Benitez demands CL qualification

Rafael Benitez insists finishing in the top four is more important for Chelsea than trophies this season.

Last Updated: 26/01/13 at 13:44 Post Comment

Benitez: Thinks a top-four finish is more important than trophies

Benitez: Thinks a top-four finish is more important than trophies

Rafael Benitez insisted finishing in the Barclays Premier League top four was more important for Chelsea - and his own future - than trophies this season as he attempts to avoid crashing out of yet another competition on Sunday.

Benitez arrived at Stamford Bridge in November determined to land some silverware during his spell as interim manager.

But he has instead watched one piece after another slip from his grasp in the midst of a campaign in which Chelsea have competed on an unprecedented number of fronts.

Two trophies could vanish in the space of five days if they follow up Wednesday's Capital One Cup exit with an FA Cup fourth-round shock defeat at Brentford on Sunday.

But despite no Chelsea manager having survived the axe at the end of a barren season since Roman Abramovich bought the club, Benitez left little doubt what the Russian expected of him.

He said: "My idea is very clear. We have to be in the top four in terms of doing well and try to progress in the other competitions.

"But not just to get the job. It's just what we have to do."

He added: "We want to win every game, we want to win every trophy available.

"The FA Cup is our next target, we will try to do it.

"The priority is very clear. Finish in the top four and try to progress and try to go, as much as we can, to the final or to the semi-final.

"The most important thing, to be in the Champions League next year."

An FA Cup exit against npower League One opponents would certainly not be considered progress in a competition Chelsea have won an amazing four times in six years, including last season.

Benitez said: "As a top side, you have to win. And you play against a team in another division, so you have to win."

Benitez knows all about cup shocks from his time at Liverpool, who suffered ignominious exits at the hands of Burnley, Barnsley and Reading during his six years in charge.

Almost invariably, they would occur when the Spaniard rested several key players, something he was also considering doing tomorrow after admitting yesterday some of Chelsea's slimline squad were running on empty.

Defending the rotation policy which will likely see recalls for Paulo Ferreira and Ryan Bertrand in addition to John Terry, Benitez said: "You can make one mistake in one game.

"It does not mean that the approach is not good enough."

The last time Benitez made sweeping changes, Chelsea crashed to defeat in a west London derby, with QPR winning 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Benitez believes the Brentford game would be "totally different" on a pitch that was "not the best".

He added: "But it's a game that you will play against a team that is close and it will be a massive, massive motivation for them too."

Like Chelsea, Brentford lie third in their own division.

Benitez said: "I have seen some games and I was talking with the scout.

"They can play in different ways. They can switch.

"They can play long, they can try to win second balls.

"So, quite an interesting team and they are doing well."

Benitez also insisted Chelsea were heading in the right direction under his leadership, despite their succession of high-profile flops.

"I have analysed things we have done well and wrong and still I think we are on the right path," he said.

"The question is obviously, as I say, one game can make a big difference.

"But in terms of preparation and improvement of the team, I think we are going in the right direction."

The Spaniard has been heavily linked with a job swap with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who is reportedly set to leave Real Madrid this summer.

Benitez would not be drawn, saying: "I'm really pleased to be here because it's a top side and I can work with good staff and good players, top-class players, and that is what I like to do, to challenge for trophies.

"Can you win? It is my experience that sometimes you can do everything right and still you will lose a final or a semi-final."


Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week


Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

W

ell that really inspires me with confidence. No point in training, deciding on a coherent formation, or playing players in their best positions, let's just hope we get lucky.

mumbo_jimbo
Van Gaal: Luck is key

I

believe this is because for sepp Christmas is a 7 day feast finishing on the 25th

hiya
Blatter calls for early final

F

alcao really needs to shine now. Apparently according to the stats, he scores more when played up front alone. I wonder if Van Gaal will actually apply a formation to get the best out of him though.

anthracyte
Van Persie lay-off expected

Footer 365

Mauricio Pochettino proud of Tottenham players despite Capital One Cup loss

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said he was proud of his players despite losing to Chelsea in the Capital One Cup final.

Jose Mourinho hails players for adapting to gameplan in Capital One Cup success

Jose Mourinho hailed his players for adapting to his gameplan after Chelsea’s Capital One Cup final success against Spurs.

John Terry targets more Chelsea trophies after Capital One Cup success

John Terry says Chelsea's "massive" Capital One Cup final win over Tottenham could be the start of something special.

Mail Box

Are Tottenham Right To Redevelop?

It's a really good Friday afternoon Mailbox, with thoughts on Spurs' ground development, the Europa league (leave it alone) and one man running for a very good cause...

Rodgers Is More Of A Paisley Than A Rafa

Most Liverpool fans in the Mailbox are claiming to be pleased to see the back of the Europa League. Plus merging the Europa and Champions League, and winter WC...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company