Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA quiet optimism for Chelsea and Torres - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A quiet optimism for Chelsea and Torres - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A quiet optimism for Chelsea and Torres

At around this time last year, Fernando Torres was heading into a new campaign with a team that had just undergone a change in management following a poor preceding season and there was a fresh buzz about the place, partly due to the goal-scoring potential he promised once he would get back to full form. This time round, he finds himself in a similar situation but in very difficult circumstances, for it is now the blue of Chelsea he represents, rather than the red of Liverpool and it is the price tag he carries with him as a result of that switch, a paltry £50 million, that has stuck further expectation on the shoulders of the Spaniard.

It is a new chapter in what has become a huge twist in the Torres novel; at the fore point of the best Liverpool side of the Premier League era in their runners up season of 08/09, he followed it up by starring as one of the shining lights in the dismal showing of 09/10, scoring 18 league goals in 22 appearances in a side that limped to seventh place. An injury towards the end of that season troubled him throughout an individually dreadful World Cup experience with his national team, where he had gone from spearheading Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph to settling for a cameo-sub role as they added the World to their Iberian domination.

Torres struggled back into Roy Hodgson’s side showing flashes of the majestic, like his brace against Chelsea at Anfield, but he found consistency hard to re-discover and was hindered by isolation caused by Hodgson’s conservative style. Under Kenny Dalglish, Torres hit three goals in five games before his move to Chelsea took place on the last day of January and only one goal followed for the remainder of the season. He looked a shadow of his best as Carlo Ancelotti tried in vain to find a system that would befit his owner’s expensive toy, even suffering the humiliation of being subbed at half-time in the Champions League quarter final at Old Trafford. Torres finished the season a disappointment and so did Chelsea; Roman Abramovich eventually lost patience and removed Ancelotti from his position. The Russian billionaire has spent a further fortune in refurbishing his team with a brand new, young coaching set-up led by the record breaking Andre Villas Boas after his unbeaten treble winning year in charge of FC Porto.

Under the guise of the youthful Portuguese coach, Chelsea have set about their summer routine very quietly and there have been no sign of the marquee signings that have been a significant feature of Abramovich’s reign, furthermore, there have not even been any internal calls for Villas Boas to sign players, indicating a general content inside Stamford Bridge. Their only piece of business to date has been the capture of 19 year old Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, while a fee has also been agreed with Barcelona’s young central midfielder Oriel Romeu, who Villas Boas has been scouting for some time. Chelsea have been smart and subtle, a far cry from the £50 million fee and huge wages that involved Torres.

It is hard, however, to blame the size of deal on the Spaniard for he was disillusioned with Liverpool life and Chelsea offered him a way out for a value that was agreed between the two clubs and one that was indicative of an over-inflated transfer market. Torres could only perform but he failed to do so and the question marks will remain next to the pound signs that hang above his head. As most will be aware though, this summer represents a fresh start for both the player and the club. So far in pre-season, they have looked expansive and have had no problem scoring goals, even Torres himself netted in a friendly against Aston Villa; to which he celebrated by running to signal thumbs up to his manager. A good striker never loses his class and this will apply to Torres if he takes advantage of the rehabilitated surroundings he finds himself in at Cobham.

The other scorer in that match in the tour of East Asia, Josh McEachran, perhaps holds the biggest beacon of hope for this Chelsea evolution, smart and tidy in possession from a deep-lying holding role, he has a bright future ahead at 19 years of age, especially for a nation that does not regularly create player of that ilk. His chance may come this season following the injury to Michael Essien, which could give him the chance to emulate his friend Jack Wilshere’s meteoric rise to prominence. Daniel Sturridge is returning from an ominous loan spell with Bolton, in which he scored eight goals in twelve games, to add extra firepower. Jose Bosingwa will be hoping for a season devoid of injury in order to showcase his ability at right-back and David Luiz, the immensely exciting Brazillian centre-back, has a full year at his disposal on the back of an impressive end to last season. It is well documented the age of this Chelsea squad, but few can doubt this is a hugely talented squad and the core of which who won the domestic double a year ago still remains. The quality and talent is still there in abundance.

After a pre-season campaign and a sustained rest which never occurred last year because of South Africa, this season could serve a reminder as what Fernando Torres has to offer. Fresh from working with Rademel Falcao, Villas Boas will be aware of how to summon the goal machine from his main centre forward and Torres will take great benefit. It must not be forgotten either that he will be restored in tandem with the now injury-free Yossi Benayoun, the Israeli who brought the best out of the striker at Liverpool. Chelsea may be conducting themselves quietly now, but it may well get louder come August 13th and one might suspect their number 9 could be shouting the loudest.

Adam Gray @MonkeyLunch21

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