Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fernando Torres is the new Chili Palmer

Watching a bit of Liverpool's weekend over Chelsea, I - like most - was taken by the form of the Reds' Spanish tyro Fernando Torres. After a mediocre time of it recently (except when playing Nemanja Vidic) dating back to an injury-plagued 2009-10 and poor World Cup, he spun startlingly back into form against the League Leaders with a magical performance.

Both his goals weren't from the top drawer, they were from on top of the dresser. His second should win the Premiership's "Goal of the Month" award after he wrong-footed a backpedalling Branislav Ivanovic and curling a wicked shot into Petr Cech's far-post side netting. His first was great as well, slicing into the box and leaving three-fifths of the most high-profile defence in the world in his wake (Cech, Ashley Cole & John Terry) before smashing the ball past the sliding goalkeeper.

And it struck me: Fernando Torres has possibly the most obvious body language in World Football today, an award he shares with "The Varnished One" Cristiano Ronaldo. When both of these players are feeling good in themselves and performing confidence and attitude simply oozes from them: you can read that confidence in the way they walk, run, in their first touch and in their passing. You can read it in the way they get to the right positions. It's especially evident when they score.

That's not to say that when down on form Torres (or indeed Ronaldo) lacks the same speed, touch or finishing ability, far from it. What I am saying is that he's easy to read. During the World Cup, a lot of criticism was aimed at "El Nino" for his lacklustre performances in a Spain team which occasionally couldn't convert it's possession into leads. His head wasn't completely right and it was obvious. He was frustrated both by his lack of form, some rough treatment from defenders and by his body's inability to answer the call. This term it's been much the same: rounded shoulders, head down, still blessed with that one-in-a-million combination of pace and skill but seemingly ill at ease.

One of my favourite movies is "Get Shorty". At one point in the movie, debt-collector Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is trying to teach an actor how to look straight into a man's innermost soul and create fear, fear which makes them do whatever you want. He says: "I look straight at them and what I'm thinking is I own you. What I'm not doing is feeling anything about it". Rent the movie, watch that scene and tell me that's not the perfect attitude to have when playing sport. Good athletes - be they from any sport, always have this confidence, this arrogance which allows them the belief to do whatever is needed to win. Torres had this look on Sunday - he knew he owned Terry & Alex. He believed it. It showed in the way he carried himself.

The difference when comparing his previous Premier League performances to Sunday's is stark and doesn't bode well for his coming opponents. The confidence, the swagger, the 'tude is back. A player of his class doesn't magically "rediscover" form only to lose it again the next week, it just doesn't happen. In all likelihood his outstanding game during a win that Liverpool FC so desperately needed could be just the thing he needs to kick start his year. It's an ominous time for the rest of the league.

No comments:

Post a Comment