The recipe should be simple – take a world class striker and add service and you’ll end up with goals and success. Simple that is, for everyone but Liverpool.
Whilst Dimitar Berbatov enjoyed the adulation of his Manchester United team-mates after scoring his third goal of the afternoon, his opposite number stood with hands on hips and foot on the ball which would soon be placed on the Bulgarian’s mantelpiece. His disgruntled and dejected expression told the whole excruciating story.
The day should have belonged to Fernando Torres, but as we’ve come to expect, it was not one to savour.
For the talisman has not enjoyed the best of years. After an excellent start, in which he became the fastest Liverpool player to score 50 goals, Torres experienced somewhat a barren run and sustained a list of injuries longer than a Martin Scorsese epic. A withdrawal against Birmingham signalled the end of the season for Torres and the beginning of the worst spell of his illustrious career. Not even a World Cup victory gave Torres a boost; after all, Spain supremo Vicente del Bosque had dropped him ahead of the quarter final with Paraguay.
Long-suffering fans thought that Spain’s victory over the summer would invigorate Torres and give him a new lease of life; Torres could fire them to Premier League glory under new manager Roy Hodgson. How wrong they were.
A lacklustre performance at St. Andrews – hardly Torres’ favourite stomping ground – was not what fans were expecting, but who could blame the man? Hodgson hasn’t learnt from his predecessor’s failings, his insistence on 4-5-1 does little for Torres and despite the wealth of attacking talent within the side – Gerrard, Cole and Meireles to name a few – there is still a reluctance to supply Torres, and you have to ask why. A forward of Torres’ calibre needs one chance, and one chance only to punish the opposition. Just ask Aston Villa fans.
What was particularly surprising, which may come as a shock, was not the Spaniard’s performance, but the criticism directed at Torres from numerous personalities within the game. Perhaps the most astonishing came from Jamie Redknapp, who described him as “terrible” and “diabolical”. Harsh words indeed, but even his biggest critic – except Redknapp of course – would agree that it’s scarcely down to him. For everyone but the hierarchy at Anfield, the answer to Torres’ woes is plain to see. Give him the ball, how difficult can it be? As previously mentioned, they have the creative attacking talent and the clinical finisher, so where is the confusion? It’s no coincidence that when Liverpool looked to utilise their star man against United at the weekend that they got results. After turning Jonny Evans inside-out and drawing the foul, Steven Gerrard converted from the spot. Minutes later, a tangle with John O’Shea allowed Gerrard to equalise with a free-kick. The turning point for Liverpool you may ask; distribution to Torres.
If Liverpool are to have any success this season, then it is imperative that they supply their front-man. They’ve seen it all before and they know how dangerous he is. The answer to Liverpool’s troubles is Fernando Torres. Now to give him the ball.
They say too many cooks spoil the broth, but Liverpool are lacking them. If Cole, Meireles and co. are willing to become those cooks, then they may create that fine broth – Torres in fine form, with a smile etched on his face.