'It's a great season for Chelsea but could get even better' - Rafael Benitez
Interim manager speaks after victory over Manchester United
Tuesday 02 April 2013
Rafael Benitez insisted that Chelsea's "great season" could yet get better still after reaching the FA Cup semi-finals yesterday afternoon.
Despite the unpopularity of the Spaniard's tenure as interim manager, Chelsea are in the last four of the Cup the last eight of the Europa League, and currently sit fourth in the Premier League. Even this difficult year could end with two trophies.
"The race for the top four will be until the end of the season," Benitez said. "We're in the top four with a game in hand. It's a great season. It could be even better. My priority is the top four and trying to win the next game, in the Europa League."
Chelsea host Rubin Kazan on Thursday before facing Sunderland in the Premier League, the return leg of the Europa League in Russia and then Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final. They will almost certainly be without Gary Cahill, who missed yesterday after a setback, and Ashley Cole, who went off with a hamstring injury.
"Cahill will be out for another 15 days at least, two or three weeks, and Ashley the same. So we have to manage the players we have," said Benitez.
The manager, who unlike in previous meetings did shake Sir Alex Ferguson's hand both before and after yesterday's game, denied it was additionally satisfying to beat his old adversary. "I'm pleased because the team won," he said. "The players did a great job." Benitez also said he "did not realise" that Rio Ferdinand was being barracked by Chelsea fans throughout the game.
Sir Alex Ferguson said it was "disappointing" to be knocked out of the Cup and acknowledged that Petr Cech's save from Javier Hernandez's second-half header was the game's turning point.
"You have to say Cech's save from Chicharito was unbelievable," the United manager said. "You need a bit of luck in the Cup. I think if we had got that goal then we would have been OK."
Ferguson was confident his players would bounce back for Monday's league game against Manchester City.
"We will kick on. It was disappointing today, of course, but we have to forget all about it and move on to the game against City next Monday. We are in a good position obviously and I think a positive result for us on Monday will just about seal the title for us."
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
Latest in Sport
Tottenham to use controversial blood-spinning technique to speed Jan Vertonghen return
World Cup 2014: Football Manager developers predict the team of the tournament - but which England player makes it into the XI?
Roy Keane omits Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs from 'greatest' Manchester United team
Napoli 2 Arsenal 0 match report: Nightmare in Naples leaves Arsenal to battle giants
Transfer news: Wayne Rooney sparks Manchester United exit rumours after rejecting new contract talks - reports
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 3 Australia: Gay marriage law reversed by high court less than a week after first weddings
- 4 Exeter to Edinburgh and back in a day: How one fresher's lost bet left him facing a 900-mile round trip
- 5 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding