Benitez in line for Stoke job as Pulis is axed

CHELSEA’S interim-boss Rafael Benitez is the shock favourite to take the vacant Stoke City manager’s job, after Tony Pulis left his post at the Britannia Stadium yesterday.

Benitez is set to leave Stamford Bridge this summer after guiding the Blues to a third-place finish in the Premier League and victory in the Europa League final.

Consequently, his managerial stock seems to have risen with Italian club Napoli and French champions Paris Saint-Germain touted as possible destinations.

However, before Chelsea’s victory over Everton on Sunday Benitez said: “I want to stay in England. I’m a family man, so I want to stay close to my family if I can.”

Pulis, who became the ninth Premier League boss to leave his club this season, met with owner Peter Coates yesterday for an end of season de-brief where he was informed his seven-year stint with the Potters was over.

Though the 55-year-old guided Stoke to the Premier Division in 2008, finished no lower than 14th in the five subsequent seasons and led his team to their first ever FA Cup final in 2011, supporters were growing tired of his style of play.

And Coates is thought to be keen to see Stoke take a new direction.