Andre Villas-Boas has no problems with Rafael Benitez

 

Andre Villas-Boas has no problem with Rafael Benitez despite claims the Spaniard is being lined up to replace him as Chelsea manager.

Villas-Boas' future has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks after his team dropped to fifth in the Barclays Premier League and edged close to a Champions League exit with a 3-1 defeat to Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday night.

Benitez is out of work following his sacking at Inter Milan in December 2010 and has been mentioned as a possible short-term successor to Villas-Boas should Blues owner Roman Abramovich dismiss the Portuguese.

Benitez's agent played down stories linking the Spaniard with Stamford Bridge as nothing but "media speculation" yesterday, but the man himself is yet to come forward to publicly deny any interest in a move to London.

Despite this, Villas-Boas insists he has no problem with the former Valencia manager and claims he would be honoured to meet up with the man who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005.

"It would be an honour for me (to meet him)," the 34-year-old Chelsea boss said. "I have no problem with that.

"We share a common friend but I have never met him.

"We were going to have dinner three or four months ago but we didn't. It would be fantastic to have dinner with him.

"He is one of the most successful managers in world football."

Villas-Boas came out fighting over suggestions his job was on the line yesterday.

The Portuguese maintained he retained the full backing of Abramovich despite admitting that he had to explain his team selection for the Napoli game to the club's Russian owner.

He also denied reports of in-fighting within the Chelsea camp and boldly predicted that his team could still win the Champions League and finish third in the Premier League despite there being only 13 top-flight games of the season remaining.

Villas-Boas hopes to embark upon a strong finish to the season - starting at home against Bolton tomorrow - but he candidly revealed yesterday that he thinks teams no longer fear coming to Stamford Bridge like they did under former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

"There is no fear factor at the Bridge," Villas-Boas said.

"I don't know if there ever was. There is a fear factor at a couple of grounds in this country - Anfield and Old Trafford. It was a difficult place to come under Jose Mourinho but there is no fear factor of emotion."

Chelsea will be without captain John Terry tomorrow after he was ruled out for at least four weeks following knee surgery.

Fernando Torres missed training yesterday through illness but should be fit for the visit of the Trotters and Juan Mata is available despite suffering a suspected broken finger against Napoli.

Jose Bosingwa came off after 12 minutes in Italy with a muscle problem and is out of tomorrow's game.

PA

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