There’s no doubt that nine months after his transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea, Fernando Torres is feeling the burden of living up to the £50m fee paid for his services. After just one goal in 23 appearances for his new club, critics have been out in force, questioning whether he’s the most expensive flop in Premier League history and asking should Chelsea cut their losses and get shot when the next transfer window opens but are people being a little quick to write off a player who, undoubtedly, has shown he can be prolific at the highest level?
Torres’s performance in Chelsea’s victory over Bayer Leverkusen at Stamford Bridge this week gave every reason to believe that he could be on the verge of silencing his critics and bouncing back to the kind of form that saw him score 65 goals in 102 appearances for Liverpool. Whilst the Spanish striker did not make it on to the score sheet in the Blues’ opening game of the Champions League, he did provide the assists that led to both of Chelsea’s goals in the 2-0 win over the German side which were finished by David Luiz and Juan Mata.
His contribution in the game might just be the signal to let the Chelsea fans know that he is now ready to put the record straight and begin to justify the British record transfer fee the club paid for him.
There is no doubting the Spaniard’s ability as his 64% strike rate at Liverpool proved. His failures in front of goal since the move to Stamford Bridge could be attributed to a number of reasons, including playing within a formation that did not suit his style under former boss, Carlo Anceotti, who was sacked at the end of last season. Following the arrival of new manager, Andre Villas-Boas, Torres looks like he is getting his chance and his performance on Tuesday looks like he could be about to repay the faith the Portuguese gaffer has shown and although a cliché, it could only take one goal to open the ‘flood gates’.
Villas-Boas looks to be in the process of making changes at Chelsea, he has already fired warning shots over the bow of Frank Lampard, leaving the 33 year old on the bench and letting Mata take control of the midfield. Previously, it was unthinkable to leave a fit Lampard out of the Chelsea starting XI but such is the method of the new boss, Chelsea fans better get used to it and in a similar way, he looks set to stick with Torres.
Both Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka have also felt the impact following the arrival of Vilas-Boas who has acknowledge Torres as the lead striker along with giving Daniel Sturridge a chance in the team. It was widely reported this week that Torres had accused his older club mates of being “slow” and whether or not he meant that in a literal sense is open to debate. However, Villas-Boas did not necessarily leap on the back of Torres in his pre-match Champions League press conference, instead, the former Porto boss merely told those asking questions that the matter had been dealt with and proceeded to start Torres in the game.
The next test for both Torres and Vilas-Boas comes this weekend when Chelsea travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in the Premier League and with Torres being such a big talking point in football at the moment, will he be able to answer his critics in what is undoubtedly the biggest game of the season to date against a United side that has been in nothing short of scintillating form? The stage is certainly set and Torres is as big as 7/2 in the betting for the game to end his goal drought!