Opinion: Good grace has won World Cup 2014 finalists Germany a new admirer
A colleague here in the naughty corner at Archant Towers has been mightily miffed since day one of the World Cup at the number of times goals have been celebrated as if they had won the final itself.
The sight of a full bench of substitutes creating a bibbed mountain of bodies on top of their goalscorer is not only difficult for a claustrophobic to endure, it is also a pain in the backside to watch.
Whatever happened to Alan Shearer’s simple turn away with one arm in the air celebration, Denis Law’s raised arm, the end of his sleeve gripped in his fist? Good old goal celebrations are hard to come by nowadays - score and you have to produce some mosh pit dance move, or re-enact the last throes of a dying soldier at Agincourt. It does make you wonder how much time is spent on the training ground working out the choreography. In England’s case, it appears they failed to allocate any time for either, but that’s by the by.
Seems to me it’s all part of the slightly disrespectful behaviour footballers sometimes have for their opponents. It’s gloating. Ditto full-time. For some peculiar reason, the first thing I tend to do once the full-time whistle has been blown is check whether the managers shake hands, and if they do, what level of respect and politeness do they show. Then it’s time to check out the players and, more often than not, they quickly exchange pleasantries. It’s good to see. But I suppose the bigger the prize, the less polite a winner can be. Final whistles in Brazil have been greeted with wild celebrations, whilst the losers are generally left to stew in their own disappointment. It takes a while before the arm of comfort is extended – and by then you wonder how genuine it is.
Which is why the sight of the Germans being so gracious in victory after their sensational mauling of Brazil on Tuesday was extraordinary – and a joy to see.
I can’t buy into this “we hate the Germans” stuff. They are a terrific team and they deserve to be in the final. And now I want them to win it, simply because they acted impeccably against Brazil. There was no 40-man scrum, there was no running around like headless chickens. There was just darned good grace.
Whether the Brazilians would have acted in a similar manner had the boot been on the other foot it’s hard to say. Well, actually, it’s not: there is no way they would have behaved as the Germans did, because they were so caught up in the incredible atmosphere of the World Cup on their own country that they couldn’t possibly have switched off the emotional switch and taken themselves from delirium to sympathy.
The Brazilian public, unwittingly, were part of their own team’s downfall. They appear not to have the cynicism inherent in England fans, presumably because half a century of almost total world domination has inculcated them with an optimism we can only dream of. Brazil have been favourites to win every World Cup for donkey’s years, even though their team has been in decline for the last decade. They went into their home tournament believing it would fall into their lap. The fact their manager had unstinting faith in the awful Fred and Hulk and goalkeeper Julio Cesar should have sounded some alarm bells. But no, that misguided confidence meant Luiz Felipe Scolari was never under the sort of pressure Roy Hodgson gets for even thinking about playing James Milner. And when they lost two key players - Neymar and captain Thiago Silva - Brazil were found out. They hoofed it, their skipper for the night, David Luiz, elbowed opponents in the face, he chopped them up. He lost his temper as often as he lost his position. Samba Soccer no longer exists. Shame no one told their fans.
‘I fancy the Beeb to be the winner of the World Cup’s ‘TV final’
It could be the worst World Cup final ever. Depending on which button you push on the remote control.
Once the dust has settled on tomorrow’s clash in the Maracana and the stats have been digested, it will be worth checking on the one that has no bearing on the final, but which everyone armchair fan in this country will have contributed towards: the TV viewing figures.
It’s a straight fight between the Beeb and ITV, with kick-off time in their own game scheduled for 7pm. That is a whole hour in which they have the opportunity to stake their claim for bragging rights.
On one side you have Gary Lineker, he of the occasional well-rehearsed quip to camera. On the other you have Adrian Chiles, he of the never-ending impromptu quips to anyone who cares to listen but which often fall on deaf ears.
You can have Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand, Clarence Seedorf. Or you can have Martin O’Neill, Ian Wright and Glenn Hoddle.
Hansen said he was “distraught” after Brazil were thumped by Germany in the semi-finals. What a ridiculous comment.
O’Neill is the man who said the Brazil-Germany game started off well because Brazil had some good throw-ins and alongside him he has Wright constantly calling Hoddle “gaffer”.
The real meat of it all is when the studio hands over to the commentator and his expert summariser.
Guy Mowbray will commentate for the BBC, presumably with Mark Lawrenson next to him.
ITV will have Clive Tyldesley commentating, and Andy Townsend his expert summariser. Never have two words been so misused.
I’m going for a BBC win.
‘We are Klose to losing the goal poacher’
Miroslav Klose doesn’t come over as a superstar, but his goal against Brazil on Tuesday night means he will go down in the competitions history as its most prolific.
Klose has now scored 16 goals in World Cup finals, overtaking the great Brazilian, Ronaldo. The 36-year-old has now scored at four successive World Cup finals - something only Pele and fellow German Uwe Seeler have achieved.
It took Klose 23 games to reach 16 goals, while Ronaldo needed 19 for his 15 goals. Gerd Muller scored 14 in 13 games, while France’s Just Fontaine scored 13 in six, which is quite extraordinary. Ronaldo, Muller and Fontaine, like Klose, are out-and-out goal scorers. Klose does little else: the furthest distance he has scored any of his World Cup finals goals from is 12 yards. His type will soon be extinct because teams can no longer afford players who have just one role to play. Footballing superstars always used to be the goalscorers: now it seems everyone is laying claim to the status, deserved or otherwise.
‘Number two Keane to be numero uno’
There’s just something that doesn’t seem quite right about Roy Keane being appointed as Paul Lambert’s assistant at Aston Villa.
I’d suggest both are fairly volatile characters who would find it difficult to stand down in an argument.
Both are managers - one active, one ‘in waiting’ - which means that if Lambert is treading on thin ice again next season, there is someone extremely close waiting in the wings; I can’t see Keane being the sort who would walk with Lambert if he got the chop.
Lambert has already lost his trusted aides, Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa, and I am pretty sure he was biting his tongue when he revealed his delight that a couple of local boys, Gordon Cowans and Shay Given, replaced them.
“I’m not here to take Paul’s job,” said Keane this week. Maybe not. But if it came up...