It’s often said that one swallow doesn't make a summer, but two goals may be the making of a revitalised striker. Fernando Torres capped a 0-3 Chelsea victory at Schalke with the sort of ‘line leading’ display that many thought was only in his past. The question is whether this is now a Torres back on the straight and narrow road to the form that once made him the once feared striker in Europe, or just another false horizon.
Since his signing from Liverpool the call for the ‘real’ Fernando Torres to stand up and be counted has largely gone unanswered. Sure there have been a few cameo performances, and stand-out moments – the goal at the Camp Nou to dispose of Barcelona in the successful run to Champions’ League glory, giving Gary Neville his famous ‘scoregasm’ particularly sticks in the mind. These have merely been pastiches however, reminders of what was, and probably won’t be again.
When Jose Mourinho arrived back at Stamford Bridge, he would doubtless have been offered a list of fairly exacting tasks to achieve. Winning the title would have been on there, as probably would have been securing a second Champions’ League trophy. The list probably also included turning the Blues into the team that Roman Abramovich likes to watch; the famous ‘Barcelona in Blue shirts’ dream. All of these are difficult tasks, but ones that probably come with the turf if you sit in the Stamford Bridge hot seat, so Mourinho would have probably accepted the challenges. He may however have ‘red pencilled’ through any reference to t turning Fernando Torres back into the player that he once was. If that was on the list, it could have been the deal-breaker. Perhaps not even Mourinho is that special!
As the nascent season gets into its swing however, there’re just the beginnings of a sign that Torres may be on the turn. After sitting out a few games, he turned in the sort of performance against Tottenham that must have gladdened the hearts of the Blues’ fans that have stayed so loyal to the striker. Sure he got sent off – harshly, although he could easily have been ‘scratched’ from the game before that. The performance however glittered with aggression and the desire to score that seemed so long to be missing. Perhaps the battle with Vertonghan was the blue touch paper that was now lit. As the striker walked from the field after his red card, Mourinho spoke briefly to him and patted him on the back. It would have been fascinating to hear what he said, but it wouldn't be the biggest surprise if it was something along the lines of: “Now, that’s how I want you to play. You are my striker!”
The next few weeks will be interesting to watch. As mentioned above, a couple of goals are only a signpost and a true renaissance of Torres will only be judged over a much longer period. The tenacity of his display, the desire, and not least the couple of goals have given a glimpse of just what might be around the corner. If it pans out to be real gold, and Torres returns to something like his old form, Mourinho will surely have underlined his ‘special’ status, and perhaps the other things on the Abramovich list may also be achievable.