Solo role taxes Torres - Benitez

  • Last Updated: February 23 2013, 14:17 GMT

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez believes the form of forward Fernando Torres has dipped due to the club's over-reliance on the Spaniard.

Fernando Torres: Struggling to show his best form
Fernando Torres: Struggling to show his best form

Torres, who moved to Stamford Bridge for £50million in 2011, has scored just once in his last 14 appearances for the European champions and the Chelsea supporters appear to finally be losing patience with the 28-year-old.

Chelsea currently sit third in the Barclays Premier League but can close to within a point of second-placed Manchester City if they can win at the home of the champions on Sunday.

Frank Lampard, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard have been the players scoring crucial goals for the Blues recently with Torres struggling to score.

Before the arrival of Demba Ba from Newcastle in the January transfer window Torres was carrying the responsibility as Chelsea's main goal threat all by himself with Daniel Sturridge, who has since moved to Liverpool, injured and Romelu Lukaku on loan at West Brom.

And it was this run of games, with the goalscoring burden fully on his shoulders, that Benitez feels has led to a barren spell in front of goal for his compatriot.

"Fernando has been playing 10 games as the only striker we had," he said.

"The other teams have three or four strikers. Now we have two, so we have to use both of them. The number of games and the congestion and the time you have to recuperate players, it's not easy.

"You have to have 11 players as fit as possible with fresh legs, and the right balance tactically. We have to manage."

Benitez continues to support the forward who was so potent when the two were at Anfield together as player and manager and believes the goals will start to flow again soon after being impressed by his display in the 1-1 Europa League draw with Sparta Prague on Thursday.

"I can see him improving," Benitez said of Torres.

"His pace and his positioning were much better. A goal and he will have more confidence. If he'd scored his first chance (against Prague), everything would be different. We have to have confidence with the way he trains and approaches the games, because that is quite positive.

"How many goals has he scored this year? Fifteen. He was scoring goals before (this run). We can praise the manager if he's scoring, or blame him if he's not.

"If you are telling me that he was not there then we'd have a problem. But he was there. He beat the defender, something he hadn't done before. He did it against (Arsenal defender Thomas) Vermaelen, so you're seeing he has the pace similar to what he had before."

Benitez has a good record as a manager against City but reckons this is a stronger side than he faced during his Liverpool tenure.

"City are a great team," he said.

"They've improved in the last few years, spent money, good players, great manager, and a good atmosphere around the club.

"It's more difficult to beat them. In the past we were at the top, with a strong mentality and good team, and that's why we maybe beat them. But they don't lose too many points at home now. They are stronger."


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