Friday, 11 July 2014

Last Night I Had The Second-Stangest Dream

Gary Lineker:  Good Evening, you join us in Rio for the biggest match of the football calendar, the climax of the biggest sporting event in the world.  Welcome to The World Cup Final on the BBC.

[Montage of highlights of games so far]

GL: And the game will, of course, be covered on Radio 5 Live, the Home of Brazil 2014.
CB: Surely Brazil is the home of Brazil 2014…?
GL:  Well, yes.  Joining me in the studio here at the world-famous Maracana in Rio De Janeiro are Alan Shearer, Mark Lawrenson and, back by popular demand, Clayton Blizzard.
[Wide shot of pundits looking serious/smug/grinning like a twat]
Gents, it’s almost all over – what’s your summary of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – starting with Lawro?
ML: It’s been a great tournament, we’ve seen a real resurgence of attacking football, adventurous tactics, surprise results, some terrible decisions – it’s had everything, really.
GL: Al?
AS: Yeah, as Lawro says, it's been fantastic, you've had great attacking play, controversy, some amazing results -it's probably best Hansen's not here, I don't think he enjoyed some of the defending, particularly in the semi-finals [laughs]. But no, it's been tremendous excitement from start to finish, and tonight, we've got the showpiece finale to the whole thing.
GL: We certainly have.  Clayton, what have you made of Brazil 2014?
CB: Well, first of all I'd like to congratulate FIFA on the most outrageous display of chutzpah the sporting world has ever seen, the advertisers couldn't have had a mo-
GL:  What about the host nation, a tragedy for the players and fans alike.
CB:  Yes, it’s a tragedy as far as Brazilian football goes, and I've heard football is very important to Brazilian culture.  But now that the tournament is over for Brazil, I’m sure the BBC will be covering all the civil unrest and the battle for democratic control over public spaces with all the same interest, comment and saturation coverage they’ve given the football….
GL:  Have you been surprised to see so many of the so-called bigger nations going out of the tournament, some in spectacular fashion?
CB: Well, not really.  What youse pundits often forget, or can’t say, is that there are only three possible outcomes to a match: home win, away win, draw. There’s only two possible outcomes to a knock-out tie: one lot goes through or the others go through.  But you’re surprised Spain haven’t won a game and you’d be surprised if Holland didn’t win a game and surprised if Chile didn’t win a game – but they can’t all win all their games, they play against each other.
GL:  But it was a shock, the way Spain capitulated, wasn't it?
CB:  But your shock isn’t real, it’s professional: you have to be surprised by everything, but then nod sagely when someone repeats a clich√© about football being unpredictable.  So you talk endlessly around the potentials, the permutations, the hypotheticals, the predictions, because you’ve got a job and a position to protect. As Mark Lawrenson is fond of saying, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, so I know you’re not gonna say: “This is all idle speculation, nothing we say has any effect on the outcome of the games, or any importance in The Real World.”  But, you know, that's how I see it, just my opinion.
[uncomfortable silence]


GL:  It could all have been so different…
[Cut to VT of England failing to win group games]
GL: Mark, what did you make of England's performance in the tournament?
ML: Overall, inept, really.  I actually thought the team performed well against Italy and were a bit unlucky not to get anything from the game, then against Uruguay, of course, Suarez made the difference.  But the Costa Rica game summed it up for me: there wasn't much dynamism or drive in the team. Disappointing.
AS: Totally agree with that, the Italy game I thought the lads played well, with better luck and just a little bit more defensive nous we could have won that game, but having lost it, it was always gonna be difficult, playing catch-up in the group.  But listen, the amount of top teams that have gone out early - Italy as well, after that good start in the first game.
GL:  Blizz?
CB:  Well, there are a million talking points around the England games, apparently.  I know it wouldn’t make good telly, but if we were honest, the post-match analysis of the England games would be ten seconds long, and it would be something like this: “The better team won.  Maybe they are a technically better team, or maybe they just played better on the night, or both, but there it is.  Go and live your lives and we’ll be back to do all this again in a couple of years, and maybe England will win then and maybe one day we’ll learn to enjoy all this, win, lose or draw.”
Another thing we don’t seem to have considered is that maybe England aren’t very good.  They’ve got some very talented players, no doubt.  But other teams are technically better, better organised.  Maybe
But at some point, we may just have to accept: it’s football, it’s not love.  It’s not food, it’s not peace, it’s not freedom.  And I love football, but let’s keep it in perspective, can we?
GL: Football is all those things!
AS: Football is better than all those things!
CB: NOW we’re getting somewhere – come on Alan, defend your sport from the nay-sayers, the anti-football lot.
ML:  Listen, we’re here to talk about football.  And aren’t you here being a pundit as well?  Are you gonna give your fee back to the license payers?
CB: We'll see if I still get it...I may have violated the terms of my contract by mentioning advertising and not supporting England.
GL: What does the future hold for the national team, where do we go from here - new manager, new tactics, change the approach at grassroots level?
CB:  Maybe Roy Hodgson should sneak into the opposition dressing room and replace everyone’s boots with ones two sizes smaller, like in Amelie
[Blank stares]
…you know, Amelie, the film, with Audrey Tatou…?  You haven’t seen Amelie?  Oh, fer ff….I have no way to relate to youse people – this is why people hate football, you know. 

After the game:

GL: Clayton, how has the World Cup been for you?
CB: Thanks for asking Gary.  I’ve compiled some statistics of my own that you might find interesting.
In TV and radio commentary, there have been:
References to German efficiency and/or ruthlessness: 7,468
References to "The Beautiful Game": 809
Uses of the phrase "forty-eight years of hurt": zero.
Uses of the phrase "England expects": 3
Sightings of Scottish fans at games: 1
Shots of an attractive young woman with face painted with team’s colours/flag: 249,603

Who is responsible for those long, lingering shots of pretty female fans anyway?  Is there someone employed just to identify suitably telegenic women and point them out to camera operators and directors?  Or do the cameras just find them?  As naturally as billboards for fancy cars pop up in run-down neighbourhoods?
Conspicuous adverts for alcohol: 2,458,136
Pictures of Brazilian fans crying: 3075

At the end of the show:

GL: Thanks, Clayton, would you like to say one more outrageous thing before the end of the programme - it might just be your last chance...
CB: Go about your business, people of the world, the football is over until tomorrow or whenever.
Also, Fuck The Queen!
GL: The views of Clayton Blizzard do not represent the views of anyone at the BBC.

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