How many times have you heard or read of the return of Fernando Torres? ‘He’s back’, ‘His Chelsea career has started. The start of the season, and the back end of last season has seen a somewhat reinvigorated Torres. Regardless of competition, goals have been more consistent and performances more so. In fact, it’s hard to pin point a match so far this season in which we’ve berated him from the stands, the pub or the sofa.
So what is behind this improved form? The answer is competition.
Last season was Torres’ first season as Chelsea’s obvious first choice striker. With Drogba’s departure, the Champions League success and the Euro 2012 Golden Boot, many expected him to kick on. And whilst last season was undoubtedly his best in a Chelsea shirt, you could very well argue that performances this season have been better and more consistent. And the reason for that is the competition for his place.
Last season, Daniel Sturridge was preferred on the right before being sold in January. And Demba Ba never really pushed to be the regular first choice. Torres was almost guaranteed his place regardless of goals or performance. That’s not the case this season, however. There is now real competition for his position.
Eto’o joining would have been a big worry to the Spaniard. A player of undoubted quality (even if he has lost his pace) and a former favourite of Mourinho from his treble winning Inter side, Fernando would’ve been under no illusion that Eto’o posed a real threat to his place in the starting XI.
Rather than signing Eto’o just to scare Torres, Mourinho has used him quite regularly which has left no doubt in Torres’ mind that only his performances will keep him in the team.
And then there’s one Romelu Lukaku. Despite spending a second season on loan, he continues to rack up the goals – leading pundits and fans alike to draw comparisons between the goal tallies of Lukaku and the current Chelsea strikers, combined. But Torres certainly sees Lukaku as a Chelsea player. He knows that this season’s performances will determine the amount of time he spends on the pitch this season, and next.
As long as Torres has real competition at Chelsea, I think we’ll continue to see an improved £50million striker.