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

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

“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.