Rooney targets World Cup as icing on the cake

Express May 19, 2010

Two unrelated events in the last year have had a huge impact on Wayne Rooney’s life.

The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United at the end of last season changed Rooney’s role on the pitch and the arrival of baby son Kai in November changed his life off it. He has been in superb form ahead of the World Cup and will vie with Ronaldo of Portugal, as well as Lionel Messi of Argentina, Fernando Torres of Spain and Brazil’s Kaka to be the leading light of the tournament and bring home the trophy.

“I hope to do better than them because, if that happens, then England have to win the World Cup so I will be happy on both fronts,” said Rooney after being named the Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year at the end of April. The Footballer of the Year award, voted for by the country’s football writers, followed a few days later and added to the happiness in both his private and professional life. The 24-year-old remains as brave and strong as when he made his debut for Everton aged 16.

Ronaldo’s departure from Old Trafford meant Rooney’s role for United changed from one of a deep-lying forward looking to bring others into play into an out-and-out striker. He scored 34 goals for United in all competitions this season but remained effective as a creator of chances and a scorer of breathtaking goals.

‘Quants’ predict English domination

England will win the World Cup this summer after overcoming their traditional Achilles heel to beat Spain on penalties in the final, according to “lighthearted” analysis by J P Morgan. The US bank’s number crunchers have applied complex quantitative analysis – more normally used to assess investment opportunities – with J P Morgan saying Brazil are the strongest team but predicts they will crash out to the Netherlands after a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.

The model sees Rooney’s England, then, knocking out the Dutch in the semi-finals before conquering Spain in the final, winning in a penalty shootout - the method which has so often been their downfall. Set out in a 69-page report, the model uses the straightforward bookmakers’ odds and FIFA rankings and measures factors such as price trends and investors’ sentiment. The two analysts who came up with the model, Matthew Burgess and Marco Dion, said it was just “an ideal opportunity to lightheartedly explain quantitative techniques”.

Exhaustion will hit England– Ferguson

United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson, though, disagrees and said that England’s bid for glory at the World Cup will be hurt by the exhaustion of their players after a long season of fast-paced Premier League football.“Every game Manchester United play is a Cup final,” Ferguson told reporters at a news conference promoting Manchester United’s four-game North American summer tour. “You have to say the number of games, particularly at our level, is exhausting.”

Published in the Express Tribune, May 20th, 2010.


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