I’m a football fan, I’m allowed to change my mind

I’m a football fan, I’m allowed to change my mind

Funny old game isn’t it? In the space of a few days we’ve gone from watching one of the most turgid tournaments in history to what could potentially be one of the most magical.

Teams have started living up their billing and we almost had our first fairytale comeback when South Africa went two up against the French.

Poor old France, what a fantastic shambles their fortnight turned out to be. Could it have been more amusing? Well possibly, but only if Domenech’s disgruntled players had sneaked into his bedroom and shaved off his weird Alistair Darling eyebrows.

England improved, which isn’t saying much, seeing as they were so wretched in the first couple of games. I refuse to get carried away though, we have after all, scored a total of 2 goals in what was probably the weakest group. At last Capello has had the sense to drop his toothless wing wizards Lennon and Wright-Phillips. Maybe the penny has finally dropped that pace alone does not an international player make.

So why were the opening games so dull? There have been quite a few theories bandied about. Some of which have been plain crazy, such as Patrice Evra’s claim that the noise of the vuvuzalas created havoc with natural playing rhythms. What? Eh? Sorry, I can’t hear you Patrice, it doesn’t matter though, because you’re talking rubbish and you’re on your way home anyway.

Three suggestions carrying a bit more weight are: 

  • Teams were simply too scared to lose points, face or credibility. The Greek side took this to a whole new level by being too terrified to venture into their opponents half 
  • Players were overly familiar with each other. Most of them had just spent the last 6 months kicking lumps out of each other in Champions League and if you know your opponents inside out, they’re hardly likely to spring any surprises on you 
  • Players had no familiarity whatsoever with the ball. Apart from the Germans, of course, who have had the advantage of playing with it for an entire domestic season – you won’t catch me calling them cheats however, I’d never sink to those depths

 

Personally, I think the main problem was hype. The media frenzy leading up to the big kick-off was ludicrously OTT. Fleet Street’s finest had us all believing we were about to witness some sort of footballing epiphany, a kind of rebirth of the beautiful game involving shin pads, fancy orange boots and South American ponytails.

The opening exchanges had no chance of living up to that expectation, never in a million years, but now that the bluster has been turned down a notch – and we’ve said au revoir to the French – we can all get on with enjoying the knockout stages.

Bring on the Germans!

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