Manchester United

A Few Home Truths For England Fans

The Pound Shops going into meltdown trying to keep up with the demand for car flags indicated the level of emotional investment made by the great unwashed. And the barely disguised tetchiness of the football journalists who faced an effective blackout from Fabio Capello let you know that the backlash was brewing.

Know this, I never warmed to the whole Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney bit. I had him down as a bit of thug. A combination of tales about his brother and his tendency to develop Tourettes Syndrome when things don’t go to plan left me a bit cold on him. But I’ve come round.

His TV show, that thing with the ‘Unbelievable Tekkers” chap, was excellent and even a nasty, cynical old git like me could see his genuine warmth towards the kids and his simple enthusiasm for kicking a ball about.

So fast forward to the hullabaloo of  Friday night then. The game was poor, let’s acknowledge that. And my analysis of it is a relatively simple one. The tactics sucked and like Thatcher before him my fear would be that old Fabio is ‘not for turning’.

I’m not sure about the lack of commitment accusation. ‘Must try harder’ was always the epithet of school teachers who were washing their hands of pupils – when a good teacher would make it their task to aid the improvement.

Football is a very simple game. So simple even I understand it. You only have to switch on your television set or flick to the back page of a newspaper to see how many stupid people are involved in the sport. It’s not a complicated discipline.  That established let me share my genius with you. Rooney plays best on his own up front.

I bet that has left you reeling, eh? There is more but it isn’t quite as mind blowing. Gerrard and Lennon also play better when deployed as they are at club level. Oh and lastly; I don’t know if there is a God or if Christ is risen or indeed if there will be a second coming at all, let alone anytime soon. But I do know that if he does rock up he will not be using  ‘Gareth Barry’ as an alias.

We have had an apology from the FA. I’ve read it several times and have come to the conclusion that like everything else they say and do, it’s worth it’s weight in polystyrene chips. Some bloke called Andy Dunn in the News Of The World says Wayne Rooney should be axed. Well some bloke on Transfer Tavern says Andy Dunn is a chimpanzee with a saucepan stuck on his head.

Rooney was perfectly within his rights to be pissed when leaving the field to the unthinking abuse of England fans. I felt he was actually quite measured in his comments.

Let’s set a few ground rules as a backdrop at this juncture, if that’s alright. Support for me is about championing, willing on and generally behaving in a positive manner towards your own. Now, I’m no happy clapper. If our lot are playing like dogs and losing 2-0 to a bunch of clowns, Jesus won’t be wanting me for a sunbeam. But nobody in the history of the world was ever booed into playing better. This is a fact, or at least I’d like to hereby make it one.

Rooney ran himself into the ground. He walked off that pitch ruddy, sweaty and for want of a better phrase, a bit frazzled around the edges. Believe me, the years I have spent watching football I can spot the ones who leave the field with something left in the tank.

Rooney, Gerrard and Cole were the only men to remotely distinguish themselves. Yet seemingly empowered by the Outraged As A Consumer Fairy, there appears to be a queue of no marks baying for these men’s blood. What is wrong with you dopes?

England and moreover their coach; riding on the crest of an expectancy wave have been given a relatively easy ride up until now. The game against Japan, for example, was chilling in it’s awfulness. The buck stops not with one player. But with the manager. Otherwise the buck would stop with Heskey.

Capello is your boy. You want a piece of someone, have a piece of him. I suggest it may actually be easier for you to explain why it ought not to be him.

Of course the manager isn’t responsible for the inadequacies of individual performances. But he is responsible for managing. Tactically both games of this tournament have been fiascos. But of course, this is Wayne Rooney’s fault.

Eh? No. Wrong answer.

England is experiencing a ‘goalkeeper crisis’. No shock there. Dramas and disasters amongst England goalkeepers are like mood swings in heavily pregnant women. They occur unprompted every few minutes. But being reduced to having West Ham’s Robert Green as your Number One and then only telling the poor bastard he’s playing an hour or so before your opening game in the World Cup isn’t clever, it isn’t even just patronizing it’s plain stupid.

Fabio smacks of stupidity to me. Of course there is a language barrier, but you don’t need any Italian to spot the difference between being self assured and bonkers. I could go into hideous detail, player by player as to where he’s got it wrong, but this is all about Rooney. And more so, why it ought not be.

I never thought I’d see a man with spectacles stuck closer to his face than Heston Blumenthal. Life’s full of surprises.

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