Why Torres is not BACK… yet


It had been a bitter winter in the Russian's domain. As bitter as had ever been seen in a land that had become a byword for plenty. A fierce frost, blowing in on summery seeds of hope, optimism, and blind ambition, had destroyed swathes of crops like the clenched grip of a startled bouncer around a scalding styrofoam cup of December's coffee. 

With a laboured push, and an ominous creek, the imperious wooden door swung open. Surrounded by the swirling winds and stabbing sleet, a single soldier staggered through the stony crevasse and limped, weather-beaten and battle-scarred to his master’s throne. 

Bowing down to one knee with only the precarious hold of his sword, itself struggling desperately to find a space in the granite as easily as it had once found a space between a man's ribs, he took in the sharp and familiar air. 

“My lord” he said, his wounds now beginning to win the long battle against his will, “The 'Fernando Torres Is Back' articles are coming”.

Heed these words reader, for now all that stands between us and a ravaging horde of pundits frothing at the chops to tell us that the £50million Spaniard justifies every first goalscorer betting slip he's contrived to ruin, is one thunderous, dramatic, match-winning swing of his boot. 

He's likely to be priced at around 4.5 to open the scoring against Wigan this weekend, a goal that'll undoubtedly kick off a wave of acclamations that's been staggeringly long in coming. 

Cast your minds back two seasons, where at Liverpool, Torres thrived off the shoulder of the last defender. With either a dynamic second striker to buzz around and feed him, or a dedicated member of the midfield charged with lashing dollop upon dollop of goal gravy onto the Sunday dinner of his approach play, he reached the 50 goal mark at Anfield quicker than any moustachioed maestro before him. 

But there was something of a culture shock following his move to Chelsea. Without the crutch of being the attacking pinnacle, and supported by a midfield that was unsettled, hamstrung and often containing football's answer to the inflamed appendix John Obi Mikel, he looked like a boy who'd won a competition to spend the day in a sweet shop, but been dropped off at an abattoir by mistake. 

The goals, followed swiftly by the laughs, and eventually by the underwear drawers of ladies London-wide, dried up. 

In recent weeks though, with Chelsea scratching and biting their way into the semi-finals of both European and Anglo-Saxon cup competitions, as well as loosely flirting over the internet with the very notion of putting together some league form, people have started to notice that their much maligned centre-forward has had more than a hand in things. 

There's been no immediate assault on the scoring charts, but the work-rate has gone through the roof. Streaks of blonde hair can now regularly be seen foraging into the channels, dropping deep to receive from and supply to team-mates, and stretching defences laterally across the pitch. All facets of his game that he's had to develop. 

Not convinced? Well his 12 assists in all competitions this season is no figure to be sniffed at, especially for a player who's playing in an allegedly unsettled side and seldom been first-choice. Just look at the goal he laid on for Salomon Kalou against Benfica; a mouth-watering 40 yard run down the right flank, darting into the box, and squaring for a tap in. Save for sticking a rake up his tush to prune the grass as he ran, he gave everything for the Chelsea cause that night. 

So then he's, arguably, finally arrived in a Chelsea shirt, but he's still a million miles from providing the same influence and excitement he had further up the M1. His role is evolving, his presence is swelling, but if anyone thinks Fernando Torres is “back”, then they've forgotten just how good he once was.