Chapter 933: The Squad List That Cannot Be Changed
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Goalkeepers: Scott Carson, Chris Kirkland, Joe Hart.
Defenders: Glen Johnson, Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Steven Taylor, John Terry, Michael Dawson, Leighton Baines, Joe Mattock.
Midfielders: George Wood, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry, David Bentley, Theo Walcott, Stewart Downing, Adriano Moke, Chris Cohen.
Strikers: Aaron Mitchell, James Vaughn, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Wayne Rooney.
Twain gave Des Walker the confirmed squad list of twenty-three players for him to look over. Walker saw George Wood’s name at the first glance.
“The reporters saw you go into Wood’s house yesterday. Are you telling me that his recovery from his injury is going well?” Walker asked.
“No, the recovery is as slow as ever.”
“Then why did you…” Walker was baffled.
“This squad list is going to be reported to UEFA. Once it’s determined, there’s no way to revise it, Des.” Twain laughed bitterly. How could he not know the downside of doing this?
“Are you still holding on to the hope of Wood’s recovery from his injury?”
“I wish to remain hopeful.”
“But…” Walker hesitated for a moment before saying, “What if Wood doesn’t recover in time to play as a substitute for the games. What are we going to do?”
“What can we do?” Twain already had an idea for this, “Just take it that we brought four goalkeepers.”
In the past, when the national teams participated in the international competition, the squad list was twenty-two players. The teams could bring two goalkeepers, a main player and a substitute. FIFA later changed the rules to allow each team to bring three goalkeepers in case of an accident, so the squad list changed from twenty-two to twenty-three. Although there was one more goalkeeper, this third goalkeeper rarely had the opportunity to play.
When Twain said to bring four goalkeepers, he clearly meant that a spot would be wasted.
Walker was silent for a moment before he asked, “This squad list that you drew up… What will Harvey think of it?”
“If the list doesn’t have George’s name on it, Harvey will come to me to ask for an explanation instead.” Twain said, unperturbed, “If there’s no George Wood on the soon-to-be announced squad list, do you know what those fans and media are going to think?”
Walker was not a fool. He thought of it too. He could only nod and said, “Hopefully Wood will recover soon…”
As Twain said, the English Football Association did not have any objections to George Wood’s appearance on the squad list, even if they did not know whether Wood would be able to recover from his injury before the start of the UEFA European Championship. But if Wood’s name was not on it, the local fans and the media would kick up a fuss.
But Wood’s name on it also made the media and fans wonder – did that mean George’s recovery from his injury was going well? Otherwise Twain would not have written his name on it.
As a result, everyone suddenly felt that the England team’s future at the UEFA European Championship was bright…
“Wood’s recovery from his injury is going well and is expected to play in the game between England and Portugal on June 12th!”
“Experts say he will fully recovered by June 17th at the latest, and it will not be a problem for the team to advance out of the group stage!”
“The core player’s returning by early June at the latest. Tony Twain’s feeling ambitious!”
“The invincible midfielder will return in glory!”
A variety of headlines clearly showed the English people’s ecstasy.
Every time Twain saw a news report like this, he wondered what emotions the media show would if Wood’s recovery from his injury was not ideal.
Harvey brought a piece of good news to Twain. Given England’s special circumstances as well as George Wood’s importance to the England team, the UEFA took into account a previous example from FIFA and decided to delay the final registration of the England squad list until twenty-four hours before the start of the UEFA European Championship. That would have allowed the England team to have a replacement if it was confirmed on the last day before the UEFA European Championship that Wood was indeed unable to play.
But Twain did not care about such a quota. For him if George Wood could not play, then it was use changing anyone. As he had told Walker, he would take it that he had brought four goalkeepers to Spain.
The league tournament was over, and the England team had nothing to do with the Champions League. Except for George Wood, all the England national footballer who were selected for the squad list this time, said goodbye to their club teammates and families to report at London Colney training base.
A few days ago, they were still enemies and opponents in fierce competition for the league title, European tournament qualification or purely for survival, and now they were going to be together all the time for almost two months, united in the same goal.
It was very interesting to think of this scene.
Having just joined the the national team, everyone would chat for a while and the topic of conversation certainly could not be separated from the just-concluded league tournament. Manchester United’s players half-jokingly complained that Chelsea’s players had robbed them of the league title, while Chelsea’s players were still brooding over Liverpool’s FA cup win over them. The Arsenal players were working on getting closer to Aaron Mitchell to try persuading him to join Arsenal next season.
The public relations activity was happening in the national team.
But such topics of conversation soon ended. As a member of the national team, the just concluded season was a thing of the past. There was no need to hang onto it. The upcoming UEFA European Championship was the most important.
Watching everyone come except for one person, the Nottingham Forest players did not feel too good.
They were not confident of whether their team captain would be able to come before the UEFA European Championship. The rest of the national team’s teammates were asking them, and they knew only a little more than the media.
Perhaps only the boss would know whether the captain could play in the UEFA European Championship. Maybe it was promising because he had just said that the goal of this UEFA European Championship for the team was to win the title? Without George, it would be hard to win the championship, wouldn’t it?
Under Twain’s deliberate arrangement, George Wood presently had become the tactical and spiritual core of the England team. When he was present, everyone would have a sense of security. But if he was not around, they would naturally feel ill at ease. Gerrard could have done that when he was at Liverpool, but his influence in the national team was not enough.
Wood did not say much in the locker room. He never said pointless nonsense, and he was always able to show that he was a trusted captain with his actions. Whether it was through defensive or offense, he would step up when there was a problem. If his own player was maliciously violated by the other team, he would certainly find the opportunity to secretly plot and retaliate. It did not matter that he might receive a card for doing so.
If Wood really could not play in the UEFA European Championship, many people in the England team would feel a shadow shrouding over them. They would feel that their campaign in Spain would be inauspicious. They would be timid before even the competition started. Therefore, Twain was reluctant to make public the truth of the situation of Wood’s recovery.
It would be a major blow to the team’s morale.
Twain and Wallace had been hiding the truth about Wood’s injury to the outside world. They did not want Wood to be bothered too much, and they did not want the team’s morale to be undermined.
But not everyone had their heightened sense of awareness. Or it could be said that there were some people in the world who wished for the whole world to be in chaos…
The media was always going up against Twain. Now there were so many rumors about Wood’s recovery and the reporters were always gathering information from various sources in the hope of finding the truth, Twain and Wallace were always vague about, which made the media even more suspicious.
The natural attribute of the English reporters seemed to be “spies.” They always had a way of digging the inside of the news. One of the best was which was the most skilled at mining insider information.
It was not known what method The Sun used, but at the end of May, they published a shocking piece information:
Recently, as the start of the UEFA European Championship approached, there had been occasional articles of this pessimistic tone in the media. Most people only treated the rumor as a joke, because those who did the speculations were really very unreliable. But the article in The Sun was different.
The article had a very detailed list of evidence to prove that George Wood’s recovery from his injury was not going as well as people thought.
The Nottingham Evening Post had previously published photographs of Wood working out at the gym to prove that Wood was recovering well. But the evidence that The Sun had gotten hold of suggested that Wood could not even run now. The photographs at the gym simply showed him working out the muscles in his upper body.
Which made people thought it was the case.
“What’s the hell is going on?” Twain scolded as he looked at the newspaper Walker brought him. The Sun had a lot of influence, and this article had now gone viral. He only found out about the matter when Brosnan gave him a call to ask about it.
After swearing, Twain calmed down and called Doctor Wallace to make sure the information was not leaked out of his mouth. The England team would have a regular press conference in the afternoon, and he could imagine how those reporters would bombard him.
Doctor Wallace’s voice sounded tired. Apparently, he had just been bombarded by the media.
“I just ended a press conference held by the hospital, and Mr. Twain… I know what you’re going to ask. I did not divulge the information. It’s the people around me…”
Twain confirmed it when he heard his voice. Doctor Wallace was not in a habit to give him trouble.
“What did you say at the press conference, Doctor?” Twain felt the need to communicate so as to keep each other informed and to get their stories straight so as to avoid letting something slip.
“Of course, I denied The Sun’s report.”
“Ah, that’s good, Doctor. In fact, that’s exactly what I intend to do.” Twain had already decided to refuse to admit it at the press conference in the afternoon.
“But, Mr. Twain. Are you sure you can get Wood back on the football field by the 12th?” It was not something that even Doctor Wallace himself could be certain of.
“I’m not sure, Doctor.”
“There are things that need to be done for show. It is better now to hide the truth than to tell the truth.”
Doctor Wallace just felt as if he had been implicated in a dubious lie and unable to extricate himself from it. So, he could only put a bold face on it and go along with Twain to the end, hoping to finally come out of it unscathed…
At the afternoon press conference, the media were particularly excited and looking forward to it. Appearing along with Twain, Aaron Mitchell had unquestionably become a prop, with no reporters asking him questions. Everyone was directing the questions at Twain.
Twain looked calm and looked ready to tackle the questions.
“I would like to ask Mr. Twain this. The Sun reported that George Wood is barely able to make it to the UEFA European Championship. Is this true?”
“It’s complete nonsense.”
“How’s George Wood’s recovery from his injury. Able to shed some light on it?”
“It’s going well and he’s starting the strength building training.” Twain had said these words countless times. His answer to the reporter’s question sounded perfunctory this time.
The reporters were clearly unhappy with Twain’s perfunctory attitude.
“But there’s no other evidence able to prove that George’s right leg is recovering besides this picture….”
“George doesn’t want his private life to be disturbed. Even this photograph was only taken after repeated communication. Are you unhappy about something, Mr. Reporter?” Twain showed no signs of relenting.
It was not difficult for Twain to weave lies at all. He was at the point where all he had to do was to just open his mouth and the words would come out. His face was not even flushed, and his breathing was even. So that people could not see through the cracks.
“So can George Wood really make it to the UEFA European Championship?”
Twain also knew that to let this group of reporters really believe, he could not fill in with too many details. Saying too much was as bad as saying too little. Because when he was going to lie, every word he said must be in a positive tone, like he was reciting lines from a script. If he wanted to make people believe him, then he’d better deliberately add a little bit of mistake in his words, then the mingling of truth and falsehoods would easily fool people.
“I can’t guarantee that he definitely will, but Doctor Wallace and I, as well as George himself, are working hard to get there. None of us will give up easily, not till the last day.”
His words sounded sincere and true and many people believed what Twain said. If Twain insisted that Wood was able to recover by June 12th, perhaps these people would suspect That Twain was lying.
The media besieged Twain for a long time but did not pry open his mouth. Instead, they were convinced by Twain, which was really a great surprise to The Sun.
The Sun’s reporter had no choice but to personally step in to say, “We have solid evidence that Wood can’t make it to the UEFA European Championship. So, I would like to ask if you, Mr. Twain had any backup…”
Twain interrupted the other person directly to say, “What hard evidence? The attending physician thinks he can catch up. So, where did your evidence come from, sir?”
As soon as the other side was about to answer again, Twain interrupted him once again, “The people around the doctor? A cleaner or a nurse? How can you tell if what they’re saying is the truth? While what I’m telling you is a lie? Who’s the person closest to George Wood here?”
The reporter was rendered speechless from a series of cross-examinations by Twain, and he did not know what to say.
“I don’t want to be here and talk nonsense with you, Mr. Reporter. I don’t want to bet with you either.”
Some people laughed when they heard the word “bet.” This had become a classic: don’t ever bet against Tony Twain unless you think life is too dull.
“All I can tell you is that we all want George to be in the UEFA European Championship. We are all working very hard on it. If you really have nothing else better to do, I suggest you pay more attention to the influx of refugees from Africa, rather than pointing fingers at others under the guise of seeking the truth in the news.” Twain unceremoniously gave The Sun reporter a bad name. Then he got up and walked away.
The group of reporters looked at each other.
They all thought Twain was angry. In actual fact, when he walked out of the press conference, there was a hint of smile on Twain’s face.
The Sun was going to deal with him using this. But he had sent them packing with just a flick of his wrist.
But this matter also set off alarm bells for him – not everyone believed his words.
If, on that day, Wood really did not recover from his injury and could appear in the game as a substitute, what was he going to do?
There was not much time left for him…