Fernando Torres, Chelsea’s Number Nine

Sep 16 • Featured, Guest Contributor, Paul Wentworth, Player Features • 19244 Views • 10 Comments

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A debut Plains of Almeríá piece by Paul Wentworth, a writer and Chelsea season ticket holder, about the Chelsea career of Fernando Torres. An interesting take from someone who witnessed Torres’s first press conference.

“Big money comes with big expectation, but it is normal for me. I am excited for a new life, a new era in front of me” Fernando Torres – February 4th 2011

Those words uttered by Chelsea’s new No.9 in front of a hushed Cobham press room seemed to signal the start of something spectacular at Stamford Bridge.

Having been fortunate to be covering the press conference on the day I was sat front row, gawping up at the £50million jewel that Roman Abramovich had bestowed upon Carlo Ancelotti’s double winning side.

This was much more than another big money signing. This was Fernando Torres, the golden boy of the Kop, the darling of Merseyside. 81 goals in 142 games. What goals they were. This was the culmination of a courtship that had begun years in advance of Liverpool’s systematic decline. We had snatched the clubs star, in the prime of his career.

His form had been faltering, we assumed, naively perhaps that this had been down to his growing disenchantment at Anfield. An injury sustained on World Cup duty had set him back but the raw talent was there, he buried us on a cold November at Anfield, two exquisite goals. He would score them for us now.

The images of Torres holding up the red collared, blue Chelsea kit, beaming smile, seemed like mirages, fantasy, had we really pulled this off?

His debut was to cruelly wake us from our dreams.

A home defeat against his former employers. Torres was bullied, battered and kicked off the park by a rightfully aggrieved Liverpool. A few flashes of talent a scant glimpse of a debut goal in front of an expectant Stamford Bridge before he was substituted.

We blamed Ancelotti. Poor judgement. It was too early for him, not fair to throw him in at the deep end. Give him time. Poor Fernando.

Hope and expectation soared, the goals still never arrived so let’s flash forward 734 minutes. April 23rd and the heavens have opened above SW6. Perhaps the divine was offering a hand of mercy; Fernando Torres had just scored his first goal for Chelsea Football Club. We had beaten West Ham 3-0. The noise when the ball hit the net was deafening.

Ultimately this was a season of unfulfilled potential. Finishing behind Manchester United in the race for the title and with that solitary strike in the April showers representing Torres sole contribution the voices in the media prepared the rod for the Spaniards back.

Ancelotti departed. Andre Villas Boas arrived.

2011-2012. More hope, more expectation.

A beautifully executed chip over David De Gea and a virtuoso performance against Manchester United forgotten as the blues slipped to a 3-1 defeat with Torres missing an open goal after he had rounded the keeper. The clip went viral. The rod got heavier.

Again it verged from the sublime to the ridiculous with the Spaniard; the next home game saw him net a fine volley against Swansea scoring in back to back games for the first time for Chelsea before an ill-timed two footed challenge saw him receive a red card and three game ban.

By the time he returned it would be another 7 months before he found the net in the Premier League again. The world’s media has decided. The rod had broken. Torres was shot. Shaken to his core, the fragilities laid bare for all to see. This had been a beauty parade by the clubs owner that had been grotesquely misjudged.  A figure of ridicule from supporters of rivals.

Still however the fans stood by him. After all, he was our No.9. He had been in the shadow of Didier Drogba, poorly managed by Ancelotti and undermined by Andre Villas Boas. He will come good. You’ll see.

Redemption seemed to arrive late on and in the most unlikely of arenas.

His injury time strike against Barcelona in the Camp Nou in the Champions League semi-final may well go down in history as one of the clubs most iconic moments, his run from the halfway line into an empty Barca half seemed to last an eternity. The ethereal quality of the clip, coupled with the ‘what if he misses’ dread and the unexplainable elation when the ball hits the net and you realise that Chelsea will be in the Champions League final is truly a landmark goal in the history of the club.

That said; had we managed to see out the remaining minutes we would have progressed regardless, so whilst the goal was a wonderful moment and a definitive tribute to a campaign of unexplainable greatness in the most bizarre of circumstances. It is still a goal at odds with the player himself.

We would go on to win the Champions League on that famous night in Munich; Torres himself cut a forlorn figure on the substitute’s bench. He would come on and force the corner that led to Didier Drogba’s unfathomable equaliser (arguably his truly most significant contribution in a blue shirt) but his post-match comments spoke of a man at odds with his surroundings, this was not his final.

Roberto Di Matteo’s decision not to allow Torres to be one of the designated penalty takers seemed to irritate him but nothing could take away the glory of that night.

Exit Didier Drogba and so the stage was set at Stamford Bridge. Fernando Torres would be the leading man in this third act.

His season started again with a glimmer of hope. A well taken goal against Manchester City at Villa Park in the community shield got him off the mark. Form, it seemed, finally found him as strikes against Reading, Newcastle, Norwich and a fine volley against Arsenal to set up victory at the Emirates and have Chelsea and their invigorated No.9 top of the Premier League.

Glory was to be fleeting however, a red card against Manchester United led to the sides defeat and the league form evaporated. A goal drought that lasted some 11 hours had driven a nail into the coffin that housed Roberto Di Matteo.

His ignominious departure closely following a Champions League defeat to Juventus in which Torres was dropped ignited a fury in the fan-base that would only be inflamed by the appointment of Torres’ old mentor and Chelsea nemesis; Rafael Benitez. The architect of Torres most successful form of his career at Liverpool was now manager at a club whose fans despised him.

The two being intrinsically linked began to further fan the flames of supporter discontent. Hard to separate visions of the player and the manager as one. A January transfer window saw the arrival of Demba Ba to help alleviate the pressure on the misfiring forward. The club it seemed would continue to place its faith in the Spaniard.

His league form continued to draw blanks but in Europe, Torres began to shine, apologising to fans and acknowledging his short comings saying “I want to do the things I used to do. I did them at Atlético, I did them at Liverpool, but I am not doing them at Chelsea”, he vowed to “try his heart out” to “do everything for the fans” regain his best form.  Scoring 6 goals en route to the Europa League final in Amsterdam it seemed that Torres was thriving, albeit against sub-par opposition.

Scoring in the final, his final against Benfica delivered the club and its fans unprecedented back-to-back European trophies, something that all supporters should be grateful for and show respect to him duly. He would end another campaign of turmoil, disruption but ultimately success with 22 goals in 64 games.

Not horrifying statistics but as ever with Torres, these only tell half the tale.

There have been goals. There have been trophies. Perhaps in any other era we would hail Torres.

On a personal level, I myself still find it hard to lose that youthful excitement that I had when we signed him. I was practically shaking in the press room, asking him a question about how the senior players had helped him settle was met with an articulate response and I was enthralled.

When Torres scores I still celebrate harder than when anyone else does (Lampard excluded and should Mikel ever find his way to a goal, even of the Makalele variety, I will need sedating) but as with many rational, level headed blues fans it is now becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the gaping void that hollows out the head of our attacking line.

Sublime finishes, powerful headers and cultured link play can be offset at times with a meandering slowness to react on the ball, a concerning, heavy first touch, whilst his mood is at best apathetic off the ball. An outright refusal to enjoy any moment of playing football shows a man who is a sullen figure at the best of times and at worst downright nihilistic towards the game. The Curious Case of Fernando Torres Psyche will not be solved anytime soon.

Contrasted to the frontmen of other clubs in Europe and it is through green eyes that we view RVP’s brash self-confidence, Luis Suarez ‘hunger’ (excuse the pun) for the game, whilst Edison Cavani and Radamel Falcao both delight in scoring goals, which they do, by the fucking truck-full. It is a horrid thing jealousy, a destructive damaging presence in football but one that has crept in amongst even the most ardent Chelsea supporters.

Failed moves in the transfer window for the two South American’s mentioned above alongside the prolific Robert Lewandowski and the absolute travesty that was the Wayne Rooney saga this summer saw the arrival of the 32-year old Samuel Eto’o from Russia which has left us with a bloated, mismatched front line.

That Romelu Lukaku’s departure on loan frustrates and confuses is more down to a desire for change at the club, despite the fact that it may work out better for the player himself. (A 20-year-old who needs to play regularly. Let that sink in, he’s still only 20, and still ours. Cor.)

Torres sympathisers (which despite the tone of this article, I am one) will hold the candle for another revival, a run of form that doesn’t result in a 36 hour barren spell, maybe an FA Cup final winner (against Liverpool) perhaps even, dare to dream, a second Champions League.

With returning manager Jose Mourinho revealing that Torres is very much part of his plans there is a viewpoint to be taken that the Portuguese can utilise Torres frustration, hunger and desire into something tangible beyond the odd performance; goals. Any change in attitude will have to come from the player himself. Eto’o’s arrival brings an increase in competition, a fresh challenge and one that perhaps, under Mourinho, Torres will relish.

This however is ill advised, logic dictates that we will never see the best of Fernando Torres and he will be allowed to see out the remaining two and half years of his contract unchallenged. His price tag, salary and form prohibitive to potential suitors and with an owner seemingly unwilling to lose face, at all costs, to the detriment of the team he has lavishly assembled, over his £50million jewel.

Torres has survived managerial sackings, crippling loss of form, red cards, seen off Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge, been vocally critical of the club and received a vociferous show of no confidence from the fans (the boos in the League Cup tie against Swansea still irk some) with constant criticism from the media and opposition fans.

Our glorious/infamous captain John Terry is often referred to as ‘Teflon John’ in some quarters but perhaps that moniker suits ‘Teflon Torres’ more appropriately. His powers of self-preservation are legend. One must hope that with the array of creative talents that fill the ranks in behind him, the club can once again, against the odds achieve success.

Fernando Torres, Chelsea’s No.9 and you’d better get used to it.

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10 Responses to Fernando Torres, Chelsea’s Number Nine

  1. Kunle Ademola says:

    Awesome article. I loved the ‘you’d better get used to it’ bit… Thumbs up!

  2. Gary says:

    Excellent article. Thank you. I share your hopes. I’m wouldn’t call myself a Torres fan, but I do think he tries hard and I respect him for that.

  3. Oyebode pelumi says:

    Nice article… Fernando El-nino Torres.. D lord iz ur Strength… Believe in im nd u wud succeed

  4. zinbad99 says:

    ” The Curious Case of Fernando Torres Psyche will not be solved anytime soon.”
    That sums up all very well. Very well written article.

  5. Brian Hall says:

    Well, Torres is our number 9 and that disturbs me greatly. Basically, he is a spent force and will never recapture his glory days. The writing`s been on the wall for the last three seasons.

    What is it we do to strikers??!! Go back to the days of Fleck, Sutton, Mutu, Shevenchko.. (I could go on and on here). All good strikers until they came to Chelsea. Only Dixon and Drogs have done the proper business as a striker.

    I said to the missus on Saturday, “Watch Eto`o…he`ll fuck it up in the time and tested style of most Chelsea attackers.” And he did!!!

    So, we are left with the three clowns: Torres, Ba and Eto`o………..whilst we sell Sturrridge (4 goals for Liverpool), Moses, who also scored last night and Lukaka who we have loaned to Everton this season. Three young Merseyside Blues eh???

    I expect us to beat Basle tomorrow night in the Champions League……flat track bullies and all that……but I am fed up of seeing our forwards constantly and easily being closed down by just about any Premiership defence.

    By the way, a couple of other things annoy me. Why is it we cannot tackle properly in midfield…we constantly lose possession by being beaten in the tackle and why do we continue to lose goals in the last five minutes of halves? (Bayern and Everton being this season`s examples).

    Finally, after four Premiership fixtures this season, would it be unfair to say we have only really played well in the first forty-five minutes of our first game against newly promoted Hull City?

    Sorry, it`s a moan and I do love you Chelsea, but some sorting out is needed.

    • Arthur Foxache says:

      “Only Dixon and Drogs have done the proper business as a striker.”

      I get your point, but you forget Jimmy and Eidur.

    • Shakes says:

      >Why is it we cannot tackle properly in midfield

      Because what we really needed was a solid defensive midfielder. Instead, the Messiah chose to go out and get yet another attacking midfielder in Willian. This decision perplexed me as much the decision to keep Ba and loan Lukaku. Perhaps Mourinho works in mysterious ways. For the time being, I do not understand them.

  6. unidentified says:

    if u see torres’ goalscoring records at the clubs he has ever played.. then u’ll see that his glory time was with liverpool.. (i’m not saying that he was bad at atletico but if u see.. his goal ratio was not as good as when he played with liverpool) it made me with full of curiosity watch liverpool’s games… (with torres back then (through youtube though) and this season).. i saw some thing that made me realize why torres doesnt score as many goal as when he was with liverpool or why sturridge scores more than when he was with us.. it’s liverpool’s gameplay which allows the striker just to beat or if not in a situation (for sturridge.. not mentioning his screamer against stoke or his “luck” against swansea).. maybe that’s why mou bought willian.. someone who can attract defenders so that our striker only has to play against one defender.. i dont see torres as a failure, coz i saw he could also do something good.. at least he does have his old touch (based on his goal against munich lately) hopefully it would be just like i say and we wish.. :)

    • Suraj says:

      What are you saying? You don’t see Torres as a failure? He is an abject failure. Any angle you analyze it from he is a failure – cost to the club, return for the club, chances fucked up in game, chances not taken in a game, not being in position in a game (why is he in a wingers position all the time. A no 9 should be in the box, or the spearhead. He is so shit he’s avoiding the ball, pussy) game play broken down in game, demoralizing the team and being a absolute fuck face with his expressions that make his attitude clear, criticizing the club and manager for benching him for 1 of the best player’s from Africa and a Chelsea legend (his benching & penalty refusal were justified). However, these are generic criticisms anybody will point out to you.

      The main reason I can’t see him gone from Chelsea is because of what he has done to the club. Because of him we have an aura of ‘helplessness’ at the club, he cannot be motivated – he has gone through managers so fast, he doesn’t have the mettle & neither will he come out and refuse to accept his salary till he scores (not necessary, but Kaka did something like that. He knew he doesn’t deserve it. I just hope Torres is investing in education or else he will get a nice welcome back to the real world). You talk about his game and say he can do this, well I say he cant even slightly modify his game so that just proves his lack of quality. The best players and managers ALWAYS adapt. ALWAYS. His lack of effort on the pitch is infuriating by any standards. Dont give me that shit that he tries. Running around like a headless chicken for 10 minutes, going invisible for another 60 minutes, and getting his odd average 10 touches in the remaining time is not trying, its failing.

      He DIVIDES our club into his supporters and his detractors. He has become such a phenomenon that he has become bigger than the club. Its Torres FC now. He plays over everyone (what we did to Daniel under AVB was criminal. Even I churned watching him play, imagine Danny boy on the bench, or forced to play out. the only mistake he made was asking for a run in Torres’s position & he totally deserved it), he bitches like a bitch, he is never happy and has ensured that Chelsea fans will never be happy. EVEN more important though is the fact that he is simply shit. Chelsea cant win with a shit no 9, thats the reality. As supporter of Chelsea, that is more important to me than anything related to Torres. He can jump into a shit hole for all I care, he isnt a player who cares about the club or perform for the club.

  7. Nanu says:

    God bless you. God bless you.

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