Tambling hails Torres signing

LONDON - Chelsea's record goal-scorer Bobby Tambling is positively purring at the prospect of seeing Fernando Torres in a blue shirt and has compared the Spain striker to the club's greatest number nine, Peter Osgood.

The Premier League champions signed Torres for a British record fee of £50 million on transfer deadline day on Monday and he is set to make his debut against former club Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

"Torres, like Ossie [Osgood], is an exceptional player," Tambling told Reuters in an interview. "A few years ago, before he even joined Liverpool from Atletico Madrid, I was asked who I'd most like to see Chelsea buy and I said Torres.

"I always knew he would settle in English football because of the style of football he plays. He's a fantastic finisher, one of the best in the game at the moment, and he can do it at great pace which is much harder.

"For him to join the already great strike force we've got at Chelsea, that's fantastic for the club. He's an old-style centre forward who likes using his pace to get beyond defenders," added Tambling who scored 202 goals for the Londoners between 1959-70.

The former England international scuppered the notion that new number nine Torres would not be able to play in the same forward line as Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, who powered Chelsea to the league and cup double last season.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti offered the first clue as to how he might squeeze the trio into the same side by tweaking his customary 4-3-3 formation for Tuesday's 4-2 win at Sunderland.

Drogba played up front with Salomon Kalou and Anelka was a revelation in a new deep-lying role at the front of a four-man midfield diamond, prompting wave after wave of Chelsea attacks.

Ancelotti must now decide who steps down for Sunday's game to accommodate Torres and it could be that Kalou is the unlucky man to make way despite scoring at Sunderland.

Tambling, who was more of a goal poacher than a leader of the forward line like Osgood, has no doubt that Torres, Drogba and Anelka can all flourish in the same team.


"I think they can play together. Great players can always play together and I'm sure they will find a system to suit them," said the 69-year-old.

"Torres's signing certainly signals the intent of the club and it will be a massive gee-up for the whole squad," added Tambling who now lives in Ireland but returns to watch the occasional game at Stamford Bridge.

"Perhaps they will rotate the three strikers to get the best out of them."

Some pundits have suggested the arrival of Torres could signal the end of Ivory Coast international Drogba's seven-year spell at the club but Tambling does not see it that way.

"I don't think that at all," he said. "Drogba's got a lot to offer and he seems to be in love with Chelsea.

"He's had a hiccup in form lately, just like the rest of the team, but I think they had turned the corner even before Torres signed."

Tambling, who makes regular appearances for the Football After-Dinner Speakers group, said fourth-placed Chelsea should not be discounted in the league despite trailing leaders Manchester United by 10 points with 14 matches to go.

"I honestly don't think Chelsea are out of the running," he said. "They have to play United twice still.

"If they do the 'double' over United like they did last season the gap would be down to just four points and that would make everyone at Old Trafford a bit nervy.

"I think Chelsea are going to be very dangerous now," Tambling added.