I am starting to feel sorry for Fernando Torres.
Once upon a time he led the line like a footballing Legolas, fleet, flaxen and fatally good. Now he plods around like he's Legless. There's no pace anymore, his first touch seems to have been borrowed from Emile Heskey, and worst of all he glowers round the pitch like a grounded teenager who's had his X-Box confiscated. And let's face it the X-Box Torres is a far better player.
If Rafael Benitez has been brought back to revive ickle Nando then by golly he's going to need more than smelling salts and a common language. Abramovich landed the club with this folly-footed failure, just as he had with Sheva (not Shiva, destroyer of worlds, but Sheva destroyer of managerial reputations).
Benitez somehow has managed to get himself as a fifth head on the Anfield Mount Rushmore flag, and doe-eyed Scousers - the same ones that are presumably voting for that moon-faced bag o' shite Christopher Maloney in X-Factor - still revere that night in Istanbul when the Champions League was pulled out of the fire despite the manager, and because of Steven Gerrard.
Rafa repaid that miracle by sticking Gerrard wide right for a season. He also made the one decent purchase of his career in England by getting Torres. The Spaniard went on to terrify teams in the same way that Suarez does now (except for the odd leg-breaking lunge and the racist jibe).
Benitez's subsequent career at Anfield was remarkable indeed. He spent shitloads on shite and blamed the lack of success on the chairmen, whoever the hell they happened to be, for not giving him even more shitloads. They won an FA Cup because Gerrard trumped a flapping defence. And when they finally got shot of him, he took with him a massive pay-off and the hearts of the Kop.
In short, the predominant quality Benitez had at Liverpool was luck. Ferguson suggested he'd got another dose by getting a six-month sentence at Roman's correctional institute (with John Terry playing Mr Mackay and Lamps as the kindly and earnest Mr Barraclough). I'm not sure Rafa will see it that way after the reception the Chelsea fans gave him yesterday.
The astonishing thing about Benitez's appointment is that Abramovich has replaced a whole-hearted man of Chelsea with someone who pretty much despised the club. (Why is the owner not getting his fair share of the flak for this maddening decision? Well cos ultimately he can take his ball home, in the form squillions of quid, so let's blame the Spanish Maitre D instead.)
It's laughable, too, that Rafa would want the job. You might think it shows an admirably thick skin. I think it's a choice made on the basis of pride and greed. He'll be well-paid whatever happens but if he thinks he can turn around opinion at the Bridge with a Torres tap-in he's living in the Land Where Reason Sleeps (which coincidentally is the tagline for an upcoming documentary on Chelsea Football Club).
Meanwhile Harry Redknapp returns to management at QPR, the Premier League's pit props. 'Course 'Arry does the press conferences very well - lots of talk of grandkids in blue and white hooped shirts, nice people at the club, working hard and running abaht. He's very good at making you feel you're just popping round H's for a catch-up or having a little chinwag outside the bookies of Monday morning.
It's hard to believe he lives in a massive fuck-off house in Sandbanks, home of the fourth most expensive real estate in the world, coz 'e's do dahn-to-earf!
Still the R's have got the best man available. Just ask the Ukraine FA. Harry was very tempted by their offer, he said. After all them Ukrainian fans are just loverly and Chicken Kiev is one of his favourite teas. But it was now or never for Fernandes to get the ol' geezer and you can't say it's the wrong decision. Indeed it as natural a fit as as Warnock and Leeds, or
But as with Torres's form, even Jesus Christ might be struggling to this squad to pick up its bed and walk. There were signs of improvement at Old Trafford, but as soon as United got one the game was up. It's not a coincidence, mind, that it was a QPR team lacking many of the expensive, needless bling that Hughes bought in.
'Arry's already stated he won't hesitate to cut out the dead wood and from what we've witnessed thus far he's going to need a chainsaw. Still it will come as bad news for the likes of Lambert, O'Neill and, increasingly, Pardew.
I like to think I had some influence on Newcastle's demise - I did after all reckon them coming fourth this season. The Barcodes have had injuries to irreplaceable players: Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Coloccini were cornerstones last season. But they've also suffered an utter relapse since Pardew was given a seven-year contract.
Symptomatic is Papiss Cisse who scored the best brace in the history of football at Stamford Bridge but this season couldn't score in a Stockton-on-Tees niteclub at 2am - and even Fernando Torres could manage that.