Fernando Torres: Overrated, Overstated, and Overestimated

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IApril 17, 2009

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 14:  Fernando Torres of Liverpool looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on April 14, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Liverpool Football Club has a long line of great strikers. It prides itself on having at least one for every generation, and the developing of them is a very strong tradition at the club.

During the 1960s, Roger Hunt and Ian St. John led the line. The '70s was the era of Kevin Keegan and John Toshack, while the '80s strike force was one of the greatest in the club's history, with Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush.

Even during the relatively unsuccessful '90s, Liverpool had great strikers. Robbie Fowler, and later Michael Owen, were deadly up front.

Even before the great Bill Shankly rebuilt Liverpool and crafted them into the team recognisable today, Gordon Hodgson and Billy Liddell had made names for themselves wearing the Liverpool shirt.

A noticeable trend in that long list of great forwards is that they are all from the United Kingdom. The furthest afield are from Scotland, a country Liverpool have great tradition in unearthing talents from.

This trend seems to be ending, however.

The latest player to try and add his name to that list of Liverpool legends is Fernando Torres, and he looks the most likely player since Owen left in 2004 to do so.

Certainly, he hasn't made a bad case for himself. 33 goals in a debut season is a dream start for any player. To get them in just 46 games is a magnificent ratio for a modern-day striker.

The partnership he has developed with Steven Gerrard is one of the most fearsome in the league, and, on his day, he is among the best strikers in world football.

All this praising of the man may lead you to wonder just why I think he is overrated.

Well, there was a key phrase I used a couple of lines above: "On his day, he is among the best strikers in world football."

This is almost indisputable. However, the reason I think he is overrated is because "his day" doesn't come around nearly as often as the media, and some fans, suggest.

It doesn't come every game; it comes every few weeks. I find Fernando Torres, at times, is the most frustrating player to watch in the Liverpool team, and that is saying something considering we have Lucas Leiva and Ryan Babel in our ranks!

On other occasions, however, I find him the best to watch.

And it all seems to depend on the opening 10 or 15 minutes.

If Fernando Torres gets an early goal, or an early chance, then we will, more often than not, see the best of him. Perhaps this is why he often gets two goals in a match, and rarely just the one.

This was the case in the 4-0 defeat of Real Madrid a few weeks ago. Torres had an early chance, and you could see he was up for the rest of the game. The result was Torres giving the Madrid defence a torrid time for the entire match.

Of course, on that occasion, he may have had some ulterior motives since he was an ex-Atletico boy.

Good, early chances come fairly regularly for the Spaniard, largely due to his undoubted talent, but when they don't, he seems to be a peripheral figure. It will take something special, or a mistake by an opponent, to let him back into the match.

A classic example of this came in the 4-1 mauling of Manchester United. Torres was named man of the match, and the commentators would have you believe that he played great football from the very first minute until the very last.

He didn't.

Before Nemanja Vidic made what would turn out to be a drastic error in judgement, Fernando Torres was as ineffectual as he was this Tuesday against Chelsea.

Perhaps I am being a little harsh. After all, he has spent a lot of time out injured this season.

While this is true, and will certainly play some factor, Torres has had a good run of games recently, and has been fully fit for a while. Yet, in the most recent game Liverpool have played, he was barely mentioned.

In Liverpool's epic 4-4 draw with Chelsea on Tuesday, we hardly heard from Fernando Torres, despite being up against a lumbering centre-back in Alex and Ricardo Carvalho, who was severely lacking in match practise.

It is matches like these, in which he doesn't even look like causing a threat, in which I would prefer the likes of David N'Gog on. Yes, I know that is a big call, but it's true.

N'Gog will chase the ball in situations like Tuesday's; Torres didn't.

I'm sure the Chelsea defence were worried about how they would deal with Torres. On that day, they overestimated him.

To be fair to him, this has only recently become a problem. Some may say it isn't a problem at all.

Last season he was phenomenal—there is no arguing that. Last season, he was among the best strikers, even the best players, in the world.

This season, although capable of moments of magic like his opening goal against Blackburn at the weekend, he has been a shadow of that player.

As I said previously, injuries have played a part, and it would be unreasonable and unrealistic to expect him to be able to repeat that form every season of his Liverpool career, but even so, some of his performances are not as good as portrayed.

To clarify, I am not arguing that Torres isn't a fantastic player. He is. He looks set to become one of Liverpool's great strikers, and the fact that his name won't look out of place alongside Kenny Dalglish and Robbie Fowler is one of the biggest compliments he can get.

He is a very good player, but he isn't as good as people make him out to be.

When on form, he is among the best, but he isn't on form as regularly as you would think.

He is an Anfield legend in the making, without doubt, but next time you get to watch him play, have a look and see if he gets a chance in the opening quarter of an hour.

If so, expect the Torres show.

If not, don't.


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