So Spain are the new world champions and well deserved too.
Despite many, including me yesterday, throwing their caps at the Dutch, mainly on the basis of history, we saw an ugly mean spirited perfromance from the Orangemen who seemed more intent on stopping Spain through fair means but mainly foul.
I think it’s fair to say that if yesterday had been an ordinary World Cup group game then the Dutch would probably have been down to nine men before half time. Howard Webb faced a difficult decision, namely pressure not to spoil such a “prestigious” event by sending a player off too early but also maintaining discipline and enforcing the rules. It was an almost impossible line to tread as the Dutch continually kicked and hacked their way through the game. It was as if they knew that Webb’s hands were, to a degree, tied. Webb waved yellow card after yellow card when clearly on some occasions, such as de Jong’s dreadful kung fu kick into Alonso’s chest, he must have known that red was the right colour?
The Dutch had their chances to win the game, most noticeably from Robben but so did the Spanish (Ramos and Fabregas) before Iniesta’s late strike. Of the Liverpool contingent Dirk was anonymous apart from one long range effort and was given the hook in the second half. Torres was made to wait for his moment and played a tenuous part in the goal trying to find Iniesta from the left before Fabregas intervened and showed him how it was done! Torres’ World Cup has been a bad one but even he could be forgiven for not expecting what was to come in its final seconds.
No Torres break with the international team would be complete with him coming back home with an injury. How many times has this happened since he has been with us? In this case it was true case of defeat in victory as he raced onto a long ball and stopped up with what looked like a pulled hamstring. Of course we don’t know the details but it looked bad. Torres made no attempt to run if off he just lay their flat out. As his compatriots prepared to celebrate probably the greatest moment in their lives, and most certainly their team’s football history, one wondered what was gong through Torres’ mind. It must have been equivalent of winning millions on the lottery and then learning you’ve got a week to live! Bitter sweet does not seem to do it justice and the frustration for him personally must be profound
Cleary it is also bad for us. Even though we have signed Milan Jovanovic perhaps one of Roy Hodgson’s first tasks is to use what funds he has available to secure the services of another top class striker. On his day Torres is terrific, fantastic, a match winner. I hope he stays with us but surely it must now, sadly, be concluded that he, like most high performance animals or machines, is increasingly fragile and liable to break down regularly? We have seen this so many times since he joined us. With due respect to Javanovic, we need a reliable striker who can back up / compliment Torres and guarantee us goals?
And of the World Cup in general? Hopefully, this tournament will be significant for one thing – that it leaves a lasting and productive legacy for the people of South Africa. FIFA owe them this particularly as scandalously many of them seemingly couldn’t get to see the games because of the high ticket prices. In terms of the football well it’s every four years so it’s always interesting stuff even though this time it was pretty average.
I can remember twelve World Cup cups and in terms of enjoyment and exciting football this one, sadly will be very near the bottom of the list. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and more cynical and the magic and romance is wearing off? So many of the so called star names failed to fire and the team which boasts the so called best league in the World simply did not show up. Perhaps the demanding fixture list many of these players have to play means they are burnt out or jaded by the time the tournament arrives or perhaps, given the comfortable lives many of then have, they just don’t care?
However, now it is over it’s a case of “ho hum see you in another four years”. It is now time to concentrate on more pressing club matters closer to home which after all, is only right and proper?