Torres exceeds his own low standards
By Tom Gaunt
I recently wrote about boo-boys, and whilst I would never boo Fernando Torres or wish him any ill fate I have become slightly fixated with his performances and the mixed reactions to them. In fact it seems the whole media world uses half their Chelsea match report to discuss how the misfiring Spaniard performed. So with this in mind I readily admit that my opinions on Torres may be slightly clouded, but nonetheless I will share them.
I watched last nights game against Bayer Leverkusen and thought Chelsea’s overall display, against a club who are no mugs, was solid if not spectacular. Daniel Sturridge sparkled and new boys Juan Mata and Raul Meireles looked full of ideas and energy. Torres however left me rolling my eyes and sighing as he was constantly knocked off the ball, mis-controlled and generally looked poor. He was unlucky of course, in the first few minutes his clever flick went so close to Meireles that the goal was rightly given offside, but it seems that since his arrival Torres has been plagued with ‘bad luck’. It is the sort of luck which Arsenal have had recently or it seems most relegated clubs are faced with, but it is not really luck when it carries over 20+ games.
In today’s Guardian Richard Williams talks of Torres possibly turning a corner (after last nights performance) and that is is Chelsea’s belief that he is technically the same player as in his heyday, just lacking confidence. The article talks in glowing terms about Torres’ contribution. Whilst I may be biased I did not see it that way and last season and this season has followed the same pattern. What I believe has provoked the article is the low standards he set last season. He played so badly last year that when he scored just one goal after 900 minutes of football everyone declared he had turned a corner, until he flopped once again in the remaining matches. The same happened last night. Torres assisted 2 goals and they were very good assists, so it is fair to say he had a productive evening, but there is no evidence this will continue as this was an exception not the norm. I think people are forgetting that what Chelsea should expect from their star striker is performances of the Rooney or Aguero calibre. Chelsea have ambitions to be the best team in the World so to have a striker that produces 1 goal and 3 assists does not really cut it.
The opening game of the season against Stoke saw Torres have one of his best ever games in a Chelsea shirt. He didn’t score but was a constant menace and almost scored a fantastic individual goal, just that little bit of ‘bad luck’ saw the ball toed away at the vital moment. He was named man-of -the-match. The next game against WBA he was back to his terrible worst, and against Norwich much the same.
In every game I have watched Torres his all round play has ranged from OK to awful with the ocassional bright performance. His touch has been terrible for the most part and he is consistently second to the ball and easily dispossesed. He is clearly trying hard which bring a certain level of sympathy, but football clubs are not charities and for £200k a week my sympathy is short lived. For that sort of money you should be getting someone with rock solid confidence, with no mental weakness and in prime physical shape, in short someone like Cristano Ronaldo. The sympathy and desperation for Torres to succeed by many has led to a clamor every time he has a good shot on goal or beats a man. He has basically set his bar so low that anything he manages to do is greeted with surprised wonder. There are plenty of strikers putting in solid displays week in week out that do not receive the same attention for achieving footballing basics.
I imagine by now Torres detractors will be agreeing with me and those who diligently and foolishly put him in their fantasy football teams, based on no evidence of a turn of fate whatsoever, will be claiming that he just “needs a few goals under his belt” then he will be unstoppable. I disagree. In order for him to justify his price tag and a place spearheading the Chelsea attack he would need to rediscover his form of over 2 years ago and I do not think this is physically possible. If he suddenly had a massive boost in confidence I am sure he could score a few goals, as any half-decent striker would in the Chelsea team, however I believe it is more than this. I think it is also physical. The noises coming out of Chelsea may be that physically and technically he is the same as in his Liverpool and Spain heyday, but this is just PR spin. All one needs to do is watch footage of him at Liverpool 2 years ago and now, or even the goal he scored in the Euro 2008 final. There is no way he has that pace now, and his injuries mean he will never have that pace again. Look back and he is faster, stronger, sharper and in turn more clinical. Although people may believe that finishing is just down to confidence as long as they have the ability, this is not true. Once a striker loses their pace they have 1 or 2 less yards and half a second less time and possibly that little bit less strength and this all then effects the finish. This is exactly what is happening to Torres. The number of times he is having shot blocked, or the ball taken off his toe at the last minute is startling.
Those who believe that Torres will turn it around are not in the minority, he was joint favourite to be top goalscorer in the Premiership at the start of the season, but so was Shevchenko when he arrived. Although Shevchenko was much older there are clear parallels. Both are thought of as Abramovich buys and both had their fare share of injuries and a loss of form before coming to the club. I remember watching Shevchenko in the 2006 World Cup and fearing the worst. His legs had gone and when that happens strikers rarely, if ever, get them back.
I hope I am wrong about Fernando Torres, I really do. It is sad to see a once great player ridiculed by opposing fans and jeered every time they make a mistake, and by writing this article I am painfully aware I am jeering him myself. The emergence of Daniel Sturridge has shown the stark difference between a man in his physical prime and full of confidence and another who is quite the opposite. It is a harsh reality for Torres who’s days look numbered as a starter in a fast improving Chelsea team.
Posted on September 14, 2011, in *Tom Gaunt, Champions League, Chelsea, Opinion, Pub Chat and tagged Andriy Shevchenko, Bayer Leverkusen, Chelsea, Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniel Sturridge, Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Raul Meireles, Roman Abramovich, Soccer, Tom Gaunt. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.