Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez claims to have the support of Blues fans more widely than 'people think' and says the club's faithful tend to be 'very civil' and encouraging in his encounters with them.

Benitez has been the subject of regular abuse from Chelsea fans since he was appointed on an interim basis to replace the popular Roberto di Matteo, and has struggled to endear himself to club's supporters since his arrival in November.

Things came to a head following an FA Cup victory over Middlesbrough in March, where Benitez angrily reacted to the criticism he had received from some sections of the Chelsea support, and confirmed he would leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

The former Liverpool manager, however, suggests he has a greater backing from Chelsea supporters than many observers would imagine, claiming that his experiences with Blues in public are always pleasant experiences.

"I spend most of my time here at the Cobham training ground and almost never go into London," Benitez told Spanish newspaper Marca.

"And I have to say this - people are very civil to me out on the streets.

"Many Blues fans stop me and tell me to keep on plugging away and not to listen to the critics.

"I have a lot more day-to-day support than is shown, and people think."

Benitez led Chelsea to victory over Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, allowing the west London club to climb back into third position in the Premier League, although they remain ahead of Tottenham only on goal difference.

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