Chelsea have ruined the striker who once tormented me, says Saints boss Pochettino
09:01 GMT, 30 March 2013
09:02 GMT, 30 March 2013
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Chelsea might be responsible for the decline of striker Fernando Torres.
During his time at Espanyol, Pochettino was pitted against a fearsome Torres when he broke into the Atletico Madrid first team and the 41-year-old remembers being tormented by the young striker.
Torres left Atletico for Liverpool in
2007 and took to Premier League life exceptionally well. But since a
50million move to Stamford Bridge, the Spain international has
struggled to recapture the devastating form shown in Madrid and on
Superstar: Fernando Torres burst onto the scene at Atletico Madrid
Shell: Torres has been in decline ever since joining Chelsea from Liverpool for 50million
Pochettino, whose Southampton side aim to topple Chelsea at St Mary’s this afternoon, believes Torres has not looked at ease since moving to west London.
'I have played against Torres many times and he scored some goals against me,’ Pochettino told The Daily Star.
'I remember him being a quality player, full of strength and a player who knew which spaces to run into to create chances.
'Sometimes it happens where a player is comfortable and feels happy at a certain club as he was at Atletico and at Liverpool.
'But when you leave that club and join a new team maybe you do not feel as comfortable and as happy and that can affect your performances.
Candid: Pochettino remembers being terrorised by Torres during his time at Espanyol
'I do not know if Torres will leave Chelsea but what is clear is there is no doubting his quality.'
Jack Cork further stoked the fires before this afternoon’s match by saying he would not swap Saints’ top goalscorer Rickie Lambert for Chelsea’s World Cup winner.
The 31-year-old Liverpudlian has scored 13 goals in his debut Premier League season, whereas Torres has only netted seven times this campaign.
Cork, who spent 14 years at The Bridge, said: ‘Rickie has been different class for us for the last three or four years.
'For someone of his build, his touch is unbelievable. He is great to have in your team.
'Torres and Demba Ba have scored lots of goals in their careers and you don’t pay 50m for someone who isn’t any good.
No way: Jack Cork says he would not swap Torres for Saints striker Rickie Lambert (second right)
'But if you asked who I’d rather have in my team, I’d say Rickie.'
Cork, 23, heads into this afternoon’s match to face the club he left in 2011, having been at Chelsea since the age of eight but never making a senior appearance.
He added: 'Chelsea was massive for me and from the age of eight it was my dream to play for them. It was frustrating towards the end but I loved it when I was there.
'We had a good set of young players who have all gone on to play a high standard. That was when Chelsea were doing well and winning titles — so I can understand why nobody was given a chance.
'With the managers chopping and changing there is always a lot of pressure on them to win games, so it’s tough to blood youngsters.'
Heavy heart: Cork (left) left Chelsea after 14 years at Stamford Bridge