Ah, yes, the beautiful game

July 01, 2010 - -, South Africa - epa02231710 (FILE) A composit file picture shows (clockwise from top L) Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, England's Wayne Rooney, France's Franck Ribery and Italy's Fabio Cannavaro reacting during the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Ronaldo, Rooney, Cannavaro and Ribery could not fulfill their nation's dreams and dropped out of the FIFA 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa before reaching it's final stage with the quarter finals to be played on 02 and 03 July 2010.
DISAPPOINTING World Cups all round.

Barely a week after the last England flag had been thrown away the tournament still struggles for any sign of greatness with a skill level barely above the mediocre and very few exciting games. So far the abiding memories of the tournament remain some spectacular examples of the prima donna nature of the modern day footballer, iffy refereeing and a fly away ball that no one can truly control & is possibly the reason most of the worlds most skilful players have been made to look decidedly average.

Even those learned studio panels have long since stopped trying to talk up the football on display and the only real bright spot has been the African people themselves. O.k we have had to put up with the noise from those fucking horns and only Ghana qualified out of the group stages but the enthusiasm and pride of an entire nation in being able to stage this successfully has somehow managed to supersede the event itself. The selection remains an inspired choice both in terms of the stadia and it’s other attractions – providing you can overcome the transport logistics, given the distances involved over there. The thought, however, of people living in squalor within earshot of those vuvuzelas does not sit easily with me and I would like to think that the spin-off in financial gain from the event itself and the potential for tourism would facilitate an improvement in the standard of living across the board but I fear I will be disappointed.

Dejecte England players at full-time following the Round of 16 match at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa on June 27, 2010. UPI/Chris Brunskill Photo via Newscom

Not half as disappointed though as the thousands who went out there to support England? The only surprise to me was that they were surprised that “we” got knocked out early again. When will they ever learn? Yet again we have all the hype, hysteria and bollocks about being winners etc before the tournament and yet again the media had a field day from the second it started. England are either world beaters or they are shit, there is no middle ground. Everything is rotten to the core again from top to bottom and all of a sudden, the managerial qualities that were applauded in the appointment of Capello are seen as weaknesses. His inflexibility in changing tactics and formations along with his disciplinarian ways are now being used as examples to undermine him.

We had the charade with the John Terry press conference which was like something out of Mike Bassett but the way he was subsequently hung out to dry by his manager and then worst still, his team mates, was bizarre. Say what you like about the lad, but at least he had the bottle to front the alleged problems and talk about them to the world’s media. Potentially undermining the whole camp though, it is hard to say if he did indeed do it off his own bat, despite what “Lamps” later implied, but the two faced nature of his audience meant only personal vilification and I am sure he takes a different perspective of the international set up now. Club football apart, this has been a difficult year for the former England captain and I don’t think we have heard the last of this subject with all of the established players now, apparently, no longer good enough.

Wayne Rooney learnt how ungracious the demands are with his off the cuff remark leading to him too having to eat humble pie and apologise unreservedly. As I have said before, Ingerlund fans get the team they deserve and I have no time for them at all. One minute the lad is being called the “white Pele” and the next he is booed off the pitch. Real supporters, eh? Struggling for match fitness and sharpness, United’s fans will have looked on with dismay as his game fell apart and will have the same worries about him, psychologically, going into the new season that we do for our star striker.

England's Jamie Carragher looks on dejected..FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16..Germany v England..27th June, 2010.
CARRA: “Why did I do this?”

Conversely, Carra learnt that the old adage about never going back still applies. We were told that he was the star of quiz time in the players lounge out there due to his knowledge of football so you would never figure out how such a bright lad would want to get involved with this shambles again and leave himself open to the predictable mudslinging when it all ended in tears. I had a feeling he was to be the potential fall guy if things went wrong and but for suspension, that may well have been the case. Like Beckham, Neville, Waddle and Southgate before him, then, Upson will probably now be a prime target among those to bear the abuse as a result of the stigma of a failed world cup campaign at grounds up and down the country next season.

England were not the only team to be humbled out of the competition, of course. Holders Italy looked a shadow of their former selves and the French farce almost defied belief. I thought Domenech had well gone but was surprised to see him still embattled and in place but unlike the England manager’s job, it seems no-one wanted to emulate him up until now and no wonder. They should rename them “ Egos R Us” instead of Les Bleus. Predictably and obviously it was Anelka who precipitated the whole mess by abusing the manger & being sent home but even stranger than this happening mid- tournament, were the comments from Evra that the real traitor was the whistle blower to the media and the subsequent leading of the players strike by the captain himself. All of which would have been little consolation to the Irish who were robbed of participation in the first place. Nevertheless the petulance shown in throwing away that dubious qualification was scandalous. If any country should remove it’s players from the international scene for two years, then it should surely be these moody, posturing prima donnas and not Cameroon.

Back in good old blighty, Capello has apparently survived the clamour for his removal and unusually now it looks like England have the same requirements as the top premiership clubs i.e. the clamour for young English talent. England in order to plan for the 2014 world cup and the clubs to take in this 6 + 5 bollocks that is about to be enforced. Quite where all this talent is coming from is beyond me as I am struggling to put forward any names at all other than perhaps Johnson at City and Rodwell at Everton.
But wait there may be a cunning plan in place here.

Given U.E.F.A are always looking for ways to destabilise the rich English teams and seeing how Blatter has lead the way in removing the skill & levelling out the international game, will Platini now introduce the world cup ball to achieve the same effect in club football?



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