at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London - Chelsea's beleaguered interim manager Rafael Benitez said on Thursday he still enjoys a “very good” relationship with the Premier League club's owner Roman Abramovich.
His comments come the day after he angrily criticised the Chelsea board for appointing him only on an “interim” basis following the sacking of Roberto di Matteo in November.
“My relationship with the staff and people at the club is really good,” the former Liverpool manager, who has remained unpopular with Chelsea fans since his appointment, told the BBC.
“My relationship with Roman Abramovich is very good. When I meet with Roman Abramovich we talk about football, we talk like normal people and share our passion for football.”
Chelsea fans have openly voiced their dissatisfaction with Benitez since he took over and there have been reports of friction with the European champions' senior players.
Benitez said he was not worried about being sacked by Russian billionaire Abramovich before his contract runs out at the end of the season.
“The players are really happy in what we are trying to do. Sometimes you win, sometimes you cannot. The atmosphere in the club is really good. There are no issues in the team,” the 52-year-old Spaniard said.
Chelsea became the first Champions League winners to fail to survive the group stages in their title defence when they were eliminated from this season's competition in December.
They are fourth in the Premier League with 11 games left, 19 points behind leaders Manchester United who they face in the FA Cup quarter-finals next month.
Following Chelsea's 2-0 Cup win at Middlesbrough on Wednesday, the Spaniard hit out at fans who barrack him at matches and chant the name of his predecessor Di Matteo.
“If we stick together and support the players we will be able to win games,” Benitez said. “Then at the end of the season I will leave and then they (the fans) can criticise.
“We still have to play 11 games in the Premier League and we have the FA Cup and the Europa League. Everyone knows I will finish my contract at the end of the season.
“So this group of fans, who are singing and creating banners, they have to concentrate on supporting the team. The rest of the fans, the majority of fans, know the way to help the team is by supporting the players.
“I'm thinking about my team and my club - I want to win every game. I tried to explain the way is to support the team in every single game.” - Reuters