Hope. Wayne Rooney packaged hope in a Royal Mail envelope, licked a stamp and speed-posted it from Brazil to his fans around the world. Instantly, every supporter worth the beer in his belly and the songs in his throat believed. He must have, in every nook, corner and crevice in England as he surely did in a small corner of Sao Paulo, in the stands directly behind the net in which it was parceled in the first place.
Such was the power of Rooney’s maiden World Cup goal.
At the Arena Corinthians, Rooney did what he had been threatening to since 2006, including the course of this match — score for England in a World Cup. Set free into Uruguay’s box with an incredible Glen Johnson assist from the shoulder of the right flank, the Manchester United forward toed in his much-awaited first. It was England’s much-awaited first as well, a hope-filled equaliser.
It had arrived late (76th minute), but for England it could not have arrived at a more opportune moment. Now they hoped of holding Uruguay to a satisfying draw. Which in turn meant that England hoped of kicking on in the World Cup, despite having lost their first match to Italy five days ago and despite looking like they were going to lose to Oscar Tabarez La Celeste today for the longest of spells. But hope and some more hope had returned; the stadium was brimming with it.
But you know what they say about hope, don’t you?
A Vicious cycle
“Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man,” Nietzsche had said. He might have been watching an England World Cup game. In the context of this fixture, that said torment was prolonged for only a further nine minutes as Luis Suarez (collecting a pass from his Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s head no less) slotted home his second goal of the evening, an 84th minute winner. It handed the Three Lions their second straight defeat in as many group games so far and knocked them out of Brazil. But in reality, the torment will prolong longer. A whole lot longer.
In four year cycles, from the end of one dastardly Cup campaign to the beginning of the next, hope lies in hibernating wait in the heart of the English fan. Then, just before the World Cup begins, it spawns into monstrous proportions — nutritioned by the British media and sometimes by a good Premier League team. This quadrennial year, that club side was Liverpool, whose strong showing in the 2013-14 season ensured that as many as five members made it to the England starting eleven.
But a sixth was also present on the continued…