World Cup Watch (3)
By Steve Wade
I'm still on the World Cup couch but I've emptied the fridge of beer and replaced it with ice-cream. When England are under the cosh and I'm a bit distressed, there's nothing quite like a Magnum to soothe the hurt and settle the nerves - its just like being back on the breast again - what could be better?
I have become a bit sceptical about the fashions in technology in recent years, mainly because, having spent decades seeing hi-fi struggle expensively towards some measure of perfection, all was set aside, when MP3 came along, which is anything but. And then cell-phones got gradually smaller (don't mention the Trim-phone) until only children and pixies had fingers small enough to operate the buttons and now they are set to get bigger again, so you can watch Eastenders in wide-screen.
But this Freeview malarky might just change my mind.
The fact is, that you never actually have to stop watching football, you simply press your red button and you get permanent rolling highlights, which means you can see Joe Cole's wonder goal, England's woeful defending at set-pieces and the delights of Argentina's masterful passing-game, while you wait for the next match to start. Yes folks, the Argies are so good it's almost impossible (I stress almost) to find reasons to dislike them. Yeah, what is it we don't like about the Argies - I seem to have forgotten? And Spain, what a player that Torres is (no bull) and linked with the Villa too. What are the chances of Villa, signing the Golden Boot winner in a World Cup? I have never been much of a Raul fan but this lad has this no nonsense approach, which seems more Anglo-Saxon than Latin; and
apparently heading for Villa Park - Wow!
Only pearl-divers need bother holding their breath.
Watching the England game the first time round was not exactly a joy of joys, even though they had already qualified. It was just a case of sitting there in trepidation, waiting for the wheels to come off, which they very nearly did, if it wasn't for the wonder of Joe Cole and the heroics of Gerrard. Cole's individual goal must rank up there with the absolute very best of all time for England, while Gerrard's ability to play in almost every position on the park, looks like the only thing that can bring respectability to England's campaign. Sweden were a bit unlucky and Larsson proved he is still a fantastic player - what he lacks in pace these days, he makes up for with brains and technical ability. I do miss the dreadlocks though.
It seems likely that the best we can hope from England, is that they stumble through games while not quite looking convincing, leaving us all to hope that they might actually get it together, when they meet the outstanding teams of the tournament. Luck it seems, amounts to more than who you find yourself playing in the group stage and possibly more important is the relationship between your group and the others, so you avoid the giants. Germany might have benefited from a pretty soft group but their destiny is to meet Argentina in the quarter-finals (Sweden notwithstanding), which provides an almighty hurdle for the home nation. Now, if they beat the Argies, (with a little help from the gods/refs) they might even go on to win it. England's defensive frailties and the lack of a proper striker, makes it unlikely that they will join them for a historic re-match, forty years on. England would have to beat Brazil to get there, which promises to be a good game, as England have a shoot-on-sight policy, when it comes to Brazilians.
I am not sure about SGE's policy of having numerous family and girlfriend days; it hardly lives up to the ideals of Sparta, does it. But although an environment of screaming kids and bitching females, is hardly likely to induce Zen-like calm in the players, it is probably better than the alternative, of the dentist's chair and mega-bucks gambling schools, of yore. Not to mention the dangers of the honey traps, which the likes of Holland fell into, prior to their losing final against Germany.
Stage-managed of course, you guessed it, by the Germans.
Are footballers' wives, prototypical of all female aspirations? Isn't it exactly what Brigit Jones wanted? How come then, that the papers slag-off football's gold-digging bitch trollops, when they get on the life-long gravy-train but think it romantic when Elizabeth gets Darcy and a big house?
But back on the World Cup couch, it is still pretty good, at least until I am forced to start inventing conspiracy theories, to explain England's exit. Watching the Argies, the Spanish and the Brazilians, is still a fantastic experience for me, and my admiration for some of the lesser teams, is unstinting (until they beat England). There are still amazing things to see, like a huge crowd of Australians, defying the troubles of their homeland where the banana riots continue to rock the nation, and celebrating a crucial goal while not spilling a drop of their beer, that was truly one of the finest examples of sporting skill, I've seen over the entire tournament. The ITV coverage still enrages me with their crap adverts and stupid patronising hubris about England and their rivals, and then there is Adrian Chiles (call that work you lucky bastard) hanging out with Leonardo but when I am just getting a bit pissed-off, Mick McCarthy will have me chuckling with one of his perfect impressions of John Shuttleworth, or Martin O'Neal will speak his wisdom like some aged sage or priest, and I think, 'I wonder if he would like the Villa job?' and everything is just cool again.
As cool as a Cornetto doing a strip-tease.