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The Blues' departing interim manager declares that he took the club to a higher level during a reign that saw him bring the Europa League trophy to Stamford Bridge

Departing Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez believes that the players and the club as a whole improved under his leadership and says that he will be missed when he is gone.

The former Liverpool manager, 53, brought Europa League triumph to the club in a dramatic final as well as delivering a top-three finish in the Premier League.

As revealed by Goal, Jose Mourinho is imminently to be announced as the man to take over the reins at Stamford Bridge next season - returning to the club for his second spell in charge - and Benitez says that the squad the Portuguese manager inherits will be successful, thanks to him.

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Of the players, the Spaniard told reporters: "They've grown [this year] and they will be much better next season. They have more experience and you can see the team was improving.

"Always in football you win trophies at the end of the season. You cannot win them in the first month with a new team. You have to be patient but, in football, that's more difficult."

Benitez admits it was a tough task taking over at Chelsea, with the majority of fans set against his appointment, even on a temporary basis, but feels that the success that he has had shows just what a good job he did.

"I was just thinking about doing well in my own job and that's all," he continued. "You can analyse better than me but two semi-finals, a trophy and top three - everybody was saying 'you have to do this or that' and we did it.

"All I wanted to do was to do my job with a top side and to show people that we can still do well. The circumstances were special but still we did our job as best as possible, so I'm really pleased for everyone involved.

"I've said before a lot of fans supported me in the end. Maybe some of them couldn't change their minds but we did our job and I hope everyone could enjoy it. We did what we had to do - that's the main thing."

"If you have a group of players who you've been working with for a while and they were doing so well, it's sad to leave them."

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