The Chelsea striker could have been a City player if the price had been right when he left Liverpool two years ago
Fernando Torres has had his share of trials and tribulations since joining Chelsea for £50m just under two years ago and must be hoping a reunion with Rafael Benítez can restore some consistency to his performances. Yet he could now be turning out for Sunday's opponents had Manchester City not balked at Liverpool's asking price.
"Now he is at Chelsea, but two years ago we were looking at him," Roberto Mancini said. "Every striker can have a difficult moment, but Torres is a very good player. For me, he is always dangerous. Even though he had a tough year after leaving Liverpool he still scored some important goals for Chelsea. He helped them win the Champions League last season.
"We were looking at him and some other strikers as well, we particularly wanted someone who would be strong in the air.
"There was a moment when we might have bought Torres but when we heard the price was so high we moved to one of our other targets and brought in Edin Dzeko instead."
Dzeko cost £27m and has proved a reliable supplier of goals despite not being a regular starter at City, whereas Torres has suffered droughts at Chelsea that on occasions have cost him his place in the team and now appear to have cost Roberto Di Matteo his job. The Italian was bold enough to drop Torres for the Champions League game at Juventus in midweek when his form no longer warranted automatic selection, only for a 3-0 defeat to leave the manager looking exposed.
While it is true that Torres enjoyed his best years in England under Benítez at Anfield there is no guarantee those free-scoring days will return simply because of the Spanish connection at Stamford Bridge, and if the striker is still misfiring a few weeks or months from now it will be interesting, to say the least, to see how the new Chelsea manager approaches the problem.
Mancini was sorry to see the departure of Di Matteo, but not exactly shocked. Managers in general, and Italians in particular, do not expect winning the Champions League one year to be insurance against poor results the next.
"Winning the Champions League should buy a manager some time, but it depends on where you work," the City manager said. "The situation at Chelsea is maybe a little different to other clubs."
It might not be as different as all that, since winning the title last season has not prevented City being grouped with Chelsea as the most likely bidders for Pep Guardiola's services next summer. The former Barcelona manager has not given Chelsea any assurances he will take up a post with them when he has completed his year-long sabbatical, and it is easy to jump to a certain conclusion when City have already recruited Ferran Soriano as chief executive and Txiki Begiristain as director of football.
Both were head-hunted from Barcelona, indeed Begiristain is the man credited with bringing Guardiola back to Camp Nou as manager, and now City are once again out of the Champions League before the knockout stage Mancini must be aware that his results are going to be closely scrutinised. He has pledged to try to qualify for the Europa League but even winning it may not be enough if results dip at home.
Winning another title would help and City remain unbeaten in the league, though as he says it depends on who you work for. While City went back to the top of the table last weekend, the fixture at Chelsea is the first of several tough games in the run-up to Christmas, with Everton, Manchester United and Newcastle all lying in wait, not to mention a trip to Borussia Dortmund.
"I don't know how long we can stay unbeaten, it is very hard in the Premier League," Mancini said. "It will be difficult staying unbeaten through December, but we will try."
After December, the fear is that City's form may suffer if Yaya Touré leaves to compete in the African Cup of Nations, and Mancini intends to speak to the player to see if there is any chance of persuading him to stay in England.
"He is really important for us, but also a very important player for his national team," he said. "We have one more month to talk about this, but it is difficult for Yaya to say no to the African Cup. I hope he can stay here but it is not a simple decision. Yaya for Ivory Coast is as vital as Sir Alex Ferguson for Manchester United."