Posts Tagged ‘Fernando Torres’

Wait. I know you want to close the page already because it is another article about Fernando Torres and we all know the internet is now 99% El Nino articles and the other 1% is articles about Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest.

When searching through the plethora of articles on the Chelsea striker from newspapers to blog posts the usual conclusions were being drawn; being played out of position, formation doesn’t suit the Spaniard and lacking in confidence. Probably all valid and, to a certain extent, truthful statements however after nearly twelve months on from the £50 million move surely a player of Torres’ reputation could have rediscovered his form? At what point does a player stop being in a bad run of form and just become a poor signing?

What has become plainly obvious to me, yes another ‘armchair pundit’, that the World Cup winner clearly has fallen out of love with the game. Admittedly the time of footballer’s playing with an Ian Wright-esque smile has long gone but the former Atletico Madrid forward cuts a forlorn, disinterested and passionless figure not only for ninety minutes but in all aspects of a modern footballer’s week (press conferences etc.)

Today AVB came out and said that Torres isn’t for sale after rumours suggested that the striker could be available for the knock down price of £20 million but surely saving face and sticking with the 27 year old will continue to add to the media circus that surrounds Stamford Bridge.

The former Porto boss also went on to say that he would wait another year for Torres to recapture his form, waiting 24 months for a player who three seasons ago could have walked into the Barcelona side shows how far El Nino has fallen.

Despite all these positive comments from AVB the former Porto manager hasn’t started Torres since the club’s 1-1 draw with Genk in the Champions League on 1st November. These comments lack substance and perhaps AVB now accepts Torres is a lost cause, I mean Carlo Ancelotti also failed in getting the best out of the Chelsea man so there must be a point where you have to start blaming the player.

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Yet again the Premier League gave us footy fans a season with triumphs, heartbreak and entertainment. In amongst all the emotions and money, players became cult heroes, teams over achieved and managers came and went. Javier Hernandez was arguably the bargain of the season, but does this mean he will improve next season? Tottenham Hotspur missed out on Champions League qualification; will they regain a top four berth in the coming campaign? Already we all cannot wait for the next season to get up and running and we all have our predictions on who will achieve and who will fall through the Premier League’s trapdoor; here are mine.

Luis Suarez for player of the season- Harry Redknapp reportedly turned down the chance to sign the former Ajax man in the recent transfer window, how he must be cursing that decision now. Suarez has injected energy, desire and flair into Liverpool, and has been a major influence on the Merseyside club’s climb up the table. The Uruguayan has turned in numerous Man of the Match performances, most notably in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over bitter rivals Manchester United, where he single-handedly terrorised the entire defence. It’s those sort of performances that make me think the Liverpool ace will collect Barclay’s Player of the Season for 2011/12.

QPR in dreamland- Every season needs a ‘fairytale’ and for me I think it will be that QPR will be in the Champion League places at Christmas. I don’t for a second think they will stay there, but West Brom were up there this season and Ipswich in the past nearly achieved the unthinkable. QPR’s return to the top flight of English football may well be ‘the stuff dreams are made of’.

Norwich will be relegated with five games still to play- This season’s relegation battle has gone right down to the wire, with the first confirmed relegation only happening on the penultimate fixture. It has been entertaining down the bottom of the league, with no team standing out as the ‘whipping boys’. However, for me, I think this will change, with Norwich City’s return to the top flight being short lived.

Torres will be the highest scorer in the league- There is only so much criticism a man can take before he bites back, and next season, I believe the former Liverpool man will take up the mantle of Chelsea’s main man.

Robert Huth will score 15 goals- His scoring ratio, for a defender, is amazing, with 9 goals in all competitions this season. It would be a brave man betting against the Stoke defender breaking into double figures next season

Newcastle will sack Alan Pardew before Christmas- Mike Ashley doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to managers and Pardew, as of yet, hasn’t won over all the St James Park faithful. Newcastle will no doubt soon want to challenge for the European places again and I don’t think the former West Ham manager is the right guy to do it.

Everton will be relegated- Admittedly, the Toffees have turned their season around in the second half but at the beginning of the season it was looking bleak for David Moyes’ side. With reported debts of up to £45 million, Everton will have to look to sell the likes of Jack Rodwell and Leighton Baines. Unless Moyes can pull off another signing that has the impact of Tim Cahill, for minimum expenditure, I fear for Everton’s Premier League survival.

Owen Coyle will win manager of the season- I’m not quite sure what Coyle will achieve to warrant such an award, but this season I have been very impressed with the Bolton manager. The former Burnley man has transformed their style of play and Bolton even threatened to break into the Europa League places earlier in the season. Next season could really see Coyle take his management to the next level.

Arsenal will win something- Surely they have got to?

Manchester United will beat there 29 match unbeaten run- They play poorly, they get criticised and yet they still grind out results to win the Premier League title, and very convincingly in the end. Sir Alex Ferguson instils an incredible self belief into his side, and assuming the Premier League’s most successful manager is still around next season, then who knows what can be achieved.

Tottenham Hotspur will finish as the League’s highest scorers- Funny old game is football, so with the constant criticism the Lilywhites strike force has received this season, with Crouch, Defoe and Pavlyuchenko failing to score 20 league goals between them, it is written in the script for Spurs to dominate the scoring charts next season.

Sunderland will finish in the top eight- Steve Bruce’s side had a superb start to this current season, and although injuries are expected in the game, Sunderland had more than their fair share, with eleven first players being out injured at one point. A couple of signings to replace the returning loanees’ Danny Welbeck and Sulley Muntari and Sunderland will be in and around the top half come the final whistle of next season.

Roy Hodgson will achieve some unimagineable feat- Hodgson has a knack for working miracles with the ‘lesser’ clubs, ignoring his disaster stint on Anfied, the Blackburn manager lead Fulham to a Europa League final last season and turned West Brom from relegation candidates to a comfortable mid table posititon. I’m not saying West Brom for the title but they will achieve something.

Wigan Athletic will get relegated- The only reason Wigan stayed in the Premier League was Birmingham’s inability to score (37 goals in 38 games). Wigan’s final two fixture victories was their first back to back wins since Roberto Martinez took over in 2009, and that is not the sort of ‘achievement’ a side in the the a world’s ‘greatest’ league, should be achieving.

Aston Villa will contain moving backwards if Houiller stays in charge- Despite being controversial, Martin O’Neill had the Villians dreaming of Champions League football. One season after his departure, Villa only secured their Premier League survival in the penultimate league fixture. Randy Lerner needs to hire a young visionary of a manager or Villa’s decline will continue.

Blackburn Rovers will sack Steve Kean- The new owners Venky’s showed there policy on managers for the inexplicable sacking of Sam Allardyce in December. Steve Kean still gets the odd chant of “Who?” and it wont be long before he heads for the exit door after failing to build on Allardyce’s top ten finish last season.

Karl Henry will recieve the most red cards- I love a commited, strong and passionate slide tackle as much as the next football fan, but a few times this season the tenacious Wolves centre midfielder has escaped punishment, but next next season he may not be so lucky.

Fulham will be last in the fairplay table- There are a few suggestions that the Cottagers would miss out on Europa league via the fairplay league after Zoltan Gera’s sending off on the final day of the season, their first red of the season. Football loves irony, and although Fulham should be alright this season in securing their Europa cup spot, next season they will probably end up postoponing a game because Fulham had five men sent off.

Manchester City will fail to finish in the top four- Yes this season looks impressive with an FA Cup final win and finishing third in the Premier League, but Manchester City have hardly looked a fluid unit this season, and if we are all honest the only reason they qualified automatically for the Champions League this season, was because of Arsenal and Tottenham’s massive dip in form, not due to their own skill and effort. Furthermore with Carlos Tevez reportedly readying his suitcase and Edin Dzeko looking about as useful as Emile Heskey, will they really push the ‘big boys’ again?

Depending on who gets promoted:

Scott Sinclair will win a transfer to a ‘bigger’ club in January- If it wasn’t for Adel Taarabt’s performances the former Chelsea man would be getting more of the limelight. Sinclair has had a phenomenal season in front of goal and setting up goals, combined with his pace and flair, it won’t be long before the Premier League vultures straight circling around Liberty Stadium.

Shane Long will score ten goals in the League by Christmas but finish the season with only 11- So many times we have seen players fail to live up to the Premier League standard despite impressing in the Championship. Reading’s Shane long could very well be the next Dave Nugent.

Carlo Ancelotti can now be forgiven for not being as enthusiastic as his fellow Chelsea colleagues on the arrival of a certain £50 million Spanish forward. Fernando Torres’ arrival has created a tactical nightmare for the experienced Italian and a nightmare that Ancelotti can’t seem to wake from.

I’m sure the likes of Ian Holloway would love such a dilemma, how to accommodate two world class strikers in starting eleven; but with each fixture that passes, Torres is looking more likely to be John Terry’s next love interest rather than opening his account for his new club. With no goal return on such a major transfer fee, numerous tactical changes from a formation that won the double the season before and pressure ever increasing on the Ancelotti has Torres’ acquisition come at a too higher cost?

Before ‘El Níno’ joined Chelsea, they played a very successful 4-3-3 formation with Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda playing as attacking wingers supporting Didier Drogba.

During their stays in the Premier League, both Torres and Drogba have thrived as the main options in the attack. Indeed, during the same period Drogba has scored 51 goals in the league, and injuries limited him to less than 20 appearances during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 seasons. While at Chelsea, his strike partners have at times included Andriy Shevchenko, Nicolas Anelka, Salomon Kalou, Hernan Crespo, Eidur Gudjohnsen, and Claudio Pizarro. All have had varying degrees of productivity, and it would be silly to disregard players with pedigrees like Anelka.

But it is clear that Drogba has been the primary figure, and is almost always the first choice. The same is true of Torres during his time on Merseyside. At times paired with Dirk Kuyt, Robbie Keane, and David N’Gog, Torres has benefited as the most talented striker, and received the most service.  Keane’s short spell at Anfield showed that Torres had problems developing an understanding with the Irishman, preferring the 4-2-3-1 Benitez usually employed before Keane’s arrival.

With Keane, a tried and tested top flight scorer, it was thought that Torres and Keane could lead the line and Liverpool could employ a 4-4-2. This period was the only time Torres was forced to play in a 4-4-2 on a frequent basis, but because Benitez quickly went cold on Keane, the current West Ham front man  spent most of his time on the bench anyway, leaving Torres again in his role as lone striker. 

Both Drogba and Torres have worked well with an influential midfielder who can move up into attack, in the form of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, respectively. Both strikers can hold the ball up for these two with their backs turned to goal, and also make runs to receive passes from the midfielders. As we have seen with the aforementioned Keane, some strikers are simply cut out, or thrive, in certain formations; for example Keane struggles as a lone striker and plays much better in a 4-4-2.

With Roman Abramovich having invested £75 million in the club in January when the spending spree seemed to already have been over after a summer of cost cutting, the Russian owner will be eager to see his new employee provide some returns. The pressure is on Ancelotti to successfully utilise Torres while also keeping Drogba happy and scoring goals. Making it even harder is the form of Nicolas Anelka, who has scored 16 goals for the Blues in all competitions this year, with a crucial 7 in the Champions League.

After initially dropping Drogba for Torres, and switching back and forth with both as the lone striker in the usual 4-2-3-1, Ancelotti opted for a 4-4-2 against Manchester United in the 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge. Anelka paired up with Torres up top, with Drogba again relegated to the bench, but the Ivory Coast captain came on for Anelka after a listless hour of work for the Frenchman. Although Chelsea won the match, the 4-4-2 seemed to limit their offensive potential and had the aura of square pegs being forced into round holes.

The forwards struggled for understanding, and Frank Lampard was unable to push and attack as much as he would have liked without the security of two holding midfielders behind him; Lampard is usually at his best when playing, like Gerrard, almost as a second striker, and in the 4-4-2 he is a much more box-to-box player who must take care of his defensive duties to avoid the midfield being overrun on the counter attack. Torres and Anelka cannot really play on the wing, and Drogba has never really been a fan of being positioned there.

It seems the old adage persists that the team cannot be changed for one player, but then again if Torres, Drogba and Anelka did develop an understanding, and adapted to the 4-4-2, Ancelotti would have two world class strikers to pick from every match, and one on the bench, along with the pacey and occasionally skilful Kalou. This, though, could weaken the effect of Lampard, even if the diamond variation of the 4-4-2 is used, because Ramires is more of a central defensive midfielder rather than a winger, even if Michael Essien or John Obi Mikel are more than capable of shielding the back four.

Keane, Wayne Rooney, Emile Heskey, and many others have not only played in a 4-4-2 for almost all of their professional careers, but have also been nurtured with the formation and know it like the back of their hand. If Torres and Drogba can adapt their game and learn to play together remains to be seen, but a total overhaul of a squad and system that has been so effective seems short sighted and dangerous, even for such a talented arrival like Torres, especially when it will take time to optimise their abilities with the end of the season growing ever closer.

A football fan will defend his team and its players till the cows come home against rival fans, because after all no-one likes to hear anything they love being slated; this doesn’t however stop the fans berating, criticising or judging his team’s own players. I believe the fans do have a divine right to highlight the flaws of players that aren’t justifying their starting eleven position, given the time, effort and money invested into the supporting of their club. There are players however who do appear to experience the anger of their own fans on a greater scale, where constructive criticism becomes a rant, but who are the top ten Premier League scapegoats?

Carlo Ancelotti

The Italian gave Stamford Bridge the Double last season, but less than a year later and his achievements seem to have become a distant memory in the minds of fans questioning whether the former AC Milan manager is right for them, after a rather disappointing season, by Chelsea’s standards.

Carlton Cole

The fact of the matter is a team such as West Ham should not be struggling with relegation, so the Hammers faithful need answers more than most. Cole appears to have become the answer to the question ‘Whose fault is it?’ but surely a player cant single handedly cause a club’s decline down the league table?

Dimitar Berbatov

22 goals and the Bulgarian is still criticised for being his ‘lazy’ style of play. The whole world of football knew the forward that the Red Devils were signing, but this doesn’t stop continual moans when Berbatov makes an appearance in place of new fan favourite Javier Hernandez.

Robert Green

Dressing room unrest, tactical errors and miscommunication abound in the England camp, yet somehow Robert Green’s faux pas in South Africa meant that the goalkeeper ended up taking the Lion’s share of the blame for the abysmal showing by England on the world’s biggest stage. True to the form of the media bandwagon, after another mishap in the league for West Ham in September Green was being labelled as the main culprit for the Hammers’ poor performances.

Kieron Dyer

Receiving castigation from the West Ham faithful when not even at the club is impressive, but many fans believe the Englishman is taking a salary off another potential decent player that could be the one to save West Ham Premier League’s status. Although judging by the reports that were leaked a year ago, I make it two or three players’ wages.

Arsene Wenger

Year after year Arsenal fans have raved about Le Professeur, but after six seasons without a major honour the Gunners faithful are beginning to turn on the club’s most successful ever manager, rightly or wrongly; Wenger deserves a more respectful exit if he were to leave.

Darron Gibson

Over the last few seasons Manchester United have been trying to replace the irreplaceable figures of Roy Keane and the soon-to-be-departing Paul Scholes in the centre of the park, with the likes of Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves attempting the role, however it is Darron Gibson who was dubbed the next Scholes. With such a huge billing upon his shoulders, the Irishman has failed to give the Old Trafford faithful what they wanted, but does this really warrant continual slating from the fans who believe Gibson isn’t United standard? I mean, after all, Ferguson is the one who plays him and the Scot hasn’t got much wrong yet.

Emmanuel Eboue

Yet again Arsenal will finish the season empty handed, but is that really down to Eboue conceding that injury time penalty against Liverpool or is it more to do with the inability to win away at Newcastle when 4-0 up?

Jermaine Jenas

Spurs have been spoilt in the midfield department this season; Modric, Van Der Vaart and Bale have all been catching the headlines, but after the recent poor results against the lower teams in the Premier League and the collapse against Real Madrid, the Lilywhites faithful have began slating Jenas’ lack of talent and drive. Whilst possibly being fair accusations to be labelled at the Englishman, they surely detract from potentially construction critiques of Van Der Vaart’s inability to finish 90 minutes, something a modern day footballer shouldn’t struggle with.

Fernando Torres

For £50 million is it too much to ask for a greater reply than one goal? Probably not, but is it too much to ask for a £50 million signing to save your season? Absolutely, especially when, after a blistering start to the campaign, Chelsea’s season began flagging long before Torres’ arrival. But since the Spaniard’s arrival at Stamford Bridge, Torres has rather unfairly taken most of the stick.