Friday, October 29, 2010

On Iron Chefs and a Potentially Suspect Crocked Ankle

photo by andriux-ukvia PhotoRee

Enjoyed myself tremendously at an Iron Chef dinner the other night, and not just because of the food, fun and competition; the event was littered with a bunch of footie fanatics like me (albeit most of them from the UK originally, very much unlike me).  Enjoyed some excellent back and forth banter with supporters of Everton, Liverpool, and Leeds during the course of the evening.  I even managed to close out the dinner with a rousing rendition of “Glory, Glory Man United” with a newfound friend and fellow Red Devil supporter who came to Florida via Northern Ireland.  Always good to talk football and share a drink with fellow fans, even if all of them don’t support the right team…. 

No surprise really that the Rooney saga is still being hotly debated and draws lots of sharp opinions (among United supporters and otherwise), with a surprising number of people believing the recent contract extension was just a way for United to extract a greater fee for Rooney when they trade him at season's end.  Although I am not fully in that camp at the moment, I did find myself having second thoughts this morning as I woke up and read reports of Sir Alex’s press conference earlier today in which he announced that Rooney’s injury was worse than expected, and that the England international will be out longer than originally anticipated.  Could United be trying to trade Rooney in the January transfer window, and using the ankle injury as an excuse to keep him out of the squad (and limelight) until the deed is done?  Only time will tell.  I think not, but as we’ve seen before, anything is possible regarding this situation.

And if and when Rooney does return, how is he going to fit into an attack in which Chicharito and Berbatov are beginning to show a very good understanding of the other’s skills and positioning, with the young Mexican in particular currently playing out of his mind, lights out attacking football…? It’s easy to say that Rooney will  be slotted right back into his normal spot in the starting lineup, but if he comes back and doesn’t immediately begin to show better form how long will Sir Alex be patient? 

Although Rooney will be back by gametime tomorrow from a hot and dry Dubai, I wonder if we’ll see him in a box at Old Trafford to watch his mates take on Spurs.  My guess is not.   Too much scrutiny, with photograohers marking his every move....

Even if he isn't in attendance, though, the game tomorrow should be very interesting, indeed.  I know Spurs have an atrocious track record away to United, but something about this season is making me very uneasy about any United game, let alone one against a top squad looking to keep their place in the race for a Champions League spot.  And Spurs are feeling confident at the moment, with Rafael Van der Vaart in especially fine form.  [Ed. Note:  Spurs are having a strange season, one in which they have drawn a remarkable amount of confidence from two notable losses: a 3-2 loss to Young Boys in Switzerland, and a 4-3 loss to Internazionale at the San Siro.  In both games, despite ending up on the losing side of the final score, Uncle ‘arrys boys fought back valiantly and restored their wounded pride and fueled their self-belief through their resiliency.]

Several goals should be in store tomorrow, and it will be interesting to see how Sir Alex chooses to try and shut down Welsh wonder kid Gareth Bale.  Does he go with youth, and Rafael, or experience, with John O’Shea?   My gut says to trot out the young Brazilian, with a stern counseling beforehand about how to keep his head.  The kid has shown us he is capable of shutting down top players (he had Franck Ribery in his back pocket in the Champions League Quarterfinal match at Old Trafford before he lost his head and got sent off), and also producing exciting, end-to-end football.  That choice, and several others in the United lineup, could determine the game’s outcome.

And what of Dimi?  Haven’t heard from him in awhile....  Has his early season form gone out with the tide, or is it just resting for a brief spell with further goal service set now to continue?  I’m sure he’ll want to get on the board tomorrow against his former club,  although he hasn’t scored against Spurs in the League since that magnificent 5-2 comeback win in April 2009.  Fingers crossed tomorrow marks the return of the Bulgarian....

Lots of good plot lines in store ahead of tomorrow’s game.  I can’t say I’m feeling highly confident, although I do take some comfort that Spurs have not won this fixture in more than 20 years (!), and United’s unbeaten streak is now 20+ in all competitions dating back to last year.

My Iron Chef team may not have won the other night, but I'm hoping my Red Devils will tomorrow.  I'm farlieonfootie for October 30.

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