Saturday, May 06, 2006

England In Total Denial

So the English papers are in rare form, following Wayne Rooney's two broken metatarsals (toes, essentially) in his right foot. I've suffered from a hairline fracture of a metatarsal myself, and from a soccer injury. Between that and a love of drink and cheap sluts, Rooney and I are possibly long lost cousins. Hmph.

But here's my point. You tape your foot up. You don't run on it for a few weeks. You start to feel good. You gingerly put weight on it. You feel good, and you think you are ready to play, goddammit. You can run, you can cut, and what else is there? Well, in soccer, there's the kicking of the fucking ball. And believe, nothing hurts a broken bone in your foot like actively striking another object. I set back my own recovery 3 weeks by going out to soon. Because I felt good. And my break was nowhere, nowhere near as bad as Rooney's. He's done for the World Cup. Oxygen tent or no.

Now, Owen's health is in doubt (as it always is), so who will England turn to? There is a talk in the English papers of Gerrard stepping up in to a more offensive role. Which they all love the idea of, because he is so good in that role for his professional team. But that's Lampard's job on the English squad, and I don't see it. Gerrard is good at what he does, yes, but he's no Rooney. There's only one Wayne Rooney! Gerrard is an excellent trackback defending offensive player, but Rooney is a guy that give defenders the shits. He's a bulldog, and punishes mistakes. He's Stoichkov, without quite that level of sociopathy.

The ideas coming out of not just the press, but the professional managers in England is getting silly. Sir Alex thinks the veterans who combined for such poor showings the past 8 years are the folks to take up the charge. In some quarters, Peter Crouch is the answer! Have you seen Peter Crouch? Better bring a backup for him--I guarantee you he doesn't make it through the game with Paraguay, who have a deserved reputation as being cynical tacklers. And have you seen Peter Crouch? He's made out of matchsticks!

My money is on expanded roles for Marcus Bent and Shaun Wright-Phillips. But even though soccer is an 11 man team sport, it is possible that a team can be denied based on the health of one person. England needs to realize that, and damper their expectations, right fucking now. If Maradona wasn't healthy in 86, how would have Argentina fared? If Suker wasn't healthy for Croatia in 1994? Where would have the Germans been without Klose in 2002? One player makes a difference, and Rooney was England's difference maker.

Eat a bag, Brits. You are going home early.

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