Are you not entertained? Or can we put global football back into its box for four years, and return to watching the proper game between elite club teams, and those who want to lay them low?
“Tout le monde a la bataille” (“Everyone in the fight”) was the famous instruction of Marshall Foch before the last great offensive of the First World War and, for a brief shining moment, World Cup 2010 seemed poised to deliver.
Six African nations were there, as well as South and North Korea. Oceania was represented by the Australians and, a surprising pleasure, the unbeaten New Zealanders. Japan, too, illustrated their steady progress which included providing one of the very best referees in Yuichi Nishimura.
Then there were the imperial powers of Latin America and Europe. Within two days Dunga and Maradona’s teams went from overwhelming favourites to nowhere men, leaving the route open for Old World domination of a competition which must be given a fair to — at best — middling rating.
Superior than 2006 and 2002. Not fit to lace the boots of 1982 and 1970.
Some valedictory thoughts:
Has Psycho lost his mojo?
ONCE Stuart Pearce was the terror of football, striding into opposition dressing rooms with his ghetto-blaster delivering high-decibel Clash and Sex Pistol tracks before crunching into all and sundry on the field. The public dressing-down of a passive former icon by a mad Italian in the dire draw against Algeria was another humiliation for supporters of the Three Lions.
Quiet flows the Don
THE 20th century British poet Hilaire Belloc described the propensity of the English to “keep a-hold of Nurse, for fear of finding something worse.” No reputation has gone down the tubes more quickly than that of Fabio Capello. He is very, very lucky to keep his job.
4-4-2 Redux . . . and out
NO leading club teams play this predictable formation. It has disappeared along with flare trousers, mullet hairstyles and vinyl. Those international sides who thought it would work the trick in South Africa have gone the way of dusty death. And deservedly so.
The year of the cephalopod
IN the absence of global superstars (Ronaldo, Kaka, Messi and Rooney) we had to rely on the Weymouth-born inhabitant of a fish-tank in the Ruhr. Punters who followed the predictions of Paul the Octopus made 20 times their original stake. His reward: a potential €38,000 transfer to Galicia. Meanwhile the Argentineans have threatened to turn him into a paella.
Tiki-taka needs Route One sometimes
EXPECT months of overblown prose in favour of the staccato rhythms of the football of Spain. But arguably the most important goal of the World Cup was the pulverising header from a corner by the rampaging centre-half Carles Puyol against Germany. Sometimes, direct is best.
Jabulani, vuvuzelas, empty grounds
THE three great plagues of summer. Why do we need a new ball for every World Cup (yes, I know the answer, it’s marketing). As for the vuvuzelas, the deadening white noise of June and July, 2010 should be consigned to the dustbin of history. Football is as much a competition between the supporters as the players. But the saddest sight was the empty rows of seats created by no-show corporates while locals languished outside, priced out in their own land.
Dutchmen flying in
NO one who remembers Frank Rijkaard’s achievements in the field of expectoration will be shocked that the Dutch have a dark side. And they’re bad losers. But the amount of humbug created by their tactics in the final is particularly rich. And generated by nostalgia for Johan Cruyff, Jonny Rep, Rudi Krol, Johann Neeskens, and Rob Rensenbrink. They played like Blackburn Rovers or Stoke on steroids. Given their dress rehearsal against Brazil, was anyone really surprised?
The world view of studio pundits
NOTHING was more patronising than the sight of Alan Shearer, Lee Dixon, Gareth Southgate and Andy Townsend stroking their chins and murmuring hushed platitudes on the evils of apartheid, life in the townships, and the social significance of the shebeen. Next week, Lineker and Hansen discuss the historical context of The Great Hunger.
THIS was the first World Cup to be “tweeted”. And it brought us the depth of insight and value added for which this medium is rapidly becoming notorious . . . “OMG#Madiba makes an appearance. Stadium is stunned and the tears flow. WOW that was so special.”
IF 32 mini-skirted Dutch lovelies want to turn up at my flat in Cork to promote a brand of beer then I’m game. Nil prospect of them being arrested either, as some of them were in the most heavy-handed piece of police work of 2010.
Return of the Lino
IN recent years the reputation of Referee’s Assistants has fallen further than the GDP of Greece. Step forward Darren Cann, the former lower leagues footballer whose eye for offside is as finely tuned as it gets . Outstanding.
That’s it until Brazil 2014. I have managed to get through six weeks without once watching James Corden.
Now that’s what I call a result.