The Lost Fernando Torres
Ever since being transferred to Chelsea in last January’s window, the one universal opinion on Fernando Torres is that he hasn’t lived up to his previous form. He’s on a drought, a severe one at that, scoring one goal last year and none in league play this year. As of right now John Terry has more goals than Torres and Daniel Sturridge, who was on loan last year gets called back and effortlessly scores against Sunderland last week. Yes, both of those are very cliche stats, but with recent veiled usage of the idea that club manager Andre Villas Boas is leaving him out of both the Champions League opener against Bayer Leverkusen and the Sunday trip to Manchester United it cannot look great for Torres to the outside eye.
Villas Boas didn’t outright say that Torres is being left out of the two upcoming games, but realistically why would he still go along with the previous mandate of “we paid £50 million, we have to allow him to find his groove”? How long do we have to wait until we can say that Torres either doesn’t fit on the team or dare I say, lost his prime?
In the beginning Torres was a weird signing that should have made Chelsea into a mega power up front. He would play either alongside Didier Drogba or they would switch off and it’s the dream scenario of having two world class strikers on the team. But then Torres doesn’t score and starts, the club finishes third and it appears that everyone in the inner circle begins to do whatever they have to get Torres going. Juan Mata is signed, Villas Boas is signed, rumors fly around about having that summer to gear the offense around Torres and all but guarantee that he’s going to have a much better year this season.
But it hasn’t happened, and Villas Boas comes off looking like a guy who won’t get swayed by the board, Daniel Sturridge looks clutch in one appearance and Drogba gets some respect back for looking well out there and taking one for the team by diving into Norwich goalkeepers headfirst. Torres went from the guy you wanted to see to hoping that the manager doesn’t put him out there if you are a fan.
Here’s where it gets interesting for both fans of Chelsea and fans of the EPL in general. It would appear that Torres’ performances (or lack thereof) stem more from not fitting in within the system rather than losing a step. Sure he’s had a lot of injuries but he’s still young enough to switch into the right gear with a different team. The psychological effects of his contract vs. performance have to weigh in, as internally Chelsea has to be a different organization than Liverpool was. Based on all of this, would Chelsea consider making a move on selling Torres?
It sounds crazy to think about, but a Chelsea without Torres on the squad is a completely legitimate team that can go out and win the League and whatever else they are up for. Raul Meireles ended up being the “Luka Modric” the team needed (and at a much better price), Sturridge is fulfilling the needs at striker, Mata was a great pickup and if the club even gets back the £50 mil it spent they can still grab players more tailored to the new manager and it looks like they made a mistake and fixed it a year later.
It’s a culture that certainly worked well for Torres’ former club, Liverpool. The Liverpool XI so far this year contains almost no trace of the Roy Hodgson era. The club got new ownership and proceeded to re-design the team, which built supporter confidence and shows a confidence in new manager Kenny Daglish. Chelsea went through a similar situation this summer in regard to the manager, so why shouldn’t Villas Boas remake the club further? There has been talk for months now about signing Falcao, or Neymar and having them be the replacement for Drogba but why not flip Torres for one of these guys? Better yet, why not push Sturridge up and use Torres money to fill other needs?
Everyone knows that the future of a football team takes severe rights and lefts but always moves forward. Managers change, owners change, players change and each time the club gets amended or re-written. Maybe Fernando Torres will get his mojo back, but maybe Fernando Torres is an expensive mistake that could end up a mulligan if he’s sold at the right time. It certainly worked for Liverpool.