Fernando Torres’ goal against Galatasaray in the Champions League was a nothing moment. It gave Chelsea the lead, one which they would eventually lose, but when talking solely about Torres and a return to form, it’s anything but.
We’ve been here before. Earlier in the season it appeared that the Spanish striker was on his way back to his best. He was scoring in Europe and in the Premier League against title-challenging opposition. The assumed ascent back to greatness was made convenient by Jose Mourinho’s presence in the dugout at Stamford Bridge. Others had taken up the managerial role at Chelsea, yet none were able to get Torres back to his best.
It proved to be another false dawn. So much so that the club have put their name into a number of races for some of Europe’s leading forwards. The acceptance now is that there will be a clear out and a complete reshaping of the forward line at the club. Fernando Torres is hugely unlikely to be a part of it.
Which means there is no chance to prove Mourinho or the club wrong. Arguably everyone in the football world has resigned themselves to accept that this is the Torres we’ll have to watch until he hangs up the boots. Or maybe leaves England for good. It’s risky business holding onto a striker of his nature – for arguments sake the club’s first-choice – when the objective is to capture more than one major trophy on a season-to-season basis. Moreover, it’s just bad financial business all round.
And even if Torres does go on to use the goal in Istanbul as one to launch a late, late comeback from mediocrity, it surely won’t be enough. You can sense the exasperation from Mourinho, knowing that this team are close but being held back by a group of strikers who can’t deliver on a regular basis.
If there is an argument to say Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba are just as inconsistent or generally unreliable, them being options would look far better than they currently do if Torres was the striker Chelsea thought they were buying: a starter able to score 20 league goals minimum, supported by a veteran and a forward well accustomed to life in English football.
But it’s the end of the line for Torres. No amount of goals from now until the end of the season will convince people, and importantly Chelsea, that he’s turned a corner. Once bitten, twice shy, and all that. But it’s hard to imagine anyone has any serious hope that Torres can return to the glory days of his first few seasons in the Premier League.