The 8th April 2010 – Just an ordinary Thursday really.
Barack Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev sign an arms reduction treaty, conjoined twins from Ireland were successfully separated in London and the Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren died. Britain was also heading for an unseasonably warm weekend, with temperatures rising towards 20 degrees.
It was also the day Fernando Torres’ career changed forever.
The day ended so well for the Spaniard. He scored two classy goals as Liverpool beat Benfica at Anfield 4-1 to progress to the Europa League semi-final. The win set-up a fairytale return to his boyhood club Atletico Madrid in the semis. In scoring twice on the night, he also became the first Liverpool player to score four consecutive doubles at Anfield.
In the 85th minute he was substituted after feeling more discomfort in his knee. That was to be his last appearance in a Liverpool shirt that season. It also signaled the start of the biggest rollercoaster year of his life, where he would go from winning the biggest prize in football, to a forlorn figure at Old Trafford on a balmy Tuesday night in the Champions League.
Ten days after being substituted against Benfica, he underwent surgery in Barcelona on a torn meniscus in his knee. I am not familiar with this type of injury, nor do I have any medical knowledge, but through an hour of googling, the estimated recovery time came back between 6-8 weeks. That’s six weeks until you are running again, not six weeks until you are match fit, and certainly not six weeks until you play in a World Cup. That was the race against time that faced Fernando Torres.
Just 39 days, just over five weeks, after undergoing serious knee surgery, Torres had been included in the Spain squad for South Africa and was taking part in his first training session with the squad at their Austrian training camp. 7 weeks after the surgery on the 8th June Torres was part of the first team as he scored in Spain’s 6-0 World Cup warm-up win over Poland.
Perhaps recognising that Torres still needed much more rest and recovery time, Vincente Del Bosque left him out of the side that lost the opening World Cup game to Switzerland on the 16th June. But five days later Torres was thrust into the fold, starting in the win over Honduras. He started again in the wins over Chile, Portugal and Paraguay all without scoring, something clearly wasn’t right.
Then came the inevitable, Torres dropped for the semi final with Germany replaced by Pedro, he wasn’t to regain his place for the rest of the tournament.
Torres did come on as a substitute against the Netherlands in the final in Johannesburg but while Iker Casillas lifted the famous trophy, Torres just moments earlier was stretchered off, tears in his eyes. The hurried recovery from injuries saw his body break down again. This time he suffered an adductor muscle injury in his groin. Not the most serious injury but still needs a recovery time of at least three weeks. How much time off did Liverpool give the striker to not only recover from his injury but recover from a mammoth 2009/10 season and an exhausting World Cup?
By 3rd August 2010 Torres was back in pre-season training at Melwood. He was given less than a fortnight to get not only match fit, but fit enough to last the rigours of a full Premier League season. That’s because on the 15th August he came on as a substitute in Liverpool’s opening game of the season against Arsenal. Just over a week later he started his first game in the 3-0 defeat by Manchester City.
As Roy Hodgson’s reign at Liverpool fell apart, Torres failed to ignite his season. He scored only three goals until it all became too much again. The Spaniard was forced off after only ten minutes of Liverpool’s embarrassing defeat by Blackpool at Anfield. The problem? An adductor muscle injury similar to that sustained in the World Cup final. The recovery time? Three weeks again surely? No, Torres was rushed back to action in time for a pivotal Merseyside derby against Everton 14 days later. Liverpool were beaten 2-0 by their bitter rivals.
Torres was to score eight more goals in a Liverpool shirt.
Sensing his time at Anfield was at an end, Torres secured his £50 million move to Chelsea on deadline day in January this year. He made his debut for them less than a week after signing.
11 appearances later he’s yet to score for his new club becoming, the £50 million noose around Carlo Ancelotti’s neck.
And so to that balmy Tuesday night at Old Trafford, one year after coming off with discomfort against Benfica. Ancelotti gambles with his own future by starting his star signing. But after just 45 minutes the Italian admits he made a mistake securing the ultimate humiliation for Torres as he was hauled off at half-time.
Will Torres come good? Form is temporary, class is permanent.
He needs to rest.
Give the guy a break.