The latest edition of The
Well then, after 18 long months of feckless toiling punctuated with the briefest glimpses of hope, Fernando Torres has scored a hat-trick for Chelsea. To make it even sweeter, it came directly on the heels of a dramatic last-gasp goal against The Greatest Team Humanity Has Ever Seen (tm) which guaranteed Chelsea a date with Bayern Munich on the 19th of May, caused Gary Neville to need new pants and a shower, and broke the hearts of an ironically-small Spanish giant, causing their manager to take a break from football.
The biggest difference, in my opinion, anyway, is that Nando isn't scoring lucky goals any more. He's scoring the type of goals which led Roman Abramovich to drop half the GDP of island nation Kiribati on him. It's not that he's getting service again, it's that he's not hesitating to get into serviceable positions. If you read the as-usually-great Carefree Chronicles analysis of the goals against QPR, you'll see that his off-the-ball movements and his ability to get into positions has improved considerably from the worst days of the AVB era, when he constantly ran away from the spaces he needed to get into like a twelve-year-old boy at his first school dance.
Obviously, there's merit in the argument that most of his goals have mostly come against lower lights of world football, though Barcelona is a very prominent exception. Even though Leicester, Aston Villa, and QPR aren't the best opposition out there, Nando has done well to score against them at all, given the kind of form he's been in this season.
Overall, I don't believe Fernando is playing that much better than he was pre-RDM, movement excepted, and he still has some pretty big holes in his game. Most of the holes, like his relatively-poor defensive contributions or his propensity to give the ball away have always been a part of his game, and are unlikely to ever be dealt with effectively anyway. It just goes to show how much scoring can distract people from the problems in a player's overall play.
In this column, I've always tried to remind you that a lot of the things he was getting crap for during his nightmarish spell weren't new developments. I'm not trying to downplay the importance of the improvement in his attacking movement; nobody's denying it's a huge step forward. Instead, I'm trying to say that apart from that admittedly-important improvement, he's actually been playing this way all along.
At the end of the day, though, the jury is still out on Torres. Though this patch of form doesn't seem like just a fluke any more, there is a lingering doubt about it in the minds of every Chelsea supporter. Truth be told, I don't know quite what it will take to do away with that doubt, and get us to trust him fully, though the Barcelona goal has seemingly done a lot in that regard. I'm not really sure how to end this column, since I'm usually writing to defend Nando for something specific, and most of you are very pro-Torres at the moment after 4 goals in roughly 90 minutes against two of our most-hated teams. I guess the best thing I can say is that while we don't know how long this scoring phase of his Chelsea career will last, we can simply enjoy it while it does, along with the fact that we seem to have the legitimately-dangerous strikeforce we've been dreaming of for eighteen months!