Rafa drops hint over Blues duo

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew heads back to Southampton on

Sunday for the first time since being sacked by the club in August

2010.

Pardew was at St Mary’s for just over a year and he admits it

was “a relief to be sacked” by the south coast club.

He returns there in the Premier League this weekend and says

that his relationship with the then chairman of Southampton, Nicola

Cortese, had been a difficult one.

Pardew told the

Northern Echo: “If I’m honest, I was quite happy about

it.

“I thought I’d done a good job but it was proving to be very

very difficult to work with the owner.

“I wouldn’t have jumped before I was pushed, but it was a

difficult period working with Mr Cortese.

“We just didn’t see eye to eye. There was no nastiness in there,

he just didn’t want me as his manager and I think that was

obviously coming through to me.

“I had a great relationship with the fans though and our

performances were strong bearing in mind we had minus ten points

and didn’t really have a starting XI when I arrived.”

Neither of the England internationals have agreed extensions to

their contracts with the Champions League winners and their futures

have been the subject of some debate.

And, according to Benitez, who replaced Roberto Di Matteo at

Stamford Bridge on Wednesday but does not expect to have a big

influence on comings and goings after the season, stories linking

them with a move are not far wide of the mark.

Asked if he thought the pair would be moving on in the summer,

he said: “I think so. I don’t have all the information and it’s not

fair to tell me I’m only here for seven months and then expect me

to have an influence at the club over the next two or three years,

but I think that’s the case at the moment.”

If Benitez’s assumption is a correct one it would mark the end

of two distinguished Chelsea careers.

Lampard, 34, joined Chelsea from West Ham in 2001 and has gone

on to become the club’s third all-time leading goalscorer with 189

goals. He has won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two

League Cups and a perhaps most famously a Champions League with the

Blues. He has linked with a move to the MLS in America.

Cole, 31, is a also a title, FA Cup and Champions League winner,

having joined the club from Arsenal in 2006.