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Rafa Benitez dismisses speculation over Chelsea future

Interim manager sees “a lot of positives” after 4-1 win

Gulf News

London: Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez dismissed speculation over his future after the spluttering Blues got back on track with a 4-1 win over Wigan.

Benitez has struggled to win over Chelsea supporters after his previous spell with Liverpool and the team’s recent run of poor results had sparked renewed speculation that he is facing the sack.

The Spaniard woke on Saturday to headlines claiming anything but a win over Wigan would see demanding Blues owner Roman Abramovich wielding the axe for the second time this season following the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo.

But a 4-1 victory over struggling Wigan at Stamford Bridge consolidated Chelsea’s third place in the Premier League and eased the pressure on Benitez for now at least.

“There is a lot of talk and speculation. Nobody is talking to the owner. It is just speculation. It is my job to try and win every game,” Benitez said.

“When you have experience of winning things, you know sometimes it can be difficult.

“Top sides, if you want to win something you have to be consistent. That is normal. It is not the end of the world if you throw a game that you deserve to win.

“The problem for me is if we don’t create chances or score goals. But we do every game. We are making some mistakes but we are having a lot of positives.”

Chelsea are still in a strong position to secure a Champions League spot despite their recent struggles and Benitez believes that is down to his work with the players.

“We have been working in training and what we have to do. Our position and shape of the team was good,” Benitez said.

“The important thing now is we have the possibility of using different players.

“We haven’t been able to do that. We will score more goals. We have John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses arriving back from the Africa Cup of Nations so we will have two more options.”

Anything less than a top-four finish would surely leave Chelsea looking for yet another manager with Benitez knowing his job could come to a bitter end.

“Always what you have to do as a professional is the best,” Benitez said.

“If you play well, the fans will be delighted and they will support you even more. Our job is to score goals and they will follow us. I am very confident we will get a top four-finish.”

Frank Lampard will remain key to those chances of a place in Europe’s elite club competition.

Another man of the match display, and a goal against Wigan, helped Chelsea to a much-needed win as the England midfielder joined Ramires, Eden Hazard and Marko Marin on the scoresheet.

Lampard moved himself closer to Bobby Tambling’s 202-goal Chelsea record and is within four goals of equalling the long-standing club haul.

“The last two months Frank has scored eight or so goals. I am pleased. For me, I try and improve my players,” Benitez said.

“He is fit. I hope he can continue scoring goals so if he can break the record I will be really pleased.”

Meanwhile, Wigan, who remain in the bottom three, face a battle to preserve their Premier League status for another year.

But Latics manager Roberto Martinez believes his side are equipped to beat the drop once again heading into the final stages of the season.

“It is a real concern as we don’t have the points we wanted,” he said.

“Looking at the table, going into the last third of the season, it is a big time for the club.

“We have to get everyone back from injuries. We know where we are, what we have to do and will face the challenge head on.”