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Football: Let's stick together, Benitez tells Chelsea fans

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Rafael Benitez, the under-pressure Chelsea interim manager, urged all connected with the club to unite Friday as he tried to get irate fans onside.

Benitez has faced renewed calls for his dismissal after he launched an astonishing attack on the club's supporters and the Stamford Bridge hierarchy following Chelsea's 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday.

"What I said is we have 11 games to play, 33 points (to play for), we must stick together and get behind the team," Benitez told a Friday news conference.

"We need the (supportive) atmosphere of Arsenal and Napoli," the Spaniard added in reference to previous games when the crowd had helped Chelsea grind out results.

"The message is clear -- I have no problem with the board, Michael Emenalo (Chelsea's technical director), Roman Abramovich or the players.

"I will do the best for the club. I have 26 years of principles, respect and education to achieve what I have."

The 52-year-old, despised by many Chelsea fans following his spell with their rivals Liverpool, risked the wrath of Blues owner Abramovich by asking why the club insisted on making him an "interim" manager when he replaced the sacked Roberto di Matteo in November.

Benitez's outburst at Middlesbrough sparked speculation his position was in immediate danger, but he took training as scheduled as the European champions prepared for Saturday's Premier League game with West Bromwich Albion.

And he had repeatedly made it clear he intends to see out a contract that expires at the end of the season.

Chelsea are currently fourth in the table, two points clear of London rivals Arsenal in the race for a place in next season's Champions League but 19 adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Abramovich is regarded as one of the most demanding owners in world football and the Russian billionaire has sacked several managers during nearly 10 years in charge at Stamford Bridge.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130301/football-lets-stick-together-benitez-tells-chelsea-fans