Torres: Benitez made us better
Sun, 26 May 2013 10:00:00
Rafa Benitez has set his sights on managing in the UEFA Champions League next term after bringing his stint as Chelsea interim manager to a close with a second post-season tour defeat to Manchester City on Saturday night.
The Spaniard guided Chelsea to Europa League glory and also helped them qualify for next season's Champions League after being brought in last November.
Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been widely linked with a return to Stamford Bridge this summer to succeed Benitez.
Asked about his plans and a link to Napoli following Chelsea's 5-3 defeat to City in New York, Benitez told Sky Sports News: "I am going to London now.
"I want to be in a top side so that we can play in the Champions League, if that is possible."
Benitez faced hostility from many Chelsea fans when he took over following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo but was pleased to have delivered success to Stamford Bridge.
"I think it was a good challenge and I enjoyed it at the end, added Benitez.
"We won a trophy, (we reached) some semi-finals, a final (and finished in the) top three so I am really pleased because a lot of people at the start, people around players, they were pushing and pushing.
"I am really pleased for everyone."
Benitez's one regret is he will not be able to continue with the development of Chelsea's rising stars.
"When you have some good players growing and improving you like to stay with them," continued Benitez.
"I am really pleased because the job is done."
Benitez's tenure as interim boss ended as Chelsea completed their post-season tour of the United States with a second successive loss to Manchester City.
The Blues were beaten 5-3 at Yankee Stadium in New York, two days after losing 4-3 in St Louis.
But those results hardly mattered and after taking charge amid much fan hostility due to his Liverpool past, and overseeing Europa League success, the Spaniard leaves in positive circumstances.
Countryman Torres, who captained the team in the Big Apple, said: "He came in in a difficult situation, personally, for him with the reaction of the fans and the team were not doing well at the time.
"It takes a bit of time to do better but after that, at the end of the season, the team was much better than at the beginning.
"He has helped the team, the team has been good. The players are better.
"I think he came to do a job and he did. He must be happy because he won a trophy with Chelsea."
For City, the game rounded off a highly successful week.
The club caused a stir by launching a new Major League Soccer franchise on Tuesday and they have excited potential new fans with two entertaining victories.
Chelsea fans have vastly outnumbered City supporters in the two matches, for which the combined attendance was 87,725.
That underlines the good work the Londoners have done in the US in recent years and shows how far behind City are at present in terms of American profile.
Midfielder Gareth Barry, who scored the opening goal, said: "It was a great spectacle and the supporters turned out in great numbers again.
"It was about something other than the result. We've had a great few days.
"Fans here and in St Louis have watched two great games with lots of goals and lots of attacking football.
"I'm not sure our defensive coach will be too happy but it is great to see games like that.
"It is a massive step for Manchester City to get involved with a club in the MLS.
"Nothing like that has been done before. It's exciting times for the club."
Samir Nasri scored two well-taken goals for City while James Milner and Edin Dzeko also got on the scoresheet.
Chelsea contributed to an entertaining encounter with Ramires striking twice and Juan Mata curling in an excellent free-kick.