By Paul Lagan, at Stamford Bridge
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Chelsea interim manager defended his decision to rest Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Ashley Cole after they were beaten by QPR.
The west Londoners lost 1-0 to their relegation-haunted near neighbours QPR tonight with ex-Blue Shaun Wright-Phillips scoring the vital goal in the second half.
The interim manager rested stars Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Ashley Cole and it backfired in spectacular fashion.
But the Spaniard still feels justified in his team selection.
“ I was confident that we could continue to play well,” he said.
“I’m disappointed to end our good run like this.
“We changed some players but you could see that some players were a little bit tired.
“We were not precise in possession and not passing the ball with high enough intensity and tempo.
“And then we made a mistake for the goal. Too many things together were not working for us,” he lamented.
“I don’t regret making changes by leaving Mata and Hazard on the bench.
“In the last games (Victor) Moses was playing so my only difference was that Marko Marin played tonight - you cannot play the players all the time,” he added.
Benitez cited the long trip to Japan last month as the reason for his players being tired.
“When you play a team at the bottom of the league, you have to trust your players and I trust them.
“They were doing well. But in some areas we were a little bit tired.
“The passing and pace and movement were not as we were expecting.
“The reason why we put fresh legs in was because we had a long trip to Japan.
“QPR played deep and waited for us and then just played counter-attack and maybe play for the set piece.”
The Blues are now fourth in the Premier League, 14 points off leaders Manchester United, but Benitez does not seem to care.
“I am not too worried about the league table,” he confessed.
“I just look at one game at a time. If you cannot win your games, it will be more difficult, but the priority is to think about the next game which is Southampton (on Saturday in the FA Cup) and keep our confidence which we had before. I will analyse what went wrong and if we can change something we will.”
Pressed on the need to drop Fernando Torres, Benitez was in characteristic defensive mood.
“Fernando and some of the others need a rest,” he suggested.
“They have played too many games in the last month. It’s difficult to manage with one or two players (tired).”