For those people annoyed that some games are on during the working day, spare a thought for us here on the East Coast of Australia where games have been played at 9.30pm, Midnight and 4.30am (!!).
There has been a surprising amount of buzz around the cup, somewhat dampened by Australia's lacklustre performance against Germany, accompanied by their two most recognisable players (Jesus aside) getting sent off by pretty dubious decisions. A theme of this World Cup I think?
The men in the offices of Sydney seem to be like walking Zombies many nights - staying up to watch their favourite teams. There are many ethnic groups in Sydney too supporting their various teams such as Greece, Portugal, Italy, Korea, Brazil, Argentina, USA, Serbia and New Zealand in particular, so it's not just the Australian games being watched. Everyone seems to keep a keen eye on England too, and whilst most won't admit it, I think they are most people's second team to watch (if not support). There's been a bit of cheer from across the Tasman Sea, with The All Whites performing much better than anyone could've expected. Indeed the Sydney Morning Herald hailed their first game as Australasia 1 - Slovakia 1! Don't expect the Kiwi's to put down the oval ball just yet though.
Anyone within earshot in the last few weeks (essentially in the Greater Sydney area) will have heard me espousing my views on England's tactics, and what is going wrong.
In the event that Fabio Capello (Managerial career highlights include 5 Serie A titles, 2 La Liga, Champions League etc etc) wants to listen to me (Managerial career
highlights Owens Park Mixed football title 1999-2000 with Tree Court C) then here's what I'd tell him ahead of tomorrow morning's game (OK - evening if you're in the UK) against Slovenia.
- Rooney has to play as a solo striker. It means he stays forward, where he is dangerous. Yes he will have to put some effort in and get knocked around, but he won't be dropping back into the 'hole' in search of the ball. This is good because...
- Steven Gerrard must be pushed forward to play behind Rooney. He has the vision and the passing ability to free Rooney, and whoever else is playing down the flanks. I suspect he'll once again have to play on the left, which is a shame as in central midfield he's one of the best in the world, but on the left wing he's probably not even one of the best in England. If he does play on the left, he has to stop coming inside so much, so that he can free up Ca$hley Cole (one of the better England players thus far) to make his runs down the flanks without having defenders double up on him. Gerrard can drop back occasionally, and let Frank Lampard do what he does for Chelsea and...
- Shoot! Several times (and not just Emile Heskey) we failed to take shots when presented with the opportunity. I think it's a lack of confidence with the ball. It's very hard to be positive, and to play long passes when the ball is likely to fly off with the merest touch - but they need to at least try. Teams at this level are not going to let you pass it into the net.
- Joe Cole. I hate to admit it - but Terry is right. Personally I think Manchester City's own Adam Johnson would've been a great choice for a spot on the wing in a game like this, but we have to go with what we've got.
- Don't play Emile Heskey. Really. Don't. He might make chances, but he's got the finishing capacity of "Nasty" Nigel De Jong. I know he's not there to score, but if your one decent chance in a game falls to him, then you're jiggered. Even if this means playing Peter Crouch. (Worth a click, that one!) I think it's more likely that Defoe will start, with Rooney again dropping off, but there we go.
- Gareth Barry just needs to take Robert Koren out of the game. He's Slovenia's lifeline, stifle him, you stifle the team and let England play.
Anyway, here's hoping that we get through! I'm also supporting Australia (who have a tiny chance of progressing) and play at 4.30am tomorrow morning. If England don't, work will be unbearable - and I'm not just talking about the sleep deprivation!