Some Final World Cup Thoughts

12 07 2010

Usually upon the ending of a major sporting event we experience a small sense of loss that no longer will we be able to watch meaningful, exciting and intense sporting drama repeatedly, even if that happens to be between two sporting nations in whom we had no previous interest. It is the certainly the case when the Olympics finish with its endless disciplines and its wonderful stories; with the unique British and Irish Lions when they tour; with World Cups in most sports including earlier this year the hockey; and even such events as the Ryder Cup and all the tennis Opens.

With the completion of this years Football World Cup in South Africa last night, the time has come to look back at the tournament and work out why, despite many exciting moments and several hugely enjoyable and tense games, we are missing this sense of loss. We have been accused previously to this of being anti-football and, therefore, a football world cup would be unlikely to move us as much as the equivalent in cricket or rugby for example. While there is probably an argument for this, we are certainly not anti the ‘beautiful game’ and have always in the past enjoyed both the big and small occasions.

To try and figure out why this is so we have picked out some teams, people and moments below – both good and bad -that stood out for us in this world cup. Firstly the good:

Spain

Quite simply the best and most attractive team in the competition. In the past it has been their final opponents, the Dutch, who have espoused the best traditions of ‘total football’ yet in this tournament, and especially considering the men in orange’s thuggery during the final, it is Spain who have taken on that mantle. Their passing was beautiful to watch and the skill demonstrated on the ball by all of their team but especially Iniesta, Villa and Xavi was outstanding. Deserved winners and now both European and World Champions. Well played!

Diego Forlan

Awarded the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament, Forlan’s work ethic and no little skill impressed all tournament long. English fans who remembered his loose and ineffective performances for Manchester United 8 years ago may well have been surprised to see this deluxe model performing at the highest level so effectively but in reality they shouldn’t. It was mainly down to his efforts and certainly his goals that Uruguay finished fourth.

David Villa

Cristiano who? Villa was simply brilliant all tournament long.

Asamoah Gyan

Will unfortunately be remembered for his penalty miss in the dying seconds of extra time in Ghana’s quarter final defeat to Uruguay; yet in our opinion he should be remembered more for his performances until this point including the huge guts he showed immediately after this aforementioned miss when he stepped up to take the first penalty of the shoot out.

Slovakia

Sterling efforts from an unsung team which included putting the holders, Italy, out.

New Zealand

Hardly renowned for their footballing ability, and only just qualifying for the world cup, the All Whites were expected to be cannon fodder for the bigger teams in the group. Yet in the end they were only a whisker away from qualifying for the latter stages and unbeaten throughout. They even got the rugby authorities worried that football might make inroads into the rugby watching public, which in a country as rugby mad as New Zealand is quite something.

Now for the bad:

Holland

Had we not witnessed the final we may have put Holland in the good section being fairly pro Dutch normally here at the Compulsive Hooker. Unfortunately with the first half of last nights game in mind we have moved them down to the bad (although truth be told perhaps they should be in a ‘Neither’ section. Despite having a brilliant game against Brazil and dispatching Uruguay efficiently in the semi final by playing, whilst not ‘total football, proper football at least, they descended into a disruptive style that brought Vinnie Jones days at Wimbledon to mind. Mark Van Bommel in particular was guilty of this and could quite honestly have been sent off twice. We would like to exclude Robben from this as he continued his exciting and elusive form into the final, although in truth Holland could and perhaps should of won in normal time with Robben failing to score his two one on ones with the Spanish goal keeper.

England

Angry, unfocused and betraying a technical ability more akin to New Zealand than the super power they aspire to be. Wayne Rooney merits a special mention as his touch in particular was appalling and totally uncharacteristic of him. As an England fan this is perhaps the other reason we didn’t get more into the tournament. Inevitably your interest grows as the competition progresses to the latter stages but without your team competing there is always a lessening in the passion.

France

Even more angry and dissenting than England towards their coach, the French campaign descended into farce almost immediately.

Italy

Not bad as such, mainly just distinctly average and the Italian public, accustomed as they are to possessing some of the worlds best players, must be worried about the current crop of players.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Simply the most irritating player in the world. Obviously one of the finest players in the world, he tarnished his reputation at this world cup. Semingly unwilling to go the extra mile for Portugal and compounding this error with his conviction that he alone could win the game for them by indulging in 45 yard pots at goal rather than crossing or passing as any one else would.

Vuvuzelas

Quite simply the worst thing to happen to sport for quite some time. See below for more…

The Atmosphere

We were talking to a die hard football fan the other day who was expressing a dissatisfaction with the atmosphere generated in the pubs and other public areas where he had watched the football. Normally in venues such as these the atmosphere is electric as supporters wish their team on. Yet in this world cup watching it in your local pub had lost something and we felt compelled to agree.

His theory was that the dreaded Vuvuzela’s were drowning out the crowd noise, the singing and cheering that is so vital to creating an atmosphere. Again we felt inclined to agree and we would be interested to hear you, the reader’s, thoughts on this… Analysing it closely we felt that this above all – not the football, not the players, and certainly not our lesser interest in football compared to rugby for example – has solved our dilemma as to why we aren’t more disappointed that the tournament has finally finished.

So hardly a definitive list of good and bad and there are surely things we have failed to mention that we should have done. What are your thoughts? Did it live up to your expectations?

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5 responses

12 07 2010
James Parrett

Hi Brad,

That’s a decent analysis. I agree, this tournament just never really got going. Think you’ve covered all the main points. There were more negatives than positives.

Someone raised the point to me yday that there was an added political pressure / distractions to this WC with the history of SA and the desparate need for this WC to be deemed a success. Interesting, but i’m not sure about it.

The weather’s been pretty poor in SA too – did you see Mandela wearing that massive hat yday?! World cups need to be played in scorching heat where players collapse at the end if you ask me…

12 07 2010
Jonathan

I would just like to add that New Zealand were the only undefeated team in the tournament!
Has to be said, they were great to watch, great fans, and some awe inspiring goalkeeping from them!

Congrats to Spain thoroughly deserved, and congrats to South Africa too for a tournament well staged. I hope the reports I have read of the debts left behind and the huge earnings FIFA are running of with are not true; you deserve better.

Agree with James’ last comment, however I think the Qatar 2022 bid is one hot step too far!

13 07 2010
Nursedude

I was going to do my own post-mortem of this World Cup, but your posting so mirrors my opinion on the good, bad and ugly of this World Cup, I am going to link this on a posting on my site, and I would like to add you to my blog roll.

For whatever reason, Spanish language players just seem to have a hard time getting on Sir Alex’s good side at Man U. (See Tevez, Carlos and Veron, Juan)

As an American fan, I appreciate heart, grit and good effort. I really enjoyed how the Kiwis played. I also liked the offensive panache of the Japanese.

Diego Forlan and young Thomas Muller of Germany were very much the best players in this tournament.

As a francophile(studied twice in France), I was appalled at Domenech’s incompetence and how the French players were a bunch of whining divas.

13 07 2010
Nursedude

Hooker, I could not agree with you more in your post mortem of this World Cup. I put a link with this posting on my blog, and I also added you onto my blog roll, because I think what you write is well done and well thought-out.

14 07 2010
Bradders

Hi Nursedude, Sorry I haven’t replied – only just saw your comments. Yet again it got sent to my spam queue for some reason, along with your other one below. Many apologies and have added your site to my blogroll too. Cheers for your feedback.

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