Rafael Benitez believes the current Chelsea squad is one set to mature with experience, and is certainly not lacking in ability.
The Blues welcome Steve Clarke’s West Bromwich Albion to west London later today, aiming to narrow the gap on Tottenham Hotspur, who are currently two points ahead of us in the Premier League table and face Arsenal tomorrow.
Having allowed leads to slip away in games against West Ham United, Southampton, Reading and Newcastle United, it could be argued that we should be in a far more comfortable position, but Benitez offers an explanation.
‘If you analyse everything, we don’t have some of the big names we’ve had in the past, we have new players who need to settle down in the Premier League, so it’s a transitional period,’ he says. ‘They have a lot of quality and talent.
‘For example, some of the games we’ve been winning this season and we didn’t win, if we had a bit more experience maybe we would have, because we would have been able to keep the ball and stop the game.’
The manager also notes a positive atmosphere in and around training, and emphasises the need for unity during the final few months of the campaign.
‘Analysing the situation for the next 11 games, we need to stick together,’ explains the Spaniard. ‘When the atmosphere is good, players perform better, so if we create an atmosphere with the fans behind us it will be easier to win.
‘The atmosphere at the training ground is really good, I have a very good relationship with all the staff at Cobham. I like to prepare for games, to train players, to coach and to win. Every single game for me is a challenge, every training session is a challenge.
‘I prepare the training session, the team selection, the games, the tactics and it’s part of my passion. I have a lot of conversations with players, and the majority of them say they are pleased with the training sessions, intensity levels and tactics.
‘When you have 25 players in a squad there will always be one or two who are frustrated, you will always find somebody who isn’t happy because they are not playing because players want to play, but you could say the same about every squad around the world.’