After a season soaked in surprise and controversy, the close-season and the next campaign promise to be equally intriguing. The first port of call for Abramovich surrounds the vacant managerial position. When that matter is cleared up, the team needs to be re-invigorated as they attempt to wrestle the Premier League crown away from Manchester United. With an ageing squad awaiting a new manager, topping the to-do-list is to maximise the potential in the current squad, with the focus ultimately on Torres.
Next season is undoubtly going to be the biggest of Torres’ career. It appeared the selection headache the Spanish hitman introduced was a predicament Ancelotti did not wish for. The statistics of the £50m man’s Chelsea career back this up, as in his 14 league appearances he completed 90 minutes on just four occasions, bagging just one goal and two assists in the process.
In fairness to Ancelotti he was not given time to mould Torres into his first team. Combine a vital Champions League campaign with Chelsea grappling to retain the title, the ex-Milan Coach had few chances to experiment. Rumours in the press link a host of names with the manager’s role, including Marco van Basten, Guus Hiddink and Harry Redknapp, but whoever Abramovich deems viable, they must build the team around the ex-Liverpool striker. However, this is where the problem begins as he was the focal point at Anfield – a responsibility from which he thrived – and he succeeded under Rafael Benitez, a manager renowned for his tactical intricacies.
The same must happen at Chelsea if Torres is to flourish, but another personality perhaps stands in his way, so Didier Drogba’s immediate future is as important to Torres as anything else. The latter likes occupying the lone striker role with support in either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, so while Drogba remains on Chelsea’s books, there will continue to be a battle for match day supremacy. The suggestion of Redknapp taking charge surely leaves certain boxes unticked. Fundamentally he has not won enough at club level and nor does he have the tactical nous to suggest he can satisfy Abramovich’s perennial itch of European domination.
This is not to propose Torres is, or will be a Chelsea failure – he has scored too many goals during his career to promote such negativity – but he did not look a good-fit with their style of play last term. A genuine tactician is required at Stamford Bridge, who can offer versatility, as the club’s future needs to be built around El Nino.