Thursday, 28 January 2010
Man In The Arena- Wayne Rooney
I am the archetypal football fan- biased to the point of blindness and bellicose to the point of nastiness. I am a football fan. I am rancorous. Incite me. I have gall and pride. Debate with me, argue with me, agree with me, don't agree with me. But don't silence me. I enjoy nothing more than assuming an immediate- and irrational- hatred of a footballer when in rival colours, or insisting that half of a current World XI would be made up of my team's players, or boring deep into the annals of my club's history so that the darkness of its current underachievement might be alleviated by some reflected glory, like light traveling from some distant star. It follows that a paean to a United player from a Liverpool fan is, at best, unlikely. But unthinkable? No. The Wayne Rooney of the 2009/2010 has earned this. So for him- a moment where I swallow my partisan bile. Wayne Rooney has been a marvel this season; free-scoring, marauding, creating with grace and orchestrating with power. He is the most intelligent footballer in the world- spatial awareness, anticipation, timing of runs. Control is instant, gears change seamlessly and with the ball at his feet he is irresistible. It is both the the stuck-to-foot gliding of an Henry or Torres, and the drive of a Zidane. The ball is under his spell, and we go with him. He is everything to United. At Eastlands, in the first leg of the Carling Cup Semi-Final, eleven City players were playing one man- he burst, danced, dazzled his way through their defenses, one moment a ball was drawn out of the air with a gravitational precision, the next a pass was chiseled out with beautiful ease. This ease is his gift- why he is so watchable- he plays with the bravery for invention, the fearlessness, of a child in the street. Yesterday he scored a crucial goal at a crucial time in another brilliantly belligerent Manchester derby. With Gerrard's season a non-event, Rooney will be England's ammunition in South Africa- if he can catalyze plays in the same manner as he does for United, England will have a good tournament. 21 goals in 29 games is a heartening return for a player who is now as much a poacher as a creator. Treacherous and gushing tribute complete, time for some moderation. Horrible Manc twat.