Fernando Torres’s move to Chelsea left him with the blues. On February 6, 2011, the ex-Reds player proved to Liverpool that no man is bigger than any club.
As the January transfer window shut, Torres hastily stepped into a blue jersey amid a 50 million pound record signing and out onto the pitch at Stamford Bridge, where he received a warm welcome from Chelsea fans, only to be shown up by his former club.
Liverpool played and defended exceptionally well with Jamie Carragher denying Torres what could have been a magnificent goal to seal his future with Chelsea.
Liverpool’s Raul Meireles, who in the 69th minute slammed the ball past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, has been on a scoring tear lately. With new signings Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, Liverpool are sure to continue improving.
As the squad have pulled together in recent weeks, accolade for positive action on the pitch should be handed to manager Kenny Dalglish. A lot can be said for what the consensus has put forth lately; how players adapt to what is put in front of them.
Or in this case, behind them.
Which may mean Torres’s success would be a question of what Daglish could have done with his talent vs what Ancelotti will do with his talent.
Ironically, Liverpool has come back to play like the team Torres dreamed of playing for, as he was quoted saying, “This is the best club in the country so the targets and expectations are always high. Hopefully we can stay at our level. At Liverpool the aim is to fight for every title.”
Did Torres leave too soon before the fight was up?
The answer depends on how long Torres really wanted a career move.
He announced in August 2010, “My commitment and loyalty to the club and to the fans is the same as it was on my first day when I signed. I am looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
But in a contradictory statement, he mentioned that his mind had been made up 18 months earlier as he watched the club flop when Xabi Alonso left followed by the rebellious stunt not to show up for games by Javier Mascherano (who now plays alongside “the best player on the planet”).
Finally, wedding truth to that statement 10 days ago, Torres had a very public change of heart by putting in a transfer request.
Nobody should be begrudged pursuit to further their ambition, but timing is everything.
What if Torres decided to wait it out until the next transfer date?
We can only predict that Liverpool, having made it to an impressive sixth place on the Premier League chart compared to relegation months ago, will climb up to the top four by the end of the season. Perhaps Torres would have had no reason to go.
If Torres wanted to leave Liverpool solely because the club wasn’t offering him a chance to play at his very best, he should have looked again.
While it’s true that it wasn’t feasible to buy Carroll and Suarez if Liverpool didn’t get the cash for Torres, they’ve been winning recently without the two current signings.
He should have trusted Dalglish.
One match may not be enough to say though that Torres made a mistake by defecting. If he didn’t debut against his former club, it may have been an easier defeat to take and the criticism wouldn’t be as acerbic.
It could be argued that Liverpool played with a vengeance to prove they could succeed without their star striker—and against him, although Dalglish has played down that accusation.
After the match when Ancelotti was asked why he took Torres out, he rambled that it was because he “wanted to change the system. He played his best, it’s difficult to find the space, the ball was played slowly in that area, the ball was played in the back too slow and wasn’t possible to move our strikers.”
He hinted that he would use the same system in their next game against Fulham.
I can’t say I believe Torres made no mistake—yet.
If playing against Liverpool wasn’t his first game in a Chelsea shirt, I do not think this much emphasis would be placed on his performance or lack of scoring. The media wouldn’t have been so hyper to get his story.
As Jamie Redknapp noted, “It takes time, they’ll work hard in training, they’ll keep working and they’ll get it right.”
Possibly, but it’s no wonder the second Torres was torn off the field, all cameras honing in on his despondent expression and reaction when Liverpool scored, that his critics would be ready to pounce on him with their claws out.