The West Bromwich Albion manager, Roy Hodgson, has backed Chelsea's £50m striker Fernando Torres to finally live up to his price tag this season – but hopes he does not show what he is capable of when the teams meet tomorrow evening.
Hodgson worked with Torres during his ill-fated six-month stint in charge of Liverpool and, although the Spain marksman has struggled over the last year or so, the Baggies chief has no doubt he will come good.
"I am very glad for him that he appears to be showing some of his old form," Hodgson said ahead of West Brom's game at Stamford Bridge.
"Torres in the form he is capable of showing is capable of causing a lot of problems for my defence. But I am particularly pleased for him. I enjoyed my time working with him. It was not a good time for him. But these things happen at football clubs.
"I do not know what he would say but so far as I am concerned I have a lot of time for him and a lot of respect for him. If he is now getting back to his top form for Chelsea, as I knew he would, then I am very pleased for him.
"He is a good fellow. He is a serious professional. I was unlucky that I caught him and a few other players on the back of a World Cup and in his case an unsuccessful World Cup.
"Under me he had serious injury problems. His wife was having a baby at the time as well, which was an important point in his life.
"If you take that very short period we worked together, there were things going on in his life which had little to do with football and which I could not control.
"I never doubted him as a person or a player. It was bold of Chelsea to pay a big transfer fee for him when the consensus was that he wasn't at his best. But I always believed that it was a move which would pay dividends because he is a top-quality player and I fear that I will see that at close hand on Saturday! I only hope that he takes pity on me and has a bad game out of sympathy with our plight!"
Meanwhile, the Albion striker Peter Odemwingie has ended growing speculation over his future by signing a new and improved contract that should keep him at the Hawthorns until June 2014.
Hodgson confirmed yesterday that the club had rejected a £4m bid for the 30-year-old Nigerian from Wigan last weekend.
Tottenham were also reportedly monitoring the situation – the player said he would only leave if it were for a "top club" – but Odemwingie put pen to paper on the three-year deal instead, much to the delight of Hodgson.
He said: "I'm obviously very pleased that Peter has pledged his future to West Bromwich Albion.
"I always believed this would be the case and I am grateful to both him and the club for reaching an agreement.
"We can now look forward to benefiting once again from Peter's goalscoring prowess and seeing him play an important part in our campaign to stay in the Premier League for a second successive season."Reuse content