COMMENTARY | The announcement that Fernando Torres would be in Chelsea's starting eleven against Reading on Wednesday evening wasn't remotely popular amongst the away supporters who had made the short journey to Berkshire from the English capital. Unrepentant vitriol was on the menu.
The arrival of Demba Ba to Stamford Bridge from Newcastle for £7million, was supposed to herald a new era for the club's faithful, one where they could actually rely on a striker to finish a chance that was presented to him. The Senegalese star's opening salvo for Chelsea has seen him score three goals in just eight appearances, five of which have been from the bench.
In fact the general atmosphere in West London towards Torres has changed dramatically now that there is an able bodied substitute waiting to replace his Laurel and Hardy inspired rendition of a Premier League forward. Boos have greeted the news that Ba hasn't begun games, and Rafa Benitez's decision to rotate the pair in the single striking starting berth is seen as yet another reason why the former Liverpool head-honcho shouldn't be at the club.
But are we being overly mean to Torres? During Chelsea' encounter with Reading he set up their opening goal in first-half-injury-time with a sublime through ball for Juan Mata, but he still failed to look even remotely interested throughout.
This assist though did come off the back of his 83rd minute curled corker against Brentford that spared the Blues from the embarrassment of being eliminated from the FA Cup by a League One side.
And despite being abused at almost every ground he goes to, Torres is still Chelsea's leading goal scorer in all competitions this season having amassed 15 strikes, one ahead of Juan Mata. In fact, Torres has scored the same as Jermain Defoe, and more than Olivier Giroud, Nikica Jelavic, Marouane Fellaini, Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Papiss Cisse, Steven Fletcher, and Wayne Rooney, but still seems to be maligned for his form and lack of threat in front of goal.
Of course, none of these players cost £50 million, and each of them have had either an injury or a suspension to deal with during the current campaign. Also, Torres' spells at Athletico Madrid and Liverpool were showered with deft finishes, great link-up play, and a dynamic presence that made some of the greatest defenders in the game look like chumps, something that has been absent ever since Roman Abramovich decided to sign up the 28 year-old.
At the moment, Torres' goals appear to be an anomaly, and he continues to be unable to truly profit from the skilled players, Frank Lampard, Oscar, Mata and Eden Hazard, that surround him. But, maybe Ba's presence might light up a fire beneath him, and help the forward to finally prove his worth to the Chelsea contingent. But if it doesn't, surely his time at the Bridge will come to an end this summer, and a certain Russian oligarch will need to splurge to replace him.
Gregory Wakeman currently lives in New York City but is a Lancastrian at heart and has followed soccer since he was in nappies. He has been published on Bleacher Report, Rant Sports, and Mobbly.
- Sports & Recreation
- Fernando Torres
- Demba Ba