Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez wants to win with style but he is more than happy to grind out victories to keep their momentum going. Four successive Barclays Premier League wins have lifted the Blues back into the top four and have raised hopes of what appeared an unlikely title challenge.
But having swept aside struggling Aston Villa 8-0, they had to dig deep to beat Norwich 1-0 at Carrow Road and at Goodison Park on Sunday clawed back victory after conceding a second-minute opener. Benitez has plenty of flair at his disposal but admits he is equally satisfied when players show the spirit needed to get three points. And with a trip to bottom club QPR on Wednesday, the Spaniard accepts it may be more of the latter is required. “You could see the character of the players at Everton because in the first 25 minutes we were not in the game, but little by little we were controlling and creating chances,” he said. “We knew we could create even more and I was really pleased with the performance of the team. “We showed the level of our team and the options we have and I think it was one of our most difficult games. “This is the process of understanding each other, my players have to understand what I want. “Our idea is to play the same way, playing good football if we can but if not at least try to win showing character. “Japan (the World Club Championships) was important for us because we were there a long time training, we had at least two or three training sessions together where we could do new things. “We are still making some mistakes which we have to manage but the team is much better. “The main thing for me is the attitude of the players: they are keen to learn. “We had a discussion among the staff and we are really pleased with the way they train and behave every day, and that is really important for the future.”
Benitez has been credited with getting striker Fernando Torres scoring again but the manager has been impressed with the selfless work his compatriot is doing for the team. “It is not easy for him to fight against two centre-backs but he creates space for (Juan) Mata and I think the understanding between the two is very good,” said Benitez. “He is doing a great job for the team. Sometimes it is not about just scoring goals, it is creating the space for other players.”
Fergie dismisses retirement talk
Sir Alex Ferguson has stated there is no likelihood of an imminent managerial vacancy at Manchester United. With Pep Guardiola due to end his post-Barcelona sabbatical next summer, Jose Mourinho tipped to leave Real Madrid and David Moyes’ Everton contract ready to expire, three of the major candidates to replace Ferguson could be available at the end of the season. It has led to suggestions Ferguson, who celebrated his 71st birthday on Monday, will call time on his United career, which now extends beyond 26 years. The Scot accepts all three men are at the top of their profession. However, in an interview with the Abu Dhabi Sports channel, Ferguson makes it clear he is going nowhere. “I’m hoping to stay on for a bit of time,” he said. It is widely accepted few will get to know when Ferguson is ready to call it a day, with chief executive David Gill the man tasked with advising the Glazer family about a replacement.