The latest edition of TheReport is here! In this column, I offer my perspective on £50m man and his team! Today, I look at yesterday's Champions League match against KRC Genk.
Hrm. After two columns focusing on the entire team, I feel I need to get back to talking about Fernando. What are we to make of Torres' recent performances? He hasn't been scoring, and, in fact, hasn't scored since the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge. Of course, he missed the match against Q.P.R. through suspension, and was rested in favour of Romelu LUKAKU in the Carling Cup match against Everton. Against Arsenal Saturday, and Genk yesterday, though, he has played the entire match and looked relatively poor. In both matches, though, the entire team has failed to impress. To what extent are the two related, and how much should we be worried by his recent form?
Against both Arsenal and Genk, Fernando played well and looked dangerous for the first half-hour, before fading into anonymity for the remaining 60 minutes. As I said, that trajectory was also followed by the rest of the Chelsea players. To what can this be attributed? Is Fernando dragging the team down, the team dragging him down, or is there something else at work?
A dangerous opening thirty minutes followed by a less-than-spectacular rest of the game has been something of a Fernando Torres trademark during his Chelsea career. In fact, apart from his goal against United, every one of his Chelsea goals has come in his first 30 minutes on the pitch. It seems, sometimes, that unless Chelsea can make something of their opening chances, Fernando switches off and becomes ineffective. Some analyses suggest that he tends to drop back seeking the ball, rather than staying forward in good positions to receive the crosses and through-balls which lead to goal-scoring opportunities. I'm not sure that's the case. Well, that it's not a reaction to something else, anyway.
What could cause him to fall back, blunting his effectiveness, if it's not something he does on his own? The team has generally looked good for the first half, and faded in the second. Against Q.P.R., though, it was the reverse, but the second half was, in my opinion, a case of necessity, rather than a good performance. This has been a problem for us for a while. In fact, I'd say the trend defined the second season of the Ancelotti era. Last season's infamous slump contained many games where we played well enough to win, but couldn't close them out in the second half. It seemed easy to blame Carlo's style of play for our troubles, but AVB has brought a brand-new way of playing to Chelsea, so I don't think we can blame the tactics, exactly. The only thing left is the players, but there isn't an obvious answer. We've played well, generally, and no player has consistently disappointed, yet we've failed to impress. What needs to change, and who needs to go? [I'm not a genius at football analysis, so I'll leave those questions to be answered in an article written by someone better suited to answering them.]
In addition to the above explanations, I've heard some raise questions about the willingness of some to link-up with Torres and others and its effect on the overall team performance. I won't deny that such behaviour appears to be happening from time to time, but can our player really be the petty and vindictive? I just can't see it happening. These men are professionals, and wilfully ignoring a team-mate is unbelievably unprofessional. If it could be proven, I think it should mean a quick transfer for the one ignoring his team-mates. Thankfully, I just don't think it's happening, or even possible. I think it's more down to selfishness than any conspiracy. Such selfishness is a problem in it's own right, but, in my opinion, anyway, it's just one piece of the puzzle that is the lack of second-half edge from both Torres and the team.
At the moment, we're going through a rough patch, and all in all, we're not playing poorly. The results aren't going our way, but drastic changes right now aren't answer. Chelsea have, in the past, made changes based on knee-jerk reactions. They haven't helped. I think we all agree changes need to be made, but I think we can all agree we need to make changes based on how they affect the team of today and of the future. Be angry if you want, that's your call, but it's not going to help right now. The problems are largely player-based, and big changes aren't going to happen before next summer, at the earliest. Right now, all you can do is keep faith in the team, and keep supporting them the best you can. None of us are happy with recent results, but there has been a large amount of bad luck involved. If the results had gone our way, even without better performances, we'd all be happy right now. Of course, past luck has no bearing on future luck, but our luck WILL change this season.
Remember how you felt in the depths of our slump last season. This isn't nearly as bad as that, and we made it out of that. When it comes to Fernando, when the performances start to turn around again, he will start scoring again. Just like the club, he's been much better than he was at his worst last season.