The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
It’s a day of nostalgia here at The Run of Play. We’re reminiscing on a simpler time of the internet, back when it was all Winona Ryder mailing lists and intricate debates about whether David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were married in real life. “IRL,” we called it back then, in our smug, efficient way. We were ignorant, but we could turn anything into an acronym. You think you play it cold with punctuation today? In 1996, punctuation was for government agents and the aliens they were keeping in the trunk. The rest of us weren’t going near that shit.
It was a time when paranoia meant worrying about where in your desk to hide the Post-It Note on which you’d carefully recorded your password to the site that was charging you $24.95/month for access to a short story about Sarah Michelle Gellar in tight pants. The same page had a grainy, inset image of some people playing beach volleyball from fifty yards away. Was one of them Angie Everhart? Say what you believe.
Man, you were lucky if you had paranoia in those days. The stress was nothing, and the sunglasses made you feel like Christian Slater for that whole sweet week at debate camp. You had crazy theories on your 3″x5″ index cards and a steady supply of articulate high-school tail. Now it’s all social networking and asynchronous java and every move you make is being secretly filmed for fetish DVDs in Japan. Niche fetish. Deep, deep stuff. You can’t be paranoid today. You’d just be right.
Ice caps looking a little melty out there, slick? Eight or ten years in Guantanamo should be enough to sort you out.
Hardcore pornography, c.1997
Crack the Code: Messi’s going to play, so the question is what Man United are going to do about it. If Ferguson moves Rooney to the left, he can shore up Evra defensively, but he’ll leave Ronaldo at the front like the Loneliest Nuclear Warhead (also my favorite children’s book). If he keeps Rooney up front where he belongs, he really rolls the drunkard’s gamble. Ronaldo gets a friend (companion? partner?), but Evra gets Messi alone. He’s quick enough. But is he anything else enough?
Player Most Likely to Be an Alien Among Us: A lot of good choices here. You could easily go with Wes Brown or Thierry Henry for their bulbous, alien-like crania. But I’ll stick with Carlos Tevez. Less for the burn scars, frankly, than for his apparent ability to fly at an altitude not exceeding eighteen inches above the earth. Look, I’m not going to say the burn scars aren’t a part of it.
Sunny Day on the Grassy Knoll: How are Barca going to stop Cristiano Ronaldo? Since they’re playing at home, and in possession of a “glittering array of attacking talent”—thanks, all newspapers—and also in possession of Thierry Henry, their best bet is probably to keep possession and try to score six goals. Complicated defensive adjustments are just going to confuse the boyfriends of all the Catalan girls in Ronaldinho camis who keep asking why Iniesta doesn’t go forward. I mean, it’s all just kicking at this point.
The Shadowy Syndicate: You’ve probably heard of the “Love United, Hate Glazer” movement. Now see, in my mind, this movement has some good ideas, but it just doesn’t take them far enough. Glazer’s a diamond-studded asshole; fair enough. But why does hating him mean I have to love United? Why not “Hate United, Hate Glazer”? Or better still, “Grudgingly Appreciate United’s Level of Play, Bitterly Resent Glazer’s Business Tactics Even Though You Basically Suspect They’ve Fed the Team’s Success”? You’d buy that sticker, right? That’s catchy, right?
*** QUOTE OF THE WEEK SUGGESTING THAT JOHAN CRUYFF HAS AT MOST A LIMITED COMMAND OF CONDITIONAL STATEMENTS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PAIN I FEEL AT MAKING FUN OF JOHAN CRUYFF ***
If Manchester United have Cristiano Ronaldo, then Barça have Messi. If Ferguson’s team have Rooney, then Barcelona possess Eto’o. If the Old Trafford team is relying on Tévez, Barça has Bojan and Henry. Scholes? Iniesta. Rio Ferdinand? Milito. —Johan Cruyff in El Periódico
Conspiracy of Silence, or Actually the Opposite of Silence: A lot of people don’t like the looks of this matchup. Maybe you’ve heard. I think it’s going to be good, though. It’s not like Schalke 04 were offering a feast of sublime football, and the Tom Hicks/Avram Grant subplots alone ought to keep me going for at least the rest of the month.
Logging on to check the weather, c.1996
I Still Don’t Believe in USB 2.0: How are Tom Hicks and Avram Grant going to top themselves at this point? Especially in Hicks’s case, it’s going to have to be something completely insane, right? I’m thinking a nine-minute straight-to-YouTube rant about how much he hates Xabi Alonso’s baby, followed by an edict banning all club personnel from procreation until George Gillett sells his shares. It’d be a little easier for Avram Grant—wearing a scraggly, slightly crooked, bright red Raggedy Ann wig to his next press conference just about ought to do it.
Player Most Likely to Be an Alien Among Us: I’m sorry—I like him, too—but it has to be Petr Cech. His fragile alien skull can’t cope with our Earth boots.
LASIK for Freemasons: Chelsea’s injury situation (Ballack, Essien, and Drogba all hurt, and Lampard coming back from two games off) combined with Liverpool’s “let’s see what happens” approach to team selection make the tactics here hard to predict. Gerrard hurt his neck in training, but is apparently going to play. Everyone laughed when Rafa said he was going to tap Stevie on the shoulder before the match and see if he could turn his head, but I’m worried he was being serious. Is there any reason to think he doesn’t do this with every player, every week? Too slow, Peter Crouch!
I wonder, however, if young Steven’s head turned when Avram Grant said he wanted to bring him to Chelsea. The subplots!
by Vandal-prone · April 21, 2008