The Blues' former assistant manager says the Spanish interim manager could stay beyond the season's end, but will need to win a trophy to stand any chance of being offered a dealEXCLUSIVE
By Tom J Doyle
Ray Wilkins thinks Chelsea interim boss Rafa Benitez could have a future at the club beyond his current deal after Pep Guardiola snubbed the Champions League holders to agree a deal with Bayern Munich at the end of the season.
The former Barcelona coach left the Catalan giants and took a sabbatical from football last summer, but despite speculation linking him to Stamford Bridge, he signed a three-year deal with the Bundesliga leaders.
Despite ruling the Blues out of the Premier League title race, Wilkins suggests the Spaniard could still earn a permanent role at Stamford Bridge - but believes he will need to win a trophy to stand any chance of staying.
"It's very difficult, [Benitez] has to win this year. If he wins, he's got half a chance," he told Goal.com.
"He's got the Europa Cup, the Capital One Cup - albeit they're 2-0 down - but their away form is splendid - or they've got to win the FA Cup.
"I think the decision of Pep Guardiola to go to Bayern Munich has probably dented the enthusiasm of some Chelsea supporters and given Rafa a better opportunity of possibly filling the post full-time."
The former Blues and England Under-21 assistant boss feels the title is long gone for his former club - a belief only strengthened by their capitulation to Southampton on Wednesday night to gift the visitors a 2-2 draw.
"I thought their title chances had gone a couple of weeks ago when they lost to QPR at home, and [the 2-2] convinces me even more having only taken a point after leading 2-0, so I don't think they've got a chance of winning the league.
"The highest they can finish is second but I think they're vying for third if I'm honest."
Wilkins revealed his disappointment at Guardiola's decision to make the move to Germany rather than the Premier League, and believes a move to England may have been a better bet for the 41-year-old.
"I'm saddened that Guardiola's chosen Germany over us because I think we have an amazing product. We want the best players and managers and coaches so from that aspect I'm disappointed, but these things happen," he added.
"He's obviously looked at his options whilst being on his little sabbatical and decided Bayern Munich is the best route forward. I know he speaks perfect English but whether his German is too hot I've no idea."
And while Sir Alex Ferguson declared he has "two or three years" left at Old Trafford, Wilkins was quick to dampen speculation of Guardiola potentially succeeding the Scot at Old Trafford after his Bayern deal runs out.
He said: "I think Sir Alex has got a long while left in him, he's produced so many sides it's unbelievable."
Ray Wilkins has been appointed Coral's Director of Football this January. Ray is signing people looking to 'move for the money' to Coral, where there are more top prices than anywhere else on the high street. To find out more visit www.coral.co.uk/moveforthemoney