Welcome to the first edition of Soccer Central: Ask the Insiders where fans get to pick the topics. This week, Gerry Dobson, Craig Forrest and producer Daniel Fernandes answered several questions including what Chelsea should do with Fernando Torres, whether Thierry Henry’s idea for deducting team points for racist fans could work and if Mario Balotelli’s transer to AC Milan will rejuvenate his career.
KYLE MYERS: What do you think Chelsea should do with Fernando Torres after the season? Stick with him or try to sell?
GERRY DOBSON: It all depends on what they can get for him. But it certainly won’t be nearly as much as what they paid for him. I think they should keep him. He may not score like he used to, but he’s still a valuable player who can set up goals as well.
CRAIG FORREST: Well they won’t get anything near the $50 million they paid for him. Chelsea will be buy in the summer and the manager will likely change. It will be up to the new manager as to whether Torres can play a part in his plans. The good thing for Chelsea is that they do not need to sell in order to buy.
DANIEL FERNANDES: I think they will cut their losses next season with Torres especially with a new manager coming in. I don’t think Torres will ever get back to being the player he once was. It was always going to be difficult to justify that major transfer fee. I could see him going back to Spain next season on loan or permanently.
PRIZBY: Even if Borussia Dortmund win Champions League, does Robert Lewandowski leave?
GERRY DOBSON: If he plays well and they win the Champions League it might actually be more likely that he will go. His value would rise in that case, and buying teams would come calling. He came to Borussia a few years ago for less than 5 million Euros. So he’s certainly worth a lot more now.
CRAIG FORREST: Winning the Champions League may help but his contract is up in 2014 and Dortmund will not let that run out. Cashing in might be their best option and a high price tag may tempt them. Robert Lewandowski’s wishes will play a part too.
DANIEL FERNANDES: History tells us that Dortmund usually sells one or two key players at the end of the season. For the right price, they would listen to offers. I’m sure Borussia Dortmund would quickly sign an adequate replacement like they did with Reus following Kagawa’s departure.
JOAN: Hey guys, always wanted to know, what kind of preparation do you do to get ready for Soccer Central every day?
GERRY DOBSON: Research, research, research. There are so many leagues, teams and players to keep track of, it’s an endless job. I read everything I can find, and watch as many games as possible (within reason, I do have a life.) Our production days also include lineup meetings, rehearsals and pre production of certain elements of the show.
BOB: Do you think Toronto FC will make the playoffs this year?
GERRY DOBSON: Too early to tell. I like what new president Kevin Payne is doing. But with a rookie coach and new players once again, it will take a while to determine if this team will have enough quality to make the playoffs. We should have a pretty good idea after the first 6-8 games.
CRAIG FORREST: Things are changing at TFC. They have structure and a plan now but I think the playoffs may be out of reach this year. Can’t right this ship overnight.
DANIEL FERNANDES: With the amount of player turnover in MLS it’s common for teams to tank one year and be contenders the next year. I think Ryan Nelsen is inheriting a bit of a mess with some big contracts and underperforming players. He has a lot of work to do to field a balanced and competitive side. If he is able to sort out the backline and the team stays healthy, they might just sneak in. Which would be great for the franchise and their fans who have waited so long for the playoffs.
KARL47: What do you think of Thierry Henry’s suggestion that soccer officials deduct team points for racist fans?
GERRY DOBSON: I like the idea. Teams would rather lose money than points. I don’t think fines and playing matches behind closed doors are enough motivation for clubs to deal with the problem effectively. If they knew they were going to have points deducted they may take meaningful measures to eradicate this scourge.
CRAIG FORREST: I’m all for Thierry Henry’s idea. The authorities have to do something, but in reality I do not see them coming in line with it. Not globally anyway. The problem is there are so many different competitions, that you can’t have one simple rule. There is the World Cup, World Cup qualifying, leagues, European competitions, knock-out/two-legged ties. Each competition needs it’s own guidelines. It’s up to the governing bodies to do this and sadly they do not seem to be very motivated.
JJ CARSON: Do you think Mario Balotelli’s transer to AC Milan will rejuvenate his career?
GERRY DOBSON: Not sure about that one. While he has scored goals since the move, he’s still the same person. Only maturity that comes with each passing birthday will determine whether or not his career will take off. Then again some players never grow up.
DANIEL FERNANDES: I think Balotelli’s best days are ahead of him. He will get regular playing time at Milan and should finally be able to put up consistent performances to go along with his swagger. Even when he played well at times for Man City, he would be dropped for the next match. He needs to be playing all the time in order to get back to being Super Mario.