More random observations from the World Cup
If you cannot hear, look
Several players have complained that they have found it impossible to communicate with each other during matches because of the noise of vuvuzelas. It is true that coaches stress the importance of verbal communication on the pitch, but it is not everything. Eric Harrison, the coach who brought through the Manchester United generation which included Paul Scholes and David Beckham, used to conduct silent practice matches with no calling for the ball allowed. His reasoning is that it taught players to play with their heads up, which became a notable aspect of Scholes’ and Beckham’s games.
Ten men not so hard to beat
Remember that old line about it being harder to play against ten men than eleven. Not in this World Cup. On Monday Valon Behrami, the Switzerland and West Ham midfielder, became the tenth player to receive a red card. Switzerland, then 0-0 with Chile, lost 1-0. Exactly the same fate befell Algeria, Serbia, and Germany after losing a player. In all, no team has scored a goal with ten men while eight have conceded. The only exceptions are Uruguay and Brazil whose scorelines remained the same after the late dismissals of Nicolas Lodeira against France (0-0), and Kaka against Ivory Coast (3-1) respectively.
Be a wag for a day
A chain of South African shopping malls are running a competition entitled: ‘Ever wondered how it feels to be a footballer’s wife?’ Anyone making a purchase on the relevant credit or store card can enter, the prize is a ‘VIP experience and shopping vouchers’ worth R25,000 [about £2,250]. Reading about your husband’s infidelities in the tabloids appears not to be included. If a man wins he has to nominate a female to claim the prize.
Bobbies on the beat do stop crime
That part of the population commonly referred to as ‘Daily Mail readers’ constantly argue that more bobbies on the beat would reduce crime, a suggestion usually dismissed by the police on the grounds that the odds on them interrupting a burglar in action are long indeed. However, Mail readers might be right. Crime in South African World Cup venues is significantly down. This is hardly surprising given the host cities appear to have the highest concentration of uniformed police officers outside of a totalitarian state. Even on non-match days there is a policeman, or police car, every few yards. Rio de Janeiro used a similar tactic during the Pan-American Games. However, this has been achieved by cancelling all leave and using trainees. At some point in the future there may be a reckoning, but the visiting media and fans will be home by then so the world will not notice.
If it is goalless, be patient
Halfway though the 64 matches we have had 67 goals. Of these more than a quarter (17) have been scored in the last fifteen minutes (including injury time). Steven Gerrard’s fourth minute striker against the US remains the quickest, Alvaro Pereira’s 95th-minute goal for Uruguay against South Africa is the latest. Winston Reid’s 93rd-minute equaliser for New Zealand against Slovakia is the latest result-changing goal.
Picture: Getty Images
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