England's Chances In The World Cup: A Bane Of A Bone
The dreaded "fragmented metatarsal" claims another English victim. Till now the list of English internationals suffering metatarsal injuries in the recent past included Beckham, Gerrard, Ledley King. Last weekend against Chelsea, we saw how Wayne Rooney got pissed, got wild and came under the knife (sorry...had to copy the style! and to be politically correct, it would be 'will come under the knife'). Rooney unluckily gets his name on that infamous list for the second time (the previous injury being suffered in Euro 2004).
Very optimistic opinions suggest that he may recover in eight weeks (assuming England progress that far), but even if he does so, I think he will not be as potent as he was of late. You can well imagine the anxiety one would face in stressing a fragile, hardly healed foot. He is sure to be circumspect and play within himself.
I commiserate with Rooney. Reportedly, he himself had commented a few days prior to the incident on how getting injured before the world cup could be the worst thing that could happen to a player. Prophetic indeed. But Rooney apart from Gerrard is the only real live wire of the English team, the pulse of the team, the one reason why British bookmakers (in a rather father fetched vein I felt though) were quoting them at second best odds to win (after Brazil).
After the disaster in Wayne's world though the English have slipped to the third place in the odds, with Germany leapfrogging them. I am as surprised as you are about that list. Germany at second (where are the Italians, the Argentines, the French)? Mind you I was a big German fan at one time, and even now dearly hang on to my faded, patched worldcup'94 German jersey. But I really don't see enough firepower and creativity in them to proceed beyond the second round. I possibly don't know about a third of their national squad as they remain confined to playing in the Bundesliga (the German football league), which rarely gets much coverage but from Ten Sports. I only regard Ballack and Schwinsteinger as real quality players in their team. They promised so much in the final last time around, but instead put in a shocking and inept display. Being the home team may spur them on to achieve more than they would have on foreign soils, but they surely can't reach the last four.
Returning to the sorry fate of Rooney, some analysts were quoting his new shoes to be the cause of his injury. They claim that the studs on his new shoes did not come out of the turf easily as he fell. Rooney however exculpates his shoes and stands by them (pun intended...digressing - I wonder why people write 'pun unintended' when very clearly it's a deliberate attempt at punny phraseology).
Where does Rooney's injury leave the English team? Hoping I have traced the progress charts correctly, I think England will beat Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago, draw with Sweden, but top the group on better goal difference. They will then face the runners up of group A, whom I predict will be Ecuador. England should beat them to make it through to the quarters (on July 1) to face Holland. This is such a tough match to call, and I give the edge to Holland.
Had Rooney been fully fit at this stage, I would (albeit with a slightly heavy heart as my loyalties lie a bit with the Dutch) tilt the balance in the favour of the English. So it looks like yet another QF exit for the English - predictable aren't they. I am tempted to analyze the strengths and weakness of the English team here, but doing that after Sven announces his squad seems more prudent. At the time of writing this, the media is abuzz with who will be his successor. The English FA is about to announce this any time now, but from the recent build up to this announcement, Steve McClaren taking over seems like a done deal!