‘We hate you so much, because we loved you so much’

That quote is what Barcelona fans displayed upon Luis Figo’s return after his infamous transfer to Real Madrid.

It bears more than a resemblance to the manner in which Liverpool fans now view their former Spanish striker.

FERNANDO Torres was the darling of the Kop. More than a fabulously gifted footballer, he was totally immersed in the culture of Liverpool FC. A rare and special breed he identified with the club’s long-standing traditions, its symbolism, its majesty. He was one us he proclaimed, a true red. He lied.

The tasteless way in which his transfer unfolded has tainted his legacy. The Spaniard has been exposed as no more than a selfish, belligerent mercenary deluded by his own self-importance. The image he strove to manifest has been shattered and his reputation destroyed.

The staunchest Kopite could not blame the player for considering a move. We are devoted yes but realistic also. A striker of his calibre should not endure a prolonged Champions League exile – that would be a painful waste of potential. But it is the manner of Torres’ departure which leaves a bitter taste. His angling for a move at this point in time, with Liverpool at the crossroads, is unforgivable. Moreover it is the proverbial two-finger salute to an adoring public.

He could and should have given the club until the summer at least. Instead his inflated ego intervened and paved the way for an ugly exit.

His destination only worsens matters, with Chelsea the polar opposite of everything Liverpool stand for. A manufactured club with no history, no die-hard support and a squad full of overpaid vermin. Chelsea were a middle-of-the-road side until Roman Abramovich arrived, inspiring a whole new generation of glory-hunting Chavs. They may have amassed a glittering array of silverware just recently but it all harks back to the owner’s wallet, rather than solid foundations.

This is the club who once distributed plastic flags for a game against Liverpool in the hope its fans could replicate an Anfield atmosphere. They didn’t. This is a club whose captain is a despicable excuse for a man, someone who sleeps with his own team-mates wives. This is a club that contains no loyalty from the stands down to the pitch. This is a club whose supporters boo their team in the wake of draws and whose players would happily walk to Southend if that’s where the money stemmed. This Isn’t Anfield.

A few months back Liverpool were a club on its knees. Raped and pilloried by its despised owners there was no money and no future. Added to that tragic backdrop was the appointment of a haphazard manager who worsened matters still.

But fast-forward to January and a new dawn beckons. Hicks and Gillett have been royally ousted, replaced by a professional, committed regime intent on implementing their proven track record here. There is money to spend and signings to boot, Luis Suarez epitomising a progressive approach. Additionally the Hodgson era is over and the fans choice has been installed.

With FSG and Kenny Dalglish at the helm there are reasons to be hopeful. If nothing else Liverpool are united again, with everyone pulling in the same direction. The road back is long but the club is again on-course after a horrid derailment.

So why now? Why choose January, and late January at that, to submit a written transfer request? The dignified approach would have been to wait until the summer and then quietly make clear you would prefer a move. The old Torres would have done just that, but the man we fell in love with back when has long-gone. He has been replaced by someone immersed not into LFC but his own brand.

For months now the mercurial Spaniard has strolled through games half-heartedly with a permanent sulk etched on his face. It’s an expression Michael Owen donned so well towards the tail-end of his Anfield career but at least he never shirked responsibility (on the pitch). Torres on the other-hand has been disgraceful. His petulance and disinterest should have cost him a starting place long-ago but the bewildered Hodgson could hardly drop his prized asset.

Hodgson was unquestionably out-of-depth but his malaise was hastened by Torres who did him no favours whatsoever. Liverpool had long been accused of being a two-man team so when one of those starlets insisted on moping results were bound to falter.

And make no mistake Liverpool done a great deal for El Sulko. He was never a prolific goal-scorer before moving to Merseyside, he had never graced the Champions League either. Few clubs would have allowed their star striker to forsake the close of a season to undergo surgery ahead of a World Cup. Few would have improved the terms of an already decent contract (by £30,000 a week), flown their new manager out to Spain in a bid to woo their ‘disenchanted’ asset, implemented a buy-out clause to appease him and arranged face-to-face talks with any potential investors. His ego was massaged to unprecedented and quite frankly embarassing lengths. All that mollycoddling caused the player to lose sight of his duty to those in the stands.

The truth is Torres owed Liverpool. His injury record too should have come with an 18 certificate, wiping-out huge chunks of seasons and disabling many a title pursuit.

He claims he was lied to and if that was the case then a sense of disillusion is understandable. But the spin doctors have long-gone, why take it out on the faithful, those who sang and bounced on your behalf every game?

Torres long professed his love for LFC and his admiration for Dalglish. If any of that rang true he would not have deserted his new manager less than a month into his reign. Dalglish commands respect, a true legend who would never have emitted such Prima donna antics. Sadly the honest virtues which defined his playing career have bypassed the modern generation.

Torres may think otherwise but as a player he pales in comparison to Dalglish himself; he was never as good as Roger Hunt, Ian Rush or Robbie Fowler either. Professionally and personally that quartet dwarf someone whose character will see him kissing the Chelsea badge within days. Once upon a time he fought tooth-and-nail to rank alongside such greats. After a while he started to believe his own publicity and misplaced his commitment.

He leaves behind the club he loved and the fans who loved him more. Walk on Fernando, walk on.

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