Rafa: Next Blues boss will have it easy
Outgoing Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez believes he has made life easier for his successor by laying the foundations for a new era of success at Stamford Bridge.
With Jose Mourinho widely tipped to return as Chelsea manager in the coming weeks, Benitez has suggested the current Real Madrid tactician will inherit a side prepared for success following a difficult season that has ended in glory.
A top four finish in the Premier League and Europa League glory represented a decent return for Benitez as he overcame a hostile reception from Chelsea supporters during his temporary stint in charge.
Now Benitez has suggested the next Blues manager will benefit from his work, after claiming he has improved the Chelsea squad since succeeding Roberto Di Matteo as coach last November.
"The team is now much better and the new manager will have an easier task because he will have more quality and experience, and he will start pre-season," stated Benitez on the Chelsea website, chelseafc.com.
"The players have been improving and have more experience. With young players we say it is a team in transition with people like (Juan) Mata, Oscar, (Eden) Hazard, (Marko) Marin, (Victor) Moses. They are new players and they are doing well. They are improving and learning, and have experience of competing for trophies which is important in a top side.
"They will be even better next year so if you talk about players like Oscar, Hazard, Mata - the three amigos are getting better every day so that will be good. (Fernando) Torres is also stronger.
"If you see the squad it's not as big as some people were saying. We had new players, young players who needed experience. If you analyse this I can understand why Roberto was playing sometimes the same team or using less players.
"We tried to manage because we knew we had a lot of games and at the beginning some games were not successful but little by little the team had the same idea and physically were stronger."
Benitez went on to reserve special praise for defender David Luiz, who has emerged as a key performer after enduring a tricky start to his career at Chelsea.
"David Luiz has been very consistent in different positions," he added.
"The key thing is you can trust him, you can tell him to do this or that and he is always keen to do it. It is a bonus for a manager."