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The Last Eight

This World Cup is beginning to be redolent of a Woody Allen joke, the food's terrible and the portions are too small...

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by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: June, 2006
at a formative age I was enamoured by the Leeds team that invented the sort of gamesmanship that leads to the kind of nannying the referees are forced to enforce now

Alright, this world cup is beginning to test my patience. It's like the Woody Allen joke,

"The food is terrible..."
"And the portions are so small."

That's this world cup, it's gone on for so long, its exhausting and yet it'll all be over way too soon. Like a lot of people I won't know what to do with myself. I've already spent more time than was warranted really, watching the NBA draft on ESPN. Would've thought Jory Farmer would be drafted by the Lakers. Even at 26th, he's going to pack out the Pyramid in the Summer League. Biy done good. But I digress already.

So now we're down to the last eight. Most prognotics would've likely called most of these guys. Germany, Argentina, England, Portugal, France, Brazil, Ukraine, Italy. Earlier I'd been happy to see the demise of the minnows. Now I am bothered by the lack of diversity. It's like the European Championships with Brazil and Argentina thrown in for good measure.

Of course, those South Americans are most likely, to lodge a spanner in the works of Sven's plans to bring the World Cup home to England, if Portugal doean't do it first, minutes before he is unceremoniously dumped. When does his contract expire - at the final whistle? Did the Football Association even buy him a return ticket? Wife X saud when she was in London she might have seen the Pickfords truck outside his house.

Some might say Sven was already gone when he picked Theo for the squad.

The World's press has been decrying England for despoiling the 'Beautiful Game'. I'm not really having much of that actually. No one's looked consistently hot and every time people hop on a bandwagon of some team or other after they've strung a few passes together, you can be pretty certain that team is going to perform miserably and go out in the next round. Spain of course, the poster children.

Anyway, when I was a child I was much enamoured by the Leeds United team of Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and Jackie Charlton. They invented the sort of gamesmanship that leads to the kind of nannying the referees are forced to enforce now. In the good old days, if Leeds were a goal ahead and won a throw in, it would take an age before Bremner would go retrieve the ball to throw it in, only to change his mind, dropping the ball on the floor behind him for someone like Terry Cooper to actually take the throw. Stuff like that happening, even in the fifth minute has always been really okay with me.

When Nottingham Forest won the European Cup 1-0 after defending for 89 and a half minutes... Well, can anyone even remember who they played against?

We'll always remember Ronaldo's stylish footwork when scoring his goal to break Gerd Muller's world cup scoring record. We probably won't remember that he didn't have another kick of the football. Were Brazil so fantastic, or did Ghana forget the fundamentals of defending their own goal when as the US analyst said, "They came to play!"

So for all of the talk of England being crap, in every instance, If England score three more goals in this world cup, and their opponents not a single one. Who cares who complains? Come Sunday morning England will still be in the World Cup, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil and Italy (and probably the Ukraine too if there is any justice) will be flying home.

It will be a more beautiful game I think, if the world cup win can be ground out.

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