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No early exit for Rafa

The Spaniard, angry at continued criticism of him from the travelling Blues fans made it clear he would not be remaining at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of his current short-term deal.

Chelsea have given their temporary backing to interim manager Rafa Benitez, with the club's official line stating "it's business as usual".

• Pellegrini a frontrunner for Blues
• Blog: Ake stars as Benitez snaps
• Delaney: A Bridge too far

The Spanish coach is also expected to still be in charge for the home fixture against West Brom on Saturday.

Benitez took training at Chelsea's Cobham base on Thursday, despite a press conference the previous night that criticised a vocal section of the club's fans as well as, apparently, some of the squad and the hierarchy.

The Chelsea boss took issue with the decision to include the word 'interim' in his job title and mentioned how he likes "to manage players and not names", in an exchange mostly directed at Stamford Bridge supporters who have been continuously vocal against his appointment.

But, although the episode is understood to have increased boardroom concerns about his management and recent results, there remains a degree of "sympathy" for the difficult situation he finds himself in.

Despite reports that Avram Grant is ready to take over on a caretaker basis, and an Evening Standard story that Benitez's press conference may even have been triggered by his knowledge of the club's pursuit of Jose Mourinho, the early indications are that no imminent decision will be taken on the Spaniard's future.

Chelsea later issued a media invitation to a pre-match press conference with Benitez on Friday ahead of the West Brom clash.

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