Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Wayne rue knee. That's the only story that matters 80 days before the World Cup.

The horrible headline nobody wanted to read: Wayne rue knee. Inflamed tendons before the World Cup kicks off on June 11. Eighty days, 34 goals, 32 nations, two knees, one 24-year-old. That’s the only story anybody really cares about today isn’t it? Sure, some ex-politician called Ian Watmore has walked out on the FA after less than a year and they’re having an emergency meeting of old farts, lots of hot air.
Newcastle fans may be shocked at the news that Stephen Taylor broke his jaw in a bust up with Andy Carroll as the push for Premier promotion became too much for the Geordies. Aston Villa supporters will be concerned to hear the club us up for sale at around £40m.
Arsenal are appealing about Tomas Vermaelen’s red card in Saturday’s 2-0 win over West Ham, which left Hammers fans very concerned. Chelsea Blues are being told Carlo Ancelotti has just 21 days to save his job. Liverpudlians are just generally worried. Penniless Pompey have given up worrying 24 hours before they play Chelsea at Fratton Park.
Oh, and Manchester United’s surprise package Ji Sung Park apparently drank boiled frog juice as a child in Korea, which is enough to worry anybody.
Out in Bangladesh, England coach Andy Flower will be very, very worried about his side’s ability to catch a cricket ball. I counted five drops this morning.
But in England, there is only once concern. It’s the Roo knee.
The first time it impinged upon our national consciousness came when he played 83 minutes for England against Egypt at Wembley and then missed the start of the Carling Cup final a month ago. Sir Alex Ferguson rested him and fumed about the surface at the national stadium – but brought him on to score the winner and said it should be gone in a month.
Since then, Rooney has continued to score goals – but he limps away with that inflamed knee tendon swollen after each effort. According to sources inside the club he is suffering “increasing discomfort”.
The lad’s only 24 but already he’s being excused training, like some 38-year-old veteran. He won’t go in to the Carrington training ground before Saturday’s game against Bolton apparently. United have seven games left in the Premier, none in the FA Cup and possibly five in the Champions League.
Then it’s the big one. The World Cup. All that matters to anybody who remembers 1966 in black and white. And those who don't. A friendly against Mexico, the final 23 named on June 1, out to Rustenburg and the Royal Marang Hotel. Then the USA at the Bafokeng Sports Palace on June 12.
Rooney must be ready. Forget the rest of the debate over Gary Neville going, David Beckham playing as an amputee, David James in goal with a zimmer frame. It’s all about our spearhead, the Geoff Hurst of the new generation.
It’s enough to make you plead with Sir Alex to give his favourite Englishman a rest. But there’s no point in that. Hope and pray. Because without Rooney we’ve got no chance. Darren Bent might be scoring for fun, but that’s at Sunderland. Jermain Defoe has a hamstring problem, Peter Crouch has his head in the clouds, Emile Heskey has never been quite up to it.
Rooney, rue knee. Chant it, quietly, as we head into the final 80 days before the World Cup. We need all the help we can get.

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