Benitez: "I Will Return"

Mike Hewitt

Rafa Benitez is certain of two things. One is that he won't be at Chelsea next season; the other is that one day he will return to Liverpool Football Club. What happens between those two certainties is rather more of a mystery.

Interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has no illusions about his job being more than it is. It is a short-term thing; a role that cannot last beyond the end of the current season. If there was ever a thought of retaining the manager beyond next month lurking in the back of Roman Abramovich's mind, the vitriolic response of Chelsea fans and lukewarm results will have put an end to it.

Even before Benitez has left Stamford Bridge, then, there is the looming question of where he will look to go next. It is perhaps not the easiest of questions for the Spaniard who sat at home waiting for an opportunity in England rather than heading abroad after his attempt to follow Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan ended in disappointment on all sides.

"My idea is to train a competitive team. Why not in England?" Benitez said, revealing that he would still prefer to stay in England when Marca sat down with him to discuss what the future might hold for the graduate of Real Madrid's academy. "We will have to wait and see. Everything will be worked out."

However, while his immediate future may not yet be clear beyond a preference for the Premier League, one thing Benitez is certain of is that sooner or later he will make his way back to Merseyside as manager of Liverpool and not just a resident—and in doing so join a long list of names who have in the past returned to the club to complete unfinished business.

"I will return, almost certainly," was his response when asked about his interest in returning to the club he left in 2010 when a seventh place finish became an excuse to sack a man who had won Liverpool the Champions League and come closer to winning the league than any other in the Premier League era. "What I do not know is when. My daughters and wife still live there."

In the more immediate future, though, if Benitez were to once again leave England to take on a continental challenge as he did after being sacked at Liverpool, the soon to be vacant Madrid job could be enough to draw him across the channel both because of the club's standing and also due to his past connections to the Spanish giants.

"Obviously I know the place very well," he said. "I was there from 13 years old as a player and coach. I am a Madrid fan [so] it is nice to be linked in one manner or another, but that does not make me lose my current concentration on Chelsea. I have a good relationship with [Madrid president] Florentino Perez. Whenever I have talked with him, he has always been polite."

If he does switch London for Madrid, he will be joining the third club in a row where memories of Mourinho are foremost in the minds of many. Along with Perez' history of changing managers nearly as enthusiastically as Abramovich at Chelsea, it would seem another situation doomed to failure—and all while Benitez continues to wait for a chance to return to Liverpool that may never come.

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