New boss Rafael Benitez has refused to blame Fernando Torres for his awful form at Chelsea and suggested his team-mates needed to create more chances for the shot-shy striker.
Benitez leapt to the defence of the man he made one of the best players in the world and who has been branded a £50million flop since leaving Liverpool for Stamford Bridge. Torres has now seen three Chelsea managers come and go who failed to get him scoring regularly, with Roman Abramovich this week turning to Benitez in a bid to restore the value of his prize asset.
Benitez appeared confident of doing so, saying it would be "easy" to deal with Torres compared to Chelsea's other players because of the duo's previous relationship at Anfield. He said: "Football is a sport you play with 11 players and sometimes you pinpoint one. But if the striker's not scoring too many, the rest of the team have to maybe create more chances for him."
He added: "My idea isn't just to improve Fernando, but the team. I can't just focus on him. We have a lot of tremendous players. We'll need others to score goals."
Benitez could have been Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas or Roberto Di Matteo at that moment, all of whom repeatedly stood up for Torres before eventually losing faith in him.
He added of the man who has found the net just 19 times in 87 appearances: "You don't need too much time talking with Fernando. I know him, but he knows me and what we're looking for. I have to spend more time with the others. Fernando is easy. You say, 'You have to do this'. [He says] 'Okay'."
It appears unthinkable Benitez will not recall Torres for Sunday's top-of-the-table Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester City after Di Matteo finally axed the striker for Tuesday's fateful Champions League defeat at Juventus.
"He is trying his best, like the others," Benitez said. "He knows what I want and he is trying to do this."
Torres took no time at all to start scoring for Benitez at Liverpool following his £20million arrival from Atletico Madrid five years ago.
Benitez admitted the "balance" of his midfield back then "allowed Torres to do very well" but denied he deliberately built his team around the striker. He added: "I wasn't creating everything for Fernando. It's just what happened."
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- Fernando Torres
- Rafael Benitez