Benitez insists all is well with Chelsea board
Composite photo of Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez during his press conference at Stoke d'Abernon. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
Soccer: Rafael Benitez has insisted he has no issue with the Chelsea board, that his job title is not a concern and that his criticism of fans were designed to encourage a unified backing of his team.
Benitez appeared to backtrack from some of his comments made earlier this week in which he criticised the decision to give him the 'interim' title and the supporters' continued barracking of him.
"I didn't have any problem with the board," he said. "I didn't have any problem with Michael Emenalo (the technical director). I didn't have any problems with Roman Abramovich (the owner). I don't have a problem with the players. What I want to do is the best for the team, the best for the club.
"I have been for 26 years training and coaching and always I have had principles, respect and education. It's the way that I have achieved what I've achieved. We have 11 games to play. If we stick together, it will be easier and we can get more points. I would like to see a fantastic atmosphere supporting the team, and I will be really pleased with that."
Following Wednesday's FA Cup win at Middlesbrough, Benitez said the decision to appoint him as 'interim manager' was "a mistake".
"It's not an issue now," Benitez said. "I said before... One thing's a mistake. Another's an issue. Now it's not an issue. In my head, I am the manager. I have to manage the team. The title doesn't matter. The Champions League is a big title. "I just concentrate on my job. That's fine, okay."
Due to his prior association with Liverpool, Benitez was never a popular appointment in west London and has regularly been the subject of the fans' ire.
Benitez on Wednesday confirmed he will leave at the end of the season, with his target still a place in the top four and Champions League football next term, and insisted the timing of his comments was devised to encourage the supporters to back their side.
"I will finish my contract until the end and I don't want to be a distraction," he said. "What I want to say to everyone is that if they concentrate and support the team, it will be easier."
Benitez, who has met Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay in each of the past two days, pointed to the positive atmosphere in the wins over Napoli, which took place last season, and in January against Arsenal, which spurred the team on, and asked for that backing to return.
"The best for my team is to have a very good atmosphere behind them, players feeling the support," he said. "Against Napoli they were running an extra mile. Feeling the support against Arsenal, they were running an extra mile. I was trying to explain that if we stick together it will be easier."