• Premier League

Gourlay confirms Benitez will see out contract

ESPN staff
March 5, 2013 « Confusion over Lampard as Gourlay goes quiet | Chartbeat test »
Rafa won't be sacked after his rant last week

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay has confirmed that Rafa Benitez will remain as the club's interim manager until the end of the season - despite the Spaniard criticising the Blues hierarchy.

Benitez was appointed on a temporary basis at Stamford Bridge following the dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo earlier in the campaign, but speculation became rife that he himself would be fired before the conclusion of his short-term contract after he attacked club owner Roman Abramovich and the board - saying they had undermined his position from the start by publicising its interim nature.

Gourlay, speaking at an event in Bangkok, insisted Benitez will not be fired before the conclusion of his contract - as long as the club remains on course to seal qualification for next year's Champions League.

"It was the club's plan to have Benitez as interim manager with the aim of securing a Champions League position at the end of the season," Gourlay said. "We'll assess the situation then."

He added: "We can still win the Europa League and FA Cup, but make no mistake, our priority lies with a Champions League spot."

The Blues are currently fourth in the Premier League, five points clear of Arsenal in fifth.

On Tuesday, Gourlay also appeared to indicate that the club are in talks with Frank Lampard about extending the midfielder's time at the club beyond the end of the current campaign.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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