Rafael Benitez has been speaking about his role in charge of Chelsea as we prepare to take on Manchester City later today.
The Blues have played more games than any other club in Europe thus far this campaign, and such statistics bring inevitable issues.
‘The problem we had before, when I just arrived, was that [John] Terry and [Frank] Lampard were injured,’ said Benitez. ‘We played Oriol [Romeu] in midfield and then he got injured, so we didn’t have many players.
‘We then had to play with Lampard and Ramires together for six or seven games in a row, playing 90 minutes twice a week, and we couldn’t manage.’
Squad rotation is part and parcel in the modern game, a far cry from the days when teams would only have one player on the bench.
The decision about who to bring into the side and who to leave out is seldom a simple one for any manager, with different players possessing a varying range of strengths and weaknesses.
The two games against Sparta Prague, however, saw Benitez call it well. In the first leg, barely a minute after replacing Marko Marin, Oscar scored the only goal of the game, while in the return, it was the Brazilian sacrificed for Eden Hazard, who went on to win us the tie right at the death.
‘After every game we see how the players feel, we have all the statistics about the amount of ground covered, but you also have to speak to the player and see how they feel,’ explained the Blues boss.
‘Sometimes you have players who you don’t want to change because they are a key part of your offensive game. Some players you can change if you have someone in the same position at a similar level, but it depends on the game.
‘We analyse every single detail after the game with the technical staff and medical staff.’
As in any line of work, there are both positives and negatives that come with being a football manager. As Benitez explained, however, there are few better feelings than seeing your own players blossom.
‘I just concentrate on my job,’ he said. ‘My job is to improve the team and prepare the players in the best way possible.
‘You can see how the likes of Victor Moses, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Frank Lampard are doing. You can see how these players have grown and progressed, so I’m really happy with that.’