Tuesday, 22 June 2010

"It's been an itsy bitsy start here with Liverpool" & other World Cup follies

Another day another obvious conclusion thrown out the window.  The news from French base camp and English base camp continues to be strange and it's harder and harder to take the actual football seriously. But it's not all  something you would only expect in an over the top footie film trying to keep you interested past the scene where Pele, Beckham and Dizzy Rascal face Germany in a tense battle of pens. Some of it is even stranger. One of the best bits today was a subtle error which showed the strain some of the commentary types are under. During the ITV portion of the day while Spain and Honduras were playing , an auto pilot set of instructions kicked in when you heard the following "It's been an itsy bitsy start here with Liverpool". They could be forgiven for the confusion as the place was awash in current and past Scouse players. What it does demonstrate is that despite the professionalism of some, you do eventually reach a point where you need to be taken off the mike and rested. In a less pleasant episode from the same broadcast, Adrian Chiles , noted football commentator and humanitarian, went out of his way to take the piss out of Honduran players and their  not so on key or well sung rendition of the Honduran national anthem. Perhaps they weren't the Welsh boys choir, but they sang with passion and true patriotism. Pity Adrain ,our own players aren't capable of the same. Maybe if they cared a bit more we'd not be in such trouble. If like me you think Mr. Chiles needs a bit of a reminder  to grow up and show a little respect, you can send a polite but strongly worded note to OFCOM. While I'm at it, it needs to be said, ITV has ignored, underestimated and treated poorly in commentary, countries not in the traditional seeding of so called "Big Clubs". ITV World Cup football is only ever on because we must. I avoid the run up tuning in only for the match itself. On a lighter note, I'd also like to complain that FIFA, the responsible ones for the camera work, are just not showing the lovely lasses like they used to. I'm aware that perhaps not as many of them came, but surely they can do better than the miserly collection of munters we've been treated to this far. BTW I must be imagine things. I'm nowhere near South Africa and yet I  hear a vuvuzela moaning like an injured  water buffalo somewhere near here. Note to self, must go on a search and destroy mission later. Wait it just cut off  suddenly like, there is a God after all.

In a tournament where the big boys from Europe are showing cracks and frankly playing like they would rather already be in training camp at their respective clubs, the South Americans are head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the pack. Even IF they have massive contracts to get to after the WC, they are in fact doing all they can to insure their team does well and the fans at home are proud of them. Brazil, Argentina,  Uruguay, and Paraguay have all come to play and win. I can only assume that the next World cup in Brazil will be the absolute best ever one regardless of anything else. A genuinely football mad continent in which the host nation is one of the top practitioners of the sport. That tournament, unlike the PR ones in the USA and the Far East  will be a celebration of the world's game, hosted by the most passionate supporters on Earth. A fair final this time around would in fact be an all South American affair as they are the most deserving of being in  it aside from Germany .

Ah the football... If you missed the ambulances collecting the body bags, Portugal destroyed North Korea   7-0 , 6 of those in the 2nd half . I don't know if that's a record for most goals in a single half , but it has to be close to one. Poor North Koreans, they did keep the wolves at bay for a time , but Tiago and friends were indulging in target practice and nobody was going to stop them. The most important thing about this result is that the others in Group G have to do a lot more than just win or draw to advance. As usual, goal difference plays a big a part in the fate of the other teams.  Too bad they forgot that in the early stages. All those missed shots and cautious draws will come back to haunt more than a few teams between tomorrow and the final reckoning for the 16 teams going into the knock out rounds. The  North Koreans, we can only hope, will not be badly treated on returning home, should be proud of their performance. If they had been  an English club side, they could have kicked around fizzy pop for several years. Before I forget, the other thing I took personally from this match and judging from the reactions of mates, is that we still with a passion, want to do terrible things to that grinning oily twat Christiano Ronaldo. It was fun for a while seeing him  increasingly frustrated at his inability to score, sadly he broke his duck in the end. Seems memories are long and we all still feel the sting of going out on pens to a bunch of diving cheats who were the principle perpetrators of crimes against football in that infamous Portugal Holland match of 2006.

Chile Switzerland was an entirely other kettle of fish. The 1-0 result flatters the winners and is one of the most poorly officiated matches of this tournaments. 9 yellows and 1 red. Mad ref K Al Ghamdi did all he could to destroy any tempo to the game with a continuous stream of mostly ridiculous yellow cards whose only effect was to stop the match in its tracks. At one point it was clear players were worried about even moving a bit for fear of attracting the attention of the card happy official. The biggest problem was the clear intention of the ref to curtail any kind of body contact that would be taken for granted anywhere else and for the first half of the match kept Chile from getting anywhere near goal. To the bankers credit, the Swiss defence did do an admirable job of stripping Chile of the ball several times and stymieing any penetration...in other words they parked the bus. In case you didn't know, Switzerland now hold the record for not conceding  a goal in 551 minutes, surpassing Italy as the stingiest defence in the World Cup  . Chile will in fact rue the missed chances and the missed penalty. Near the end they almost conceded a goal  that would have left the result 1-1, a disaster if you consider what it takes to get out of the group stage. In the end you should ignore the fan boys at ITV going on about the famous victory, Chile did not do enough with it's chances and may well end up paying with an early trip home.

Liverpool v Honduras was a better show, despite the minnows never getting near the Spanish keeper, it was at least pretty football. for most of the match. 2-0 does in fact reflect the honest result, Honduras defended well and were a worthy opponent. There was bit of rough stuff and we saw the use of a bog roll as on pitch treatment to a nasty split lip. TBH if the Saudi ref had been at this one the card haul would have been twice as high. But football isn't a rough sport for nothing, we got a good physical  match with some pretty passing.  Only problem again is the scoreline, 2-0 may not be enough to get out of the group. Spain never really turned on the heat like Portugal or Germany. It's all still to play for and Spain know they could have nailed down the spot if they had tried earlier and harder .

Coronation Street has nothing on the continuing goings on in the France Camp and England, both having hotted up even more. The French practised today. several players were seen perfecting hostage demands in between passes and penalty takes while Raymond Domenech received the Minister of Sport sent in to get the children in line. While I will never advocate open rebellion for no good reason, these players have cause and plenty of it. Larent Blanc, Manchester United legend is to take up the managerial post after the team returns, and if the trend continues that's  tomorrow night . The only people who seem to think there is nothing wrong with the status quo are Domenech, the FFF and the Government. The tradition of knowing better goes back a long way and shows no sign of waning. In stead of keeping Anelka around and sending in Blanc early, they will persist in destroying the souls of those players. I cannot bring myself to guess how the France South Africa match will pan out, but the South Africans have an excellent chance to go out winners.

Across the channel so to speak, in the England camp, John Terry inexplicably was allowed to have a press conference, followed on by a bit with Capello on ITV. You can read the summary here , but it's clear from  Capello and the FA that it's the last chance saloon time for Capello. Win on Wednesday and he's saved his job for two years, loose or draw and he's gone. I'm torn, I'd love to see the lads win, but I want Capello gone. As far as he's concerned he's done nothing wrong and the players are being dramatic for nothing. As you know, I have argued that our players are spoilt, uncommitted and rudderless, this only explains the normal mediocrity we suffer from. What is happening now goes way beyond that, England are not quite the basket case France is but when  Capello says there is no revolution.....I say  BOLLOKS. The thick black smoke coming from behind him is telling another story. I would be happy of a win, but I won't for a second think it has anything to do with the manager nor will I delude myself into thinking we are world beaters.

Because the English football fan needs to find solace somewhere,  he nuzzles at the teet of someone else's misfortune, it's Perverse!.  So I'll be watching  France v South Africa  as for the second set of matches, here's hoping the footie is worth splitting ourselves in two for.

No comments: