This afternoon, Fernando Torres committed one of the misses of the century, or so we're meant to believe. According to the Official Media Narrative (tm), this is proof he's past it, or "afraid to score," and is going to ruin his Chelsea career, and dim his already minimal confidence.
I disagree. For me, #TheMiss was just a miss. Fernando has plenty of positives he can take from today's match. He finally scored this season and looked dangerous for much of the match. He nearly provided a goal which, at 1-0 down, could have saved Chelsea in the match. Unfortunately, Ramires got to it first, forcing a great save from David De Gea, and preventing Danny Sturridge putting in an empty net.
When it comes to #TheMiss, it's a much more complex issue than some would have you believe. After the jump, I'll discuss the #TheMiss and why it's not really a disaster for Fernando Torres.First of all, if Torres had been scoring all year, #TheMiss is a non-story, apart from the inherent humour in it. Even though it was Hell for Chelsea supporters everywhere, you have to see the humour. Just as United fans can laugh about Rooney's John Terry-esque penalty miss, we should be able to laugh at a top-class player missing an absolute sitter.
That's the point Strikers miss sitters occasionally, especially when they have an open goal in front of them. Being in an apparently fool-proof situation can lead to momentary overconfidence. Though top-class footballers make the game look easy, it isn't. To excel requires constant concentration, and overconfidence is the bane of concentration. Everyone has had a situation in which they let their attention slip at the last moment, with a job nearly done, and thus failed.
Nothing about #TheMiss fits with the Official Media Narrative (tm) about Torres. A striker without confidence, or who is past it, doesn't get to the point where he can miss like that. He passes it, fires over, or loses it in hesitation. He doesn't drag it past the 'keeper only to freeze in front of goal. I can't be the only one who's seen a striker like that. You all have too, and his name is Fernando Torres. Last year, and at times this season, he looked unsure of himself, and looked incapable of scoring.
As I said, though, only a player full of confidence gets the chance to miss that opportunity, even if he indeed misses it. [Edit: In the first half, of course, Fernando tried an overhead kick (#TheBicycleKick), If that doesn't prove his confidence, what will? Thanks to Abhijit Sawarkar for reminding me!] Less than a minute into the first half, Torres scored assuredly from Anelka's incisive pass. The finish was not that of a sulking player with no confidence. It was the finish of a world-class striker. Today, Fernando Torres played like the Fernando Torres who scored 50 Liverpool goals faster than anyone else. Sure he had his faults, but it was largely a great performance. This is why I think #TheMiss is an isolated incident. Had it been his only chance, maybe, but not in the context of the entire match.
I know what you're saying, "Sure he played well until then, but this could erase all that progress." Of course, there is a chance of that happening, but, personally, I don't think so. Fernando was clearly angry with himself, rather than exasperated. Anger is surely the better emotion to feel at that moment. It shows he felt he let down both himself and Chelsea, and that he's got back some of his fire. The old, unconfident Torres looked depressed and down when he broke down an attack. That that didn't happen today can only be a good thing, and I expect to see him continue to improve in his next match.
At the end of the day, though, I really don't know what his reaction will be, but I know what I expect. I'm sure it will cause him to wake up at night for a while, but I'm also sure he will use it as further motivation for improvement. I'm an unabashed Fernando Torres apologist, though, and I accept it might be less clear for you, but I'm sure we won't look back at #TheMiss as the moment which spelled the end of Fernando Torres' Chelsea career. In fact, we may look back on today as the day when Fernando Torres finally turned the corner.