Confidence tricksters

Sometimes being a striker is easy. They are the kings of the castle when everything goes right. The heroes. But with that comes the pressure of others' reliance on you. Simon Terodde is facing that problem right now.

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During pre-season Simon Terodde couldn’t miss. The ball would roar into the goal off his boot, his arse, his knee, it didn’t matter. That it was against inferior opposition matters not a jot, because when they are flying in, they will fly in against anyone.

But now things are different. The season is eight weeks old and he’s still waiting for his first goal in the league for 1.FC Union. Yesterday’s Berliner Kurier says that he needs to become Simon TOR-odde (“Tor” meaning goal for those of you at the back).

Silvio Carlos de Oliveira is injured. Christopher Quiring has got shingles (I suppose as he is the size of an old man, he might as well get their illnesses, too) and John Jairo Mosquera is strongly doubtful for Saturday’s match against Alemannia Aachen.

Mosquera’s loss is the interesting one. Silvio has played excellently ever since arriving from Switzerland at the start of the season, and Quiring has continued the form that he had at the end of last season when he was running defences ragged up and down the league.

But Mosquera? He has scored three this season. With his head, and both feet. He has rounded the ‘keeper twice. How has the man, who looked so terrified in front of goal that he looked like he was going to be spending as much time on the bench this season as Uwe Neuhaus, started scoring so easily?

His goal against Bochum, when the pressure was really on, was a case in point. He was one on one, but looked like he’d taken it too far. It needed to go in. Somehow, with a bit of luck mixed in along the way it did.

The pressure lifted like a hangover on a sunny day. That release had allowed him to unleash the goal scoring animal inside of him that Neuhaus has been convinced was there (pretty much alone, at times) for two years.

It made it easier for him to score goals like on Saturday against Duisburg, as he found himself in acres, but took all the time he needed. It was emphatic, and I was at the bar queuing for non-alcoholic beer, presumably just in case I accidentally released my own inner animal and fancied some zebra meat. Mosquera is flying. I was on the floor.

Of course, Mosquera got injured later on. That is the way of these things at Union. They were much more solid at the back this time, but it helped that Duisburg still contrived to miss several chances easier than the one that Terodde spooned over in the second half that will be playing on repeat over and over inside his head. The wood work played its part too. Union will still need goals, and so, to paraphrase Kool and the Gang, someone’s going to have to take the weight.

It’s the strikers curse. I ramble all the time about goalkeepers being the loneliest player on the pitch. They are more cerebral at times, more human. Strikers need to be the cocky little shits they were when they were at school and everybody loved them. It can be harder to fake that confidence. The man from Köln isn’t a Romario (de Souza Faria)-type. He does the hard running, and is happy to try and create goals for others, but he needs to get off the mark in any way he can. Then everything will come that much easier.

That Markus Karl is an ever-present will help the big man. Karl has revolutionised Union’s attacking threat this season. His cultured long balls from deep having paved the way for Mosquera to break his drought. Quiring’s replacement, Patrick Zoundi, had his best game in a red shirt on Saturday, an irritating, buzzing presence, darting in from both sides with the ball at his feet.

As Stan Smith said – and as a former tennis player who has designed some of the nicest shoes ever made by small brown children to be sold at vast prices to western idiots, we should listen to him – “Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.”

Terodde will come good, but he needs to do it quickly. He’s fortunate that in Neuhaus he has a trainer that is patient with his strikers, but the crowds on Saturday at the Alte Försterei will be a bit more demanding.