Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What’s up with Fernando Torres?

What’s up with Fernando Torres?
After a stellar four years in the Premier League, the Spanish star is in the doldrums with his name mentioned as a huge bust following a transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea. It’s just a change in the weather writes Rick Olivares. Photo by Dave Shopland.

How can someone go so fast from being a hero to a – not a villain – fallen star?

You’d understand that all too well if you know Fernando Torres.

When he came over from Atletico Madrid to Liverpool, not every one was ecstatic. Years of blown acquisitions from Hadji Diouf to Djibril Cisse to Fernando Morientes to Robbie Keane to name a few have left Reds supporters cynical.

Torres of course, was perhaps the best acquisition of the decade (along with Pepe Reina and Xabi Alonso) as he thrived in Liverpool where he scored 65 goals in less than four years.

Before his transfer to Anfield, Chelsea was a principal suitor of the Spaniard’s. But it was off to the Merseyside club where he was terrific. And that boosted his international stock. He led Spain in the Euro 2008 campaign and retained his superb form in the 2009 Confederations Cup that was a prelude to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

After he was shut down in April 2010 with the Premier League drawing to a close, Torres underwent knee surgery. He was not the same player when he came back. He played only three games in South Africa where he went scoreless. When he did come back to Liverpool, rumors were rife of his impending departure. Despite assurances from then-LFC manager Roy Hodgson that Torres wasn’t going anywhere, he was sold to Chelsea for £50 million.

It was a tough pill to swallow for Reds fans to hear of Torres personally handing in his transfer request. It was as bad as seeing former Anfield star Michael Owen going to Manchester United.

But the Fuenlabrada, Spain native has so far been a big bust at Stamford Bridge. Maybe even worse than Andriy Shevchenko who only suited up for 47 games in three seasons and scored a paltry nine goals.

In 19 matches dating back to last season, Torres has only scored two goals. In his first match against his former club, Liverpool, the Blues lost 1-0. 

The comparisons with his world-class form in Anfield persist and will continue to do so until he begins to put the ball into the back of the net more frequently.

During his time in Liverpool, he was the scourge of defensive backs including Manchester United’s all-world Nemanja Vidic. 

Last weekend, with a massive opportunity to get Chelsea back in the game after falling behind 3-1, the Spaniard faltered. He earlier put his side on the board with a scintillating strike off a precise through ball by Nicholas Anelka.

After being gifted by a missed Wayne Rooney penalty kick, Torres committed a catastrophic gaffe when he beat Manchester United’s offside trap but missed a shot. As he sidestepped keeper David de Gea, all the striker had to do was slot it into an empty net. Instead it went wide.

The howler reminded many of Kenny Dalglish’s botched shot over three decades ago also against the same opponent. After teammate Alan Hansen ridiculously beat the Red Devils’ trap including keeper Gary Bailey, all Dalglish had to do was tap it home. Right in front of the left post, the ball instead went wide.

However that is where the comparison ends because Dalglish, the current Liverpool manager, went back to the game and continued to play well. He ended his career as a Liverpool legend and one of English football's all-time greats.

Torres… well, there are all sorts of questions now. How much has he lost in pace after his knee was surgically repaired? Has he adapted well to the change of scenery in Stamford Bridge? When he arrived in Liverpool, he brushed up on the club’s history and got to know it quite well. Has he done the same with the London club?

Is he getting the ball where he can work his magic? Chelsea’s midfield does not resemble Liverpool’s where he fed on a steady diet of passes from Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso.

Is he still the pre-eminent Spanish striker? After he played the part of the Invisible Man in South Africa, it was David Villa who came out on top.

That botched goal last weekend – how does he respond to that more so now that Didier Drogba intends to reclaim his top target man status at the Bridge?

Torres goes by the nickname “El Niño” which means “the kid” in Spanish. There is another meaning to the name when applying the scientific definition.

“El Niño” is loosely the warming of global surface temperatures where temperature changes, drought, fires, and disease are but some of the consequences. That change happens on the average of every five years.

It has been five years since Fernando Torres first set foot on England and the Premier League. And coincidentally, there’s been a sharp drop in his game and his scoring tally.

He may not be the flavor of the month right now and could be another Shevchenko in the making, but as is always with the weather, it changes. El Niño begets La Niña which is the opposite.

The question is – does Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic and new manager Andres Villas-Boas have the patience to see it through? Manchester United’s win put them on top with the full 15 points from five matches. Chelsea is at third with 10 points.

Maybe the upcoming match with Swansea will get them and Torres right back on track.


Premier League notes:
Steven Gerrard returns to Liverpool duty after the club has floundered in the past several weeks. In five matches, they only have accrued seven points. Gerrard will take back the captain's armband this Saturday against Wolverhampton.

Arsenal is looking to bounce back after it discovered a new way to lose after leading 2-1 to Blackburn. Two own goals saw the Gunners on the receiving end of a 4-3 loss. They'll be up against Bolton which is at the cellar along with West Bromich Albion.

1 comment:

  1. He needs to get his confidence back. I hope he finds it soon. Look at Rooney. He's back in form after having hair transplant.:)