• Europa League

Benitez: Europa win justifies appointment

ESPN staff
May 15, 2013

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez is confident victory in the Europa League final against Benfica will finally judge his tenure at the club as a complete success.

Benitez joined the club in a turbulent period as owner Roman Abramovich angered many fans by replacing Roberto Di Matteo with the Spaniard.

Former Blues player Di Matteo won the Champions League and the FA Cup in the previous season after himself succeeding Andre Villas-Boas.

But a poor start to the season, including the ignominy of being the first reigning champions to be knocked out at the group stage of the Champions League, forced Ambramovich's hand.

But under a cloud of ongoing supporters' protests, Benitez has hoisted the club to third in the Premier League, ed them to an FA Cup final, and now, Wednesday's showdown with Benfica.

And should Chelsea triumph in the continent's second-best competition, Benitez believes it is a record that should halt the negativity surrounding the club's season.

"You can always make mistakes but it was not an easy situation at the beginning," he said. "We have managed it quite well.

"Every day, after every training session, I go home and think we are doing our best.

"For me it is always important to win trophies. If we win it will be easier and people will realise that to be here, at this stage of the competition, means we have done a lot of things well.

"After (Wednesday) we will have played 68 games. For the last six months we have been playing two games a week at least.

"Imagine any team in the world doing that and progressing to semi-finals of two competitions and final of one.

"It doesn't matter what a lot of people say, we feel we have done a good job. Hopefully we can do even better."

Club stalwart Frank Lampard was also trying to deflect criticism of the Blues' season, in particular the early exit of the Champions League, believing their premature demise gave them the opportunity to 'love' the Europa League.

"You are talking about the highest level of club football in the world," he said.

"You can't have it your own way every year. We were lucky enough to have had a great run to the Champions League final and win it last year.

"At first we were disappointed to end up in the Europa League. But the more we have been involved in it, the more we have learned to love it.

"We wanted to progress and the closer we got to the final, the more we wanted to be here."

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