FERNANDO Torres is about to pack his bags and head off to Italy. He’ll leave a rich man, he’ll leave with almost every honour in the game and, if he has any humanity, he’ll leave with a sense of waste. He’ll be replaced at Chelsea by a man who failed a medical at Anfield. He didn’t even make it to the rank of fourth place striker. Fernando Torres will leave on a two-year loan. Fernando Torres will not be coming back. All parties seem relieved.
It shouldn’t have ended this way. As difficult as it may be, try to think about him as a player without the circumstances of his departure. The man could do anything. He was even petrifying in his quiet games. In his second to last game for the club, the game at Wolves which mercifully ended Keys and Gray’s TV career, he strolled around with his chin on his chest, flashing forlorn looks at the bench. He still scored two because he could.
No, it shouldn’t have ended this way. It should have been as a 36 year old with over 300 goals behind him. It should have been an embarrassed speech into a faltering microphone in the centre circle and yet another League title at his feet. His teenage son, Joey ‘Soft Lad’ Torres, should have signed professional terms minutes earlier to preserve the dynasty.
It should have ended like that. Not by skulking out of the country with a lost opportunity hanging over him.
It’s almost impossible to divorce Torres the player and Torres the traitor, but I’m going to ask you to try. Give me a minute. No, give me ten. Have a look at this.
That Fernando Torres, that Torres who streaked across boxes and squirmed past defenders was one of the greatest strikers to ever play for this club. There’s no hyperbole in that statement. There’s no sentimental romance either. It’s just true no matter how we judge him today.
We all have our favourite goals – Marseille, the Blackburn shot, the winner at Sunderland that kickstarted 08-09 or the stripping of Vidic at Old Trafford but mine is the first of his three against West Ham at Anfield. It’s beautiful. A ball across his body, the angle of his foot and a sudden lead. I love goals like that. He didn’t even think of bringing it down and taking a touch. The pass had all the ingredients for him and it took him a nanosecond to see its potential. That’s the hallmark of a magnificent player. He couldn’t do it today. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Fernando Torres had something, but it went when he did.
It wasn’t just a lost opportunity for him. I would have loved to see him have more time with Kenny, even Suarez if that would have worked. He flourished in 09 with a great midfield and Gerrard pulling the strings but even that was a waste. Come the end he was sharing pitch space with Jovanovic and Paul Konchesky and we fell away.
The transfer was deeply unpleasant. Fingers were pointed at Martin Broughton and his Chelsea connections but rumours had been gathering for months. It didn’t make it any easier. Torres went from being an untouchable striker to just untouchable. The invective was unending. That Chelsea game provided instant karma but even then his doe-eyed little glances at the away end spoke volumes. The regret was already in his eyes. Love turns to hate so quickly, as Daniel Agger demonstrated early in that game.
That £50m fee turned out to be cursed for both clubs. Chelsea paid £2.5m per goal and we paid through the nose for the new Dean Ashton. Torres scored the goal that took them to the Champions League final and Gary Neville to a very special place indeed but even then he was a bit part player. His body language was awful. In the League Cup game, possibly our easiest victory there, he inadvertently set up our goal. In the second half he found himself in acres of space on the edge of the box and just needed a simple pass from Lampard. None was forthcoming and Frank lumped it into the stand, much to our collective delight. Torres didn’t bollock him. Torres didn’t even frown. He just turned around and walked back to his half. The fight had all but gone from him.
If the journey from hero to zero was a hard one the next was even more humiliating – from hated figure to mere indifference. His quiver was empty. He’d sunk to nothing. His ability to hurt us had waned to such a degree that his Premier League exit had passed almost beyond our ken. Even despite his medals his post-Liverpool life was a tragedy waiting for a final line.
Now that the anger has dissipated its possible to feel a shred of sympathy. He talks of the fans not knowing the full story of his exit and that he was constantly given promises and assurances about the post-Rafa era but we weren’t listening – we just saw him in that shirt. I’d like to think that what he said was true. He never seemed a bad lad, but I jeered at him many a time because I always knew what he could do to us given the chance and, in any fight, you pick up the first weapons to hand. Like David Bowie post Scary Monsters, if only he could have just retired back then and left his legacy intact.
Yes, it still a bit painful but he can’t hurt us anymore and it’s because of that that his brief Anfield career is worthy of a less biased inspection. I’d like to think of him going mad at the Madrid fans after his goal and the raised hand at Old Trafford. He was a different man then. He was one of us.
What a shame. What an absolute waste.
Pics: David Rawcliffe
Fair enough, except in his defence, I’d have to say that Bowie’s last two albums, and especially ‘Heathens’ have been really excellent and I wouldn’t begrudge Torres a resurrection now he’s rolled away the Chelski stone.
Nice balanced article Karl. I agree with your sentiments at the end, what a waste for both him and us. We all really bought in to him and we thought him to us and that made the split even more personal. My own sad personal memory is of the abuse he got when warming up at Wembley in 2012. He looked visibly shocked and moved 30 yards further down the pitch to work out. The fact that I was giving him as much abuse as everyone else still saddens me. Though he deserved it!
A fine piece, but I’m not convinced. You mention Agger there – his comprehensive cleaning out of Torres in that match was beautiful, all the more now that he has cemented his own, untouchable legendary status in the manner of his own departure. Just this week another man cut from the same cloth, Xabi Alonso, admitted he didn’t really fancy another club in the premier league as he didn’t want to taint the memories of his previous stint at LFC. Now THAT is class. The leaving of a club – not always, but sometimes, especially with high profile players, the status symbols – is inextricably linked with what went before. And what went before Torres’s exit was an increasingly surly, Kevin the teenager stroppiness that did him no favours. And it had been like that for a while. Yes, frozen in time, he was magnificent, but it doesn’t matter now. Whereas I’ll always remember Dagger cleaning him out because I’m guessing it DID mean something, to us, to him; “that’ll teach you. Have a bit of that.”
“It wasn’t just a lost opportunity for him. I would have loved to see him have more time with Kenny, even Suarez if that would have worked. He flourished in 09 with a great midfield and Gerrard pulling the strings but even that was a waste. Come the end he was sharing pitch space with Jovanovic and Paul Konchesky and we fell away.”
You’re not alone in thinking that. It’s a classic “What If?” scenario.
Suarez’s arrival was not contingent on Torres leaving. Fernando would have been able to play with a flexible, accommodating forward who could enable other players’ attacks.
Would we have finished 6th that year? No way. No way we draw to Wigan at home in February. No way we earn just a draw at Emirates. We’re fifth at a minimum, and I’m bold enough to say that we wouldn’t lose vs. West Brom or West Ham, either.
Do we still buy Adam or Downing the next year without Carroll and with more Europe? I doubt it.
What could have been, what could have been.
Torres was a £50m striker who left to join a club prepared to spend massively to win the biggest trophies. Steven Gerrard, a born and bred scouser, very nearly made that journey in 2005.
I don’t hate Torres or Owen. I remember the great goals and happy moments they brought to me as a fan of our great club.
Although I understand it, I find it hard to turn on players the minute they leave Liverpool. Obviously, going to Chelsea didn’t help his cause and I most definitely wanted him to be a flop but I’ve always like Torres. I see him as a bit of a tortured soul. I certainly didn’t go over the top about his ‘I’ve joined a big club’ comment. It was twisted by fans who felt hurt and were looking for a chance to vent some anger.
If I detach myself from being a Liverpool fan then I completely understand why he left. Ok, we had new owners and Kenny was manager but his head had been turned months earlier when the club was a vipers nest. The club was a shambles but on top of that the worlds best strikers don’t stay at clubs who finish outside the Champions League places. We Liverpool fans demand a loyalty that just doesn’t exist in the real world. Ironically, I read some comments on Twitter today from Liverpool fans questioning Rodgers because we lost at City. Talk about double standards.
Anyway, circumstances dictated that Torres had to go in 2011 but I really hope he can regain some of his form in Italy and find some happiness.
Christ, watching those goals back; the swagger, the purpose. It’s like he got kidnapped on his way down to Chelsea and replaced with a look alike. Maybe the steepest decline in football history? He’s like someone’s faded memory of a great center forward (bonus points for whoever gets the reference).
People can rightfully bemoan the astronomical buying an injured Carroll deal and say we should have held our horses because Aguero and Falcao were on the move that year but I don’t think we appreciate how lucky we were in losing Torres and then getting someone who was even better to soften the blow (which would have seemed like crazy talk in 07/08. Bizarrely/brilliantly, Athletico managed to chain together great No. 9s one after the other while investing the big incoming transfer fees all the way to their unlikely title, since we signed Torres from them – the perfect selling club).
There was a point were much like Phoebus above me, I imagined an alternate universe were Torres and Suarez started the Kenny season with like, Mata in behind them or whatever but you’d end up going back further and doing your own head in still being annoyed for Rafa over H&G. I wouldn’t swap our current youthful, attacking set up for anything now. Here’s to Rodgers managing a winning Liverpool team consisting of Sturridge, Sterling, Coutinho, Henderson, etc for years to come. Although I think we all could have done without Hodgson on our journey to this point. Or Charlie Adam.
I’m just glad he didn’t score against us last season when he was through and we lost 0-2 to them. That would have broken my heart.
I can honestly say that’s the first time I’ve allowed myself to watch a compilation of the Torres goals since the day he left…and I’d almost forgotten just how instinctive and lethal he used to be. Shame eh?
Torres was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me when it comes to idolising modern footballers.
At some point during Rafa’s reign, Torres sat down to conduct an interview with none other than King Kenny. In that interview Torres got to me as a Liverpool fan on a deep and personal level that made me believe that some footballers truly get us….the whole package, the history, the fans, the city, and more poiniently the boots he was doing a remarkable job of filling, that of the esteemed interviewer and icon sat in front of him…Kenny.
They were both gushing and respectful of each others abilities and the lasting feeling I took from that interview was “our Nando is here to stay, he wants to achieve what Kenny did both in terms of honours but also in terms of status”.
I stupidly kept that feeling buried somewhere inside my subconscious and made a complete twat of myself during that fateful transfer window. I was having yet another ‘interesting’ conversation with a Chelsea plastic who was telling me that they can buy who they want/when they want…and I told him in no uncertain terms that it might apply to most players but not Nando.
Later that day he almost sprinted into the office to deliver the body blow with glee and a look I can only describe as he’d just jizzed himself…I really wanted to hurt the smug little prick!!! Oh well, Karma put that one right for me over the next few seasons I suppose?
That’s why when Suarez eventually left it was with a shrug. A completely gutted shrug mind but a shrug nonetheless…
As Brendan has just recently been saying, “The team is the star…….”
As an American I came to be a Liverpool fan the year before Torres came. TV finally gave us more than just ManU games and as I hate dynastic New York Yankees style teams I was looking for another squad. It was Gerrard that made me root for Liverpool, but it was Torres that made me love them. He played in an unusually casual way. He ( unlike Suarez) never seemed like he was trying very hard and yet he was sensational. Rewatching his goals made me realize how controlled and casual he could make the most difficult shots. My favorite goal was the winner at Portsmouth in ’09. That was a crazy game but when Rafa put him on I thought there was a chance. When he scored I jumped off my couch for the first time for a non-American team. I hated when he left but had he not been a Red I wouldnt be one and I wouldnt have been apart of last year or anything thing else. For that reason my Torres number 9 will always hang in my closet.
I’ll go a bit further than some of you. I hate fans who boo him. It was an open secret that he was crocked, and just poor decision making based on whim from the Robber baron at the plastics. We did the best possible thing in letting him go, and better clubs than them would have failed his medical. Suarez & big Andy came in & we even got £17m back on Andy when he also left a crock, with similar goal numbers for that season and a half between them (Carroll here and Torres there). That means as a big picture we trousered lots of cash, and Brendan came in and did the right thing with focussing on Suarez. We can already see that we are moving onwards and upwards with some very promising signings since Torres left. Instead of one star at a time up front, we look like goals all over the front line and a good few from further back also. Unintentionally he poured the cream of his ability in to his time here, and lets hope he has a good few scoring moments at his loan club.
I can now remove that pin I stuck in that Voodoo doll back in 2010.
Sorry Karl, you’re completely wrong mate. Bowie’s last three albums are excellent. The Torres stuff’s spot on though.
Lovely piece Karl.
Couldn’t agree more – even in Chelsea Blue I almost felt sorry for him. But truth be told, WE KNEW, WE ALL KNEW, he was on the way down 12-18months before ‘that’ move – and it wasn’t all down to sulking – he lost the pace and the hunger – not to mention his blonde locks.
re: bowie, “Let’s Dance” is a class album – a beacon in the mundane of the era (while keeping with the
He was a magnificent striker, he prowled the frontline like a panther; what an athlete!
I loved him and believe him when he says there was more to the story. All the rumours that came out of Chelsea had him missing Liverpool, the players, the city. He was never happy there.
One of the finest strikers to have worn the red shirt, to this day I don’t know what he did other than run himself into the ground for the cause, to deserve such hostility from our supporters. The proof is in the pudding, he wasn’t the same player at Chelsea because he’d given his all at Liverpool.
Likewise it’s the first time since the betrayal I’ve watched his goal package and still feel heartbroken thinking about the day my man-crush left us… I still lament what could’ve been. Yes he had been tarnished by H&G & the hodge but Kenny was starting to resurrect him… He’s an emotional fragile confidence type player that thrives with positive reinforcement and trust not like the less continental hespanic – the brilliant street fighter who loves adversity… in came Suarez signed to play alongside him to make chances and take some of the burden…I still lick my lips at the thought of those two up top dirty & sexy, plus G in the hole, and wonder where we’d be now. I think we’d have trophies and he’d be still with us happy and would’ve fulfilled his legendary #9 status. Suarez probably would’ve wanted to emulate him and might’ve stayed on too. I know what ifs don’t change anything and last year’s madness and pure joy healed so many wounds so I wouldn’t want to change anything. But… Could Suarez + Torres taken us past citeh and given us the icing on last seasons cake??? Arrrghhhh nando how tormented your lament must be in comparison to mine!!!
This article is just more propaganda for believers – as if there wasn’t enough out there already – but you know what they say about empty vessels. The club was more hurt by the departure of Alonso (a past master at playing the media game and coming up smelling of roses) than Torres who became angry and disillusioned after being lied to, overplayed and his injuries mismanaged by a club that in the end betrayed him and hung him out to dry; allowing him to become the lightening rod for latent anger over H&G and the appointment of Hodgson (an ‘English’ manager favoured by the media and certain club ‘legends’ who have taken no flak for their undermining of Rafa Benitez). The club sold its soul long ago and has no right to take the moral high ground on anything – particularly after the compromises re Suarez. Torres is one of its biggest victims in this respect.