Ever since Torres left Liverpool people have been waiting to see the old Fernando. People have been waiting for the Torres of old who used terrorise Vidic and put Chelsea back in their place. They’ve been waiting for the striker who scored the winning goal of Euro 2008; they’ve been waiting for the man Chelsea broke the British transfer record for. But is he ever going to actually turn up?
I don’t support Chelsea, and I wasn’t a fan of him whilst he was at Liverpool either, but I do want him back to his old self. Above all we want these players in our league so they can entertain us. And frankly, apart from missing a few open goals, Torres has not been providing much entertainment.
At first people were saying that the team was too centred around Drogba. Now it’s centred around Torres. People were saying that he had to adjust to life at Chelsea. He’s been there almost a year. There aren’t really many excuses left. He has excellent support in the form of Mata, Lampard, Ramires and others yet still he struggles. I’m not saying that he won’t regain some kind of form this season because he will. But I am starting to think that, sadly, he will never be the striker he was at Liverpool. Ever since his hamstring injuries he has lost a yard of pace and to say he’s lost is his spark is a bit of an understatement. When Arsenal played Chelsea at the weekend I was glad Torres was playing instead of Drogba. I genuinely didn’t feel worried by Torres at all. And I was right not to be. Chelsea are an excellent team and if anyone can get the best out of him I feel it is the attack-minded Villas-Boas but a look at other strikers with similar career paths suggests that his reputation as one of the best strikers in the world might be gone forever.
The Obvious comparison is Michael Owen. Now I know Owen was never as good as Torres in his prime but Owen’s career took a similar path in terms of peaks and troughs. Starting brightly for club and country Benitez sold Owen to Real Madrid. Some questionable form lead to a spell in the Spanish capital spent mostly on the bench before being sold to Newcastle. Here he should have enjoyed his peak years but injury and the fact that he never really regained his true form meant that he ended his spell in Newcastle averaging less than seven goals a year between 2005-09. I’m sure when Newcastle fans saw that they’d signed Owen they thought it would be only a matter of time before he emulated the great Alan Shearer. It wasn’t to be, and Newcastle fans will be able to tell their west London counterparts that Torres’ return to glory is by no means guaranteed.
But then again, don’t Chelsea fans already know this? Remember the former Ballon D’or winner Andriy Shevchenko? He went from being one of the most feared strikers in the world to an extravagant irrelevancy in less than a year. His struggles to adapt to the Premier League turned into a career-threatening nosedive in form from which he has never recovered. The similarities between the two purchases are in fact remarkable. Both stink of an over-involvement of Roman Abramovich and in the same way that Shevchenko was unable to deal with the pressure it remains to be seen with Torres is.
Torres may be unlucky with his current situation, but so were Owen and Shevchenko. So was Van Basten, So was Robbie Fowler with the way his career turned out too. The fact is that regardless of whether he has the mentality to return to his former standards the pressure and old injuries may mean that he may never do so. Torres will always bee a quality player; he will always be able to score goals and will always be a good striker. But ultimately he may be in something of an unstoppable decline. Every football fan in this country would love to see him back to his best, and he has shown signs of improvement this season. However it has been far too inconsistent and he is still a shadow of his former self.
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