Chelsea v Rubin Kazan: Rafa Benitez wants to manage 'top English club' next season

His Chelsea side play in the Europa League tonight

Rafa Benitez, the Chelsea interim manager, wants to continue coaching in England, no matter how he fares at Stamford Bridge.

The Spaniard, an unpopular appointment due to his association with Liverpool, declined to look too far beyond winning the next game – against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League tonight – but felt compelled to comment on his own future. He knows delivering Champions League football is imperative, but with the club in the FA Cup semi-finals, his hopes of marking his short reign with silverware look promising.

Benitez, who revealed in February he will be leaving at the end of his spell in May, said: "If we can achieve trophies and finish in the top three, fantastic. Everybody will be happy. That is my aim at the moment."

As for his own future, he added: "I like to win, to challenge for trophies. I would like to stay in a top side. A top side, why not in England?"

Benitez also dismissed Ray Wilkins' criticism of his handling of Ashley Cole's fitness as an April Fools' Day joke before tonight's quarter-final first leg. Rarely reluctant to engage in verbal sparring with his critics, be they fellow managers or the media, his antipathy towards Jose Mourinho, whose name continues to be linked with a Stamford Bridge return, is no secret.

Yet Wilkins' own credentials as a former Chelsea captain, caretaker manager and, most recently, Carlo Ancelotti's assistant, did not spare him from the soft-spoken wrath of the smiling Spaniard.

Wilkins had told a radio station he believed Cole's hamstring injury, which was sustained early in Monday's FA Cup quarter-final replay victory over Manchester United and will keep him out of both legs against the Russians, was the direct result of being omitted from Saturday's 2-1 Premier League defeat at Southampton. "I honestly feel he has to play all the time," he said. "[Cole] is one of these machines. You have to keep it well oiled and it will fly. Had he played on Saturday, he wouldn't have done that."

Benitez had also been accused of being more interested in adding to the "trophies won" column of his CV than steering the club into next season's Champions League, when another manager will have taken over.

"I thought it was the first of April," Benitez said. "You can't take the comments seriously. I have a degree in sports science from Spain, have spoken to many people about injuries. It's the first time I ever heard anything like this. First of April."

Wilkins, who was handed the Chelsea captaincy in the 1970s aged just 18, was not the only Stamford Bridge legend to be discussed before the Rubin Kazan tie, as Benitez also claimed he had made Frank Lampard a better player. "A lot of players are growing," he said in response to a question about Ryan Bertrand, who will fill in at left-back until Cole regains fitness. "And I will tell you one other name who is improving a lot – Frank Lampard, because he is scoring a lot of goals."

So Benitez has improved, in just a few weeks, a 34-year-old who has almost 100 international caps and has scored 200 goals for his current club? This, it turned out, was merely a little joke rather than the latest "fact".

"I was waiting for someone to show an interest in that," he said. "What I meant was that he has been playing very well. When I came he was injured. He was scoring goals at the beginning of the season and is scoring goals after that so he has improved during this season."

Chelsea v Rubin Kazan

Kick-off 8.05pm, Stamford Bridge

TV ESPN

Referee G Rocchi (It)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
News
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect