WELCOME to our weekly round-up of British sport where we’ll be reflecting on the big talking points and looking forward to the next big clashes.
By BARBARA DOUGLAS
IF WAYNE ROONEY does break Manchester United’s all-time scoring record on Sunday the mood around the Red half of Liverpool will be darker than Darth Vader’s pocket!
Footballing romantics, Evertonians and of course United supporters would love to see him do it at home against Jurgen Klopp’s men and surely nothing would be sweeter for a Toffee to make United history against his fiercest rivals.
There is no doubt the 31-year-old Scouser has had a stellar career but despite his success he is still a marmite player.
And after the way he burst onto the scene in 2004 it’s a little sad to see him huffing and puffing over the line like a fat man doing a 10km park run.
Bizarrely, he could have the record by now, had he – or Jose Mourinho – not inexplicably let first Paul Pogba then Anthony Martial take spot-kicks in the 4-1 rout of Fenerbahce in October.
When the ball bounced off his knee and into the Reading net on Saturday in the FA Cup he drew level with Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 goals.
Next up was a struggling and decimated Hull side who had such an injury crisis they could not name a full supplement of subs.
An adoring full house at Old Trafford awaited – surely his moment would come – after all it is nicknamed the Theatre of Dreams.
But no – he ran around getting increasingly redder, managed only 20 passes, two shots, none on target and was booked after an hour on Tuesday.
So will he get in team this weekend? Will he even make it onto the pitch? Or is it his destiny to grab his career-defining goal against Liverpool – his place of birth?
The Reds are one of the teams Rooney has scored the least against in his career (six in 22 games) although he did grab the winner against them on January 17, 2016.
But since then, almost a YEAR to the day, he has found the net just SEVEN times for his club.
A shocking and surprising stat and the list of opponents ‘put to the sword’ are Derby, Stoke, Bournemouth (twice), Fenerbahce, Feyenoord and the Royals. Hardly footballing heavyweights!
In that time he has failed to trouble Chelsea, champions Leicester (twice), Man City, Liverpool in the league and Arsenal in what were the truly big games. And games don’t come much bigger than this weekend’s.
Football is brilliant because anything could happen. He could have the best day of his life scoring the winner and breaking the record with one swipe of his famous boot.
Or he could break it in the most unpalatable way possible – in a 4-1 Liverpool win. Those that think that could never happen must have forgotten 2009 when even the hilariously rubbish Andrea Dossena scored at Old Trafford.
Or nothing happens – he fails to score or even play if Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fit and the agonising wait goes on.
This is why we love the game, the possibilities are endless and the ammo it gives rival fans is priceless.
But I wonder if Klopp & Co are winning 3-0 and United get a last-minute penalty, will he want to take it?
A footballer is only one serious injury away from retirement, would he pass up a chance on a platter and potentially risk the record for the chance to look back on his big moment in a sweeter light?
It’s a tough call, but if the unthinkable did happen and Mourinho sold him before he got to the big 250 Liverpool fans and his detractors would NEVER let him forget it.
WAYNE ROONEY is not the only British sports star with a huge weekend coming up.
James DeGale can write his name in British super middleweight history in the early hours of Sunday morning if he beats Badou Jack in New York.
His unification fight against the half-Swede, half Gambian fitness fanatic who trained RoboCop – yes really, his actor mate Joel Kinnaman – will be fascinating.
Jack – who sounds like a baddie in a Hollywood movie – defeated the only pro to have beaten DeGale, i.e. George Groves and is on home soil.
But Chunky is a road warrior with his three most recent victories all coming on North American soil and is the bookies favourite.
THE geniuses at FIFA have announced plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from the 2026 World Cup.
There will be arguments for and against this for years to come.
But one thing is for certain the greatest tournament in world sport is now no longer an elite competition. How can it be when a quarter of all football nations will be there?