AVB backs Benitez's Chelsea tenure
Tottenham Hotspur boss Andre Villas-Boas believes Rafael Benitez has been a success in his turbulent spell as Chelsea's interim manager.
Villas-Boas is preparing to make his first return to Stamford Bridge since he was sacked by the west London club in March 2012, as his Spurs side travel to Chelsea for a must-win game on Wednesday night.
And, speaking at his pre-match press briefing at Tottenham's Enfield training base, the Portuguese reserved praise for Benitez.
"Rafa agreed the position of interim manager. It was a difficult situation for him to be in, but you have to say he has been successful because the club's minimum objective is in his grasp going into this game," Villas-Boas said.
"It is very difficult for me to judge the job he has done, it was difficult for him when he accepted the interim manager position. I have respect for the difficulties that he has gone through."
Villas-Boas said he does not know what kind of reaction he will get from the Chelsea fans when he resumes his position on the Stamford Bridge touchline, before backing Benitez in his move to publicly chastise the Blues supporters in his infamous rant following an FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough in February.
"He made public is frustrations and that made it easier for him to work more comfortably, as it was affecting the team's balance," Villas-Boas said. "For a manager to get past the frustrations of the fans is difficult, but the fans represent the passion and emotion in football and they are entitled to their opinions.
"For me, (the return to Stamford Bridge) is not very special. It is a club I have gone past and I have good and bad memories. It was a period that did not finish the way that I would have liked.
"Before I was manager there, I was in Jose's (Mourinho) team and I had some wonderful years there. Probably the ones that I spent there as a manager aren't that special."
Meanwhile, Chelsea's Demba Ba says certain players within the squad would enjoy working with Mourinho again.
"The players at Chelsea are all talking about the situation and telling stories about when Jose was at the club before," he told The Sun. "They are fans of his and love him as a person and as a coach. He is still greatly appreciated here."