LONDON // Rafa Benitez, one win away from sealing a top-four finish for Chelsea in the Premier League and one more from a European trophy, ruled out extending his stay at Stamford Bridge yesterday, saying the identity of his successor was an open secret.
The Spaniard, still unpopular with a section of Chelsea's support from his days with Liverpool, has impressed as the club's interim manager and a victory at home over Tottenham Hotspur would all but secure a place in at least the qualifying round for the Uefa Champions League.
"You know that next year another manager will be here, and I think every one knows who will be here," Benitez said, when asked if his success at the club could lead to a longer stay.
Jose Mourinho is the hot favourite to return to Chelsea from Real Madrid, having won two Premier League titles for the former during his first stint in charge, which ended in 2007.
"It's not my concern what will happen here next season, I'm just concentrating on doing my job," said Benitez, who will lead the side against Portuguese club Benfica in the Europa League final in Amsterdam this month.
Interim manager since the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo in November, Benitez said he would not consider his next move until his Chelsea mission is complete.
"I'm just thinking about Tottenham now," he said.
Chelsea will have Eden Hazard available after he missed Sunday's 1-0 win at Manchester United through injury.
Tottenham have not won a league game at Chelsea for 23 years and a defeat would leave them six points behind Chelsea and two points behind fourth-place Arsenal with just two games remaining.
"We'll certainly be going there to win," Tottenham defender Michael Dawson told the club's official website. "We'll have to earn it. We'll go there full of confidence."
Andre Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, insisted criticism by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will have no impact on his side's quest for Champions League football.
Szczesny claimed Spurs "do not have enough quality" to finish ahead of Arsenal in the league.
Villas-Boas questioned whether Szczesny, 23, has the credentials to make such bold remarks.
"He is entitled to his opinion" the coach said. "It is absolutely fine. You don't expect love from an Arsenal player to a Tottenham player. If it touches a bit lack of respect, it is normal in a rivalry.
"I think it would have been a little more tolerable if it had come from a genuine Arsenal fan.
"Coming from an Arsenal player, he is an Arsenal player who is probably only passing by to another club, or who is not going to stay there for life. In the end if he means exactly those words from the heart ... he doesn't, for sure.
"I wouldn't say that an Arsenal fan [player] that has just arrived in that club for the last couple of years is entitled to so much hatred towards Tottenham, like he seems to have."
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