Posts Tagged Fernando Torres
I’ll be honest to admit that Chelsea have far exceeded my expectations in the gruelling period the Blues have just gone through, one that leaves them on the brink of FA Cup and Champions League glory while being set to finish potentially outside the top four.
The latter bit of the reality at Stamford Bridge sets the club up for quite the thrilling climax to their season, which I’ll expatiate on right after coming to terms with what the club have achieved.
Following the draw in the West London derby at Craven Cottage, Chelsea was faced with a tasking run of matches that would see them face the Sillywhites in the FA Cup semi final before hosting Barcelona four days after, visiting Arsenal three days after and then visiting Barça in the return leg of their Champions League semi final.
A poor decision by the referee may have helped a very little in the 5-1 demolition of the Sillywhites but nonetheless it was a scoreline I least expected, as I was hoping those Londoners would rise to the occasion and serve up an intriguing semi-final that (preferably) would stretch into extra time and even to penalties.
Then came Barcelona to town and despite “gaining all the world”, it benefitted them none as Didier Drogba’s strike on the stroke of half time proved the only goal of the UCL semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge. Crucially, Barça was twice denied by the Chelsea post and more so, Ashley Cole cleared a Fabregas effort off the line.
Next up was Arsenal, my dear Arsenal at the Ems. With eight changes made; changes that meant no starting shirts for Mata, Lampard, Mikel, Ivanovic with a suspension, Ramires, Meireles and gunner-nemesis Drogba with a ‘knee injury’, Arsenal should’ve won this derby.
Alas, we were twice denied by the post but (thankfully) unlike Barça, there was no Drogba to score a match winner. Unfortunately, we neither got that. Goalless draw that ultimately left both clubs satisfied not to have lost.
At this point, it didn’t seem to me anymore that Roberto di Matteo had been riding his luck since becoming interim manager at the Bridge. He’d tinkered with the squad so much that Salomon Kalou was getting more games than the AVB-preferred Daniel Sturridge, and he was being vindicated all the way through those testy affairs.
One last tinkering needed to be done, at the imposing Camp Nou where Barcelona had won 24 successive league matches prior to effectively losing the title to mortal rivals Real Madrid with that 2-1 loss. Match winner of that night CR7 had been crowned world player of the year soon after, a move labelled immature and not well thought through…
If the first leg was dramatic, the second leg’s was gilt-edged epic as goals from Sergio ‘diving talent left unappreciated’ Busquets and Andres Iniesta either side of John Terry’s sending off meant Barcelona was cruising to another Champions League final, this time at Munich.
But just as against Real Madrid, the Catalans got pegged right after scoring with Ramires coming through with the crucial away goal for the Blues to wrap up a pulsating last 10 minutes of the first half.
Second half began in a frenzy and when the world’s beloved Lionel Messi stepped up to take that (hotly contested among fans hundred and thousand miles away) penalty, I’d have had my face, with its defeated countenance, covered by my palms if I was a fan of the Blues.
That penalty in my opinion made the 2012 world footballer of the year crown that of CR7, and that’s even if Real Madrid fail to make the Champions League final. It was a ‘moment’ that would surely have set tikitaka on their way to another final and the headlines would’ve told another tale of greatness from the Leo.
Alas… Messi missed!
I cannot imagine the levels the emotions of Chelsea fans such as my oldest brother would’ve reached in the closing moments of the match, more so when Messi saw an effort come off the Chelsea post and surreally so when El Niño sealed the fate of the night with a second goal for Chelsea deep in stoppage time… and probably also a place in Spain’s Euro 2012 armada.
There’s still some way to go for the Blues though, with two matches against Liverpool in the league and FA Cup final to come along with a league match against the in-form Newcastle United… thin is the line between a glorious campaign with two cups in the kitty or what could end up being a “what could have been… ” season.
As for Barcelona, “no love lost… no love found”. Fans of the Catalan club can cqmp with gooners who know all too well what it feels like to be thrown out of contention from at least two competitions in a week.
Fernando Torres – Liverpool FC/Chelsea FC
He never should have been taken to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa having just recovered from an injury then but Vicente del Bosque chose to and El-Niño unfortunately had an overall campaign to forget. That poor form spilled into his early season at Liverpool from where his heart no longer resided, for whatever reasons and when Chelsea came with its ludicrous £50m bid for the Spaniard; despite his poor form up till then, the Reds gladly obliged. What followed was an even more farcical goal drought that lasted about 900 minutes over 13 matches and ended with some help from the heavens. Somehow, even at Chelsea, I still feel Torres would jump at the first offer from a Spanish club.
Marouane Chamakh – Arsenal FC
The Moroccan began life at the Emirates on a very good note, nodding in goal after goal but soon enough the English game told on the import from French side Girondins Bordeaux and his glaring inability to make full use of his lower limbs other than for jumping meant he soon began a goal drought and hence lost his place in the first team; especially with the mercurial form of top choice Robin van Persie. He can fall behind the excuse of “adapting to the English game” and the world should oblige him. Looking on the good side, he arrived at Arsenal on a free transfer… #GoFigure!
Nicklas Bendtner – Arsenal FC
Arsène Wenger’s continued faith in the Dane is some way off that God has in mankind but still… such faith is monumental even by human standards. Robin van Persie’s absence early in the season should have been Bendtner’s chance to prove his worth, he did not. A hat trick in the League Cup quarterfinal turned out just a flash in the pan and in the end, his season on loan at Birmingham City remains his most prolific on English soil and considering that the Blues were then in the Championship, says a bit about where he belongs.
Bebe – Manchester United
There’s something about not getting a return on an investment, it pisses one off. £7.5m for a virtual unknown recommended to Sir Alex Ferguson by none other than his two-time assistant at Old Trafford Carlos Quieroz and one would have expected the young Portuguese to at least show glimpses of what future holds for the faithful of the Theatre of Dreams alas, his first season was nothing short of nightmarish.
Heurelho Gomes – Tottenham Hotspur
Reliable safe hands when on his day, those hands prove outrageously calamitous on other occasions and Gomes had a fair share of mishaps in front of goal this season as five goals conceded were as a direct result of his blunder, a couple of others fortunately did not lead to goals.
Due to that faltering ambition in the league, Liverpool could soon be in danger of becoming the other club of the Merseyside, a place held by an ever improving Everton that has the third longest serving manager in the Premier League, David Moyes.
The Toffees did very well last season, capping it with two wins in all competitions over Liverpool as it wrestled 5th spot from Aston Villa before losing gallantly to Chelsea at the final of the FA Cup.
And with Jo extending his loan deal for the whole of this season from Manchester City; wise choice, coupled with Louis Saha on the field more than under the knife, Tim Cahill being the thorn he always is from midfield alongside Marouane Fellaini and the return of James Vaughn and fan favourites Mikel Arteta and Yakubu Aiyegbeni from injuries, getting the goals won’t be a problem for Everton.
Keeping the back tight however could be, that is if the club succeeds in keeping Joleon Lescott from the lure of City’s approach all through the summer. Last time, City improved its bid for the fine defender from £18m to £22m.
And if Lescott were to leave, Moyes could find someone else to fill the void left with the money ala Philippe Senderos from Arsenal or from the reserves but either way, you get the feeling the club would come through whatever the outcome.
That cannot be said of Aston Villa which is struggling to keep Ashley Young from lurking suitors while former captain Gareth Barry moved on, but to Man. City and not a club playing in the Champions League as he had advertised all through last season.
Add that to a thin squad of players and 6th place might just be quite a shot to aim at for Martin O’Neill, the burn-out of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Young last season was evident in the destrucitve dip in form plus, John Carew and Emile Heskey; good as they are, do not have age on their side.
That allows a club such as Fulham to take the place of the Villans. Just as Redknapp at Spurs, Roy Hudgson as been able to manage the Cottagers well enough. Same can also be said of Steve Bruce at a new look Sunderland which has seen the arrival of striker Darren Bent, Lorik Cana from Marseille and Frazier Campbell from Manchester United to add to the likes of Kenwyne Jones and Kieran Richardson, hopefully the new era would bring better luck over the season for the Black Cats.
The exit of Emile Heskey mid last season to Villa plus Valencia to Man. United and manager Steve Bruce to Sunderland, Wigan Athletic has itself an uphill task of matching its 11th place finishing of last season.
Over at Upton Park however, Gianfranco Zola can work his relatively young West Ham United side higher up the Premier League cadre owing to a good first season in Premier League management though managing a young squad burdened with a league, Cup and Europa League programme could be the undoing of the London club.
It would be interesting to see how Portsmouth fares this season, especially if it is finaly bought by…you guessed it, a stinking rich Middle Eastern. But all the money comes to nothing when it is not matched with performances on the field of play and manager Paul Hart has a wealth of experienced players at his disposal but a bit more speed and youth would do a lot of good for the south coast club, the loss of Glen Johnson to Liverpool though…not a good sign for an already tired defence.
At Ewood Park, Sam Allardyce looked like he was still getting used to the change of environment from neighbours Bolton Wanderers evident in Rovers’ indifferent form over last season. The exit of Roque Santa Cruz to Man. City can be well managed knowing the sort of manager Allardyce is and he would be hoping his Croatian recruit along with Franco di Santo on loan from Chelsea till January help with issues upfront.
Bolton meanwhile found the ride even harder than Rovers and manager Gary Megson probably is not looking forward to the upcoming season with few key players lost last season and main striker Johan Elmander still getting accustomed to the Premier League after a very disappointing first season on arrival from Toulouse.
Even more disappointing however was Hull City. Then newly promoted, the Tigers were contenders for the Premier League title a quarter games into the season but a severe dip in form saw a reverse in aspirations and it had become a dg fight against relegation which the KC Stadium outfit achieved on the final day last season; a far less reliance on part time preacher Geovanni would go a long way in retaining the club’s Premier League status at the end of this season.
Finally, Wolverhampton Wanderers leads the newly promoted clubs into the Premier League, the others being Birmingham City and Burnley. And really, much cannot be said of newly promoted clubs…Hull were title contenders at the start of last season, by the end they were desperately fighting off relegation.
A word though on Burnley, it took Tottenham extra time to knock the club out at the semi-final of the League Cup last season after three Premier League clubs, including Arsenal and Fulham, had failed to do same in earlier rounds.
The season begins on the weekend of August 15 with Arsenal’s visit to Everton the star match of the opening weekend alongside the reverse north London-Merseyside clash between Tottenham and Liverpool at White Hart Lane. Champions Man. United begin at home to Birmingham while Chelsea also start at home to Hull and Mark Hughes takes his star studded Man. City to old club and Lancashire neighbours Blackburn Rovers.
Opening weekend – Saturday, 15 August
Aston Villa v Wigan
Blackburn v Manchester City
Bolton v Sunderland
Chelsea v Hull
Everton v Arsenal
Manchester Utd v Birmingham
Portsmouth v Fulham
Stoke v Burnley
Tottenham v Liverpool
Wolves v West Ham
This is a compilation of some of football’s best strikers who for one reason or another have seen their careers…or better yet, sight on goal become blind partially or totally. In plain English, I mean they have become a shadow of their former deadly selves or have been forced to retirement.
First on the list is Marco van Basten and believe me, there are a precious few who match the Dutchman’s strike rate, let alone beat it.
218 league goals in 280 appearances for AFC Ajax and AC Milan speaks volumes in the Hall of Football Fame which also has numerous Dutch league and Cup titles along with Lega Calcio shields and ultimately the Champions League with Milan.
It then IS very unfortunate he did not get to inflict more damage on opposing defenses when at the ripe age of 28, his career came to an end no thanks to an ankle injury.
His coaching stint also has not been so successful, but not so bad, after leading a promising Oranje team to the Euro 2008 quarterfinal before finishing third behind surprise packages AZ Alkamaar and FC Twente in this season’s Dutch Eredivise…he resigned his post from Ajax afterwards.
Next is Dario Silva of Uruguay who among other clubs played for Malaga, FC Sevilla and Portsmouth before the worst happened.
In September of 2006, the striker along with two ex-footballers was involved in an accident when Silva lost control of his pick-up truck.
Sliva survived, but at the cost of his right leg which was amputated from knee down after he was thrown out of the truck, thus fracturing his skull and leg.
Martin Palermo however did not suffer like Silva did but his ego took a bit of mud when in the 1999 edition of the Copa Libertodores, he missed three penalties for Argentina against Colombia, a feat that earned him an unenviable place in none other than the Guiness Book of Records.
Palermo also never came to terms with his scoring boot in Europe as stints with Alaves and Villarreal show but his average with Boca Juniors is phenomenal with over 200 goals in under 250 appearances in two spells at the club.
He unfortunately has played seven times only for Argentina and scored three goals and while it may seem his world record feat ended his national team career, a spate of injuries at the time was the actual cause and with players such as Messi and Tevez and Aguero (who has a child-to-be with Maradona’s daughter, Maradona being Argentina boss now), it is hard for Palermo to break back into the national team.
So what other forward of high profile could have suffered career disappointment and there came Miguel Mista of Spain and more specifically, Valencia CF.
Full name Miguel Angel Ferrer Martinez, Mista was Rafael Benitez number one forward during their time at the Santiago Bernabeu with Real Madrid’s reserves.
Both then moved on to Tenerife where Mista’s goals helped the modest club to promotion into the Primera Liga in 2001 before both again moved onto bigger turfs with Valencia where two league titles and a UEFA Cup trophy was won.
Mista finished top scorer in the la Liga; earning the Pichichi title, in 2004 with los Che before finally parting ways with Benitez who left for Liverpool while he went ot Atletico Madrid.
Bad move that was as the man he replaced, Fernando Torres, flourished at Liverpool with Rafa while Mista failed to make any impact AT ALL with Atletico, crashing into obscurity faster than the moles dig into the earth.
Next in the list of unfortunates is former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who unknown to many, began his career quite poorly before a move to Boavista proved his break in front of goal, scoring 20 goals in 29 league matches for the Portuguese club.
That earned him just the Portuguese Cup though and a move to England with Leeds United for whom he continued his prolific scoring form and after two seasons; coinciding with Leeds downturn, he moved to Atletico Madrid.
At Atletico, he amazingly scored 24 league goals and 10 more in other competitions, yet was unable to save the club from the ignomity of relegation that season, prompting a move to Chelsea.
At Chelsea, he finished top scorer in three of the four seasons spent at Stamford Bridge but failed to land the league title with the Blues.
Hasselbaink NEVER won a major title at his sojourn round Europe; except the Portuguese Cup and Super Cup with Boavista and Community Shield with Chelsea, also failing to make any impact with the national team with the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooij, Dennis Bergkamp, Roy Makaay and Patrick Kluivert well ahead in the pecking order.