10 June 2006

So Far, So So

After waiting four whole years for the World Cup to come around again, I must admit being a bit underwhelmed, a distinctly different reaction from what I was feeling at this point in June of 2002, when I virtually gushed to a friend, "Isn't this like the best World Cup ever?" and he, despite his characteristic English reticence, enthused (after a fashion), "Yes, I suppose it might be."

That of course was before England made its usual ignominious exit, and while underdogs like Senegal and South Korea were still riding high, and I do recall that the second half of the 2002 tournament was definitely a letdown from the fast and furious first couple weeks. Also, we're only two days in, and have already seen inspiring performances from Trinidad and Tobago and (almost) the Ivory Coast. So I suppose it's mainly England that's left me in a lethargic snit over the whole business, with "lethargic" being the key word to England's performance as well. Or what did I call the Sven-Goran Eriksson approach to football on some message board this morning? Oh yes, the apotheosis of mediocrity. Much has been made about it being inappropriate to have a non-English manager these past few years, but when you think about it, Eriksson embodies one aspect of contemporary Englishness, the willingness, even eagerness to settle for the average, the "it'll do," the so-so. For the first ten minutes of today's game, I was ready to change my tune, but once England had scored a lucky goal, things settled down into the usual tepid, sludge-like, utterly unadventurous display, and if we make it past the quarterfinals on that form, it will be a wholly undeserved miracle. Luckily I still have Australia, the USA, and the Ivorians as my backup teams. None of whom have nearly the talent that England does, but all of whom seem to have come actually to play as opposed to merely putting in an appearance.

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