RAFAEL BENITEZ has admitted he did not know whether Fernando Torres could recapture his Liverpool form at Chelsea.
Interim Blues manager Benitez insisted he could improve the fortunes of Torres, who he helped become one of the best strikers in the world at Anfield and has flopped since his £50million (€61m) move to Stamford Bridge.
But Benitez acknowledged the 28-year-old was not the same player he had been before joining Chelsea and needed to improve physically to stand a chance of recapturing his glory days.
Three Blues managers have failed to get Torres scoring regularly, each repeatedly insisting there was nothing wrong with the forward.
The man who knows his fellow Spaniard better than any of them said today: "He's not exactly the same player now, because he was at maximum level at this time [at Liverpool].
"But I think he can come back. How close? I don't know. It depends on the rest of the team.
"I'm sure he can improve, but the team has to help him."
Torres also has to help himself, as does Benitez, following a run of just 19 goals in 88 games for the European champions.
"The first thing is to give him some confidence, instructions as to how he can do things in a different way, improve him a little bit physically," said Benitez, who wants Torres's team-mates to create more chances for the striker and win the ball back more quickly in defence.
"You need to be stronger in defence, regain the ball easier and then you can create your own chances. That will benefit Torres.
"Players with mobility, quality... we can improve all these things."
Benitez denied he was under pressure to pick Torres amid reports previous Chelsea managers had been given the impression by owner Roman Abramovich that the club's record signing must play.
"It's easy at the moment because [Daniel] Sturridge is still injured," he said.
Indeed, Sturridge is Chelsea's only other recognised centre-forward and it seems unthinkable they will not attempt bolster their attack in the January transfer window.
But Benitez said: "I can guarantee I've been so busy, I haven't had time to watch any DVDs, or have conversations about this or that player.
"I have to improve the players who are here."