Departing Benitez backs Torres to start firing on all cylinders

Rafa Benitez and Fernando Torres. Photo: PA

Rafael Benitez is confident striker Fernando Torres can return to being an unstoppable force as the interim boss prepares for his final competitive game at Chelsea.

Torres has endured a challenging two-and-a-half year spell at Stamford Bridge since his £50million move from Liverpool in January 2011.

It was his performances at Liverpool, under Benitez, which persuaded Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to part with the sum which has at times appeared to be a burden for the World Cup-winning striker.

Torres is still to score a Barclays Premier League goal in 2013 ahead of tomorrow's match with Everton - a game which will determine whether Chelsea finish third or fourth - but netted six goals in six Europa League appearances, including in the final as the Blues beat Benfica in the Amsterdam final on Wednesday.

"It's more than just me," said Benitez, when asked about Torres' improvement, before he cited assistant coaches Steve Holland, Boudewijn Zenden and fitness coaches Paco de Miguel and Chris Jones for their efforts.

"They have improved him. He has more pace, more confidence and he can score important goals for us. He has to keep working in the same way and I think that with a pre-season he will have plenty of team to improve himself physically.

"It's a question of keeping training the same way that he's training now and with confidence, he has the potential."

Torres, who last found the net in the Premier League against Aston Villa in December, has cut a forlorn figure at times, ploughing a lone furrow up front.

Benitez added: "When you see a striker that is not scoring as many goals as he wants to score, this can happen. Now he's enjoying himself."

On his arrival, Benitez felt Chelsea could mount a Premier League title challenge, but a congested season - tomorrow's match will be the Blues' 69th of the campaign - has played its part in ensuring that ambition was never close to being fulfilled.

To take on Manchester United, Benitez felt Chelsea needed to sign players in January and augment a squad which is packed with quality, but short of numbers in a transitional period, following the departures of the likes of Didier Drogba.

Benitez refused to criticise the board for not weighing into the transfer market, with striker Demba Ba the one major January addition, but he has fulfilled his brief by delivering a Champions League return.

"Always [it] can be better," Benitez said.

"We cannot change what happened and we have to think of the future as a positive. The club had an idea. We have been successful in one of the big competitions and we are virtually qualified for the Champions League. So in the end it was fine."

With champions Manchester United and Manchester City under new management next season, as well as Chelsea, Benitez will be intrigued by what happens.

"It will be interesting to see what happens next year with the top three," he said.

"[Chelsea are] a team with quality and more experience now. I think it will be better next year."

With David Moyes joining Manchester United as successor to Sir Alex Ferguson, Everton are seeking a new boss, but Benitez cannot envisage a future at Goodison Park, even though his family home remains on The Wirral.

Asked specifically about Everton, Benitez, whose preference is to stay in England, said: "I don't think it would be easy for them to approach me and it would not be easy for me to go there.

"I have to be consistent with my ideas. I have a lot of respect for Everton, but it would be very difficult."

Benitez is leaving his future in his agent's hands and is awaiting an official approach.

But he expects to be in a management role come the start of next season.

He said: "I don't see too many top sides in England available at the moment. Still there are opportunities around the world.

"I think it's important to find the right club. You have to wait, not be impatient and see what happens.

"I have an agent who has to do his job. I cannot be too worried about that, because we're involved in massive competitions and we have to do concentrate on our job and he [his agent] has to do his job."