I love Fernando Torres, I really do. Not in the biblical sense you understand, God forbid, but if there was one person who wished Torres would succeed more than me, I haven’t met him.
Yet the strikers’ graveyard curse that has stalked our beloved Club for decades – let’s talk Robert Fleck (Norwich hero: Chelsea flop), Chris Sutton (Norwich, Blackburn and Celtic hero: Chelsea flop), George Weah (AC Milan legend: Chelsea flop), Andrei Schevchenko (AC Milan legend: Chelsea flop), Salomon Kalou (Feyernoord hero: Chelsea flop) has now got its grips firmly round the throat of the ex-Liverpool, Spain and Atletico Madrid legend, Fernando Torres.
Before this season started it was frustrating that Torres had not really been given his chance as our #1 striker. That was baffling given his transfer value as the most expensive player in British history. Carlo Ancelotti and AVB both placed Torres behind Drogba in the pecking order, so credit must be given to Di Matteo for standing by his man and making him Chelsea’s primary striker.
However, now that he is our number one striker, there are no hiding places for our Spanish number nine. There is no Plan B of Didier Drogba coming off the bench or a Salomon Kalou to knock the ball wide of the post. Basically Torres now has to deliver and yet, from what we’ve seen from Gate 11 in the Matthew Harding Lower, the local pizza house delivers more than our £50 million striker.
Critics argue that he’s suffered from a lack of confidence but, almost two years after he’s joined us, that excuse no longer washes. Other fans state that the team is not set up to play to his strengths. That might have been true in the Drogba/Lampard era, but not now – Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar are one of the best offensive trios in world football playing the sort of football a striker can only dream of.
So how has Fernando performed? Having watched Chelsea’s games this season one can only say he’s performed sluggishly, like he’s had paella and a cerveza for lunch and is ready for a siesta. There’s not a Chelsea fan alive who thinks Torres can now outpace a defender and slot in a cheeky goal. Against Spurs, Arsenal and Utd he had clear runs on goal and got tackled each time, winning nothing but a sending off (for himself).
In fact in his last four games – Spurs, Arsenal, Shaktar and United – Torres had more chances than a hooker at a business convention but still failed miserably to take any one of them. As the Telegraph’s Paul Hayward admitted after the Utd game, “The paradox of all Roman Abramovich’s extravagance is that the most expensive player he has ever bought is holding this team back.”
In the pub before the United Premier league game, the support for Torres was still strong. Any striker who gives 100% will always get backing at the Bridge and Torres can’t be faulted for effort (most of the time). But his predatory instincts – he holds the record as the most prolific foreign goal scorer in a debut season in England – have deserted him.
It’s not too soon to call time on Torres’ Chelsea career – he’s only 28 for Pete’s sake – but it’s the opinion of this writer that he has until the January transfer window to sort himself out and prove beyond all doubt that he deserves to be our #1 striker. Currently, he’s not doing it and the figure of Atletico’s Falcao is starting to loom ever larger on the horizon. To put it simply, he’s got ten weeks to save his Chelsea career and show that he can do it in the big games (i.e. Man City and Liverpool).
I’ll be rooting for him but I’m not holding my breath. Mucha suerte Fernando.