Thursday, April 7, 2011

When the Owners Buy the Players......... Fernando Torres

This article is not meant as a judgement on Fernando Torres, quite the opposite in fact. Whilst it's clear that Torres doesn't look the same player that initially took the Premiership by storm, his movement and energy recently does indicate that he is slowly reclaiming some of his previous vigour. The simple fact however is that he has barely fashioned a chance nevermind acutally hitting the onion bag. Comparisons are now starting to obviously be drawn with Andrei Schevchenko who was an unquestionable flop in his time at Chelsea.

There are several parallels that can be drawn between the two. Physically they look similar, both skilfull players with devastating finishing prowess. Both are deceptively strong despite not looking particularly physically imposing like a Didier Drogba is for instance. There are other similarities in that Chelsea paid record fees for both when the heights of their powers were seemingly behind them. Shevenko should be seen as much the higher risk taking like for like however as he was much older and with no Premiership previous when he was signed. The key element that they both share however is they were both signed unquestionably above the heads of their managers, step forward Mr Roman Abramovich.

Mourinho made no secret that he had nothing but disdain for the Shevchenko signing and if Ancelotti was at all involved in signing Torres then surely he would have far more idea on how to use him. Quite simply neither player would have been bought by the manager in question as neither fits in with the system of play that they use. Both managers however seem to have their hands tied in playing them regardless.

Shevchenko was lost at Chelsea, used to a measured build up through midfield at Milan, he suddenly found the Mourinho steamroller firing balls at him head high in a very un-Italian manner. Mourinho's system of Drogba up top with two wide players had to be sacrificed for a 4-4-2 and Drogba it seems wishes to share the limelight with no one. It was an unmitigated disaster and Chelsea duly relinquished the Premiership.

Torres has a similar problem. Whilst at Liverpool he was used to longer angled balls from Gerrard and Xavi Alonso which allowed him space to run into using his pace and his considerable finishing power. At Chelsea the ball is much slower to come to him depriving him of that space behind the defenders that players such as he or a young Michael Owen would exploit so wonderfully. The irony is Torres would have possibly succeeded in Mourinho's team with more direct balls with Shevchenko obviously more suited to his old managers' style of play. Neither however has been able to gel with Drogba and it may well be that he is moved on this Summer as the years are advancing in any respect.

On a separate note, a word must be saved for Sir Alex Ferguson. For all the cantankerousness, the moaning and the sulking he at nearly 70 years old is still proving to be the master. By their own standards under his stewardship, this is a poor ManYoo team yet their ability to get the job done remains incredible. This blog has always seen Ferguson as a great leader and manager but not necessarily a great tactician, games such as last night would suggest otherwise and it's possible that even at this age he is still improving. Assuming they can earn at least a draw at Old Trafford, only a probable tie with Schalke will stand in the way of an appearance in the final at Wembley. Manchester City fans will no doubt think otherwise ahead of their FA Cup semi final but it's just possible that if Mourinho could conjure up an El Classico semi final victory over Barca ala Inter of last season then the door might just be open for Ferguson to win another treble - No Nonsense.