The Andy Gray Column: Chelsea’s Fernando Torres shadow of former self

Summary: ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to South West Londoner…


HE’S CERTAINLY improved of late but I’m afraid Fernando Torres is still a shadow of his former self.

His movement was good against Benfica, his touch was decent, he had one or two half chances, he created the goal, I think he worked hard enough and it was certainly another step in his stage to recovery.

I hope he can still be the striker Chelsea paid £50 million for. He’s 28 now, so he’s right smack bang in his prime. So there is no reason why he shouldn’t get back to his best.

The ability is still within him. I get the impression it is as much a mental thing as anything for the lad at the moment and if he can conquer that then I think he has the talent to get back to somewhere near what he was – but he is not there yet.

I don’t think Didier Drogba necessarily has to go for Torres to improve. They obviously don’t play together. Drogba’s 33, he is not the future of Chelsea and I think that Fernando, at 28, might be more of that.

I think it’s something the new coach will have to address when he comes in. But I think there might be a number of Chelsea players leaving in the summer and whoever takes the job will have to re-stock or replenish the talent pool at Chelsea in the summer, it is just whether they decide to include Torres in their plans or wave him goodbye.

Chelsea have certainly improved of late and a lot of praise has to go to the interim coach, but for me it certainly looks like Roberto Di Matteo is just keeping the seat warm for somebody else to come in.

I was in Lisbon in midweek to watch the game and I thought he picked a good team, I thought he set out his stall well and got a really good result in an arena where not many teams get a win.

I think he’s doing what he can, but I get the feeling that he’s going to have to go as far as winning the Champions League to even be considered. And even then I’m not even sure he would be the choice.

I do think it’s a difficult one for him. If I was making any suggestion to him it would be: enjoy it, do what you can, see how far it can take you. I’m sure he would love the Chelsea job, but I still think he is very much an outsider.

The Napoli game was much tougher prospect than Benfica that I would have to say. Benfica did not have the firepower that Napoli. 

So the Napoli game for Andre Villa-Boas was a much tougher prospect than going in against Benfica, so I think that helped Di Matteo.

But it worked well, they set out their stall and they were going to be tough to beat and that was the way they set it out to be. They would have taken 0-0, but they thought if we could nick one then even better, and that’s just what happened.

It was a plan and they don’t often work perfectly, but I though it worked pretty much perfectly for Roberto on Tuesday night.

I think there’s only once in the history of the Champions League that a team who’s won the first leg away from home has lost the tie. So that tells you how difficult it is.

Three of the teams that went away from home in midweek all won and that’s the three biggest. And Barcelona didn’t get beat. So you would expect all the teams who went away from home last week to get through this week. I would be amazed if Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea aren’t in the last four.

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