“We bought the lad from sunny Spain. He gets the ball, he scores again”
Amongst all the doom and gloom that had surrounded Liverpool for months, there was still a little sense of expectation, an air of anticipation and a rub of the hands in sheer excitement before every match. Why? It’s because like a dormant volcano, mount Fernando had to erupt someday, any day.
The return to form..
There had been plenty of false alarms, but The Kop had been waiting a long time for Fernando Torres to explode into life. Match after match, Liverpool and England, and perhaps the world, expected the El Nino of old to return to existence.
And yet, like all awe-inspiring visions, Torres’s return exceeded all expectations – burning the might of the champions under the free-flowing lava of hot talent, and in the process burying all fears of his Liverpool career imploding.
Chelsea must really hate the sight of Fernando Torres. Like El Toro and the waving flag, Liverpool’s Spaniard is angered into action once he sees a Chelsea flag waved in front of him. Thus, what was touted to be the worst fixture for Liverpool in resurgent times turned out to be a subtly-wrapped gift from high above.
It was a pleasant déjà-vu for the worshippers of Anfield Road. It was a fitting rebirth of a striker, who had announced himself to the league by scoring his first Premier League goal in Merseyside red at the same end against the same opponents, three years and three months ago. Even two seasons ago, Torres was the destroyer-in-chief, as his late double sunk Chelsea at Anfield.
The cynics vs. the optimists..
The cynics, the ones that cast a blind eye towards all positives and a magnifying glass over all possible negatives, claim that Torres’s performance wasn’t a surprise. They say it was bound to happen as a top fixture, such as Chelsea at Anfield, was his chance to attract big clubs from around Europe.
The optimistic Scousers, on the other hand, attribute the inspired performance to Torres’ desire to repay the everlasting support and love the supporters have given him.
After an injury-ravaged previous season, it is a general feeling at Anfield that Torres owes this club a spectacular season. Torres had been a quiet figure for quite a significant amount of time. This time period included below-par performances in the World Cup, and was characterized by poor body language, disinterested performances, and often, a lack of effort; he clearly cut a frustrated figure on the field. He had made only 32 appearances for Liverpool last season.
The Liverpool-Torres dilemma..
Liverpool will not win the league this season. The club is not a part of the Champions League, and the Europa League isn’t of the same stature. An FA Cup triumph will not be able to significantly compensate for the disappointments, either.
So, although the supporters want to see Torres rise to extraordinary heights as a Liverpool player, they know at the back of their minds that it will eventually lead to his exit from a club that hasn’t met his aspirations for trophies.
So, what exactly should the supporters hope for, in order to keep Fernando at the club? City-like funds to buy world-class players will give him an incentive, or an emotional attachment to the club and its supporters may persuade him to stay; or, on a lighter note, perhaps a request from Steven Gerrard can do the trick. The two do seem to have a unique chemistry on the pitch, at least.
Right now, though, all Liverpool can offer is long-term vision and stability, and a place where he will be unconditionally worshipped by a human sea of red. However, that may not be enough.
Steven Gerrard may rescue Liverpool from sinking, but he will always need a Torres to guide the Red ship to its destination – the summit of the league. Though Liverpool are still labeled a ‘one-man team’, there has been a significant sharing of Gerrard’s burden over the past few seasons.
There has hardly been better evidence of Fernando’s role in today’s Liverpool than the last three weeks. His winner at Anfield against Blackburn gave the reds their first victory in over two months. At Bolton, it was his backheel nutmeg that provided the defining moment of brilliance, in a below-par team performance, to set-up Maxi’s winner. And what followed a week later was an incredible one-man show against Ancelotti’s champions at Anfield.
Liverpool’s winning formula is a simple equation. Get an in-form Fernando Torres on the ball, and you’ll get your points. The formula seemed to be working, till Liverpool took the lead at the JJB; again, through a sublime finish by the Spanish wizard.
Unfortunately for the reds, that’s where the mini-fairytale ended. Liverpool’s setup away from home and the general mediocrity of its players were on show at the JJB. Torres was left at the periphery of the game, as Wigan overran the visitors. What is even more damaging is that the same thing was repeated at the Britannia stadium, where Torres was again deprived of quality service. Even the most avid supporters of the club know that its almost cruel for such a talented player to be surrounded with the ordinary players that Liverpool have on offer.
But today, if one wishes to gauge the mood in the red half of the city of Liverpool, all one needs to do is have a look at the form of one Fernando Torres. He doesn’t owe Liverpool. Perhaps, Liverpool owes him.
Such has been the impact of Liverpool’s current number nine – a player, quite simply, in a league of his own.