The contest came just 72 hours after the two teams met in the FA Cup final. Without the standard five or six days’ worth of buildup between games, Torres nearly snuck into (and out of) Anfield without much fuss. The media played its part in the sneaking in. His former fans were not in such a gracious mood.
LFC fans loudly booed his every touch, and mocked him with chants of “you should have stayed at a big club.” But their jeers were not heard very often, as Torres might as well have been a mere spectator in Liverpool’s 4-1 demolition of Chelsea.
Aside from a brief moment in the 35th minute, when his speculative shot crashed off the crossbar, the Chelsea number nine had a minimal impact on the game. It’s true that Chelsea’s makeshift lineup provided him with no service. But he followed suit. It took over 30 minutes for Torres to complete a pass to a teammate (not counting the three times he kicked off after Liverpool goals). A goal against his former club would have made for a juicy story, but Torres, his supporting cast and their determined opponents in red were never going to make that happen on this particular day.
Chelsea’s lone goal was scored by Ramires. The midfielder with a jet engine and velvet feet cost Chelsea £18 million ($29 million) in August 2010. His performances in English soccer have been worth double that amount.
It’s nearly impossible to find parallels between his move to Chelsea and that of Torres. Ramires left Portugal with the blessings of his former supporters at Benfica. Torres left Liverpool amidst a storm of controversy and accusations of treason. Although his sale netted the club a record £50 million ($80 million), his former fans burned his jersey on live television.
When Ramires returned to Lisbon in a UEFA Champions League game in March, Benfica fans stuck around the Stadium of Light to applaud him off the field. Torres was either mocked, jeered, baited or pitied by most of the Anfield crowd on Tuesday.
Torres chose to leave Liverpool in January 2011, and that one decision has altered his career forever. The 81 goals he scored in 142 games for LFC made him a club hero. The progress he made at club level was central to his achievements on the international stage. He won a European Championship (scoring the winning goal in the 2008 final) and FIFA World Cup (2010). Reds fans were brimming with pride.
Over 15 months have passed since Torres switched from Red to Blue. His confidence, form, reputation and goal tally have all dropped into oblivion. His 12 goals in 65 games prove just that.
The 28-year-old admittedly found it difficult to adjust to life in London. He claims it was because there were so few Spanish speakers in his vicinity. There is a very real chance that he won’t have many around him in this summer, as he is in danger of missing out on Spain’s Euro 2012 squad.
After Tuesday’s game, Torres sheepishly walked into the Anfield tunnel. He was one of the many Chelsea squad players who had a terrible outing, and it would be unfair to single him out for a poor performance.
When Torres left Merseyside, it may have made him richer in cash. But that one decision saw him walk alone into a future that is and was as unforgiving as the hostile Anfield crowd.
Review all the action from Tuesday’s game in our Liverpool Live Blog.