Fernando Torres has been very, very bad for Chelsea in his nearly two season with the club. Lately though, he's been even worse than usual. His touch is awful, his shots are weak, his runs are non-existent, and he just looks slow.
Olympic gold medalist sprinter Darren Campbell thinks he can fix the last thing I mentioned, helping Torres regain enough speed to outrun the not so quick James Milner. He had the following to say about Torres' slow motion running on Thursday:
"I’m sure I could fix him. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy process because these guys are already extremely fit. That’s the great thing about working with footballers and rugby players. You’re not having to worry about the base fitness so you just go in and teach the raw speed."
"In the case of Fernando, I think he would also probably need to do a bit of weightlifting as well as the running and the speed drills to put some power back into his muscles. That’s why sprinters lift weights, to gain that explosive speed and power."
"The biggest problem is that when you lose your speed you’re unable to do what you used to be able to do, and so then you start trying harder and harder. But that can be counterproductive."
"If you want to be quick, there’s an element of relaxation that’s involved. You’ve only got to look at Gareth Bale. He runs at high speed but it’s all relaxed and there’s no tension in him. The problem with someone like Fernando Torres is that the harder he tries to find that speed, his efforts are actually detrimental."
I have to admit, he's absolutely correct on most of what he says. Torres does look tight when he runs, and that does slow an athlete down. If Torres was more relaxed in his running mechanics, it's very reasonable to assume he'd be able to regain some of the speed that he's lost over the past several seasons.
Unfortunately, that's probably at least partially the result of his poor movement and reading of the game. Torres is clearly not reading and reacting very quickly right now, and that's likely a large part of the problem with his running. You can't force yourself to be relaxed, and if you're slow to react to things, you're going to try to force things.
Campbell has worked with Torres before, a few sessions shortly before Andre Villas Boas was sacked last season. I can't say I noted an improvement in Torres' play during that spell, but at this point, it just couldn't hurt to try. Anything to get Torres firing at this point would be welcome, so I'd be willing to listen any suggestions. It's sad, but we're honestly to the point where even an injury sustained due to an altered training regime couldn't reduce Torres' value to the club on the pitch.