TIDYING UP ALL THE LOOSE STORIES IN FOOTBALL THIS WEEK
By Greg Stobart
TORRES’ RAFA ROW MAY GIVE ROMAN THE BLUES
One of the suspicions about Rafael Benitez’s appointment as Chelsea’s new manager this week is that he has been brought in to get the best out of Fernando Torres.
Yet in actual fact, the pair will have to rebuild some bridges after their relationship deteriorated to breaking point in Benitez’s final 18 months in charge of Liverpool before he was sacked in June 2010.
Torres has failed to find any form at Chelsea but the £50 million striker and club owner Roman Abramovich hopes Benitez will help his compatriot rediscover the prolific form of his Liverpool days.
But although Torres scored a highly impressive 56 goals in 79 games under Benitez at Anfield, there is no guarantee that the 28-year-old will be at the forefront of the new coach’s plans.
While Benitez knows Torres’ strengths and weaknesses better than anyone, he is understood to have been deeply disappointed by the player’s attitude in his final throes at Liverpool.
Benitez and Torres – two men known for their considerable egos – fell out to the extent that they were barely talking by the end of the 2009-10 season, especially after Torres was substituted in a 1-1 draw with Birmingham that April.
Abramovich may expect Benitez to make Torres the focal point of the side, but he will also remember that Carlo Ancelotti shunned Andrei Shevchenko despite having managed the Ukrainian forward during his most prolific form while at AC Milan.
TXIKI MADE MOVES FOR SPURS & CHELSEA AFTER BARCA EXIT
Txiki Begiristain joined Manchester City’s boardroom dream team in October as he was appointed as the club’s director of football by Ferran Soriano, the Premier League champions’ chief executive.
It is the same role Begiristain held at Barcelona from 2009 until 2010 during the most successful spell in the Spanish giants’ history and City will be hoping he can have a similar impact at the Etihad Stadium.
Had things worked out differently, however, Begiristain could have been in a different directors’ box this weekend having actively seeked positions at Chelsea and Tottenham in the last two years.
Chelsea, in particular, held talks with the former winger but were not ready to offer him the role or the power that he wanted. Spurs, for their part, have made clear that they are searching for a technical director but were not convinced that Begiristain was the man to take them forward.
KABOUL HIT BY MAJOR INJURY SETBACK
Just when Tottenham thought they no longer had to worry about a central defender with perpetual knee trouble, Younes Kaboul is now making slow progress in his recovery from knee surgery.
The 26-year-old underwent surgery in August on a tendon injury that had been troubling him for several months and was initially expected to be out for four months.
There are now doubts, though, that he will recover in time to make a return before March, a huge blow to manager Andre Villas-Boas’ Champions League ambitions.
Spurs will be even more hopeful that Kaboul can make a full recovery in light of the knee injury that plagued the career of former captain Ledley King, who retired in the summer.