Torres has had 100 chances at Chelsea… and now the fans are finally giving up on him
09:49 GMT, 10 January 2013
09:57 GMT, 10 January 2013
Fernando Torres’ dismal performance against Swansea on Wednesday night was a first for the striker.
Not his first shambolic showing in a Chelsea shirt, by any means, but the first time the crowd at Stamford Bridge treated his display with the respect it deserved.
Or lack of, rather, with first cheers going around the ground when the fourth official held up his No 9 in red on the electronic board, and then jeers as the striker made his way from the field with as much vigour as he had put in at any other point of the night.
Turning: Fernando Torres was booed by sections of the Chelsea fans and cheered when he was substituted
Of course, many Chelsea fans have kept this view on the Spaniard for quite some time.
This, though, is the first occasion, on his 100th appearance for the club, on which the sentiment has been so widely displayed.
But why have Chelsea fans drawn a line under this display, rather than any of the others
Time perhaps – anybody’s patience will wear thin at some point. Perhaps it is because he is so fond of the widely disliked manager, Rafael Benitez (and the feeling is mutual).
Struggling: Torres fails to make an impact against Swansea in the Capital One Cup semi final first leg
Benitez was brought to Chelsea to try and get the best out of Torres, but after an initial goal-rush, he is still putting in lethargic, often hopeless performances. No spirit, no guts.
All of those may be factors, but really, the solution to the question – and much of Chelsea’s woes – lay on the other half of that electronic board, in bright green. The No 29.
Demba Ba entered the fray, making his home debut, with just 10 minutes remaining.
He proceded to cause havoc in Swansea’s penalty area, scoring a goal which was harshly ruled out for offside, being booked unfairly for a dive, and connecting with two headers which went close.
On his knees: Torres has failed to live up to the 50m transfer fee
His contribution in those 10 minutes was many times that of Torres’s, in the previous 80.
Finally Chelsea have an alternative to Torres up front. Finally the fans can show how they feel.
Prior to Ba’s departure, showing dissent to Torres was essentially shooting themselves in the foot.
Daniel Sturridge had been injured for much of the season and many believed he was not a satisfactory alternative anyway.
Not the reaction he was hoping for: Some Chelsea fans boo and cheer the substitution of Torres
Booing Torres would only have served to bring his morale down lower than it already was.
But in Ba, Chelsea have a striker at the top of his game. A striker hungry for goals, eager to find the perfect positions and willing to run for anything which could turn into a chance.
Shouts for the Senegalese hitman began after the interval. That would have been an apt time to bring him on – Chelsea dominated the first half, with 14 shots to Swansea’s two.
All they were missing was someone to put the ball in the net.
Replaced: Torres shakes hands with Rafael Benitez as he is taken off
Although it was two mistakes by the usually reliable Branislav Ivanovic which created Swansea’s goals, it was the lack of a real striking presence which cost them the game.
Upon leaving the ground, after the defeat which leaves Chelsea’s Capital One Cup hopes hanging by a thread, one fan remarked loudly: ‘I’d be happy if I never saw or heard of Torres again.’
Ba may go some way to making that the case, although Benitez is headstrong and unwilling to bend to pressure.
But it would surprise nobody if at Stoke away this weekend he dropped his former Liverpool golden boy for the man who could save Chelsea’s season. If given the chance.