Everybody’s favourite laughing stock finds himself the butt of all jokes once more.
It’s the 70th minute of a testing but ultimately comfortable FA Cup tie against Championship side Birmingham. Your team are 2-0 up and beginning to play the sort of football you’d associate with a side who are meant to be sort of good, and you’ve just won a penalty. Juan Mata, who had already contributed a goal and has basically carried the attacking burden along with Daniel Sturridge all season, looks up at you and offers the ball.
Now is the time. The time to throw your head band to the ground, clench your fists and face the task head on. The time to smash that bag of wind into the back of the net, the time to turn round, cock your head back and scream to the heavens; ‘I’m back! I’m a £50 million pound striker and I am back!’
Not if your Fernando Torres. Instead the Spaniard, slumped and defeated after another hideous performance, simply reverted to the rules as a means to shirk the responsibility which had so selflessly been presented to him. Juan Mata told the Guardian, who broke the story today:
“I asked him if he wanted to take it because he provoked [won] the penalty, I’m not first on the list to shoot, so that’s what happened.” He continued: “It was because he forced the penalty and I gave him the chance. Robbie (Di Matteo, the interim manager) put a paper with who shoots penalties and that was it.”
As a fan who, like many, used to admire Torres from afar, I can’t help but be disappointed in the hapless Spaniard. Sure, some of the taunts the 27 year old has had to endure would be soul destroying for any man. In fact Chelsea’s rather pricey 2011 purchase suffered embarrassment even at half time in Tuesday nights game, when a Birmingham fan missed his kick in an on-pitch competition.
“It was worse than Torres,” he told the on-pitch interviewer, much to the hysterical delight of the home faithful. The St Andrew’s crowd even went as far as to chant “We want Torres” upon the award of the penalty. Harrowing? Yes. Humiliating? Yes? An irretrievable situation? Absolutely not.
Former hero Torres had the chance to shove all the words back down his snorting, chuckling knockers. He had the chance to prove that under extreme pressure, he’s still man enough to stand up and be counted as a footballer.
To show the world that whilst he may still be searching for any grain of potency in front of goal, he still has the stomach for the fight and it’s about time he realised that this is exactly the situation he now finds himself in. No longer an expensive purchase struggling to find form under the weight of expectation a hefty price tag brings, Torres is fighting for his footballing life.
It’s a battle to save his career from utter obscurity, a battle to ensure his isn’t the story of a world class striker whose career finished before he reached his thirties.
A year ago I was adamant Fernando would soar once again. Now, I’m not so sure.
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