Fernando Torres: Chelsea’s waste of time? I think not

Fernando Torres may not have performed thus far but surely there are things to comeAs the transfer window drew to a close, one signing stood out far beyond the rest: Fernando Torres to Chelsea- £50m. Excluding Liverpool fans, I’m sure all other football followers felt a sense of intrigue pass over them, and regardless of the price tag it looked like good business for Chelsea. Eleven games later, after a total of 693 minutes on the football pitch in a blue shirt, Torres is yet to have found the net, with Chelsea having paid £75,000 for each minute he has played, they are entitled to have expected at least a solitary goal in return, but no, Torres has failed to do so.

However, when you look beneath the surface there are several reasons as to why ‘El Nino’ is looking like becoming the biggest footballing flop ever to have graced the game, things that in fairness seem out of his control. On the other hand, there are many other signs that suggest Torres won’t materialise into a ‘flop’ after all, and is still looking like a good signing for Chelsea.

Firstly, as a January signing, acclimatising to your new surroundings is much more difficult than if you join in July, in time for pre-season. There is less time to gain an understanding of how your colleagues like to play, as was shown when Torres was thrown in at the deep end in an arduous 60 minutes against his former club. Chelsea are a different side to Liverpool, and play without a link between midfield and attack; there is no Steven Gerrard at Chelsea, a player that was instrumental in feeding Torres chances. The only player of a similar style at Chelsea is Yossi Benayoun, who has been injured for the best part of 6 months. Instead they rely on their full backs and wingers for creativity, a style that favours Drogba and doesn’t suit Torres at all.

On top of that, it doesn’t help when he is playing either 30 or 60 minutes per game, there are not many leading strikers who prosper in such a lean amount of playing time. If Ancelotti wants to get the best out of Torres, he must play 90 minutes, especially against weaker teams where he can assert his authority over defences, something that has not been happening in recent weeks at The Bridge.
The customary 4-4-3 that we have seen at Stamford Bridge was changed to a 4-4-2, to try and allow Torres and Drogba to form a lethal partnership, with both working in tandem, but as was epitomised by the spat during the first leg of Chelsea’s European encounter against Manchester United, these two just don’t work side by side, however much Carlo Ancelotti wishes they would.

Finally, many forget that this Fernando Torres is not the same one who set the Premier League alight in his first two seasons at Anfield. Instead, with 9 goals for Liverpool all season before his big money move, it was clear that he was already out of form, a run stretching back to a barren World Cup for Spain. So to expect a sudden and dramatic recuperation of his form is ridiculous.

A lot of people have begun to argue that it is the price tag that is heaping pressure upon him to bring an instant reward, but considering he moved to Liverpool as a 23 year old for around £20m it is hard to see that this is holding him back. In essence, it is the simple fact that at this moment in time, Torres and Chelsea aren’t working, and that is down to the club, not the striker himself. People compare him to Shevchenko, but what they forget is Shevchenko was 30 years of age when he arrived at Chelsea, and was missing chance after chance, game upon game, and not having much influence on the match. Torres, however, has been short of chances, and his movement has excited the fans, so much so that it seems as though he could carry on his barren spell in front of goal and still receive their backing.

Ray Wilkins disclosed the other night that: ‘Carlo had wanted Torres since the summer’. It is evident that Ancelotti wanted to rejuvenate the Chelsea team, and base a new look side around Torres, with Drogba heading out the door, unfortunately it had to wait, with Roy Hodgson unwilling to let such a top star leave so early in his brief tenure at Anfield. So when the opportunity arose in January for Ancelotti to get his man, he took it. Regrettably for him the transfer looked like a desperate measure to save Chelsea’s stuttering season, yet in actual fact he was ultimately planning for the future; for life without ‘The Drog”. As it has backfired the pressure is now on for Ancelotti to save his job, but for Torres, he has a new season and a fresh start to look forward to, with a team suited to his needs and not Didier Drogba’s, who although still adored by fans, looks like a man who wants out.

For those who have already branded him ‘football’s biggest flop’, next season will be a better time to judge, when Torres is comfortable in his surroundings, and is re-installed as the number one striker at his club.

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