“This isn’t happening…this isn’t happening…this isn’t happening.” – Rochelle, Left 4 Dead 2
Last weekend we had a bit of a laugh at the Soccerlens headquarters when players signed up in our Football Manager 2011 game ended up playing against their former clubs in their first starts. But with Chelsea set to field record transfer signing Torres at Stamford Bridge on Sunday (provided he can prove his fitness) the jokes are now a reality.
There are reports that Liverpool tried and failed to secure a gentleman’s agreement over preventing Torres to playing against Liverpool on Sunday. I wouldn’t mention this but there have been confirmed cases of this happening before, the most prominent one that comes to mind is Tim Howard moving to Everton from Manchester United, then being prevented to play against them (that 4-2 game from 06/07).
So there’s definitely precedent, but Chelsea do not want to be seen as a club who will hide their players, and they have little reason to – Torres, while full of respect for his former paymasters, is smart enough to know which side his bread is buttered and will be fighting tooth and nail for Chelsea the moment he steps on the pitch. It was the same when he first moved to Liverpool from Atletico Madrid, where making him club captain, kissing the ground he walked on and making him the highest paid player at the club couldn’t stop him from leaving when a bigger club came calling.
Torres on moving to Chelsea and leaving Liverpool:
“It is like destiny. It is not perfect but if I have a chance to play, I will do my best and hopefully I will score.
I only have good words about Liverpool. They made me a top player and gave me the chance to play at the top level. I will never say anything bad about Liverpool. I have been very happy there but now the history is different and I’m playing for Chelsea.
I am joining a team that is at the top level. There is not another level after Chelsea. I am joining with big names like Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Anelka and I can be part of this great team.
I wanted to join because Chelsea have always shown a big respect for me. I felt from last summer that I needed to stay a step forward in my career and for my ambition as a footballer it’s my dream to win the Champions League and I’m sure I can get it playing for Chelsea.”
Is Chelsea ‘bigger’ than Liverpool?
If we’re comparing league titles, Liverpool (18) and Manchester United (18) dwarf Chelsea (4). Hell, even Everton (9), Aston Villa (7) and Sunderland (6) have won more league titles than Chelsea, while Newcastle United (4) and Sheffield Wednesday (4) have the same number of wins. Or European CUp wins? Chelsea are behind Nottingham Forest, let alone Manchester United or Liverpool.
But there’s more to it than history. It’s about whether your club can regularly challenge for the top honours, domestic and continental, and whether they have consistently done so in the recent past. Fact is, Chelsea have a superior record to Liverpool in the last 6 years, so for Torres to make a move for purely selfish reasons (winning titles) is fair, and he’s not been playing at his best (beyond that audition for Chelsea early this season) for almost 2 years.
So now that he’s playing at a ‘top’ club again and happy at the chance of competing for top honours (notice he didn’t talk about the league title, only the Champions League, with Liverpool facing an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League next season), he can be expected to pull his finger out and play hard for his team.
But can he score against Liverpool? As he said, it’s not perfect, but it is like destiny.
Or he could get crocked for the rest of the season, leaving Chelsea with a 50m dud as Suarez and Carroll both score to help Liverpool to a win. Destiny can work in mysterious ways, Fernando.
Also see: Chelsea v Liverpool preview.