Rafael Benitez proud of 'extremely good' Chelsea manager spell after 'more than fulfilling objectives' | The Sun

RAFAEL BENITEZ has labelled his time at Chelsea as "extremely good" despite him being unpopular with the club's fans.

The Spaniard took charge of the Blues on an interim basis during the 2012-13 season.

He replaced the popular Roberto Di Matteo and received a hostile reception from fans when he first joined the club, which involved protests against his appointment.

Benitez guided Chelsea to a Europa League triumph and a top four finish in the Premier League before leaving at the end of the season with Jose Mourinho filling his shoes.

Reflecting on his time at the club, Benitez told the Telegraph that he looks back at his spell there with fondness and cited his Liverpool links for his unpopularity.

He said: "It's not lost on anyone that [Roman] Abramovich's Chelsea were the strongest team in the Premier League when I arrived at Liverpool.


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"We competed with them and beat them in the Champions League several times, those games had a lot of tension and it's not easy for a fan to forget the emotional part.

"Fortunately, we more than fulfilled our objectives of qualifying directly for the Champions League, and on top of that we also won the Europa League. I think everyone now sees it as a success.

"I have said it many times, we behaved like professionals at all times and the club treated us very well, from the owner to the last employee.

"Our memory of that time at Chelsea is, honestly, extremely good.”

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Frank Lampard's side face one of the 63-year-old's former clubs in Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League this evening.

Ahead of the match, Benitez has backed the current interim boss to do well, saying: "It was a surprise for everyone [re-appointing Lampard], but he has been there for many years and knows the players.

"It's a risky gamble that we will only be able to assess, as almost always, at the end.

"He has a great squad at his disposal, he knows the Premier League, he knows the staff and the fans will give him more leeway than another manager because he was a great player there.

"He can give them more peace of mind in the short-term.”

Benitez is currently out of work and he claims that he has declined the chance to come back into Prem management.

However, he does still want to return to English football.

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