Torres himself came out shortly after the Champions League final to voice his discontent at his last 18 months at Chelsea, stating how he wanted assurances over his place in the squad. A few days later it was announced Drogba would leave and it looks like Chelsea (Abramovich) is putting everything behind Torres. Chelsea are a side tailored specifically to suit the style of play of Didier Drogba, robust, energetic, powerful and in your face, not the subtle runs in behind of Fernando Torres. Chelsea will need to instigate a playing style revolution to accommodate their record signing and it appears that may be under way.
The overstated ‘resurgence’
Many reactionary pundits have stated on multiple occasions that Torres is back, this is simply a massive over statement and at times the press have been almost patronising, further giving credence to the view that Torres is a shadow of his former self. When commentators credit his work rate and team play it is almost laughable, people mention his assists, but frankly a side does not pay £50 million for a striker to get assists against Genk or score goals against QPR.
His goal scoring, when it has happened, has been sporadic at best, and whilst I could never fault his work rate he simply does not fit into Chelsea’s style of play, and with confidence at rock bottom he no longer resembles his old self as he tries to hard and is over thinking his play, often reluctant to shoot. In his last full season at Liverpool he attepted 3.6 goals a game scoring 18 league goals, but this season he has attempted only 2.1 shots per game, demonstrating his lack of willingness to both get into postions as well as attempt to shoot, often more eagre to find a team mate.
At Liverpool he was caught offside once a game and at Chelsea just 0.3 times a game which arguably shows how he is no longer running in behind as he once did but coming deeper and deeper to get involved in the play, indicative of a player not trusting his natural instincts. It is not his fault, Chelsea do not play a style of play that caters to him which is why it was such a bizarre and ill thought out signing at the time.
The future for Torres
With his confidence clearly so low it is perhaps time for Chelsea to admit that it is not working. A fine player in his own right with a great record for Liverpool as well as for Spain (prior to joining Chelsea) but now his career is at a cross roads, at 28 this is his last chance to find form again or he will be remembered for just three good Premier League seasons whilst at Liverpool.
As stated the style of play Torres suited at Liverpool was quick balls in behind with the majority of his goals coming from him latching onto through balls and leaving defenders for dead with his pace. The way the club sign is crucial here. Chelsea need to bring in a deep-lying playmaker in the mould of Xabi Alonso in order to create faster transitions from defence to attack which will allow Torres to get in behind. Currently Chelsea’s build-up is either very slow or simply long balls to Drogba. Torres does not hold the ball up like Drogba so the alternative is the fast passes in behind back fours, utilizing his movement, for which a player like Modric will be required. Chelsea are not a possession based team with current personnel, of the top 40 passers in Europe in terms of passes played per game none are Chelsea players which is worrying for a side were crowned the best team in Europe.
Currently the Chelsea side is powerful rather than precise, and a few new additions could help this. The club have assured Torres that he is now the focal point of the side with Drogba leaving which implies who is ever is made the new manager will be mandated to create a style of play tailored to Torres. An influx of created players would contribute to this and currently it appears that Chelsea have won the race for Hazard who will provide plenty of energy and spark in behind Torres.
New signings are not necessarily going to totally remedy the problems Torres faces such low confidence that it may be difficult to re-find his self belief, especially if he spends a lot of the Euro’s on the bench. However they will help move Chelsea away from their Drogba-centric style of play to accommodate the more subtle style associated with Torres.
Chelsea do need to invest in a Alonso style play maker to make sure there is a fast supply in behind opposition back fours. The additions of Hazard and potentially Hulk will go some way to moulding Chelsea into a more fluid attacking side that can help benefit Torres but only time will tell whether he can regain some much needed confidence. If he doesn’t this would be a very, very expensive attempt at accommodating a player. Needless to say which ever manager takes over their brief will be to get Torres firing.
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