Torres pays tribute to departing Benitez

The Spanish striker, who opened the scoring in the club's Europa League final victory in midweek, has lifted the lid on life at Stamford Bridge under the former Liverpool manager
Fernando Torres admits the hostility of Chelsea fans made things difficult for the players during Rafa Bentiez's early days in charge of the club.

The former Liverpool boss was an unpopular appointment with the club's supporters, who took no time to voice their discontent at the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.

However, after overcoming a difficult early period, Benitez has restored both his and the club's reputation, securing Champions League football for next season as well as triumph in the Europa League.

"At the beginning of the season we were expecting many more trophies and playing in finals," Torres told reporters.

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"But it has not been an easy season, with the change of manager and the way that when Rafa came everything was difficult for him, and that didn’t help the team.

"We did well in talking about that because it was not easy to play when all these things were going on around the team.

"It was difficult. As you know it’s not easy to work when you have many things against you. In this period of time in the last month of Robbie [Di Matteo] and the first month of Rafa we lost many points and were out of the race for the Premier League, and out of the Champions League.

"It’s not easy to change the mentality and realise we have to go for the Europa League. To forget about winning the league is not easy, especially in a club like Chelsea where you need to win every season."

The Blues' end-of-season form has led to suggestions they can challenge for the Premier League title next season, and Torres believes their performance next season will be stronger.

"Hopefully the majority of us can stay at Chelsea next season and keep fighting," offered Torres. “We have that mentality and players who can make the difference.

"We need more consistency in November and December we lost too many points. Especially in England – if you lose two or three games in a row then you are out.

"Manchester United and Manchester City are teams who, especially near Christmas, win many, many games and that makes a difference. We are many points behind United so we know we have to improve.

"We need to improve that consistency. We have lost games at home, and drawn games at home, that normally Chelsea should win. So something will have to improve but that is in our hands.

"This year we’ve also changed the squad, we came from winning the Champions League and many important players left. New players, young players, came in and you cannot make a team in one season.

"But it is nice to win this trophy because it is important for everyone to realise we are good enough to win trophies."

The former Atletico Madrid man has enjoyed his most productive season at Stamford Bridge to date, playing in 63 of Chelsea's 69 matches and netting 22 goals.

"I am still improving but I can do much better," he admitted.

"This season for me has been better than the first two – when you are involved and feel you are an important part of the team then that is much better.

"Not everything has been as bad as normally you have said.

"So I am happy for this season, happy to be at Chelsea winning trophies, that is what I wanted when I came [here] and I feel more important than in the past.

"So I only can think that the future is going to be even better. Hopefully the best goal is yet to come."

The Blues have been linked with a move for a top-class forward in the summer, with Radamel Falcao and Wayne Rooney among the names mentioned.

However, Torres remains confident of not only staying at Stamford Bridge, but retaining his place as a regular in the starting XI.

"We are Chelsea. All of us are expecting Chelsea to sign top players in every position," he insisted.

"That is normal. All the top teams in the world sign top players every summer and everyone who comes here is a team-mate.

"You have been the ones selling me every summer all around the world! I signed for five years and I have a contract because I want to do many, many things during this time.

"I have three more years and hopefully more."