After all the gloom about the dearth of exciting, high quality football, could it be that things are looking up at the World Cup?
The end of the second round of games has seen a marked improvement in the tournament, although, sadly, the same can not be said of the refereeing.
Kaka’s sending off was harsh. You could argue that he lifted his elbow, but the response of Keita was disappointing and I am not sure that the referee actually saw it.
Kaka is a good Christian boy and would have told the truth, just as Fabiano did when he assured M Lannoy, a purveyor of video games, that he had not handled it in the build up to the second goal.
Interesting concept, asking players if they have done anything wrong: “Er, excuse me, Lorik, but did you go right through that poor, defenceless, Arsenal player, for if you did I will surely have to send you to the changing rooms?” No, can’t really see it.
I quite enjoyed the Brazil game but it was spoilt by the constant moaning of the BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson, who managed to find something wrong with absolutely everything.
Lawrenson is a miserable bugger. He is the same on 5Live, always twisting on and doing his Grumpy Old Men audition for all to hear. Yet here is a man who has a wonderful job, sent to South Africa to watch football and pass the odd enlightening comment on the games he watches.
Last night, we got his usual complaint about the vuvuzelas, a grump about the Mexican Wave that went round the stadium leading to a sophisticated exchange between him and the commentator Jonathan Pearce (“Muppets” and “Scrooge”) and a dismissive comment about Brazilian goalkeepers (“jokers”). At no time did he sound as if he were actually enjoying himself.
I have a (very) fleeting acquaintance with Lawrenson. I once sat in front of him at cricket at Chester-le-Street and he was absolutely charming, talking knowledgeably about the 1998 World Cup and happy to chat all afternoon. I have also held his mother-in-law’s legs up against the wall as she did a hand stand in a restaurant in Birkdale, but that’s another story.
If he is really unhappy, he could swap jobs with any of us poor viewers who would be absolutely delighted to sit high in the stand and watch football all day long.
Yet the BBC has shownit has strength in depth on its World Cup panel.
Good managers like Hodgson and McCarthy, who know a bit about the game, have been very good and Lineker holds them together seamlessly. Meanwhile, Adrian Chiles is having to work his Baggie socks off with the likes of Townsend, Davids and Keegan. The latter looks so world weary that I keep wanting to text him the number of the Samaritans (don’t knock it: they come in very useful after a display like the one at Craven Cottage last season!!).
So, last chance saloon for a number of teams. The goings on at The Royal Bafokeng Complex yesterday indicate to me that John Terry is a stirrer of the highest order and that he, and Stevie G, Lamps, Wozzer and the rest of them are covering their backs and are preparing to blame the manager if things go wrong on Wednesday. Lovely people, eh.
Predictions for the 2nd Round:
Group A; Uruguay and Mexico
Group B; Argentina and Republic of Korea
Group C; England and USA
Group D; Germany and Ghana
Group E; Holland and Denmark
Group F; Paraguay and Italy
Group G; Brazil and Portugal
Group H; Chile and Spain
I have been known to be wrong …