With the new year having arrived I’m certain one item on Fernando Torres’s list of resolutions is to do his job as striker and score more goals for the rest of the 2010/2011 Premier League season.
As the weeks have worn on, this resolution looks like a very unlikely and heavy task. Midpoint in the season, Torres has not only been unimpressive, he seems to be spiraling further downhill.
The future doesn’t look good for Torres unless he quits being a yes-man and splits. Having started at Liverpool in the 2007/2008 season, it is now becoming suspect that not only was he on a first season high, but he also lapsed into the classic second season syndrome. But it wouldn’t be fair to accuse him of either at this point. Yes, he was a good player, good enough to cop third place for the 2008 FIFA Ballon d'Or award, but now that title appears dusty and distant, like it has prematurely been filed into the vaults of history. Consistency is the key to unlock that vault and bring him back into existence.
I can handpick a list of players who have run on a scoring tear over the months and one just knows they will deliver during each game, namely Drogba, Messi, Ronaldo, Tevez, Villa—it’s hard not to get carried away by consistent others who have risen and remained, but this article is not about them.
Face it fans, Torres has fallen from topnotch to mediocre. And I believe there is no way back unless he suddenly becomes injected with ambition or hangs up his red shirt once and for all.
I’ll admit, it’s hard to take. Any reader who believes in him will be furious, once again, at this assertion but wake up, it’s reality.
If you like Torres, you’d be as much in denial about his performance and enthusiasm for the the game as he is when he talks to the press. Take away his face and his name and forget about your emotional attachments to the player and focus on him as a generic pawn on a game board then you might see that this playing piece has lost its gusto for the game, or, for Liverpool FC to be exact. When he misses a shot, he walks away looking surprised he’s even found the ball in the first place.
Torres has slowed down significantly and when he is running around the pitch he looks as if he wants to be anywhere but there. If he were as serious about being a star player, he would insist on leaving the club. Maybe he does want to leave, but who is willing to pay the amount engraved on his old price tag? At one point Chelsea’s Ancelotti did, then that price dropped. But that wouldn’t be saying much these days either considering Chelsea’s current failings.
Commentators noted in the New Years Day match against Bolton, that Torres should have been taken out in the sixtieth minute, but instead he played to the end, tired-out and sullen as ever. During the January 5 match against Blackburn commentator Andy Gray noted that after Torres gave the ball away cheaply and another time after slowly attempting to chase the ball into nothingness, “Does he really want to play on this team anymore? I get the feeling he doesn’t.” I agree with Gray because Gray is honest. So honest in fact, no Liverpool fan wants to hear from him. There is even a Facebook page devoted to his removal as commentator because fans can’t take the truth, called “Andy Gray Should Not Commentate Liverpool Games,” housing 343 members, which is hardly anything for Gray to worry about, and the description of the page reading:
In no way am I or commentators putting Torres down, but maybe it’s time more people vie for him in his best interest to improve (take at look at Rooney’s fans, the threats, the stalking about his home, the following into the locker room when their icon doesn’t perform up to par.) Never should it come to that with anyone’s fan, the point is the passion for your favorite team and player should not be handled with kid gloves, but tough love. I’m just as disappointed as the next Torres fan because I know he can do better. His talent lies dormant within him, he needs not only a decent manager, hard-working teammates who care to do their parts, but a major self-reevaluation as to who he is and where he’s going in order to reactivate that talent.
We must examine how Torres must feel too. It mustn’t be easy to watch his Spain national teammates explode on to continued success after winning the World Cup, namely Villa, who just scored his 150th La Liga goal of his career and Xavi and Iniesta having been nominated for the FIFA 2010 Ballon d'Or award. Solely Torres should be held responsible and get his act together if he believes in himself and his beloved football.
If Torres has no plans to move on, the one thing we can hope for is for Kenny Dalglish to help turn him back into the superstar fans still believe he is, although King Kenny got off to a bad start after being appointed to manage Liverpool into a miraculous win less than 24 hours before the January 9 FA Cup match against Manchester United.
He, of course, failed and Liverpool lost zero to one resulting in yet another frustrated manager, as stated in The Daily Mail on January 10, regarding Dalglish “seeing red”: “Kenny Dalglish branded the penalty that ruined his return to Liverpool a 'joke' as his 10-man side went out of the FA Cup. Dalglish was furious with referee Howard Webb as Manchester United scored the winner from the spot after 32 seconds…” How many more excuses are we going to hear? Which brings me to another point—did Roy Hodgson deserve to be sacked? In part yes, in part no. Reminded during Hodgson’s last game by the commentator’s pre-match conversation, among them Jamie Redknapp a former Liverpool midfielder, Hodgson came in when the team was at a low, and he did not inherit a star team. But as it is, if you’re going to start cleaning up, you might want to begin with the manager—but you wouldn’t want to stop there. Other venues must be examined, as certain players. Buying solid ones with reputations seem feasible now that the new owners (rumored with money to spend) hopped aboard. Also, Liverpool need to axe more than just Hodgson, but lazy players too. Players who clearly do not want to be there or work hard. Make no mistake, working hard does not always equal good results, take a look at Dirk Kuyt. The Dutch international is clearly the most hard-working and dedicated player on the team, although he doesn’t always yield positive results. Point is, at least we see him fight for his team, despite all the losses, and never has he given up or come up against scrutiny. Not wanting to be there is a different story and should be no excuse either. Take Cesc Fabregas who plays for Arsenal FC. It is rumored that he desperately wants to make a move back to the world class Barcelona. Refusal to sell him by club manager Arsene Wenger has not stopped Fabregas from being dedicated and near-perfect during each Arsenal match.
As far back as September 14, 2010 an article headline read: Jamie Redknapp: Fernando Torres is a class act but Liverpool No 9 MUST work harder. OK, enough, we got it—he’s nice, he needs a cold water moment, but does Torres get it? There has never been that much discipline at Liverpool, as say, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United.
To add to Redknapp’s assertion that Torres is a class act brings me to one reason why fans do not want to admit Torres is no longer the player he used to be: Torres is likeable. He’s polite, modest, thick-skinned out on the pitch, and regarding his social life, let’s just say he isn’t Wayne Rooney or half of the Chelsea players.
Most poignant I believe, is that aside from being likeable, fans as I, hold onto the past. Once known as “Golden Boy,” Torres entered the half century club by scoring fifty league goals faster than Robbie Fowler with headlines blasting only one year ago: Torres scores fastest 50 goals for Liverpool, eyes new records, and articles reading: “The Spaniard’s last-minute winner at Aston Villa nine days ago took him to the fastest 50 league goals in Liverpool history.”
When Torres replied in The Sun on his new record: “It’s unbelievable for me because Liverpool is one of the biggest and most historic clubs in the world. All those who’ve played here are top players who have massive records,” it only leaves his fans today heartbroken and hankering for the old Torres to come back, needless to say, for Liverpool to come back.
It’s clear headlines like that have bestowed Torres with a humungous fan base, fans who will stick by him until the end of his career, but we can’t pretend anymore that his downfall is entirely the blame of his teammates, coaches, or injuries. He lost his enthusiasm for football, simple as that, just as Ronaldinho did, and the best Ronaldinho could have currently turned to in the Premier League is Blackburn, ranked number nine, above Liverpool, who was looking to sign him and which he won’t accept because he’s packing up his career in Europe and taking his game back to Brazil where he reportedly will sign for Flamengo. In other words, we won’t be hearing much from him again.
The sad part of this is, as the saying goes, you can never go home again. La Liga would be the perfect place for Torres to return, no doubt he would be successful playing aside his Spanish teammates. But as noted in the past, playing in the Premier League was Torres’s dream, and he may eye going back to Spain as a setback. I suspect he too is holding on to Liverpool’s past reputation, the reputation that brought him to England in the first place. Could be he’s waiting for Liverpool to make it’s comeback, but what he may not realize, as in his first couple of seasons, only he possess the magic to make that happen, only if he remembers the first part of that famous quote: “How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves…”