by Ifreke Inyang
Speaking to newsmen after the once dreaded Fernando Torres failed – again – to hit the back of the net since his last day move from Liverpool, manager Ancelotti said: “Statistics are important in football – but not that important. It’s important to have experience, to look at the players, to see their performance for the team.”
I beg to differ Mr. Ancelotti. His statistics were the major reason that Russian moneybag, Roman Abramovich splashed out £50million on the striker. He joined Liverpool in 2007 from his boyhood club, Athletico Madrid for a record club transfer fee. He marked his first season at Anfield by being Liverpool’s first player, since Robbie Fowler in the 1995–96 season, to score more than 20 league goals in a season. Torres also became the fastest player in Liverpool history to score 50 league goals after scoring against Aston Villa in December 2009. And by the time he left, he had scored 65 goals in 102 games.
Things have changed quickly for ‘El Nino’ since he signed for the Blues. The silky striker has had only one shot on target in his eight Premier League games for Chelsea and is still searching for his first goal. This presents problem, not just for him but for his coach as well. Ancelotti has not found his best attacking combination since Torres’s January arrival. He started with the Spaniard on the bench at Stoke last weekend but insisted there was no problem between Torres, who has not scored in more than eight hours of football for Chelsea, and Didier Drogba. “He has to improve, but it’s the first two months here. He likes to receive the ball at a certain point, so we have to improve this. Sometimes he moves well on the wrong side of the centre-back and the ball does not arrive at the right time.”
And this is probably where Torres got it wrong. At Liverpool, he forged an awesome partnership with Steven Gerrard and sometimes, both of them were ‘unplayable’. It is this telepathy that ensured he scored for fun. Let’s not give all the glory to Gerrard though. Torres is capable of being a one-man army. He has the pace and skill to conjure stunning goals all by himself. But that’s simply because he was thriving in the right atmosphere. Chelsea, in my opinion, is that sort of club for Torres. Their pattern of football doesn’t suit him. And Frank Lampard’s creative abilities are waning badly.
Perhaps Torres didn’t consider all of this. He’d gotten high off his own supply, and he thought that with Chelsea, he would attain the same dizzying heights that he reached with Liverpool. Instead, we see him becoming a big flop. Let’s not throw the baby, the bath water and the whole bathroom over the Third Mainland Bridge though. Torres was already losing form in his last days at Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish, and the Scotsman had this to say as the Champions’ League game approached: “I’m sure Fernando Torres will tell his team-mates Nemanja Vidic has been sent off three times playing against him. In such a tight game, anything that gives you an edge is good.”
Mr. Dalglish, those not the sort of statistics that are important now. Torres needs to start racking up the goals for Chelsea and in so doing improve on his goal to game ratio. Otherwise, his fall from grace to grass, punch drunk on his own hype, will become a more critical issue than it already is.