LONDON Chelsea's interim manager Rafa Benitez has said he expects the club's long-serving England players Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, British media reported on Saturday.
Asked if it was the end of a glorious era for the pair who will be out of contract, Benitez said: "I think so, that is the case at the moment. I am only here for seven months. If it is for two or three years then maybe I would have an influence.
"Sometimes you are in a difficult position as manager because there's too much to decide on, so it's better to have a technical director sometimes," he was quoted in Saturday's Daily Mail as telling reporters.
Chelsea's technical director is Michael Emenalo.
Former Liverpool manager Benitez has been appointed until the end of the season in place of Italian Roberto Di Matteo who was sacked this week after the team's dip in form despite winning the Champions League and the FA Cup last season.
Midfielder Lampard, 34, their third highest scorer ever, and left back Cole, 31, have had huge success at Chelsea including helping the club owned by Russian Roman Abramovich to became the first from London to lift the European Cup.
Lampard has also won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups in 11 years since joining from West Ham United while Cole also won a league title and four FA Cups with the west London club since leaving London rivals Arsenal in 2006.
Benitez said he met Abramovich for dinner on Thursday.
"I spent two or three hours with the owner, we talked about everything. He knows my ideas, but we didn't have that much time together. Maybe we will in future," he was quoted as saying.
"If you have confidence in yourself and explain yourself, everyone can understand," added the Spaniard, who won the Champions league with Liverpool.
"My impression with the owner is he's a nice person. You can talk with him and he understands. He likes to see you have a clear idea: I think it's black and white with him."
(Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)