By Sean Hartnett @HartyLFC – December 10, 2011
I’ve heard Fernando Torres called countless derogatory words by Liverpool supporters and football fans in general since his unpopular move to Chelsea. At first, like most of my fellow brethren – I was deeply enraged when Torres bolted for Stamford Bridge and didn’t hold back my antipathy.
A mob mentality gained pace among Reds worldwide as Torres become public enemy number one. When joined together we’d refer to Torres using the most disdainful language. Today, his move to Chelsea seems a distant memory and the knife he dug into our hearts has given way to a degree of forgivingness (at least within the hearts of more benevolent Reds.)
Through sheer ineptitude at Chelsea, our pure hatred of Torres began to melt away. We started to sympathize with a former ‘Kop Hero’ who clearly had lost his way by leaping feet-first into new surroundings that suited him like an itchy sweater to bare skin.
While opinion is strongly divided among Liverpool’s support whether they’d welcome Torres back to Anfield, it doesn’t seem like a possible reality. In sealing his ‘dream move’ to Chelsea, Torres unknowingly filled Andriy Shevchenko’s vacant slippers. Yes, Shevchenko did end up returning to old haunts AC Milan and Dynamo Kyiv but that’s not the point. The point is Torres has become Roman Abramovich’s latest detrimental ‘pet project.’
Chelsea’s billionaire owner will be determined to do whatever it takes to allow Torres to shine. Even if it means sacrificing the in-form Didier Drogba and yes, even Andre Villas-Boas to prove that he was justified in splurging £50m on yet another extravagant purchase bought against a manager’s wishes. Jose Mourinho paid the price for not bending his philosophies and abandoning Shevchenko. Same goes Carlo Ancelotti who fought hard against Torres’ arrival. Villas-Boas might be the latest in a long line to suffer from the damage brought on an ‘Abramovich power signing.’
What separates Torres from Luis Suarez, the current striker filling Scouse hearts with delight is that Torres is human… a bit too human. Liverpool supporters placed their trust in a false idol in Torres, who opted for the easy way out by joining Chelsea’s fruitless obsession of Champions League glory instead of fighting for Liverpool’s reintroduction into European football.
He rejected the pleas of returning iconic manager Kenny Dalglish and ambitious new owner John W. Henry who were both willing to nurture Torres’ talent by surrounding him with fresh complimentary players.
One of which was intended to be Suarez. With Torres alongside him, Suarez could have eased himself into the spotlight of the Kop. Instead, Suarez had to immediately hit the ground running and like Torres in 2007, he instantly endeared himself to his new teammates and supporters alike. The difference is that Suarez is a staying power.
Even at his best, Torres sulked around the pitch when he wasn’t getting the proper service. Suarez cuts a distinctly opposite figure as his natural enthusiasm fills teammates with the spirit to push on for the next goal.
Underneath all the talent, Torres turned out to be a very mortal man who struggled greatly with confidence and ultimately was swallowed up by the deceivingly greener grass of pastures new in West London. Suarez isn’t a God nor is he blessed with the elongated, powerful physique of Torres. He might not be as clinical a finisher as Robbie Fowler in his heyday but what does have is a determination and hunger that was never evidenced by Torres in a red shirt.
That isn’t inferring that Torres never tried while wearing the Liverbird upon his chest but instead alludes to the unusual amount of work ethic that Suarez displays every match. While at Atletico Madrid, Torres was handed the captain’s armband as reward for his performances. Suarez was recently described by former manager Martin Jol as a true captain at Ajax, earning the armband even though he was a young foreigner from South America.
There’s something inside of Suarez that burns inside him like Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher or Emlyn Hughes. When Suarez steps out onto the pitch, he boils with desire and carries the Kopites on his back. For all the marketing that went into Torres becoming revered as ‘one of us,’ Suarez doesn’t need anyone to toot his horn to prove he’s a true Red.
He simply proves it…week in and week out, both when he pulls on his training top or the famous red shirt when stepping out onto the field of battle. That’s what I love about Suarez. Sami Hyypia never needed to make a bold claim about his desire to represent Liverpool and neither does Suarez. It’s obvious he belongs at Anfield.
The man known as ‘El Pistolero’ is a sincere workman. Suarez is an old-fashioned forward who refuses to embrace the media spotlight and instead is vilified for being a genuine character with real emotions. There isn’t any pretense in Suarez’s bones.
Torres revealed his true self as he fell from his pedestal, a footballer who needed his ego massaged as he escaped the Mersey home he believed he had outgrown. If there is any pedestal being built for Suarez, he’ll ignore it by keeping his head down and continuing to work hard. It is these qualities that connect so easily with Kopites and Liverpool supporters worldwide.
Is Luis Suarez in fact the opposite of Fernando Torres? Can Torres establish himself at Chelsea or is he doomed to continue his downward trend? Share your opinions below and follow ‘Sean On Soccer’ on Twitter – @SeanOnSoccer.