Besieged Rafa defends rant

Besieged Rafa Benitez has defended his outburst at Chelsea's fans, insisting he was acting in the club's best interests.

Last Updated: 01/03/13 at 16:06 Post Comment

Benitez is set to face renewed fury from the home supporters at Stamford Bridge on Saturday after an angry post-match interview at Middlesbrough during which he claimed their disaffection towards him was damaging the club.

The Spaniard, who has faced vociferous abuse from large sections of the support since he replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November, also hit out at the Chelsea hierarchy for giving him the title of "interim" manager.

But, ahead of the visit of West Brom, he used his pre-match press conference to try and rally supporters - as well as insist his relationship with the board remained strong.

"If you analyse carefully what I said, I was trying to explain that we have 11 games to play - that means 33 points," Benitez said.

"If we stick together behind the team it will be easier for us to get points. Fans can express their feelings but I would like to see a fantastic atmosphere supporting the team.

"I think that the fans are really important for the team. If you remember the atmosphere against Napoli or this year against Arsenal, it's a big difference when you have everybody behind the team pushing and pushing.

"The message was very clear. Together, it will be easier to win games to get points, to be in the top four, top three, or maybe top two. That was my idea. What I want to do is the best for the team and the best for the club."

Benitez refused to say whether or not he had been summoned by owner Roman Abramovich following his criticisms but denied suggestions he had burned any bridges.

"I don't have any problem with anyone. With the owner, the board, the players, Emenalo (Michael, technical director), nothing," Benitez added.

"I've been training and coaching for 26 years and always I have had respect and principles. I finish my contract until the end and I do not want to be a distraction."

He added: "I am part of the team, I need their support. I will do my best until the last day. This is the way I was taught at Real Madrid.

"In my head I am the manager and I have to manage the team. The title doesn't matter, if you win the Champions League that is a 'title' but I always concentrate on my job. It's fine, it's OK.

"I read that I have problems with Emenalo, with the board. Yesterday I was talking to him, he was saying it is cold and you are training in shorts. We had a conversation and we were talking about football.

"I have experience doing things with respect and dedication. I keep my passion. My ambition is to win two trophies."

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