Tomás Roncero: football genius
Never look a gift horse in the mouth, they say. Now, La Liga Loca hasnÃ¢ÂÂt got a clue what that actually means. But itÃ¢ÂÂs not going to, oh no sir. You can accuse us of going for easy targets all you like, you can say itÃ¢ÂÂs not fair to drag up the past, and you can point at the many, many times weÃ¢ÂÂve been so very, very wrong. About football. About life. About whether that really was the Zaragoza president grinning over that pint. About whether that girl was in fact a boy. You can even accuse us of having an unnatural obsession with howling mad TomÃÂ¡s Roncero. You might even be right. In fact, oddly, he might even be right (and letÃ¢ÂÂs face it the fans are the biggest turncoat hypocrites of the lot). But we donÃ¢ÂÂt care. This one is too good to refuse. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, hereÃ¢ÂÂs what ASÃ¢ÂÂs resident loony TomÃÂ¡s Roncero wrote back in February, the morning before Spain played a friendly in Malaga without RonceroÃ¢ÂÂs beloved RaÃÂºl. The same Spain that has just won Euro 2008 without the same RaÃÂºl.
Aragones fights his corner
Ã¢ÂÂSpain is all a-clamour. The whole country is out on the streets, crying Ã¢ÂÂRaÃÂºl! SelecciÃÂ³n!Ã¢ÂÂ the people are always right and yesterday they provided the words for a new national anthem - the anthem that RaÃÂºl listens to with his head turned to the heavens, the one that produces goose bumps on the skin of millions of Spaniards.
MÃÂ¡laga is a city that loves the national team and they have decided to do something about this shameful situation [in which Raul has been left out of the national team]. Whether Luis AragonÃÂ©s likes it or not 80% of fans are on RaulÃ¢ÂÂs side. His 102 caps and 44 goals are but a reflection of the most important fact: Raul is a standard-bearer, the reference point, a leader for the national team.
The fans feel orphaned without him and theyÃ¢ÂÂll keep on fighting to make sure he goes, come what may, to the European Championships. The key is the coach. He said the other day Ã¢ÂÂthe Federation should sack meÃ¢ÂÂ [actually, he didnÃ¢ÂÂt quite say that, TomÃÂ¡s Ã¢ÂÂ LLL]. Well, itÃ¢ÂÂs time to take him on his word, no more discussions. When AragonÃÂ©s arrived in Malaga the other day he came across a protest: Ã¢ÂÂRaÃÂºl! RaÃÂºl! RaÃÂºl!
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs just a taster of what awaits him tonight. The whole of the stadium will appeal for justice for this prize player who has given his all to the national team for the last 10 years. Even the Federation president Villar said Ã¢ÂÂRaul is the best player in SpainÃ¢ÂÂ. I agree, president. LetÃ¢ÂÂs get Del Bosque and Camacho ready to take over from AragonÃÂ©s. [Sporting director] Hierro should think about it. We need a Euro 2008 with RaÃÂºl.Ã¢ÂÂNeed? Orphaned? Leader?
There, there, TomÃÂ¡s. Time for a lie down.
You do know I'm 69...