Napoli vs. Chelsea: Andre Villas-Boas Would Be Wrong to Bench Fernando Torres

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2012

Yesterday, the Guardian reported that Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas would bench striker Fernando Torres for his team's Champions League fixture on Tuesday against Napoli.

AVB is between a rock and a hard place with Torres.

If he starts Torres and Chelsea fails to get a good result at the San Paolo, it could mean a stiff climb back into the tie and an exit from the Champions League.

On the other hand, by not starting the striker, Villas-Boas further destroys whatever confidence is left in Torres, thus meaning he will continue his awful run of form.

Torres needs to start against Napoli for this reason.

There's no getting around the fact that Fernando Torres has been a shell of himself in a Chelsea shirt. It's understandable if Chelsea supporters would not want to see him anywhere near a starting XI.

The one lasting memory of his time at Stamford Bridge will most likely be that horrible miss against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Still, the best thing for Torres and for Chelsea is just to put him in the lineup and let him play every match.

It's almost been a self-fulfilling prophecy for Villas-Boas and Chelsea supporters.

Torres' critics will say that you can't start him every match because his form has been awful, but AVB has never given him the chance to prove that he can come good.

His time at Liverpool showed that Torres was at his best when he was the lone striker and Steven Gerrard would play just behind him.

At Chelsea, he has never had the opportunity to play in a formation that really suits him because he has to compete with Didier Drogba, Daniel Sturridge and eventually Romelu Lukaku.

AVB said in the article that the reason Torres would be benched is a refusal from the manager to alter the way his Chelsea team plays.

That's all well and good, but it doesn't explain how a player like John Terry continues to be named in the team sheet for almost every match.

Race row aside, if there was a player completely ill-suited for Villas-Boas' tactics, it's Terry. He is a solid defender, but with the high line the Blues play, he is out of his depth.

Fernando Torres is the kind of player that needs to have positive reinforcement to succeed.

Granted, he didn't get that from Rafa Benitez at Liverpool, but he was adored by the supporters. At Chelsea, he's almost alone because the supporters don't like him and AVB doesn't seem to rate him.

Torres needs a manager like Jose Mourinho or Harry Redknapp to put his arm around the Spaniard's shoulder and tell him he's the best striker in the world.

It's unlikely Torres will ever return to the form he showed between 2007-09 at Liverpool, but even at a slightly lower level he can still be one of the best strikers in the world.


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