Tag Archives: rooney

Here We Go Again

And thus begins another two years of hurt for England. The only difference this time is that the inevitable penalty-shootout defeat was a deserved punishment, rather than a cruel trick of fate.

England’s tournament destiny was sealed the moment that injury ruled out Jack Wilshere. Wilshere isn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last, player to be touted as the “future of English football,” but he would have added cohesiveness to an England midfield that was outnumbered and overrun in all four matches.

With Wilshere unavailable, Hodgson should have worked harder to recruit a player capable of dictating the tempo of a game. Gareth Barry was never going to be the answer. Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes are the only fully fit English players at all comparable to Italy’s Andrea Pirlo. But Carrick turned down a place in the squad when Hodgson refused to guarantee him a starting spot. And Scholes, frustrated by coaches who constantly played him out of position, had retired from internationals in the mid-2000s. He showed no interest in a return. Without a passer in midfield, England never had a prayer. Possession is the crux of international football, and it was England’s inability to maintain possession that ultimately cost them a place in the semifinals.

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England Depend on Unreliable Rooney

Ten months have passed since Wayne Rooney aimed a kick at Miodrag Dzudovic’s leg. That moment of madness spawned a brief public hate campaign against Rooney, a frustratingly familiar routine that lost all momentum when England fans realized that the Manchester United striker represented their last, tenuous hope of tournament success.

Rooney, who has polarized opinion since his emergence on the international stage in 2004, is one of only two players to have been sent off more than once while playing for England. The other is David Beckham. You could hardly find a starker contrast. Beckham is suave, handsome and married to a pop star; rumor has it that his match-worn jerseys smell of something suspiciously like perfume.  Rooney is rough, ugly and married to his childhood sweetheart; in 2011, he swore loudly at a camera during an overly boisterous goal celebration.

What Beckham and Rooney have in common is an uncanny ability to frustrate and inspire in equal measure; especially when playing internationally.

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Retrospective: The Week That Destroyed A Season

When the bards sing of deeds gone by or poets write in remembrance, memory is always airbrushed. As an eager, fresh-faced boy desperate to fill my mind’s expanse of blankness, I noticed, interested, the holes in Manchester United’s rich history. The period for instance that some call the 1970s, is one afforded only a cursory sentence or two in all the unofficial accounts I read, seemingly, football hadn’t happened between around the time George Best lifted the European Cup and the day Ron Atkinson cleaned out his office.

What with decades disappearing, to misplace a week might seem a trifling matter, but here I seek to preserve one of the worst. Observed through the lens of glories since, the first seven days of April 2010 lose poignancy – victory’s narcotic effect blurring our understanding of what it means to lose. Pain, all too happily sedated.

The weather was nice, early Spring temperatures in Germany complementing early spring moods in Manchester – moods dictated by a script long since memorized.

Adjustment had been an overarching theme that year. The departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez kicked off a period of change. In came Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen, as a goalscoring burden of titanic proportions shifted onto the shoulders of Wayne Rooney.

Read more at Man Utd 24.

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Champions League Consigns International Break To Distant Memory

After two weeks of old arguments, the Champions League’s return proved a refreshing end to the monotony.

At what point England’s dour, 1-0 win over Wales was forgotten is hard to say. It could have been on ninety-three minutes at the Nou Camp, when Thiago Silva powered home a late equalizer, or maybe seconds later, as Ivan Peresic’s breathtaking volley flew into the top corner in Germany. The contrast between two midweek spectacles couldn’t have been more pronounced.

It seems that international breaks are now nothing if not depressing inevitabilities – interim periods cut from the same cloth as that mountain so elegantly described by the brilliant Dante.

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