Rooney, 3D and a four-year-old
Saturday was a troubling day. I watched United throw away a two-goal lead to West Brom. I donÃ¢ÂÂt like watching football in a pub at the best of times, but I was in Barcelona and Old Trafford isnÃ¢ÂÂt.
The last I saw a game in a pub was on 3D in September. I was pleasantly surprised. The pub had six screens, one of which boasted 3D. A dozen people sat in front wearing plastic glasses that were handed out at the bar.
Two fans joined just before kick-off. They werenÃ¢ÂÂt wearing glasses. They complained that the picture wasnÃ¢ÂÂt clear and didnÃ¢ÂÂt appear to notice that they were the only people not wearing glasses, nor that the screen had Ã¢ÂÂ3DÃ¢ÂÂ on it. It was painful watching them squint, so I said "Excuse me Ã¢ÂÂ itÃ¢ÂÂs in 3D mate. You get the glasses behind the bar."
The ladÃ¢ÂÂs brain took a bit of time to process the information, but after two or three minutes he went to the bar and came back. He put the glasses on and squealed like a man whoÃ¢ÂÂd just been offered a night with Adriana Lima. His mate was having none of it. He had his own pair of normal glasses and didnÃ¢ÂÂt see why he needed fancy 3D ones. So he watched the whole game squinting Ã¢ÂÂ when there was a perfectly normal screen behind him.
Adrian Lima (r): You'd clear your diary
I received a phone call after UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs draw with West Brom. "Ferguson wants Rooney out," said the caller, an A1 contact. A similar contact had told me in March of RooneyÃ¢ÂÂs indiscretions. We printed a veiled version of it in United We Stand, as we didnÃ¢ÂÂt have the resources to prove it. But we knew all wasnÃ¢ÂÂt well. I walked to Camp Nou ahead of BarcaÃ¢ÂÂs match with Valencia with the Rooney news buzzing around my head.
Saturday was the first day in my life that I could ring my three brothers and ask them how their games had gone. The 33-year-old is coming to the end of his career, but still playing semi-pro.
The 16-year-old was promoted to Stockport CountyÃ¢ÂÂs youth team a year ahead of schedule, but it was the four-year-old Ã¢ÂÂ our dadÃ¢ÂÂs not dissimilar to Michael Douglas and Rod Stewart Ã¢ÂÂ to whom I was most looking forward to speaking. Turning four last week meant that he could join an under-fives team.
I called. Dad told me that the young 'un was playing with a tractor and that heÃ¢ÂÂd try and get his attention. In the meantime, he told me how it had gone.
Upon being introduced to his young charge, the coach offered his hand. The four-year-old had never been offered a hand to shake before. So he did what any aspiring young footballer would do when his new boss offers his hand. He smelt it. Then he tried to touch his cap.
When the game started, he had no concept of the pitch markings and was also far more interested in his own shadow than the ball. "There wasnÃ¢ÂÂt one kid there who'll make it," fumed my dad.
"But dad, he only turned four last week. It was only two weeks ago that he was taught to stop using his hands to stop the ball."
He was having none of it. The breathless four-year-old came on the phone and proudly stated that heÃ¢ÂÂd played "like Rooney," so that tallied with my dadÃ¢ÂÂs version. I didnÃ¢ÂÂt press him further and let him return to his tractor.
But heÃ¢ÂÂd put Rooney back in my mind, until a brilliant game between Barca and Valencia in front of 96,000 submerged it in my thoughts. Despite losing their best players, Valencia have been superb this season Ã¢ÂÂ mainly because of their manic coach who parades around his box, smudging the white lines like a madman. No wonder Unai EmeryÃ¢ÂÂs family call him "Anxious Arse".
He stated that his team were coming to the Camp Nou to win and they took the lead, before Barca narrowly triumphed 2-1. It was a fascinating encounter, top, top level and great to watch as a neutral. There were a few Scottish journalists over to watch Valencia ahead of the Rangers game, plus others with links to Manchester United. The conversation switched back to Rooney... unfortunately for my peace of mind.