Between leaving Anfield and arriving in SW6 Fernando Torres must have run over a dozen black cats, broken half a dozen mirrors and walked under scores of ladders. He could quite easily have had a hat trick last Saturday, but once again, he ended the game goalless and looking more than a little frustrated.
The crowd did their best to demonstrate that they could see the effort he was putting in and how well he was playing, by chanting his name continually through the game, but he must still wonder what he must do to score. Just to rub salt into the wound, he produces a move so athletically awesome that it would have been bound to have been goal of the season (if the press didn’t hate us of course), but instead sees the ball cannon off the crossbar, narrowly avoiding crossing the goal line and thus allowing Frank Lampard, a man never in need to prove his goal scoring acumen, to shin it past the keeper and in. Torres kept his composure remarkably well – had it been me I’d have been face down beating the turf with my feet and fists like a demented three year old in a supermarket high on tartrazine.
The only small crumb of comfort that he has is that with Drogba at the African Cup of Nations at least he knows he is going to get a run of games. He can perhaps relax a little in the knowledge that each appearance isn’t his one opportunity to impress, or that in the following game he will be given just 13 minutes to make his mark. Opposition teams still fear him as they always double up and sometimes even triple up on him and that in itself should be giving the rest of the team space and time – not that that would be much consolation to Torres.
The supporters obviously still have faith in him, the question is whether he has the faith in himself to over-come this prolonged dry spell – only time will tell but all involved should persevere as strikers of this calibre are few and far between.
And just as I have pleaded for patience and faith for one player, so those same characteristics have run out for another – step forward one Jose Bosingwa.
Now I don’t like speaking ill of our players but I am just about done with him. I think we would actually be a better team with 10 men than having a full complement with Bosingwa playing at right-back. The guy is a liability and while he is on the pitch, there is of course an expectation by supporters, but also by his team mates, that he is there to do his job as a right-back. But he doesn’t – which leaves the other players, especially the defenders, stretched and unsure of whether they should be steadfastly carrying out their own duties, or also covering for the mono-brow when he once again, as has been his way, loses complete awareness of where ball and opposition player may be at any given time within his vicinity.
He looks like a man continually falling for the shoulder tap routine – constantly spinning around to find no one there – a bit like his team mates, when they expect him to have their back.
The result against Sunderland was certainly very welcome – and it was most definitely one of those games where the result was everything, but let’s not be blinkered here, we rode our luck on more than one occasion. I lost count at how many times there was a communal sharp intake of breath around the ground as the opposition simply waltzed though our defence – we just need to be thankful that Bendtner was about as sharp as a dying Labrador in front of goal and just about as agile.
Indeed the gods of football although perhaps not exactly smiling on us, seemed occupied elsewhere to do us much harm last weekend, indeed some reasonably advantageous results allowed us a little breathing space but things are very tight up there for that 4th spot.
AVB’s relationship with the players still remains under scrutiny, but the manager speaks and behaves in a manner which suggests that he has the authority and mandate of the owner to do things his way – no matter who he upsets. Theoretically that is as it should be, but progression would surely be easier with a happy squad not one that has to be pulled kicking and screaming to your way of thinking – but if we have to go down that the painful route, so be it. I don’t think it ever does footballers any harm to remember once in a while that they are not the only ones involved in the game – all be it that they usually do take centre stage.
So one signing completed this transfer window and rumour has it one more to go – unless it’s Messi I can’t see it making a huge difference to our season. That said, fluctuating results for all truly do make it anyone’s league at the moment. We ourselves went from 40/1 contenders to 28/1 by Monday morning – but then those same bookies had Tottenham at 10/1 to win the league – so what do they know eh? Come on Chelsea