Chelsea's Torres may be past his best, admits Benitez
Chelsea's new manager hasn't given up on striker and hopes training drills will improve his goal rate
CHELSEA'S new manager Rafael Benitez has broken ranks with his predecessors by questioning openly whether the club's £50 million striker Fernando Torres will ever reproduce the dazzling form he showed at Liverpool.
When Benitez took the Chelsea job he told the club's owner Roman Abramovich he would use "tough love" to help Torres recapture the form that saw him score 81 goals in 142 appearances when Benitez was his manager at Anfield, says The Mirror.
He immediately showed his faith by recalling the striker for his first match as Chelsea manager. But after witnessing 90 minutes of "dire football" which ended in a goalless draw against Manchester City, Benitez appears to have reconsidered his position.
Torres is "not exactly the same player now, because he was at maximum level at that time," Benitez told The Times yesterday. He also let slip that Torres was suffering a "crisis of confidence" after netting only 11 league goals since Chelsea brought him to London almost two years ago.
The Guardian says Benitez hasn't given up on the 28-year old Spanish striker and hopes a fitness programme and "training drills geared specifically towards his needs" might improve his fortunes at Stamford Bridge.
"I'm sure he [Torres] can improve – but the team has to help him," Benitez said. "The first thing is to give him some confidence, and instructions as to how he can do things in a different way, and improve him a little bit physically."
Torres's poor form wasn't due to his age or injuries, Benitez said.
Benitez's comments came as Chelsea expressed regret for the way it handled allegations of racist abuse against Mark Clattenburg and said the referee would be welcome back at Stamford Bridge.