Torres is the name on everyone’s grinning lips currently. If you look up the definition of his name online you get redirected to the definition of fail. If the Spanish Armada was around now he would be captain of a failboat. He’s failed more times in London than Gordon Brown.
But why is it we (I) say these hurtful, hurtful things? Is it because he is a bad player? Wasting space on the pitch and generally making the premier league, and football as a whole, worse? No, he is not Nicklas Bendtner. We speak of Torres in this manner because he is a fantastic player.
Fernando Torres is in the top five strikers I have ever seen. He posses height and strength and is able to push the line or drop deep, crucial elements to a Premier league number nine. But he adds the foreign elements of acceleration and trickery making him a nightmare for all types of defenders. When he goes through on goal he scores, his finishing deadly with all appendages. But what really separates him from a lot of other top strikers such as Van Nistelrooy is: he has the ability to change a game. He was amazing paired with the reliability of Gerrard and Kuyt but he could do it himself too:
That Blackburn goal is unmarkable, the Sunderland one nearly defies description. How do you defend against a player who can do that? He will score every game. And didn’t he just.
He notched 33 in all competitions for Liverpool in his first season. That is a remarkable statistic for a premier league debutante, especially comparing him to previous Spanish signing Fernando Morientes. The form stuck and during his third season he became the fastest player to score 50 goals for Liverpool. He even found time to score the winner against Germany in the Euro 2008 final.
El Nino had always been prone for a little knock here and there, but nothing as big as the injury that led him to end his season over a month early in 2010 for knee surgery. And that’s where it went wrong. I’m not one for believing in voodoo curses, but if I was informed that Torres’ knee surgery took place on Haiti under care of a reincarnated zombie witch doctor, I wouldn’t be overly surprised.
You all know the rest of the tragic tale; limited appearances, below par performances and more lethargic flappy arm signals than Berbatov in a beehive. At points he looked like he was over the ‘blip’. I mean he was still scoring, two good goals against Chelsea near the end of his Liverpool career show that. But it wasn’t to be.
It all culminated in what we witnessed on Sunday in the game at Old Trafford. The miss, or ‘doing a Torres’, was a nail in a coffin that doesn’t let in much light. Now I know what many of you are saying, it is an opinion widely voiced by sympathisers everywhere: ‘Yeah the miss was bad, but he played well. Give it a few weeks and the old Nando will be back‘.
I’m afraid you’re all wrong. Yeah he played well, but who wouldn’t as a number nine in that line-up (as described in my last post). And just because he produced the kind of form that was consistent in 2008, doesn’t mean he’s back. What you saw there was nothing that the likes of Bobby Zamora or Kevin Doyle couldn’t do on their toppest day. What you saw there wasn’t the recovery of an old powerhouse. What you saw there was Torres at his new best.
This is Fernando Torres now, I’m happy to put my chips down and say that is it for him; that is the quality of player he is now. So I want you to read the above comments outlining his career purple patch as a kind of obituary. Let us no longer mourn the 20-a-season, Euro winning scorer. He is gone.
Let us instead welcome Torres mk.II: a 10-a-season player who will pick up plenty of assists in around 35 games. That doesn’t sound like a bad player to have either.