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The Torres Saga: A Weight Off Our Shoulders

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We all fell for him. The moment he glided past Ben Haim on his Anfield debut, and slotted nonchalantly past Cech. That was it. He stole our hearts, and continued performing and talking in a way that meant he would keep them forever. It felt mutual. He became an honorary scouser, and the sort of relationship only scouse strikers tend to have with the Kop ensued. Fowler, Aldridge…Torres. We seemed to have created a relationship comparable to a first love, a bond was forged that, no matter what happened, couldn’t be broken.

The more seasoned match-goers felt young again, witnessing this young, blonde Spaniard terrorise defences up and down England, and across Europe. The Torres Bounce took hold, and furthered our affection through our new found ability to sing and jump up and down manically with no inhibitions. The five-finger salute to the Old Trafford crowd, and paying his respects to those lost at Hillsborough after scoring goal of the season made it all seem too good to be true. Along with all of this, what really cemented Torres’ status as a Kop hero was his understanding of the city and the appreciation of the working-class communities across Merseyside to whom football is so important.

˜Liverpool is a massive club in reputation, but as soon as I came here it felt like Atletico to me. It is a working city, an honest city. The people work all week, and on Saturday they want to go to Anfield and watch the best team in the world. I had many offers in football, I had many big clubs to choose from, so I decided on something more than football.

˜The people here, the history, the way everybody comes together, I looked at that and I thought we have the chance to make this one of the greatest clubs in the world, again.’

Adhering to the traditions of a people like this, ranks alongside that players footballing ability to many Kopites; the likes of Dirk Kuyt, and Sami Hyypia did so, though neither managed to match Torres’ impact on the pitch to go with it. Fernando had put the two together and was on the verge of becoming an all time great. The way he spoke of us, and celebrated his goals with us, made the quote from old Shankly footage applicable to the relationship we formed with Torres. Something along the lines of ‘It’s difficult to work out who admires who more.’ And that is how it felt. Torres appeared a shy and humbled young man. A young man who felt lucky to play any part in this great football club, and the opportunity to add to the history and glory dripping from Anfield was all he strived for.

But things changed. Due to our well publicised ownership difficulties and on-pitch failure, Torres was cutting an increasingly forlorn figure on the pitch. Despite great success with his national team, Torres is yet to win a domestic trophy. His body language made it quite clear to us that he no longer believed Liverpool could compete for the domestic honours he desperately craved. He’d had enough. And his on-pitch performances and attitude proved it. Throughout the last eighteen months Torres’ form has come in for a disproportionate amount of criticism. Because, as fans, we could comfortably say ‘he’s one of us’, we defended him to the hilt, despite knowing deep down, all was not well. We spent our time convincing ourselves the shy young kid we once knew still hid under the skin of this miserable World Cup winner, waiting in fear for the moment he was prepared to sacrifice the special bond we had created together, for what he believes to be the opportunity for more silverware.

In fact, it wasn’t the reason he left that has destroyed his impeccable reputation, as a player of his quality shouldn’t have been involved in Tom and George’s reign of terror. Neither should Reina, or Gerrard, but loyalty is something you unfortunately can’t buy. For me, it was the way in which Torres has handled the whole saga, both on and off the pitch, which has caused us the most heartache. In retrospect, his performances and visible disinterest were not what you came to expect of a man like Fernando Torres. Then again, we know now he’s not the man we all thought he was.

Going to Chelsea after promising to never play for another English club is the most painful aspect of the whole thing; the club which, if it tried, couldn’t have a more different collective mentality, attitude, or ideology to that of Liverpool. The club that represent anti-football in the modern game, packed with soulless, dollar chasing players and a manufactured atmosphere, to go with there giant haul of four league titles, three of which being bought by Abramovich. As soon as I heard Torres’ remark about always wanting to play for a ‘big club’, I instantly thought back to Jamie Carragher’s response to a reporter asking if he would ever leave for a bigger club- ‘Who’s bigger than Liverpool?’ was his response. A stance many predicted Torres to have.

Since fortune turned against Liverpool, his attitude had become a weight on the shoulders of many fans.  Continually telling ourselves he wouldn’t leave us, no matter how disinterested he looked. Hoping and praying we would win, just for the thought that it will appease Torres. The humbled young man was no more, and the tables had well and truly turned. Instead of him trying to impress us, he was now the one that needed impressing in order to stay in Liverpool. In theory, this is where the relationship broke down. As Kenny Dalglish predictably, although completely necessarily, pointed out last week ‘no one will ever be bigger or better than this football club’. Something Fernando Torres evidently didn’t believe.  Maintaining his services would mean keeping hold of a player who could have a detrimental effect on team spirit and the general perception of our club, despite the unbelievable talent he posseses. I never for a second of my life thought I would ever say, ‘I’m glad he’s gone’. But I am. Like any other fan, I wish it could have been different. But given the scenario we ended up in, Torres’ presence may have become more of a hindrance than a help.

We now have two young strikers who have to prove to us, they are worthy of the red shirt, not the other way round.  Admittedly, I sold my heart to Fernando too easily. But judging from Wednesday night, Luis Suarez might snatch it back just as easily. Here’s to hoping, anyway.

Submitted by Some Team Up North

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