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.
Nothing, kind of. It was a nothing kind of game, albeit one punctuated with the sort of cranky arm-waving that makes announcers say, “They may not like each other, but they respect each other,” in the same tone of solemn arousal that the narrator uses in the second tablet of Gilgamesh. Clearly, both clubs have some problems. Alex Ferguson, probably pounding the podium with a shoe, bellowed to the press that his team were blameless orphans, when what he meant to say was that they’ve been spamming Ctrl-V like someone who hit “copy” on a late, slow, clumsy tackle and then wanted it on every page of the Christmas newsletter. In the meantime seven Chelsea players went down with knee injuries just from reading this sentence.
Actually, forget Chelsea for now. Manchester United look terrible at the moment. The general consensus after the match was that Chelsea won the draw (nobody ever draws a draw, you’ll notice) because they got a late goal after trailing for so much of the game. But how in the hell did they wind up trailing to this doddering crew in the first place? United’s weird truce between backflipping foreign youth and grizzled British campaigners is fracturing faster than the Republican coalition at this point; half the team go around with puzzled expressions, like they’re trying to remember to ask their moms what “a little discipline, you preening twat” means on the ride home from practice, while the other half…well, let’s look at this replay of a Gary Neville tackle in real time:
[Gary Neville begins tackle]
[Gary Neville mentally reviews the oeuvre of Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni, concluding that it’s “brilliant but frustrating”]
[Gary Neville completes tackle]
The other thing to notice is that Wayne Rooney was at his best while marking Drogba in front of his own goal. At this point the only thing keeping Wayne from being a great midfielder is the fact that he wants to be a centerback. I mean, poor Rooney. The pitch isn’t long enough for him. I’m starting to believe that his real dream is to hand out programs in the Stretford End, and his whole football career is just a wistful attempt to get closer to that fantasy.
Anyway, it’s only September etc., and Ronaldo will be back up to earthquake strength before anyone knows it. As long as that happens before the day when a grown-up tells Nani that Paul Scholes has been sent to live on a special farm in the country, they’ll probably be fine.
by Brian Phillips · September 22, 2008