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.
James Lawton has a compelling piece in the Independent today on the Premier League duel between Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres, which he compares to a struggle between two great matadors, and which he sees entering a new phase this weekend when Torres plays for Liverpool against Fulham and Rooney plays for Manchester United against Aston Villa:
In the great seasons of bullfighting they call it mano-a-mano. It is about nerve and courage and an unwillingness to be the first to crack, and it is almost entirely Spanish in its brooding fatalism.
This weekend, however, the Premier League, on top of all its other blandishments, offers its own spring version but with a marquee billing that is only half Iberian. Fernando Torres appears at Craven Cottage this evening and Wayne Rooney, who was so enraged there two weeks ago, is at home tomorrow when Aston Villa, eviscerated at Anfield so recently, attempt to put up rather more serious resistance at Old Trafford.
A separation of 200-odd miles and nearly 24 hours is maybe not a perfect reproduction of the kind of hand-to-hand duelling which marked the “dangerous summer” of matadors Luis Dominguin and Antonio Ordonez half a century ago, but it is not often that two young footballers like Torres and Rooney have invited quite such compelling interest in their work.
So much is at stake and so vivid are the contrasts. If either can deliver the killing blows, starting now, their rewards are likely to include both Premier League winners’ medals and, surely, a challenge for the Footballer of the Year trophy that will be hard to resist.
I only see one problem with this, which is that Wayne Rooney was sent off in Man Utd’s last match, got suspended, and isn’t playing in the match against Aston Villa. Is the duel still “Spanish in its brooding fatalism” if one of the bullfighters is watching from the stands?
by Brian Phillips · April 3, 2009