Players are people. If you prick them, they bleed. Despite a professional existence that involves getting kicked, not all are invincible shoulder-goal-popping memes. They have feelings. If they sit on the bench for not scoring goals, then their confidence dips and they score less goals. It's a brutal cycle. And it's one in which Fernando Torres finds himself.
But there is hope. Thanks to my total lack of knowledge, education, and experience as neither a psychiatrist nor a coach, I have some ideas for El Nino. We can hopefully restore his confidence in a few simple steps.
First and foremost, honesty is always the best avenue. AVB needs to find some positive words of encouragement, but they can't ring hollow. Players can smell insincerity a mile away. Thus, you can't call Fernando "world class" anymore. You can't even say "you're the best striker at Chelsea." However, you can say in a loud voice "Fernando, you are easily the most talented striker at Chelsea today...." and then say under your breath "...named Fernando Torres."
Second, AVB needs to prioritize and also keep Nando in the loop. Above all, AVB has to put a positive spin on his decisions. For example, when Fernando warms the bench in a league game against a lowly team, AVB just needs to let him know that this team is way way below Fernando. Then, when Chelsea play a do-or-die Champions League encounter, AVB needs to let Nando know that the game is still below him. In fact, all games aside from the Champions League final will be below him for the foreseeable future. And if they reach the final, it will be below him. Only the historically important Carling Cup is worthy of Torres. And even then, only for 30 minutes a game.
Third, AVB needs to help Torres get over his love affair with Spain. Right now, the whole "will I be selected or not" question is totally messing with his head. In part, it is understandable. Yes, la Furia Roja has won a World Cup and European Cup. Yes, Nando played for both of those teams and got some silverware. But answer me this - if Spain is so good, then how come they can't take on any dead weight like Torres? If Spain was a bunch of super all-stars, they'd easily be able to compensate for his recent misfiring ways. But they aren't that good. And there's no shame in Fernando realizing that the team is not good enough to call him up because the players are simply not talented enough to compensate for his poor form.
Fourth, and importantly, Fernando needs to know that Chelsea cares. This also deals with how the message is delivered. Torres needs to know that he's loved and cherished. Every time he rides the pine or doesn't dress for a game, he needs to know that the Blues have his long-term interest at heart - after all, if he plays a game, he could get injured at any minute. ANY MINUTE. And that's a risk they just can't afford to take with Mr. Important Player.
Fifth, and lastly, Torres needs to feel like a million bucks. This will require some PR magic and a bit of sleight of hand. First, the Blues should circulate a rumor that they are willing to sell him for half his price last winter: $31 million dollars. Then, when he confronts the manager or the owner about the rumors, they can feign ignorance. They can drop their jaws and state "Fernando, that is such a preposterous thing! We would never sell you for that.....but, did you or your agent hear anything from other clubs?"
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