Fernando Torres; 50 Million Pounds to Chelsea, 50 Million Ways to Miss The Goal

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I have always been a big fan of Fernando Torres, dating back to his earlier days at Athletico Madrid.

I had heard about him for years and I wanted to make sure I watched Athletico the few times they were shown on TV, whether it be through La Liga or in the European competitions. Following his move to Liverpool, I experienced mixed emotions as I was so pleased I would be able to see the guy play on a weekly basis for a team that I held a lot of respect for and somewhat liked, but at the same time as an Arsenal fan I was both disappointed we again passed on a player because of his price tag and because he was going to a direct title contender.

Nonetheless he has been one of my favourite players in football for a long time. Following his highly controversial and really quite shallow move to Chelsea, I began to feel a change in my opinion on him. It was not only the fact that he moved to a team I highly dislike, but because the guy who had always treated fans and his clubs with the utmost respect and grace had shown a side I did not know existed.

He was always so gracious towards Athletico Madrid following his move to Liverpool where he shot to superstardom, contributing his former club with all his success and admitting he would never kiss another badge other than that of Athletico Madrid. It is not often you see that level of class in the superficial, money driven game that is football but the guy just made you love him whether it was how he acted off the field or how he played on it.

Both those changed when he moved to Chelsea. I was horrified when I first heard the rumours of his possible transfer to the west Londoners, so much so that I stayed up for the majority of the transfer deadline night (it ended around 10am Australian time) monitoring his progress, hoping it was just speculation. Unfortunately it was not. The most prolific and deadly striker in the EPL, perhaps in football, was moving to a team I truly despised. What I did not know was that only the name Fernando Torres was moving, not the player.

In Torres’ 24 games in the blue of Chelsea he has scored just 2 goals. Contrast that to the 81 goals in 142 games at Liverpool. Those are two very different players.

The statistics aren’t everything however. The Liverpool Torres exuded confidence, demanded the ball, dismissed basically all defending and was so incredibly apt at finding the net it was really scary to watch. He tore apart even the best defenses so comfortably you really wondered how the guy could slow down or whether he was just destined to become the top scorer in the history of English football. Shearer surely was quivering in his crocks.

The Chelsea Torres, even from his first few appearances, seemed unsure, hesitant and defensive. His normal demeanour that shone through so brilliantly on the pitch was left somewhere at Anfield and he looked more like David N’Gog. He is playing for a much better team in a system that relies heavily on strikers for goals and immediately is in a greater position to challenge for honours. You would think that would bring the best out of the man who was the most feared attacking player in England for a decent period of time.

Whether it was the unfamiliarity of London, the constant pressure from the owner and the changing of managers. Could it have been the pressures that came with a 50 million pound price tag or was the Torres we saw in Liverpool an exaggeration of a talent that fluctuated in a team that was on the decline.

I do not agree with any of those as reasons as to why Fernando Torres is what he is today. I think it is something that is much less talked about but knowingly present.

Chelsea is quietly infamous for being run not by the manager but by the players. There is a reason why Chelsea have had 6 managers since 2007 and that is because if one does not do their job ably and win trophies, the players, rather than the board or the owner, get tired and want things changed. Jose Mourinho was loved by the players because he earnt their respect and demanded their best. They became used to this kind of managerial approach and the winning that came with it. They have experienced nothing of the sort since and it has not sat well with them. Coaches like Avram Grant and Phil Scolari never stood a chance. Andres Villas Boas will have to fight for his life to take control of that dressing room, even more so now that he substituted Frank Lampard, one of the greatest egos within the Chelsea locker room, at half time of a Manchester United game.

There is no question this is present within Chelsea. Players like Paul Scholes who quit the international level early in their careers and refused to return have constantly cited the greatest reason being the clashing egos within the team. Being the manager of England is commonly referred to as ‘the worst job in football’ and that is not just because of the high expectations, but more so because of the need to contain the 20+ egos. John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole. Three men who have been at the centre of English football for almost a decade. Three men that have been at the centre of this greatest era of Chelsea football. Three men who control the club much more than any manager since Mourinho.

Fernando Torres moves to the team with 50 million pounds on his name tag. He may be one of the few players that can say they are bigger than the three mentioned above. Add other painfully huge egos such as Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka and you have some jealous football players. Torres has the world at his feet and the Premier League in the palm of his hand. He is the most expensive player in English football and arguably the most consistent and unforgiving goal scorer since Theirry Henry.

What do you think are the chances of Terry, Lampard, Cole and the rest bringing the respectful, likeable and soft spoken Spaniard hurtling back down to earth? What do you think are the chances of them reminding him whose team it is, who are the top dogs and who will be the faces of the club? Do you think they would have told him he has earnt nothing of their respect until he performs for Chelsea? Sure they would have been ecstatic to take one of the best players in the world from a title contender, but the egos we know that linger around Stamford Bridge were surely more worried about their own position within the club and trying to protect that.

The Torres that we have seen in blue is a direct result of that. Lacking confidence, lacking surety and conveying a mere shadow of one of the game’s most loved and feared players. The game at Old Trafford on Sunday gave us a glimpse of the Liverpool Torres and the Chelsea Torres.

Liverpool Torres cut through the United defense, made a beautiful first touch and chipped the ball over the keeper so deftly you would have been forgiven for thinking it was Theirry Henry.

Chelsea Torres took on the defender, rounded the keeper and missed from an unmissable position with a 3-2 scoreline beckoning a ‘game on’.

Chelsea fans wonder why they have not gotten the Fernando Torres they thought they were getting, well they should look no further than the other 10 players on the pitch with him.