Saturday, July 10, 2010
So, with Germany having just beaten Uruguay in an entertaining 3rd place game, we are down to the last two. I don't normally like to run with the crowd, but as far as this world cup goes, I am with the crowd………it has been mediocre. There has been no outstanding player, no one who has you on the edge of your seat with anticipation; no Pele, or Cruyff, or Kempes or Maradona and there has been no outstanding team. Germany have played with some vibrancy and Spains ability to pick teams apart with the utmost delicacy is a delight, but, as with individual players, we have not seen masters at work, but, you know, it's been alright. Any football through the long, long summer is better than no football.
As the World Cup enters its final game on Sunday, be sure to admire the poetic and sometimes melancholic Total Football of the Netherlands and Spain—and compare it to the prosaic, rather efficient style of Germany in Saturday's third-place match
There is a certain puritanism about Spain's approach, a kind of "talibanismo de tiki-taka" -- as if scoring a goal from distance is a bit crass, as if bundling one in or scoring from a corner is rather grubby, as if hitting a team on the break or with a long ball is vulgar
This is a brilliant article on Englishness.
Monday, July 05, 2010
Watching Argentina the other night was difficult and I felt a bit like a voyeur. Germany murdered ‘em. It was sad to see players as talented as Argentina first look baffled and bewildered, and then lose all hope. It was heartbreaking to observe Maradonas increasing despair as the game reached its conclusion. Maradona will probab;y be gone now, which is a shame, because he provides genuine entertainment on the touchline, and his press conferences are legendary.
So that was Argentina and Brazil both gone, both of them with a whimper and Brazil bid goodbye to their manager. Some very good, or at least well though of teams have now left earlier than expected, which I hope puts Englands performance into some perspective. 32 of the worlds best teams started in South Africa and it was inevitable that well fancied teams would go out. Someone has to lose, sometimes (often, in fact) it will be your team that loses, so be it. It’s not just England, but, it seems every other nation that overreacts to sporting disappointment; I’m not sure if that makes me happy or not.
For once, the FA have behaved reasonably, in not sacking Capello, which would have represented the most violent of knee jerks. I maintain that given the respective records of the manager and the players, you have to conclude that it is the players that failed, not the manager. This leaves us with a huge problem. There has been loads written and said about Englands failings over the last week, but the harshest condemnation of the game lies in the figures for the number of qualified coaches we have in comparison to other countries.
The Observer reported yesterday that England has only 2,769 coaches holding Uefa's B, A and Pro badges, its top qualifications. Spain has produced 23,995, Italy 29,420, Germany 34,970 and France 17,588.
This is shocking, truly shocking. The Lewis report, which someone must have paid for, seems to have been ignored, because of bickering at the disjointed top levels. I manage to keep a calm, rational head when it comes to the teams performance; I am, despite my advanced age, quite naïve, and I firmly believe that every player tries his absolute best in every game, so I can forgive defeat. This structural disgrace though is something else, and is unforgivable. Who holds these chumps to account?
Should I mention the national football centre? Er, no, perhaps not, I might pop a vessel.
Saturday, July 03, 2010
I have to confess that once England go out of a competition, I lose a bit of interest. I continue watching, but the frisson has gone, and unless it is a really, really good game, I remain aloof, dispassionate. Luckily, yesterday was a day of high drama, and the denouement of the Ghana game was almost unbearable to watch.
I am glad Brazil have gone out, not because I have a dislike for Brazil, but because I have a dislike of the commentators undue reverence towards them. Every pass is exquisite, every nonchalant flick is the work of some innately gifted God of football. Towards the end yesterday, I kept hearing stuff like "time for the best team in the world to perform" and "time for the best player (Kaka) in the world to perform". I beg your chuffing pardon, but there is no recent evidence for this kind of horse shit, and I am glad that we will no longer be subject to it. Until Messi turns up this afternoon.
Suarez seems rather pleased with himself, which I find unfortunate. I wouldn't jump on the moral bandwagon which is currently rolling along at great pace, but I would prefer to see him at least pretend to be a bit shame faced. Apparently FIFA are considering extending his ban so that he misses the final, if Uruguay get there; bloody nonsense. They might just as well ban the German goalie. He knew he had cheated against England, and boasted and joked about it afterwards. I wish the buggers played with more of the Corinthian spirit about them, but they don't, and singling out Suarez for harsh treatment would be unjust. The free kick which led to the incident was a bit of a dodgy decision anyway, was it not?
Peter Singer on cheating in football
The two best teams so far meet this afternoon, and I can't wait for it, which probably means it will be a shit game. There will be strife in our house. The Mrs seems to have fallen in love with Maradona. I really don't know what she sees in short fat chaps who struggle to control their appetites! Youngest idolises Messi. I have been banished to the smaller, less comfy settee. It will be noisy. She can be quite excitable. Hopefully, the marriage will survive.
This world cup has been enlivened by the Mrs discovering a previously hidden love of the game. Actually, that's putting it a bit strong, but she has been watching it, and enjoying it. I have been enjoying her enjoying it, because she provides a non stop narrative on the action that she is observing, and asks constant questions. I wish I had been keeping notes. Here is some of the stuff, up with which, I have had to put:
"OOOHHH, THAT'S NOT NICE, HE SHOULD BE SENT OFF FOR THAT!" (After the most innocuous of pushes)
"IS THAT MARADONA, I CAN'T BELIEVE HE IS SO TINY………..AAWW, LOVE HIM" (Every time Maradona appears on screen)
"IS THAT THE SPANISH MANAGER? I LIKE HIS FACE, I'M GOING FOR SPAIN NOW!) (Every time Del Bosque appears on screen)
"IT WOULD BE NICE IF THEY COULD SCORE NOW" (Every time a team goes behind)
"WHY DON'T THE PLAYERS JUST STOP PLAYING WHEN THEY KNOW THEY ARE OFFSIDE, YOU CAN'T EXPECT THE REF TO SEE EVERYTHING"
'I WISH THEY WOULD STOP SPITTING……WHY DO THEY KEEP SPITTING???!!!)
'WHY ARE THERE SO MANY FOULS? THERE WEREN'T SO MANY FOULS IN THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES)
" THEIR BODIES TAKE A RIGHT BATTERING, THEY MUST BE BLACK AND BLUE BY THE TIME THEY HAVE FINISHED; I THOUGHT THEY COULD ONLY USE THEIR FEET"
"WHY ARE THEY ALL GOING TOWARDS THE SAME GOAL" (when a corner has been awarded)
It's been hilarious.