As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. Or in Chelsea’s case, if you can’t stop him, buy him. The day that Chelsea fans have been dreaming of for almost four years since his arrival at Liverpool has come and passed. After having a forgettable first half of the 2010/11 campaign, want-away and “skulking” striker Fernando Torres has landed at Stamford Bridge to the delight of West Londoners and fans worldwide. It was believed that the £50 million striker would experience a rejuvenation at Chelsea with a new coach, new teammates, new atmosphere, etc…but the script has been torn up and the expectations we had for “Nando” now seem like a childish fantasy, just like the dream of winning the Champions League. The Torres goal watch is now up to 650 minutes of goalless football. Twelve hours of match time have passed since his last goal for either Liverpool or Chelsea. Ten of those hours have come with Chelsea as the drought becomes of ever-increasing concern with every match that passes. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is desperately looking for a return on his £50 million investment and there is heavy speculation that if there is no goal for Torres by the end of the season manager Carlo Ancelotti could face the sack. It has been proven that billionaire Abramovich’s patience and forbearance is not one of his strong qualities. Only a few years back, Jose Mourinho was the victim of the Russian’s impatience. After delivering back-to-back Premier League titles in 04/05 and 05/06, Mourinho was sacked after Chelsea went through a bad mid-season slump and Guus Hiddink was chosen to replace him. Hiddink was let go after guiding Chelsea to the Champions League final in 2008, loosing to Manchester United on that infamous penalty shootout. Although Chelsea did experience an awful mid-season slump which saw them drop from first to fifth in the league table, Ancelotti managed to survive with his job intact and a few new players to boast as well including Torres. Fellow winter transfer David Luiz has found the back of the net twice already from the center-half position with strikes that gave Chelsea crucial victories against Manchester United and Manchester City. The only question is how tightly are Torres’ goal drought and Ancelotti’s job bound?
Torres was one linesman’s flag away from ending his drought today against West Bromwich Albion when he was brought on as a substitute in the 81st minute. With the game already comfortably in the books at 3-1 there was a confident attitude from the away fans that Torres would net against a lack-lustre WBA defense. Flourent Malouda served Torres a great ball in the penalty box and Torres’ first touch was supreme in poking around the goalkeeper to cooly slot the ball into the net and the Chelsea supporters went nuts! But it was short lived because Torres was ruled offsides by the slimmest of margins, or perhaps not at all. It certainly looked like he was level, at least from my angle on my couch. Nevertheless, Fernando Torres’ Chelsea horror story continues. But the way I see it things are starting to look up for the Spaniard. At least now we know that he is capable of making a ball go in the net with his foot. For a while we all thought that he had somehow left that skill in Liverpool, or even in South Africa. But now that we’ve seen it we know it is still possible. In a game that was comfortably controlled by Chelsea I’m OK with his goal being disallowed because it sure is a step in the right direction for a man who seems to have lost his form. That “goal” sure seemed like something the old Torres was doing at Liverpool and Atletico Madrid. The verdict on Torres for now, be patient with him. We don’t necessarily need a breakout from him at this point in the season because we’re only competing on one front now and there are only 6 games left. If he’s not in form, don’t play him. He’s under contract until 2017. He’ll come good for us eventually. Play the strikers now who give you the best chance to score, and now that happens to be Drogba and Anelka and perhaps Kalou. Substitute appearances are fine until he regains his form (which we all know will happen), but don’t dwell on the massively huge transfer fee that brought him in. Chelsea will likely have a massive offload of players this summer to try and reduce the age of the squad. With players like Drogba, Lampard, Terry, Malouda, Anelka, and Ferriera all over 30, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a couple names from that list sold before next season. It is likely that Ferriera will go, Drogba might be a casualty also, and even Lampard’s or Terry’s place in the squad is not guaranteed with Luiz and Ramires proving their worth since January. A Torres-Kalou strike force next season would be very enticing and potentially deadly if both strikers can find form.
What’s next for Chelsea? For now it’s Birmingham City at the Bridge on Wednesday night. The long-term future? Well that’s difficult to see but no matter what you can be sure that I’ll be Carefree ’til I die! I wouldn’t have it any other way! If you’re a Chelsea fan and you’re feeling down, take heart because we’ll surely qualify for the Champions League next season! We’ll be back for sure! Until then, keep the Blue flag flying high!