• 'This is first season the club has given him 100% confidence'
• Torres set to be replaced by Demba Ba against Brentford
Yossi Benayoun believes Fernando Torres's difficulties at Chelsea are the result of mismanagement as he offered a glimpse into the fragile mindset of the club's £50m record signing. Benayoun, who is back in contention at Chelsea after a return from injury and a loan spell at West Ham United, says Torres, his friend and former Liverpool team-mate, was not given the trust and confidence that he needed at Stamford Bridge by a succession of managers.
Torres arrived in January 2011 from Liverpool and he struggled under first Carlo Ancelotti and then, last season, under André Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo. The latter was replaced as the manager by Rafael Benítez last November and Torres's numbers have been better this season, even though he is on a run of one goal in 13 appearances and he was poor in Thursday's 1-0 Europa League victory at Sparta Prague.
He stands to be replaced by Demba Ba for Sunday's FA Cup fourth round replay at home to Brentford but Benayoun is convinced that the Chelsea support will come to see Torres back in the form that he once showed at Liverpool.
"It has been a hard time for him," Benayoun said. "The situation from the beginning was managed bad with him. This is my opinion. When he came in, he was on the bench, then on the pitch and so he did not get the confidence when he came in. And with the £50m above his head, it is not easy for any player. This season he was scoring a few in a row and then another bad spell but he just needs to believe in himself, to keep doing the right movements.
"Against Wigan [last Saturday] he played well but the goal did not come. The keeper made two or three great saves. If he scores, it changes everything and his confidence comes back. Hopefully he will get a few more soon and you will see the real Fernando Torres."
Benayoun enjoyed a productive link with Torres during their time together at Anfield, when the Spaniard was arguably the best striker in the Premier League and Benayoun believes that Torres has felt the benefit this season of being Chelsea's principal centre-forward. Ba was signed from Newcastle United last month to take the strain off him.
"You can understand it is not easy, from being the top striker at Liverpool … he was unbelievable, you gave him the ball and you knew he would score," Benayoun said. "But he had a bad time in the beginning at Chelsea and this season is the first time that he has been given the chance to be No1, because [Didier] Drogba was here, so there was competition.
"This is the first year the club gave him the 100% confidence that he needs to be No1. He has had good spells and bad spells but he has 15 goals already. That is not bad but hopefully he will finish with 25. It would be good to get his confidence back and be his old self.
"Personally, I believe in him 100%. For me, he is still one of the best."
Benayoun and Chelsea hold an option in the summer to extend his contract at Stamford Bridge for a final year but the 32-year-old is focused on achieving the club's aims over the next three months.
"We should finish in the first three, at least, and continue well in the Europa League and the FA Cup," he said. "This team can and must win titles this season, even though we have the disappointment of being out of the Champions League and being too far from Manchester United in the Premier League. We will try to finish well. I'm very confident we will."