Here's my World Cup - how was yours?
- 10 Jul 06, 07:26 AM
BERLIN - So that’s it then – a World Cup carnival that has taken me from Baden-Baden to Berlin via Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Gelsenkirchen, Munich and other stops too numerous to mention in five eventful weeks is over.
The circus is leaving town after the final between France and Italy and pitches up again in South Africa in four years.
So let’s look back at the highs and lows of this German summer – and let me hear your memorable moments, your heroes and villains.
World Cup 2006 holds many memories, good and bad, and will be remembered as a tournament that did not quite fulfil its early promise after a feast of goals and entertainment in the group stages.
Goals and entertainment – unless you happened to be following England that is.
It will be remembered as a World Cup deservedly won by an Italy team that was steady as opposed to spectacular in a final almost overshadowed by Zinedine Zidane’s red card.
Germany fulfilled the promise to throw a World Cup party, entering into the spirit thanks to the exciting performances of their own team under the charismatic Jurgen Klinsmann.
Sadly England never brought anything intoxicating to the bash and all talk of ending 40 years of hurt proved hollow.
Here is my World Cup verdict - let me know if you agree.
We’ll start at the bottom.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT – ENGLAND.
England’s whole set-up, from the security surrounding them to the lavish facilities for all, including the media, portrayed them as the real superstars of the World Cup.
We even had the WAGS running riot through sedate Baden-Baden, drinking enough champagne to set up the owner of local restaurant “Garibaldi’s” for life.
This sideshow, a saga lived out every day in words and pictures, cannot be allowed to happen again.
And what did England deliver? Nothing.
Shoddily prepared in terms of tactics and selection, England ended the tournament, with few exceptions, as over-hyped and over-rated failures
Maybe a modesty check is needed by all involved with England. Not as good as we, or more importantly they, think they are.
Are we too big for our boots? And was the circus surrounding the WAGS a distraction? What do you think?
MAN OF THE TOURNAMENT – JURGEN KLINSMANN.
Never got his face on as many hoardings or in more adverts than Franz Beckenbauer – who could? - but what charisma.
Treated as a California-based incompetent before the tournament, “Klinsi” is now a national hero.
Germany is currently gripped by a campaign to keep Klinsmann as coach. You can even log on to a “Klinsi Must Stay” website to make your plea.
I must have missed the “Sven Must Stay” equivalent.
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE – OWEN HARGREAVES/FABIO CANNAVARO.
I admit to being mystified by Hargreaves’ original selection, but dismissed his ability too lightly.
He was magnificent against Portugal in England’s quarter-final defeat. Has anyone run more in a match? He even chased and retrieved one of his own clearances.
Cannavaro delivered a defensive master class against Germany in a thrilling semi-final in Dortmund, and his performances throughout made him a worthy man to lift the World Cup.
BIGGEST VILLAIN – WAYNE ROONEY/ZINEDINE ZIDANE.
Sorry to disappoint those of you waiting for me to name Cristiano Ronaldo, but if Rooney had not stamped on Ricardo Carvalho there would have been no follow up.
Ronaldo’s behaviour was unsavoury, but we have missed the point of Rooney’s part in England’s downfall.
As for Zidane, the truth will out about what made him butt Marco Materazzi, but surely he’s heard all the wind-ups before?
Materazzi’s brand of villainy is hardly original or subtle.
BIGGEST EMBARRASSMENT – GRAHAM POLL.
England’s refereeing representative at the World Cup departed after issuing three yellow cards to Croatia’s Josip Simunic against Australia – and with his reputation in shreds.
Did I detect the sound of laughter from some quarters at the downfall of Tring’s smiling official?
Fans up and down the country who feel they have suffered at Poll’s hands are already lining up the gags for next season.
MISSING IN ACTION – THEO WALCOTT.
What was the point? Just what was the point? Nothing more than a daft hunch by a coach who had never seen him play.
Walcott, blameless in this ridiculous episode, appeared to be in a daze for most of his time in Germany and was little more than a travelling mascot.
Someone tell me the rumour that Walcott is actually doing a book is a joke – sadly his selection by Eriksson was no laughing matter.
WORST COACH – SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON (ENGLAND)/JOSE PEKERMAN (ARGENTINA).
Eriksson gave an incredible performance in Germany…actually make that a baffling performance.
He started well by standing up to Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson over Wayne Rooney, but it was all downhill from there.
You actually had to be standing next to him to feel the confidence oozing out of him. And every last ounce of it was misplaced.
Tactics, team selection, squad selection all horribly wrong.
Someone said he was like a weatherman who looked out over thunderous skies and lightning flashes only to confidently announce we were actually in the middle of a heat wave.
I never worked out whether he was de-mob happy or ludicrously confident – and I suspect neither did he.
Pekerman was guilty of betraying the finest side in the competition.
The refusal to play Lionel Messi, plus the removal of Juan Roman Riquelme with a quarter-final win against Germany at his mercy, was unforgiveable.
Quit right after defeat against Germany. Wise.
BEST MATCH – GERMANY V ITALY.
Fantastic atmosphere in Dortmund, two teams going hell-for-leather and high drama in the dying seconds. This was what the World Cup is all about.
A classic game decided by two classic goals. Glorious victors and heroic losers.
The Liverpool fan who spotted Gary Neville having dinner with his family at “Le Bistro” in Baden-Baden and saw a photo opportunity.
Somewhere in Liverpool is a picture of Gary happily having his nosh, while blissfully unaware that a large and horribly naked Scouse backside is lurking in the background.
Even Sven provided the odd chuckle or two.
Reporter: “How do you think Scolari would have handled this job?”
Sven: “He would throw all of you out.”
Sven was on the receiving end of one nice line when it all got a bit tetchy about the WAGS at his farewell media briefing.
Sven: “What difference could they have made to the penalties?”
Reporter: “Well they could have taken them for a start.”
BIGGEST COMPLAINT – THE PLUGS DON’T WORK.
In the midst of a superb World Cup, a very minor technical difficulty.
Namely the plugs inside the stadium never stayed in, leaving you with a race against time with your battery.
This may not mean much to you out there, but this is real high blood pressure territory for the likes of me. Thank God for the man with the Gaffa tape.
As complaints go that’s not bad, and a reflection of the credit we must give our German hosts.
FOOTBALL LOW POINT – The long wait for England to actually produce…we’re still waiting.
PERSONAL LOW POINT – Being forced to watch Guy Ritchie’s “Revolver” on a long coach trip to Cologne.
PERSONAL HIGH POINT – Watching the “Revolver” dvd being publicly trashed by an angry mob of travellers at the end of a long coach trip to Cologne.
PERSONAL EMBARRASSMENT – Giving my know-it-all theories on England’s midfield failings in a busy Baden-Baden restaurant…not realising I was sitting next to Michael Carrick’s parents.
Luckily I wasn’t nasty about him and they were very nice!
Being asked if I had any hairspray in my bag at a security check in Nuremberg – being asked if I had any hair would have been easier to stomach.
So that was my World Cup – how was yours?