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Torres anointed Chelsea’s main man

May 24, 2012

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The Spain striker receives the assurances he wanted when speaking out after the triumph in Munich

Fernando Torres need not worry. The Chelsea striker ran the gamut of emotions in the Champion s League final on Saturday and he departed the arena in Munich having allowed them to get the better of him. The club, he said, had treated him “in a way I was not expecting” during a season that featured “the worst moments of my career”. His omission from the starting lineup against Bayern Munich had been “maybe the biggest disappointment of my life”. He said that he needed assurances about the future.

At Stamford Bridge on Wednesday afternoon, they were forthcoming. Overwhelmingly so. Chelsea may not yet have a permanent manager and it is no great leap to suggest that whoever it may be would surely want a loud say in the identity of the player to spearhead his team. The powers at Stamford Bridge, though, have already spoken. Torres must be the main man.

“Fernando Torres is the man that we will go forward with and Fernando Torres will score us the goals,” said the club’s chief executive, Ron Gourlay. “Have no doubt that Fernando Torres is a world‑class centre- forward. We’ve just won the Champions League and Fernando Torres played his part in that. It’s not all about goals. It’s not just about the individual scoring goals … Fernando’s teamwork, he is a very, very important player. And I think you will see Fernando Torres score many goals for Chelsea.”

In Gourlay’s words it was possible to detect those of the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, under whom he has worked for eight years. Abramovich made it a personal mission to prise Torres from Liverpool in the winter transfer window of last year for £50m and he wants the player to improve on his record of 12 goals in 67 appearances for the club.

If Gourlay was on-message, however, the thought occurred that the support for Torres was not great news for Roberto Di Matteo, the Champions League‑winning interim manager, who continues to be in the dark over his future job prospects. Torres’s criticism was implicitly levelled at him; it was Di Matteo who preferred Drogba when it mattered, who failed to draw the best from Torres in an attacking sense. Yet it is Torres who enters the summer with the ringing endorsement which extended to an exoneration for his post-match outburst in Munich. This did create a slightly sour note and led to raised eyebrows at the club. “He was emotional,” Gourlay said. “It’s the Champions League final, everybody wants to play.

“I was in the dressing room afterwards with Fernando Torres and the rest of the players and there was nobody disappointed and there was no negativity around at all. From my point of view, it was blown out of proportion. He was disappointed that he didn’t play and I think that led to the rest. Things are fine. There is no problem. Fernando is a fantastic player and an asset to the football club and we have no problems at all.”

Gourlay, though, stopped short of saying that the club would not enter the market for another forward, having also parted company with Nico las Anelka in January, although he noted that Daniel Sturridge could play as a central striker. Chelsea have an interest in Radamel Falcao, Hulk and Edison Cavani. “We may have two big centre‑forwards who score 25 or 30 goals for us next season and then maybe we’ll improve on our sixth-placed finish in the league,” he said, with a smile.

Gourlay could afford one or two moments of levity. When the Champions League trophy is down the corridor, complete with its dent (Chelsea say it was not them) and can be summoned with one phone call, there is a certain credit in the bank. The club is finally close to break-even financial figures, thanks to the triumph over Bayern. Missing out on Europe’s elite competition next season would have created a £40m black hole and made for a radically different picture. Yet Gourlay found himself on the defensive at times, and he had to remind his audience that Chelsea were primed to embroider their shirts with a star.

The hard line o f questioning concerned the means that Chelsea had employed to secure their silverware, which have felt a long way from Abramovich’s ideals. “We had luck but I’ve been in football for 30 years and I’ve seen a lot of luck in the Champions League,” Gourlay said. “I’ve seen us play fantastically well and get knocked out. You earn your luck, and is defending not part of the game? These players will go down in history as the first Chelsea team to win the Champions League, so arguably, they’re the best team.” Torres can hope to play a greater part next season. Read More

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