Bullish Rafa Benitez survives a baiting at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea manager puts on a brave face to hail 'great performance' on day of mixed emotions

stamford bridge

Chelsea's manager, Rafa Benitez, was more adamant than ever last night that he will survive until his contract expires at the end of the season after a 1-0 win at home to West Bromwich Albion that supporters will feel was less impressive than he claimed.

"Today was a great performance," he said. "We were in control for 75 minutes and their goalkeeper was man of the match. We're confident we can finish in the top three." Had Albion managed the equaliser they belatedly threatened in the last quarter of an hour, however, the mood would have felt very different. As it was, tension set in and the memory of some good football in the first half soon faded.

Many of the crowd appeared to have heeded the manager's request to support the team, although others responded with "We'll sing what we want" as well as chanting the name of Jose Mourinho. The "Special One", who won two successive Premier League titles for the club, breaking records along the way, is the firm favourite with bookmakers and supporters to become the next manager, although Everton's David Moyes has been seen at Stamford Bridge recently.

If Real Madrid follow yesterday's second 3-1 win of the week over Barcelona by going through in the Champions' League against Manchester United, Benitez would not be under any threat from Mourinho. In that case, the option being suggested should Chelsea suffer any more bad results is that Avram Grant, a favourite of the owner, Roman Abramovich, should return until the end of the season.

But Sir Alex Ferguson, preparing to meet Mourinho again in the last-16 second leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday, is not convinced that his old adversary will leave Spain this summer, as most observers are expecting. "Everyone assumes he'll leave but I heard that last year too and he's still there," Ferguson said.

"I don't know how they can replace someone like him anyway. A reasonable assessment of his term at Real Madrid has got to be countered with how good Barcelona have been. I think he's done a great job there, would you really want to let a good coach like that go? I don't think they would want that. I just think it would be difficult for Jose to leave Real Madrid, because he's at the very top."

Yesterday United were comfortable 4-0 winners over Norwich, extending their lead at the top of the Premier League to 15 points again before Manchester City play at Aston Villa tomorrow. QPR provided the perfect reply to reports that their players had indulged in a drunken binge while training in Dubai, winning 2-1 at Southampton.

QPR's manager, Harry Redknapp, celebrating his 66th birthday, accused an agent of leaking false information in a bid to destabilise the club. "It was a disgusting story," Redknapp said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence