Reunited with Rafa Benitez: Did Fernando Torres respond to his mentor?
If there was one man at Stamford Bridge who should have been thrilled to see Rafael Benitez arrive, it was Fernando Torres. He did not score yesterday but there was enough improvement to suggest he might well benefit from the management of his old mentor
Rafael Benitez insisted on Friday that he still sees "a player with commitment" in Torres. That was not always obvious under Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas or Roberto Di Matteo. Yesterday he looked more concerned. Torres had that fierce edge back which suggests he cared about the result. He put Zabaleta, one of the Premier League's toughest defenders, on the ground early on. As the game went on, thwarted runs ended with Torres tripping first James Milner and then Kolarov. After the second foul, he was frustrated enough to hammer the ball into the hoardings. Of course fair play is preferable to foul, but this was an improvement of sorts.
Torres is never going to be Didier Drogba but there is clearly still an expectation at Chelsea for a striker who can win the ball in the air. He had long passes thrown up towards him, not to run on to but to turn and control. This is not Torres's natural game and never has been. He did not, in truth, win very many of them. But not many strikers dominate Kompany in the air. Even Drogba could not always. But Torres continued to leap and challenge, having marginally more success up against Kolarov or Matija Nastasic. A more selfish striker might have spent less time helping his team but the commitment itself is to be applauded.
The Torres we knew at Liverpool was a ferocious attacker of space, never happier than when charging beyond defences. There were signs yesterday of the old instincts returning. Late in the first half he skipped past Pablo Zabaleta, awakening the crowd. Twice in succession after the break he darted inside Aleksandar Kolarov, testing out City's slowest defender. With three minutes to go it took a desperate saving tackle by Vincent Kompany to stop him. With a touch more pace Torres might have broken through.
Torres's lack of goals at Chelsea has been explained by Benitez as being due to the team rather than the man himself. With more chances, the manager said, Torres would score more goals. He only had one real opportunity yesterday, coming early in the second half. Eden Hazard flicked the ball to him on the edge of the box, Yaya Touré slipped and Torres drilled the ball with his left foot over the bar. It would have been an excellent goal. With sharper movement Torres might well have got more chances, but he did not.
Latest in Sport
New day (slowly) rising – As Brasileirão gets underway, Brazilian football stumbles, rather than leaps into the future
The average Serie A crowd last year was 13,000 - comparable to Australia’s A-League.
by James Young
24 May 2013 04:31 PM
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
Why Manchester City were willing to fork out $500m on stake in MLS
Manchester City coach in waiting Manuel Pellegrini: Inside the mind of anti-Mancini
Champions League final: Biggest German invasion since the fifth century as Borussia Dortmund face Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: 50 things you should know about the Champions League final
Champions League Final: Can Jürgen Klopp and Borussia Dortmund stop the Bayern Munich machine?
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.