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Benitez: I'll quit at the end of the season

Story highlights

  • Rafael Benitez reveals he will leave Chelsea at the end of the season
  • Spaniard launches attack on club's fans following abuse at press conference
  • Benitez also hits out at "interim manager" title
  • Chelsea qualifies for FA Cup quarterfinal and will play Manchester United

Perhaps somebody forgot to tell Rafael Benitez that the Oscars were last week.

It doesn't matter. Benitez's extraordinary post-match performance Wednesday managed to combine the good, the bad and the ugly as the Chelsea manager launched a scathing attack on his employers and club's supporters before revealing he will quit at the end of this season.

Here was Benitez, the victim. Here was the man in the middle of one of football's most high-pressure jobs being circled by an army of critics.

Perhaps the adrenaline kicked in. Perhaps he had just had enough. It was fight or flight.

Now he will await his fate, with the English club's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich -- who has employed nine managers in 10 years -- expected to take note.

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    Since Benitez walked into Stamford Bridge last November, the former Liverpool boss has been a sitting duck.

    Protests, placards, songs about former managers from the stands -- even the most genial of men would have found their patience challenged.

    Replacing a Chelsea favorite and Champions League-winning manager in Roberto Di Matteo was never going to be easy, but for Benitez, it has been a losing battle.

    Out of the Champions League, beaten in the country's third cup competition by Swansea and 19 points off the league leader, Chelsea's season is in danger of collapsing.

    Contrast that with the fact that the Blues were third and four points behind then leader Manchester City when Di Matteo was given his marching orders.

    The Europa League is not seen as salvation -- not at least by those who sit in the stands with their thumbs pointed downwards in Benitez's direction.

    More woe for Chelsea boss Benitez

    Then there's the speculation surrounding alleged disagreements with key players and the constant scrutiny of his side's failings, and it's easy to see why Benitez has found life in west London so difficult.

    Not even Wednesday's 2-0 win over second division Middlesbrough in the FA Cup -- which earned a quarterfinal clash with Manchester United -- could please the traveling Chelsea fans, who once again voiced their displeasure at the man they call the "interim manager."

    "I have been in charge in football for 26 years," he told reporters.

    "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.

    "A group of fans, they are not doing any favors for the team when they are singing and wasting time preparing banners."

    Benitez takes over Chelsea

    While Benitez accepted the post until the end of the season, he hit out at the use of the term "interim manager" and the club's insistence on using the title.

    "It's because someone made a mistake," he added. "They put my title "interim manager" and I will leave at the end of the season, so they (the fans) don't need to waste time with me.

    "They have to concentrate on supporting the team, that's what they have to do. In the end, they are not doing any favors to the club, to the rest of the fans and to the players.

    "Every game they continue singing and they continue preparing banners, they are wasting time. What they have to do is support the team.

    "If we cannot achieve what we expect to achieve, that is to be in the top four and be in the Champions League for next year, I will leave. They will stay in the Europa League.

    "I am the manager. I will manage the players and I will make decisions. I will leave anyway -- I'm interim, as they say -- so they're wasting their time."

    How much longer Benitez will have on screen in his current role is up for debate, but this is one performance his critics won't forget.

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