Rafael Benitez to exit Chelsea and tells fans: 'Don't waste your time with banners'

Spaniard promises to quit at the end of the season but rant at Chelsea and their fans could bring earlier exit

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The Independent Football

Rafael Benitez's reign as Chelsea manager was on the brink of ending last night after an astonishing rant at the club's owners and fans.

Benitez launched an incredible attack on the interim title he was given when he was unveiled as Roberto Di Matteo's successor in November after his side beat Middlesbrough to reach the FA Cup quarter-final last night.

The former Liverpool manager was again on the end of abusive songs from the 2,000 travelling Chelsea supporters at the Riverside Stadium and finally reacted in a stunning attack.

"A group of fans, they are not doing any favours for the team when they are singing and wasting time preparing banners," he said. "It's because someone made a mistake. They put my title 'interim manager', and I will leave at the end of the season, so they don't need to waste time with me. I have been in charge in football for 26 years. I have won the Champions League, won the Fifa Club World Cup, the FA Cup, the Italian Super Cup, the Spanish league twice, nine trophies, all the trophies you can win at club level."

Benitez's position, despite its temporary nature, has been in doubt for some time with the club being linked to a series of managerial replacements for this summer.

Events this week have brought things to a head. The former Liverpool manager admitted to an "exchange of ideas" with players on the training ground on Monday after a disappointing defeat at Manchester City left their qualification for the Champions League at risk. He also conceded captin John Terry, said to have confronted him, was frustrated.

However, what most concerns owner Roman Abramovich, who has already sacked two managers within the last year, is that Chelsea could fail to finish in the top four this season and miss out on Champions League qualification.