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24: The pivotal moments in Torres' hunt for a goal as his barren spell nears a whole day

24: The pivotal moments in Torres' hunt for a goal as his barren spell nears a whole day

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As the goal-shy striker closes in on an unwanted milestone, we look back at how the Spaniard endured a day that would make Jack Bauer's counter terrorism unit wince

By Joe Doyle

"I have not scored in almost 24 hours. I deal with owners that have killed (the careers of) managers and I guarantee you these people have a back-up plan. Every second is crucial – every minute counts. This is personal: defenders are trying to destroy me."

These are (possibly) the words that will be coming out of Fernando Torres’ mouth ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League game against Stoke City on Saturday.

The out-of-form striker has played almost an entire day’s worth of football without finding the back of the net. He has nine minutes in which to avoid that feat against the Potters at the weekend – if he plays, that is. take a look back on what will certainly have been one of the longest days in the Spaniard's career - and one that would make even Jack Bauer grimace with pain.

00:00 – 01:00: Things are looking up for Torres as he scores his second consecutive league goal for Chelsea against Swansea – but it is almost immediately soured by a red card for a lunge at Mark Gower.

01:00 – 01:30: The striker is on the bench as former club Liverpool come to town. The visiting fans taunt him with a banner proclaiming: “Ya paid £50m for Margi Clarke”, referring to the former Coronation Street actress. He came on late, but saw his side lose. 

01:30 – 02:00: Comes off the bench again, but sets up a goal for Salomon Kalou. Checked back and away from goal when through though, displaying a lack of confidence.

02:00 – 04:00: The striker notches another assist against Fulham, but goals still evade him and he’s not on form. Comes off the bench in the defeat against Aston Villa and rattles the crossbar. 

04:00 – 08:00: The striker plays well against Wolves, playing a key part in the winning goal and, with a month of starts to look forward to as Didier Drogba departs for the African Cup of Nations, things are looking up for Torres.

08:00 – 12:00: Assists two goals in the closing stages against Portsmouth in the FA Cup, but doesn’t really threaten in front of goal. Torres eventually reaches half a day of football and no goals. “We have to end this thing, and I'm not talking hours - I'm talking minutes,” to borrow from the show. 

12:00 – 13:30: He just cannot buy a goal. A fantastic scissor-kick against Sunderland cannons back off the bar and hits (hits!) Frank Lampard and goes in. He is denied two strong penalty appeals and leaves the field without a goal again.

13:30 – 15:00: A bad display against Norwich. Forced a save against from John Ruddy, but as his side search for a goal he pokes the ball wide from seven yards. Substituted with the scores still at 0-0. 

15:00 – 16:30: An all-too-familiar feeling for the Spaniard as he leaves the field without a goal against QPR. He plays well, but Drogba isn’t far from home...

16:30 – 18:00: A poor display against Swansea in a 1-1 draw and it’s looking like it’ll get worse before it gets better. 

18:00 – 19:30: Puts in a wonderful cross for Juan Mata’s goal against United and starts playing with some confidence. Put through on goal though against David de Gea and shows a failure to pull the trigger which would have Jack Bauer spewing his lite-beer in disgust. Reverts into his shell before United pull level in the last 10 minutes.

19:30 – 21:00: Woeful against Everton in defeat on Merseyside, his confidence has dipped again following the United incident. Drogba returns. 

21:00 – 22:00: Reaches rock bottom against Birmingham in the FA Cup. Replaced at half-time by Drogba as his team trail. Doesn’t play against Napoli, and is only afforded a cameo against Bolton.

22:00 – 23:51: Another short appearance in a disastrous defeat against West Brom in his commanding officer’s last operation. This is followed by an abject performance against Birmingham again. He wins a penalty – but refuses to take it when offered the chance. Could he be any less confident? Wait, wrong American television show…

And so, with nine minutes remaining of an unforgettable day consisting of both unlucky and drab performances, we have to ask: can Tony Pulis’ version of the Counter-Torresism unit contain him for a mere nine minutes more? 

Or will El Nino strike as the clock ticks down to zero?