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Apr 2, 2013

Benitez hails 'great season'

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez claimed he is overseeing a 'great season' at Stamford Bridge following his side's FA Cup quarter-final replay 1-0 victory against Manchester United on Monday.

• Delaney at Stamford Bridge
• Lythell: Ba magic edges Chelsea past United

Benitez has come under fire from a majority of Chelsea supporters since his contentious appointment as interim manager last November, but the Spaniard is hoping to end his turbulent reign as Blues boss on a high as he targets FA Cup and Europa League glory.

"I think it's a great season at the moment," said Benitez as he talked up his progress as Chelsea boss. "We're in the top four with a game in hand, we're in a very good position, the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

"The priority for us is to finish in the top four, we know that, but at a top side you have to win every competition. It was very important for everyone to win.

"We worked so hard at Old Trafford (to get the replay) and in the end deserved to win. This was a great game and a great victory for us."

Benitez hit back at criticism that his decision to make a host of changes to his line-up for the Premier League game at Southampton on Saturday contributed to the 2-1 defeat at St Mary's Stadium, as he called for perspective to be added to Chelsea's efforts.

"Before the international break we played against Manchester United, Steaua Bucharest and West Ham and we were the best in the world," he added. "We lost against Southampton and were the worst in the world, but today we won and we're the best.

"You have to have balance. We knew it could be like this, we could win or lose, but we have to carry on. We can't kill players playing them two games in a row, because then they get injured and we lose them.

"We wanted to win against Southampton and use a lot of players, especially when you have another one in less than 48 hours. It's not playing one game in three days like we have for months, it is two games in less than 48 hours.

"Our squad is not too big but we can manage if we don't have injuries. The problem now is that Gary Cahill will be out for another 15 days at least and Ashley (Cole) the same, so we have to manage with the other players."

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