Superman v God – Who Goes On The Teamsheet First?

Who would you have playing on your team? God or Superman? The first and top of mind answer will probably be God. Because after all, God is omnipotent, right? He can create and destroy superman. He can create and destroy the game itself.

Aha, but there lies the problem. God is unpredictable. He creates and destroys with equal enthusiasm. Seriously, when God is stroppy, things can get quite bad! Superman, though, always fights for the good things – truth, justice, and the American way (which suggests he would play “soccer”, not football, but we’ll overlook that). Superman would bust a gut to win a losing game. God would lose his cool and lightening would strike down the referee.

Over the last weeks we have had both God and Superman take the field. With similar results. When Villareal came visiting at the Bernabeu, it was the start of a few difficult and potentially season defining games for Real Madrid who were still chasing Barca. You could have feared or hoped (based on your allegiance) that the unpredictable yellow submarines could surprise Real Madrid. After all, so did unheralded Alcorcon in the Kings Cup. But you would reckon without God and so did Villareal. 8 goals later, with only 2 of them for the visitors, Madrid left the field with their resident deity – Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Spanish media wasted no time in recognizing Cristiano’s divinity. They said God had come down to the Bernabeu wearing the CR9 jersey. El Mundo was so convinced of Ronaldo’s omnipotence that they predicted he would soon win the ball, cross and head it in himself! Not satisfied with that, Marca suggested that he also takes the freekicks, builds play, makes passes, folds shirts, cleans boots and cuts the grass – everything but manning the ticket office.

But while the almighty was trampling over the green of the Bernabeu and the yellow of Villareal, Superman was quelling a different green and yellow rebellion. Or at least rendering it irrelevant. As the disgruntled Manchester United fans sported the green-yellow colours of Newton Heath, Rooney decided to paint the game red.

Rooney is no god. He is as earthly as they come. He suffers from the same emotions as everybody else and is afflicted by events around him. Reacting to things he doesn’t like, rather than razing them to the ground. Rooney is the antithetical “modern footballer” who oozes mortality and has been recently referred to as a throwback to a previous generation.

The tantrums of the tyro have been largely tamed. Responsibility seems to sit comfortably on the shoulders of a man who understands it. A combination of fatherhood and natural maturity, alongside the guiding hands of Sir Alex and Fabio Capello seems to have used Rooney’s own fire to mould a player who can rub shoulders with greatness and defy many human limitations.

AC Milan’s goal was  breached 7 times over 2 legs. 4 of them came from Rooney. He was described aptly by a fan as the only player who plays like an Englishman and a foreigner at the same time. Meanwhile, God was dumped out of the CL by Lyon. You can only imagine what celestial anger that must have created and how the sky must have parted with rage at such impudence.

Unlike God, who often prefers to work alone, Superman is an enabler of people around him. Rooney’s ability to be the focal point of the attack is matched by his Scholes-like passing vision. Superman Rooney runs back and strains every sinew to recover the ball he has lost. CR, the God, throws his hands up in the air and pouts. Yes, God can be quite temperamental.

Yet, Superman is not without his flaws. He can still be got at. His frustrations boil over quite visibly when his battle cry is not heard by his team mates. When the performances drop around him. When the load of 10 players becomes too much to carry. You can see his face contort with rage. And yes, both God and Superman are capable of lashing out when truly angered. Of course, the costs of annoying God are greater, as Patrick Mtiliga found when his nose was broken by CR9.

Like you and I would do, Sir Alex also gave God precedence over Superman, and so it was that Superman spent 3 years in the servitude of God, providing passes, patrolling the perimeter of the footballing temple created for God’s largesse to be displayed. But once God moved out of his abode, it fell to Superman to carry on his good work. And it is whispered in the corridors of football that Superman is actually doing as good a job as God could have done.

Manchester United fans today are truly a truly fortunate generation who have seen Cristiano and Rooney play side by side, in fact, growing up together. To see these talents blossom before your eyes and touch greatness is a privilege. Especially when you see the raw talent  being improved and polished day by day – becoming faster, stronger, more intelligent, more unstoppable. You only have to hark back to the third goal of the Champions League 2009 Semifinal at the Emirates stadium to invoke a stirring memory of the power of the combination. Sir Alex needs no recommendation but he has possibly topped his creation of Giggs, Beckham & Scholes and his resurrection of Keane and Cantona, by his nurturing of Rooney and Ronaldo. How many managers can claim to have given the world God and Superman?

Today, when Rooney has established himself as being every bit as potent as Ronaldo in front of the goal, you have to wonder whether a football team could accomodate them both! Whether even Sir Alex could find a way to fit such large personalities into a single playing field. When each player seems capable of doing the workf of 5, how do you get them into a list of 11?

It is rumoured that one day the two might be reunited again. But till then, God will be working miracles at the Bernabeu while Superman flies around saving the world at Old Trafford.

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