If like me you enjoy spending a couple of minutes a week sticking Premier League footballers, or European club names, into Google Translate in an attempt to fill the void in your life created by your lack of sociability, you may have discovered that Torres means ‘Towers’ (one of my personal favourites being Otelul Galati, which translates as Middlesborough). If you haven’t worked out where this is going yet, the picture is a bit of a giveaway: he’s Faulty.
There are at least more cliches in football than I’ve had hot dinners, one of my least favourites, not that I’ve introduced a ranking system (YET), being: ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’. This particular one is used a lot in the defence of Torres. Form is actually dependant on: the team formation and tactics suiting the player’s strengths, an individual’s specific adaptability to the opposition and their particular formation and tactics, any ongoing contract negotiations or transfer speculation, competition for places, the form of team mates and opponents, changes in home life, relationships, love, the lunar cycle, diet, compulsions, abstentions, whether the player is getting a good nights sleep, and on it goes. Most of the above could be clumsily grouped into, and summarised by, the term ‘mental state of the player’. Class is a subjective measure of a player’s ability, and somewhat dependant on the evolving standard of their contemporaries. It’s not very snappy is it.
One thing’s for certain, Torres is not the same player who would burst from the rabid jaws of Nemanja Vidic unscathed, triumphantly holding aloft the Serb’s beating heart. It’s also unfair and fairly inaccurate to say he’s now spent.
When Torres joined Chelsea the expectation was world domination. However, unless the definition of ‘The World’ has changed, and now represents fourth place in the Premier League, we can safely say things haven’t gone to plan. Chelsea, as a top-flight team, are one of the closest – possibly since Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang – to having a collective consciousness that provides them with a club id and ego. The process for penetrating this tightly knit structure from the outside appears to involve largely ingratiating yourself with their chief custodians, and to a certain extent aping their personality traits. Torres’s only real chance of successfully impersonating anyone from Chelsea would be to look at himself whilst standing over a mirror naked. It’s hardly the most practical of solutions. Chelsea are also a team in transition which hasn’t helped Torres either, but I personally believe his form could have been described as indifferent way before we can pin anything on John Terry, which is a shame.
Yes, the injuries have robbed him of a bit of the zip from his pace. Yes, he will never again have the luxury of being the focal point of a team’s attacking endeavours, as was the case at Liverpool under Benitez (facts). Plus – to develop the points in the previous paragraph – the pressure placed on him by every aspect of the move to Chelsea is excruciatingly palpable.
For me though there is something more profound that has ultimately changed him. It’s something much more simple (it’s also incredibly twee, and for that I can only apologise). It’s the events of the 8th July 2009 and the 6th of December 2010, namely: the birth of his children. He has a family, and for a while now, football hasn’t been his main reason for getting up in the morning.