As the dust settles on another insipid performance at the weekend, Chelsea’s demanding fans will be looking for whom to direct their indignation at. Some will be pointing their fingers at the older players, who seem like they are not giving a hundred percent. Most though, will be settling on Andre Villas-Boas, the trendy coach that was hired at a premium to overhaul what is now an ageing squad. But some blame must start to be directed at a man that Chelsea fans and their manager have continued to support unequivocally, continuously singing his name from the rafters despite his lack of end product – Fernando Torres.
Villas-boas has shown the sort of blind faith in Torres usually displayed by only the most devout of men. He apparently believes in him wholeheartedly, and seems to have bet his job on it. Either that or the owner is forcing him to pick Torres, which calls into question the authority, in fact the very need, for a manager. If he is indeed picking him of his own accord, then his patience must surely be wearing thin, as Torres’ timidity in front of goal is threatening to cost him his place on Chelsea’s hot seat.
Torres was purchased for a whopping 50 million in the January 2011 transfer window as a fillip for Chelsea’s sagging championship run. His purchase, presence and goals were meant to reinvigorate the fans and players alike. However, all he did was contribute to the general malaise that seemed to envelop the club, participating in mediocre performance after mediocre performance which culminated in a second placed finish 9 points behind the eventual champions. Now Chelsea is languishing in 5th, on the back of Fernando Torres’ colossal haul of 2 goals in 20 premier league games. The fact that his presence has coincided with Chelsea’s worst period under Roman Abramovich is hardly a coincidence. In fact, the Torres of today looks as likely to be worth 50 million as another former Liverpool striker – Aston Villa’s Emile Heskey.
In order to salvage some sort of dignity from this most forgettable of seasons, Chelsea, and in particular AVB, need Torres to start scoring regularly. He has constantly backed Torres, praising his overall play and team ethic. The fans continue to chant his name, incessantly cheering for him even when his performances don’t deserve praise. His team mates continue to show him support, as the rhetoric emanating from the dressing room and David Luiz’s pre-match ritual with the goal shy striker indicates. In Torres we trust seems to be the mantra, but for how long? After more than a year of frugality in front of goal, and with other teams scrapping for the last Champions League spot, the questions must now be asked of the wisdom of continuing to start a striker that looks bereft of any sort of confidence.
Andre Villas-Boas must be asking himself that very same question. Serenaded with chants of “Jose Mourinho” and “You’re getting sacked in the morning” by the home crowd at the weekend, AVB must feel as insecure as ever in his seat. The owner’s new habit of skulking across the training ground will hardly put his mind at ease, and the fact that some players do not support his methods is usually a damning sign. He needs Torres to deliver soon, or risk getting the sack letter delivered to him instead.