BENITEZ: WORKING WITH BELIEF
With today's game at Middlesbrough another example of one which comes three days after the previous match, Rafael Benitez has described managing the training ground work that comes in between.
Sunday last saw the Blues in action, the defeat at Manchester City then followed on Monday morning at Cobham by the start of preparations for the continuing defence of the FA Cup. Then fifth-round draw ensured back-to-back away games in the north of England.
'A lot of minutes that we are together are taken up by playing games and travelling, and that is a problem when you have too many games,' said Benitez. 'In a top side it is normal but it is especially in this case because we have more games than anyone.
'We have two training sessions [between games] and sometimes you cannot push the players with the intensity you would like. Then you have to manage tactically and you have to manage different groups. Players who are normally not playing, we work them harder so they have very good training sessions in terms of intensity, but if some players are playing too many games they cannot do that.
'If you have four days until the next game then maybe you can do it in different ways,' added the manager.
'If you have three days then the second day is when the players are feeling the most tired, and that is the day before the game. If they want to practice, maybe stay out shooting you have to tell them, listen, tomorrow we have a game.'
Despite the necessity to limit the energy-draining nature of training on certain days, Benitez does not see a lack of intensity during games as a reason why some results have not been good, nor is the attitude of the players in question.
'We are playing with a lot of intensity but I felt we made mistakes for different reasons.
'We went to the Etihad and had a penalty and two counter-attacks when we could score and maybe be ahead against a very good team, so you have to be disappointed, and we didn't play at the level we could play and that is my concern. In terms of other results, we had games we could easily win.
'I remember Reading, and on 93 ½ minutes we conceded a goal from a free-kick and that is not a question of character, it is a question of a mistake, a lack of concentration in this situation.
'We have players with quality and they are training hard. I like to talk with them every day and on Tuesday I was talking with three or four, and then after two or three more and all of them are convinced we will finish in the top three or four.
'I can guarantee that the players know what we are trying to do and they believe what we are trying to do. They are fully behind the ideas.'