We wanted him to succeed more than any other big signing. And patiently we waited – But our patience was in vain.
Fernando Torres was Chelsea’s most disappointing big-money striker of recent times. Ironically, the one truly sparkling moment he had (that goal against Barcelona) did not need to be scored because we were already winning in stoppage time. It is an unfortunate and memorable microcosm of his time at Chelsea: occasional goals of little or no importance. It is quite an indictment for a player who scored more than a goal every other game for Liverpool. Why was he so unimpressive for Chelsea?
How bad was he really?
For those who are legitimately wondering whether Fernando Torres was truly as bad as is commonly expressed, we need do little more research, such as comparing him with other famous striker flops of ours.
Kezman:- 1 goal every 5.6 games
Torres :- 1 goal every 3.8 games
Shevchenko:- 1 goal every 3.5 games
The appalling truth for Torres is that he mathematically performed worse than Shevchenko. Special mention for Chris Sutton, who scored a goal every 13 games!
Another cringe-worthy stat about Torres regards the time it took for him to score his first Chelsea goal:
732 minutes on the pitch/almost 4-months
Perhaps such an agonising wait for his first goal was enough to doom Torres from the start. But judge his numbers for yourself – since January 2011 Torres has managed (for Chelsea):
To consider that he scored something like ten goals a season for Chelsea very accurately reflects the impression I have of him now he is irrefutably gone. He started poorly and four years later he’s finished poorly. Almost everything in between was poor too. Even at AC Milan Torres only managed one goal in seven starts. It’s a sorry tale for the man who used to score with so much frequency and aplomb. He scored seven goals against us for example.
Why was he so bad?
- The £50m Price Tag and Enormous Expectation
I don’t understand why a player’s price, which he has no control over, should be such a burden. Nevertheless, Yossi Benayoun, a one time colleague of Torres’, said of the price tag that ,”…it’s not easy for any player…”. And Roberto Di Matteo said,
“He has a psychological problem and only Fernando can unlock it… He must not think about how much he cost the club. He must concentrate only on playing and not about scoring, or providing an assist or making a great play every time he touches the ball.”
As well as the pressure of being worthy of £50m, Torres had to deal with the expectations created by his incredible goal-scoring for Liverpool.
- Almost Constant Poor Form
It’s worth quoting Paul Scholes at length on this issue:
“What has happened to Torres is remarkable. From the player he was in 2009, when he gave Nemanja Vidic such a hard time at Old Trafford, to the player he has become, has been one of those mysteries in football. I realise that at times at Chelsea, especially in 2012-13, he did have some decent goalscoring runs. But overall the decline has been sharp.
At the start of the 2004-05 season, I went 15 games without scoring a goal. It was killing me. I felt so low. I had no confidence in my technique. I didn’t trust myself passing the ball five yards. Then I scored against Charlton Athletic at Old Trafford and ended up scoring seven in seven games.
For Diego Forlan, when he went 27 games without a goal for United, the worst thing was he couldn’t even score in training. But he went on to have a great career, at Villarreal and Atletico Madrid. The strange thing is that Torres has never turned that corner, and it feels like he never will.”
And in Torres’ own words:
“I felt bizarre, I had the feeling of getting tired quicker, of being heavier. I had no gas. You have to fight against a lot of things to get off the bench, sometimes even against yourself.”
- Different Playing Style
Ex-Liverpool striker Michael Robinson is now a pundit in Spain:
“In Liverpool, Fernando Torres had the space that he really needs. Liverpool won the ball in their own half, and generally it was Gerrard’s job, or whoever it was to play the ball into the space necessary for Fernando to exploit with his speed and finishing ability, in order to finish off the move. Moving to Chelsea may not have been the best decision on a sporting and professional level due to the style of play there.”
Torres himself said:
“Everything is a question of adaptation to the playing style of a team… There are the styles which suit me well and others less, that is all.”
Benitez built his Liverpool team around Torres. They were a counter-attacking outfit and Torres thrived on the through-balls into space behind the defence. If Torres scored a goal for Chelsea from an inviting through-ball I can’t remember it. Torres needed Chelsea to change for him and it never happened despite some managerial revisions during his career at the Blues.
- Injury Record
It has become clear in hindsight that Dalglish sold us a crocked striker. Danny Murphy believes that Torres’ downward spiral started when he suffered a knee injury in April 2010.
“When he did his knee, I’m not sure how bad it was, but it was quite a long one, when he came back he was a shadow, physically, of his former self. He will never be back to that player he was at Anfield. He’s never going to get back to that one or two year period he had at Liverpool.”
During Torres’ first season in the Premier League (2007/8) he scored 33 goals in 46 appearances. In the next season, Torres was plagued by hamstring injuries and scored a respectable 17 goals in 38 appearances. Then during the 2009/10 Season he stormed back from his injuries and scored 18 goals in 22 appearances. He suffered a knee injury in January 2010 and it flared up again in April – the injury Danny Murphy spoke about. Allegedly he rushed his recovery from his second surgical operation of the year in order to be available for the 2010 World Cup, where unfit, he failed to score. In the subsequent 2010/11 Season he scored a lacklustre nine goals for Liverpool before moving to Chelsea and scoring one more goal.
Since Torres is at a loss himself to explain his extraordinary loss of form whilst at Chelsea, it is unlikely that any definitive conclusion can be made.
It appears that Torres was already in decline after the 2010 World Cup. At the time I’m quite sure that the impression he was in decline was already widely held, and it was only the immense hype surrounding his transfer that disguised this simple truth.
Then he debuted against his old team at Stamford Bridge and didn’t score. That was probably the first £50m test he failed. I think it was a mistake to play him in such an emotionally charged match – Ancelotti gambled, probably hoping that if he scored against his former club on his debut, it would boost him into the stratosphere. Unfortunately, Torres didn’t gain the immediate momentum needed to make a £50m-impression. Subsequent to that awkward moment for Torres, he had to try to adapt to Chelsea’s style of play. As he and many learned commentators have said: it didn’t suit him. Should a player of his quality have done better in this regard and scored more goals as a consequence?
It may simply be that Torres was either unable to adapt or not good enough to adapt. After all, he was never known for skills and tricks – he was known for speed and finishing. He lost his speed on the surgeons table and wasn’t fed the opportunities he was accustomed to whilst at Chelsea. Throw in the debilitating psychological effects of experiencing more goal-droughts than goals, and we see that poor Fernando Torres never had a chance.
He was like Michael Owen at Newcastle.
“All eyes are on him and if he misses a goal, everyone remembers.” – Jose Mourinho