NYT discovers World Cup Delusion Syndrome

It takes the Grey Lady time to catch up, but she gets there eventually.

Soccer here is a three-ring circus, a zoo, a metaphor, a way of life. As a result, England’s indifferent record in the sport’s showcase event requires its supporters to perform an emotional high-wire act every four years, simultaneously holding two competing notions in their heads.

One: This will be the year their team finally realizes its massive potential and wins.

Two: Their team never wins. This year, England’s chronic angst is compounded by two facts. The first is that the tournament is being played in Germany, home of its bitterest rival and agent of some of its biggest defeats. In 1990, England lost a heartbreaking match to Germany in a penalty-kick shootout in the World Cup semifinals. In fact, after England’s greatest victory over Germany — its 4-2 extra-time victory in the 1966 final — 24 years passed before the English beat the Germans again in a major competition. The second problem is Rooney’s foot. Rooney, a prodigy who rose from the rough streets of Liverpool to become a star at Manchester United, is England’s most talented scorer and its greatest hope. But last month he broke a metatarsal bone in his right foot, and on Friday he was ruled out for the first round of matches. Every day there have been conflicting reports, anguished speculation, hope on the heels of despair…