— PremierLeagueX (@PremierLeagueX) December 15, 2011
After months, not to say over a year, Fernando Torres and his management finally do some positive PR for the “poor” Chelsea striker. Torres recently hit the wall again with a century miss last week at United and a red card on Saturday. While clearly playing better and scoring, he seems not to be out of the hole, yet. For the next three league games he won’t be available due to his red card. After that, he can take a new start with all the new energy and strategies.Good luck, Fernando.
59 million Euro and still no goal for Chelsea. While in Liverpool the supporters can’t hide their smiling faces, Chelsea fans and officials are wondering what is going on with Fernando Torres. Coming from Liverpool in January, he hasn’t scored in 11 games. Roman Abramovich’s face is getting longer and longer as the season goes on. Carlo Ancelotti even “admitted” a mistake in bringing Torres from the beginning in Chelsea’s Champions League game against Manchester United.
So, what is going on? Torres can’t play anymore? He lost his ability to play soccer? As it always is when players, coaches or teams are in crisis, there is quite a number of people who knew that (in this case) Torres is not as good as the press made him. Looking at his game at this time, if you wouldn’t know better, it almost looks like it. However, in my opinion, Torres is still a world class player. Yes, he is completely out of his game, nothing works. There are quite a few reasons for that. Some easy to understand, other’s need a little understanding and experience of the subject.
Let’s go back to the Euro 2008. Torres just made Spain European Champ with his goal against Germany in the final. He came back from the Euro 2008 and had a good season in Liverpool with awesome games, against Manchester United in March of 2009 for example. At one point, he caught an injury and Liverpool, including coach Benitez, a crisis. As it often is the case, Torres is not the first player that faces a problem to find form after injury and other issues, the dynamics take over and the entire “run” comes to a stop and all of the sudden nothing works. The pressure is increasing and one thing comes to the other and the problems mount. In between is the world cup, where Torres got injured again. While, like every other player, he was happy the world cup and the long (unsuccessful) season was over and he could rest, the new injury just put him back again. Injured, only a short break after the world cup, no real good preparation for the new season and a lot of pressure in Liverpool to do better than a year before. It didn’t look promising.
Playing Europa League wasn’t good enough for anyone at Anfield Road. Pressure, injury, only a short break after world cup and a team that is actually not a top class Premier League team is a recipe for disaster in an environment like Liverpool. By the way, Torres is not the only one that is suffering from loss of performance. As the best example you can use Bayern Munich and a few players of that team, including Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery.
To keep your cool in a situation like that is difficult. You want to perform, you can perform, but everything seems to be against the team and the player. Liverpool wasn’t able to stay in touch with the top five in order to play for Champions League glory in the next season. Torres, and a few others became nervous. While “the others” didn’t have offers, Torres had one, Chelsea! Was it the right thing to do? In my eyes not. It wasn’t good for both, club (Chelsea) and player. The only one that made good in that deal was Liverpool. With that, I want to bring your attention to my blog post from early January, “Liverpool and the p…”! In that post I talked about luck in soccer and that sometimes luck comes back for some incredible reason. In this case, Torres leaving the club served as a turning point for Liverpool. Deep inside, this freed the team and club of pressure and somehow things that already started to get better with Kenny Dalglish, turned the curve for good. Personally, I was hoping it would have been something else and it would have turned out good for both, Torres and Liverpool. I think he had a good platform at Anfield Road. All it took was the turn of the tide, somehow.
If you can blame Torres for anything, it is the bad advice he took. If he acted on his own, he made a wrong decision. This, however, can be made up very quick. Soccer is a fast pace business, what happened yesterday is worth nothing tomorrow. Liverpool is already out of the woods, Torres will score goals again, I am sure of that, and Chelsea will play Champions league again next year. If that is enough for the “ownership” of Chelsea, is a different story. There could be the next storm coming up for Fernando Torres. Back in January, I gave Liverpool the advice to stay cool and have a beer, the tide will turn. Now I am giving Torres advice: Forget about yourself for the rest of the season, rest mentally and just support the team. Try to shift your focus on something else. Go to the coach and ask him to only bring you after 60 minutes and start with the others until you get your game back. Your game is scoring goals, and once you hit again, many more will follow. Until then, you need to get out of the firing line. Small example, Wayne Rooney and his crisis after some “private matters” earlier this season.
Manchester United and Chelsea face off today in a “super-clash” in the Champions League quarterfinal.
Besides of winning the game, there is much more at stake. For the fans, the usual bragging rights are up for crab. For the clubs there are millions of dollars at stake. Within the Champions League competition, each of the clubs collected already around $45 million. The winner of the two-legged quarterfinal can collect another $15 – $20 million, other millions of marketing income “on the side” not counted.
As far as the game goes, the winner is impossible to predict. Everything can happen and much will depend on how well the players got up this morning. Both teams know each other very well and major tactical inventions are not to expect. Manchester United seems to be the team that displayed more consistency over the season, but at this stage of the competition it is about “win or die” and the past performance is worth as much as the paper it was commented on.
Chelsea is awaiting Fernando Torres’ first goal for the club since his arrival in January. For Chelsea and Torres, it couldn’t be a better day than this event to finally set a tone and value the price tag for the transfer. On the other side, Wayne Rooney is in the spotlight. Rooney is facing a two game ban in the Premier League for a “verbal outburst” in last Saturday’s game in West Ham. He is asked to make up for his poor public display and play his soul out.
Watch the game on Fox Soccer Channel at 2:45pm.
It’s time to take a look at the status of the Premier League after 30 rounds and before the Euro 2012 qualifier break. As far as the top 5 concerns, not too much has changed. There are still the same 5 teams fighting for the title and European glory. The difference is, the competition became more fierce and and the field came closer together. Liverpool, due to the much increased performance since Kenny Dalglish took over, Fernando Torres left and Suarez and Carroll joined the team, has a shot at 5th place, maybe 4th. That is an incredible accomplishment, considering the status of the club in January.Take a look at my post from January 10th.
Manchester United is still the team to beat. While the times of “unbeatable” are over, the team avoided to get sacked when the times became a little harder after the first losses. Sir Alex Ferguson and the experience of the entire team kept them on top of the league. So far, they were even able to compensate for injuries of key players, another sign of the healthy structure of the roster and Sir Alex’s outstanding work. As it stands right now, Manchester United is the top favorite for the Championship. Next game: @ West Ham
Arsenal remains the main hunter at this point. Five points behind and a game on hand means they can reduce the point difference to two points and make it a one game competition. While they had and have there own small crisis, they were able to take advantage of the competition’s dynamics (United finally got beaten) and sneak up on United. Arsenal is “free” of other worries, since the Premier League is the only remaining opportunity for a titel this season. While the gunners don’t like this fact, it might be an advantage for the remaining 9 games, considering they have a few injury issues with important players. On the sideline, the gunners created a stunner with reactivating Jens Lehmann, due to a major injury misery on the goalie position. Looking at Manuel Almunia’s form, it might even be possible that Lehmann appears in the first team before the end of the season. Everything is possible. Next game: Home against Blackburn Rovers
Chelsea just pushed Manchester City from 3rd place this past weekend. They are now a point ahead of the citizens and present themselves in outstanding condition. The past performances didn’t leave a lot of opportunity for the critics. The win over Manchester City was deserved and accomplished in a classy way. In this condition, it is fair to say they might have a chance to win the championship. Fernando Torres still hasn’t scored, but with other players able to hit the net, they can score at any time. At this point, the only thing that can derail them, is themselves. Some of the players are not too happy with the situation, namely Torres, Drogba and Anelka. Neither one of them is happy with the current situation of limited playing time. Also, the club owner was seen with a sweet and sour face after Torres’ substitution against City this past weekend. Good for Carlo Ancelotti that the game was won, after the substitution. Next game: @ Stoke
Manchester City is, in my opinion, kind of a bummer. Considering the names and the quality of the roster, it is next to ridiculous what the actual performance is. Last week they had to excuse themselves from the Europa League and right afterthat from 3rd place in the Premier League as well. I actually thought, in January and February, they will take a very close look at the championship, but since then the tendency is much more downwards. It seems the spending spree will not pay-off and even champions league qualification is questionable. Their immediate competition for the champions league qualification somehow is displaying a much better oiled engine. City seems to have to many “construction areas”. While there is a lot of work to do in integrating all these purchases, it also appears they acquired some unrest with Ballotelli. That one is known for his escapades and Mancini needs to keep an eye on this bird. At this moment, it looks like a struggle for the citizens and even 4th place is questionable. What might help them to secure 4th place is the difficult schedule of Spurs in the last games. Home against Sunderland
Spurs have again delivered an outstanding season. They represented themselves in the champions league as an outstanding and grown soccer team. Harry Redknapp has done an outstanding job in creating an international competitor. I am excited to see them against Real Madrid and I am convinced Spurs will give Real a run for their money. In the Premier League the remaining schedule is a though one. Mid May will determine Spurs’ faith. On 4/16 they play ManC in Manchester and then on 4/20 have Arsenal for a make up game. One thing is for sure, if it doesn’t work for them, the championship will be decided by Spurs. Except Manchester United, they have to play everyone of the top 6 in their remaining games. Those that lose against Spurs, will lose their championship and Europe, one way or the other, ambitions. While I have doubt’s that Spurs can master that schedule, I will cross my fingers for them. From what I see, they created a lot of friends and the team’s and coaches’ work deserves champions league next season. @ Wigan
Chelsea took another step to put themselves back into the race for championship in the Premier League. After today’s 3-1 win in Blackpool and the results from the weekend, there is hope for Chelsea supporters.
The game took place on a rather “modest” level. Both sides played far below the usual level of soccer. Both began careful and Chelsea was able to take advantage of a Terry goal and then maintain the lead and wait for further opportunities. They presented itself and the Blues took their chance and increased the lead to 3-0. Blackpool woke up too late. Only in the last 5 minutes they stepped on the pedal and created opportunities. It was too late.
Interesting, Torres is still chasing his first goal for Chelsea. Today, the Spaniard’s performance was not worth further comments.
On Wednesday Everton and Birmingham will face off at Goodison Park. Everton, with a win, can catch up with rival Liverpool and compete for 6th place. For Birmingham, that always referred to the “games on hand”, a loss would create trouble. While still in the race in the FA Cup, a loss can create an unusual situation – playing international, and in the Championship.
It gets though in the Barclay’s English premier League. There are no more easy games anymore. Ask Spurs. After an exciting game at Wolves with both teams going for the win, points were shared. 3-3. Defoe scored goal number 1 and 2 for this season, finally. Wolves turn into a though bite for the top teams. Clearly, Wolves presentation deserves results and if they can keep their form, they should be able to pass on relegation to someone else.
On the way up are “The New Hammers”. 3-0 against Stoke. No questions were asked by Stoke. Ba, da Costa and Hitzlsperger scored. Clear trend for the Hammers, up!
In Birmingham on the other hand, a hang-over has taken over. 1-3 loss against West Brom and taking position on a relegation spot. There must be a huge performance boost for City to avoid deep trouble. Yes, two games on hand, but those are for sure no sure wins. Better get the points before those games are played. They play in Europe next year, but might also play in the second “fiddel” in England.
Manchester City played Wigan at home and had a lot of trouble and work to secure the points with a 1-0 win. Wigan played an outstanding game and City left the field lucky to have the so important points. One can feel really bad for Wigan, playing well, but not getting results in.
The Clash of the Giants took place in Liverpool and found a deserved winner in the Kops. 3-1 was the result in a match that Liverpool controlled for the most part. Only after halftime had United a few minutes when they tried to turn the match around. Kuijt with three goals was the hero in Liverpool.
Arsenal had to face uncomfortable Sunderland and had their hands full. A number of opportunities wasn’t enough for the Gunners, Sunderland took a point. Arshavin scored a regular goal, but the linesman saw offside. Saturdays game wasn’t a confidence booster for the game against Barca this week. The Gunners will have to find a way to keep Barca in check, somehow.
Also, Newcastle United – Everton 1-2 and Bolton – Aston Villa 3-2 and Fulham – Blackburn 3-2.
On Monday Chelsea is visiting Blackpool and a win is needed to stay in touch with the top three. On the other hand, Blackpool needs the points as well in order to avoid more trouble in their relegation battle. Chelsea is hoping to see Torres’ first goal for Chelsea and win.
The number of teams that are involved in relegation has increased by one. Newcastle, with today’s loss, has joined the group and is just six points clear of relegation.
Over the past two weeks a lot has been written about the transfers in European soccer. Everyone and their grandma has given opinion and other contributions about the subject. I don’t want to elaborate on all these transfers again. However, Fernando Torres’ transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea is still working to sink in.
Torres this week has declared that he never kissed any club’s badge. Not in the past and he will not in the future. Well, he doesn’t have to do that, but dear Fernando, lack of passion for what
|Major League Soccer Jerseys|
you do and your job is a problem. It speaks for Torres that he openly states his opinion about the way he takes his job, so everyone can get a picture of his work style. Lack of passion for your job, however, is not a good thing. That doesn’t only count for professional soccer players, that counts for everyone in any work situation. Just think about it: If you have a problem identifying yourself with what you do and for whom you do it, how good can you really be? Back to soccer, lack of passion and identification is clearly a problem. That you are able to juggle the ball 3,000 times in a phone booth or run the 100 meters in 3 seconds is nice, but especially in professional soccer you need to put more on the table. Most do, and therefore do better than you. Being successful in professional soccer needs a chain reaction of different things: Ability, fitness, willpower, determination and luck. Once you have that in a row, you will make it in. If you take a look at Torres’ history, that’s how he made it up the ranks. Becoming a top player was a lot of work and cost him a lot of sweat and tears. And I am willing to take every bet here, without passion for what he was doing and his club at the time, he would have never made it that far.
Once you are a superstar, you need to remember first an old saying: “It is much easier getting up there, than staying on top”. I believe here is the issue in Torres’ case. A lot of factors play a role in a soccer players career. Influences from the outside, such as press, fans, coach, change in private life and other things beside the soccer field need to be considered, while you need to maintain all the stuff from your journey on the way up. In my opinion, it is no coincidence that Torres scored almost half of all his Liverpool goals in the first year at Anfield Road. And there is a reason that his performance curve since the Euro 2008 was on a steady road downwards. That the 08-09 season wasn’t overly successful can be blamed on the situation after the Euro 2008. A lot of top players have problems to find form after big tournaments. However, I claim that not coming back to top form has a mental reason and might very well be linked to his attitude towards his job. If you take a look at the last games before his transfer to Chelsea, there was a difference in attitude on the field. Whatever the motivation was for that, we can all speculate about it, there was one and it changed his game.
Now Torres is at Chelsea and is trying to score goals and have a better game. I am very interested in seeing how this turns out. My tip for Torres: Change your attitude, identity yourself with what you are doing and for whom your are doing it. Consider Chelsea’s and your fellow teammate’s goals as well. Once you do that, you will find a lot of common interest and then you can accomplish goals together. Good luck.
|Consider our advertisers:|
Transfer time is over. Thank God!
First things first, I was wrong! In my last contribution to this blog I stated that the Torres transfer will not happen. Well, wrong. Nobody knows everything, not even me. With that said, I am not really sad about the fact that I was wrong. This transfer is completely insane and I claim I have common sense. Therefore, I couldn’t see this kind of waste coming. I learned.
$80,000,000.00, look at all the zero’s, for Torres? Yes, he is not a bad player and a couple of years ago he was really good. But that was before and right after the Euro 2008. For a year and a half he surely didn’t demonstrate a “value” of that magnitude. That’s one thing, and, yes, I admit, he was injured for a while. The other is, I didn’t see Chelsea being short of a striker at this time. Looking at the roster, there are quite some capable guys around. This is one of the things I have a hard time to understand, you have good players and you replace a good one with one that is not better or not even that good, just to spend money. ManCity had a few of those buys as well. For example, Dzeko is coming for $40,000,000.00 and Adebayor goes on loan to Real Madrid, where he scored today. What I am saying is this, don’t spend so much money for stuff you actually don’t need. In personal finance such leads to being broke at one point. And here we are at another point one should not underestimate: In times like this, recession and all, you might not set the right tone, especially when you a few hours before the deal was announced declare you made a $70,000,000 loss. Afterall, you also have a “public relations point of view” to handle. Even if I would wear a “blue cap”, I am not sure I would be really happy about this Torres deal.
The games today showed some interesting results. Not so much on top of the table, were the 4 of the top 5 won their games and kept themselves in the race for glory, but the results from 6 to 20 displayed interesting outcomes. West Ham won in Blackpool and made ground up, while Blackpool now all of the sudden changed the status from survivor to want-to-survivor. The same can be said about West Brom that just managed a tie against Wigan. The theory with “having a game on hand and that is a good thing” can turn quickly into a liability when the pressure is increasing as the “circus” moves into the last third of the competition. What three game days ago looked like same points, but a game on hand, turns now into a must win. Everyone from 15 to 20 will agree with that, I am sure. I am under the impression that some of those you wouldn’t think about today will face some trouble over the coming weeks. This counts for Newcastle, Blackpool, Stoke, West Brom and Birmingham. Lose a home game and you are in the middle of it.
A word about ManCity, only a tie in Birmingham. Not enough, in my opinion. 13 games left and if they want to win the title, they can’t leave any points on the table anymore. Sounds like a tall order.
Winter-Transfers and other problems
The last few weeks have produced some interesting transfers, not only in the Premier League, but also across Europe. Adebayor to Real, Dzeko to ManCity and a few others still pending to happen before Monday 11:00PM. Of those that are still pending, the “Torres deal” is probably the most interesting. I am wondering, Liverpool needs some “upgrade” of the squad, no doubt. But why would you just buy a striker and in the same move sell your “biggest caliber”? Selling Torres wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever. Think of it, Liverpool is still in for 5th place and with that some European money, and that is what they need. An exchange, Suarez for Torres, would not be anything more, an exchange not an improvement. Besides that, Suarez would do better from coming behind Torres rather than taking the place on top. My tip, the Torres deal is not happening.
ManCity and the money
Let’s take a look at ManCity and their staffing strategy and business tactics. They spent quite some money in the past. Sometimes, one is wondering about the plan behind it. $40 million for Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg. That’s a lot of money. Was it a necessary transfer? Well, that can be debated. In my opinion, it was not. There were 4 players to fit the position: Adebayor, Balotelli, Jo and Tevez. Considering the system played, 4 guys for one job. With that kind of guns already available, you don’t spend $40 million. That looks like “I just want to have it”. Now with Adebayor gone to Real Madrid (on loan, still paid by City) and Dzeko in, there are still 4 guys for that one spot. As a coach, while it is nice to have such choices, there is a lot of unrest cooking up. Looking at this from the business side, it is not making a lot of sense either. Go and add up the spent money on the forward positions. I claim, they will never get that money back. Not to talk about making a profit in buying and selling.
After today it appears that in Spain the cake is eaten. Madrid lost in Osasuna and now Barca is sitting on a 7 point advantage. That means they need to lose twice and draw another one while Real has to win every game. Not happening!
They just got Adebayor on loan from ManCity in order to improve fire power and possibly win their games a little easier. After today’s loss, what’s left of this deal? Adebayor will not be able to play in the Champions League and the league title is further away than ever. All that’s left is the Copa Del Rey, which they can still snap from Barca. Well, it might be worth the loan fee.