|And then he shot the intern and we all laughed...
I wanted to ignore him, I really did, but it seems that the sullen striker who couldn't score to save his life just won't shut up. Once, twice a week, almost without fail, new quotes pop up in the press. New ramblings, new rehashings, new was of saying the same damn things in slightly different ways. On one hand it could be written off as a player being asked questions and answering them, but at times it seems he's talked more about Liverpool in the six weeks since he's left--and been horribly ineffective for his new club--than he did in the eighteen months before he left--while being horribly ineffective for his old club.
And each time the subject comes up the story grows, adds a flourish. He's like a wandering minstrel, tweaking and padding and smoothing over the rough edges of his living narrative as he moves along from cove to hamlet, his grandly retold epic always a work in progress. A new name here, a new cause there, a flourish and turn of phrase. Wait for the applause, take a bow, and repeat.
He might have even talked more about Liverpool over the past six weeks than I have about Fernando Torres and Roy Hodgson combined, and while we both might be fairly described as petulant and consistently falling short of expectations in recent years, only one of us is a smarmy blogger not making £150,000 a week. Perhaps it's that Chelsea is paying him to add fuel to their largely unrequited obsession with a more important northern counterpart, because only if his gargantuan salary is meant as compensation for spouting off rather than scoring goals does this incessant running of the mouth make any sense. Last week's self-indulgent ramblings were covered thoroughly at the time, but it seems that only four days later he's decided that this week's wage packet should similarly be earned by evolving his ongoing Liverpool commentary a little further.
First, we have his comments from last week:
When Xabi and Mascherano left, and before them Crouch and Arbeloa, when reinforcements didn't arrive, I started to wonder if Liverpool was the club its history suggests or if it was in fact a selling club.
There was also the departure of Benítez and the club was in chaos with the sale. There was so much said, so much talk about projects, but then nothing. It reminded me of Atlético Madrid: great history, lots of ideas but without money you need time. And I didn't have much of that.
What other teams could I have gone to? I couldn't go to United out of respect for Liverpool. Or Madrid, because of my past. I don't think Barcelona needed anyone. I didn't like the idea of Italy. Chelsea were the only club left.
Well, let's face it, that almost sounds reasonable taken entirely by itself. As part of a larger series of interviews it does seem a striker trying to convince himself he's done the right thing, and to his discredit he appears to have been stubbornly blinkered to the possibility of change and improvement when the new owners arrived and backed up their words with actions, choosing instead to dwell on past injustices like a surly 15-year old whose parents won't get him the unlimited cellphone plan. Still, on the whole the biggest reason for eye-rolling amongst the rabble is because after six weeks without Torres, with Liverpool playing the best it has in nearly two years since his departure, it seems odd that it is the man who got the move he wanted to his new big club who feels compelled to go on talking while most of his former fans and supporters had largely moved on. Aside from perhaps an occasional smirk when news rolls out that he's gone yet another match without finding the back of the net while one of Liverpool's new signings has shredded their biggest rival, of course.
Over the weekend, however, he was busy working on yet another draft of How Liverpool Fucked Me Over: The Fernando Torres Story to be unveiled to an eagerly waiting public:
I did not want to go to Manchester City or Manchester United. I could never do that, out of loyalty to Liverpool, but the Liverpool I left was not the same club as the one I joined. I did not understand the path the club was following.
It’s not as if I was the first to leave the club in the last few years. Look at Alonso, Mascherano, Arbeloa, Riera, Benitez. Some 20 or 30 left, all to improve themselves.
I did not imagine leaving Liverpool but then the Chelsea train passed by and I had to catch it because of the dream I have of winning. I want to win the Premier League and I felt I had to go.
|Dear Diary: Today Liverpool hurt me again...
Oh, shut up, Fernando. Just shut up. "Left to improve themselves"? As if nobody in football ever changes clubs? As if 20 or 30 people haven't left Chelsea to "improve themselves" over the past few years? Do we really need to pick that steaming pile of horseshit apart?
Riera punched out a teammate in training, sulked and mouthed off in public about the club and manager, and got shipped unceremoniously to fuck knows where. Before he melted down and sidelined himself, he'd used Liverpool as a platform to get into the Spanish national team as a regular on the substitute's bench--not starting eleven, certainly, but one of Spain's regular squad, which is no small achievement when you're talking about the defending European and World champions. In the wake of leaving Liverpool to improve himself, I'm not sure Vicente del Bosque even remembers that he exists.
And Rafa Benitez, of course, didn't leave to improve himself. He got sacked by a hideous pair of owners and their clueless lapdog and to this day goes out of his way to declare his love for Liverpool and its supporters. Meanwhile Alonso left for what could best be described as personal reasons, some of which likely did have to do with butting heads with the similarly departed Benitez, but as with the former manager he was unable to see eye to eye with he too continues to talk in glowing terms about the club and its fans. Meanwhile, Mascherano is improving his skin tone by being in a nice Mediterranean climate, though as a football player it's hard to see how spending most of the season a healthy benchwarmer behind Barcelona's version of Lucas is exactly an improvement. Though perhaps like Torres, he's a player who takes great pride in accomplishments he has almost nothing to do with, in which case sitting on the bench at Barça must be the most satisfying experience of his life:
All my life I have sought to win--win titles. I was lucky enough to win the World Cup but as a footballer you want to win with your club, with the players you train alongside every day.
I am away from home but Chelsea gives me the chance to achieve those goals year after year. Over the next 50 years they will be fighting United and Arsenal for trophies.
That's new 'Nando, by the by. And I think we all offer a hearty congratulations to Mister Torres for re-injuring himself while on as an ineffective substitute at the World Cup--Spain couldn't have done it without you. Which is to say they absolutely would have, since you played no meaningful role in any part of their entire World Cup campaign. But congrats go out for the shiny medal, and it's nice to see you contributing as much to Chelsea's last six weeks as you did to Spain's six week run last summer.
Also, good luck for when the financial fair play rules kick in and Abramovich can't replace new friends like John Terry, Nicholas Anelka, and Didier Drogba. Unless you're privy to knowledge of a secret biomechanical research division that will have Chelsea's aging squad playing for the next fifty years, of course. Perhaps über-professional Ashley Cole shooting an intern at Stamford Bridge was simply part of the testing process, and if that's the case, well, I do apologise for the snark.
And speaking of über-professionals and camaraderie between teammates, even in its less developed iterations Torres' Liverpool narrative contained a few well polished gems:
We have an owner who will invest when it is necessary and I have been surprised by the atmosphere in the dressing room, considering there are so many stars. There is more of personal relationship and jokes between players than there was at Liverpool. There, it was much more serious. Here, you don't have to prove you are a professional. That's just taken as read.
Well, that's really good to know. Sulk around the pitch, sleep with teammates' wives, fire off live rounds in a London stadium--it doesn't matter, you don't have to prove yourself. After all, you're a professional, and you have the wage packet to prove it, big boy.
Still, it would be nice if you could at least make sure your little tale was internally consistent before gracing us with the next revision:
[Leaving] was a decision I had mulled over for a long time, even though it appeared to be taken very hastily. I had made up my mind a long time before. In the summer in which Xabi Alonso left I started to wonder...
And then suddenly one day, 20 days before [the end of the transfer window], the opportunity appeared. I didn't expect it; it was like a light bulb coming on in a long, dark passageway. I thought that the six months left at Liverpool this season would feel like three years.
I wanted to be honest. If others haven't been honest, that's not my problem. Football is not a sport populated by honest people. You can't tell the truth or be up front with people. It's a business and no one is friends. I was honest.
|No, see, it's only a lie when somebody else does it...
Like when you re-stated your love and loyalty to the club and its fans on numerous occasions between the day Xabi left and the day you handed in your transfer request? Like the time you re-affirmed your commitment two weeks before the end of the January window, well within those 20 days you say you knew Chelsea was coming to save you from your misery on the Mersey? That kind of honesty? It's nice of you to accuse others of dishonesty while you're busy admitting you lied to the fans every second time you opened your mouth for more than an entire calendar year.
So in the end, we end up much the same place as where we started: thinking that it might be a really, really good idea for Fernando Torres to just shut the fuck up already. Most of us were happy enough to have moved on. It is after all rather hard to feel too much anger and bitterness when the club has played better in his absence than it did for a year and a half in his presence, while the increasingly foolish-looking £50M handed to Liverpool for what could potentially be Roman Abramovich's second Shevchenko, another underperforming and past his best striker bought by the owner instead of the manager, has already been invested in a pair of top-quality replacements.
After a week or two of annoyed glaring, about the only time Liverpool fans think of Torres any more is when he opens his mouth. Surely if we can move on, he and his wage packet can, too. Perhaps it's about time he does everybody a favour and just shuts up.