Interim manager Rafael Benitez said he hoped Chelsea’s fans would show him some appreciation after he guided the club into the Europa League final for the first time in their history following victory over FC Basel.
The Spaniard has struggled to win over Chelsea’s supporters ever since replacing Roberto Di Matteo in November, but he will bow out as a winner if his side overcome Benfica in the final in Amsterdam on May 15.
Domestically, Chelsea remain locked in a battle to secure qualification for the Champions League, the competition they won under Di Matteo, but Benitez hopes their exploits in Europe's second-tier competition will earn his team some respect.
“With all the circumstances and everything that was around at the beginning — the situation with the new signings, the squad being in transition — it was tough, but we’ve done a good job,” he said.
“We’ve not had much time, having to play two games every week, but we’ve done well and hopefully we can do even better. We are professionals in our jobs. Since losing to Swansea (in the League Cup semi-finals), we’ve won 11 of our 13 games at home, with two draws and 11 wins. We’re doing our job and hopefully a lot of them (the fans) will appreciate that.”
Chelsea hit back from a goal down in their semi-final second leg against Basel at Stamford Bridge on Thursday to win 3-1 win on the night and 5-2 on aggregate.
After Fernando Torres had cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s first-half opener early in the second period, Victor Moses made it 2-1 before David Luiz sealed Chelsea’s place in the final with a magnificent curling shot from 25 yards.
It was a goal to match the Brazilian’s superb long-range strike in Chelsea's recent 3-0 win at Fulham, and Benitez was quick to herald his display.