Torres: Rafa deserves credit
Fernando Torres has paid tribute to outgoing Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez and hailed his influence on a season that culminated with a top-three finish in the Premier League and Europa League glory.
Benitez came under fire from a majority of Chelsea supporters when he succeeded Roberto Di Matteo, but striker Torres believes he should now be given credit for guiding the club to a successful season in difficult circumstances.
"He helped to give the team confidence back after a difficult period in November," Torres told the Chelsea website. "The only thing he wanted was to do his best and to try to help Chelsea to come back from a difficult situation.
"Credit to the players as well because it is not easy to play so many games in a season and especially in the last couple of months, the team has shown more character and as a team.
"We have performed much better than in the beginning of the season when maybe individuality was the key for us. It is something to build up from and I think everyone wishes him (Benitez) all the best now."
Torres ended the season on a high after scoring in the Europa League Final and then blasting the goal that secured third spot for Chelsea in Premier League, with his final haul of goals representing a decent return for the much-maligned £50 million striker.
"Scoring 22 goals is not bad and everyone is asking for the strikers to score goals," said the striker whose strike against Everton last Sunday was his first in the Premier League since December. "It is much better than last season but hopefully next season it can be even better next time.
"In the last couple of months, I was not really involved in the Premier League, I was playing more in Europe and in the cups. It was a long time with not scoring but with the goal on Sunday I forget about that and think about next season."
Torres concluded that Chelsea's hard work was reason why they enjoyed double success in the final week of the season, as he insisted all involved in the Blues campaign could head into the summer break with their heads held high.
"We deserved to finish in the top three," he added. "It was not the target in the beginning of the season but it was the main target in the last couple of months, so we are happy to secure third place and we know now we are going to play Champions League again next season.
"We have to learn from what we did badly in this season because everyone wants to play to the end of the Champions League like we did last season, so this is the first step.
"It was a great week for the club, the players, the supporters, everyone and we achieved the two targets we have been fighting for the last couple of months. So we can go on holidays with that job done."
Chelsea's exhaustive season is not quite over just yet, as they still have an end of season tour of the United States to conclude before the anticipated return of manager Jose Mourinho is confirmed.