WHEN the dust finally settles on a nail-biting Emerson World Cup in Brazil everyone will be asking themselves the same question: how can he be stopped?
Whether managing domestically in the Kenna League or at international tournaments, whether he’s present at the auction tactical Brambling or calling up remotely on WhatsApp in a tactical no show, even when he signs complete turkeys like Alan Dzagoev or Adel Taarabt, the manager in charge of the Testiculadew franchise cannot stop winning.
Until then a penalty shootout had looked likely. Up would have stepped Sergio Romero, in goal for second-placed Botafogo Pirates FC. Three penalty saves could have taken the booty to Somalia.
In the end the Testicualdew Land victory was inevitable. Daley Blind had already scored a goal in the third place play off, and a typically tight World Cup final played right into his hands.
Not even the abstract Emerson Unfair Play award was far away from the Testiculadew manager’s grasp. In theory his side could have picked up a red and yellow card in the final, lifted the inaugural award and still won the tournament.
As it is, Los Rojos almost lived up to their name with a single sending off for Claudio Marchisio and six cautions.
Burn out is a familiar phrase when talking of the international and domestic game. Managers have just 24 days to prepare for the 10th pre-season Kenna auction.
Can they raise their game to challenge the Tactical Brambler?
The feeling first flickered on Tuesday evening, as Germany gave one of the most assured performances in World Cup history.
Before then I’d barley noticed this cog in the German machine. As so often happens at major tournaments the eyes of the beholder were drawn to a young pretender: the outstanding James Rodriguez.
The young Colombian was unbelievable in Brazil. Beating players, setting up and scoring goals with panache. The jaw-dropping chest, turn and volley versus Uruguay and the eye-contact penalty against Julio Cesar won James the admiration of the world.
If any parallels can be drawn between a multi-million dollar international football tournament in industrialised South America and a love story set in an early 19th Century rural community in Dorset, then it’s clear that Rodriguez assumed the role of the young, flash Sergeant Troy in Thomas Hardy’s pastoral masterpiece Far From The Madding Crowd.
Initially successful in wooing the much-sought-after Bathsheba Everdene, Troy didn’t last the distance, and from the fringes of consciousness the sturdy, honourable, hard-working shepherd Gabriel Oak figure of Kroos emerges to win the her heart.
For Kroos excels in attacking midfield. He moves the ball around with ease and picks out teammates with little difficulty, splitting the opposition in half with a subtle dink.
In between the battle cries of Thomas Müller and the all action swashbuckle of Bastian Schweinsteiger, the brilliance of Toni Kroos can be overlooked, and like Bathsheba rehiring Oak because he’s the only man who can cure her flock of sheep from bloat, I feel the fool for ignoring his talents for so long.
It wasn’t until this week’s semi finals, where the hubris of the tournament is stripped away to leave the most efficient and worthy teams – and sadly in this instance Brazil, Netherlands and Argentina – that one realises the person right in front of them all along is the true star. I felt a similar awakening four years ago when Diego Forlan scored a sublime long-range goal against the Dutch. While I was awaiting magic from household names, I suddenly realised Forlan had been doing this all along.
Kroos is not only an excellent player, he hasn’t succumbed to the celebrity of his peers. As others insert hair plugs or shave their squad number on the side of their head, Toni wears the quaff of a seven-year-old boy whose mum has just fiercely brushed it before the funeral of an elderly relative.
Even as one can imagine the rest of the German team whooping and hollering in the dressing room at half time in Belo Horizonte, of course before Jogi Löw slid in to cool enthusiasm, Toni would be quietly restoring his side parting, not out of vanity but because he wouldn’t want his family to get disapproving looks from neighbours.
At 24, Kroos can surely go on to be one the most enduring stars of world football and the most deserving lifter of the Jules Rimet on Sunday night. As an Englishman he makes me no longer feel ashamed of wanting to a replica Deutschland shirt to add to the collection of Italian club sides and Eastern European minnows.
There’s only one catch to this beautiful romance. It turns out Toni Kroos was signed at the Emerson World Cup fantasy football auction by the Testiculadew Land manager.
In second place with 170 points, Botafogo Pirates FC will rely on David Luiz, Jerome Boateng and Sergio Romero.
In third, Fat Ladies could add to their 169 points with performances from Thomas Müller, Martin Demichelis, Wesley Sneijder and, ahem, Fred.
In a cruel paradox for the rest if the league, T-Land are also a red and yellow card away from picking up the Emerson Unfair Play award.
Added to his Kenna league and cup double last season, the manager would enjoy the most successful year of any since the league was founded in 2005, taking the mantle from the chairman’s domestic double and Dr Khumalo World Cup in 2010.
But I’m not bitter. I just hope Toni Kroos is happy.
BOTAFOGO Pirates FC pillaged their way to the top of the Emerson World Cup over the quarter final weekend, and with two of the tournament’s standout players it’s not hard to see why.
Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez and Uruguay defender Diego Godin walked into the Emerson Team of the Tournament so far, made up of one player from each country to be signed at the auction last month.
Rodirguez looks a snip at £17m for his 50 points, but it’s not all been plain sailing for his Somali manager – he also has three players in the worst team of the Emerson.
Quite how Botafogo Pirates FC find themselves top of the table with Xavi, Loic Remy and Samuel Inkoom, who have scored three points between them, remains a mystery.
At £10m for his two points, Xavi is almost the worst signing of the auction, yet the Pirates stand seven points clear at the top, largely due to their two stars. The manager will look to the trio of Jerome Boateng, David Luiz and Sergio Romero to carry his side over the line.
Many fingers will point when it comes to worst signing of the auction, but the Horn of Africa really should have sounded loudest for two players.
The first is Fabio Contreao of Kappa Wearers FC. For his £10m the manager didn’t even get an appearance. Pepe ended on nil points too, but at least he picked up a red card.
The second is Lokomotiv Leeds £10m gloveman Vorm, who after Saturday night’s penalty drama appears to be the only Dutch goalkeeper who isn’t part of Louis van Gaal’s plans.
Only four games remain of this scintillating World Cup. Will Testiculadew Land’s Leo Messi, Toni Kroos and Daley Blind close the eight-point gap on the Pirates? Have Fred, Wesley Sneijder, Martin Demichelis and Thomas Muller got at least seven points in the tank to take top spot? Who will win the Emerson Unfair Play award?
Look out after the semi finals for the next thrilling instalment.*
FOOTBALL World Cups must put unnecessary strain on a Welshman.
Having not appeared in the tournament since 1958, and only then because the Suez crisis had made a farce of qualification, the Dragons have spent the last 56 years in the wilderness. Little wonder they’re always banging on about rugby.
The next indication of the manager’s failing faculties happened a few days later. Under continued questioning on social media over his phoney Belgian credentials, the wayward Welshman set out to prove his place of birth was Brussels – previously his second favourite vegetable after leeks.
Paying little to no attention to the threat of identity theft, he tweeted an inconclusive photo of his passport to the world. Several individuals with supporting paperwork claiming to be the Young Boys manager have approached Emerson organisers since. The Belgian embassy have washed their hands of the affair.
By Wednesday it was clear the Welshman’s sanity was hanging by a thread. The manager published a pseudo-paramilitary photo on his Facebook page of himself in the same Belgium shirt he wore at the auction (has he taken it off in two weeks?), a flag, face paint, fag end jammed in his mouth, wearing pharmacy bargain bin sunglasses and a beret.
Metropolitan Police have increased security at local schools.
After the last 16 round of matches in the Emerson World Cup, only a few points separate the top few teams. It comes as little surprise that the Young Boys manager is nowhere among them.
A SHOCK bid of £1m has already been tendered for Luis Suarez ahead of next season’s Kenna League, despite the striker being banned from football for four months.
The chairman submitted the offer earlier today, convinced the Uruguayan would return to be top scorer next season. Fifa discounted the bid as ‘football related activity’ after a surprise inspection at Kenna HQ.
“We’ve learned from past World Cups that any Premier League player who emerges as the villain goes on to have an incredible season following the tournament. You just know with Suarez that he’ll come back from the ban all guns blazing,” said the chairman.
Ronaldo went on to be top points scorer and helped FC Gun Show take their first Kenna title.
Aficionados will also remember Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, who had so dramatically failed to ‘dovetail’ at that same tournament, were the second and third top scoring players that same season. It’s unlikely this fact will have any impact on the value of James Milner come August.
Back at the top of the game, Luis Suarez may have hogged the headlines in Brazil, but in the Emerson World Cup another controversial figure is stealing the show.
“He’s bloody top!” exclaimed the chairman, who was being unusually loquacious today. “This begs belief. He used to have to turn up to auctions to hand the rest the league their behinds on the pitch, but now he can do it remotely. No manager is safe while he’s around.”
Testiculadew Land share the same points total as FadjeetaCabana, whose midfielder Xhedran Shaqiri scored a hat-trick last night.
Previous leaders Fat Ladies drop to third place. The chairman’s side Copa Lallana were shuffled down to fourth.
Lokomotiv Leeds maintained seventh place, but with a strike partnership of Suarez and Gervinho an Emerson World Cup challenge looks all but over for them.
Points scoring is expected to slow down considerably once the final group games have finished tonight and many players return home.
FRESH controversy over suspicious auction tactics has overshadowed the opening 10 days of an otherwise thrilling Emerson World Cup.
Flouting a widely-advertised ban on bidding in absentia, the Testiculadew Land manager – who finds his side in third place going into the final group games today – claimed to have been delayed on his way to the auction a week last Thursday.
In their munificence, Emerson World Cup organisers allowed Testiculadew Land to begin buying a side using cross-platform mobile messaging smartphone app Whatsapp on the assumption the manager would eventually turn up to complete his business.
The manager did not show up. The other 17 managers endured the pressure-cooker auction night atmosphere to buy 11 players, desperately scrabbling through the haze of Continental lager and gastro pub burgers to fill their teams at closing time.
All the while, the Testiculadew Land spent most of his budget on five players, and outside of the bedlam coolly selected the remaining players, emailing them to organisers afterwards.
Emerson organisers aren’t so sure, and have hinted at wholesale changes to the practice of ‘filling up’ up teams once the auction has closed.
“If it was anyone else, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid, but this particular manager has more form than a Michaelangelo exhibition,” quipped the chairman this morning at a press conference in the saloon bar of the King’s Arms in Waterloo.
“There is a clear advantage to spending the lion’s share of the budget on five or six top quality players, knowing that – particularly in a World Cup with so many teams – there are plenty of players still out there.
“We’ve been in locked in the Kenna HQ situation room with the chaps from charts and graphs. In future any gaps in teams will be filled at random by some clever piece of spreadsheet jiggerypokery.”
In the Emerson itself, Fat Ladies top the table going into the final round of group games.
A hat-trick from Thomas Muller and a goal from Nani put Fat Ladies – whose manager made his first appearance at an auction since August 2009 – top, above a strong showing from Los Rojos.
Unlike his national side, the Spanish manager’s outfit started strongly, with three goals from Arjen Robben, one from Claudio Marchisio and one from Daniel Sturridge, although one of those sources will dry up very soon.
Down in the ‘England Basement’, Rio De Je Don’t Know bring up the rear. The manager will be hoping Hulk and Jelavic can conjure his team’s first goals on the tournament later this evening, but he’s probably not holding his breath.