Rafa Benitez opens up on Chelsea stint and Roman Abramovich relationship

Rafa Benitez failed to win over Chelsea fans in his controversial stint as interim boss, but the former Liverpool manager insists he “delivered” at Stamford Bridge.

Rafa Benitez insists his turbulent spell in charge of Chelsea was a success despite his frosty relationship with the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Benitez was appointed interim Blues boss in November 2012 following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, who had guided the west London side to a first ever Champions League crown just six months earlier.

Replacing a club legend in the hot-seat was always going to prove a difficult task for the Spaniard, yet he arrived in SW6 with even less brownie points given his famous stint at Liverpool.

In six years at Anfield, Benitez enjoyed a fierce rivalry with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, dumping the Special One out of the Champions League on two occasions.

He even took an infamous dig at Blues supporters for waving plastic flags back in 2007, meaning his appointment as interim boss was met with an unparalleled hostility.

Benitez walked out at Stamford Bridge for the first time to a deafening chorus of jeers, but in the end he guided Chelsea to a third-place finish as well as Europa League glory.

“The majority realised what we did,” he said in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“I would go into Waitrose and people would stop me to talk and they appreciated what we were doing.”

After spending six months at the club, Benitez left his position as Chelsea interim manager and made way for returning boss Mourinho in the summer of 2013.

Before doing so, however, he was invited to have dinner in New York with Blues owner Roman Abramovich at the end of the season.

“That means we delivered,” Benitez added. “They could see we were professionals, working hard and doing things right. I didn’t have any regrets.

“The problem at this time was that they wanted to win, they needed to win, they were desperate to win. As soon as something was wrong they were changing the manager and changing policy.

“But the reality is that they were improving the system, Michael Emenalo was doing a good job as director of football, their academy was very good, always winning the FA Youth Cup. Now you can see Abramovich is back with his support and they have signed a lot of good players and will be very competitive.

“This year, Chelsea and Manchester United must deliver. They have spent some money in recent years.”

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