Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez has done very well, says Ron Harris

Rafael Benitez

Outgoing Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has "made amends" with a lot of Blues fans, says ex-captain Ron Harris.

Having already won the Europa League trophy, the 53-year-old Spaniard knows victory over Everton on Sunday in his final game would seal a place in next season's Champions League group stage.

Yet the former Liverpool boss has still failed to win the hearts of many fans.

"Rafa can leave the club knowing he has done very well," said Harris, 68, who is the club's record appearance-maker.

The Stamford Bridge legend, widely known as 'Chopper' due to his robust style of tackling, added: "The fans never took to his appointment for whatever reasons and there is no doubt he had difficult times.

"But I think the majority of Chelsea fans will appreciate what he has done and think he has done very well.

"He will have made amends to a lot."

Harris made 795 appearances for Chelsea between 1961 and 1980 and was the first Blues captain to lift a European trophy when they beat Real Madrid in the 1971 Cup Winners' Cup. He also won an FA Cup and a League Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge.

The win over Benfica in Amsterdam on Wednesday was Chelsea's fourth major European trophy success, following the Cup Winners' Cup triumphs in 1971 and 1998 and the last year's Champions League.

The Blues are all but certain of qualifying for next season's top European competition but unless they beat Everton at Stamford Bridge on Sunday they could still be pipped for third place in the Premier League by Arsenal.

That would result in Chelsea having to take part in a two-legged play-off against another European team for the right to enter the lucrative group stage of the Champions League.

Since replacing the popular Roberto Di Matteo last November, Benitez took the Blues to the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and League Cup.

But a significant number of Chelsea supporters have been unable to forgive Benitez, who admits he wants to stay in England next season, for his association with Liverpool, or forget the rivalry he formed with then-Blues boss Jose Mourinho.

"We all know a lot of fans were disappointed Benitez was given the manager's job but in the eyes of most football supporters, he has done a good job since coming here," said Harris.

"We all saw what winning the Europa League meant to the fans by the celebrations in Amsterdam. It reminded me of when we won the Cup Winners' Cup - they are memories to cherish.

"For most clubs, this would be classed a good year and I suppose that this isn't at Chelsea is a sign of the club's progress."

Real Madrid coach Mourinho has been widely tipped to be rejoin Chelsea this summer. The Portuguese won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and two League Cups during his three years in charge at Stamford Bridge between 2004 and 2007.

"Whoever comes in is going to be find it difficult," said Harris, who conducts Legends Tours of Stamford Bridge and has a suite named after him.

"The two German sides, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, looked very good this season and to win the Champions League again is a very big challenge. That is the challenge, though.

"It seems 95% of the Chelsea fans would love to see Mourinho back and it is easy to see why."

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