West Brom boss Steve Clarke today admitted managing Chelsea is a future dream – but insisted he is not ready to succeed Rafa Benitez.
The Spaniard has confirmed he will leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season after a stormy spell as interim manager.
But former Blues player and coach Clarke, who returns to Stamford Bridge with the Baggies, insists he lacks the experience to be in the running despite an impressive debut season in management.
“It’s too early to start connecting me with Chelsea,” said Clarke.
“There are a lot of managers out there with a better case than me.
“Wherever I am on the bookies list is probably a good indication and I’m sure I’m not in at less than 50/1.
“I am not even a year into the job here. I am enjoying myself here.
“Up to now it’s been a great season and I haven’t even looked beyond that.
“If you ask me if I want to be the manager of a top team in the future, of course.
“If you don’t have the ambition to further and better yourself you shouldn’t be in the game, but it’s not for now. My connection with Chelsea is a big part of my past. Twenty years out of nearly 50 is a big part of my life.”
Benitez hit the headlines this week with an outburst against the club’s fans and hierarchy, but Clarke still expects the former Liverpool boss to see out the season with the London club.
The Baggies head coach said: “I didn’t hear the vocals, I just read it, and a transcript is different from hearing what he said.
“I didn’t see a lot wrong in what he said. “If you’re manager of a club like Chelsea you know what comes with the territory. You have great players and you’ve always got a chance of winning major competitions. Everybody keeps telling me that Chelsea are struggling but they’re doing OK.
“Rafa Benitez was put in as manager to take the club to the end of the season and I’m sure they will happen.”
Meanwhile, rebel striker Peter Odemwingie is on standby to start tomorrow with leading scorer Romelu Lukaku ineligible to face his parent club and Shane Long struggling with an ankle injury.
Odemwingie has not started since his January fall-out with the club.
Clarke said: “It’s an opportunity for Peter or maybe Marcus Rosenberg or Marco Fortune.
“I’ve said all season that I’ve got great forwards and they have all made a good contribution.
“I am pleased with all of them, and no matter which one or two play, it wouldn’t be to the detriment of the team because they can all do a good job.
“Peter has been good in training all week. He’s worked hard and he knows Romelu can’t play this week, so he’s got a chance to play at the weekend. I said before and I’ll say again, Peter is an important part of the squad. We don’t have a big squad, Romelu and Goran Popov can’t play this weekend.
“That leaves me with 16 outfield players and two of them are injured.”