Rafael Benitez has been discussing his time out of the game and passion for life in England.
Benitez returned to management on Wednesday night after two years out of the game. As he told the amassed journalists at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, however, ‘out of the game is not out of the game’, and he has kept his attentions on the sport while planning a return at a club matching his own ambition.
It has been a whirlwind week for the 52-year-old Spaniard, who this afternoon faces Manchester City in his first game in the Chelsea dugout. Seven days ago, he admits, he would not have considered such events possible.
‘You are not expecting to be here, and that Chelsea would have to change the manager in that time,’ he explains. ‘When they decided to do it I talked with my agent, and I knew we had a chance, but everything has happened very quickly.
‘I have been quite busy, watching games, analysing games, doing a website, writing a book and developing coaching programmes, so I was very involved with football and ready for this time. When you are some time without training you want to do well and succeed again. The game has not changed a lot in that time.’
Does the former Liverpool manager feel he has changed though?
‘You try to analyse things,’ he admits. ‘People ask what you have done wrong, I try to think more about what we have done well and try to keep doing things in the same way, and change a few little things that were wrong.’
One thing that has maintained in that period is Benitez’s preference for life in England. He returned to these shores after leaving Inter, and stresses he had no intention of looking elsewhere for work.
‘I was in England, my family was settled down, and my priority was always the Premier League, so I was trying to stay around,’ he says. ‘Obviously I was going to Spain, Germany, wherever, but most of the time I was here.’
And now he makes the move south for the first time, to a capital city that offers no concerns.
‘I was in Madrid for so many years. It’s a big city, but obviously London is bigger. I have the same experience of the traffic, which is interesting, so it is a one hour journey to Cobham but it is good because in a big city you can find everything you want.’
It is hoped that by 6pm today, we will all have found the three points we are looking for in south-west London.