x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Let Torres walk away

Fernando Torres's allegiance to Liverpool was never as serious a commitment as the Spanish striker professed.

Fernando Torres is not prepared to weather difficult times in the red of Liverpool.
Fernando Torres is not prepared to weather difficult times in the red of Liverpool.

While Liverpool fans reel in shock at the written transfer request submitted by Fernando Torres, they may wish to reconsider an act which made the Spanish striker so dear to their hearts in the first place.

Back in 2007, while captaining Atletico Madrid, Torres "accidentally" let his captain's armband come loose to reveal a phrase embroidered across the inside in large Gothic lettering: You'll Never Walk Alone.

By "sheer coincidence", it flapped in the breeze for long enough to be captured by a bank of press photographers. Honestly, I have seen female baboons offer more subtle come-and-get-me signals.

Atletico fans may have felt this was a crass snub to those who paid his wages. Harbouring ambition in your heart is one thing, but literally wearing it on your sleeve is quite another. Their Liverpool counterparts, however, lapped it up. They even incorporated the legend into their oral history via a Kop song, sang to the tune of The Animals Came In Two by Two.

His armband proved he was a Red - Torres Torres,

You'll Never Walk Alone it said - Torres Torres

We bought the lad from sunny Spain,

He gets the ball, he scores again.

Fernando Torres, Liverpool's number nine.

With hindsight, the armband did not prove he was a Red. It proved he was a professional footballer who wanted to win trophies. Liverpool had won the Champions League two years previously, and would make the final again in 2007. Under Rafa Benitez, the manager, it seemed only a matter of time before this grand old club restored her rightful place at the top of the Premier League. Three seasons is a long time in football, eh?

I do not criticise Torres for his desire to convert his prodigious talents into silverware. Nor do I question his logic in deserting Anfield - although I do question whether Chelsea, with their ageing squad and capricious owner, provides the fertile ground he seeks.

No, it is the cod loyalty and the thoughtless sloganeering that grates with me.

You'll Never Walk Alone is a gaudy ballad filled with sentimental old tripe. But it means everything to the fans who sing it.

If Torres bothered to listen to the other lyrics, he would realise that the comfort of guaranteed solidarity (Never Walking Alone) comes at a price: you have to weather the bad times, too.

The sulky Spaniard has shown no such stoicism. In fact, he contributed to the stormy clouds above Anfield by falling out with Benitez and appearing to under perform for Roy Hodgson.

For these reasons alone, Liverpool should take the silly money being offered for Torres and run. Not during this transfer window, as they have no time to buy a replacement, but during the summer, when a bidding war among the top clubs will push the price even higher. Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona, who knows?

Perhaps, as you read this, there is a tailor frantically embroidering three sets of jock straps, ready for Torres to accidentally flash when the time is right. "Blue is the colour" on the first, "Blue Moon" on the second and "Mes que un club" on the third.

The tailor need not bother with a Manchester United slogan, as the rumour mill says Torres is contractually barred from going there. Which is a shame, because Wayne Rooney would appreciate that old armband.

It would match his "Once a Blue, always a Blue" T-shirt beautifully.