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Any England fan watching World Cup games right now probably owns a hair shirt and a cat-o’-nine-tails. The torture never stops and they wouldn’t have it any other way. As England only have one true world-class player in their squad of serial underachievers, their masochistic wishes were granted early by the cruel Gods of soccer when England crashed after humiliating losses to Italy and Uruguay. That one good player, Wayne Rooney, is a surprisingly sensitive young man of 28 and seems to be weighed down by unrealistic expectations from the British public and a ruthless Darwinian press which loves to make heroes – as it once did with a 16-year-old Rooney at Everton – before destroying them.
After signing a massive new contract for his club, Manchester United, Rooney was expected to have a hugely successful season in 2013-14. This did not happen. Instead, he was a hopeless observer as, like the millions of United fans throughout the world, he watched a separate drama play out starring his old Everton manager and nurturer David Moyes stumbling around trying to figure out the whys and wherefores of managing a really big club after the retirement of United’s curmudgeonly serial-winner of a coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, after 26 years of success. Having disappointed for both club and county, Rooney felt the full wrath of a disappointed group of English pundits and fans who want Wazza to be their world-class player, up on a pedestal with the likes of superstars Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
In spite of all that, the British publisher, Thumbstar Games, thinks it knows a good thing when it sees one. Pugnacious, brave and willing to sublimate his ego for the sake of his teammates, Rooney represents a certain Liverpool-born, working class, council-housing-raised, streetwise ethic that grows ever rarer in young modern footballers. Wayne Rooney can now help you improve your soccer skills using your mobile device. According to its listing on Apple’s App Store, these ‘Workouts will develop your skills, and our technology lets you track your performance and discover where you need to improve.”
As a part-time soccer coach, I can actually give this video a genuine recommendation. It features useful exercises connected to lessons on dribbling and turning, tight ball control, receiving the ball, sprinting with the ball, and many different methodologies of shooting and general finishing. Later, a more complex 1v1 Challenges section shows ways to use your smartphone’s camera to record your skills, and compare them against footage of Rooney as a teaching tool. The footballer worked with Thumbstar Games and sports firm Fivestar Training on the app, which costs GB£2.99 for the initial download, then sells additional workouts for GB£1.49 each for Smartphone apps in Europe, and Instant Video in the U.S. for $1.99, $2.99 and $9.99. My only criticism would be that, like many other teaching videos, it dedicates little time to fundamentals like throw-ins, deadfall free kicks, indirect free kicks, posting up on opponents, offside rules and the difference between legal and illegal tackles. It really is crucial that learners grasp the fundamentals first.
Thumbstar really would have helped their cause by distributing the game at least a month before the actual tournament began. Having it arrive in stores on Friday, June 13, a day after the World Cup tournament actually began means Thumbstar did itself no favors.