TV View: Jacqui Hurley lobs in a O’Herlihy-esque grenade
The Beeb probably won’t be swooping in for Eamon Dunphy now after his recent showings
Japan players celebrate after their victory over Colombia at Mordovia Arena in Saransk yesterday. Photograph: Elsa Garrison/Getty Images
The morning after the night before and Jacqui Hurley lobbed a Bill O’Herlihy-esque grenade in Eamon’s direction. “Gary Lineker called England exceptional, Martin Keown said they had played the best football of the tournament so far, and Rio Ferdinand said they were the most energetic team he’d seen in the World Cup. Eamon . . . what d’you reckon?” she asked, with a grin. If cover was available, Richard Dunne and Michael O’Neill would have dived for it.
Eamon pursed his lips, as only Eamon can, did that bobblehead thing he does when he feels provoked, and then trampled all over England’s dreams.
“I thought they were pretty ordinary, to be honest,” he said, in an ACTUALLY kind of way. “In the second-half, it was nothing special. I thought the new England was a bit like the old England. The first time they play a good team with that defence, with Maguire and Stones particularly, I think they’ll get eaten alive . . . they’re gonna get killed.”
And there ended Eamon’s hopes of the Beeb swooping during the punditry transfer window in time for Sunday’s game against Panama. But you’d pay the transfer fee yourself just to see him sitting in the middle of Lamps, Rio and Al. “Exceptional my arse,” you’d guess, would be the first line we’d get to cross off our bingo card.
Richard Dunne, who has rocketed into this couch’s top-five list of most-loved World Cup pundits, didn’t do much to boost his transfer prospects either. “As the tournament goes on, they’ll be found out,” he said, but Michael opted for a more diplomatic path, reckoning England should at least advance from the group because they play Panama next, but, mercifully, he avoided Martin Keown’s use of that “lesser nations” term which was enough to prompt the bulk of us to purchase a Panama hat in time for Sunday.
Things were much more positive over on Russia Today where Polly Boiko was reviewing the morning’s English papers, Harry Kane surprisingly enough appearing on the front pages of all of them, even if he was playing second fiddle to Meghan Markle’s Da. He’ll need a hat-trick to usurp the other Harry’s father-in-law, a mere double won’t do.
Polly picked out a story or two about how friendly visiting fans have found Russia, quoting an England fan who said: “I was speaking to a Russian Ultra and all he wanted to do was hug me!” Polly nodded. Even the ultras are pussy cats. “The Russian hospitality was there for everyone to see,” she beamed. And then we saw Stan Collymore corner more visitors to Russia and shout very loudly at them, along the lines of “YOU’RE A PERSON OF COLOUR, HAVE THE RUSSIANS BEEN LOVELY TO YOU?” “Yes,” they generally replied, but so would you if Stan accosted you in such an ear-splitting manner.
Colombia v Japan. Come half-time the BBC had decided to abandon all efforts at punditry and instead opted for, as Dan Walker described it, “The Great British Borsch-Off” in which he, Matt Upson and Alex Scott attempted to cook the traditional Russian soup.
Phil Neville wasn’t asked to join in on the efforts, possibly because he’s the man who once had to ring his wife to ask how to make a cup of instant coffee. He did, though, have to do a taste test on the three efforts, spewing Alex’s offering in to a basin held up by Dan.
And until you see Phil Neville vomiting Borsch in to a sick bowl during half-time in a Colombia v Japan game, you’ve never really experienced the true beauty of the World Cup.
Come full-time, the mother of all thunderstorms struck, all but drowning out Phil’s Colombia v Japan analysis. “I know you can’t hear what I’m saying, but it’s really good,” he said. Unlike the Borsch.
Poland v Senegal. Eamon was given the task of analysing Senegal’s line-up. A nation held its breath. “Diouf plays for Stoke, he’s a big, you know, goer, so they’ll be going, I think.” He bowed, though, to Michael, “the best coach in Europe”, and tipped Poland.
“Gerrup outta that,” said Brian Kerr when Mbaye Niang collapsed in a heap, only to return to the field, having looked mortally wounded mere moments before, to put Senegal two up. “A Lazarus job, that,” he said. It was too.
Poland pulled one back, but Senegal prevailed. “They’re good lads,” said Eamon as he watched the celebrations, “they’ve never been to the World Cup before”, their run to the 2002 quarter-finals escaping him.
Russia v Egypt. 3-1. Made Mo Salah sad. So, no more than The Dunph and Senegal in 2002, and Phil Neville and his Borsch, we’ll attempt to erase it from our memory.