Interim manager Rafa Benitez has stunned Chelsea fans by boasting he has improved the squad since taking temporary charge in November, reports The Sun.

The Spanish tactician claims that the team is performing better under his stewardship with individuals like Frank Lampard, David Luiz and Juan Mata all taking their games to another level.

His assertion comes with the Blues 22 points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester United, and facing a serious fight to secure a top four finish and qualification for the Champions League next year.

"A lot of the players are growing and improving all the time," said Benitez. "Victor Moses, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ryan Bertrand and David Luiz, who was criticised at the beginning, have all improved.

"Juan Mata is scoring, Oscar is growing and even Fernando Torres was doing well at the beginning and getting goals, although he's not scoring now."

Benitez has the worst win ratio of any Chelsea manager during the Roman Abramovich era, and has already suffered eight defeat in just over four months in charge at Stamford Bridge.

As he prepares his team for tonight's Europa League quarter-final first leg encounter with Rubin Kazan, he reserved special praise for Lampard, who - like him - will be out of contract in west London at the end of the season.

However, he intimated that the current situation doesn't necessarily spell the end for either coach or manager.

"Another player who is improving a lot is Frank," Benitez added. "He was scoring at the start of the season but he's scoring even more now.

"I have a top side now and I'd like to stay with one next season. In England? Why not?"


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