Rafa: Not The Same Torres
28 November 2012
Rafa Benitez insists that Fernando Torres can rediscover better form at Chelsea, if he embarks upon another fitness regime, and a training programme designed to hone his skills specifically.
But the new Chelsea boss has also admitted that El Nino is no longer the same striker he was during his pomp under Benitez at Liverpool.
It does not bode well for Torres that Benitez- the man who made him into arguably the most feared striker on the planet- is the first manager to address the white elephant in the Stamford Bridge dressing: that Torres has changed.
Torres had a more than goal-per game average at Liverpool. For Chelsea he scores once every four games. And so Benitez admits that Torres is not the same player he was at Anfield.
"He's not exactly the same player now because he was at maximum level at that time [at Liverpool]," said Benitez.
"But I think he can come back. How close? I don't know. It depends on the rest of the team. I'm sure he can improve – but the team has to help him. 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.
"Each situation – each team – is different and the way you train, or the players you have, might change your approach. You maybe need something specific for each player. Fernando needs some exercises that we will try to introduce for him, but we will do the same for Oscar, the same for Ashley Cole and for [Frank] Lampard.
"You can work on little things with every player. If we improve some players physically maybe they will come back to the strength they had. Fernando had real pace. It's not because he's getting older or injuries. He has to train in a way that suits him. We will try to find this way. We will also work on the movement he needs to do, and that will take some time.
"We worked with him and Oscar in training to try and find this understanding. It's a question of time, but we know we have to change the movements he's doing out on the pitch. He also has to work in the gym on strength. Maybe he needs to do that again."
Benitez has little choice but to field his misfiring compatriot against Fulham on Wednesday night, as Daniel Sturridge is struggling with an injury.
It is a game Rafa simply cannot afford to lose- the ill feeling towards him emanating from the Blues faithful will surely ratchet up a notch if he fails to take three points from the Cottagers.
And so Rafa can only hope that Torres remembers how it feels, and what he needs to do, to be the same player he was for Benitez at a much happier time in his career.