Goodbye and Good Luck to Fernando Torres

Today’s announcement of a two-year loan deal to AC Milan marked the end of a 3.5 year saga that began with £50m leaving Chelsea’s pockets and going into that of Liverpool. Clearly Torres never hit the heights that many expected, but claims of him being the ultimate flop are hard to justify.

The Beginnings

I’ve already commented on Didier Drogba, a player who was often glorified despite his many flaws. We were all glued to our computers or phones waiting for an official announcement from the club that Torres had been signed. There were those that had concern over the deal but it was mostly positive. We were taking the biggest star from a bitter rival and making him our own.

Torres was brought in to replace Drogba. Torres was a much more consistent player at Liverpool than Drogba ever was at Chelsea. His goal scoring rate in the league was at .64 while Drogba’s ended at .44. The concerns were not about his ability to score but his injuries and his attitude. He was known as an injury-prone player with a poor work rate. That, not his goal scoring record, is what made him a risky buy.

Devil’s Advocate

Was Torres ever a genuinely bad player? I’d say no. Last season he was statistically our 3rd best player when he started according to whoscored.com. Unfortunately there were plenty of times he went missing. Rather than blaming the team, the blame always fell to Torres, he was the easiest scapegoat. People must ask themselves, how many other strikers succeeded during Torres’ time?

League goals:

  • Drogba? 8 goals in 38 games
  • Anelka? 2 goals in 21 games
  • Sturridge? 12 goals in 37 games
  • Ba? 7 goals in 33 games
  • Eto’o? 9 goals in 21 games

Granted, quite a few of these players were forced to play out wide or (in Ba’s case) came off the bench a lot. But Torres’ numbers look much worse when you factor in how many substitute appearances he made and how below average he looked in them. Before everyone started blaming Torres there was Bosingwa. Before Bosingwa there was Malouda and Anelka and Kalou, each enduring criticism and hatred that was not always justified.

Why He Never Reached His Heights

Andre Villas-Boas had a plan. He had a system and knew exactly what type of players he wanted. Unfortunately it was a bad plan and did not work whatsoever. Since then, we have not had a manager with Roman’s backing until the return of Mourinho. It’s pretty clear that Roman never trusted Di Matteo and had zero interest in helping Rafa with forming a team to his liking.

What would have happened if Ancelotti stayed? Aside from Ramires, the main Ancelotti pieces are now gone but team chemistry and stability could have helped Torres regain that spark. Everyone knows that switching clubs in January is difficult. One of our greatest January signings, Branislav Ivanovic, took an entire year to even get time on the pitch. From the start there was a world of pressure that fell on Torres.

Instability killed not just Torres, but every one of our strikers. None of them were successful. It would seem that having Hazard, Mata and Oscar supplying passes would allow any striker in the world to succeed, but how difficult must it have been for them to play with a player that moves around like Torres one week and then a player that sticks in the box like Eto’o the next?

Not a Failure, but not a Success

Almost everyone will gravitate towards the f word (flop) when speaking about Torres in the future. He never won the League, he never scored 10 League goals and he never truly held down that role as #1 striker. He also played a major role in earning the most coveted prize in all of club football, the UEFA Champions League. He worked his socks off every single game and tried harder than many of our other players. Rather than giving up when the goals weren’t coming, he reinvented himself to become a useful player.

He had bad games, but so has every player in the world. It’s not as though he single-handedly cost Chelsea any games or titles – any failure was a team effort. We did not get what we expected from him, but he did supply us with a few moments of glory that will forever be etched in Chelsea’s history.

Good luck at Milan Fernando, thanks for everything!

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