Jose Mourinho says Fernando Torres can be a great striker – but the Chelsea manager sounds far less convinced that Torres can be a great striker around Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho talked about the polarizing Spanish striker yesterday. In one way he defended the Chelsea man – but in a way that cannot be 100 percent comforting to anyone who wants to see Torres remain a significant piece of the puzzle around the West London club.
And in doing so, Mourinho moved us further along in explaining why he’d prefer to have a figure like Wayne Rooney operating as the featured goal-getter, someone more versatile and more comfortable receiving and creating scoring opportunities further away from goal. Someone who is less of a one-trick pony, by the sound of it.
Torres is just 29, still with plenty of tread on his scoring tires. If anyone can help the man find the form he had previously at Liverpool, it’s surely is Mourinho. Torres scored at a rate of more than a goal every other match around Anfield, a prodigious rate in any league but even more worthy considering the Premier League quality.
Still, Mourinho hardly sounds convinced that Torres is a cushy fit at his current address.
Fernando is a striker, nobody has doubts about it, but I think he’s a striker more comfortable when he has space behind defenders. He has it more difficult when opponents are very close, when opponents are compact and when he has to play in small spaces.
“I think when Chelsea plays with that philosophy [of creating space] he can. Against teams [that played quite defensively] and you have to play him in small spaces he will have a little bit more difficulty. At Liverpool they played much more of a ‘low block’, and he had balls to attack behind defenders. In that aspect he was a lot more comfortable. Sometimes it’s easy to say a player is not performing but that might not be fair because sometimes the way you play decides if someone is more or less comfortable on the pitch.”
When pressed on whether his current crop of strikers, fronted by Torres, of course, can perform the technical stuff in tight space, Mourinho seemed even more revealing.
I would want to improve them, but that quality they don’t have. I will work on it with them.”
Yes. Or, he’ll get another figure who is closer to what he truly wants. Which is why the Rooney-to-Chelsea story will continue to have wings.