• Premier League

Clarke defends Rafa, not keen on replacing him

ESPN staff
March 1, 2013
Steve Clarke is not hoping to replace Rafa Benitez at his old club © PA Photos

West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke believes Rafael Benitez "didn't do a lot wrong" as the Spaniard attacked the Chelsea's supporters on Wednesday night, suggesting that most Premier League managers are little more than "interim" appointments.

Benitez claimed Chelsea's decision to give him the title of interim boss when he succeeded Roberto Di Matteo back in November was "a massive mistake", but Clarke suggests no manager can feel as if he is in a position for the long-term ahead of West Brom's trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

"I think by and large we are all interim managers," Clarke said. "Someone is going to come and take your position at some stage and to be honest, I didn't see a lot wrong in what he (Benitez) said.

"Only Sir Alex (Ferguson) and maybe Arsene Wenger can say they are in it for the long haul, but eventually someone is going to take your job so we are all temporary managers.

"Rafael Benitez was put in as manager to take the club to the end of the season and I'm sure that will happen. If you are manager at a club like Chelsea, you know what comes with the territory, so it's not for me to say whether he has been treated unfairly."

Clarke dismissed suggestions that he could be in the running to take over at Chelsea, where he enjoyed a successful career as both a player and a coach working under Jose Mourinho, and stressed he was not ready to make a step up to the top level of coaching after just one season with the Baggies.

"I think it's too early to start connecting me with Chelsea," he said. "There's a lot of managers that have probably got a better case than me.

"If you're asking if I want to be manager of a top team in the future, of course. If you don't have that ambition to better yourself you shouldn't be in the game, but it's not for now.

"The connections (with Chelsea) are inevitable and I can't do anything about that. Chelsea has been a big part of my life, I've spent more than 40 per cent of it connected with them and it will be nice to go back there on Saturday."

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