Benitez hints at Chelsea exit

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Rafael Benitez has hinted that he does not expect his role as interim Chelsea manager to be extended to a permanent position at the end of the season.

The Spaniard was an unpopular appointment following the departure of Champions League winning boss Roberto di Matteo in November, and has failed to transform the club's fortunes during his tenure.

Benitez has the lowest win percentage of any Chelsea manager in the Roman Abramovich era and reports of training ground arguments with senior players has further fuelled speculation that he will be let go in the summer.

Chelsea also appear in danger of missing out on a place in the Champions League having been leapfrogged by Tottenham in the Premier League, and Benitez admits history would seem to suggest his time with the Blues could be up come May.

And, although the former Liverpool boss denied reports of a rift in the camp, he recognised that motivating players opposed to his ideas will prove difficult given his short-term position with the club.

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

Benitez, though, declared that he will strive to achieve whatever possible before the end of the season, with an FA Cup fifth round encounter against Middlesbrough on Wednesday the focus of his immediate attention.

He added: "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."

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