Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo insisted he had no fear whatsoever of Fernando Torres suffering another nightmare run at the Blues after the striker went missing in their goalless draw at QPR.
But the Blues boss also promised Daniel Sturridge more opportunities up front after Torres' understudy came off the bench and almost helped snatch victory in Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash.
Torres declared just over two weeks ago that he had finally exorcised his demons at Stamford Bridge following an impressive start to the season. He has since produced two miserable performances, something which it would be unfair to read to much into under normal circumstances. "We can't put too much pressure on one player," Di Matteo said.
But by storming down the tunnel on Saturday upon being substituted for Sturridge after a display of ever-diminishing returns, Torres himself suggested he could easily regress to the dark place he found himself in for 18 months following his £50million move from Liverpool.
Di Matteo dimissed this out of hand, saying: "No, no, absolutely not. We are a team and everybody has responsibility. We're looking for other players to score goals as well."
Di Matteo repeatedly refused to be drawn on QPR boss Mark Hughes' claim that Ryan Nelsen "dominated" Torres, whose display of petulance at least showed he cares.
At the third time of asking, the Chelsea boss replied: "I think it's a team sport. I wouldn't individually go player by player. I thought, as a team, we played well, our centre-forward worked very hard, he had a chance in the first half to score as well, a half-decent chance in the second half."
It was Torres' lack of effort as the game progressed that was truly worrying and Di Matteo finally took decisive action nine minutes from time. The difference in his two strikers' workrates was staggering and begged the question what might have happened had Sturridge come on sooner.
It also begged the question about whether the England forward deserved a recall ahead of Torres, who has started every match this season.
"We've only played four in the league now," said Di Matteo, whose attention now shifts to Wednesday's Champions League clash with Juventus. "We're going to have seven games - including this - in 21 days. So there is time for everybody to play."
- Roberto Di Matteo
- Fernando Torres
- Daniel Sturridge