Mourinho return 'not my business' - Benitez
Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez on Wednesday refused to be drawn on speculation that Jose Mourinho is poised to return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season to replace him in the dug-out.
- Published: 2/05/2013 at 01:49 AM
- Newspaper section: news
Chelsea's interim manager Rafael Benitez gives a press conference at Stamford Bridge, London, on May 1, 2013. Benitez on Wednesday refused to be drawn on speculation that Jose Mourinho is poised to return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season to replace him in the dug-out.
Mourinho is expected to leave Real Madrid at the end of the current campaign and dropped a hint that he could go back to his former club after Madrid were eliminated from the Champions League by Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
The Portuguese, who won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and two League Cups during his three-year stint at Chelsea, said: "I know I am loved by the clubs (in England), especially one."
Benitez has accepted that he will leave Chelsea when his temporary contract expires at the end of the season, but he was reluctant to address rumours about the identity of his successor when questioned on Wednesday.
Speaking ahead of the return leg of his side's Europa League semi-final with Swiss side FC Basel, Benitez said: "It's not my business. I have to concentrate on my business, which is with Basel tomorrow."
On Mourinho's comments, he added: "Each one has his way -- my way is to concentrate on the next game, and that's it."
Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata also shied away from discussing the probability of Mourinho's arrival, but he did give his backing to Benitez, who has faced protests from some of the club's fans since he was appointed in November.
"It's not the players' business right now," said the Spaniard.
"We have so many important things still to come. We just have to be focused on what we're playing for, which is a very important trophy for the club, to finish third in the league so the club can qualify for the Champions League, and that's all I can say right now."
He added: "It's tricky. It doesn't depend on me. All I can say is that we're working really, really well with Rafa, and that's the truth for me."
Chelsea take a 2-1 lead into Thursday's game at Stamford Bridge, after David Luiz's injury-time free-kick secured victory in the first leg at St Jakob-Park last week.
The London club are bidding to add a first Europa League crown to the maiden Champions League title they won last season, but Benitez says Basel's pedigree means they cannot afford to look too far ahead.
"Obviously, as a manager you want to win every trophy you can, so we have an opportunity, but my concern is that we'll be thinking we're in the final, but it's not the case," he said.
"We play against a very good team, a team that scores goals away. Everyone has to realise it will be difficult. First of all we have to win and after we can think about the final."
Chelsea will be without left-back Ashley Cole due to suspension, but Benitez reported no fresh injury concerns.
Basel, meanwhile, will give striker Marco Streller a fitness test on the morning of the game after he sustained a thigh muscle injury.
The Swiss Super League leaders have never won in nine previous visits to England and are still awaiting their first away win in this season's competition.
However, having seen his side eliminate Tottenham Hotspur on penalties in the quarter-finals, coach Murat Yakin says Basel are confident they can secure the win they need to reach the final.
"I don't hold much store by statistics," he said.
"What I want is for us to play good, fresh football here. Chelsea are very good defensively and in attack, but our team has very good qualities and we showed that against Tottenham. A good start is very important for us.
"Every game is different and we know we're playing against Chelsea, who are the Champions League winners and have two top players in every position.
"But we'll play with confidence and who knows? Maybe we can achieve a small wonder and qualify for the final."
About the author
- Writer: AFP
- Position: News agency