2012 to 2013
Rafael Benitez was appointed as the club's interim manager in November 2012 following the departure of Roberto Di Matteo after a Champions League group game defeat at Juventus.
The remainder of the 2012/13 campaign was one packed with matches like never before, with constant midweek fixtures limiting the amount of work the highly experienced Spaniard could spend on the training pitch and results were patchy, with defeat in the final of the Club World Cup in Japan against Brazilian side Corinthians in December, followed by semi-final defeats to Swansea in the Capital One Cup and Manchester City in the FA Cup.
However, there was success too, the season ending with silverware as Benitez and the team secured the Europa League trophy by beating Benfica 2-1 in Amsterdam, Branislav Ivanovic heading a late winner after the Portuguese had equalised Fernando Torres’s opener.
That had been achieved without John Terry who had been lost to injury two games earlier on the day Frank Lampard broke the Chelsea goals record at Villa Park. Terry had been used fitfully by Benitez as he rotated his central defence especially, and frequently changed other areas of the team in seeking the formula he wanted while coping with the extreme number of games.
Benitez steered the team to automatic Champions League qualification thanks to a third-place finish in the Premier League. Soon after the end of the 2012/13 season he was released from the remaining weeks of his contract to become the new manager of Napoli.