Yesterday’s game was not a classic or even the best match of the weekend but it did tell us a lot about the teams. It showed that Chelsea have given up on their strong defensive ability in favour of trying and failing to play Barcelona-style football. It also showed that Liverpool no longer needs Steven Gerrard, with their energetic style and harassment of opponents paying off with a great result. But perhaps most importantly for both teams, it showed that the most expensive transfer of 2011 was a horrific decision by the Blues.
Fernando Torres was again left on the bench again yesterday as his new team was beaten 2-1 by the Merseysiders. Didier Drogba was chosen to spearhead the attack from the start and then Daniel Sturridge was sent on before the Spaniard as they chased the game in the second half.
Although the 27-year-old came on for the final 10 minutes of the game his most significant contribution was to win the ball on the left and cut inside with power and tenacity only to clip the ball harmlessly out of play when attempting a cross come shot that was awful and misplaced whatever it was meant to be.
Football’s fourth most expensive player has had a nightmare start to his time in London. He made his debut against his former employers and looked completely impotent as they were beaten 1-0 and it took him more than 15 hours to score his first goal for his new side having played terribly below-par as the club fell away from the title race.
The lethargic performances that were seen during his final weeks on Merseyside and were put down to playing in a poor side were replaced by over-enthusiastic displays, running round like a headless chicken in an attempt to make an impact.
This season has been a vast improvement as he made a man-of-the-match performance against Stoke, only failing to score because of a world-class display from Asmir Begovic, and scoring four goals in 13 games. However, the form that has seen his last two transfers total more than £76 million still seems to desert him. During the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford in September he bagged his first goal of the season but after rounding David de Gea to leave the net gaping at the Stretford End he could only put the ball in the side netting, a miss that put the game out of sight for his team and plunged his confidence back to rock bottom.
Since then he has been sent off for a two-footed tackle against Swansea having scored again and looks like a man so anxious to impress that he is struggling to cope with the self-induced pressure.
The latest error in his short Stamford Bridge career smacked of desperation. This is the man who was meant to spark a change in style and bring goals to a club that is falling back from the top. It appeared to be an unwritten plan to move Drogba out over the summer and use Torres as the main man but all of this was thrown out of the water by his failure to shine and even the introduction of Juan Mata to drag his compatriot into form has fallen flat.
Rather than being the first-choice striker, Chelsea’s number nine is falling down the pecking order, with the Ivorian still first choice despite constantly being linked with a move and now Daniel Sturridge being considered a better choice than him. Nicolas Anelka is another who is more fancied by Villas-Boas for the big games and while Romelu Lukaku is still getting used to the Premier League, if Torres doesn’t start scoring soon it won’t be long before he’s even further down the line.
In recent games, he can be seen looking at the bench every time he makes a mistake and that is not a sign of a man likely to improve any time soon. Although the club are trying to incorporate a new, Spanish style of play under their latest coach, it appears that the boss is not a fan of the expensive front-man signed by Carlo Ancelotti and is tentative about trusting him but that is what is needed to bring the best out of the player.
At Liverpool he was main man, a guaranteed name on the team sheet and loved by everyone, a formula that produced goals whereas at Stamford Bridge there is a wider choice of quality forward and that has left him needing to turn on the style when required rather than building up his confidence.
The move was the biggest transfer deadline day deal for many years. It was inconceivable that he could be taken away from Anfield, especially to join a rival club. Although £50 million made the blow softer, the image of a fan burning the Spaniard’s no. 9 shirt will remain a sign of how the Kopites felt.
During his three and a half years there he bagged 81 goals in 142 games, including 33 goals in his first season to make him the most prolific debut season goalscorer in the league’s history. His strike from the left-hand side of the box against Sunderland, his continuous beating of Nemanja Vidic and the goals he scored against Chelsea had elevated him to hero status alongside past forwards such as Fowler, Owen and Rush so his decision to jump ship enraged fans. But it seems they will have the last laugh.
From the sale of the Spaniard (plus £8 million), the club were able to bring in Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. While the £35 million man has failed to hit the form he showed at Newcastle, he has managed five goals in 20 games since the move, compared to Torres’ five in 31. But it is the Uruguayan who has really stolen the show. He has been in mercurial form, almost single-handedly dragging Liverpool up the table last season with some superb displays including his jinking run to set up Dirk Kuyt in the 3-1 win over United and his sublime narrow angle finish against the Black Cats in the final weeks of the campaign.
Add to that Craig Bellamy, who looks like he never left Anfield, forming a formidable partnership with Suarez and showing a sharp mind yesterday to play in Maxi Rodriguez when many would have taken the shot themselves.
Those fans that stood outside Melwood burning Torres’ shirt and bemoaning the decision to sell him must now look back with a smile on their face while Chelsea fans will be wondering when the real Fernando will arrive.
You can comment below or follow me on Twitter @jrobbins1991 to talk football.
FREE football app that pays you CASH