The Spaniard recorded the first Barclays Premier League victory of his interim reign at Stamford Bridge yesterday when the Blues followed up their 6-1 Champions League demolition of Nordsjaelland with a 3-1 victory at Sunderland.
Perhaps significantly, Fernando Torres, who established himself as one of the top frontmen in the world under his compatriot during their time together at Liverpool, added two more goals to the double he claimed in midweek to announce his return to form.
Benitez was quick to point out that the £50million striker’s resurrection has gone hand in hand with a general improvement by the team, and he is confident there is more to come as he and he players head for the Far East and the FIFA Club World Cup. He said: “The team still can improve, so it'’ a question of time.
Training sessions before games, you have just two or three sessions and you cannot improve everything that you want to improve. But we will have more time, maybe, in Japan, three days in the hotel. We can talk, we can analyse more things and little by little, they will get to the level at which we want to see them.”
Benitez, of course, knows the Club World Cup tournament well having taken Liverpool to the final in 2005 and won it with Inter Milan five years later.
Chelsea will face Mexican outfit CF Monterrey in Yokohama on Thursday and then the final or the third-place play off at the same venue on Sunday before heading home. Benitez said: “It’s important always to have these opportunities to win any trophy, and especially a trophy like this one. We played the final in Japan in 2005, we won two years ago. It was a great experience for me and hopefully it will be a great experience for our players. It will be a fantastic experience. Yes, we are concerned because we know it will be difficult, but we are working hard.”