x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Fernando Torres touched by Chelsea supporters' faith

Spain's World Cup-winning striker hopes to end his barren run by scoring against Manchester United on Sunday.

Fernando Torres has gone 1,000 minutes at Chelsea without scoring a goal.
Fernando Torres has gone 1,000 minutes at Chelsea without scoring a goal.

Fernando Torres said he might have given up all hope of succeeding at Chelsea but for the support of the club's fans.

The World Cup-winning striker said that one of the greatest memories of his career was off the field, when the supporters chanted his name while he was on the substitute's bench.

Torres, 27, marked a year at Stamford Bridge this week but it was hardly an anniversary to celebrate. The player who cost £50 million (Dh285m) has scored five times in 44 Chelsea appearances since last January's move from Liverpool and is currently in his longest goal drought yet.

"I would like things to be much better but the support they give me every day is amazing," Torres told Chelsea TV.

"I remember a game against Wolverhampton and I was on the bench, and they were still singing my name. I've been very lucky to live very good moments but that game, when I was in the middle of nothing and not playing, was maybe the best memory I have in all my career."

He said it was hard to deal with not playing for eight consecutive games early in the season. "The only thing that gave me hope was the support of the people. That game against Wolverhampton showed me there are important things to fight for, the love of the fans, the support of the club."

If the support of the fans in November's Wolves game provided Torres with arguably his best memory, there can be little doubt about his worst.

Although he scored for the first time this season in September's game at Manchester United, the striker also produced one of the worst open-goal misses in Premier League history.

"Hopefully, this kind of thing happens once in a life, because it is so hard," said Torres as he prepared to face Sir Alex Ferguson's side once more today.

"I've had good games against Man U, I scored last time and hopefully we can beat them and get three more points."

Meanwhile, Ferguson is embroiled in a spat with television pundit Alan Hansen about the merits of the present United side. Ferguson has reacted with incredulity over Hansen's claim that United are woeful, and have been for 18 months.

Ferguson has pointed out that United have been doing something right, having won last year's title by nine points, reached the Champions League final and the FA Cup semi-final.

However, Park Ji-sung suggests that the absence of a performer in the mould of Cristiano Ronaldo has meant United lack the stardust of recent campaigns.

"Their expectations become too high," the Korean midfielder said of fans. "Maybe also because we are out of the Champions League and the FA Cup, people think Manchester United is no good. … We can still win the title."

Wayne Rooney, Nani, Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley are all set to return for United on Sunday.