Tag Archives: pundit

Get a plate, a knife and a fork. Add some words. Start eating.

19 Apr

Sometimes it’s just too easy. The inevitable ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ of blog columns arrives as Brentford gear up for Saturday’s home derby with QPR. Whilst Fulham may have finished above us for the first time in three seasons (although there’s still much more to come on that front), once again the Bees will finish the Championship campaign clear of the not so super hoops. With just three games to go we’re 10 points ahead – Brentford on 60 to our neighbours’ 50.

Poor Ian Holloway. Whilst it looked at one stage as though he might turnaround what had become very much a damp squib of a season, normal form has now returned. Rangers’ current record in the league reads: LLLLL and , mathematically, they still aren’t safe. Only six points separate them from third bottom Blackburn Rovers. Themselves, a team who will no doubt be going hammer and tongs for a victory when they visit Griffin Park on the final game of the season. What an awkward one that could end up being.

But if the chance to go 13 points clear of the Loftus Road outfit and push them ever closer to the trapdoor wasn’t enough inspiration for Brentford this Saturday, there’s more. Much more. Whilst one can only have huge respect for all Jake Bidwell did at Griffin Park, moreso in a week that marked the three year anniversary since our ascension from League One, how good to show him he made the wrong call? If only for that #Jakejoins hashtag.

Indeed from out of that move we’ve not only seen the true emergence of Tom Field but, as excitingly, Rico Henry recover from injury and show just how the statistical model helped pick another former Dean Smith player. To have two such comfortable looking left side players really is a rare luxury and one that has provoked intriguing discussion as to just who should start in the full back berth.

Then, of course, we’ve got the chance to do the double over the neighbours. A 2-0 win for Brentford at QPR back in October was one that saw Romaine Sawyers hit an absolute screamer to double our lead. Writing about that one at the time, it was noted on these pages that : “”Sure, the QPR defence looked holier than the Pope (and were about as benevolent) but you still need the technique to put it away. What. A. Finish.

“The look on his face before he hit it”, opined one terrace wag to me, “you just knew what was going to happen”. And sure enough, it did.””

More of the same would be just wonderful.

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View from the terrace – the net starts to bulge from Romaine’s rocket

But, of course, the biggest incentive of them all is ‘that column’, written by Ian Holloway in his pre-season guise as a pundit for Sky Sports. In it, he tipped Brentford to be relegated, saying we’d finish 23rd and incorrectly claiming we’d punched above our weight under Warbs.

“ Brentford are regressing. Mark Warburton got them punching above their weight. They still haven’t replaced Andre Gray and Alan Judge will be missing for the start of the season. They could be in trouble.”

Sorry, Ian. Punching above our weight? Regressing? The table doesn’t lie. It didn’t then. It didn’t under Dean Smith last year when we finished above both Fulham and QPR in the table (despite the early sale of Gray and the injury enforced absence of the Judge). It certainly doesn’t now. Brentford sit in 11th place. QPR are down down in 17th and still looking down the barrel of relegation.

I’m not Dean Smith. I’m just the numpty on the terrace. But even I can predict what his pre-match team talk might be on Saturday afternoon . Something Twitter correspondent Luis Adriano also noted might be making an appearance.

I can’t wait for Saturday. A West London derby is always a great thing but to have two of them back to back (of course, the trip to play off chasing Fulham is the following week) is a rare treat.

Here’s to a repeat of October. For more than one reason….

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I’m sure this was full earlier? Still eight minutes to go

Nick Bruzon

The ultimate sucker punch; the ultimate indignity. Leeds sting Bees with a short corner

18 Dec

After 7 (seven) attempts, Leeds United finally recorded a win over Brentford in modern times as Kyle Bartley’s 89th minute header saw the home side shade a 1-0 win over the Bees at Elland Road. No complaints here. We’ve always said there’s only one stat that counts – balls in the back of the net. Leeds aced that statistical column yet how different it might have all been.

Scott Hogan had a ‘goal’ ruled out for an apparent offside that Dean Smith was left hugely frustrated about at full time. His post match interviews saw him telling the BBC that, “It wasn’t justified. I’ve seen the replays and he was marginally onside” whilst his chat with Channel 5 included the observation that “we’ve had a goal chalked off when it was marginally onside”. Interestingly, the BBC match report claim this one was ‘rightly’ ruled out yet the views that are perhaps most telling are those of former Leeds player Michael Gray.

Sitting on the Channel Five punditry sofa (what a far cry for those early days of an awkward looking studio audience milling around the set), and with the benefit of video replay, his own take on it was : “Looking across the six yard line here, he’s actually onside Scott Hogan when he put’s the ball in the back of the net… the ball does go back a little bit and it should have actually stood.

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Channel 5 footage supported their view – Scott was onside

Yes, Channel Five. Whilst this page normally opts for the Sky clip one has to say that Five’s video package is definitely the winner this weekend. Besides, when the alternate 9pm TV  option last night was Michael McIntyre with both David Brent and Sting (a man whose recent Twitter trending made me fear 2016 had lost another rock legend but, alas, it was worse than that – he was on national TV) then it was a no-brainer to opt for George Riley and co.

At least, until Sunday lunchtime when we get the Burridge free Beesplayer take on things featuring Chris Wickham, Mark Chapman and Sean Ridley. Pity those three doing their best to light up this one – a game that another internet source I stumbled across mid-afternoon described as “anything but a Christmas Cracker”.

Official highlights now available, too

Then again, it was only going to be the proverbial,’gritty game’. Tell me otherwise but it seems one of few chances with those that were taken amounting to nothing even close. At least, until first Hogan and then Bartley had their respective moments.

“Chances were at a premium” said Dean afterwards. This was only ever going to be the case going into this game and sure enough it transpired as Leeds moved to within a couple of points of third place with their late, late winner.

Tom Field started, again. He was mysteriously substituted, again. A shame for so many reasons, not the least of which being there just didn’t seem to be any need to do it. I have to be honest, Dean’s substitution philosophy does seem somewhat random at times. Perhaps the youngster just hasn’t got the legs but, equally, against Burton he came on for Yoann Barbet . Perhaps the Frenchman is still seen as first choice and isn’t fully fit.

Either way, the goal came from a ball dropped amongst our plethora of centre backs, who then parted like the Red Sea. More tellingly it was one delivered from a short corner. A short corner for crying out loud. This most maligned of set pieces works about as frequently as a Brentford win in the play offs yet here it was, reaping reward at the denouement of what should have been at least a point for the visitors. It is a routine that even the Beesplayer team had noted Leeds were favouring and if they could spot this, surely our fleet of coaches would have done the same and looked to shut it down?

Go figure?

Anyway, we’ve lost and all the analysis in the world won’t change a thing. I’d called home win, away win, draw from these three games prior to Burton. But for a rogue corner / offside flag Christmas would have come early in our house. Instead, it’s gruel for lunch next week as an investment made for research purposes only came unstuck at the death.

On the positive side, we’ve got a home clash on Boxing Day to look forward to. Always a favourite, I’ve no doubt the Bees will get back to winning ways on the 26th.

See you then  – preferably with Fields (of goals), and no Sting.

dunemoviefacts

Nick Bruzon

Roy, walker. Iceland beat abject England. Glenn beats the fans

28 Jun

I’m not nervous. I think we’ll beat them quite easily”. Not my words but those of ITV pundit Lee Dixon before kick off as England took on Iceland last night. Ploughing straight into the book of Glenn Hoddle level punditry he set the scene for what many feared, but few actually believed, might happen. And then it did.

First things first. Well played Iceland. They won and deservedly so. Two well taken goals to England’s one, early, penalty as Roy’s boys fell apart.

We’ve all seen it. You don’t need any form of match report from me. You don’t need any form of analysis as to just how bad things were. How, mediocre England looked throughout the evening and, if we’re being honest, the tournament . A simple inability to pass the ball , shoot on target or break down a resolute defence. A simple inability for our goalkeeper to stop making basic, game changing, errors (not for this first time in Euro 2016). Hey, at least he can handle the pressure of having a flake free scalp.

Delle Alli? Ali from Oz cabs would have done a better job out there (kids, ask your dads) but to single out one person would be unfair. England were just dreadful all round. Parped on by ‘that band’, sounding worse than ever, it was a truly miserable experience. The second half especially.

Iceland wanted it. England assumed they had a god given right to qualify. And that doesn’t win football matches. The final kick in the teeth being Roy reading out his pre-prepared statement to the press just after the game. How did he write it so quickly? Surely he hadn’t written it beforehand? Surely? Why didn’t he take ANY questions afterwards? The least he could do was try to offer some explanation. To give some form of cathartic relief.

But no, in he came, out came the paper, off he walked – resignation shared with the nation. If only there was some form of topical parallel we could draw upon here.

And then there was Glenn Hoddle. The co-commentator has been roundly panned this tournament but it was almost as though he knew Iceland were going to win and, if England were going down, he was taking us with them.

At 1-0 up he endorsed playing it across the back. That worked well. This from the man who declared : Iceland are still stuck in the 80s.

In the second half he noted about the defence  : “There’s always been a suspicion that it has been the weak suit”. Well d’uh.

Late on, despite the clear inability of England to hit a barn door with a banjo he opined how, “We might get a goal from a tap in”.

Seriously? Was he watching the same game? I might win the national lottery, but its not going to happen.

I could go on. It was 90 minutes of non-stop drivel, mirroring what happened on pitch. The crowning glory being his observation that , “They’re little things but they’re big things when it comes to things in the 18 yard box”.

What does that even mean? The sad thing is that , with Roy having walked, the bookies have him at 20-1 to be next England manager. Surely just a comedy bet?

There’s a few days for us all to catch our breath. The quarter final line up is now complete  – Italy being the day’s other winners  – and it looks like a good one.

What a shame England won’t be there but Glenn and co will. Although, on the showing, four our own safety perhaps it’s best things ended there.

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The quarters are intriguing. No England though

Nick Bruzon

Green cards and the last 16. What a day as fixtures revealed

23 Jun

That was fun! Brentford finally found out when we’ll play the likes of Fulham, Aston Villa and Newcastle United on the same day that EURO 2016 went bonkers. In the best posible way. Ireland recorded a wonderful 1-0 win over Italy whilst Iceland continued their incredible journey and Hungary topped Group F. Cristiano? Hello, Cristiano…? Hello??

First up, the Euros. Iceland recorded a stunning last minute win over Austria that saw them leapfrog Portugal and take second place in their group. With it, comes a last 16 tie against England on Monday evening.

The Icelandic commentator, it would be fair to say, very much enjoyed the moment. There can’t be many who have yet to hear the winning goal but, in case not, here it is. Mark Burridge, eat your heart out….

Burridgegasmsonn?

The rest of the results saw the third place teams take order. Northern Ireland will face Wales on Saturday whilst Ireland’s reward for a 1-0 win over Italy will be the chance to take on hosts, France. Cue the inevitable, and understandable, Thierry Henry ‘handball’ references. Moreso, with the French pundit already lined up for that one.

It really was a wonderful moment for the Irish, despite Sam Matterface being the latest victim of the bug in the ITV water. Even with Glenn being kept on the pundits’ sofa for this one, it didn’t stop the normally reliable Sam coming out with comments that bordered dangerously on the Hoddlesque.

On Shane Long, “He may play for Southampton but he is no Saint” was the pick of the first half. This was later followed by the description of Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne as “Five foot four. He’s the same height as Victoria Beckham.”

Wow. It was a reference that was tenuous at best and, surely, was only used to win some secret ITV betting pool. I can only imagine Glenn Hoddle cringing in the studio as his use of “I think that’s a tactical move” to describe a substitution from England – Slovakia slipped to second place in the pecking order.

Whatever the explanation, we’re got more of the same on Monday night. England – Iceland is on ITV, folks. Cue wall to wall adverts for a certain frozen food store along with the inevitable defrosting of Kerry Catatonia and Peter Andre for some rush released adverts.

As for domestic matters, Brentford now know what we have in store and, it would be fair to say, the footballing gods have mostly smiled on us. Proceedings begin at a Huddersfield Town side that we put 9 goals past in two games last season. Scott Hogan must be licking his lips already.

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Scott Hogan – after 18 months out, ran defences ragged

Newcastle United away is on a Saturday although the trip to Villa Park is an early Tuesday evening. Boxing Day, Cardiff City, is at home whilst the season ends with QPR (H), Fulham (A) before concluding at Griffin Park against Blackburn.

We’ve all got our favourites.  We’ve all got those dates that have already been pencilled into the diary as ‘immovable’ (until Sky move them). We all know which games we are already missing due to pre-arranged ‘plans’.

In a wonderful display of symmetry, we welcome Ipswich Town for our opening home game of the campaign. I’m sure, Jonathan Douglas especially, will receive a warm welcome after last season. How is the foot now, Jota?

Green cards are being applied for and the diary filled in. With EURO2016 now through what has, if we are being honest, felt like a somewhat protracted group stage, the excitement level feels as though it has cranked up exponentially.

Roll on the weekend when it all continues.

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Bru celebrated (too early) as Ipswich opened the scoring last season

Nick Bruzon  

And finally…. :  With Brentford now set to ‘go again’  The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, re-live a stunning few seasons  of Championship life once more and remind ourselves how things turned out after that penalty’ you can do so now.

Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

ITV on the rise but will Sky scrape the barrel? And what of John Swift?

27 Mar

There was mixed news on the International front last night. Despite many enjoying the 3-2 win for England in Germany, it was the performance of the U-21 team that saw potential bad news for Brentford where Chelsea loanee John Swift limped off less than half an hour into the game with a bloody foot. Elsewhere (and I need to thank the statistical demigod that is Luis Melville for his Twitter tip-off) there was terrifying news from the Daily Mail.

But first, England. What a night – primarily because the alleged  Supporters’ band couldn’t be heard over the TV speakers. Were they even in Berlin? Who cares! The lack of jingoistic parping from their off-key trumpets was music to my ears. If I wanted to hear the theme tune to the Great Escape I’d simply watch TV on any Bank Holiday.

That was my on-field highlight. Yes, of course the goals were wonderfully taken although if you want any form of match report than, as ever, I’d suggest the BBC. The said, the win was hard fought with the ITV commentary team doing their best to jinx it at the death. Eric Dier’s injury time goal was met with declarations of “A winner in Germany” and “a winner on his debut”, despite there still being 90 seconds on the clock.

The other plus point was the performance of Lothar Matthäus  in the punditry position. Channelling the look of Paul Robinson – Neighbours, rather than Birmingham City or Burnley – he was that rare example of an ITV pundit who it was actually a pleasure to listen to. Dead pan humour, common sense and a great reading of the game. Let’s hope they snap him up for the Euros over the summer.

Kit wise, just about everybody has said their piece on this already. England opting for traditional red with burgundy sleeves and blue socks (very much Dagenham & Redbridge 1995, as one Twitter observer noted) whilst Germany elected to wear two tone black/dark green(?) with lighter green sleeves. And don’t forget the white stripes down the side from armpit to hem that looked like a somewhat unsightly deodorant stain.

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As the regular reader will (should one exist still) be aware, I’m all for the unusual and a bit of variety in team kit. These, however, both looked like the product of a “What might go well with jeans?” marketing meeting. And those blue socks should never see the light of day again.

For me Clive, this has surpassed the 1994 effort (oversized flappy collars, all those subliminal badges and a shade heading towards burgundy) as the worst ever England away shirt.

As a final thought on the game, what was with all the adverts for ‘Hooch’ that kept flashing around the pitch? Surely that died out in the 90s with Global Hypercolour t-shirts, VHS cassettes and ‘Eat my shorts’ ? Or are Student Union bars (three of the most terrifying words in the English language, to rank alongside ‘Rail Replacement bus’) about to see a resurgence?

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No longer the worst England away shirt

Next up, John Swift. With Josh McEachran still being reported out injured (and the club saying nothing to deny these stories, unless I’ve missed it) there would have been heart in mouth when he got injured last night. Despite my best searches of the internet – and it is frustrating how often a search for his name is thrown off track by: Taylor Swift, Dear John – the most we know so far is that he has a cut foot judging by the pictures circulating on Twitter.

How bad this is remains to be seen although I am sure we’ll learn more today. Whilst he has, for the most part , divided Brentford supporters during his loan spell from Chelsea, one thing we can all agree on is that another injury is the last thing we need at this pivotal point in the season. We all recall how Chris Long’s nasty gash impacted him at the tail end of the previous campaign and so let’s hope this isn’t a case of déjà vu.

I’m not a hypocrite. I don’t think Swift has had the best start to his career at Griffin Park. An over indulgence on the showboating and tendency to lose the ball has been a frustration yet, at the same time, he clearly has ability as we have seen in patches. The Wolves game in particular highlighted what he can do when we get his ‘A game’. Besides, you don’t get called up for the England U-21’s unless there is something there.

Equally, and as we are reminded time and again, he IS a young player who is still learning his game. These skills and judgement calls will come as his game develops. John has become an easy target in some circles but at a time we need everybody pulling together, let’s hope his substitution was a precautionary one and we have him back, on top form, this Saturday.

Ok. The Daily Mail. Or, rather, Mailsport online have run a disturbing story to suggest Sky will be revamping Friday night football next season to make it, what seems to be, a bit more ‘laddish’. Nuts magazine does football if you will, as guest presenters are suggested to include – brace yourself – the likes of James Corden and Holly Willoughby.

Before anybody mistakes this for any form of misogynistic rant, let’s be 100% clear. I’ve got no issues with women presenting football. Quite the opposite. I think Kelly Cates has been the shining star in the (initially at least) car crash that was Football League Tonight whilst Gabby Logan has been doing her thing, brilliantly, for almost twenty years.

And, of course, who could forget our own Natalie Sawyer who has had her feet under the presenter’s desk for so long that she probably knows more about the beautiful game than most of us put together. (Perhaps Sky should be looking ‘in house’ where, of course, Natalie has also shown her punditry skills on Football League coverage?)

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Natalie at the Sky Sports desk – feet not pictured

My issue is with novelty presenters. Comedians great. Football great. Just please don’t combine the two. Nobody needs another ‘Russell Brand’ guesting on Match of the Day.

Football punditry is three men or women, who know about football, sitting on a sofa and talking about the game. You don’t need to jazz it up anymore. We’ll still watch.

Will anybody, honestly, say: “It’s Chelsea – Leicester City tonight. I was going to give it a miss but Gary Neville is busy with Valencia so Holly Willoughby is presenting. Get the Hooch in and make room on the sofa” ?

Aside from the fact that I’ve got more chance of managing Valencia than Gary Neville next season I can’t believe that situation is going to play out anywhere. Who needs Lothar Matthäus when we could have the host of Surprise Surprise, This Morning and Streetmate (don’t remember that one)? I’ve nothing against Holly per-se but when her sporting pedigree peaks at ‘Celebrity Wrestling’ and ‘Dancing on Ice’, perhaps one to give a miss.

Comedians, alleged or genuine, don’t mix well on football

Nick Bruzon

From Street football to Soccer Sounds – rounding up the weekend

4 Jan

With the Birmingham City result now consigned to history, for the majority of us Brentford fans it’s time to look forward to the FA Cup against Walsall whilst, also, gritting our teeth for the inevitable flurry of transfer rumours (in and out) that we are sure to be inundated with.

But before we look at that, and the rest of the League games heading our way faster than a Ryan Woods piledriver, the Last word ‘inbox’ has been hit with both a response to yesterday’s article about punditry along with an update from former Bee, Allan Cockram.

Starting with Bees Player, Trinity Mirror Sports Editor Tim Street has been in touch to clarify the comment I called into question regarding the yellow for Jon Toral being acceptable because Jake Bidwell hadn’t been hurt. Well, fair play to Tim who has taken the time to qualify that and, equally, talk through the pressures of matchday punditry from his side.

You can read the full exchange in the ‘comments’ section on yesterday’s article but the main jist of this is contained within the statement :

The irony is, it was because I knew I was doing a half-time summary with Mark that I was doing some of things I save for half time, like processing pictures (each one we use has to be cropped nine different ways!) during the first half and thus missed the worst of Toral’s foul. When pressed on it at half-time, I admit I kind of blurted out something which, in hindsight, was nonsensical (Mark’s expression told me that straight away) to avoid sounding hesitant. Perhaps just admitting I missed it would have been better, but I’m sure I’m not the first, and won’t be the last, to be caught out by the ‘immediacy’ of broadcast media – as I’m sure most football managers would testify!

I still stand by my punditry opinions in general. That said, they are less to do with half time guests such as Tim (where I’d agree its always good to mix things up) and more with the long haul performance over the build up and game.

For sure it’s a big ask and I wouldn’t fancy it. Perhaps, also, we’ve been spoiled in recent years with access to injured squad members who are able to add that unique perspective that only a player can. Richard Lee, in particular, always came across as a very eloquent and considered individual when in the hotseat.

Enough on that, though. As ever I’ve digressed and this was really just meant to say “Thanks” to Tim for taking the time to give his perspective on how things work.

Next up, Allan Cockram .

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Allan at Griffin Park

Whilst the hair may be a bit shorter than it was in the 80s, he still retains all the enthusiasm for football that he had in his days at Griffin Park. Very much the Sam Saunders of his day, Cockers is back in Brentford and about to launch his Soccer Sounds Technical programme.

The regular reader may recall we spoke to Gary Blissett about this a year or so back, as he and Allan were working out in the U.S. on this project .

Now Allan is back home and looking to launch Soccer Sounds in West London,

Starting on Friday 22nd January in West Acton/Ealing . The poster below explains more whilst he can be contacted via registration@soccersounds.com if anyone is interested.

Likewise, the Soccer Sounds website is up and running if you’d like to take a look.

Enjoy.

Soccer Sounds

Cockers is back

Nick Bruzon

 

Whitehall ! Dixon !! Gates !!! Cameron is yesterday’s news

9 Apr

In a season which has seen Brentford achieve many highs – the double over Fulham; the stunning second half comeback to beat Saturday’s opponents, Derby County; Jota reinventing ‘Fergie time’ in his own name – to mention but a few, there have also been several lows. Now isn’t the time to list those with the exception of one – the oft repeated fact of my inadvertent contribution to the revelation that ‘celebrity fan’ Cameron Diaz was, actually, no such thing (although Absolute Radio DJ Christian O’Connell was the man to drop the ultimate bombshell).

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Is this Lee Dixon outside The Griffin pre kick off?

Is this Lee Dixon outside The Griffin pre kick off?

‘Chiles understudy’ sees Spain given a real clogging.

14 Jun

The World Cup exploded into stunning life on Friday. Brazil’s lucky win over Croatia seemed a distant memory after the Netherlands devastated Spain – leaving them bloodied and bruised, like a gored matador awaiting the fatal blow. Much as I love Brentford, and can’t wait for their foray in the Championship, this was the standout match from three games of truly world-class football we could only aspire to.

As ever, if you want the match reports (or the highlights) then read the BBC. For me the salient points of the day’s activity were:

ITV, who I had lambasted yesterday, redeemed themselves somewhat with first use of World Cup favourite, “For those of you just coming from work, the score is”. Sadly, I was still coming home from work, so missed this moment although am reliably informed that 6.25pm was the time; Mexico – Cameroon the game. For the record, a 1-0 win for the Central Americans.

Unfortunately, their oversized score graphic doesn’t seem to have shrunk any overnight and still takes up more screen space than Adrian Chiles. Please ITV, slim this down a bit or, at the least, move it more into the corner.

The BBC then had their turn and seem to have taken the very short-term view with their choice of panel. How they must have laughed a few months ago, at the thought of using Rio (Ferdinand, that is) in Rio (de Janeiro).

Sadly, nobody back home was laughing at his continual name-dropping. I didn’t realise, and you may not have caught this, but apparently he used to play for Manchester United

As one correspondent put it to me afterwards, he has “All the screen charisma of an 18 wheeler lorry reversing very slowly around a corner”. An ironic statement, given that’s much the same as his defensive turning circle

Still for all the downside of Rio (who looked positively distraught at having to stay behind afterwards to answer Facebook questions whilst, presumably, the rest of the panel went out for a few cold ones), the BBC had the pick of the games.

Spain 1 Netherlands 5. The Dutch masters (sorry) obliterated Spain, the highlight for me being Robin Van Persie’s exquisite header to level things. If ever you wanted to see footballing perfection then this was it.

The timing, the run, the dive, the connection and the precision. It makes you wonder if David Moyes might still be in a job had he got this sort of form out of the Manchester United man last season.

Then there was more use of the referee’s spray paint (isn’t this just shaving foam?). Whatever it is, I love this idea although am waiting for one of them to ‘go rogue’ and start freestyle art on the pitch.

Proceedings were rounded off with Chile racing into a 2 goal lead against Australia before allowing them back into the match. The Aussies, presumably put off their game by the awful kit they’d been forced to wear – the rather camp looking combination of tight yellow shirt/shorts and long white socks.

Whilst Chile held on to win 3-1, it was a much tighter, and more exciting affair, than it had any right to be after the Australian ‘no show’ for the first fifteen minutes.

That was Friday. Today sees the first outing for England, who play Italy on the spray painted (green, not white) pitch of Manaus. It promises to be an exciting day of football although, after the fifteen goals from the opening four games so far, I’m betting Roy’s boys will bring these back down to earth with a 0-0 bump.

But don’t listen to me – as somebody much wiser than me pointed out last night, my twitter observations are much akin to a #Chiles-understudy. And, to be fair, he’s probably right.

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Referees ‘paint’ – comes in three sizes