"I felt that we had a project in my last year in charge," ESPN quotes Benitez as saying. "We tried to control the academy a bit more. We changed the philosophy and style of play. How we were coaching and everything was in one direction.
"Now you can see Sterling, you can see Suso, [Andre] Wisdom [and] all of these players coming through, so I think that is a good thing for the club and for the future."
Sterling is expected to win his first senior England cap against Sweden in an international friendly this evening.