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Monday, February 7, 2011

Is Fernando Torres Now Just a Marquee Name?

Liverpool score two goals, one that beat Chelsea and another that left Torres thinking of firing his team of ‘incompetent’ advisers.

Going into the Chelsea-Liverpool game this Sunday, focus was not only on a potentially hard, closely fought and entertaining match but also on Fernando Torres, that infamous guy in the eyes of the Merseysiders who completed a staggering £50m British record  move from Liverpool to Chelsea.

On this day, only three outcomes were possible for Nando. A win for him and his Chelsea side would have convinced him beyond doubt that he made the right decision to abandon the Liverpool ship and join Roman Abramovich’s Blue Armies. A goal for him in that win would have been even better, regardless of whether he celebrated it or not. A loss on the other hand would have sent him googling on the Internet and perusing through the English dictionary to find what the real meaning of ‘best’ is. A draw perhaps would have been the result the 26-year-old wished for so that he didn’t feel his presence hurt his former employers.

But as it turned out, a win for Liverpool had been written and had to be done. Having a Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka on your frontline is every manager’s dream. Fielding all of them to start a game is every opposing manager’s nightmare. 

Little surprise then that Kenny Dalglish decided to field five defenders, of course with Martin Kelly on the right and Glen Johnson on the right given freedom to roam forward once in a while, whilst Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and returning Jamie Carragher provided cover in central defence.  

This tactical approach by King Kenny worked to perfection as Chelsea were clearly frustrated. Agger dealt well with the threat of Torres, Anelka did all the running but to no avail while the ever menacing Didier Drogba (who Pepe Reina admitted he didn’t like playing against) didn’t even get a shot or header off target.

At the end of the normal time plus four additional minutes, Liverpool players were congratulating each other for a job perfectly done. The fans were chanting their voices out, the manager – who has now lost only once to Chelsea in 21 matches as a player and manager – was left wondering who among his players was the man of the match. New signings Andy Caroll and Luis Suarez, who was an unused sub, must have been thinking ‘well, I made the right decision’, and the club’s owners must surely have been looking at the statistics reading four straight wins for Liverpool since Dalglish took charge and pondering ‘hmm…why not make him permanent’. Even journalists who just a few weeks ago were asking Roy Hodgson about the unthinkable relegation of the mighty Liverpool were now asking Kenny about the Champions League.

On the other hand, Chelsea fans were left cursing, humming and fuming. Ancelotti looked like he needed to rub his face Roy Hodgson-style, Petr Cech and Ivanovic wished they were to main event in Wrestlemania27 while Fernando must have been thinking of firing his team of advisers.

Talking of Fernando Torres, could we be seeing the last of him? Is Fernando Torres no longer that defender’s nightmare player who we were accustomed to before the World Cup? Could Fernando Torres be just a marquee name with no on-field value? Only one game for Chelsea and some of the club’s fans are already casting doubts about his ability. At Liverpool, the fans managers and fellow players stood by him even when his form was surely sulking. At Chelsea, he will surely miss this.

If there’s one thing Fernando Torres must have seen in the Liverpool-Chelsea match, it must be the kind of unity exuded by his former team. On the stands, the fans cheered the team on from the first whistle to the end of the game and to the streets in London. On the dugout, the manager, Kenny Dalglish shouted out instructions to his troops on the field and they duly responded. In contrast, Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelloti looked on as his team knocked the ball around without much progress and looked like they lacked inspiration and killer punch even after fielding three fiery strikers in the shape of the skillful Nicolas Anelka, the bully Didier Drogba and the fallen Anfield hero Fernando Torres. 

Chelsea players looked out of sorts, clueless and at odds end with each other. This was clearly manifested by the misunderstanding between Petr Cech and Branislav Ivanovic when the two engaged on an on-field spat that almost got physical. Liverpool’s goal was also gifted somewhat when Cech, Ivanovic and John Terry misjudged Steven Gerard’s cross which evaded them and onto the foot of a predating Raul Meireles who dispatched it with aplomb sending the red side of the crowd at Stamford Bridge into a carnival. The look on Fernando Torres’ face was all telling and he must have wondered whether he made the right decision.  

How he sorely missed those chants of You Will Never Walk Alone, that club song that sings of fighting through turbulent and hard times and staying together.

And soon, he will perhaps realize that a famous Champions league match at Stamford Bridge is barely on any level as even a Europa match at Anfield against some team like Anorthosis Famagusta.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!