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Horncastle: Totti thriving at 40

Italian Serie A

Benitez: I deserve to be at Chelsea

Rafael Benitez has rejected suggestions that he accepted a seven-month contract to take over at Chelsea in a bid to revive his battered reputation, after claiming he deserves his place among the elite managers in world football.

• Preview: Chelsea v Man City
• Delaney: Benitez's plans for Chelsea
• Blog: What to expect from Rafa

Former Liverpool manager Benitez will take charge of Chelsea for the first time against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday with his self-belief restored to the level of his coaching glory days at Valencia and Anfield.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may have been quick to suggest Benitez was 'lucky' to be handed the keys of power at Chelsea after he was hounded out of Liverpool and Inter Milan in chastening fashion back in 2010, but Benitez insists he has nothing to prove as he makes his return to the Premier League.

"How many top jobs have been available in the last two years? Not too many," Benitez said. "So if you have maybe eight top managers and only one or two teams available, you do not have too many chances. For me, I was waiting for the right one and it was not there. Now I have a top club and I think I can do a good job.

"Every year you see new managers because the way football is going on, not too many people can cope with this pressure and keep winning. So I had a lot of confidence I would get a job, a good job. Which one? This one is a great opportunity. It doesn't matter that it's for seven months, even three months."

Chelsea supporters who are preparing a hostile welcome party for the club's new manager when he takes charge of the European champions for the first time against City may dispute Benitez's confidence that he should be recognised as one of the coaching giants of the modern game.

However, Benitez has stated that he is returning to the game with a glut of fresh ideas, as he believes some time away from the game has allowed him to re-evaluate his coaching ideals.

"I was forced to take a break from the game after leaving Inter Milan and it has taken me until now to find a way back," he said. "What I can guarantee is when you come back you are more focussed, you have better vision and you have more commitment. Sometimes when you are working, you are working so hard that you don't see everything.

"Now, when I watch the Champions League Final, it gives me new ideas. You watch another game, you have an idea and so you're ready for the next challenge. For me, this challenge is at Chelsea."

Meanwhile, Benitez has suggested he holds the key to reviving £50m misfit Fernando Torres at Chelsea, after claiming the striker he turned into a world-class superstar at Liverpool will benefit from his arrival at Stamford Bridge.

"My job now is to find out why he is not scoring as many goals as he was at Liverpool and I have my ideas," he said. "With Fernando, you have to put your arm around the shoulder and push him."


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