- Premier League
Benitez targets evolution at Chelsea
Rafa Benitez says Chelsea cannot afford to wait for the future as speculation continues over veterans such as Frank Lampard.
Benitez made a point of paying respect to the likes of the midfielder and wasn't specifically commenting about Lampard's widely expected departure, but the manager maintained that ongoing evolution is essential for the club to keep winning.
"I think it's always easy to talk about the legends, and you have to have a lot of respect for them. What they've achieved for this club has been fantastic.
"But, at the same time, we know that we need new players. You have to bring new players and to carry on winning games. That's what the fans are expecting. They know the legends have been there and some of them are still here but at the same time you have to see the new players coming. It's part of life.
"That is the good thing about English football: you have good memories and respect people who have achieved something for a club. That's something very, very positive. But, at the same time, you have to think about the future.
"You cannot be waiting. You have to move forward, bring in new players and at the same time try and bring the best out of those you have. You have to use their experience of these players, too.
"Every year you have to bring in someone else... it's a dangerous question. It's something you have to consider, but this year you have three or four players. You have Hazard, Oscar and Piazon and Marko [Marin], young players who will need some time.
"Maybe in the next couple of years we will be talking about these fantastic players and maybe talk about new players that have to come. That is part of the evolution of the team.
"If you want to move forward and you want the winning mentality, you need the new generation pushing you and then I think Chelsea has managed this situation because they are successful. That is the problem, that you were so successful that everyone can see the players that they won, but you have to see the new players."
Should Lampard leave for LA Galaxy, as is widely expected, or any other club, then it would of course greatly reduce the medal count at the team. That makes Wednesday's Capital One Cup semi-final against Swansea City all the more important, as the competition could provide the newer core with the winning mentality and history that Benitez speaks of.
"The mentality of these players is to win every game. We will make sure everyone is focused and concentrating, but that is the same with every game. We hope to score goals and not concede too many, but this is a cup competition and anything can happen. If you see the reaction of the team [after the World Club Cup] at Leeds and the reaction was very positive. The same this week.
"We are growing. We're more mature and understanding the game much better. You can see these players are learning from their experiences. If you manage victories well, always it's positive: if you can win and carry on with the right message, and they are humble... I remember some comments after beating Aston Villa 8-0 that the next game was really important, and we performed really well against Norwich. That is good news.
"We want to win all the games. When you're challenging and fighting for trophies... We want to be in the final. We have a lot of respect for Swansea, but this will be an interesting game for the fans."
"For me, it's important to go to the final with my team. My team now is Chelsea, so it's very clear. I will try to do my best for my club. At this moment that's Chelsea. If we can win every trophy, we'll be really pleased."