“Today, I’ll pay an homage to the misfiring Chelsea centre-forwards of yore by arriving fashionably late and missing the target”. That is the reasoning I thought of proffering my editor, but thankfully, better sense prevailed and I offered an apology instead. Better late than never, we’re back with our penultimate revelation of the readers’ choice Chelsea Chronicle Worst XI. This week, be prepared to duck and have someone at the ready in Row Z, as we unveil our strikers.
But first, let’s have a look at the votes each candidate garnered:
- Fernando Torres (24%)
- Chris Sutton (22%)
- Mateja Kezman (18%)
- Andriy Shevchenko (13%)
- Claudio Pizarro (13%)
- Adrian Mutu (11%)
So, not a wholly unexpected outcome – Chris Sutton and a terrifying déjà vu won the race, with time to spare. Let’s dive deeper into their careers, shall we?
Before The Blues
Chris Sutton and Fernando Torres followed a similar career path on their way to Chelsea and during their time with the Blues. Sutton was an established premier League striker at Blackburn Rovers, who bought him for an English transfer record fee from Norwich City. Sutton was an unqualified success in Lancashire, forming a high-scoring duo with a future superstar pundit. Before the days of MSN and BBC, they had the SAS – Sutton And Shearer, scoring for fun and attracting envious glances from across the Premier League. However, his time with the Rovers was blighted by injuries, much like his Worst XI strike partner – Fernando Torres.
Ah, Fernando Torres. The golden boy of Spain. El Nino. A young Fernando Torres oozed class as he came through the ranks at Atletico Madrid. He was adored by the Atletico fans, who would get another chance to worship him almost a decade after he first left the club. The young striker was hot property and every club would have loved to have him lead the line, including Chelsea. As fate would have it, Rafa Benitez persuaded his countryman to join Liverpool for a club record fee, where he became an instant hero. Adulation of the crowds was never in short supply for Torres; they even made a song for him. He also had Steven Gerrard in his prime behind him, setting up a bucket-load of goals. It was all going so well for Torres, until that fateful day.
The Chelsea Years
Fernando Torres eventually got fed up with the alleged false promises by the Liverpool hierarchy and when Chelsea put in a bid, his head was turned. A transfer request and £50 million later, Torres was a Chelsea player. This led to Liverpool fans taking to the streets, burning shirts with the Spaniard’s name on them. They need not have bothered. Torres flopped spectacularly at Chelsea; there are no two ways about it. His time at Chelsea was marked by the length of his goal droughts than the number of goals he scored. But he got what he came for – trophies and more trophies. Torres played a not insignificant part in three big ones – one FA Cup, one UEFA Champions League and one Europa League. He is best remembered for the breakaway goal against Barcelona that led to Gary Neville’s on-mike orgasm and for winning the corner from which Drogba equalised in the Champions League final.
Unfortunately, Chris Sutton cannot boast of any noteworthy achievements at Chelsea, except setting the tone for future club-record purchases. Unlike Torres, Sutton was not afforded the luxury of time and was moved on after just one season in blue. Too bad they didn’t learn from this mistake and made more expensive ones, many times over.
Chris Sutton was a disaster for Chelsea money-wise too. After buying him for £10 million just a year earlier, Chelsea were forced to take a massive loss when they sold him to Celtic for a little more than half that amount. At Celtic, Sutton rediscovered his form and started scoring regularly, having found a league more suited to his level. Chris Sutton can now be heard spouting bizarre opinions in the commentary box and in the various columns that he writes. Fernando Torres, meanwhile is back at Atletico Madrid via a brief stint at AC Milan. The fans still love him despite his decline, especially as he keeps popping up with crucial goals here and there. Let’s hope he can score a few with his Worst XI strike partner, Chris Sutton. We’ll call them the SAT – as in, we SAT there with our hands in our heads, befuddled at the inability of these two to hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.