Premier League

Di Matteo still supports Torres

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Sat, 27 Oct 2012 08:38:00

Roberto Di Matteo has launched his most sustained defence yet of Fernando Torres after the striker's latest Chelsea horror show.

Torres arguably looked more than ever like a ?50million misfit in Tuesday's Champions League defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk as his Jekyll-and-Hyde form showed no sign of abating.

The 28-year-old has been performing better outside the box than at any point during his nightmare first 18 months at Stamford Bridge but is still nowhere near the ruthless goalscorer Chelsea made the most expensive player ever acquired by a British club almost two years ago.

Although he has netted six times this season he has fluffed countless other gilt-edged chances, especially when put clean through.

And unlike last term, when he played second fiddle to Didier Drogba, Torres has no such excuses at present, having been the only player to start all of Chelsea's matches this season.

He will almost certainly continue that run in Sunday's crunch top-of-the-table clash with Manchester United and Di Matteo refused to acknowledge he was still struggling.

"I have no concerns about Fernando," he said, admitting Tuesday was not the Spaniard's best game.

"He always works hard for the team and, whether he scores or not, he's always contributing.

"We can't just rely on one player. We want to share the responsibility.

"Sometimes, he gets more chances, sometimes less. But he's been scoring goals, he's been making goals, and we can't expect him to be scoring every game."

Pointing out Torres had score almost one goal every two games, he added: "He just had a difficult season but I think this season is completely different.

"He started very well, he's playing well, he's looking good, so I would rather focus the energy on now and the future.

"I think he's shown all the signs from this season.

"He's scored in the Community Shield, he's scored four in the league, he's scored one in the cup.

"So he's been scoring goals. But he's been making goals as well."

Asked about Torres' recurring failing from one-on-one chances, Di Matteo said: "Strikers are instinctive and it's difficult to understand what goes through their minds when they're in that position.

"I've never been a striker, so I wouldn't be able to know that.

"They have that instinct and he's always had it and he still has it."

Torres has made a habit of baring his soul to journalists from his native Spain since joining Chelsea.

He even rained on their Champions League parade when he threatened to quit the club within hours of failing to start last season's final.

A rare public appearance in front of the world's media in August saw him admit he would never want to repeat his first 18 months at Stamford Bridge.

And he was at it again last week when he revealed he had stopped caring about Chelsea's results at one point last season.

Torres has been unable to resist dwelling on the past but Di Matteo claimed it was the striker's critics who were failing to move on.

"I think we need to move forward," he said. "It's talking too much about the past.

"He's made that point that he's had a difficult season and I think, rather than mulling over the past, it's time to look forward and think about the present and the future."

Di Matteo insisted he was not afraid to leave Torres out, although the striker is likely to be rested, rather than dropped, for Wednesday's Capital One Cup clash with United.

"I think I've shown that in the past that, in terms of rotation of the team, we've done that in the past with everybody," Di Matteo said.

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