The enigma that does not solve. The conundrum that even the geeks at Havard University would not be able to cipher. The hardest problem to calculate: Fernando Torres. The man capped 121 times for Spain at all levels. The man who scored just under a goal every 2 games at Atletico Madrid. The man who scored 65 times in little over 100 appearances for Liverpool, is the same man who has only given Chelsea 3 measly league goals in return for nearly 30 matches, a £50m transfer fee, and £180,000 weekly wages.
Hard to comprehend is how in one bold move, the feared striker, once described as “quick, strong and blessed with expert technique”, is no more. Not even a shadow of the former man who scored the winner for Spain at Euro 2008. It speaks volumes that a goalkeeper in Tim Howard has scored more goals than Torres in this calendar year. The demise of Fernando Torres has been abrupt, and the complete obliteration of his confidence fulminant.
The puzzle with Fernando Torres was once simple. Now, it is a parasite, spreading perilously. Gold dust does not leave you. The quality remains. Just ask The King Thierry Henry. 34 years old and rolling back the years for a game-changing goal. Fernando Torres’ quality is there, but hidden with increasingly barren matches. His slow start under Carlo Ancelotti can be put down to a lack of time to acclimatise to the situation. The partnership he shared with Steven Gerrard just behind him at Liverpool was not mirrored down south. Even with familiar recruits, former team-mate Raul Meireles is played too deep, if at all, and his compatriot Juan Mata is squandered on the wing. No catalyst is there to reignite Torres, and salvage his career. That was the simple problem. Practical problems: not the right players around him, wrong formations.
But half a season into the new year, Torres has failed to turn over a new leaf. The striker is mystifyingly still not scoring anywhere near his prolific rate of before. The root problem to the 27-year-old is not clear-cut. But the man does not seem to trust himself with the ball. Shattered confidence will have played its part. Media attention will have only hindered him more. The lack of belief from footballers past and present about him getting back to his fearsome days is there to be seen in numbers. Confidence is gone, wiped clear, totally.
There are no problems with Torres physically. The naive can say he has still not got over the knee surgery he had two years ago. The naive can back him up all he likes. The realistic will see the truth. The realistic knows Torres will come good. But the realistic also knows that what is holding Torres back is himself. He goes out onto that pitch. Whatever psychology he has, he brings onto the turf and he carries with him through the 90 minutes. At the moment, that mentality is enervated.
The Spaniard has a good three weeks of matches to play, before the return of The Drog. Torres needs a word with himself. He needs no other person to give him the kick up the backside. The man knows himself he is fighting for his place in the Spain set-up. It is down to him to turn it around. Have a pep-talk with his wife, his kids, his closest allies. Cry for help. Get it out of your system. Do whatever. But it is down to he himself to turn it around. Lambast AVB for not making him come good all you like. The root cause is more obscured. It is in his brain.
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