Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Trials of Torres

Who would want to be Fernando Torres right now? The Spaniard is somewhat of a lost sheep right about now;in a self-defeating slump. I am no psychiatric professional, but his confidence seems stuck in an irreversible decline, despite his relatively healthy goals telly of 14 goals in 34 appearances. When you consider the fact that he is playing in front of the creative genius of Hazard, Mata, Oscar, and Lampard, that haul looks less impressive.

What's worse, is that Demba Ba has hit the ground running, with three goals in four appearances. It's more than that though. Since Ba's arrival, the Senagalese goal machine has started in a 5-1 win, a 4-0 win, and yesterday's 2-2 draw at home to Southampton. In that home draw, Ba scored a wonderful goal. In the one match Torres started, Chelsea looked toothless, and slumped to a 2-0 home defeat in the Capital One Cup to Swansea.

When Torres was brought on last night to replace Lampard, in an attempt to break the Saints down, the outcome never looked in doubt. In Chelsea's final attack, he had the ball in a promising position to the right of the penalty area. Lacking any of the purpose that would frighten a defence, or force them to scramble for their solitary point, he floated a non-cross beyond the back post. Goal kick. Game over. Chelsea career over?

I am not for one minute suggesting that Torres should be sold at this time. That would leave Demba Ba as the club's sole striker with any real pedigree. But if I was Chelsea manager, I would feel that no matter what my personal allegiance to the player (and Benitez has plenty dating back to his time at Liverpool) the club as a whole must come first. At least one more striker should be bought this transfer window, whether Benitez or Abramovich is responsible for this. It is no point having the midfield riches they do, without enough people to finish off those moves.

As the boss said in his post-match assessment, his side must be more clinical. As Torres was only on the pitch for around 15 minutes, it is harsh to assume that those words are directed at him alone. In fact, Ba himself should have made sure of the points with a wayward finish of his own. However, he is, in general, coming up with the goods consistently. He did so for Newcastle, and he is showing signs of continuing that at Chelsea.

Back to Torres though. The most likely course of action, for my money (and Roman's) is that there will be little further strengthening. Mr Torres will have game time. Chelsea fans need to set aside their opinions of their expensive misfit signing, and their misfit manager. The frosty atmosphere that permeates Stamford Bridge is not benefiting any member of the Chelsea squad, and the player that needs their support most is Fernando Torres.

Sometimes I wonder whether those who booed Torres' introduction last night want him to fail. Whether they would rather he missed three open goals, and Chelsea lose a game instead of winning. The club must come first, and players are more likely to give their best playing in a happy positive atmosphere. If they can't get that in front of their own fans, then that is a sad indictment of what should be a thrilling club to watch.

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