Few figures have been so polarizing among fans in sports such as one particular Fernando Torres!
He was once the best striker in the world, at that moment only Messi and Ronaldo were ahead him (he came third in Ballon D’or) and when Chelsea made him the most expensive British transfer for 50 million pounds few people would have said a word against him.
Liverpool fans were heartbroken seeing the world class striker move away to bitter rivals Chelsea. Torres had a habit of scoring against Chelsea in the derbies yet Torres did not score another since the transfer. The gripe for Liverpool fans with Torres was he had said a few days before that he was not leaving. Yet Yet he gave the club an immense profit. Liverpool had 50 million pounds and they spent 35 millions on Caroll. Yes, that was Torres’ fault too.
The reality is Torres was frustrated at Liverpool. Every player wants to win trophies and certain promises were made to Torres and the manager Rafa Benitez regarding investment in the team which were not fulfilled. Torres accepted a wage cut to move to Chelsea. Seeing the state of Liverpool after Torres was gone, few would say that he made the wrong call. Liverpool fans keep telling themselves that next year would be their year, not competing for the PL title, but for CL spot. They now support a cannibal, diver and person against the spirit of game in Luiz Suarez. Torres hardly put a foot wrong, ever. He was a perfect role-model.
Coming to Chelsea then, Torres moved to a club which had a striker named Drogba who was best at doing things that he did best. He was an absolute beast. But Chelsea always have had a lot of individualism. Their system doesn’t operate like teams like Liverpool or United focusing solely on striker(s). Their midfield operates keeping strikers in mind while Chelsea’s goals come from everywhere except Petr Cech and Ashley Cole (no offense). CB, DM, RB, everyone scores goals here, and Torres didn’t adapt immediately on coming. But he did start to contribute more to the team. Namely assists. His assists count was more than that in his Liverpool days.
Into his first full season, Torres was competing with Drogba for a spot in the team who was already well adapted to this team having played 5-6 years with them. Chelsea were also adept at operating with an isolated striker which Drogba didn’t mind but it didn’t suit Torres. His every move was closely monitored by media following his 50 million pound tag and his goal draughts were highlighted more than ever. Chelsea fans were largely patient with him. But then came his open goal miss against Manchester United and everything changed. His confidence was shattered.
The fans on course this season now started dividing in two groups – the ones who hated Torres, his 175k salary, 50 million pounds he cost the club, and other group who always believed in what a great player he was. Torres got less opportunities that season and finished the season a little brighter after a hat-trick against QPR and equalizer against Barcelona in CL semi-final.
Next season came and Drogba departed. Torres started the season brightly but he had a dip in form or maybe it was fatigue but his performances dropped. His first touch was not so good and strength was lacking. After Rafa Benitez took over, he did some good work on Torres. Torres has seen no managerial stability at Stamford Bridge and Jose will be his 4th coach in 2 and a half seasons.
The gripe for Chelsea fans against Torres this season at first was not scoring. When he started to score, his goals were analyzed and it was deemed he was not scoring against the good teams, so when he scored against good defenses in Europa league, it was proclaimed that it is well Europe league. This sect of fans will never change their verdict on Torres. For some, it has become fashionable to bash Torres even after his good performances. Whenever Chelsea has played bad this season as a whole, the blame came on Torres. Eg. The loss against Southampton and away loss to Steaua Bucharest.
I am not saying that he hasn’t turned some bad performances in the middle of the season, but so have others. The facts are-
Torres kept Chelsea in FA cup by avoiding embarrassing exit against Brentford when he scored the equalizer.
Torres was the main man in Europa league for Chelsea. His goal against Benfica was a vintage Torres goal, he constantly terrorized the defence and he was denied a clear penalty.
Torres scored 22 goals and 13 assists for Chelsea in 51 starts and 13 substitute appearances [source].
The club is not going to sell Torres this season despite all the rumors that will go on during summers. He was part of next season’s kit launch and Samsung’s advert and hasn’t done bad this season. So I am asking the fans to give him more season and keep the faith.
He is finally delivering the goods. Next season under Mourinho might be his best ever since he donned the blue shirt! Torres as people say thrives on confidence and Mourinho is renowned for giving his players enormous confidence and belief. Excited yet!