CHELSEA WON A penalty against Birmingham in the FA Cup replay when Torres was brought down inside the box. As clearly seen in some video footage, and later confirmed by teammate Mata, Torres refused to take the penalty when presented with the opportunity.
This was reason enough for some pundits and journalists to put on their psychoanalyst hats and examine the psyche of the £50 million man. The diagnosis? The goal-starved striker was so low in confidence that he trembled with fear of missing the penalty, causing him to turn down the offer from Mata. A rather negative and ill-willed verdict – just as you would expect from the football media that constantly bathe in a muddy pool of sensationalism.
Could there be any other explanation for this refusal? If we are all just making guesses that we won’t be able to confirm one way or the other, can I take a shot? (Deep down inside, I always knew my Psychology degree would one day come in handy.)
"I'M NOT THE first on the list to shoot,” was the reason Torres gave to Mata who wanted his compatriot to take the penalty since Torres won it in the first place. It could be, of course, that Torres is telling the truth. No matter what he feels about the penalty, he is not the designated man for the spot kicks. It could very well be that he is a stickler for rules. He could very well be the kind of guy who makes sure everyone has their seatbelts on before driving. “My car. My rules!” I imagine Torres declaring, as Ashley Cole begrudgingly fastens his seatbelt on.
Maybe his childhood was surrounded by chaos – parents fighting all the time, family constantly moving from place to place, classmates bullying him and so on – that he can only find peace in things being in order: fork on the left, knife and spoon on the right; cold beverages on coasters; Friday is laundry day; ALWAYS put things back in their rightful place; don’t take penalty when you are not the designated penalty taker.
This is only a theory for which I cannot give you any proof, just like the Torres-is-chicken-shit theory. On that ground (or rather lack of ground), it has the same chance of being the truth as any other theories. But Torres-is-a-stickler-for-rules is not a theory I endorse.
THERE WAS SOMETHING in his facial expression as he declined the chance to shoot from 12 yards out. A mix of seriousness and… pain, like someone who has been pitied, like someone whose pride has been hurt! “Here Fernando, you have gotten so bad at this that a penalty might be your best chance at scoring a goal. Tsk tsk tsk.” Imagine Sherlock Holmes being asked to solve a petty car theft or Mozart to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star because they have gotten so bad at what they do. Rightly or wrongly, one can understand that they may feel offended by such offers because of their pride. That, in my opinion, is why Torres refused to take that penatly.
This does not justify his decision not to take the penalty; scoring a goal, whatever ways he could, might be the rain that ends this goal drought. However, it, if I am right, shows that Torres has respect for himself and has belief in his ability, again rightly or wrongly, to find the back of the net the traditional way – from open play. And it demands respect even from someone like me who has been critical of his form (and tagged by some fans as a Torres-hater).
WHATEVER THE REASON was for not taking the penalty, Torres was in an impossible position – a lose-lose-lose-lose situation to be exact – and he had little power to change the opinions of those who delight in his misery.
Let’s say Chelsea gets a penalty with the game already won. (a) Torres does not ask to take it and no one offers him the chance: he is low on confidence and does not take the iniative to get back on the score sheet. (b) Torres begs to get the chance to take it: he is so desparate to score – very pitiful! (c) For whatever reason, Torres gets to take the penalty and scored: he can only score from penalty now – what a shame – the joke goes on. (d) Torres takes the penalty and missed/saved: the joke goes on and on and on. Someone can put a negative spin regardless of the outcome.
Torres himself is partly to blame for this: if he could score goals week in week out, this woud never have been a problem. But even if he can start scoring goals regularly again, it is not guaranteed that everyone will change their minds. This, as many have said before, is just life.
Carefree, wherever you may be...