It happened. Fernando Torres scored twice against Nordsjælland and the world seemed to be awash once again with talk that ‘Torres is back’. How many times Chelsea fans, pundits and commentators have uttered those crippling words, I’ll never know. A bit of perspective people, this was against the worst side in Chelsea’s group, who ended up being without their 1st and 2nd choice centre-backs, and Torres took full advantage of this. Yes, you’d have to give him his dues when you say he did work hard all night, sniffing out chances and opportunities to run in behind the defenders whenever he had the chance. But this was against a very poor side. The Torres of old would have had this menacing edge to him in games of the greatest important, with two games in particular sticking out, Man United away when Liverpool won 4-1 and he terrorised Vidic, and Real Madrid at home when Liverpool won 4-0. Those were games which showed what sort of a striker Torres now. But now Chelsea fans have to wait for minnows to come to town, before we see anything like that old Torres.
Since Torres signed for Chelsea, he’s scored a measly 21 goals in just over 90 appearances. And when you look back at who these goals have been against, it isn’t pretty reading for Chelsea fans. 13 of those 21 goals came either against teams finishing 4th in the Champions League group, who were relegated that year, or a newly promoted side. That leaves 8 other goals, which came against Man United, Aston Villa, Barcelona, Newcastle, Man City, Arsenal, Norwich and Shakhtar. So yes, there are some big names in there, but there simply hasn’t been enough goals against the big sides. The Barcelona goal was one-on-one, the Shakhtar goal bounced in off of him, so it does put it into perspective about just how poor Torres has been in front of goal.
Many, including myself, blame Torres for the removals of the past few managers. Ancelotti, AVB and Di Matteo have all arguably been fired due to their inability to get the best out of the striker. There’s even a case for stating that Roy Hodgson’s sacking at Liverpool was down to the striker’s lack of form. But the fact remains that he’s still here, and the side has been built around the striker, with Roman seemingly sparing no expense to get the Spaniard back to his best.
It’s clear that there is some ability still there. When playing for Spain in the Euro’s, Torres scored 3 goals and getting 1 assist to win the golden boot. Those goals were the Torres of old, and it made Chelsea fans wonder where this player had been hiding all along. I suppose it does help when you’ve got Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Alonso & David Silva all with the ability to pick a pass out for you, with Juan Mata the only player capable of this skill the whole of last season. But I do think that that Euro’s saved Torres’ Chelsea career, and maybe convinced Roman that he didn’t need to buy another striker because of those goals. It was a false prophecy, and Abramovich has clearly regretted leaving his side with just one out and out striker so far this season, with negotiations in the pipeline for at least one striker coming in in January.
But where does Torres go from here? Many Chelsea fans, myself included, still don’t feel that he’s good enough to lead the line in the way Drogba did for so long at the club, and was so successful. Chelsea fans are used to Drogba running around, winning free kicks for the side when under pressure, and of course scoring crucial games to get us out of sticky situations. This was Drogba’s trademark after all. It doesn’t help the fact that Torres’ form has led to the arrival of possibly the most loathed man in recent Chelsea history, Rafael Benitez. Given the task to turn around Torres’ form, there have been glimpses of the old Torres in the few games Benitez has taken over, but this just makes it worse.
The fact that it took the club having to get rid of a club legend in Di Matteo, to seemingly make Torres happy, doesn’t sit well with fans. In a way, it’ll make it even worse if Torres suddenly starts scoring more goals, simply due to the fact that such a measure had to be taken in order to bring back the striker Chelsea thought they were buying 2 years ago. The Torres experiment by Abramovich is one that excited Chelsea fans in the beginning, but has now 2 years down the line, left the fans frustrated and tired of seeing a striker who most of the time runs round like a headless chicken. Unable to take it past defenders, always wanting to score the perfect goal, this is definitely not a £50 million striker.
But there is hope for Torres. The fact is that Torres may well have started scoring at just the right time. With just over 3 weeks until the January transfer window, Torres will know that the club intends to bring in another striker, which would obviously limit his opportunities. So now he knows, and I think every Chelsea fan knows this, it’s now or never. He’s got the manager he was most successful with, he’s got players being told to play to Torres’ strengths, and he’s got a fixture list coming up that every striker would dream about.
Until Chelsea face Arsenal on the 20th of January, every game on paper is one that Torres should fancy his chances to score in. Sunderland (a), 2 games potentially in the Club World Cup, Leeds (a), Aston Villa (h), Norwich (a), Everton (a), QPR (h), Southampton (a) and Stoke (a). Now if Torres isn’t looking at that fixture list and thinking he can’t score in at least half of those games, there’s a problem. With the exception of Everton, every side is either in the bottom half of the table, or not in the Premier League, so it should be Torres’ level!
The sad fact for Chelsea fans is that Torres could fill his boots before January, which could further postpone the addition of another striker, with Roman maybe being wooed by the striker if he does all the right talking off the pitch. But surely Chelsea fans will ask, Roman realises that another striker is needed in the squad? Remember that this is a man who sacked the guy who gave Chelsea fans the prize they craved the most, anything is possible at the circus that is Chelsea FC. First up, Sunderland away, and Chelsea fans now wonder, which Torres will turn up.