Old romantics rejoice as Torres fails to find any chemistry with new love

It did not feel right that Chelsea should lose yesterday but there was something sweet about the fact that Fernando Torres did.

The enemy of romance in football found himself on the wrong end of a beating from underdogs who just happen to have won the European Cup and the Champions League five more times than he has.

The £50m striker with the dead soul was beaten by a team fashioned by a manager who has more feeling for his football club than Torres will ever have.

The man who jumped ship because he couldn't wait to start stacking up the trophies with a big club saw the big club defeated by the side he had just deserted.

In the Spain striker's sterile world, upsets like yesterday aren't supposed to happen. But happily for football in general and the Premier League in particular, they do.

When he walked out of the Stamford Bridge tunnel on to the pitch and into his new life yesterday, Torres glanced as casually as he could over at the Shed End to his left.

No romance there, Fernando. You were right about that much.

The Liverpool supporters, who were massed in the corner of the ground, saw him snatching a look at them and gave him the treatment.

They threw the Torres shirts they had once treasured on to the pitch and held up banners they had made specially for his delectation.

"He who betrays will always walk alone," one of them said. Another likened Torres to the blonde actress Margi Clarke. A third reminded Torres of Liverpool's five European Cup and Champions League victories.

That was actually the high point of the Spain striker's afternoon. It went downhill from there. Fast.

No romance for the most expensive player in the history of British football on the pitch, either.

What happened to the law of the ex, the rule that dictates a player lining up against his former club always gets on the scoresheet?

Torres didn't even get close. His first shot as a Chelsea player ended up in Row Z. His second was blocked superbly by Jamie Carragher. His third? There wasn't a third.

In fact, there wasn't anything else at all. Just anonymity. Torres looked like a lost little boy cowed by the intensity and the fury of his former Liverpool teammates.

He had no answer to their passion and their commitment. He was substituted after 65 minutes but it should have been sooner. He was a passenger yesterday.

He will get better, of course. A lot better. He is too good a player to keep labouring like this although the sterility of his performance on his Chelsea debut will fuel the debate about whether his best years are already behind him.

He was not helped by the system that Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti deployed yesterday.

It looked like a selection born of a reluctance to drop either Nicolas Anelka or Didier Drogba but playing all three strikers simply did not work.

Anelka was ineffective in a withdrawn role at the point of the Chelsea diamond and Torres fretted at the margins of the play.

Even if Drogba's power is fading, he will always be the focal point of the Chelsea attack as long as he is selected.

Torres looked like his junior partner yesterday. He looked like a support act. But £50m is an awful lot to pay for a support act.

So Ancelotti has some hard choices to make. He has to make the signing of Torres work and he has to make it work quickly.

That probably means dropping either Drogba or Anelka and playing a more balanced side with Florent Malouda restored to the starting eleven.

And it means doing it quickly. Because Chelsea cannot afford to lose any more opportunities to make up ground on Manchester United if they are to retain even an outside chance of retaining their title.

They have lost seven times now this season, the first time that has happened since the season that brought Claudio Ranieri the sack.

Many more slips like yesterday, in fact, and Tottenham may overtake them in the race for the fourth Champions League place. Liverpool are a threat, too.

Not quite the scenario Torres imagined when he said he was leaving Liverpool for a club on the next level.

It would be wrong to say that Torres's love affair with Chelsea started on the wrong note because Torres does not do love affairs with football clubs.

How about this instead: Torres's strictly temporary financial arrangement with Roman Abramovich did not begin with the step towards personal glory that he was expecting. That will have to do.

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williamhill.com

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