Villas-Boas backs blunt Torres

Andre Villas-Boas has defended Fernando Torres after the Chelsea striker went past the 1,000 minute-mark without a goal.

It has been a torrid time for the £50 million Spain international since his move from Liverpool a little more than a year ago.

Just five goals in the past 12 months, with none in the league since September and none in all competitions since October, have left Torres with few supporters.

However, manager Villas-Boas is keeping faith with his front-man, and will continue to, at least until Didier Drogba and Saloman Kalou return from international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.

"It is normal, he is taking his time," he said.
"The confidence is there and we believe a lot in the player, he helped the team with his lay-offs and passing and in this situation he has to continue to persist and maybe we can create opportunities that can help us win games.

"If we need to create more opportunities for him to score then that's what we need to do."

On the return of Drogba, Villas-Boas added: "The two players [Drogba and Torres] compete for the striker position. When Didier arrives back it will be healthy competition and we know the significance of Didier to this team and his goals record.

"We will reassess things when Didier comes back and see how tired he is. His ambition is to stay with us and try and win trophies, so he will be a major plus for the team."

Ivory Coast face tournament co-hosts Equatorial Guinea in the quarter-finals of the Nations Cup on Saturday, meaning Drogba will not be back in time for the Blues’ clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

By Phil Haigh