Premier League

Benitez: I can re-ignite Torres

Rafael Benitez was given a tough reception by Chelsea fans in the clash with Man City.
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Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez insists he can help Fernando Torres rediscover his form and win over the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Benitez got a frosty reception from sections of the club's support when he made his first appearance in the dug-out against Manchester City on Sunday.

But he is adamant that he can revive the fortunes of the club and Torres - and get the fans back on side in the process.

"I understand the fans and how they feel," he told Sky Sports News. "I will try to prove I am here for the right reasons and I want to win.

"Imagine if you are a player who is struggling. I would say 'Stay focused, try to do your job, don't get distracted, concentrate on your football'.

"For me it is the same, I want to concentrate on coaching, improve the players and bring the fans back.

"I understand the feeling of the fans because of my time at Liverpool. We had a rivalry which was quite difficult.

"Torres can come back, but how far? I don't know. It depends on the team. Yes he can improve, I am sure he can improve, but it depends on the team to help him.

"I am not under pressure to pick him because Daniel Sturridge is still injured so I don't have many options."

But Benitez acknowledged the 28-year-old is not the same player he had been before joining Chelsea and needed to improve physically to stand a chance of recapturing his glory days.

"He's not exactly the same player now, because he was at maximum level at this time [at Liverpool]."

Torres also has to help himself, as does Benitez, following a run of just 19 goals in 88 games for the European champions.

"The first thing is to give him some confidence, instructions as to how he can do things in a different way, improve him a little bit physically," said Benitez, who wants Torres's team-mates to create more chances for the striker and win the ball back more quickly in defence.

"You need to be stronger in defence, regain the ball easier and then you can create your own chances. That will benefit Torres.

"Players with mobility, quality... we can improve all these things."

Althoigh Benitez is confident he can win over the supporters he has refused to bow to pressure to apologise for his controversial comments about Chelsea

Blues supporters called for their new manager to say sorry on Monday for what they perceive as criticism of them while he was in charge at Liverpool.

The chair of Chelsea Supporters' Group said an apology would help win over some fans but, as during his unveiling on Thursday, Benitez questioned the accuracy of some of the quotes attributed to him.

"The problem is we can analyse what I said and didn't say," he said.

"We can't be checking if it's true or not. I'll try my best to win their trust. That's it."

One comment that is beyond dispute is Benitez's praise of the passion of Liverpool fans, which included a sideways dig at that of Chelsea supporters.

The quote has been immortalised at the Reds' Melwood training ground and pressed on whether he would apologise for it, he said: "I was praising the fans of my club, my team.

"But I'm here now, it's my club, and I will do my best for them.

"That's my explanation, very easy and very simple.

"I will try to defend my club, and this is now my club."

Benitez admitted he did not know whether Wednesday would see a repeat of the vicious booing, chanting and placards that were directed at him on Sunday.

"To be fair, I don't know," he said.

"But I can say that, since coming here, I've worked really hard, coming in at 8.30am and leaving at 8.30 at night, doing my job, talking to players and staff and trying to be ready for the game."

Such abuse cannot be nice but Benitez added: "I can't worry if I'm upset or not.

"If it was a player, I'd be telling him to concentrate on his job. The best way to change things is to win games."

Benitez insisted he appreciated why his appointment had been greeted so negatively by many supporters.

"I understand the feelings of the fans because of my time at Liverpool, where we had rivalry and it was quite difficult,'' he said.

"But, at the same time, I will try to prove I'm here for the right reasons. We want to win, and we can do that together.

"I'll try to improve players and it'll be easier to win games and bring the fans back.''

He added: "It's not a situation we can change in one minute. But working hard, winning games, I can improve it. Starting with Fulham.''

Indeed, failure to mastermind a victory tomorrow would simply pile on the pressure.


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"Always to win is the most important thing," Benitez said.

"If we can do it in style, much better. But the priority is to do our best and try and win.

"The attitude of the players in training is really good. I don't see them down and under pressure."

Benitez admitted Wednesday's derby did not quite have the glamour of its Merseyside equivalent, especially from the point of view of the European champions.

"I know a derby's a derby,'' Benitez said. "Maybe it's not the biggest rivalry for us, but we have a lot of respect for Fulham."

Chelsea may not see Fulham as their biggest rivals but the feeling is not mutual.

The Blues have struggled to beat their neighbours in recent meetings and can expect the visitors to be fully committed to their task Wednesday night.

Chelsea will need to earn the right to make their superior quality tell, something that not all of their players appear to realise, particularly Eden Hazard.

However, Benitez said: "He needs to work defensively, but he has to make his biggest impact going forward.

"I don't expect my attacking players to defend like Ashley Cole or [Branislav] Ivanovic.''

The Spaniard also played down reports John Terry could make another remarkable comeback from injury at West Ham on Saturday, despite the defender making good progress with his knee problem.

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