Former Kop idol Jamie Redknapp described Spanish striker Fernando Torres’ performance against Birmingham as ‘diabolical’ on Sunday. While most would agree that statement was hugely over-critical, slight question marks do remain over the Torres’ recent form.
Despite this, I genuinely believe the concerns regarding Torres’ effectiveness have been exaggerated and that the 26-year-old will once more go onto have another fantastic season for The Reds. Read on to find out why ….
1. Yet to come back to full fitness
Torres is still slowly regaining full match fitness after spending the last five months struggling with injuries and knocks. The former Atletico Madrid captain needed surgery on his knee towards the end of last season and also damaged his groin shortly after coming on in the World Cup final against Holland this summer.
The Spaniard is still a long way off peak condition and this will come with the more games he plays. When the striker’s fitness does return we should see a rejuvenated Torres, back terrorising defenders up and down the land. Also of course, the season is only four games old and strong criticism after such a short period, or just one game, is slightly premature and somewhat harsh.
2. Torres is committed to Liverpool
It was only last month that Torres committed his foreseeable future to Liverpool and declared he was ready to fight for trophies this season. Yet just weeks down the line, new manager Roy Hodgson is having to bat away questions regarding the striker’s body language and happiness at the club.
“My commitment and loyalty to the club and to the fans is the same as it was on my first day when I signed,” revealed Torres in early August.
“I am really happy to be back, really happy to stay with all my team-mates.”
Torres was understandably frustrated by the lack of service he received against Birmingham and the way he was marked out of the game by the Blues’ back-line. However not many strikers have had a great day out at St Andrew’s since Alex McLeish took charge and the Blues made it 17 games unbeaten at home against Hodgson’s side on Sunday.
3. He loves playing against Vidic
The Reds need a result to spark their season into life and there would be nothing better than a win at Old Trafford to set the ball rolling.
Manchester United’s colossal defender Nemanja Vidic has had a torrid time against Torres in recent seasons, most notably in his error-prone display in the 4-1 home defeat in March 2009. The Liverpool frontman will certainly be looking to take advantage of any Serbian hesitancy when the sides clash on Sunday.
4. Torres is still adapting to Hodgson’s system
Roy Hodgson is still implementing his new ideas and a different style of play at Anfield and this will take time to develop. Due to injuries and suspensions Hodgson has regularly had to shuffle his pack in the opening four league games and Torres will benefit once the side is more settled.
Joe Cole returns from his three-match suspension at Old Trafford and will add more creativity to the Liverpool midfield. You can also expect cultured midfielder Raul Meireles, who was impressive in his cameo against Birmingham, to start against United. More chances will certainly be created, however the injury to Holland star Dirk Kuyt on the right remains a problem.
5. Prolific strikers don’t just stop scoring
One thing that has defined Torres’ three year spell on Merseyside is goals. He now has 73 in 120 appearances for Liverpool and he never goes too long without finding the back of the net.
Despite his lack of fitness, Torres netted a well taken winning goal against West Brom two weeks ago and also impressed on international duty for Spain against Liechtenstein during the international break with two delightfully taken goals. Watch one of the goals below.
Torres will be keen to answer the critics who have questioned his performances this week and there would be no better place to do it than at Old Trafford.