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Benitez targets silverware to win over Inter faithful

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You ask, Rafa Benitez answers
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rafael Benitez aiming to emulate the success Inter enjoyed under Jose Mourinho
  • Benitez targeting the FIFA Club World Cup next month for more glory
  • He tells CNN that the upcoming derby against AC Milan will be "massive"
  • Benitez defends his record at previous club Liverpool

(CNN) -- Rafael Benitez is hungry for success in his first season at Inter Milan and wants to silence his critics by filling the trophy cabinet for the Nerazzurri

The former Liverpool manager knows that following in the footsteps of Jose Mourinho, who achieved the treble with Inter last season, is a tough act to follow, but wants to stamp his own imprint on the side.

"From the beginning I wanted to keep the things they were doing well, the style of play," he told CNN in an exclusive interview.

"But after a while you try and do things your way," Benitez added.

But he knows the pressure of expectation is intense and only instant success will placate the fans.

"This team has won the Italian Super Cup, which is a minor trophy, but still a trophy, so hopefully we can now win the Intercontinental (FIFA Club World Cup) and everything will be easier," he said.

Inter have qualified for the annual competition next month by virtue of their Champions League triumph under Mourinho and therein lies the rub for Benitez, who will be constantly compared to the Portuguese, but he shrugs it off.

"I think it is always the same when you go to a club that has won something.

"When I arrived at Valencia they had just played (and lost) in two Champions League finals and Liverpool was the same, they were talking about the past and how they were winning trophies."

Inter, despite their 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, look set to qualify for the knockout stages of this year's Champions League, but then Benitez acknowledges the real work starts.

Benetiz has passion for Inter Milan

"It is really difficult because the way it is organized means you can make one mistake and you are out.

"And if you want to win you have to be fit until the end of the season. It is very demanding and it is very good."

But for the die-hard Inter fans retaining the Serie A title will be of equal importance, particularly as arch city rivals AC Milan are currently topping them in the standings behind leaders Lazio.

The Milan derby later this month takes on an added importance but the Spaniard wants points in the bank from the preceding games.

The (Milan) derby will be massive, but we have to go into the match with six more points and that will be a very good position for us
--Rafael Benitez
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"The derby will be massive, but we have to go into the match with six more points and that will be a very good position for us."

Benitez has also made headlines for barbed comments about his successor at Liverpool Roy Hodgson, who alleged he had banned club ambassador and former manager Kenny Dalglish from their training facility at Melwood.

Benitez is reluctant to go over old ground, but wanted to put the record straight.

"I still have a lot of respect for Liverpool and Liverpool football club, so I don't really want to talk about them.

"But sometimes when someone says something, I have to respond with what is in this case what I know."

Benitez, who has kept a house on Merseyside, clearly still has a strong affection for the club he guided to Champions League glory in his first season in 2005 before problems set in at the end of his Anfield reign.

"In the end all the fans know it was a very difficult time, we were doing our best.

"We made mistakes for sure but at the end of the day you put everything together, we achieved a lot of things in a very difficult time."