Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has no concerns over Fernando Torres' form

 

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.

But by storming down the tunnel yesterday 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 can't put too much pressure on one player.

"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."

He added of Sturridge: "He can maybe play more minutes, for sure.

"As long as he keeps training well and, when he has the opportunities, shows his qualities, that's the way forward, and he will get chances to play as well."

Di Matteo promised that meant more opportunities "in the middle" for the England forward, who has become increasingly frustrated with being played out wide and reportedly came close to being allowed to leave on loan before the transfer window closed.

Chelsea can ill-afford a lack of goals if they are to stand any chance of defending their European crown.

They kick off their bid to do so this week and Di Matteo was acutely aware of the task at hand.

The man whose three months as caretaker boss witnessed one of the most astonishing Champions League triumphs ever, said: "To win it twice in a row, it's proven so far impossible, because it's so competitive."

Pointing out the number of top sides who were not even among the highest seeds this season, Di Matteo also admitted Chelsea now had a target on their back.

"Every opposition is going to play with extra motivation playing against the title holder of the Champions League," he said.

"So it makes our lives more difficult."

Chelsea already had a taste of that in the UEFA Super Cup against Atletico Madrid and Di Matteo added: "Even in the league, I'm sure that Mark Hughes would've told his players, 'You're playing against so and so, the European champions'."

Revealing he had not once watched last season's final on tape, the Italian was simply relieved to be in the competition at all after Chelsea finished only sixth in the Premier League.

He said: "We are very pleased that, again, we are involved and we're going to face a very, very difficult game on Wednesday against Juventus."

 



PA

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