sport

Grant reports rebuffed by Blues

Chelsea insist there is "no truth" in reports that Avram Grant is to return to Stamford Bridge as an advisor to interim manager Rafa Benitez.

However, the looming availability of another former manager may give owner Roman Abramovich pause for thought.

Jose Mourinho's tenure at Real Madrid looks increasingly likely to be over at the end of the season - at the same time that Benitez's contract expires.

If Abramovich cannot convince Pep Guardiola to take over at Chelsea, then it would be a surprise if the Russian did not consider offering the 'Special One' a second era at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho said in a CNN interview in October he still has "a great relationship" with Abramovich and that: "We are in touch a lot."

On Monday, Mourinho refused to talk about reports in the Spanish daily Marca that the club will look for another manager at the end of the season, but the newspaper is viewed as the club's unofficial mouthpiece and the relationship between the Portuguese and president Florentino Perez looks uneasy.

Marca ran its story under a picture of a broken heart but Mourinho responded on Monday saying: "I am not speaking about this. There's no story."

Chelsea have ruled out Grant, the Israeli who was Chelsea manager when the club reached the 2008 Champions League final, returning as an advisor to Benitez. A spokesman on Monday insisted: "There is no truth in the reports."

Benitez has found himself under intense pressure even less than two weeks since being appointed, but he has vowed not to throw in the towel after revealing his anger at his players' 3-1 defeat at West Ham.

Benitez is the first Chelsea boss under Abramovich not to win one of his first three games in charge, the first not to witness a goal in his first two and the first to lose to West Ham, and seven dropped points leave a top-four place now under threat - never mind the title itself.

And although not in charge for all seven games, the statistics also amount to the Blues' longest winless run in the league for 17 years, their lowest points tally after 15 matches since Abramovich bought the club, and now a 10-point gap to leaders Manchester United.

Benitez admitted he was "not 100% sure" his position was secure but insisted he would not be driven out of the club amid growing unrest, with some supporters still furious at the appointment of the former Liverpool boss.

Asked whether he would ever consider walking away from the abuse, jeers and protest banners that are bound to be in evidence again at Wednesday's Champions League game at home to FC Nordsjaelland, Benitez said: "No. When I decided to come, I knew it was a challenge.

"We have to win games, and everyone will be happier."

Ultimately, the only supporter Benitez really needs to make happy is the club's owner, whom fans appealed to directly on Saturday with a chant of "Roman Abramovich, is this what you want?"