Rafael Benitez: I have no problem with the board, today we were joking and laughing
The Spaniard is confident of retaining his job following midweek outburst
Rafael Benitez has no regrets over his extraordinary rant which has dominated headlines this week.
During today's press conference ahead of Chelsea's match against West Brom, Benitez confirmed he had met with Roman Abramovich's 'hire and fire specialist' Ron Gourlay following the outburst, but claimed he was not in fear of losing his job before his contract expires at the end of the season.
During Benitez's rant following his side's 2-0 FA Cup victory over Middlesbrough, the majority of his venom was directed at fans, saying their continual barracking of him was damaging the team.
As such, the Spaniard is likely to face an extraordinarily hostile atmosphere at Stamford Bridge for tomorrow's Premier League game.
The former Liverpool manager also appeared to hit out at the club for only appointing him as an 'interim' coach when he replaced Roberto di Matteo in November.
Benitez held talks with chief executive Gourlay yesterday and today and when asked whether he was worried about being sacked if Chelsea lose to West Brom, he said: "'If' is not a thing for me now. I have confidence before the game. The team have trained well, as they have the majority of the time I've been here.
"I have read I had problems with the board, it's not true. Yesterday I spoke with Ron and, today, we were joking and talking, having a normal conversation about football.
"I had no problem with the board, Michael Emenalo, Roman Abramovich, the players, what I want to do is best for team and the club."
When asked if he had held talks with Abramovich, he replied tersely: "That is my business."
Chelsea fans have warned Benitez to expect the worst atmosphere he has ever faced at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
The former Liverpool coach maintains he intends to see out his contract, which expires in May, but fans are determined to increase the abuse during the game against West Brom to ensure he leaves now.
Rob Townby, a spokesman for respected supporters' website thechels.org, told The Evening Standard: "If he thought he was getting a bad reaction before, it will be multiplied many times now.
"We want him out as soon as possible. We are in decline and we want to arrest that decline as soon as possible. He should go now, especially after his rant. His position is untenable.
"There will be sections of the crowd that were a bit more ambivalent, who will now think, 'he's had a go at us, why shouldn't we have a go back?' It will accentuate among Chelsea supporters and actually broaden it. It won't be just the die-hard section booing him now, more supporters will be against him for his rant against the fans and the club.
"It's like anything, if you push against a glass window and it starts to crack you know you're getting somewhere and you push harder. The same goes for Benitez. He is showing signs that it's getting to him, which is interesting because a month ago he was saying the crowd wasn't having an effect and now he's done a U-turn on that.
"The fans are making progress, he's responded now and, hopefully, all supporters will shout even louder tomorrow and both he and the board will get the message loud and clear that he is not wanted."
Benitez, though, said today he had no issue with supporters speaking out. The Spaniard added: "The fans can express their feelings, that is normal, I have no problem with that.
"If you analyse what I said, I was trying to explain we have 11 games to play, 33 points to play for and if we stick together, the fans get behind the team, it will be easier for us.
"When they got behind the side against Napoli last year and Arsenal this season, the atmosphere was fantastic and the players ran an extra mile."
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