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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Rooney, eh? 

So the English press have a new wonder kid to salivate over for a few years, before inevitably picking apart his failings and reducing him to a shell of a human being (oh, and player too) before he's turned 25 ($25 dollars delivered straight into your bank account if you can guess to whom I'm referring, courtesy of yamis, who makes far too much and doesn't have nearly enough illicit vices to bring him back down to my level, fiscally speaking).

[Sidenote: anyone see the Czech-Netherlands game a few days ago? By far the best match of the tournament so far, and I can't see it surpassed in terms of overall skill and pace before the Czech's hold aloft the title on the 4th of July - a little tip for you, as long as they remember to defend at some stage. 36 shots at goal! The highlighting of the ridiculous nature of the new offside interpretation! Slack marking at free-kicks! Outstanding saves! Nedved demonstrating that just because you're a superstar doesn't mean that you have a good sense of balance! But it does mean you can whack 35m shots back off the crossbar! Liverpool's Baros with a screaming volley! Van Nistleroy's face becomes even longer! Bizarre substitutions (just to interrupt my own breathlessly lazy recap of the game, the removal of Robben who may well have been the best player on the Dutch side, with the possible exception of the reborn Edgar Davids, was the game's turning point, really; Robben was bombing up the left flank with the abandon of a smaller, paler Joe Rokocoko and was causing no end of trouble - Dick Advocaat apparently wanted a player to man-mark the irrepressible Nedved, and so he sacrificed an attack that frankly looked like scoring every five minutes in order to chase around one guy with no working knowledge of hairdressers who has seen this type of tactic before. Good one.) Unjust red cards! Vladimir Smicer (Smicer!!) scoring! And the Germans probably getting through to the Quarters again, despite being as inspiring to watch as Jim Bolger reading a select committee report, the jammy bastards.

One thing I've never considered, even though it was a big thing in my high-school debates about the merits of rugby vs. rugby league, is the amount of time the ball is deemed in play in soccer. According to this, the two teams combined had 42 minutes of ball possession. This compares to an average of 33.44 minutes (out of 80, obviously)of "ball-in-play" in international test rugby, a figure that has been increasing over the years. Of course, as per usual, I have no real point here, except that I assume the ball in play figures for soccer is a pretty damn high percentage - can't find any figures, so this is just a gut feeling - which means that roughly 50% being a spectator of soccer is watching te ball ping randomly uncontrolled between the sides. Sounds about right. As a comparison, the Germany-Latvia game on the same night had 52 minutes of ball possession, so I guess the sacrifice you make for less random ping-pong is to slip into a coma watching dull German sides pass the ball to themselves in their own half. Anyway, enough of these statistics, I'm starting to feel like I'm stepping on yamis' toes, and I don't want to be walloped with his sturdy pocket calculator again.]

Anyway, I've seen all the England games so far, and my verdict on Rooney is mixed. I believe he possesses a terrific shot, and he has great heart and stamina, but I'm not convinced with his touches, passing or dribbling quite yet. Particularly against France, where more than the other games he was relied on as the hold-up guy, a lot of his dribbling was clumsy and he was dispossessed a lot. I think he will benefit by moving to a better club than Everton, however, because I doubt his ability to put total effort for a side obviously treading water. I mean, last year, Rooney only managed 9 goals all season for his club (consider he has four in three games in this tournament), and NONE of them were against quality opposition: he scored against Charlton, Portsmouth (twice), Leicester (twice), Birmingham, Southhampton (twice in the same game)and Leeds - hardly a roll call of movers and shakers. It has shown that he can score against international quality defences, of which the teams listed above do not possess, so I guess it all comes down to motivation. With Steven Gerrard apparently debating a move away from his childhood club, it appears the days of playing for the love of your club may be waning for media superstars.

Rooney's the greatest player since Pele man!

I guess Sven forgot about a guy called Ronaldo at the last WC.
Send me the money!

Michael Owen! Is it, is it...
Well done. Now all you have to do is send me your bank account number, bank card, pin number, credit card number, expiry date and name that appears on the card, and we can process your prize.
In the interests of equality I've decided to donate it to the Yamis Illicit Vice Fund.
In pursuit of which I've just opened an account with the Outer Pinprick Isle Bank of Fair Legal Tweaking.
So, if you just send me Yamis' details we can get the fund up and running!

Can't have the blogger without the influence, now can we?


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