Liverpool’s £18m striker Fernando Torres has been getting some glowing praise from team-mates at Anfield, especially after his hat-trick last night against Reading.
Torres scored the three goals in Liverpool’s 4-2 Carling Cup win after starting the last two league games on the bench and afterwards captain Steven Gerrard and vice-captain Jamie Carragher were quick with their plaudits.
Gerrard compared him to another Liverpool number 9, the legendary Ian Rush: “I know Ian Rush was a great striker and as captain I don’t want to put too much pressure on him (Torres) in terms of goals, but Rushie got a lot of credit for working hard for the team, tracking back and not giving defenders a minute on the ball and that’s what Fernando does.”
Gerrard himself had set up the third goal for Torres, although Torres still had some work to do when one-on-one with the keeper, and Gerrard says it’s important that service continues to the Spaniard: “If we keep on delivering through balls and good service, he has already shown what a great finisher he is.”
Another element of the Torres performance last night that earned him much praise was the way he kept going despite Reading’s attempts to kick him off the park. This is a tactic often employed in the Premiership, and it impressed Gerrard the way the forward did not let it stop him: “Foreign strikers usually go hiding when they get a bit of stick, but he got murdered all night and kept coming back and coming back. His goals were great, but the best thing about him was his attitude.”
Gerrard finished: “I knew he was quick, but what surprised me was his work-rate and attitude.”
For Carragher the contribution from Torres was what put Liverpool through: “He won us the game. It was a tight game, a very difficult game but he made the difference.” Carragher was also impressed with the way Torres kept fighting for the ball and for possession: “Some great finishes but it’s not just his goals, it’s his all round work for the team.”
So will Torres now be a starter for every game? Carragher said: “That’s up to the manager. All he can do is do his own job and he’s made a great start at the club. He’s a real team player.”
So what does the manager say? Well as little as possible, because he doesn’t want to give anything away: “I can’t guarantee anything, because I like to see my strikers during the week before I make a decision. I need to check how Wigan will play. If I say tonight he will play, it will be easy for Wigan to prepare. If I say nothing you will be talking all week and everyone will be happy.”
Rafa also said that the way Reading played made sure Torres would be successful in this game: “He was really dangerous tonight because he had space. It was a different game the other day. I think about my team and our supporters are clever. They know I am doing the best for my team, Fernando knows that, too. He knows my thinking.”