Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Benitez silent over Anfield return

Rafael Benitez returns to Anfield on Sunday as Chelsea take on Liverpool

Rafael Benitez is focused only on the immediate future and not his past with Liverpool as he prepares to take his Chelsea side to Anfield in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday.

The Spaniard has declined to assess Liverpool since his departure in June 2010 or to talk about events at Anfield ahead of his first return as an opposing manager.

"I have a lot of respect, but I have to concentrate on my team," Benitez said. "I don't want any misunderstanding, so I will concentrate just on Chelsea and the game and try to enjoy it, especially if we can win."

Benitez is expected to receive a warm welcome on Sunday. He spent six years at Anfield, helping Liverpool to the 2005 Champions League in his first season, the FA Cup, the Community Shield and European Super Cup, while the Reds finished second in the Premier League in 2008-09.

His family home remains on Merseyside and he supports the campaigners in their fight for justice for the 96 supporters killed at Hillsborough in 1989. His is a lasting bond with Liverpool, but Benitez's aim is to defeat his former club.

"I'm a professional and I am committed with Chelsea until the end of the season, to win, to achieve our targets," said Benitez, who is out of contract at the end of the campaign.

"I was there for six years, winning a lot of things together. They (Liverpool supporters) will appreciate that, but at the same time they will try to support their team and they will understand that I have to try to do my best and win."

Benitez recently was quoted as saying he wanted to return "home" to Liverpool and that his wish was to move to a top club, possibly in England next season.

That was interpreted by some as a possible return to Liverpool, but Benitez meant his family home. For reasons of clarity, the Spaniard declined the opportunity to appraise Reds incumbent Brendan Rodgers.

"I have a lot of respect for Liverpool Football Club and all their managers," he said. "What I said clearly is Liverpool is my home, my family is living there and because I don't want any misunderstanding, I will not talk about the club, the position or the manager's position or whatever. My family's there, it's my home."

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