Torres: Waning? Waned? Or Not Waning?
FERNANDO TORRES hit the net last night, but his Liverpool side slumped to another defeat – this time against Blackpool.
But Torres has found goals hard to come by this season; last night’s was just his seventh in the Premier League.
Those goals have come at a rate of one every 232 minutes, whereas in his first three seasons in England his 56 goals arrived every 107 minutes.
When does a lack of form become an irreversible decline for a top-quality sportsman?
In 2005 Ronaldinho was crowned the best footballer in the world, but this week he has been bundled back to his native Brazil with a transfer to Flamengo.
Within three years of his World Player of the Year award Barcelona had decided Ronaldinho’s best years were in the past, but another European heavyweight, AC Milan, was still willing to take him on.
Now Milan have reached Barcelona’s conclusion as well and, with Blackburn Rovers representing his best offer in Europe, so it seems has everyone else.
Ronaldinho’s decline from best player in the world to washed-up former superstar has taken only six years.
Last season despite Liverpool struggling, Torres recorded the best goalscoring figures of his career with his 18 goals coming every 95 minutes.
After knee surgery in April curtailed his 2009/2010 season, a lack of fitness is a common excuse for his slump this season.
He recovered in time for World Cup, but went goalless in seven appearances for eventual winners Spain and then limped off from the final with a groin injury, which disrupted his pre-season.
Yet he has managed to complete 1,626 minutes this season, almost as many as he managed in both the 2009/2010 and the 2008/2009 campaigns, when he bagged 18 and 14 goals respectively.
Against Chelsea on November 7 he scored twice to inflict a defeat on the champions, before everyone was doing it. It is his only Fernando Torres-esque performance in 20 matches this season.
At Liverpool he was increasingly isolated up front by new but erstwhile manager Roy Hodgson’s tactics, but the Chelsea performance should mitigate both this and the fitness excuse.
If he can do it against the best in the land, then why isn’t he doing it every week?
In a science experiment if something is occurs in 19 instances out of 20 that is taken as fact.
Is it that he just can’t be bothered?
Is it that the Chelsea performance was a rare good showing from a waning player?
Is Torres, like Ronaldinho, stuck on the inevitable slide towards ignominy?
Or will he, with Kenny Dalglish now in the Anfield hotseat, make me look stupid before the season is out for suggesting such things?