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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.

The Journalist

Writer: GabeU Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday January 11 2013

Time: 5:23PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
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...!!
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11/01/2013 17:44:00

holy s.h-it. What a lengthy article
Blue India
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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
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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.
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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...
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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
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11/01/2013 18:17:00

feck you screwed torres big time...and we were blaming torres for his poor show...
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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11/01/2013 20:06:00

stupid benitex stupid torres stupid excuses both of u feck out of chelsea
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11/01/2013 21:19:00

Benitez and Torres really should go. Although Rafa seems to be more professional about his job.
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11/01/2013 23:12:00

Why oh why credit Benitex with any intelligence? Where has he demonstrated any thing other than self promotion.
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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
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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.
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12/01/2013 05:09:00

Apologies for the typos. * one competent striker* *about* *we*
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12/01/2013 05:18:00

@ Blue India LMFAO!
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12/01/2013 05:39:00

This is a bit far fetched. Didn't BeneathUS just admit Torres had a stomach bug which is why he didn't play in the FA Cup? If that was the case, why start him and wait till 80th minute to sub him? BeneathUS is worse than Torres. He has already lost as much games in less than 3 months as RDM did in 220+ days. Secondly, this idea of playing Demba and Torres in whatever formation willl NEVER NEVER NEVER work. I don't understand why people keep suggesting it when they has been a record to speak of for both players. Because Man U and Man City do it doesn't mean Chelsea should try it. No. Those 2 teams have different type of strikers that have been trained in certain ways and grew up playing football the way they play. Aguero, Balotelli and Tevez have been played as CF, SS, wing forward for Atletico Madrid, West Ham, Man U, City, Inter Milan, Argentina etc. They did this when they were young, were successful at it and are good at it. Wenger deployed RVP in various roles at Arsenal so he can play any position upfront. Rooney is Ferguson's mr. Everything upfront. So their case is different. Demba Ba and Papii Cisse were deployed together for the 2nd half of last season. Demba was rubbish as he was deployed on the wings and his goals dried up during the 2nd half. Papii who was the hottest premiership striker in the last half of last season played nonsense during the first half because of this 2 striker experiment. Torres and Drogba never worked with both strikers scoring a total of 0 goals when they were on the pitch. Torres doesn't have pace and constantly loses the balls in the CF position. How do you expect him to keep it on the wings? These suggestions are worse than the David Luiz suggestions in DM and stuff (with half of VC clamoring for the sale of Luiz now). Man U and Man City are able to deploy multiple strikers because they possess versatile attackers at their disposal. Chelsea possess 2 target men so we can't. You don't see Man U putting Berbatov of the wings; or City putting Dzeko on the wings. They'll be useless there. Morever, deploying 2 of them there means dropping Oscar, Moses, Marin, and Taison (if we buy him). This is why I have been clamoring for Chelsea to buy a versatile striker in the David Villa mould such as Neymar, Pierre Augbemeyang that if Demba Ba and Lukaku are injured, they can fit in.
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12/01/2013 05:58:00

Kun aguero drifts from the wings atimes, so does tevez, van persie also drifts from the wings atimes, torres can cut it as a supporting striker, all we have to do is try him in some games as a supporting striker and if it works we can get a back up like bony, or schurlle if leverkusen would release him, either we like it or not we are stuck with nando and we'll keep paying him 175k, its best we find a way of making him useful.
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12/01/2013 06:27:00

Here we go again. Kun drifts from wings at times and so does Tevez. So that makes it possible that Torres can cut it as a supporting striker? Are you people serious? Drifting from the wings towards the centre as a central striker is different from playing ON the wings for 90 minutes. There is even precedence - Ancelotti's second season versus Tottenham at home. He tried it. He tried Didier there and tried Torres there and they both flopped. Torres was off and Didier stayed on. Del Bsoque in a spanish friendly tried it for 15 minutes and then swapped David Villa back to the wings. It can't work. It won't work. It's the same with this David Luiz in DM position experiment. He's been awful to average. The most decent team in Everton that we played exposed him continously. Granted he makes a few impressive passes here and there. Does that mean he can play there? No. Pienaar destroyed him. Wait till Cazorla, Rooney, or any one competent tries. This experiement has been tried before. It has been tried and both Torres and Ba have failed being played out of position or with another striker FOR CLUB and COUNTRY. There is no solution. How many times have I told you folks that Chelsea is stuck with Torres for 175k after you guys spent thousands of words painting potential sale scenarios. We've got another Florent Malouda for at least 2 years if he doesn't go on loan. Enough of all these experiments. Hazard in false 9 - we got thrashed and RDM got sacked. David Luiz in DM - He's been awful. Oscar in double pivot - awful. If 3 competent players have failed being played out of position, what makes people think an incompetent player who has failed numerous times in the past being played out of position will all of a sudden succeed there? Please don't come with the drift from the wings sometimes argument. Drogba drifted from the wing in that wonderful counter-attack in our double winning season against Arsenal (2nd leg) - does that mean he can play there? Absolutely not. And that's in addition to the numerous examples that Carlo Ancelotti has depicted.
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12/01/2013 07:44:00

Emenalo should have had back up for Ba by now if the club were serious about top four.
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12/01/2013 07:49:00

Nice article@gabeu,spot on @kaku...i honestly think we should cut it with this torres experiment,we have sacked coaches,changed formation,changed players,changed style of play,supported him e.t.c but he doesnt seem to be revived,torres is finished,roman and rafa has to accept the bitter truth of reality..and just as kaku said,the 2 striker formations would not work here especially when we have torres it would certainly take us back to playin with 10men
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12/01/2013 08:16:00

Our current formation is ok but all its been screamin for is a finisher and now we have mr ba,just get him backup(s) and he would lift the goalscorin burden from the rest of the need to tweak formations because of one finished man
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12/01/2013 08:23:00

No amount of prayer or trainaing programme will resurrect Torres' form here at chelsea. For the past two years, Torres is clearly not here in the spirit, he left a crisis laden Liverpool to become a refugee here in the chelsea camp. I hope he goes back to Liverpool where the seem to be peace. #Torres Out#
munich Glory
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12/01/2013 10:04:00

It's clear to me that Robbie benching Torres was perhaps the real reason for his sacking. It's also clear that Benetiz has been told to reignite FT, it will be interesting to see what happens if he benches him in favour of Ba when both are fit.
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12/01/2013 10:05:00

Only 2 weeks ago, most of you said Torres is back. Fickle.
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12/01/2013 10:09:00

If Robbie and Roman know what's good for both of them, they better abandon that Torres experiment. Benitez is already boo'd constantly. The RDM chants are back. Torres is already being boo'd and Demba Ba is being praised. Next is Roman Abramovich if this Torres persistence continues.
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12/01/2013 10:13:00

If Benitez and Roman I mean........
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12/01/2013 10:16:00

Chelsea will become a bigger laughing stock, when Torres joins another club this summer and scores 30 goals the first season.
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12/01/2013 10:21:00

No matter how many experiment fails, until a new one is tried and proved successful, nobody in his or her right mind will stop trying, so until it is tried in a game or two we can't completely chalk it off as bad, no matter the logic, torres can not lead the line alone, ba is another player that can lead, so if they work together something can come out of it, it is better than not trying at all and sitting a 175k per week player on the bench as backup to a 7.5m
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12/01/2013 10:52:00

Utter bullcrap Tubby more like that crap striker is not interested this feckin crap striker is making our club a laughing stock come on Roman get your head out of his backside and sell the shoite Spaniard.
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12/01/2013 10:59:00

So we should keep experimentin at the expense of results goin south??
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12/01/2013 10:59:00

Romansarmy,are u alright?? We are talkin of a striker who is single handedly draggin us down,who cares if we goes elsewhere and win the balon d'or? Just get him out of here and play a striker who is got passion-hunger-zeal(whatever u call it),ready to bleed blue and is not afraid to put on our blue jersey
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12/01/2013 11:05:00

that fat phark better not play any side with torres. it is over for him at cfc...and even he is a success else where i shant bemoan him that...but from cfc he must to him what we are doing to malouda...who did more for cfc than that blonde phark...he must go and the message must be clear as bell...your filth's no longer wanted here.
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12/01/2013 12:00:00

He has done absolutely nothing for us but we have done so much for him
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12/01/2013 12:08:00

just sell him, why play striker who can't score seriously
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12/01/2013 12:18:00

I understand the angry sentiments of most here i am just being a pragmatist here. If what i actually thought counted for anything we would never have bought El nino in the first place but rather Arguero..i made that call years ago. The problem is what we think and want does not count. Desmonds post is the crux of the matter..Roman loves the guy and has clearly insisted he be played. Rafa got the job partly on the promise and understanding that he would get something out of the guy. I seriously doubt Roman will be happy with seeing his 50 million toy on the bench match after match. We all knwo he will pout while there and God forbid he may go meet with Roman again the way he did after we won the champions league..there are no good options for us or rafa here. If he does what he ffels is right and benches El Nino entirely the moment results go south he can see from RDM and the others before him what will likely happen next.
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12/01/2013 13:02:00

Gabeu,thats the more reason why we have to do everything within our power to make sure he leaves..his presence here would corrupt romans mindset and lead roman to make ridiculous decisions that would have negative consequences on the rest of the team...poorres is a cancer
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12/01/2013 13:49:00

Trying a new one is ridiculous. It is worse when it is on a finished player like Torres. It is gotten people fired. Only people that resort to status quo stay in there jobs. As far as the status quo player is performing. Ancelotti experimented and it cost us games. RDM experimented and got fired. Besides, all the experiments have failed and makes zero sense experimenting further be it Luiz and hazard. Stick Demba upfront. Simple
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12/01/2013 14:10:00

Whe the time comes for a chenge, the change sweeps even the untouchables.
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14/01/2013 08:54:00

Change LOL!
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15/01/2013 11:22:00


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