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Benitez talks Fernando Torres

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Clive Rose

Rafa Benitez was never going to get away from the media without an extended conversation about Fernando Torres, whom he managed during the striker's Liverpool glory days. While many Chelsea fans have lost hope in the 28-year-old, thanks to a complete lack of depth at centre forward we're pretty much stuck with him for a while anyway. Here's the new manager on the struggling striker:

Fernando is trying his best, like the others. He was fine. He knows what I want and he is trying to do this. At Liverpool, the pace of Steven Gerrard's passes was very good and Fernando could take advantage.

People think that Fernando needs space and he did have that at the beginning at Liverpool. I didn't create everything for Fernando, it's just what happened. After that, we were on top of other teams but didn’t have that space so Stevie was scoring the goals.

We maybe don’t have the players who can play 50-metre passes like Alonso but we have players who are really good at the passing game. We have Oscar or Mata with short passes ... you don’t just need a long pass. We need to put Fernando in a position to score goals. It's easier to do that from short passes by Oscar or Juan Mata.

-Rafa Benitez. Sources: Mirror & Telegraph.

It'd be very easy to paint this as making yet more excuses for Torres (note the lack of mention of the supposed knee injury he's been carrying), but I don't want to be overly mean to Benitez here. Instead, I hope he has a specific plan of how to get the best out of a striker he knows very well, and that it works. I mean, it's doubtful that Torres will play well no matter how many tweaks Benitez makes, but I'm willing to give the manager the benefit of the doubt on this one.

We'll see how the striker situation looks at the end of January.