21st June Argentina 1 Iran 0
A stupendous game of football. It was like two boxers in the twelfth round, still going at each other and showing loads of heart. Love and respect to both teams.”
22nd June Belgium 1 Russia 0
“Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! *Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs….dribble out the corner of my mouth*. If the World Cup’s a raging, fire of delight, Capello is the man with the damp cloth and the fire extinguisher but that’s what we would expect from a team managed by Capello, what’s Belgium’s excuse? Old school, England-esque play. That was horrible.
It’s almost like Fabio Capello is the Mitt Romney of international football. Just as Romney and his other ‘vulture capitalists’ would swoop in on companies in straitened times and extract as much $$$$$ as possible, Capello seems to find his ‘mark’ (a ‘name’ nation with a great love of football but with a leaden international team) and charge them through the nose for business as usual. It’s a win-win-win for him. The ludicrous amount of money is the overarching win for him but if the team does well, it’ll be down to the parachuted-in manager; if they don’t do well then it’ll be down to the country: “What do you expect? They’re a third world football nation now because they have to get some non-native, mercenary in. It was always a losing battle.”. Yes, Capello has a previously great league pedigree but Mitt Romney is a multi-millionaire: that’s what makes the grift the grift, if it is a grift. No doubt that some England fans wish he was back to bluff England through to its regulation quarter-finals penalty defeat but for any top international side there’s making the semi-final or better, and then there’s total failure: that’s it. Obviously, neither Russia nor England are top class international sides but they’ll pay managers the money to suggest that that’s supposed to be in the end result by the end of the contract.
Hats off to Thierry Henry for his BBC analysis on his last day. I hope that the BBC manage to invite him back in the future. I thought that he was always worth listening to, and he was often witty; especially when he swiftly cut Robbie Savage off at the knees: “……We managed…..”.”
22nd June South Korea 2 Algeria 4
“By my drunken calculations, that’s about the hundred-and-eighty-third total humdinger of a game of this World Cup. A palate cleanser of a match that totally got rid of the viscous, bilious after taste, engendered by the Belgium versus Russia, alcoholic hangover of a match. The sides here took the ‘Big Sam’ template but gave it an enjoyable, skilful, entertaining twist. South Korea’s defence in the first half seemed to be comprised of holograms rather than humans; they were all over the shop and might as well have not been on the pitch but they had a Plan B after the break and came within a goal line clearance to really putting Algeria under the cosh. It takes a collective will of iron not to think that you’ve already won when you’re 3-0 up after 37 minutes but any goal conceded after that starts making you brick it in your underpants, yet Algeria kept their heads, toughed it out and scored a very sweet goal by Brahimi.
I really hope that I’m wrong but I’ve got a dreadful feeling that Capello’s Russia is going to scrape through because of some controversial decision like an offside goal that’s given, or an onside goal given as off side or a scandalous sending off or penalty. There’s been so much positivity, on the pitch at least, during this World Cup that some country’s due to have a figurative cartoon-style anvil drop on their heads and I can see poor Algeria being the victims. I very much hope that I’m totally wrong, though and that Capello ‘gets his jotters’ from the Russian Football Association afterwards.”.
23rd June The Netherlands 2 Chile 0
“Meh. The Netherlands ‘Mourinho-ing’ their way to top spot today but at least the mighty Chile are still around to gladden our hearts and minds in their next game.
There really should be some ‘start from scratch’ recognition of the law from corner kicks. Chile were correctly not awarded a penalty, when the Dutch defender’s arm stopped Nigel de Jong scoring an own goal because the defender knew nothing about it as he too busy committing another penalty offence in holding the Chilean in a bear hug and stopping him from getting the ball. Very occasionally – probably out of boredom and done for the craic and the LULZ – you get a referee who awards a penalty for all this nonsense at a corner but it still happens all the damn time. How to stop it? Clearly tell all sides and all leagues that a blind eye will no longer be turned and award penalties when teams think that it’s all bluff. Until then (until never, as nothing will change) I once saw a League One side cram all of its attackers in a tight circle within the ‘D’ when they got a corner; standing so tightly together made it impossible for the defenders to pick up their man. As the corner taker began to run in, they all split up in different, pre-ordained directions. Incredibly difficult to defend against and there’s not enough time for some twunt to safely grab a hold of your plums to stop you jumping to head it in.”
“Absolutely. The Netherlands will hit the deck in the second round or the quarters and United will this time have a boss who’ll have the time to do some preparation for the upcoming season.”.
23rd June Mexico 3 Croatia 1
“Abso-bloody-lutely. I don’t know whether it was budgetary or internal politics at ITV4 but it was obviously a case of the crowd noise and pitch sound being fed into a studio and some commentary being dubbed over the top. The sound from the stadium was at one remove, which wasn’t the case with the highlights of the Cameroon/Brazil game. Another clue was that, at the end of the game, there was vision of the crowd while the commentator kept on talking about tomorrow’s games. Crap stuff from ITV, especially as thee game tomorrow won’t be England’s folly but will be Uruguay versus Italy going toe-to-toe and that’s going to be on ITV4. Sort it out, you’ve been rumbled.”
“Miguel Herrera: What a bloke and even though he was ecstatic, he made sure to go over and shake hands with his opposite number pretty promptly. Really good stuff from Mexico. They play with so much heart; their goalie Guillermo Ochoa must give their defence loads of confidence knowing that he’s behind them; Héctor ‘Serge Gainsbourg’ Herrera is superb; and Javier Hernández is a player who you’d always want in the penalty box. They’ll put the Netherlands to the sword.”
23rd June Feature about England’s last game versus Costa Rica
“Italy and Uruguay duking it out is the only real football game at 4.00pm tomorrow. Don’t bother with this leaden tomfoolery.”
24th June Feature about World Cup talking points
“If ITV4 are going to take the piss and dub in their commentary upon the sound and vision feb into a studio, they need to go the whole way and give it some Lee “Scratch” Perry/King Tubby/Scientist-style reverb, echo and delay. By the way, do a Google search for album covers by Scientist. They’re all brilliant but of special note is his album ‘Scientist Wins The World Cup’ from the early 1980s.”
11.07am (Reply to a question asking for reasons why England should have a native manager)
“A few suggestions.
– Not wanting to paper over the huge cracks with a superstar, parachuted-in boss.
– Not wanting to look like a third world football nation. Would Italy, Spain, Germany hire a non-native manager?
– Playing within the spirit of the international game. Of course, club sides with limitless amounts of money can buy just about anyone they like but international sides can’t do the same for obvious reasons so I’d argue that the same strictures that apply to the team should apply to the organ grinder.
The only reason that it is not against the laws of the game to appoint a non-native international manager is that the law-makers would never have dreamed that any nation would be creatively bankrupt enough to go down that road. It is supposed to be nation against nation. If a team wins the World Cup they should also win the right to strut around and give it the big ‘I am’. Imagine that England won the World Cup under Svennis or Capello (stop laughing). Swedish people and/or Italian people would have claimed the World Cup for themselves too: “Big deal. Without outside help…..etc.”. A tainted victory for a country when it should be a moment of pure glory.”
24th June Feature on Miguel Herrera, the Mexico boss
“People get really annoyed by players and bosses waving imaginary yellows or reds but I always like the theatre of it. It’s all for the audience when they gesticulate like that. If you’re a player and you think that the referee should book someone, you can just say to the referee: “Book him, ref!”. I love the imaginative card waving; it’s playing the crowd and the TV audience like a violin.”
24th June Costa Rica 0 England 0
“If Costa Rica want to continue their progress in international football they really need to learn to put the little teams away.”
“That could have been the thinnest commentary I’ve ever heard from Clive Tyldesley. Mentioning that England’s 1958 World Cup of three draws and one loss took place over the course of nine days so England have lasted longer in this one. Even if it was probably tongue in cheek, the poor bloke was scraping around for something, anything to say. He was very funny, though, when he mentioned the Luis Suárez bite: “It’s live, now, on ITV4….bye!”.”
24th June Uruguay 1 Italy 0
“Devon Irons: ‘Vampire’ & The Upsetters’ ‘Vamp A Dub’:
“Lee “Scratch” Perry: ‘I Am A Madman’:
24th June Greece 2 Ivory Coast 1
“‘Big Sam’ is a quasi-religious figure in Greece. They should put his face on a coin or issue him on a stamp. There’s something admirable, almost heroic in their usual slabby, dullness but I thought that they outplayed Ivory Coast tonight. Hats off to Ivory Coast, though, for getting a goal back. It shows what little I know because I gave Ivory Coast an 8, 9, 10, you’re out! count when they went 1-0 down but they kept working and kept their heads. Aside from all of the magnificent attacking play in this World Cup, it also been a great pleasure to see quite a few teams have bad or unproductive spells yet, by keeping working and staying focused, they’ve managed to pull themselves out of their trough and gain some rewards. Still, some major balls on Samaras for burying the penalty at the end giving the better side on the night the win.”
25th June Luis Suárez fallout
“They’ll all play the first game of next season in Hannibal Lector masks as a show of solidarity.”
“Honduras will have a major point to prove tonight. They thought that they’d cornered the World Cup market in assault and brutality so they’ll have to up their game after the Luis Suárez folderol. Actually, that’s unfair on Honduras. Their game with Ecuador was heaps of fun and much more skillful than for which it was given credit.
Luis Suárez, though, what a card, eh? Or something beginning with ‘c’ anyway. Someone needs to tell him (though a bullhorn, obviously, as one wouldn’t want to get within biting range) that top class football pitches are surrounded by tens of ‘Abraham Zapruders’ and you can’t get away with despicable acts of maliciousness.”
25th June The death of Eli Wallach
“Homage this line, in tribute to Eli, when you watch the World Cup and the team that you don’t want to win brings on a substiture: “Who the hell is this? One bastard goes off and another one comes on!”.”