Rafael Benitez today suggested that he expects Jose Mourinho to be named his successor as Chelsea manager.
Interim boss Benitez again confirmed he will depart Stamford Bridge this summer at the end of his short-term contract.
Real Madrid head coach Mourinho, who left after three years as Blues boss in September 2007, has been strongly linked with a return, with a date of July 1 mooted.
“The next year there will be another manager,” said Benitez, who replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November.
“I think everybody knows who will be here.”
Due to his prior association with Liverpool, where he regularly crossed swords with Mourinho both domestically and in Europe, Benitez was an unpopular appointment among fans, the majority of whom adore the Portuguese.
He would not be drawn into naming names, but it was clear Benitez was responding to the clamour for Mourinho.
The Spaniard said: “I will concentrate on my job now. I have to concentrate on my job. It’s not my concern now.”
Benitez has quietly moved within sight of his targets since the vitriol towards him quietened down in the wake of his plea to supporters following the FA Cup win at Middlesbrough in February.
Chelsea are in next week’s Europa League final against Benfica and well placed in the Barclays Premier League for a return to the Champions League.
Victory in the London derby with Tottenham would see third-placed Chelsea move six points clear of Spurs with two games to play and a far superior goal difference.
Benitez, who has been linked with German side Schalke, would not comment on his own future and preferred to focus on Spurs.
“My future is Tottenham, after we will see,” he said. “At the moment I’m just thinking about Tottenham and what we could do.
“I have to keep doing my job, that is trying to prepare the team properly for every game and the agents, they have to do their jobs.”
Eden Hazard is available again following a calf injury.
John Obi Mikel (hip) also missed Sunday’s win at Manchester United and remains absent, while Ryan Bertrand (knee) is out.
Oriol Romeu is back in contention after returning to full training following his long-term knee problem.
Meanwhile, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has insisted criticism by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will have no impact on his side’s quest for Champions League football, which continues at Stamford Bridge.
Following the Gunners’ 1-0 win at QPR on Saturday, which followed on from Spurs victory over Southampton, goalkeeper Szczesny claimed their bitter rivals “do not have enough quality” to finish ahead of them.
Villas-Boas, though, insisted those comments were misplaced – and questioned the status of the 23-year-old, who has been at Arsenal since 2008, to make such bold remarks.
“He is entitled to his opinion. It is absolutely fine. You don’t expect love from an Arsenal player to Tottenham player. If it touches a bit lack of respect, it is normal in a rivalry,” the Portuguese said.
“I think it would have been a little more tolerable if it had come from a genuine Arsenal fan.
“Coming from an Arsenal player, he is an Arsenal player who is probably only passing by to another club, or who is not going to stay there for life. In the end if he means exactly those words from the heart.. he doesn’t, for sure.
“I wouldn’t say that an Arsenal fan (player) that has just arrived in that club for the last couple of years is entitled to so much hatred towards Tottenham like he seems to have.”
Villas-Boas, 35, was sacked by Chelsea in March 2012 only nine months after they had paid Porto some #13million compensation to bring him back to the club where he worked as part of Jose Mourinho’s coaching team.
The Portuguese, however, insists there will be nothing “special” about the return which will be the first since his departure.
“It is a club which I have gone past,” said the 35-year-old, who was appointed by Spurs last July as Harry Redknapp’s successor.
“I have good and bad memories like everyone else, but it was a period which did not finish the way I would have liked.
“Before I was manager there I was in Jose’s team and I had some wonderful years there. Probably the ones that I have spent there as a manager aren’t that special, so in that sense, as I have said previously, it doesn’t have that kind of effect on me. It is not very, very special.”
Tottenham hope to have Aaron Lennon available for the trip.
The forward was substituted in the win over Southampton with a tight hamstring but is expected to recover, as is attacking midfielder Mousa Dembele (hamstring).
Midfielder Sandro (knee), Younes Kaboul (thigh) and William Gallas (calf) are unavailable.