Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Curious Case of Fernando Torres

by Neil Chhabda

“Golden Bullet”. These were the exact words used by Phil McNulty to describe Fernando Torres after he single-handedly demolished Real Madrid in 2009. In 2010, he was described as “a player capable of reducing the best defenders in the world into rubble.” Fast forward two years and only a few people consider him to be decent, let alone world-class. After his record-breaking £50 million move from Liverpool to Chelsea, there have been very few highs and too many lows. So what went wrong? How could a player who was considered the best striker in the world suffer such a spectacular fall from grace? And is it possible for him to recapture that scintillating form again?
One of the reasons for his decline could be physical. Towards the end of his time with Liverpool, Torres suffered a serious injury and was rushed back to fitness without proper rehabilitation. As a result, he has lost about 15% - 20% of his pace and is no longer lightning fast. At the high level of football in the Premier League, this is a serious problem. He is still fairly quick, but much of his game was based around ability to beat just about every defender in a straight-line race. Furthermore, he still plays like he believes that he’s 23 and tries too often to beat a defender with speed, often losing the ball and winding up on the floor. If he is to recover his golden form, he must be more mature, accept he’s not as quick and work on other parts of his game, such as his anticipation and off-the-ball work. He’s not the first player to get older and he won’t be the last, but, like other world-class strikers such as Robin van Persie and compatriot David Villa, he needs to work on his movement, lose defenders and then put the ball into the back of the net.
Consistency has also been one of Torres’s biggest problems.  If you’re an avid read of this blog, you may recall that Fernando Torres was in Fergus Houghton-Connell’s worst team of the month for November, after some truly disappointing performances. In the first week of December, Torres scored 4 goals and was in BBC Sport’s team of the week. This sums up his time at Chelsea. He’s disappointing for long periods of a season, and then he suddenly bursts into life, giving fans a glimmer of hope. If he can maintain this form for long periods, such as his first 18 months at Liverpool, he should return to his old-self.
The biggest reason for his fall from grace is his mental state. If the Torres of old missed a chance, he would continue persisting and when an opportunity presented itself, even if it was only half a chance, he would score. He would do all of this in the same game. Nowadays, if Torres misses a chance his body language seriously deteriorates and he just looks a player completely devoid of confidence. If he gets into a scoring position, he looks to play a pass instead of putting the ball into the net. Instead of facing the goal and playing in the centre, he may go out into the wings, try too hard to get involved and end up being counter-productive. In all fairness, his confidence has improved and he does stay in the centre, but he remains a little too impatient and gets frustrated easily.

(source: Daily Telegraph)
In recent weeks, under Rafa Benitez, he has looked a completely different figure. His is still hesitant to shoot, but he no longer goes out to the wings, and always plays in the centre. If Benitez can bring back his confidence, there is a very good chance we will see some lethal finishing from Torres. He was one of the fastest players on the planet, but he was also one of the best finishers. He would come alive inside the box, and could score from just about everywhere, even the tightest angles. If he can get some of his truly excruciating misses out of his mind, and play with that confidence again, he will likely be one of the best strikers in the world.

Speaking as a lifelong fan of Torres and a Chelsea supporter, I believe that he can return to his free-scoring form, but there is a long road ahead. Radamel Falcao and Van Persie, the two best strikers in the world, are virtually anonymous for long periods in matches. As soon as they get into to the box, however, they become electric and you can be certain that if either one of them gets an opportunity they will score. Neither of them is especially quick, in fact they both possess average pace for strikers but they still score goals in abundance. This is because they are virtually unmarkable and have incredible finishing ability and are phenomenally consistent. Torres has these skills, too, and they were on show every week during his time with Liverpool. He needs to sharpen up and concentrate more on his technical ability, improve his anticipation and off-the-ball skills.

Rafa Benitez will also be the key. Under Benitez at Liverpool, Torres scored 59 goals in 73 games. Under Benitez at Chelsea, Torres has scored 5 goals in 7 games. If there is one man who can bring the best out of Torres, it is Benitez. Torres has always been an intelligent player, but he has to change the way he plays. It will be difficult, but I have full confidence that he will successfully adapt his ability. When he does adapt, he will again claim his place as one of the best players of recent years.


  1. Torres is not one of the best players of recent years. He will never be good again. chelsea must recall Lukaku.

  2. it's an open goal for Torres.......GOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!! kick

  3. How has a man of his talent become so wasted at Chelsea? He was never worth £50,000,000 but he is now a shadow of the player they bought. Not sure if he can recover or not.

    all i need to show you really

  5. Chelsea should have looked properly before buying #shoparound

  6. He is most definitely a shadow of his former self but I hope he will return to something similar to his time at Liverpool. There is a saying 'Form is temporary, class is permanent'.

  7. He is pointless to CHELSEA even if he is playing with the best players he still cannot score i mean Hazard has crossed in the ball and TORRES missing all of them. I meanwho would want a player in that form, he is wasting the transfer on DEMBA BA


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