So we are now half way through the World Cup with the completion of the group stages. The only real conclusion we can get thus far is that no one is unbeatable and nothing can be taken for granted. The finalists from last time have been knocked out, the Italians probably a little long in the tooth now and the French imploded. I wished that the French would have a stinker in my previous blog and they certainly didn’t disappoint! Dreadful on the pitch and even worse off it. Football is such an important game that the French President is chairing an inquiry as to why they were so crap. They shouldn’t have been there in the first place and were a disgrace from start to finish. All the leading teams have had their troubles though, some well fancied sides only scraping through and it is only really Argentina who haven’t had a bad game so far. They are a talented squad of players with a poor coach and are suspect in defence. I’ll attempt to put the curse of Yak!Yak!Yak! on them and now hope that they have a stinker in the knock out stage. Other observations include that the Africans are not quite as advanced in football terms as they had thought despite a number of quality individuals. I’m sure their time will come though. Also, the World cup has shown that ITV are a nonsense broadcaster once again, their HD channel missing goals, the commentators have had their brains removed and replaced by turds and that Adrian Chiles is not worth his pay.
One of the fancied teams that have scraped through was England. They have had their problems pre-tournament – a change of Captain as the then incumbent was caught shagging the missus of one of his squad. His replacement was then injured and was replaced by a player who had got off on an assault charge in a night club despite video evidence to the contrary. This must have had a destabilising effect on the team and reportedly there were factions in the dressing room. Other injuries to key players have resulted in England looking jaded and short of match practice and their first two games were poor, the Algerian match particularly woeful when to a man they had lost the control and confidence to play properly. The key player, Wayne Rooney, reacted angrily to being booed by England fans at the end of the game questioning their support for the team. I’ve never taken England fans to my heart before but I think it is fair to say that they have the finest set of fans in South Africa currently, frequently out-singing the dirge of vuvuzelas and providing the team every encouragement on the pitch. It is only after the final whistle that they let the team know in no uncertain terms how poor they had been. One of the best comments I’ve seen on the internet went along the lines of “next time I want to see three lions on the shirt of some of them is on the Masai Mara!” To the credit of the coach and players England had turned around the sorry situation for the third match against Slovenia, a reasonable side but hardly a football power. They started with the same nerves as the previous two matches but they at least had the passion back (football passion that is, not the sort that JT saves for his mates’ girlfriends) and from that they stopped worrying and put together a good performance and could have scored more than the one goal aside for some quality saves from the Slovenian keeper. The defence could not be faulted, the wingers had a good game and the strikers weren’t too bad. Still problems in the middle of the field but I expect them to beat Germany in the next round.
Ah, the Germans. One of the oldest rivals on the field. The real problem however is the attitude of the English press to them. Nothing stirs up Her Majesty’s Fourth Estate than a good bit of German bashing. The Daily Star came out with it first following the Slovenia match – “Job Done, Now For The Hun” and of course the inevitable WW2 language comes to the fore once again. All pretty tiresome really.
Just before the start of the Slovenia match, fans were looking for the aforementioned passion in the singing of the National Anthem. England traditionally sing “God Save The Queen” prior to any international fixtures and this week an MP questioned whether England should have their own anthem as opposed to the National Anthem of the United Kingdom report here To be honest, as someone with more than a hint of Scot in me it irks me that England sing the anthem that covers all the nations of the UK. Whilst the actual tune is a bit of a dirge it does arouse passion. I like Billy Connolly’s take on the anthem – “I have no problem with the words, the Queen should be saved and if that is the case God is the very fellow to do it! The tune though needs a change…” His suggestion is the theme from the Archers. I quite like Soul Bossa Nova by Quincey Jones (Austin Powers theme) – I’d love to see what you think could be a viable alternative or whether you think England should keep on with the Union anthem, with the bit about crushing rebellious Scots and all. Not that “Flower Of Scotland” is much better though, another dirge that refers to conflicts of long ago. I’d still prefer the more upbeat “Scotland The Brave” as used in previous Commonwealth Games but now following a vote by the squad “Flower of Scotland” will be heard there too. England will have “Land Of Hope And Glory” – but should this be for the footballers too?