Carlo Ancelotti will restore Fernando Torres to his starting line-up against Newcastle with an admission that Chelsea’s failure to secure the Spain international’s services from Liverpool last summer, rather than in mid-season, has seriously hampered his impact to date for the London club.
Attempts were made to secure both Torres and David Luiz, from Benfica, at the end of last season only for bids to be knocked back. Their clubs proved more receptive to increased offers during the January transfer window but Torres has struggled to make any real impact at Stamford Bridge since his £50m move – he has scored once in 16 appearances – with player and team-mates apparently flummoxed over how best to integrate the 27-year-old into the team.
Ancelotti, who is expected to leave the club later this month after the third trophyless campaign of the Roman Abramovich era, is convinced the Spaniard will go on to prove his pedigree at Chelsea, though he conceded it had been awkward implementing the tactical changes required to get the best from Torres in the middle of a campaign. “Obviously, if we’d been able to buy Torres and David Luiz in the summer, it would have been easier for them,” he said ahead of Sunday’s game. “It’s not always easy to play well immediately if you arrive in January. But we were not able to do this because Liverpool and Benfica wanted to start the season with these players.
“Obviously, to play Fernando and [Didier] Drogba, you need to change the position of the midfielders a bit, and we’ve not had time to change our philosophy [mid-season]. That is something you can cope with ahead of a new season. But sometimes it’s not so easy to buy a player at the right time. You have to wait. When you have a possibility to buy Torres, you are not thinking about it being a problem for the other players. If you have a chance to buy him, you have to buy him. He’s had problems this year, but he will start pre-season training with more knowledge about the squad, so it will be easier for him. He will have a fantastic career with Chelsea.”
Ancelotti urged Abramovich and the club’s hierarchy not to instigate wholesale changes to the playing staff – and, by implication, the managerial set-up – over the summer despite the reality that Chelsea will lose their Premier League crown if Manchester United secure at least a point at Blackburn this lunchtime. Indeed, he pointed to United’s calm and considered reaction to their own failure to secure honours last term as evidence of the best approach.
“I don’t think this club needs to have a lot of changes in the future to stay at the top level,” said the Italian. “To change a lot of players would be dangerous. The squad is really strong. We bought two new players in January who, next season, will be better. So, to judge our season, you have to stay quiet. United were the same last season. They finished second but were calm, quiet, bought the right players – Chicarito has had a fantastic season – and, this year, they’ve won. Something was wrong for us this season, but plenty was also good.”
The Italian himself has declared a desire to remain in the Premier League even if, as anticipated, Chelsea opt to dispense with his services. “My desire is to stay here, first of all,” he added. “If that is not possible, then I would like to stay here (in England) at another club: I love the atmosphere here. If that is not possible, then I’m Italian. If there are some opportunities in Italy, I will take (them).”