Benitez proud of Chelsea's achievement
Outgoing Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez delivered the Europa League trophy to Stamford Bridge - and then pondered whether fans will now start to think he has done a decent job.
Since arriving in November, Benitez has operated to a background of simmering supporter discontent. However, he has still managed to guide the Blues into next season's Champions League and goals from Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic clinched a 2-1 win over Benfica to secure some silverware as well.
"If you have to win for people to realise the job we are doing? Well, we won. Hopefully now people will say it is not bad," he said. "It depends on the perception. But if you analyse everything, we won the Europa League with one striker for every single game."
He added: "We managed players with yellow cards. Today we only had 18 players. If you put everything together you will realise how hard it is. I think we did well."
It means Chelsea are now in the bizarre position of holding both European trophies for the next 10 days, until Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund scrap it out at Wembley to inherit their Champions League crown. Chelsea have also become the first English team to win all three European titles, adding what used to be known as the UEFA Cup to previous successes in the European Cup and Cup Winners' Cup.
It was enough to bring some kind of applause from the Chelsea fans as Benitez joined in the celebrations, even though the Spaniard did not actually see it. "I was just enjoying myself with the trophy so I didn't know what was going on," he said. "There was a lot of noise and everybody was happy so I was happy too."
That Torres should open the scoring was further vindication of the decision to bring Benitez to the club given he was tasked with getting more from the man who cost Roman Abramovich a British record Â£50million in January 2011.
"We have had a lot of players improving during the season," he said. "Fernando was one of these players. A lot of people said I was appointed to bring the best from Fernando. He has improved a lot so I am really pleased."
Benitez also had words of praise for Frank Lampard. The 34-year-old midfielder is reportedly on the brink of signing a long-awaited contract extension with Chelsea and came close to scoring on two occasions, including a second-half effort that rattled the crossbar.
"Frank is a great professional," the Spaniard said. "He has worked hard in every training session and now, at the end, I think we could see he has improved."
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