Chelsea's interim manager Benitez looks on before their English Premier League soccer match against Southampton at St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton

Rafa Benitez: “I will return to Liverpool one day almost certainly”

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Rafa Benitez is an odd dude.

The Chelsea interim manager, who since arriving at Stamford Bridge has been constantly berated by supporters due to his past links with Liverpool, has expressed his desire to return to Anfield after his stint at Chelsea has concluded.

Following the controversial sacking of Roberto Di Matteo in November 2012, massive groups of Chelsea supporters launched into protests against Benitez’s appointment. The protests were based on comments the Spaniard made about Chelsea during his time as Liverpool manager.

One comment concerned Benitez’s praise of the passion of Liverpool fans, which included a sideways dig at Chelsea supporters. Instead of apologizing for his past comments Benitez refused to do so, claiming “I was praising the fans of my club, my team. But I’m here now, it’s my club, and I will do my best for them.”

The abuse persisted and still continues today although the Spanish manager admits it has abated of late. “There are not so many protests from the fans against me, we all know about four or five banners that have always been there but that’s a group of fans that is more worried about my past at Liverpool than actually criticizing me for my work or our play, and I can’t change that.”

Perhaps he couldn’t have changed it but he definitely could have contained it. Following his interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, however, that option is out the window. When asked what he wanted to do when his time at Chelsea was up the Spaniard explained how he would like to manage a competitive team in England. “We have to wait and see,” Benitez said. “I will return to Liverpool one day almost certainly, I just don’t know when, my daughters and wife are still living there.”

Granted, he gave himself an out by saying “almost” but it’s still unclear why Benitez choose now to unleash these remarks.

For months he’s suffered verbal abuse and only recently – having gotten Chelsea to 3rd in the table, the quarter-finals of the Europa League and the semi-finals of the FA Cup – has it receded. To come forward and proclaim his desire to return to Liverpool feels inflammatory and just plain daft, especially considering Chelsea’s upcoming visit to Anfield on April 21st.

One thing’s for sure – the comments will have Brendan Rodgers just as fired up as the Chelsea fans.

Ronaldo shows no sign of injury while hanging with Conor McGregor

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Cristiano Ronaldo may not be ready for the UEFA Super Cup, but he’s no longer limping around.

To explore the Real Madrid superstar’s Instagram is to see Ronaldo, sometimes clothed, hanging out with celebrities.

In the last couple weeks we’ve seen him with Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and now his “bro” Conor McGregor.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Wait, what?

Yeah, Ronaldo is friends with the MMA star, and showed no ill form (and no brace of any kind) in several posed photos with McGregor.

Although admittedly, McGregor’s IG game is a bit better: The Irish fighter posted a photo of himself sunning in his briefs with the caption, “I’m gonna get him on the Forbes list by next year. But I’m gonna get him on the tan by next week.”

Good luck with both, bro.

Great to see you bro!!💪🏽🔝

A photo posted by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:48pm PD

Bruce pens letter to Hull fans: “Desperately wanted to make it work”

YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Steve Bruce manager of  Hull City ahead of the pre-season friendly match between York City and Hull City at Bootham Cresent on July 23, 2014  in York, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
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Many Hull City fans didn’t want Steve Bruce to leave the club, and this open letter shows why.

After leaving the club by “mutual consent” on Friday — it was first widely reported that he quit — fans protested at Hull’s game on Monday.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Bruce may’ve had his problems with Hull’s ownership, but he certainly got his supporters’ feelings right down to the core.

From the Hull Daily Mail:

My biggest regret is having to walk away but it was a decision I had to make for the sake of the club. The last 12 months have been very tough and it felt like the right step for the club to move forward in a different direction and with someone else in charge.

I desperately wanted to make it work this summer and be a Premier League manager again but, sadly, it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, I’ve left Hull City with some fantastic memories that I’ll always cherish, including just eight weeks ago in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Class from the longtime boss, and we imagine he’ll have a job very soon if he wants it.

Report: Everton to activate release clause of Stoke’s Arnautovic

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Marko Arnautovic (1st L) of Stoke City competes for the ball against Seamus Coleman (2nd L) and Gareth Barry (1st Rof Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on December 28, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
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Everton is going to activate Marko Arnautovic‘s $16 million release clause to bring the Stoke City striker to Goodison Park, according to a report out of Austria.

Stoke had been trying to sign Arnautovic to a contract extension, but the player was reportedly prepared to play out the final year of his deal.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

The huge 27-year-old Austrian has been with Stoke since 2013, and broke through with 11 Premier League goals last season.

Arnautovic would give Everton support behind Romelu Lukaku, and insurance in case the Toffees do wind up selling their Belgian striker. Everton also has Arouna Kone as a potential target forward, but Oumar Niasse is expecting to leave after less than a year at Goodison Park.

Chelsea wins the League… of Hate; Bournemouth, Leicester not hated

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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A family of English newspapers conducted its annual survey of which teams are the most hated in the Premier League, and there’s a new champion.

Manchester United has dropped to second in the table to Chelsea in what the Manchester Evening News called the “League of Hate”.

[ MORE: Rooney’s England position not set ]

According to the MEN, 10,000 fans were quizzed on their love and hate:

A national survey asked fans of each top flight club which sides they hate, and which they love, and the west London club came out as the most disliked club overall.

United, who won the dubious accolade last year, have been revealed to be the next most reviled side.

It’s no surprise that the league’s more successful sides sit atop the table while newer PL clubs like Bournemouth and Burnley are not reviled. That said, Leicester’s dream story has them 19th. How much more success do they need to have before shooting up the hate table?

Here’s the Top Five, and all results:

1) Chelsea
2) Manchester United
3) Liverpool
4) Manchester City
5) Arsenal