LONDON (AP) - Worn down by constant criticism by fans, Rafael Benitez announced Wednesday he will leave as Chelsea’s manager at the end of the season.
Benitez made his decision public during an extraordinary post-match outburst in which he also took aim at the Premier League club’s hierarchy.
The Spanish coach spoke during the news conference after the Blues won 2-0 at Middlesbrough and advanced to an FA Cup quarterfinal against Manchester United, saying his position had been untenable since he was appointed “interim manager” in November.
“I will leave at the end of the season _ they don’t need to waste time with me,” said Benitez, referring to a section of fans who jeered him at Riverside Stadium.
Benitez was hired as the replacement for the fired Roberto di Matteo, and has never been accepted by a large section of Chelsea fans.
Many are still angry at Di Matteo’s departure after he led the club to its first Champions League title last season. Others haven’t forgiven Benitez for allegedly disparaging comments he made toward Chelsea earlier in his career while he managed Liverpool. Others don’t like his style of soccer.
Benitez said some fans have had an “agenda” against him and made a passionate defense of his managerial record.
“I have been in charge in football for 26 years _ I have won the Champions League, won the FIFA Club World Cup, the FA Cup, the Italian Super Cup, the Spanish league twice, nine trophies, all the trophies you can win at club level,” he said. “A group of fans, they are not doing any favors for the team when they are singing and wasting time preparing banners. It’s because someone made a mistake. They put my title (as) `interim manager.’
Ahead of the game, Benitez played down reports of a confrontation with players at a training session after Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Manchester City. John Terry, dropped for the City match, was reported by British media to have been involved.
“I am the manager and I will be managing the team I like to manage _ players and no names,” Benitez said Wednesday. “I have proved in these three months that I want to win every single game … If a group of fans continue their agenda … they are not making any favors for the team.
“They should concentrate on supporting the team,” he continued. “They put pressure on the players and don’t create a good atmosphere at Stamford Bridge. They have to realize they rare making a big mistake. … it would be much better to have a good atmosphere.”