So what will we remember about the 2010 World Cup which took place in South Africa between 11th June and 11th July 2010? The top quality football? The entertaining individual stars? Matches overflowing with goals?
NOPE!! The main thing I'll remember about this year's World Cup is..BZZZZZZZZZZ...the Vuvuzela!! To some it was an instrument of torture, to others it was music to their ears. Me? I loved it!!
South Africa did a fantastic job in staging the 2010 World Cup, despite the prophets of doom having written it off before it even started, with talk of delays and organisational nightmares. What we did see was a colourful and professionally staged event, although only time will tell whether the success of the event will have made any difference to the day to day lives of the real people of South Africa, not the politicians and the dignitaries in attendance at the various games.
As for the actual football, 2010 World Cup was one great big massive let-down. Having said that, I still watched almost all of it, but compared to those tournaments of the past which are still very special to me for various reasons, 2010 just seemed to sum up the state of world football at the moment. That is: full of overpaid prima donnas more interested in their next (obscenely huge)pay cheque than entertaining the world's football fans. I won't name any of them in particular, but those tipped to be the big stars just flopped. Even my team, Argentina, won't escape my criticism - despite Lionel Messi's undisputed talent, a combination of stifling man-marking and off-target shooting meant that he was one of the major disappointments of the tournament.
In fact that was my main criticism of most of the strikers on show - they should have gone to Specsavers as many of them definitely needed an eye test. Never mind introducing equipment to tell whether a ball was over the line or not (!) ...they just need to make the goalposts twice as high and twice as wide. Bigger goalposts = more goals. But even then, they'd still miss :)
Aah yes that brings us to England, tipped as usual by the droning pundit brigade prior to the tournament as potential winners...and in predictable style they failed to deliver. Perhaps the omens were in the World Cup song - 1990 had the best football anthem ever ("World In Motion") whilst 2010 had...."Shout for England" by Dizzee Rascal and the loathsome James Corden. As if this aural torture (gimme a vuvu anyday!) wasn't bad enough, ITV felt the need to give Corden screen time after every live match. A sign, not that we needed one, that Britain's biggest commercial TV channel is well and truly in deep s**t.
It was the year when France and Italy, both recent world-beaters, couldn't beat an egg and couldn't even make the second round. The French team took up the national pastime - going on strike - whilst Italy were sent home to rethink their style of play. Portugal (another one of my faves) also failed to impress me, with star man Cristiano Ronaldo probably off to check his reflection in a passing mirror or something. And as for Brazil - they were just a disgrace to the name.
The lack of goal-averages continued into the knockout stages and my frustration over the poor quality of the games continued...
One of the few teams to impress me though was Germany, who brought a mix of youth and experience to the tournament and by the time of the next World Cup they could be potential world-beaters. I was also impressed by Uruguay, so it was highly appropriate that my favourite match of the whole tournament was the normally meaningless 3rd place playoff between the two sides, which saw Germany triumph.
There were a number of new teams in the tournament, and some who hadn't played in a World Cup for a long time. I wonder what became of the North Korean side after their first round exit???
Before this year's World Cup, Spain were hotly tipped to do what they'd never managed to do before - to actually go on and win the World Cup. Although they had impressed me two years ago at Euro 2008, which they won of course, I was less impressed with their showing in South Africa. It was as if they were doing enough but no more, as if they were holding back, in an automatic-pilot run of victories on their way to the final.
By 11th July the only team that could stop them was Holland, who had enjoyed an unbeaten run and played some rather nice football along the way, even though I never really rated them as highly as the legendary 1974 'total football' side or my particular favourites, the 1988 European Championship winning side.
In this year's World Cup final, Holland abandoned total football for total wipeout, as they tried to take apart the Spain side one by one. In a tournament marked by many a questionable refereeing decision, the busiest man on the park was the ref, who struggled to contain the constant torrent of fouling and brutality by the Dutch team, who were completely unrecognisable from the skilled and promising outfit from earlier matches. Spain, already acclaimed as moral victors, struggled to score and had to wait until the second half of extra time for Andres Iniesta to finally find the net. Spain's lack of goal action was no surprise here, as they had the lowest goalscoring total of any World Cup winners - but the least goals against too. Perhaps that sums up everything that's wrong in the modern game?
However, I was very happy for Spain: they deserved their win as we would all have been pretty disgusted had Holland won, playing like that.