|BENITEZ ODDS ON TO LEAVE CHELSEA AFTER WEST BROM MATCH
Ladbrokes: 28 February 2013
Reproduced with permission from Ladbrokes.com
There is something about playing West Brom that clearly flicks a switch in the mind of Roman Abramovich and this spells bad news on Rafa Benitez seeing through his contract until the end of the season at Chelsea.
Benitez was clear after the win at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup that he would not remain at Stamford Bridge beyond the summer, providing a calculated and measured statement indicating some of the frustrations that had been playing on his mind.
For the first time he acknowledged the negativity of the supporters, something he had previously brushed off by saying that he was so focused on managing a particular game that he had not heard the jeers from the stands.
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Meanwhile, he also criticised the decision to bestow the word interim in his job description.
Abramovich has already moved on Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo following Premier League fixtures with West Brom and it is just 1/12 that this is also Benitez' last game in the Stamford Bridge dugout.
The vibe of his comments were that of someone attempting to settle a score and when he did something of a similar note at Inter after their Club World Cup final of 2010, he was out of a job within five days.
Qualifying for the Champions League remains a must for Chelsea and the big question that Abramovich must now ask himself is whether Benitez is the man to steer them to a top-four finish? This is something which they remain 1/4 to achieve.
Surely, given they have more points, a player at the peak of his powers and a manager that has the full backing of all around him, Tottenham are a far better bet to achieve this at 8/15.
In Benitez' favour, he is not the first manager to criticise his own supporters. Sir Alex Ferguson said the lack of atmosphere made Old Trafford feel like a funeral back in 2008 after a home win over Birmingham.
Furthermore, managers available to take over immediately are in short supply, aside from Steve McClaren, and it would be a big risk to throw one of Steve Holland or Bolo Zenden, the two current assistant coaches, into the main hotseat for the final quarter of the campaign.
Given that Zenden was brought in by Benitez, he would possibly leave with him anyway.
In terms of the next permanent Chelsea manager after Benitez, Jose Mourinho is the favourite at 7/2, with Jurgen Klopp at 4/1, David Moyes 6/1 and Gianfranco Zola a 7/1 chance.
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