Half way through the World Cup and heading into the knockout stages now and the country is gripped by fear, anticipation, anger and dismay in various measures. The game against Germany this coming Sunday afternoon has seen, if it’s possible, an increase in the number and size of England flags festooning everything from cars and houses to dogs and shop fronts. I’m a bit reluctant to stand still for too long when I’m out in case someone dresses me as Saint George.
And everyone wants to give his or her opinions on what’s going to happen. Not just members of the public who, come the start of the next football season will have no interest in the beautiful game but, naturally, celebrities will be getting their ill informed snouts into the build up. Only the other day the gaggle of presenters on “Loose Women” were talking about the match and about England. I was at a house where it was on by the way, that programme isn’t on my preferred watching list!
On the radio, everyone is asked for his or her score predictions, where they’ll be watching the match, how big their England flag is or anything else connected to what is hopefully going to be England’s last game in this tournament. Walk around any supermarket and there are staff members discussing the pros and cons of playing Rooney up front on his own or sticking with four four two. At petrol stations it’s becoming increasingly difficult to even top the tank up without someone asking you your opinion of the upcoming crunch match and, naturally, the ones with the strongest opinions are taxi drivers. At least the one I had yesterday was.
The problem was that he decided to start a conversation with his radio on full blast and didn’t attempt to lower the volume all through his cod punditry. I was left to compete not only with his views but also with Rihanna squawking “Umbrella” at noise levels previously unheard since a Motorhead sound check.
So, the big match draws ever nearer and the country becomes ever more frantic or ever more deluded dependent on your point of view. Some are resigned to elimination at the hands of the Germans, others that this is just the first step on a path that will lead to World Cup glory, conveniently forgetting that, should England scrape past the Germans they are likely to face Argentina and, if victory is somehow gained there could run up against either Brazil or Spain dependent on how fixtures pan out. But none of this matters to the legion of self-appointed pundits and temporary experts on the streets, in taxis and anywhere else you may find them. I’m waiting for Big Brother to tell the housemates they can watch the game as a reward for passing some inane task. If that task involves the death and dismemberment of the loathsome Shabby then good luck to them! But that’s another story.
Getting back to the match, no doubt everyone’s praying for penalties because if that’s how it turns out and England go out that way then at least all those crying into their beer and barbecues can trot out the usual excuses about how they “always go out on penalties.” However, if both sides play the way they did in their group games then they’re not going to need them. England will be dead and buried by half time, never mind after extra time.