World Cup Soapbox: keep your head up, Big John Mensah


John Mensah may have adopted the Mickey Gray approach to penalty taking – I draw the line at saying the “Jeff Whitley approach” – but he played his full, lion-hearted part in a thrilling game, and a team display that will have had most of the world saddened by a cruel defeat. Pete Sixsmith concurs …

What a game between Uruguay and Ghana. I thought it had everything – pace, skill, vision and the most incredible finish I think I have ever seen in a game of such importance.

Let’s spare several thoughts for the Magnificent Mensah. He had a stormer of a game at the back, forcing the always impressive Diego Forlan wide and deep at times.

Clive Tyldseley said that he was not training with the Ghana team, but was working out on his own with his personal physio, but he has managed to get through two extra time games in five days, so the flesh is willing, even if it does have to be dragged off the treatment table on a fairly regular basis.

His penalty was awful, but he had the mental strength to go up there and take it, setting an example to his younger team mates. He will be inconsolable and it will seem like the world has collapsed for him. But I hope that he comes back even stronger. I so want him back at the Stadium next season. If it is a choice between him and Matthew Upson………..

Poor Gyan. He had a tremendous game and showed his mental strength by taking Ghana’s first penalty in the shoot out. But for the rest of his career, he will be haunted by that miss in the 120th minute. He deserved better for a performance which saw him run, chase, harry, defend and cause a strong Uruguayan defence all kinds of problems.

It’s interesting how many Ghanaians have ended up in France. The scouting systems in England aren’t very good at picking up Anglophone Africans; we have to wait for them to play in Europe and then pay large amounts of money to bring them into the Premier League.

I thought the referee had a very sound game as did the one in the Netherlands v Brazil game. No “bad” decisions, and liberal use of “common sense”. Both must have a chance of the final. I can’t support Howard Webb’s cause after he gave that absurd pen at Sports Direct Sells Lots Of Tat @St James’ Park – the one where Steven Taylor fell over Steed’s leg. Not that I’m bitter…….

So, two predictions wrong and I am hoping that Paulo and Cristiano prove me wrong tomorrow. Da Silva is up against David Villa, a far better player than those he played against last season. It should be another fascinating game.

Viva Paraguay!!!

5 thoughts on “World Cup Soapbox: keep your head up, Big John Mensah”

  1. Yes Bill, it may have been the professional thing to do. At the same time if these are his comments which have been quoted then he is a cocky littleupstart whose team deserve to get a drubbing in the semis as justice. I couldn’t agree more with your last couple of sentences. If you’ve stolen something is such extravagant and spectacular fashion then at least show some humility about it.

  2. You have to feel deeply sorry for Mensah and for Gyan. I thought giving him the first penalty to take in the shootout may well have saved his sanity. You have to feel sorry for the whole Ghanaian team, who more than confirmed the promise they showed in their game against the U.S.A. On this form they COULD have gone all the way, had they not been robbed by Suarez. Yes, I know he did what he had to do. Yes, I know it was the ultimate professional foul. But this will always be the game that Uruguay stole. Up until yesterday, I was a fan of the team. Now I’m hoping for the pleasure Tuesday of watching the Dutch kick them off the park.

  3. A view from afar….halfway through a week in porto and all was going just grand. Nice hotel with crispy bacon by the ton for breakfast, work email (and sadly blackcats) switched off but keeping in touch with all things mackem with a juiced up blackberry and twitter and salut for company. The it all imploded yesterday. Whilst contemplating at half time how to spend my £100 sweep money on brazil winning the world cup, they came over all sunderland and hit the self-destruct button. 45 minutes later and with alex rae type red cards later they were out and txts reigned in from delighted work colleagues enjoying my suffering. Robben for all his class is a flimsy as heskey and no wonder he scarpered from the rigours of the premiership long ago. But fair play holland deserved it. So after a light snack we wandered into espinho centre to watch the ghana game in the big screen in the town square; a capacity crowded of around eight locals joined us….they seems to have lost interest after porrtugal were dumped out as the square help a couple of thousand for their game the other night. Forlan really is the player of the WC. He’s performed in every game with no latin american attitude gratis and has been a joy to watch. Souzza (?) However should fed to some nearby african lions for his post match comments that he now owns the Hand of God, although Gyan’s waddlesque pelanty just left you knowing what wouls probably happen. Mensah’s mackem penalty was everything we dreaded. Did their huddles include watching our penalties against charlton? Big John wa captain and would never shirk his responsibilities, butb it was the strike of a man who was merely doing his duty rather than burying the latinos. So ghana went out; a wretched fotballing day for me on what was regarded as the best day of the world cup so far. We trudged back to the hotel, consoling myself with the facts that Al Mohammedi had signed and Angeleri was in the bag; are these going to be new heroes to let me down next season? This is why we love football; the anticipation, excitement, uncertainty, the elation and ultimately the disappointment. Still, the buffet breakfast never let’s me down no matter how many times I try it…..Rob with sore thumbs via blackberry in porto

  4. Wholeheartedly agree with everything that’s already been said. I thought that Big John was simply tremendous. A Rolls Royce of a defender is John, even if he did make a mess of the penalty.

    What always puzzles me with misses such as that one, is what exactly was he thinking of taking such a pace and a half and hitting the ball like that? Was he expecting the goalkeeper to take pity on him because he isn’t used to shooting, and let the ball in? It really is bizarre and whilst any comparison between Big John and Jeff Whitley should be limited to the fact that they have both worn boots with studs in the soles, John’s penalty does make Micky Gray’s classic look as if Rivelino had hit it, and any recollections of the Whimeister’s effort can easily be forgiven.

    It was a tremendous game of football which is of tinged with the regret that the cheats . I prospered with the handball. Some serious injustices have been done in this competition, as a result of abject officials failing to the simple things right in many cases. If ever there was a justification for the award of a “penatly goal” it was in this game where such a clear cut offence at a crucial time allowed a blatant cheat to come out on top. I had Uruguay down for the win, not because I wanted them to put Ghana out. I just thought that they would prove stronger on the day. Uruguay used to have a reputation for being over physical, but their indelible mark on the competition now will be that of fraudsters who robbed the Ghanain lads of a well deserved place in the semi final and maybe more. The Uruguayans robbed not only Ghana, but the continent of Africa and the whole world of a happy ending to Ghana’s World Cup fairytale. They had the audacity to request Howard Webb be removed from officiating in this fixture. Assuming that Mr Webb despite all his faults would have his reputation impuned by seeking revenge for their countryman’s cock up says so much more about Uruguayans than it ever could about any English referee. It makes me wonder even more about Senor Larrionda.

  5. It would be great to see a fit to play Mensah perform regularly in a Sunderland shirt next season. Da Silva too has impressed in this tournament whereas Upson? The question marks loom large in my house, though he did score!

    The abject performances throughout the England team put Green’s blunder in the first game into perspective. England never deserved to win because the team wasn’t up to it and what followed the USA game has taken the pressure of him.

    But Ghana would have been good for their win and the last kick of extra time could have brought it. A team game suddenly came down to an individual and a couple of inches means he will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

    I’m afraid to say Big John never looked liked scoring with that one step “walk up”. Now if he’d been allowed to head it!

    Haway el muchachos!

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