So, the 2010 World Cup has finally come to end, having probably overstayed its welcome by a week or so. Like most of the recent tournaments, South Africa 2010 was subject to the law of diminishing returns the longer it went on. At one point it looked as though it was going to be a South American festival but in the end it turned into an attritional European grind with only Uruguay threatening to spoil the predictability of it all.
Last night’s Final was truly awful and you have to applaud Spain’s success because they at least tried to play football. There was always a suspicion that Hollland were punching above their weight and so it proved last night. Their over-physical tactics amounted to nothing more than a collective acceptance that they couldn’t outplay the Spanish, so they tried to out-muscle them instead. Whatever the case, it was – as World Cup Finals so often are – a hugely anticlimactic event at the end of a distinctly average tournament. Too many ‘star’ players – Messi, Rooney, Ronaldo, to name but three – failed to spark, there were few, if any ‘classic’ encounters and Pele’s ancient prediction about an African side winning the tournament looks as far away as ever.
Of course, I missed a good deal of the ’round of 16′ games due to being away in France and didn’t see anything of the Uruguay/Ghana game that apparently provided much in the way of drama, so maybe I should temper my criticism a little. As a United fan, I was glad that Diego Forlan won the Golden Ball award as the tournament’s outstanding player. I think he deserved it if only because of his talent for lifting an average team to new levels. Uruguay were the one team that sneaked under the radar of every single pundit.
Diego Forlán -still a big favourite on Merseyside
As for the media coverage, the UK channels radiated calm compared to the French TV coverage, which looked like a Buggles video from the early ’80’s. Unfortunately, the BBC smugfest of Lineker, Hansen and Shearer were as irritating as ever and it was much the same on ITV with Southgate and Townsend. Adrian Chiles emerged with some credit for at least trying to make it all a bit less pompous and visiting pundits like Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Vieira were usually worth listening to.
One thing I won’t miss are the ongoing series of patronising BBC mini-features on South African society, not to mention that stupid double-decker bus that they sent meandering off round the country like some kind of ‘Blue Peter’ roadshow. “Oooh look, ” squealed the Beeb presenters, “they’ve only had electricity in this Township for 7 hours and they’ve already got a 79-inch widescreen TV to watch the game on and three George Foreman grills to knock up a half-time burger!” The hidden subtext here was that if they played their cards right and washed behind their ears every day, they could one day aspire to be just like us…and isn’t that marvellous. I look forward to similarly patronising nonsense from Brazil in 2014. With luck, someone will let the tyres down on that wretched bus….
I’d like to say that I’ll also be happy to wave a not-so-fond farewell to the loathsome braying of the vuvuzelas….. However, yesterday afternoon my mate Adrian and I travelled down to rural Worcestershire (near Clevelode) to visit his mate Roger who spends his winters in Goa fixing and renting out motorbikes and the summers in Worcestershire building a 50 foot narrowboat…in a field. It’s supposed to be his retirement project, but Roger strikes me as a restless soul, so we’ll see about that. Eventually, they’ll no doubt crane it out of the field it’s in and truck it down to the nearby River Severn, but for now it’s seriously high and dry. The boat is sufficiently far along that Roger is now living on board; currently he’s putting in insulation.
Our visit drew some interest from the local farmer’s kids (Roger rents a patch of land from him) and sure enough the older of the two boys had a vuvuzela in German colours, which he parped intermittently throughout our stay. We can only hope it’s one of those passing fads like drinking your own urine or platform shoes.
Back to more serious affairs now as United have this morning flown out to the USA for their pre-season tour. The omens are not looking promising for us signing the midfield playmaker that we badly need now that Carrick’s career seems to have imploded. Ferguson mutters about there being ‘no value in the transfer market’ but try telling that to moneybags City. Whatever the situation, I feel that we have to sign a couple more players this summer or risk getting left behind and going the way of the Scousers. City fans, having nothing else to celebrate, are just revelling in our discomfiture.