“Hey Roman! Look at this classy spittoon.”
Can we lay the £50m Torres boondoggle squarely on Roman Abramovich? Except it will be Ancelotti paying for it with his job.
The former Liverpool striker has gone 11 hours and 33 minutes without scoring while his replacements Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez are firing Liverpool to a possible Champions League berth. As Jonathan Wilson points out Fernando Torres is struggling in the Chelsea formation of 4-4-2 where Drogba or Anelka rotate the strike with him.
This is because traditionally he plays best when he is up front by himself. The finals against Germany in the Euro 2008 finals come to mind. His best Liverpool form came before his injury early last year which left him a World Cup doubt.
When he came back in time it was quite obvious that Vicente Del Bosque did not quite repose the same faith in him using David Villa instead. It has been a year and a half but he’s not been much better since struggling with his touch and looking sluggish off the ball.
It is unclear whether any formation would make a difference – there are signs that a 4-3-3 might be better but to justify his huge price tag it became imperative to start him above Didier Drogba. The proud Cote D’Ivoirian became part of the strike rotation as Ancelotti gave in to Abramovich’s wishes. Chelsea’s owner probably naively thought that having Torres and Drogba would have a multiplier effect while the right thing to do would have been to transition Torres as a direct replacement to Drogba.
In the first leg, Drogba was yanked when he looked like he was most likely to score and today, Ancelotti waited till the half to sub an ineffective Torres. Unsurprisingly Drogba delivered. But it was too late which leads to all sorts of “if only” conjectures. Without any trophy, Chelsea are now left battling for CL qualification. Ironic when you consider Torres left Liverpool because he wanted to be part of a winning club.
But the problem really lies ahead – what do you do with a striker who is not scoring, a striker who does but feels like a stepchild, and a coach who was not bold enough to stand up to his owner ? In the end all three might not remain at Stamford Bridge.