Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea: Could Torres Win Chelsea Fans Over for Benitez?

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2012

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Chelsea at Stadium of Light on December 8, 2012 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

When news broke a few weeks ago that Chelsea had fired manager Roberto Di Matteo, most supporters were shocked.

Yes, the position of Blues manager is a precarious one and RDM was originally thought a stop gap, but the former Chelsea great's accomplishments (i.e. winning the FA Cup and the club's first Champions League title) seemed to have bought him some time at the helm.

A few hours later, when former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was named the interim successor, those same supporters were angry.

Well, maybe angry isn't the right word.

They were furious.

After all, Benitez is the same man who, while manager of Liverpool in 2007, made numerous insults aimed at Chelsea's fanbase while in the midst of the two clubs' Champions League rivalry. 

Since Benitez's appointment, Blues fans have not been shy about showing their displeasure with the new manager, displaying signs and singing chants that beg for his departure and support the man he replaced.

The venomous response from Chelsea supporters, while understandable, has led many, including former manager George Graham, to suggest that Benitez will never win over the fans at Stamford Bridge.

So with all that made clear, why in the world would Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich appoint Benitez as his club's interim manager?

Only one reason seems feasible: Fernando Torres.

It's no secret that the Spanish striker has been a flop throughout the two years since he moved to Chelsea from Liverpool. At best, Torres has failed to live up to the huge fee the Blues paid for him.

At Anfield, though, Torres was world-class, scoring for fun and establishing himself as one of the most lethal strikers in the Premier League. It's no coincidence that during most of this period of his career, Fernando played under Benitez.

Since Rafa's arrival at Chelsea, Torres has scored four goals in five matches. When you compare this to the 19 goals in 87 matches (a goal every four-and-a-half matches) El Nino has scored under other Chelsea managers, a pattern begins to emerge.

Now, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Torres' four goals came in just two matches: a somewhat meaningless Champions League tie against Nordsjaelland and Saturday's Premier League showdown against a struggling Sunderland. Clearly, we will want to see a bigger sample size with more competitive opposition before we start proclaiming the rise of Fernando Torres.

Still, would you have expected such performances just a few weeks ago?

If Benitez can get Fernando to be any bit of the player he used to be, bringing Rafa in as interim manager will have been well worth it for Chelsea.

And who knows, maybe Benitez will be able to win over a few fans along the way. I mean, winning cures all ills, and an on-form Torres equates to wins for this Chelsea side.

Then again, maybe some things can't be fixed, even by wins.


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