Roy Hodgson finally saw his Liverpool side climb out of the bottom three with a hard-fought win at Bolton. It certainly wasn’t easy for the Hodgson’s men as the hosts frustrated Liverpool for long periods only to be undone by some Fernando Torres magic late on.
Torres’ delightful flick in to the path of an on-running Maxi Rodriguez demonstrated that while he is still lacking in form he can still be a match winner for Hodgson. In fact you could argue that with his assist today, coupled with a winning goal against Blackburn last week, the Spaniard has already earned Liverpool six points.
However the former Atletico Madrid man is still a million miles away from his best. Had it not been for his piece of individual brilliance, then mass criticism of Torres would have been the reaction from most pundits.
So often at the Reebok Stadium, the 27-year-old would miss place a pass or see his touch let him down. This is the reason why he is not getting anywhere near the number of goals that you would expect from a striker of his ability.
I’m reluctant to say “the Fernando Torres of old would have scored today” because it’s not as if Torres is a different player. His flick today was a timely reminder of the immense talent that he possesses.
In time, I think Torres will play himself in to form because his confidence will slowly grow. But I think Hodgson can help him by changing his tactics to ensure Torres gets the best service possible. Torres looked isolated at times in the first half against Bolton, and with his confidence low, a second striker to support him and ease the pressure on him to score goals could really help the striker return to his best sooner.
Hodgson did just that at Bolton with the introduction of David N’Gog as a second half substitute and Torres’ performance did improve as a result. In the long term I doubt whether N’Gog has the capabilities to provide a suitable foil for Torres, but with Dirk Kuyt’s return from injury expected in next week’s clash with Chelsea, Hodgson does have options.
The Chelsea game next week could be the ideal stage for ‘El Nino’ to return to form. The striker has previously thrived for Liverpool on the big stage, and there aren’t many bigger games for Liverpool this season. But you have to feel for Torres to shine he really needs the support of his team-mates and his manager now.
Hodgson would be a fool not to give him this support, because if he can get Torres firing on all cylinders, then Torres will fire Liverpool up the table.
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