LONDON (AP) — Worn down by constant criticism by fans, Rafael Benitez announced Wednesday he would leave Chelsea at the end of the season during an extraordinary post-match outburst in which he also took aim at the Premier League club's hierarchy.
The Spanish coach snapped during the news conference after an FA Cup fifth-round win at Middlesbrough, saying his position had been untenable ever since he was handed the title "interim manager" until the end of the 2012-13 campaign.
"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 again barracked him at Riverside Stadium. Benitez was hired as the replacement for the fired Roberto di Matteo in November, but has never been accepted by a large section of Chelsea fans.
Many are still angry at Di Matteo departing, after he led the club to a first ever Champions League title last season, while others haven't forgiven Benitez for allegedly disparaging comments he made toward Chelsea while Liverpool manager earlier in his career. Others don't like his style of football, either.
Benitez, who said some fans have had an "agenda" against him ever since he joined the club, launched 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.' Benitez had already spent most of his pre-match news conference ahead of the game against Middlesbrough playing down reports of a bust-up 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."
Chelsea didn't immediately comment on Benitez's outburst, but he could struggle to stay in his post now that he has openly criticized high-ranking club officials. Roman Abramovich, the club's ruthless Russian owner, is unlikely to look favorably on Benitez's comments.
There has been fevered speculation about who would take over at Stamford Bridge in the summer, with Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who won a series of trophies in a previous three-year spell at Chelsea, and Everton manager David Moyes among those to have been linked with the post.