Carlo Ancelotti insisted Chelsea's record-breaking signing of Fernando Torres was not to blame for the end of the mini-revival that has seen them once again marooned outside the Barclays Premier League top four.
The champions appeared to have put their worst run in the league for almost 15 years behind them at the start of 2011, winning three games in a row to climb back into the Champions League spots and spark suggestions they could make a late comeback in the title race.
Ancelotti is adamant that the Spain striker's arrival had not been disruptive, saying: "It is not the fault of Fernando, obviously. I think that he needs to have time."
He added: "In my opinion, he played well for 60 minutes against Fulham. He had two or three opportunities.
"He didn't score but he will score, obviously."
With only 12 league games remaining for Chelsea to overhaul Tottenham or Manchester City and with both remaining cup competitions purely knockout affairs, is is questionable how much time Torres can be afforded.
"He needs to have time, but playing, to improve his combination with the other players," Ancelotti said.
"It will take time playing with us."
Torres will miss out on that time when Chelsea host Everton in their FA Cup fourth-round replay as the Spaniard is cup-tied.
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