Rafa Benitez has been told to put all his eggs in Chelsea’s Premier League basket, in a do-or-die effort to finish the season in a top-four position.
The Spaniard was given his remit by Chelsea’s technical director, Michael Emanalo, who was acting as go-between for club owner, Roman Abramovich.
The conversation took place after Chelsea’s elimination from the Capital One Cup at the hands of Swansea, and their near death experience in the FA Cup at Brentford.
Benitez was told in no uncertain terms to prioritise a top-four finish, rather than worry about progress in the FA Cup or Europa League.
Chelsea need a Champions League spot next season for financial reasons, as well as to entice Rafa’s potential replacement.
After Pep Guardiola spurned Abramovich’s come-hither glances, the Russian turned his attentions to a high-profile list of second choices.
Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, Michael Laudrup and David Moyes are all on Roman's radar, and most of them could make Champions League football a clincher if they are approached.
And so Benitez- who is safe in the Stamford Bridge hot seat for now, in spite of Chelsea’s inconsistent results and the ongoing near fan revolt- accepts fourth place is his single Blue ambition.
"All I can say is what I know: I have had meetings," Benitez said.
"We were talking about the situation and it's clear for me the priority is the top four and progressing as much as we can in the other competitions. My position is exactly the same: I will try to do my job as well as I can. I cannot lose my focus.
"The players are quite happy with the ways we are doing things, so that is the most positive thing," Champions League winner Benitez added.
"If I saw my players in training without conviction, I'd be worried. But they're happy. In the last 10 days we had a fantastic game against Arsenal, not such a good game against Swansea, and a 50:50 the other day [at Brentford].
“At the end of the season we will see, but I have confidence in the team. The priority is the top four, very clear. But I will try and compete in the other competitions, too."