New Zealand’s run in the Confederations Cup ended on Saturday after a 4-0 loss to European Champion Portugal in Russia. The Kiwis lost all three games they played in the tournament, and Chris Wood scored the lone goal, in a 2-1 loss to Mexico, that New Zealand racked up during the tournament.
While Wood is likely disappointed that New Zealand didn’t make more noise at the tournament or claim a scalp or two of a “bigger” team, an injury-free tournament is what most Leeds United fans would have wanted from the big Kiwi. Yeah, he might be bummed, but better to be bummed out and healthy then bummed out with a broken leg. After all, we’re talking about the Confederations Cup.
Most American sports fans will be familiar with the infamous Allen Iverson rant about missing practice. “We talkin’ about PRACTICE”. And that’s exactly what the Confederations Cup is, just practice. It’s just PRACTICE for the World Cup that will take place next year. Quick, name the last Confederations Cup winner. Or the one before that. Or ANY winner. Oh, I bet some American fans will talk about how the USA Men’s team once got to the final and lost to Brazil in 2009, but that’s the only one almost any American can name, and even fewer English football fans could name even one final result. It is literally a meaningless cash grab done by FIFA and the host nation for the World Cup, as if FIFA needed more money to throw around.
So the most that almost any football fan can hope for is that if any player on your team plays, that he avoids injury. And oh, if the team does well, that’s just an added bonus.
GOAL NEW ZEALAND!! Chris Wood takes advantage of a lapse in the back and gives NZ the lead over Mexico! https://t.co/ecF3Tu4kb0— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) June 21, 2017
However, there is also a more cynical view for Leeds fans. We already had to endure weeks of “rumors” about if Chris Wood was moving on to a Premier League club. Top scorers in the Championship are usually linked with moves up the pyramid or at least to “bigger” clubs willing to slosh around television money. If Chris Wood had single-handedly willed New Zealand to victory against Portugal, scoring a hat-trick and clearing a Cristiano Ronaldo header off the line in injury-time to seal the win, another dozen articles over the next month would speculate about which Premier League clubs would be interested in signing him. If New Zealand hadn’t gone out with a thud, as expected, the rumors would fly about Wood and his possible “destination”.
Is that fair to Wood? Of course not. But it’s something that could unsettle the striker, even though the verdict is still out as to if he’s a Premier League quality striker. But he is great for Leeds United, and we want to keep him at the club. And while nothing has changed either for the better or for the worse after the tournament, it at least saves everyone the headache of pointless rumor mongering from the red tops about Chris Wood. And god forbid if Leeds were forced to sell Wood. All of the steps that the new ownership, the new Director of Football Victor Orta, and the new “coach” Thomas Christiansen have taken to move the team in a positive direction would be undone in a single move by the sale. Fans might literally riot at Elland Road if Wood was sold, after years of terrible owners promising good times ahead only to dance upon the grave of yet another season that goes down the toilet.
So while it kind of sucks for Wood that New Zealand is out, it’s probably for the best. We get to enjoy him for another season in White, and we’ll hopefully find out if he can play in the Premier League in another year or so. MOT