|A man with a mission|
50 million pounds; Spanish; Kop Traitor; Chelsea's Number 9; Abramovich's White Elephant; 9 Gag Sensation; United Bottler; Barcelona Slayer; Couldn't hit the Great Wall of China (Barn Doors are too mainstream) ; Champions League and FA Cup Winner; European Cup and Golden Boot Winner; Haters Gonna Hate ; Mesmerizing; Frustrating; Euphoric; Misery; Enigma
That has been Fernando Torres in a nutshell for the past 20 months during his stint at Chelsea. Never in my days of being a Chelsea forum fan, have I seen many wars being waged on the premise of "Torres is a flop " or "Torres will come good". In that respect, I shall quaintly pose that question at the end of his career here at Chelsea. However, signs do show that Torres is going through a resurgence of his old days at Merseyside. May it continue and may he score goals like how Iniesta passes the ball; unerringly accurate and terrifyingly consistent.
|Cue Pandemonium from the Crowd and Gary Neville|
We understood his plight; a forward with great potency and skills held back by a team which seemed to be on a downward spiral; 81 goals in 142 appearances and not a single medal or trophy to show for it ; 26 and a few years left in his prime. He needed a change of pace hence the switch from Liverpool to Chelsea.
It's been a full season with the Spaniard, and so far, it is looked pretty dour. A return of 11 goals in 32 starts amounts to roughly 4.5 million pounds per goal. Barring that ONE goal against Barcelona which Gary Neville's commentary still leaving me with night terrors, his goals were not of much a significance in the League or in Europe. Predictably, the media and the boo boys came in the droves and are having a field day of work for the past 14 months or so. Another story of a Spanish Flop; A Fall from Grace; The regression of a player once deemed World Class to nothing but an expensive White Elephant. It was a rude awakening to Torres, and the supporters who felt the pinch of it, some vehemently wanting him to leave and mooch of another Russian Oligarch's reserves of wealth. Yet some of us (me included), still patiently keep the faith with our outcast forward, because honestly speaking, they are no better players than Torres in his element and the market for Centre Forwards is pretty small and overpriced.
Analyzing his game at Chelsea and Liverpool here were some of the things I picked up. They were based on these 2 videos
Torres during his Liverpool Days
Torres at Chelsea
In his Liverpool days, Torres relied mostly on pace and movement as his main attributes. His first goal, ironically against Chelsea, set the tone for all his other goals to follow. He waits on the heels of an opposing defender, anticipating a well weighted through ball. Once the ball is passed, he doesn't run, he GLIDES across the pitch like a figure skater carving the ice. By that time, the opposing defender is behind his heels and he waltz's through on goal. Here's an interesting part about his game that I think many people may have not realized. He has a pre-goal ritual before slotting the ball in. On average, most of his goals require 2 or 3 touches. And they almost always begin a few yards outside the box.
Touch 1: To control the ball (magnificent first touch which always puts him on the front foot and facing goal)
(optional)Touch 2: Nudge the ball slightly forward ( will use his pace to beat defenders in 5 yards or create space for an easier finish)
Touch 3: Finish (either picks a spot or rifles it at a corner)
Torres is a player that thrives on movement. What is this vague term movement to begin with ?
Well this is my definition of it:
1) the ability to anticipate and react to a defenders action of closing you down or marking you out of an attacking move as well as create space for yourself to either score or pick a pass
2) the ability to strategically maneuver yourself in an intelligent manner that allows you to receive a through ball simultaneously taking out defenders from the attacking move
3)The ability to make yourself free of opposing defenders and receive a pass or cross to finish or continue the attacking move.
This is by no means an exhaustive and complete definition, its more of a contextual one I derived from watching a lot of goal compilations.
When the ball is passed to Torres normally on the last third of the football pitch, these scenarios will pop up
1)He will be running through on goal
2)He will have either 1 or no defenders around 1 or 2 yards of him
3)He will nudge the ball slightly forward to create distance between the defender and the ball so he has enough time to figure out what to do next
4)After nudging the ball, he picks out a spot and a second later scores !
Miscues or/and over hits the ball spectacularly, possibly injuring some birds in the process.
What is clearly seen from his Liverpool days is that,
1. He had a dedicated link up man, Steven Gerard to supply him with very well weighted through balls that always reach him first rather than an opposing defender
2. He always plays on the shoulder of defenders and floors them with his pace
3. He had players (Maxi, Benayoun,Aurelio,Kuyt) working the ball for him in and around the box, he was only there to apply the finish
4.Torres was one of the best finishers in the world at the time. He could score with his eyes closed. He just knew whether to strike it with power or place it past the keeper. On rushing keeper ? No problem, he'll just wait for that moment to dink it over instead. And sometimes, if he's really up for it, he'll just place it from outside the box, because he's an instinctive finisher.
He was by all accounts the main man at Merseyside.With the support he had, it was no surprise why he had so much adulation in Merseyside. Truly the diamond among the pieces of normal carbon around him
In his Chelsea days, that all changed
He was unable to forge an understanding with the players around him. Malouda, Kalou, Drogba all seemed to be at a different wavelength. There were times when he was literally available for a tap in but none of them were able to supply him the pass/cross necessary. But then again, some of you may ask,
" He's a top class striker, that shouldn't be a problem for him " ?
True and not true I believe.
A top class striker comes in many forms. Some strikers thrive on other forms of service compared to others. Drogba's Chelsea was one of physical and directness. It was not necessary for the pass or cross to be too precise or anything. Drogba would just chest it and make the most of it. And more often than not, his physical strength allowed him to bully the defense, withstanding challenges and hanging around enough in the penalty box to whack the ball in.
Torres is none of that, and if Chelsea continue to play in such a manner it would be difficult for Torres to thrive in his time here at Chelsea. When it comes down to it, Drogba prefers to chest a ball while Torres prefers to chase a ball. Two really different styles of play, yet both are really good at what they do (well at his least during his time at Liverpool). And that is what I believe that made Roman go gaga and splash the cash on him.
Another thing which Torres lacks is that infectious self-confidence Drogba had. Maybe it was the frustration in his final days at Liverpool which lead him to that paltry self-belief in himself. Or maybe it was his own frustrations getting to him being at the club; Chelsea are honestly speaking physically strong players but other than Frank Lampard and Mata, pretty much none of the team are astute passers of the ball. And not many players (Kalou, Malouda, Sturridge) have the vision or the football brain to pick the right pass at times. It is a team game after all, and sometimes collective well being is better than a starting spot, well for the fans at least.
Torres is also a player very much dependent on his support team. If there's anything to go by from Chelsea's performance against Atletico in the Supercup.If the midfield is having a bad game, he will most definitely have a bad game as well. The Supercup proved it, both Mata and Hazard were not able to impose themselves in the game and as a result Torres was mostly reduced to chasing lost causes and had to play a lot deeper or around the wings to get service. This is quite a turnaround to what we have seen in the league where teams could not match our movement in the final third, Hazard and Mata literally dancing around the defense and Torres joining in on the act as well. Mikel did the work of 2 midfielders, tackling and winning possession while Frank Lampard was higher up the pitch waiting to score. The midfield needs to be a lot more reserved in the attacking respect and focus on the passing and distribution aspect of the game. Personally, the double pivot isn't totally hopeless but I do think a certain measure of responsibility is required to make the double pivot work as shown by the Miereles against our game with Newcastle.
It is abundantly clear now that Torres in computer programming is != to Drogba. They are both just not the same players. Chelsea are on the right track right now with the addition of new midfielders and attackers that will assist him in his job of scoring.Chelsea have spent a mountain this season to sign Belgian ace Eden-You-Have-To-Trip-Me-To-Stop-Me Hazard, Brazil's current number 10 and future poster boy Oscar and Wigan's winger Victor Moses. And so far, early signs show that Torres just might recover some of his transfer value. The onus is now on Torres to do his job and score the goals we need on a consistent basis. He's had a pretty terrible start to our Chelsea career, 50 million pounds may or may not have been wasted. But in the end like what Jose used to say about a certain 26 year old and 24 million pound striker before, " Judge him after he's left the club ", and boy what a signing he turned out to be right ?
|The New Boys|