Ever since Fernando Torres has joined Chelsea from Liverpool in the winter transfer window of 2011, he has cut a sorrow figure for his new club to a large extent.
Last season was probably his best for Chelsea, when he racked up 22 goals to his name, but he was no-where near to his ‘best’. Gone are those days where he used to strike fears among the defenders (ask Nemanja Vidic) while at present he is nothing but a shadow of his old self, to those who have watched his career grow when he was a kid at Atletico Madrid.
Where has that raw pace gone? Where has the energy in his game gone? Where that match winning ability has gone? No answer.
He looks like a shadow of his past self, who now pokes the ball from close range, tries a smart header or at best links-up with his fellow team-mates to steer a pass for him. He is no longer that Torres who had that willingness to get past the last defender, beating him through pace.
But what has been more frustrating is the fact he is struggling in the league. Yes, he is struggling. How can a player who scored 18 goals in 22 matches in the league in a hamstring-ridden season for Liverpool turns out to be an 8-goals-per league season striker?
And equally baffling is the fact that Torres has scored more goals in cup-matches. Last season, he scored 12 goals in the cup competitions, nine of them in European games, including a goal in the Europa League final against Benfica.
Yesterday, he scored against Swindon in the Capital One-Cup tie. Another cup game. Another Torres goal.
There is probably no definitive reason as how to explain this. One possible reason could be, cup games are one-of-matches played with great intensity and pace, which suits his game better, as Chelsea do not usually play a high-tempo game in the league.
Also, in cup games, due to its open nature, Torres probably gets more chances and scoring opportunities than in the league. Most of Torres’ goals have come in the Europa league last season which Chelsea never took seriously before they reached the quarter final stages. Probably, he played more freely under Rafael Benitez in a less pressurized environment.
Whatever the reason is, these are worrying signs really. A player of his calibre scoring more goals in cup-games than in the league! Are we in a position to say now that Torres’ career is on the verge of gradual decline?