The Ferdinand-Henry axis has worked surprisingly well for the Beeb, Rio reining in the bantz and Henry just about keeping a lid on the self-regard to provide some sound, restrained insights.
The pair have worked best when flanking the smooth Seedorf rather than the shouty Shearer. There have been a couple of intriguing internal battles too, some more one-sided than others. Robbie Savage hasn’t been the same since an early Henry dismissal after Savage tried to coach Honduras to deal with France like he did Arsenal. “We used to go out, be strong, physical, we were like wasps around them... not giving them a minute to settle. You hate playing against that kind of team, don’t you Thierry?”
“We managed,” shrugged Thierry and that was that.
In Montrose, the simmering needle between Kenny Cunningham and Eamon Dunphy seems certain to boil over before the month is out. You suspect the need to oppose Dunphy in every argument has taken Kenny up some avenues he’d rather not have travelled, including talking up England as the team he’d most like to play for and manage. We didn’t see how high Kenny’s eyebrows arched when Eamo delivered the most brazen line of the week. “There’s an awful lot of idiotic pundits who don’t do their homework and don’t look at the players.”
That came just minutes after Eamo informed us that last summer’s Confederations Cup “included Iran, Romania, all kinds of nations”. Consider the petard hoisted.
“There’s pressure on Aguero as well, being Maradona’s nephew.”
Stephen Alkin should probably have informed Maradona’s daughter, who married Sergio.
“And in the other dugout, the Croatia manager looks like he’s just stepped off a catwalk model.”
Malky Mackay on Niko Kovac’s good life.
“100% is not enough.”
Liam Brady asks a lot.
“Ronaldo, calm as a cucumber.”
Didi Hamann’s mixed veg.
Trevor Steven manned Dictionary Corner:
“He’s got a bit of a red fuse on him.”
Lee Dixon short-circuited Alex Song.
“You sow what you reap.”
Billo’s innovative approach to agriculture.
By a distance, RTE’s standout operator of the group phase has been Brian Kerr(pictured, right); telling us how a full-back struggled in the Asian qualifiers one minute, reminding us the Dublin City Cup was once decided on corners the next. Under-appreciated by some — including RTÉ, judging by his graveyard shifts — Kerr’s mix of diligent research and relaxed colloquialisms is gradually marking him out as Dublin’s answer to Big Ron. Some Kerrlingo...
A solid challenge: “He just milled him ourrav it.”
The rigid Russian approach: “Lego football; slow build, everyone has their place and don’t move out of it until you’re told.”
An aerial clash: “He got a bang on the snot.”
Cameroon indiscipline: “That puts the tin hat on it altogether.”
Few enough red cards so far, but the tackles have been flying in off the field...
Dunphy on Yaya Toure’s birthday demands: “He likes cake but you’d need to put pound notes in it.”
Lawro: They’ve said to Fred: ‘warm up, you’re coming off’.”
Dunphy again: “The best teams are desperate for defenders. That’s why you have lunatics like Pepe.”
Eamo on Roy Hodgson: “The character and personality of this guy is a junior civil servant. Looking at the Uruguayan guy, he’s been down some back alleys.”
Gilesy’s Lonely Planet: “In the back hole of Argentina, where it’s rough and tough...”
Gilesy again: “In every great player, there’s a bit of animal.” Billo: “Like yourself...”
And you’re never quite sure whether Rio Ferdinand is handing out plaudits or not:
“You can smell the likes of Pele have been here.”
Big tournaments, hard lessons. Liam Brady: “Sometime goals can make the difference.”
Danny Mills was prepared to go even further: “You’ve got to be able to score goals to win games.”