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Jan 23, 2013

Benitez rues timing of Blues appointment

Rafael Benitez claims he was at a disadvantage when taking charge of Chelsea because he joined a team in transition midseason, but he says he sees plenty of positives from his three months in charge.

• Blog: Wheel of fortune turning

Benitez was appointed interim manager in November following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, which came after a run of four games without a win in the Premier League and with the club on the brink of exiting the Champions League.

The Spaniard says that was not the easiest introduction to life at Stamford Bridge, but he is pleased with the progress the team has made since he took the reins.

"As a manager at a top side who want to win trophies, we have to do better," he said. "The priority of the club is to be in the top four and also to win trophies at the same time.

"Could we do it a little bit better? Yes. Could we have won the games we lost? Yes. The team is progressing, it's the right way, and for a lot of people - including the players - we are going in the right direction.

"The majority of managers have a pre-season. Other managers, who came in later, come in when the Champions League is already in place, and with a different squad. With the players we have, good players who still need to settle down, we are doing what we need to do."

Benitez, who has already conceded that Chelsea are out of the Premier League title race, takes his side to the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday as the Blues look to overturn a two-goal deficit in the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Swansea. While he describes Chelsea as a team in transition, he praised the work ethic of the squad.

"The players are working hard, and it's my job to put them in a position to make sure they keep working hard," he said. "You can see their motivation in every game. They are doing well, so there are a lot of positives.

"We are scoring more goals, conceding less, and even in the games we have lost we have done well. The team are in a transitional period because we have some new players, and some players who are coming towards the end of their contracts, so it's a team which is growing and improving."

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