Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Manchester United fans will doubtless be pleased by Wayne Rooney’s latest comments pouring cold, or at least lukewarm water on the idea that he might move to Barcelona, or anywhere else for that matter.
Good news for United it may be, but I’m not so sure it’s in England’s interests for so few of the country’s leading players to try their luck abroad.
Whenever this subject comes up, I can’t help but look to the great strides made by Spain at international level, progress that must have been aided by the far more adventurous attitude taken by some of their players in recent times.
Spain used to have a similar reputation to England in this regard, with virtually everyone happy to stay at home and enjoy the riches available from clubs swimming in cash from huge TV rights deals. Heading into the 1998 World Cup, every member of the Spain squad played for a Spanish club, while four years later Gaizka Mendieta was the only export (and he was about to come home, after confirming a lot of prejudices in a nightmare season with Lazio).
Why don’t teams put a man on the post when defending a free kick? Week after week I see free kicks fly into the corner of the net with the keeper helpless at the other side of the goal.
The match winner from Owen Hargreaves in Manchester United’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Sunday is a case in point. Here in Italy at least one free kick is scored like that every weekend.