Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bell Cow Blues

photo by wwarbyvia PhotoRee

"Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it's a better cow than the one you've got in your own field.  It's a fact. Right? And it never really works out that way." 

            Sir Alex Ferguson

News out of England today continues to make the head spin like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.  First up was the press release issued by Manchester United at 7pm BST tonight.  Although Sir Alex promised yesterday that the matter of Wayne Rooney would be "put to bed" today, so that the issue would no longer serve as a distraction to the club, United issued a Jerry Seinfeld-ish press release that said, in effect, nothing.  Or everything, depending on your point of view. 

The release's first sentence was straightforward enough, with the club reporting that there were "no developments of note to report today."  Say what?!  We waited around all day for nothing?  [Ed. Note: Or as one especially witty tweet by @owen_g noted: "So when Ferguson said the Rooney issue would be put to bed, he meant it would be allowed to stay up for a bit and watch TV."]
As clear as the first sentence was, the next three were murky, like looking through a glass darkly:

"We can confirm a number of meetings have taken place today, including with the player's representative. The outcome of those meetings will become clear in the near future.  In the meantime, fans are asked to be patient.” 

Wow -- a surprising amount of news to digest in those 37 words.  What I first dismissed as a non-release appears potentially to hold several profound clues about the United hitman's future.  First, news that his representative (ostensibly Rooney's agent, Paul Stretford) was in the meetings today (could it be that someone at United needed a new vacuum cleaner?).  That admission came as somewhat of a surprise in and of itself.  I was under the impression that discussions with Stretford had ended with Rooney's adament refusal to sign a new contract.  Next, the club told us that there would be no quick decisions made: no transfer listing, no suspension, and no "putting the issue to bed," just an appeal for patience, as if several more days of conversation are needed.

Could it be that Rooney has changed his mind?  Reports suggest that although Rooney was braced for an outpouring of disappointment from the United faithful, he and his agent may have been shocked by both the swiftness and severity of the fans' response.  If ever there was any question as to who the physical and spiritual leader of Manchester United was, it was resoundingly answered  in these past 48 hours: Sir Alex.  Although Rooney may have been a fan favorite, the reaction to his move showed convincingly that although the fans may have loved Rooney, they love the badge he wears on his jersey even more.

The next headspinning event occurred with reports later in the evening that a gathering of 20 - 30 men wearing balaclavas was broken up by police after they were looming threateningly outside of Rooney's house in Cheshire.  The first question that came to mind was why would these men be wearing a greek dessert on their head, and how could that possibly be intimidating?  It wasn't until I googled "balaclava" that I learned what it meant.  Have the Brits never heard of a "ski mask"? 

In any event, back to our story, apparently several of the men were witnessed by the striker himself from a upstairs window, and were seen carrying a friendly banner which read something to the effect of "Join City and Die." (It could possibly have been a hastily written attempt at "Happy Birthday," as Rooney turns 25 on Sunday, but I'm guessing not). 

A site such as that may have had the possible effect of cooling Rooney's ardor for cross-town rival City.  Just guessing on that, but my sense is that Colleen and Kai may have clued Wayne in to that thought, as well.  I can practically hear the resulting conversation all the way over here in Florida: "You know, I've been thinking about it, and maybe £250,000 per week isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Oh, and I hear Milan is nice this time of year..." [Ed. Note: Is it just me, or is even the mere thought of Rooney in Italy or even Spain slightly ridiculous?  Talk about a fish out of water.]

So where does it all leave us tonight -- will he or won't he?   There are no definitve answers, but it appears that each side may have stepped back from the brink after having blinked at the abyss below, and that a solution to the problem could still be found (assuming that a reconciliation with the club is still possible, it is unclear how the fans may react.) 

Or not, and Rooney could be gone tomorrow.  After going through the emotional wringer the last 72 hours, I'm unsure of how I would like this saga to end.  But it has clarified a couple of things for me: either way  with Rooney, I'm okay, 'cause I could honestly take him or leave him now.  And second, my favorite player is, and has been, one guy:  Dimitar Berbatov.

Separate Note: El Kun Returns.  With just his second touch of the ball tonight, the Argentine assassin Sergio Aguero put the ball in the back of the net to cap a successful return to the Atletico Madrid lineup after an extended absence due to injury.  Displaying his trademark killer touch and deadly finishing skills, El Kun fired Los Colchoneros to victory tonight over Rosenborg in a must-win Europa League home match at the Vincente Calderon, 3-nil.  Wonderful to watch, and just 21 years of age, El Kun forms one half of one of Europe's most prolific goal scoring partnerships, alongside World Cup Golden Boot winner Diego Forlan.  Although Forlan's play has suffered during El Kun's absence, expectations are high with Aguero's return that the Uruguayan will return to his regular goal scoring ways shortly.

As will I; and that's farlieonfootie for October 22.

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