Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Finals Fantasy end of tournament round-up thing - part 1

We're still here. Well, I'm still here; I'm guessing that those of Finals Fantasy who didn't decide that moving house on the weekend of the World Cup final was a good idea are beavering away on their reports as we speak. Meanwhile, this is the first of several/some/possibly just this one, then (delete as eventually applicable) post-tournament round-up bits which may be appearing as the week progresses. Sorry, everyone.)

What did you make of it, then?

It was great. Of course all World Cups are great, and anyone who claims to like football but says otherwise should be regarded with suspicion, but I've found this World Cup hugely enjoyable, with more interesting games and less complete clunkers than any of the 20 years worth of World Cups that I recall. The pre-season friendlies, which would usually have me all of a quiver at this time of year, look rather limp and uninteresting by comparison.

Best defensive player

Rafael Marquez invariably seemed to be not just playing in at least three positions at any one time but playing brilliantly in all of them. All right, so Cannavaro was robbed for player of the tournament, but there was something ever so slightly swashbuckling about Marquez, which is always quite impressive for a central defender.

Best attacking player

Daniele De Rossi, for by far the best headbutt of the tournament. None of this headlong charging into someone's chest because he was rude about your mum nonsense for Daniele, dear me no, just an entirely motiveless attack accompanied by a shrug of inncoence and a smirk as he wandered off the pitch. Marvelous. Or possibly Asamoah Gyan for confusingly wearing squad number 3 while playing up front, even if his shooting left something to be desired. The forwards were a bit of a let down, all told.

Biggest letdown

Well, the forwards, for a start. The lack of a multiball feature for anyone hitting the screen over the centre of the pitch in Frankfurt. That would have been excellent. The England midfield were rubbish as well, but goodness knows everyone has read about that enough elsewhere.

Item you'd track down for the National Football Museum

Graham Poll's yellow card.

Best pundit

Hansen's explanation of how to defend corners after the England-Sweden highlights was a splendid example of how punditry should work - taking something that seems relatively straightforward and explaining its complexities in a way that didn't assume everybody watching was a total fatheaded idiot. However, as he didn't embark on a lengthy, not really worth the effort expanded upon it description of 70s cinema and William Goldman's Adventures In The Screen Trade at the end of the 3rd place play-off and as Martin O'Neil did, the best pundit is Martin O'Neil. Go on Martin, don't go back into management, just sit on the opposite sofa from Adrian Chiles once a week and talk about whatever you like.

Best commentator

Steve Wilson, for managing to sound wide-eyedly enthusiastic about whichever game he might be about to cover, highlights of Iran v Angola included, and even though he did come over slightly like that bloke commentating on the Hindenberg exploding during the Germany-Argentina fisticuffs (following Mick McCarthy's superb "he's nailed him! He's karate-kicked the 17 in the groin!" with a plaintive "this is awful! this is awful!" but fortunately stopping short of "oh the humanity!" and then throwing up. Unless they cut that bit out).

Worst pundit

Where to start? None of the new additions for either channel were much use, although at least ITV sent most of theirs home by the end of the group stages, and I rather enjoyed Marcel Desailly's bouts of grumpiness when things weren't going France/Ghana/whoever he was supporting's way. Ian Wright's man-in-the-street-England-fan routine is really beginning to grate now. I suspect that not even Andy Townsend understands why Andy Townsend is employed to comment knowledgably about football. In the end, for sheer persistence and the amount of faith placed in him for no earthly reason, and despite O'Neil's best efforts to get some sort of double act going, it has to be the man who can say nothing of interest in five different languages, Leonardo.

Worst commentator

I've long suspected that if you strip away the need to bang on relentlessly about England or Manchester United or to try to reduce everything to some aspect of domestic football that only an idiot would be interested in, deep down, underneath it all, Clive Tyldesley is actually quite a good commentator. This was the tournament that finally convinced me that I was wrong. Clive annoyed me even more than Jonathan Pearce's over-exagerated attempts at pronunciation which, particularly when it came to Italy and France, sounded less like an authentic accent and more like 'Allo 'Allo. And I don't really want to be reminded of 'Allo 'Allo at any stage, thanks.

Main lesson learned about the game over the last month

Trying to write a report on an England penalty defeat while slightly drunk and rather fed up isn't the ideal way to spend a Saturday night. Not strictly relevant to football as a whole, perhaps, but I offer it up as a friendly warning.

It's been fun, this, hasn't it?

I'll never think of Iain Dowie, Mark Lawrenson, Radovan Karadic, Kasey Keller, Fabian Barthez, van insurance or onanism in quite the same way again, that's for certain.


Blogger Ween said...

I quite like Leonardo but mainly because he seemed to have the potential to be quite strange (example of the little dance in the stadium plus his interview with Vialli, "Gary Gary!")

My thoughts are here:


Please have a look and add your comments

10:01 AM, July 12, 2006


Post a Comment

<< Home