Don’t brand Fernando a flop just yet

Posted: January 14, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Attack, Chelsea, Guest, Strikers, Torres

Here at Chelsea Headache, we are always glad to host articles written by football fans (preferably of Chelsea origins) and today, Aidan Sweeney is delving into the subject of a certain Fernando Torres.

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Four goals and seven assists in fourteen starts and 8 substitute appearances is hardly what Chelsea fans were expecting from Fernando Torres this season. However, is Torres solely to blame for the current problems that surround the fifty million pound man? I think not. Despite having been already labelled as the ‘most expensive flop’ ever by the majority, I still believe there is time for Torres to turn it around.

It’s been nearly a year since his move to Chelsea and Fernando Torres has had to deal with numerous issues since his move. His wife gave birth to his second child only a month before he switched clubs, hardly something which would help a player settle down easy at a new club. He effectively lived in a hotel away from his wife and children for the first few months of his time at Chelsea which can’t have helped him mentally. There was a new level of pressure on the man himself. Whilst there had always been a high level of interest in Fernando’s performances, it was nothing compared to what he faced at Chelsea. Every time he played and didn’t score (which was unfortunately most of the time), it was major news across Twitter and the following days back pages. Such level of interest had to be expected though seeing as his transfer didn’t just make the back pages of newspapers, it also made the majority of front pages the following day. All of these were off the pitch issues, it was far worse on the pitch.There wasn’t a single player at Chelsea who’s vision and passing ability was as good as Steven Gerrard’s or Xabi Alonso’s, players who Torres thrived off at Liverpool. Dozens of Torres’ goals at Liverpool were assisted by defence splitting, world class passes from Alonso or Gerrard, Torres hasn’t had that level of service at Chelsea. There’s no denying Lampard can pick the odd pass out and Mata has the ability to slip a ball through a few players to Torres but he still isn’t being allowed to sit on the last man and run in behind which is how he loves to play. Another issue was just how slow Chelsea played. Players like Anelka, Mikel and Lampard played at such a slow pace it didn’t help Torres or the team. Anelka has thankfully moved on whilst Mikel has hardly kicked a ball the past few months which is good news but if André Villas-Boas really wants to implement fast, flowing football at Stamford Bridge then he needs to remove Lampard from the equation. One noticeable difference between how Torres played at Liverpool and how he has played during his time at Chelsea so far has been how often he drifts out wide. At Liverpool Torres didn’t have to go and seek the ball, he didn’t have to drift out wide to try and create space. He spent the majority of his time sitting on the last man, patiently waiting for Gerrard or Alonso to find him with that killer ball. Instead we’ve seen Fernando coming deep and in fact becoming more of a number ten. The statistics speak for themselves, he has nearly double the amount of assists than he has goals and that isn’t what Mr Abramovich paid fifty million pounds for.

What continues to frustrate me week in week out is seeing Juan Mata shifted out on the left wing when he clearly is not a left winger. He is the only player in the current Chelsea team who I believe has got the ability and the vision to continuously find Torres’ runs; so in my opinion, Mata has to play centrally. Probably the closest we’ve ever came to seeing the best of Fernando Torres at Chelsea was away at Old Trafford and it was obvious to see why he thrived during the second half of that game. United played with a high defensive line, Torres sat on the last man and Mata saw enough of the ball to play Torres in on goal numerous times. Whilst that game will always be remembered for the way Torres put the ball past David De Gea’s left hand post, I saw enough in the game to firmly believe it can work out for Torres at Chelsea. There is no denying that for the majority of that second half, it was Torres back to his world class best.

It is clear that things have got to change at Chelsea and there is no quick or cheap solution. If I was André Villas-Boas then I would address the following issues: Mata has to play centrally behind Torres. As I’ve said above he is the only player good enough to continuously play those killer balls for Torres. It might not leave Lampard very happy but a midfield of Mata, Ramires and Romeu is the future for Chelsea and hopefully it will be the present midfield very soon. A left winger has to be signed. I will always have fond memories of Florent Malouda, especially the day he walked through Man United’s defence at Old Trafford to set Joe Cole up and it’s always sad to see players who you once admired slowly decline but with Malouda it’s been more than a slow decline. It’s hard to believe he’s the same player and the sooner he leaves Chelsea the better. A left winger who will actually stick to the wing will open more space in the middle so it isn’t as congested as it is at the moment, hopefully meaning Torres won’t have to drift out to the wings to find space which in turn should open up little pockets of space for Mata. Torres has to be given a run of games. With the ever declining Didier Drogba away at the African Cup of Nations, Fernando should get a run in the team over the following month but it won’t benefit Chelsea at all if Torres is benched again as soon as Drogba comes back because Torres brings a lot more to Chelsea’s play than Drogba. Torres also has to look at himself. Surely he can’t be happy with everyone labelling him a flop? We’ve seen it very rarely at Chelsea but he has to find that hunger within himself to go out there and be that world class player he knows he can be. He’s free of the injuries which haunted his time at Liverpool, he has to see that as a positive and really seize the chance he has been presented with through Drogba being away.

So whilst the majority of you continue to laugh every time Torres plays and doesn’t score, remember he has four and a half years left on his contract and at only twenty seven, he’s got arguably his peak physical years ahead of him. I believe it’s clear to see though that changes have to be made at Chelsea and until they are, we can all expect Torres to continue to struggle. Don’t brand Fernando a flop just yet though, give him and AVB time to implement changes and I’m sure we’ll see Fernando Torres back to his best once again.

For more Football/Chelsea/Torres related debate, follow me on twitter: @aidansweeney93

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