Starter great, main course, disappointing

Well, it’s come and gone and another four year milestone in our lives goes with it. For some, it was the greatest of all World Cups and, certainly, up to the quarter-final stage this was surely the case.

A general levelling (I suspect down rather than up) of standards meant that not a single team looked out of place in their groups.

Costa Rica were outstanding while the USA and Australia surprised us all. And African nations like Algeria and Ivory Coast represented their continent well while the ‘lesser’ teams from South America like Chile, Colombia and Mexico were nothing short of outstanding. With their eventual demise went the fun of the tournament. Not a single one of the big fish, including eventual winners Germany were in the least impressive. How long is it since a World Cup winning country wouldn’t get a single player except, perhaps, their goalkeeper into the ‘Team of the Tournament’. To those who were prepared to hail them as the team of the century after they had beaten eleven Brazil shirts 7-1, I give you their ‘brilliance’ in the final. Same old same old. Efficient as hell!

If all you want is a team which ekes out results in tournaments playing percentage, utterly boring, football then Germany are your men. I’d always prefer a Messi, Iniesta or a Neymar to a Sweinsteiger or a Lahm. Or Pirlo to a Khedira.

To put it in a nutshell, I know some terrific house painters who are totally effective at their jobs but, if asked whether I preferred to view the results of their labours to that, say, of Banksy I’m afraid the jury wouldn’t even have to retire!

Or, alternatively, if you were to pick a team of all-time greats like Pele, di Stefano, Maradona et al, only one German would even come close. ‘The Kaiser’ himself, Franz Beckenbauer. And he was a defender!