benitez said.

Chelsea were down to fourth spot after London rivals Tottenham won at West Ham and the challenge for a Champions League spot has become more fierce between Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Last time out the Blues finished sixth in the table but were guaranteed a spot in the Champions League after claiming the title but there won't be any automatic qualification this season.

Chelsea are still in the FA Cup and the Europa League but their main target is qualifying for the Champions League. Benitez's side have to visit Liverpool and Manchester United while they host Tottenham and Everton in the remaining league games.

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