Thursday, 1 December 2011

From El Nino to El OhNo: Fernando Torres, the British record signing has forgotten what it's all about

Fernando Torres. Britain’s record signing. There he was on Tuesday night, apparently playing for Chelsea. I think. He was wearing blue and had his boots on as he strolled around Stamford Bridge while Liverpool were knocking them out of the Carling Cup.
Liverpool fans loved every moment of course. They would. He was quite something for them before last year’s World Cup slump… and they got a whopping 50m (R500m) - more than doubling the 20m they paid for him - for the former Atletico Madrid striker when Chelsea made their deadline day move in January.
You could almost understand Roman Abramovich’s eagerness to break the bank (and ruin his club’s carefully planned UEFA-friendly budget) when you look at the stats for the 27-year-old who has regrown his long golden locks since the World Cup, but failed to refind his form.
At Atletico from 2001–2007 he was a budding sensation, scoring 82 goals in 214 games. At Liverpool he managed a near-sensational 65 in 102 games after his move to England in 2007. Reds will remember his first season with some fondness: 33 goals in 46 appearances. El Nino they called him then. These days he’s more of an El Nincompoop.
But at Chelsea he has three goals from 24 games. Yes. Three. Some grandmothers of my acquaintance have a higher annual scoring rate. In all competitions, he’s managed five in 32 while down the road, Robin van Persie is banging them in at a goal a game - under far more pressure at Arsenal than Torres generally faces at Chelsea.
Andy Townsend, the former Chelsea midfielder who performs with some aplomb as the resident analyst on the Premier League’s international channel every week (for South Africans, he’s the one who sits on the far right with the rugged look) has a bit to say about Mr Torres in his Daily Mail column this week.
Townsend says: “When I look at him, I see another Roman Pavlyuchenko (the rusty Russian at Spurs) - a striker who knows he is fourth choice and who looks as if he would rather be anywhere else.
“There is no nuisance value in Torres. He doesn’t rattle the centre half, chase lost causes into the corner, crash into the first row of seats after running down the full back. He’s not scoring, so what does he give the team?”
With the world’s youngest boss Andre Villas-Boas under huge pressure following Tuesday night’s defeat – the Blues have now lost three times in their last four home games – perhaps it’s time Torres at least gave the appearance of caring.
Mind you, with chairman Abramovich involved in a Russian heavyweight clash against Boris Berezovsky in the High Court, fellow striker Didier Drogba desperately seeking a move and captain John Terry being probed by the police for racist abuse, perhaps Torres is just hoping nobody will notice.
Townsend says: “You feel like watching Fernando’s matches from behind the sofa; it’s the nightmare that doesn’t seem to end.”
Torres isn’t the first striker to be cast in “A Stamford Bridge too far”… Townsend picks out a few corkers who have worn blue and turned to goo: Robert Fleck, Chris Sutton, Mateja Kezman, Andriy Shevchenko and Hernan Crespo to name but five. Nicolas Anelka has hardly sparkled while older readers may remember Adrian Mutu, the Romanian who left Chelsea under a distinctly dodgy white cloud.
Townsend concludes: “Only two people can resolve this – Torres must rediscover his form and his joy of football or can Abramovich, find a club to buy him?”
Come on Andy, he signed a five-and-a-half year contract less than a year ago. He has a personal fortune estimated at nearly 20m. And anyway, would you buy a used striker from a Russian oligarch?

1 comment:

  1. "Nicolas Anelka has hardly sparkled" - Ummmmm, who won the golden boot in the 2008/09 season?

    "El-Nincompoop" - Dear writer, how old are you? You seem young if you are able to use such phrases...