What Spanish striker must do to recapture his best under Benitez (his old manager...)
1 He MUST Improve his Work Rate
Nothing complicated here. When things are not going well, the least any manager should expect of a misfiring player is the desire to put himself about by chasing everything that moves. Closing down opponents, making good runs into space - that kind of attitude gets the crowd on your side, never a bad thing for someone suffering like Torres. And it does not take confidence or technical skill. It just takes a lot of honest toil from the individual concerned, lung-bursting effort born from a willingness to do well. That is the starting point for any struggling player - a determination to turn things around by running your heart out. If you have not got that, there is not much hope. Benitez will find out soon enough how badly Torres wants to kick-start a revival.
2 Work on his Mindset in the Penalty Area
Having studied the striker at West Bromwich Albion last weekend, it was clear he never looked alive when Chelsea worked the ball into the box, rarely on his toes ready to react. It was as if the Spaniard did not expect the ball to come his way. Either that or he hoped that it actually would not. Believe it or not, you can start feeling like that when spirits hit rock bottom, as they appeared to do at the Hawthorns. Subconsciously, you tend to drift into less dangerous positions where experience tells you the ball probably will not fall. For Benitez, then, the challenge is to somehow reinvigorate Torres at those vital times when the ball is about to be delivered into the danger zone. As one of my old coaches used to say, bright minds lead to happy feet. At the moment, Torres has neither.
3 Work on his positioning outside the box
I have heard one suggestion that Chelsea's attacking style does not suit Torres because, in Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar, they have technical players who like to weave short passes through the opposition. In contrast, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso would use longer, defence-splitting balls to set the speedy Torres free. Two things to note here: firstly, Chelsea certainly did not play this shorter game last season and before, when Didier Drogba often profited from Frank Lampard's first-time passes over the top. Secondly, El Nino no longer has the pace to run away from defenders like he did in his pomp on Merseyside. Benitez will fondly recall those moments, of course. But the new boss must now work with a different type of player, getting him to make shorter but equally effective runs when those aforementioned playmakers settle on the ball. With all due respect, if you do not get quality service when Mata is in possession, you are plainly doing something drastically wrong.
4 Relighting a fire that seems to be dying
I am talking here about enthusiasm and motivation, a genuine love for the game, attributes that seem in short supply when you look at Torres. Not the cheeriest of souls on the face of it, Chelsea's No9 needs a good talking to. Here he is, being lavishly rewarded for playing at one of England's biggest clubs with some of the finest talents this side of Barcelona. Benitez has got to get these points across. He must try to liven up the man in whom Roman Abramovich invested so much time and money bringing to Stamford Bridge. At 28, it should not be over yet. Torres still has plenty to offer, though probably not as much as he once could. Think of the young man knocking in the goals for Liverpool, lurking on the last line to use his great pace and wiry strength. For Benitez, that must have looked pretty good watching from the touchline. And while Chelsea's new manager cannot turn back the clock, he can press a few switches to see if the light returns.