Rafael Benitez can look back on his time as interim Chelsea manager and consider himself a success, Frank Lampard believes, after the Spaniard’s temporary spell at Stamford Bridge ended with Champions League qualification and Europa League success, Sky
Benitez was not made to feel welcome by a large section of the Blues’ faithful when he replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November 2012, as supporters remembered critical comments he made about Chelsea when Liverpool manager and were unhappy with the treatment of Di Matteo, a former Chelsea midfielder who won the Champions League during his own caretaker spell in charge.
But Lampard has praised Benitez for his approach, in the circumstances, and revealed that despite all the inherent problems of coaching a team and knowing you only have a limited timeframe in which to work, Benitez did – in his mind – an excellent job.
“He’s a professional bloke. He prepared very well for games. And it was a difficult situation for him as well,” Lampard said. “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.”
Lampard added however that he did not personally feel close to the former Inter boss, but accepted that keeping a professional distance was simply Benitez’s way. “There are certain managers you build relationships with and feel closer to,” Chelsea’s record goal scorer continued.
“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.”
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