BENITEZ: LITTLE BY LITTLE

Posted on: Fri 17 May 2013

As he prepares for his final competitive game in charge, Rafael Benitez has been considering the progress of his players over the past seven months.

The Spaniard has secured Champions League football and lifted the Europa League trophy since taking over from Roberto Di Matteo back in November.

'It is a stronger team. The players have been improving and have more experience,' he said. 'With young players we say it is a team in transition with people like Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Marin, Moses. They are new players and they are doing well. They are improving and learning, and have experience of competing for trophies which is important in a top side.

'Azpilicueta is now an international for Spain, Torres is stronger and has more confidence. You can see he is doing well. David Luiz has been very consistent in different positions. The key thing is you can trust him, you can tell him to do this or that and he is always keen to do it. It is a bonus for a manager.

'If you see the squad it's not as big as some people were saying. We had new players, young players who needed experience. If you analyse this I can understand why Roberto was playing sometimes the same team or using less players.

'We tried to manage because we knew we had a lot of games and at the beginning some games were not successful but little by little the team had the same idea and physically were stronger.'

Benitez was then asked whether he feels the team could compete for next season's Barclays Premier League title.

'It always depends on the other teams at the same time,' he responded. 'These players are getting older. Some of them will have more experience. They will be even better next year so if you talk about players like Oscar, Hazard, Mata - the three amigos are getting better every day so that will be good.

'The team will be much better and the new manager will have an easier task because he will have more quality and experience, and he will start pre-season.'