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Rafa`s Torres conundrum;

Rafa`s Torres conundrum;

As expected Rafa got a very vocal tongue lashing for starting El Nino against Swansea and we see how it all turned out. Many on the forum were aghast as to why he even started El Nino at all. I am not Rafa`s agent but I like to think that I have always been able to give even the devil his due. As I think about the situation Rafa finds himself in I cannot but be sympathetic to his plight and so I wrote this to give the VC audience a picture of the Torres situation from Rafa`s view point so it can be better appreciated what a bind he is in. I also offer for what it is worth the best solution I see for him out of this conundrum.

Few at this point will doubt that our owner Roman loves El nino. The amount he paid to get him speaks for itself and I was one of those who said when we were getting him from Liverpool that this was not a good idea for many reasons. Roman like many very wealthy men is very stubborn and opinionated. While virtually everyone else has figured out that the El Nino Hail mary is a bust he persists and insists he was right. So far three coaches have paid with their jobs for not being able to prove Roman right and the facts of reality wrong. I don`t know exactly what the details of the conversation between Rafa and Roman were before he got offered the interim position but doubtless the matter of El Nino came up. Roman probably asked him whether he could get El Nino back to his Liverpool form..whatever Rafa said I am certain it was not "Sorry Roman..that ship has sailed the guy is finished!" I am sure if he said that he would not have gotten the job.

The point is part of what got Rafa this interim job was a belief by Roman (and maybe also an assurance/promise by Rafa) that he could fix El Nino. Initially things looked promising and many were quick to jump on the bandwagon..i again advised caution and measured did not take long for El Nino to slump into his usual funk. Worse still previously El Nino was basking in a situation where his position in the team was guaranteed no matter his form..his only competition Danny Sturridge was either always injured or otherwise frozen out of the squad seemingly as punishment for daring not to sign the contract extension he had been offered by us. Everything however changed and radically too the moment Danny left for Liverpool because suddenly the board and Roman who had steadfastly refused all requests for additional striker support from RDM in the summer (including a request for Falcao when Atletico were actually willing to sell) now had to get a replacement for Danny and for El Nino they could not have gotten a worse option. In comes Demba ba a slightly younger player than him, in form , hungry, eager, scoring goals for fun with head and both feets, on PKs and free kicks and probably reminding him of the huge shadow of one Didier Drogba now departed. Ba had a debut game that was a dream start, scoring twice and very nearly bagging a hat trick. While the whole team was celebrating poor El Nino could not even pretend to look happy for the guy or the team.

Now with this scenario if you were Rafa how would you have handled the situation especially since we had a BPL game against the very physical Stoke side the Saturday after the Swansea game? Rafa more than anyone else knows El Ninos very fragile psyche..he was probably thinking..if I start Ba in this game and he gets a hat trick..El Nino will go bananas, involute and Roman may be coming for my head next and branding me a liar for saying I could get the guy going. He was probably hoping and praying that the guy could steal one goal along the way of us winning against the Swans to boost his confidence so that he could then subsequently justify rotating ba and El nino..picking the easier competition for El Nino and the tough nuts for Ba.

Contrary to what some people were saying that Rafa by selecting El Nino against Swansea was showing ethnic based favoritism over merit I actually feel it is the exact opposite..he was saving Ba for what he knows would be the way greater challenge against a very physical and stubborn Stoke team at their own home stadium. Unfortunately the gamble misfired badly. He hung on for way too long desperately hoping against hope that El nino would find a lucky goal to lift his spirits and keep away the coming inquest from Roman. When by the 80th minute it was clear it wasn`t going to happen he finally brought Ba on for a salvage project and the guy nearly pulled one back for us but for another questionable ref call. The irony of it will not have lost on poor El Nino that in 10 minutes Ba did more than he did in 80 and very nearly got us a goal. The point I am trying to make ..and I know it is hard for many of us who are baying for blood right now is that Rafa was well intentioned in his choices and when you look at it from his view point it was not irrational.

Sadly Rafa now has a crises on his hand..I am certain after being booed of the pitch for the first time in his Chelsea career El nino is now a basket case. Roman will not be happy and we all know who pays when Roman is unhappy. Rafa will now be watching his back like a former mafia mob accountant seeking to squeal to the feds. He is between the devil and the deep blue sea. Does he throw in the towel on El Nino and by so doing admit to Roman that he was wrong in suggesting that he could salvage the guy? That admission would also mean to Roman..that sorry Boss you were wrong all made the mistake blowing 50 million on this guy and then compounded it be sacking 3 good coaches in succession because they couldn`t make the guy perform.

We all know the truth but I seriously doubt Roman wants to hear it. On the other hand after the swansea debacle Rafa would be crazy to play El Nino as a lone striker ever again for us in any match of import..So it is like he is damned if he does and damned if he dosent.

If Rafa reads this I offer the only compromise I see that can help him save face and maybe his job till summer time when he can escape this nightmare; He needs to change the team formation from this 4-2-3-1 that has been such a problem for us in big games this season. It is time he show his reputed tactical nous and make a big time gamble. Take a clue from the Manchester teams and change to a multiple striker formation be it 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or even 4-4-1-1. Point is to safe guard Torres`s sanity and possibly his job Rafa needs to play the guy ..just don`t play him as the only striker or lead striker..Pair him with Ba..put Ba up front and have El Nino play behind him or one of the flanks (preferably right which is where the guy prefers to drift to anyway). This way the guy is on the pitch..he can feel involved and may actually contribute something and not be pouting on the bench. Roman is happy and if the results pick up he can actually survive till May. At this point seriously it is worth a try...literally everything else has been tried and failed.

I know what the majority on VC will say though..they want El Nino on the bench and want him sold post haste. By now you guys should know that what we want really does not count for is really what Roman wants that counts and goes right now and Rafa knows that. Besides I seriously doubt that there is any club out there..even Anzhi who would pay us even half of what we paid Liverpool for El Nino not to mention the albatross of his bloated wages. We are stuck with him till and until Roman decides he has had enough, repents and pays penance by selling him on the cheap (somewhere like 10-15mill) to some team where he will also have to be willing to take a massive pay cut. Till that miracle happens we might as well do the best we can to see if we can help him contribute to the team and earn a little of his wages.

I feel for Rafa …I really do..he is probably regretting taking this job now and may even be perversely praying that El Nino just picks up a season ending injury to take both of them out of their collective misery.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Friday January 11 2013
Time: 5:23PM


GabeU...really good taughts and reasonable assumptions....but please let me point out that torres CANNOT play as an inverted winger from the left because his left leg is actually useless...I have been watching him for the past 2 seasons...he cant even do a decent cross with the left leg!! from your suggestions..torres can only play either from the right or in the hole (4-4-1-1)...there could be some trouble ahead..if we dont get this signings right this january...!!
11/01/2013 17:44:00
holy s.h-it. What a lengthy article
Blue India
11/01/2013 17:47:00
Gabeu, u are a weird man, I mean this whole story trying to read the mind of rafa and think out the meeting between rafa and roman, but who knows, its genuity is 50/50, why I really call u weird is the formation part, I think torres might have a respite if he aint the focus anymore, ba should take the driver's seat as the striker and torres be the supporting striker, change the formation and we might save our season and at the same time get something out of fernando torres (highly unlikely) but it won't hurt if we try
11/01/2013 17:48:00
The problem with playing Torres AND Ba together is that we're just sacrificing another player in the team for that passenger. All this while it was a half-decent striker who had to be benched in favor of Torres, playing with two strikers will mean benching one of the midfielders. Either way, we're gonna end up playing with 10 men anytime Torres starts. Give him the easy matches, the irrelevant cup games, and pray to God above that nothing happens to Ba. Whatever may happen between now and May, Torres must go in the summer. Right now hes costing us in more ways than just those astronomical wages.
11/01/2013 17:57:00
@Desmond the assuption about Rafa's meeting with Roman is probably correct...I mean on what other basis will Roman offer Tubby tghe chance to become chelsea manager if not to help save face and protect his 50million invetment??....@GabeU is most likely right...
11/01/2013 18:16:00
Have we contemplated that perhaps playing too many AMs is part of our problem? We are playing without pattern and rythym, passing the ball around as if we are in a trainning session
11/01/2013 18:17:00
feck you screwed torres big time...and we were blaming torres for his poor show...
11/01/2013 18:19:00
For me, this season is already beyond ruined, so anything they wish to or actually do from here on in is their problem, cos with all this Torres dilly dallying, I don't see us qualifying for Champions league football next season. As it stands, our season is more damaged than it was last season of which we had the hope of winning the Champions league to actually qualify, unlike this time out, we have didlly squat. Don't call me a prophet of doom or a plastic fan, I'm only being realistic and we all know that's the real truth.
11/01/2013 18:21:00
A stitch in time they say, saves 9 more stitches, we are now up to 14 stitches and still looking for ways to sew the torn fabric, before we know it we would be looking at a condemned fabric which would be un-presentable to the league and world. I only hope Chelsea FC as a club, firm or Organisation would learn from mistakes made this season, forge a new armour suit and give a proper challenge in the season to come.
11/01/2013 18:29:00
The conundrum is a simple one, drop Torres. Since when has one player dictated to a football club. He is woefully off form, we've made our feelings clear about him on Wednesday night, it's best for him and the team if Ba starts for the next few games.
11/01/2013 18:49:00
The time for game playing is over, this is serious. What are we more concerned about, a players feelings or the results of the club. Sort it out club, it's embarrassing.
11/01/2013 18:55:00
Sit him on bench.why sacrifice any of our effective mids/wingers for that useless and invisible #9 flop???stop with the excuses and sit his a$$ on the pharking bench!!
11/01/2013 19:03:00
My problem with RB is changing a winning side. Start from the Villa game, it was clear that the team which finished that game deserved to play together again but in the next game he made a lot of changes. Then comes the first game we played at world club tournament in Japan. Clearly Luiz and Mikel looked to have had a good understanding but what did we see in the next game? Then the game against Suton. I think so much time is being wasted in trying to revive one player at the expense of developing the whole team. Clearly Hazard and Oscar are not the same players as when they joined the club. Sometimes you see these players as less interested. I really think that time should be spent in developing our young players than flogging a dead horse.
11/01/2013 19:15:00
As lengthy as this article is,it is worth the effort. I very much enjoyed reading it, each line was superbly thought out and the diction impeccable. It goes without saying that i agree with the assumptions. I for one believe that the attention can be taken slightly away from Torres in a striking partnership or betterstill in an inverted RW role,El Nino might be a bit useful since,as i pointed out in another thread,he is stuck with us. The best thing Rafa could do for the life of his job and his fast crumbling reputation is to make some adjustments in his formation; he may come up with something similar to 4-1-2-3 or 4-3-3 formation that will see either Luiz or Ramires sitting pretty much in front of the back 4 and Oscar-Mata in the dual port. Hazard-Torres-Ba occupying the front 3 position. This will take the sole attacking responsibility and its attendant pressure off Torres,that way he might come good(though i cant bet a hair on it) and maybe RA will see his 50mil quid doing some chores and perhaps Rafa will keep his interim job till summer. But then,another forward should be up for selection to alternate with Ba.
11/01/2013 19:28:00
Everyone makes mistakes, even Roman does. Torres is far too similar to our midfield trio and he does not offer an addition when selected. Surely we should trade him against Falcao as Radamel seems more suited to our game. We have had the best in Drogba so why should we settle for someone less. A proper centre forward is one of the key players in a core of a squad. So was Didier. Now we have Ba but we can't live with one striker. I hope Roman sees this as we supporters do as we have so much appreciation for what Roman has done for the club.
11/01/2013 20:06:00
stupid benitex stupid torres stupid excuses both of u feck out of chelsea
11/01/2013 21:19:00
Benitez and Torres really should go. Although Rafa seems to be more professional about his job.
11/01/2013 23:12:00
Why oh why credit Benitex with any intelligence? Where has he demonstrated any thing other than self promotion.
11/01/2013 23:53:00
Saw van persie's clinical finish against west ham last saturday that rescued man utd's fa cup dreams and i almost wept. Torres has got plenty of those kind of chances, mata and co had certainly played their part with regards to finding him with excellent goal scoring chances so much so that these days he doesnt even make the efforts to create space for himself again. He is the reason why cfc is in a mess today. If we had started the season with a striker half as clinical as van persie, we would be leading the epl today by some distance. The man utd goalkeeping, defence and midfield have not done better than ours this season. If our striker had been scoring goals, we wont be seeing all these faults we complain about in pivot and the whole team would be brimming with confidence. The best decision to take right now is to play Ba in all our remaining epl matches to ensure a top 4 finish cos that is our most important trophy left to compete for. Torres should make due with europa since Ba is ineligible. But reading through rafa's press conference report and the excuses he made for torres's dismal performance, its obvious rafa would persist with him much later.... If that happens and it ends up costing us top 4, then those 2 soucers would have fecked us like no one has ever done before.
Chelz Akamz
12/01/2013 00:51:00
an excellent article as usual Gabe U, well thought and spot on. My only challenge with the 4-4-1-1 , or whatever formation invovles playing torres and demba BA upfront is that we end up using all our strikers at once. For a club of our stature having only two strikers and only one for whatever reason foolish inthe extreme and shows a totally lack of responsiblitiy, foresight and over size arrogance from roman and the board. Its obvious now that the coaches were given standing orders not to play sturridge bcos of his contract issues and to persist with a hopelessly inept fraud of a striker. Wiser coaches ( wiser board and owners) don't meddle with team selections and I dare someone think of where arsenal would be today without theo walcotts goals. Two weeks into the window and we are yet to get another striker to support BA( don't count torres as one) meaning benitez will be forced once again to try and make something out of the season with one hand tied as it were to his back. Since we've had this apology of a player, our entire club as been turned to a giant psycological clinic where coaches spend more time talking a out confidence, loss of form, specialised trainings,, Specialized coaches, personal therapists and shrinks while all players are now been ordered to play in a certain way, and think in a certain way. Whole traditions uprooted and still been uprooted for this joker who still does not justify a 5 million fee not to talk of 50 mln. I was not sad that he started the unmentioned against swansea, but the he waited so long to sub him when we needed a goal. Mancini or fergie has been known to play 4 strikers when they need goals. Se have two and you could not get them on the pitch together !?!?!?!. Futhermore, to insult our collective IQs with such stupid statement that the jnmentioned was poor bcos of a bug was most galling white faced lie I hve seen in recent times. For a 50 mln striker yet score 40 goals in 2 years, his problem is more than what a bug can give u. Infact we don't need a coach, we need a doctor.
12/01/2013 05:09:00
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