Reams have already been written about Chelsea’s A?50 million attacking midfielder, Fernando Torres. And no, that’s not a typo.

Fernando Torres made quite the name for himself at Liverpool as an out-and-out striker, scoring with willful abandon. The tip of the spear, the sharp end of the sword, the head of the arrow. The prime exponent of footballing efficiency aided and supported by Steven Gerrardai??i??s inch-perfect vision for a defense-splitting pass. Today, he has no Steven Gerrard propping him up, and Torres is now in virgin territory. Having to create his own chances, and those of others, the Spaniard can be forgiven for feeling like an attacking midfielder at times.

 

Quite the migraine

 

In many ways Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are similar. Theyai??i??re both exceptional midfielders and theyai??i??re both talismanic for their respective clubs ai??i?? itai??i??s hard to see Liverpool or Chelsea win silverware in the current era without these two bringing their A-game. Itai??i??s also natural that two midfielders seeking to be the engine room, with a considerable overlap in roles, struggle to co-exist in the same national side. Youai??i??d think with Lampard and Gerrard seemingly so similar, Fernando Torresai??i?? jigsaw puzzle piece would have slotted in comfortably at Chelsea, and felt right at home from day one.

As the last year has shown us, that didnai??i??t necessarily happen. Part of the reason, lies in the many differences that exist between Super Frankie and Stevie Gai??i??s playing styles. Stevie G is a marauder of the pitch; he can play comfortably all over and runs the show at Liverpool from one box to another. Torres looked so exceptionally good at Liverpool because Gerrard made him so. That’s not to say, the Spaniard is over-rated. It’s just that with Gerrard marshaling the passes immediately behind him, Torres had a platform – built and ready – for him to shine.

Frank Lampard, regardless of his improved defensive abilities, is still an (unconventional, perhaps) attacking midfielder whose chief strength is getting there at the right place at the right time, and a frightening ability to read the game beyond the scope of mortal minds. Which is why Torres has found it hard to score goals off of Lampard – it’s Frankie instead who’s doing all the scoring! Frank thrives on possession and position, while Gerrard was all about the vision and passing. The former can slow up things a bit too much for a man like Torres who’s used to having the ball arrive in his vicinity at breakneck speed, only for him to make a dash for the goal, embarrassing a few defenders along the way.

 

Bet you miss me now, eh?

 

With Frank, and consequently Chelsea’s, more possession-position oriented style, Torres often finds himself stranded up front with little service. “Lay the ball at my feet“, he seems to plead. But except for Florent Malouda, perhaps, none of the others fail to pass to him deliberately. There’s just a natural disconnect between the two styles. That’s where Torres did well, by adding an additional dimension to his game – dropping deep.

Dropping deep, Torres has had to wrest control of the ball from midfielders, and make his way past not just the midfielders closing in on him but the entire defensive line. So he skips past a couple of players, or three on a really confident day before running into heavy traffic. At which point, Torres has two options ahead of him ai??i?? lose possession, or deliver it neatly packaged to Ramires, Lampard, Sturridge, Mata or even Kalou to slot it in the goal.

So if it does him no personal good to be creating chances for others in his squad, why does he persist with dropping deep? Torres up-front has to rely on the pace and style dictated to him by the rest of the team ai??i?? something he has complained about. And rather than make peace with it, Torres has decided to fashion his own luck and infuse some creativity, in the advanced midfield area, that he (but mostly others) can benefit from.

 

I give up! I just can't stop scoring

 

More importantly, perhaps, Torres has begun to realize his calling as a team-player, and not merely the icing on the cake or the provider of the final flourish. Thereai??i??s a certain selflessness about him and a shrug of the shoulder when poor luck does him in. He dusts himself off, picks himself up and plunges back headlong into the play. In a team often criticized as comprising of divas and petulant foot-stompers, Fernando Torresai??i?? uncomplaining nature is as refreshing as anything youai??i??ll ever see on the field.

So against Sunderland who are no pushovers, Fernando Torresai??i?? telling contribution was what got Andre Villas-Boasai??i?? side all three points at home. Like Wayne Rooney before him, Fernando Torres knew it would take something extra-ordinary and out of this world to bring his career as a striker back on track. Wayne Rooney, after months in the wilderness, had announced his return with that upside-down effort.

Torres, took the airborne route too conjuring up an astonishing scissor kick that rattled the Sunderland goal. Unlike Rooneyai??i??s effort however, it didnai??i??t go in. It bounced off the post, for Frank Lampard to deflect it in. You could make out from his face, his celebrations notwithstanding, that he was devastated. He had pulled the rabbit out of the hat, the last card from up his sleeve, and still failed to impress.

 

Airborne amid turbulence

 

Lampard was kind enough to credit him; but Torres wouldai??i??ve taken some measure of cheer from the reaction of the Stamford Bridge crowd. They sang his name off the rooftops, egging him on. He proceeded to delight them further, and then they roared their anger and disbelief when instead of being awarded a penalty for Bardsleyai??i??s challenge, he got a yellow card instead. But then Torres stood up, and put his head down and got straight to work.

An entire crowd was charmed. They were chanting his name and for the first time it wasnai??i??t to prove a point to another side, and it wasnai??i??t a gesture of pity. It was genuine, it was heartfelt and it was a salute to one of Chelseaai??i??s most dedicated foot-soldiers. This was the day, Fernando Torres lived up to his reputation as a break-the-bank purchase.

He didnai??i??t score, again. But in an unsettled squad, and in a must-win game, he put in a performance worth A?49 million.

Not A?50 million, mind you. Again, like the hero of an Aristotelian tragedy, Torres sadly fell just short.

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8 Responses to “Torres – The Turnaround, The Transformation, The Tragedy”

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  1. Ray says:

    Expert analysis.but i tell you torres is sure to get there this season.mark my words

  2. Ashraf Badreddine says:

    Hats off for a genuinely objective article. Analytically true to the bone. The difference between Gerard and Lampard (though you have given Lampard a bit more credit than he deserves). Gerard (and Xabi Alonso) were perfect for Torres, of course when he’s in top form. Add to his previous lack of form (now almost there), a team that is very slow-paced and Frank Lampard, a guy who’s not keen on through passes especially to Torres and you get the horrible performances from Torres before. Torres would’ve gotten back on track way before had he still been in Liverpool; but then again, you can’t blame him for leaving at the time which he left. A true gentleman of the sport, a class act, Torres is a superb addition to any team on the planet.

    • GK(Geethesh) says:

      I liked your article.Acco to me u praised lampard bit more than he deserved. Lampard s a good player bt its 100% true that he just bother about scoring himself than creating goal scoring chance for team. In chelsea except Mata, Torres, Meirless NO other midfielders n attackers r creating goal scoring chances.All jst bother abt scoring themselves than team, In liverpool its very difficult to find selfish players, all will play team game N Gerrad, he s a Godfather for liverpool youngsters or newcomers.
      Acco to me gerrard will give better shape to carrol n ll make him to play how he wants….. Chelsea wants players like kaka they jst bother abt team than themselves then its difficult to stop blues,

  3. Gerard says:

    Well done. One of the best reads in a while regarding Torres, and very well described comparing Stevie G and Frank Lampard, right on point and very much agreed.

    Everyone’s been so critical of Torres, and at times it may seem rightly so, but I believe that the quality is and has always been there. He just needs a spark and chance like Saturday, and this month without having to worry about playing or not between him and Drogba. We’ll see how he responds on Sat. Great article again.

  4. Hans says:

    Great article mate. Man united supporter from Australia that watches nearly every minute of the big 4’s games and I’ve been really impressed with Torres even through all the slack he’s been receiving. This is the first article I’ve seen that actually acknowledges this.

  5. Aditya Sharma says:

    Personally I’m none too fond of the little SoB.. but I like to think I can put my personal likes and dislikes and compliment a man for his strengths, and I have to admit that I think he’s doing a good job pulling himself out his slump.
    For months everyone’s been talking about how he’s “one goal away from returning to his old self”, and I think that’s a load of crap. The problems with his game have not been solely those of low confidence, but also of the fact that he’s not been fitting into the Chelsea team and style of play. But, as you say, he might have just figured out a way to fix that..

  6. pratik agarwala says:

    ride on el nino!! no looking back, you have announced your arrival..! and however torrid is said and written about you, i’ll always be there to support you or any team you play in! CLASS, DETERMINATION and FAIR-PLAY! we all love you TORRES..!

  7. Ravikiran says:

    I always trusted torres wen he arrived to Stamford Bridge and I strongly believed wat author had said…His selfishness player…Now the stage is set up for Torres to rule the BPL only the req is little help encouragement form team mates spl from RAMI STRUD also from Mi fav LAMPY :)