So, seconds away, round two … anything – even boxing metaphors – to make the World Cup seem exciting. An event to remember? Certainly not so far, except for the plucky displays put up by unfancied sides against the more favoured.
Pete Sixsmithlooks back on a subdued (translation: dull as dishwater) first round …
Well, that’s it, the first round is over and I have seen every team – and so far I have not seen an exciting, end to end game with lots of goals and action and things like that.
I thought today’s games were a wee bit better than some of the dross that has passed by me in a haze. Chile looked useful and, even though Honduras were struggling, it was a game where both sides attacked.
Spain were shown to have feet of clay as they failed to break down a well organised Switzerland. Some good players on the Swiss side, performing their roles very, very well.
Tonight, Uruguay and Diego Forlan in particular were impressive. South Africa were another disappointment and I would be surprised if they now made it through the group.
But hasn’t the tournament been, well, rather dull, so far?
Faced with the prospect of watching Chile v Honduras or doing a maths programme, two of my Year 10s opted for maths.
Even the class bookie, who has us predicting the number of corners, bookings, goals in each half etc, was wilting this afternoon – although not enough to volunteer to do some work.
I think that one of the problems is that the sides are quite evenly matched. There is no Derby County or Darlington in the tournament, a team so bad that they are incapable of winning and perfectly capable of letting in a bagful of goals. The poorest side I have seen is Australia, a team loaded with Premier League players of a certain vintage.
Not only were Australia poor, they were nasty. Tim Cahill may have been a tad unfortunate to collect a red, but I think that the referee was sick and tired of the constant fouls and niggles, particularly from Lucas Neill, and just decided he had had enough “so I will send off the next Aussie who fouls. Bye, bye Tim”.
Crowds have held up well. If we get the bloody thing in 2018, will the Stadium Of Light be packed to the rafters for Slovakia v Algeria with a kick off time of 1.30pm? No. it won’t. Will there be a rush for tickets at £50 each for New Zealand v El Salvador. Don’t think so. Will Robbie Earle have to buy tickets like the rest of us? Think he might.
As for the burning topic of the day, ie what to do with the vuvuezela? It reminds me of a story told by a Liverpool fan in those distant days when Liverpool fans a) came from Liverpool and b) amused us with their native Scouse wit.
He said he had been watching the Cup Final and every so often there was a strange, high pitched whining sound in the background. It appeared every few minutes. He was just about to call Radio Rentals out (that dates the gag), when he realised it was just Alan Ball giving his views on the game.
Of “Our Lads” out there, I thought Da Silva had a very good game against Italy, tracking the opposition and missing very few tackles. Riveros seemed to be following his coach’s orders and played deep, although he put a shocking tackle in on an opponent in the first minute.
Big John Mensah was his usual immense self for Ghana. He stayed in the middle of the back four and hardly moved, like a huge rock on which Serbia’s attacks were dashed. No silly running around here, which is what we expect in our league. Sign him on, Brucey. He’s the best centre half we have had since Dave Watson.
I’m looking forward to Round 2 in the hope that it may get a little livelier and here are some predictions: England to draw 1-1 with Algeria; Paraguay to beat New Zealand 3-0 and France to scrape through.
For those in the commentary box: Mark Lawrenson to be beaten over the head with a vuvuezela (he really dislikes them – such a miserable sod), Chris Coleman to say something which can be heard over the drone of a fly, never mind 30,000 plastic trumpets and Andy Townsend to make an observation that is just a little less than obvious – although I won’t hold my breath for that.