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After guiding them to the brink of Champions League qualification and a European final, the Spaniard has answered critics with a strong finish and a chance to make history

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill believes there can be no complaints about the job done by Rafa Benitez ahead of a key period for the club.

The Blues face Aston Villa on Saturday knowing victory will guarantee them a top-four finish, before they travel to Amsterdam to take on Benfica in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

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Benitez was a hugely unpopular appointment with many Chelsea fans, but Cahill believes the Spaniard has vastly improved the club’s fortunes, which is the perfect response.

"As players we've enjoyed working with him," the 27-year-old told talkSPORT.

"We're in a better league position than were last year at this stage and we've got a final to look forward to.

"I don't think you can [dispute] that he has done a great job."

Should the Blues lift the Europa League trophy at the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday night, they will become only the fourth club in history to have won all three major UEFA trophies, and England international Cahill sees the chance to make history as extra motivation for the players.

"It's an incentive to have a little bit of history there," he added.

"After the success last year [in the Champions League] we went out of the competition but we had to do as best as we possibly can in the Europa League and we've managed to reach the final.

"If we were able to win it then that will be two European cups in two years, which will be a great success for the club."

Interim boss Benitez confirmed some time ago his tenure would finish at the end of the season, and all rumours point to a return to Stamford Bridge for Jose Mourinho.

Cahill, however, isn't getting ahead of himself but admits having a permanent manager installed will steady the ship.

"We don't know what to make of it because we're not sure who is going to come in," he said.

"Whatever happens in the summer, though, there will be more stability."

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