Carlo Ancelotti insists Fernando Torres will quickly live up to his £50 million price tag despite the Chelsea striker's dismal debut in a 1-0 defeat against his former club Liverpool.
Torres looked totally out of sorts as Liverpool enjoyed a sweet moment of revenge over their former idol just seven days after his controversial British record transfer to Stamford Bridge. The Spain forward was substituted to ironic cheers from Liverpool's fans after 66 minutes on Sunday and he could have few complaints following one of the most underwhelming debuts imaginable.
Torres failed to gel with strike-partner Didier Drogba and from the moment he squandered his only sight of goal with a woeful finish in the second minute, he looked just as lacklustre as he has for much of the season at Liverpool. Yet Ancelotti is adamant his new striker had done as much as could be expected after just three days training and the Chelsea boss is confident Torres will get back in the groove once he has adjusted to his new surroundings.
"Torres did a good job but we had difficulty to find space because Liverpool defended very well. They put three defenders in the middle and we couldn't attack them," Ancelotti said. "Fernando tried to do something, he had good movement and did a good job.
"I took him out because it was a very busy week. I don't think it was a mistake (to start him) because he played a good game. He has experience and confidence. He didn't show problems or nerves before the game. He was excited to play. We have to give him time to adjust to the shape. He will do it quickly."
In fairness to Torres, he was given no time on the ball as Liverpool's decision to employ three centre-backs crowded the Spaniard out of the match. But Chelsea fans could be forgiven for feeling more than a little concerned with the subdued way Torres responded to that challenge on one of the biggest days of his career.
However, Ancelotti believes it is simply a matter of allowing Torres time to establish a rapport with Drogba. The Italian's job could depend on how well that partnership fares in the UEFA Champions League as Chelsea, now ten points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United, having virtually no chance of retaining the title.
"Obviously he has to try in the training sessions to combine with the other strikers, this is normal," Ancelotti said. "The problem was not this pair, they have a lot of quality and I will try to do everything to put them together. The shape was good but obviously we need to play better as a team. When you don't play quick from the back you don't have space."
Although Chelsea had most of the possession on Sunday, they rarely threatened to break down Liverpool's stubborn defence. After Torres departed, Liverpool midfielder Raul Meireles broke the deadlock in the 69th minute when he punished goalkeeper Petr Cech and Branislav Ivanovic's failure to clear a Steven Gerrard cross.
"We are disappointed because we had a chance to close the gap on Manchester United," Ancelotti said. "We lost an opportunity, but we have to try to keep fighting for the title."