Chelsea interim coach Rafael Benitez is looking forward to returning to Anfield for Sunday’s clash against Liverpool but says all he wants is a Blues win and to maintain their Premier League position.
The link between Benitez and Liverpool are part of the reason why the Spaniard is so unpopular amongst the Stamford Bridge faithful, as well as a few made up quotes from a Czech Liverpool fan and other things, so it will be an odd occasion as the manager in the away dugout at Anfield will probably receive a warmer reception from the home fans than the travelling support.
Benitez says he is unconcerned by his ties to the Reds and just wants to do his job, but admits that he is looking forward to being back in Merseyside.
He was quoted in the Evening Standard:
“Liverpool is where my family live now. I have been there for six years and have very good memories.
“I cannot hide that I am really pleased to be going there to see a lot of old friends. I have not been thinking too much about Sunday.
“The main thing is to stay in the top three and what I want is to win at Liverpool. And after, I wish them all the best and if they can win all their games until the end of the season, that will be fantastic.
“But as a professional, I am sure they will try to win and we will try to win.”
Chelsea are currently sitting in third place in the Premier League and would ideally like to stay there creating a buffer between themselves and fifth place and although the Blues have a tougher run than rivals Arsenal, the former Valencia coach believes his side have the quality to stay where they are.
“They are difficult matches but we have quality. If you ask them [Chelsea’s opponents] they will say it’s a difficult match because they are playing Chelsea.
“We must have confidence and belief and hopefully we can stay up there. The race for the top four will be until the end of the season.
“If we continue winning and they [Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton] keep on winning, those games against Tottenham and Everton will be even more important.”
Whether or not the remainder of the season proves to be successful or not Benitez will be leaving at the end of the season but it would serve his best interests to do as good a job as possible as he seeks employment elsewhere, especially as his last job at Inter Milan ended in disaster.
The Liverpool supporters may want to wind Chelsea fans up on Sunday by creating a Benitez love-in but I imagine that they hate the fact he’s at Chelsea and that will stick in their craw, especially if he beats them on his return.
Jose Mourinho is the bookies favourite to replace Benitez and Manuel Pellegrini’s odds have also been shortening amid recent speculation that the Chilean’s representatives have opened talks with Chelsea.