Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure Football: My Imagination at Work

Personal circumstances have forced my weekday football experiences into a new format in 2010. Working on the night desk at a newspaper was ideal for catching the Champions League and other matches before heading off for the daily grind, but I had to sacrifice that for a more stable life with more-than-fair compensation. Overall, it's a fair trade, but now anything that happens over there, six hours ahead of me, is reduced to Guardian MBMs and Soccernet graphics and commentary. It lets the imagination go wild. Without all that messy actual action to follow, I end up thinking a little bit more about things while I wait for somebody in front of a computer over there – or over wherever "they" are – to type out a few more bits of words to satisfy my fix.

That's why today I really started dwelling on Wayne Rooney and the World Cup. On any other day, I'd prefer to curse Rooney under my Liverpool-lovin' breath. Yeah, yeah, he's great. Form of his life. Unstoppable of late. Now leave me be while I study – again – City's fixture list and resume hoping Spurs and Villa just kind of peter out during the last few matches.

But today was different. I sensed it every single time Rob Smyth popped in with plaudits for Ronaldinho that yielded no further Milan goals. "They're going to regret screwing that up," I thought. Every failed Milan attempt only made it more certain. That Rooney would be the one to ultimately snuff Milan hopes was practically a given.

It's what makes hoping Rooney can remain healthy and in form for the World Cup all the more exciting. I hope he's not tired or recovering from injury or distracted or anything. It'd be really great to see what totally unleashed, Rancor-level Rooney could do at the World Cup. The only countries I actively cheer against are Mexico and Germany, so in the end, I just want to see the best players doing their best without any unfair or unfortunately timed roadblocks/distractions. Oh, I hate the holy living bejeezus out of Portugal, too, but that's neither here nor there for now.

Look, I know the Rancor ended up getting a massive steel door dropped directly through the back of his neck, but just go with me on the Jedi reference here. In my eyes, Rooney on this form presents the kind of threat that Luke Skywalker faced in those first couple of seconds after the gate opened and the Rancor stomped out and roared. "What do I do? How do I counter this? This thing could snap my life force into nonexistence in less than 5 seconds." That's Rooney in the World Cup to me – if he's not hurt or distracted by anything.

If no part of him breaks before the World Cup, I'm fearful for my English friends over there. They're going to have a really hard time being self-loathing and full of expectations of failure for their Three Lions. It's what allows them to rationalize their deep-seeded belief that maybe, just maybe, this could be the year for England. If Rooney isn't hurt – and he stays on this kind of form – going into that World Cup, the English defense mechanisms will be useless. They're just going to have to accept the nature of this whole thing. They'll have to know that, above all else, they'd cut off an arm or two to see England win the World Cup. They want to believe it's going to happen. Healthy Rooney is ready to take over that whole damn country. He's got me feeling a little tingly inside just imagining it.

It's now or never. Rooney at his absolute peak. The possibilities are so thrilling.

Naturally, expect Mascherano to break his ankle on March 21. C'est la vie.

But let's hope for the best-possible outcome. Hope that Rooney stays healthy and on form. What's the counter for Rancor Rooney? Does Vicente del Bosque conjure some sort of Puyol strategy that also includes a double-backing Xabi Alonso, thereby figuratively re-creating on the pitches of South Africa Luke's throw-skull-to-smash-gate-controls maneuver, leading to some kind of Rooney stifling that produces a red card/giant crushing gate through his neck? Or will del Bosque continue to haunt only me, like he did this week by openly wishing in the News of the World that Torres play as few matches for Liverpool as is physically possible before the World Cup. I join all Liverpool supporters, I'm sure, in cherishing del Bosque and his desire to openly and publicly hope Torres plays as little for Liverpool over the next four months as is physically possible.

What is it with these guys who manage Spain? Aragones was a racist and del Bosque is a prick. I bet the next guy will beat his wife, and the guy after that will end up pouring urine on the ballboys.

My personal duel with del Bosque aside, I'm caught up in the possibilities of Rooney at the World Cup. I'm a second-generation American and identify with this country first and above all else. Yeah, there's that little matter of June 12 against England, but I get giddy and a little silly at the thought of a truly thrilling World Cup. There's too few of these things in our lives to hope for anything else. Rooney, at this point in his career and in this form, just has to be healthy for South Africa 2010 to maximize all its possible storylines. I want to see what he can really do out there.

And you do, too.


Kirk said...

Mexico and Germany? What did Mexico ever do to you????

Kuba said...

I love the tying in of Star Wars and football references together. Though to be fair, the rancor isn't as ugly as Rooney. Del Bosque is a douche as well.