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May 22, 2013

Chelsea fans 'had right' to boo Benitez

Frank Lampard has defended Chelsea fans' treatment of interim manager Rafael Benitez in an interview with the Sun.

• Lythell: Wave Benitez goodbye
• Lampard praises Mourinho
• Lampard: I expected to leave

Former Liverpool manager Benitez was appointed on a short-term contract in November 2012 but failed to win over a majority of the club's support who were unhappy with his history at Anfield.

Although his success on the field, winning the Europa League and finishing third in the Premier League, led to a softened stance among some there was still a hardcore element which remained disillusioned with his presence.

And Lampard, who has just finished his 12th season with the club, says that Chelsea fans have 'the right to do what they want'.

"He was the manager of a rival team and things were said - so there's that element to it," he said.

"And I'm not one to take away the right of a man to feel how he feels. They are human beings, the fans.

"I hear people from the outside say Chelsea fans made it difficult - I don't think they have. This was a very particular occasion and Chelsea fans have the right to do what they want."

Lampard also says he will "never forget" the way the fans have treated him this season, claiming they have inspired him during a season that he broke the club's all-time goalscoring record.

"Their support this season meant a huge amount, they have been absolutely massive for me," he added.

"I'm very fortunate to have a great relationship with our fans and I have had that all along here. There's nothing better.

"There are moments when you're sitting on the bench or you're not in the team or you are injured - the lift from your own fans really does give you a leg-up.

"And I will never forget how they have been in this period, supporting me. It has been amazing. It means everything."

Benitez's time at Stamford Bridge is almost at an end, and Lampard admits he has found it hard to build a close relationship with the Spaniard like he has with other managers in the past.

He said: "There are certain managers you build relationships with and feel closer to. He's not that kind of bloke. "Other managers draw a bit of a line and keep it that way. Rafa's more like that. He was not really the sort of manager you could sit and talk with.

"We had a couple of conversations about my future in which he was quite honest saying that he wasn't really involved. So that's where that conversation ends.

"He's not a manager who goes round putting his arm around every player - and I'm not saying that's wrong. There are a lot of managers like that, Fabio Capello was like that with England.

"He's a professional bloke. He prepared very well for games and it was a difficult situation for him as well. As interim manager it was always going to be quite difficult because we all knew it was only to the end of the season.

"So there was no planning, no long-term relationships were going to be built. So, in that respect, he did a good job because we got the end result - success."

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