So after four weeks the final whistle has blown on the 2006 World Cup and now my life can hopefully return to as normal as possible meaning no more split sleeping shifts, sleep deprivation or catching 40 winks in between lessons.
On reflection, England were woeful and the worlds biggest under-achievers failed to deliver anything beyond the minimum. Although they put up a bit of a fight against Portugal in the face of adversity the displays of the overpaid prima-donnas that make up the England team has to be questioned. Definitely a case of reverse symmetry in that the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts. Try telling that to my students though who continually frustrated me with talk of England being strong and Becks being great which were so wide of the mark.
I enjoyed the last world cup so much more and that partially inspired me to come to Japan. Back then I had just returned from my ’round the world’ adventures and was able to dedicate my whole time to the action. I missed that in many ways this time as I had no English feed for the games and so I didnt get the full picture from just watching what was happening on screen. Would have been nice to see some World Cup-related features and news stories too such as scenes from Hamburg city where I worked a few years back as the saviour of a small IT company (*).
I like most things about Germany but don’t like the national team yet i have to admit that they were probably the most entertaining team in the tournament and seeing Klinsmann jumping around the sidelines was nice to see and remnant of Martin O’Neills celebrations at Leicester many years ago during our golden era. It was a surprise to see them play so well too given that they wasnt given a prayer before the tournament. The country did put on a good show off the field too and it was refreshing to see them embrace the idea of inviting all fans (i.e. non-ticket holders) to come and enjoy the atmosphere and culture.
As for the other teams, the Czechs got off to a flyer but couldn’t keep that momentum up and made a surprisingly early exit. The Argies looked odds on favourites to win the tournament and scored the best goal along the way but that was before they came up against the German penalty experts. Like England, Brazil and France failed to impress in the early stages whereas perennial slow starters Spain and Italy won their groups in perfect fashion. More negative tactics then seemed to take over with managers seemingly prepared to settle for the lottery of penalties and be abstained from blame if they then lost.
For once I didn’t quite see all the games but the best I did see was the Italians late show against the Germans in the semi’s and the final wasn’t so bad either culminating in ZZ blowing his top (a disgrace whatever the provocation but very funny too I thought and made sure his career ended with a bang) before the Italians finally won in a shoot-out and then followed one of the most shambolic presentations of a trophy ever. I think it was the 3rd choice keeper who actualy passed on the trophy to the fantastic Cannavaro who was arguably the player of a tournament with no real outstanding players, few underdog victories and not so much emerging new talent.
(*) Not necessarily true as sitting at a desk surfing the net all day every day doesn’t constitute being a saviour!