And then, just like that, it happened. I found myself leaving my local sports bar with several minutes still left of yet another criminally dull 0-0. The England game was blessed with an almighty two (okay, three) speculative efforts on goal. For all the electricity anticipated, it’s been a scrappy, somewhat tedious start to this year’s World Cup. The group stages have been cursed with cautious formations, cagey midfield exchanges and a real lack of imagination and dare. My friend Heskey, however, blames this mysterious, ‘dangerously round’ Jabulani ball. The slightly more accomplished Messi cites the vuvuzelas, although I’m not sure anyone can hear him, and a few coaches are pointing fingers at the sky, holding the climate accountable. Whatever is to blame, I, like millions of others, am struggling. If you’ve found yourself flicking over to a soap you’ve never followed, heading upstairs to the karaoke bar or making conversation about the weather mid-way through a game, you’re not alone. Even with Green’s ‘hand of clod’ and some kooky defending by Denmark’s Poulsen, big scorelines have been mighty rare. So, please, someone – anyone – deliver us some goals.
We need them. Real bad.
Team to watch
Dare I say it, but I think the Three Lions will step forward. England have displayed little evidence of form through a messy qualification and yes, the recent blanks aren’t encouraging, but I sense (and pray) that something’s about to click. There’s undeniable class within the squad, they’re due a run, and one man who can galvanise them is mercurial poster boy Joe Cole. I’m expecting fireworks from the 28-year-old playmaker. Mind you, by the time you read this England could well be on the plane home and I’ll be eating my words.