Monday, July 17, 2006

Finals Fantasy end of tournament round-up thing - part 4

What did you make of it, then?

An odd tournament, that. The group stages went up like a house on fire, with games that if not exactly producing many classics at least keyed us up for what was to come, full of attacking play, intrigue, great goals, rank stupidity and edge of the seat stuff. Then the knockouts themselves were an odd mixture of games which contained no attacking impetus whatsoever - whatever England's varying crises, did Portugal make a single move of note in that game? - and a few barnstormers. It's also the most worldly World Cup I can remember, if you see what I mean, as through the expansion in our understanding of the international game's development we knew everything about everyone, which given even the likes of South Korea and Senegal were still larely unaccounted for four years ago is quite something.

Best defensive player

Sorry to be obvious, but Fabio Cannavaro was inspirational at the back, seemingly trying at times to do everyone's job and marshalling the back line with rare authority throughout. A word for Philipp Lahm, though, who nearly missed the tournament through injury but with a driving forward style might now be the world's best left-back.

Best attacking player

What does Miroslav Klose do for 47 months at a time? You never hear of anyone coming in for him or anything special he might do in club football, but he's now in the finals ten goal club. Not the greatest technician in the world, but he's everything you want in a target man and in a tournament where there was a dearth of genuine quality from the much hyped strikers he offered a way forward by looking back. Or something.

Biggest letdown

Ronaldinho. Yes, yes, it's all very well working back to support your team-mates, but that's not what either we wanted or you were best. Also the failure of any of 2002's success story sides to build on their promise and the lack of South American fans willing to go just that little bit too far.

Item you'd track down for the National Football Museum

The Iranian big framed square of carpet! That'd make an interesting conversation piece at dinner parties.

Best pundit

Martin O'Neill was only a late entrant to the BBC ranks, of course, and how we would have missed his flights of fancy that always turn round and eventually make sense (after a fashion) no matter how much waffling has got him back there. He's also dead on when he wants to be succinct. Not a pundit, I know, but how much more proof do we need of Adrian Chiles' offhand brilliance?

Best commentator

The criticism you occasionally hear of the BBC's roster below the Motson/Pearce front line is how nobody can apparently tell the difference between any of them. Well, make the effort, then. Steve Wilson has had his second great World Cup in a row, Simon Brotherton is equally capable if not so enthusiastic, and to prove Network Centre seems to have some sort of vortex around it Guy Mowbray has emerged from commercial telly hell to establish his voice.

Worst pundit

I know they're undergoing a cash crisis, but it's no wonder the BBC managed a record lead in the final head-to-head if ITV seriously believe we here in 2006 still want to hear David Pleat for a whole game. Tactically astute, I agree, but it's the bits around that that grate, although at least he was up on Gareth Southgate's ill-fated attempts at mateyness. Ruud Gullit seemed to be straining his brain trying to think of something of interest to add and often failing, while over in the Berlin studio Leonardo's command of syntax, and everything else, often seemed to desert him. Let's, however, go for Robbie Earle, now into his fifth glorious season of adding nothing to anything.

Worst commentator

It's been fascinating watching the press work themselves into a lather about how Everybody Hates Motson Now, not least that ludicrous statistic about the number of people using the interactive option and thus Turning Motson Off. Yeah, there's a couple of other options on there too, and they're available even when there aren't games on. You'll notice these are the same organisations that don't seem to query ITV's motives as much, even when they're still employing Peter Drury, who as ever was like Barry Davies without the ability to get out of florid mode and into plain commentary.

Main lesson learned about the game over the last month

That there's no such thing as a sure thing (cf Jose Pekerman), that every World Cup is doomed to the biggest international stars flopping drastically, and that actually writing up a load of notes into a coherent structure is difficult.

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

When I wasn't giving myself eight games to concurrently type up over one of the hottest weekends of the year, yes, it's been fun watching the ideas flow and a group of contributors (who I thank wholeheartedly, and again apologise for keeping indoors during the great heatwave of 2006) come up with brilliant stuff. We didn't get any national press attention, but sod them. While I'm here I should mention my own football blog, which will be relaunched in August unless I can't be bothered.

So, consider this the shutters being brought down on Finals Fantasy, which, it's fair to say has been an experience. Join us, possibly, in 2010. Or 2008.

Contributors: Adam Keyte, Skif, Matt Sullivan, Simon Tyers, Ben Woolhead
Technical support: Blogger

FINALS FANTASY 2006 - where do they get their energy from?


Blogger Del said...

You do the football, we'll do the puns.

2:22 pm, July 18, 2006

Blogger Matt said...

In the flat I moved out of on the day of the 3rd place play-off, the electic was supplied by EDF Energy. The elctricity in my new flat isn't, though. Oddly. I'm not tempted to go back...

Anyway, hurrah for Finals Fantasy and all who sailed in her. (Did Adam ever return from Gelsenkirchen? I can't but help imagine him still there, trying to buy his passage home.)

11:18 pm, July 18, 2006

Blogger Del said...

Naked but for a bedraggled St George's flag.

12:33 am, July 19, 2006


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