TV View: Lineker and co grinning for England as Germans flop
Meanwhile on RTÉ, Didi Hamann is forlorn – but, you have to say, a tad more mature
Germany’s Thomas Müller, left, and Toni Kroos react after South Korea’s second goal. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP Photo
Day 14. The only wonder is that Gary Lineker didn’t sign off with “Don’t mention ze Var!” If he’d checked his Twitter feed in time, he’d have seen it pop up, oh, 326,725 times. Instead he just opted for “Mein Gott! Auf wiedersehen!” And then he beamed so broadly you’d have needed a widescreen telly to fit it all in. Germany’s exit from the World Cup appeared not to have caused him any pain at all.
By then, Jonathan Pearce had told us that not since 1938 had the Germans failed to progress past the first round of the World Cup, and judging by the postmortem, you’d have imagined most of the current squad were playing back then. (Their average age is 27.1 years, the sixth-youngest in Russia, so they’re not that rusty.)
And Jonathan seemed as gutted by their exit as Gary was, having delivered a highly sombre pre-kick-off soliloquy.
“The last 80 years of German history have had their terrors, war, recrimination, humiliation, rebirth, cold war, Berlin Wall built, Berlin Wall crumbled, and through it all the Germans have had one constant in their lives: the knowledge that their football team would reach the last eight of the World Cup. That national comfort blanket could be shredded right here.”
Kevin Kilbane, sitting beside him, wasn’t quite sure how to follow that up, so he just focused on Jogi Löw’s team tinkering, none of which, as it proved, worked.
“Alan,” asked Gary come half-time, “have you ever seen a German team as poor as this?”
The Shearer man hadn’t. But it got worse.
News came through that Sweden were 2-0 up against Mexico.
“GERMANY ARE HEADING OUT OF THE WORLD CUP,” said Jonathan in his typically restrained manner, possibly busting Kev’s ear drums. “Football has caught up with them and passed them by! But as I say, you can never count them out.”
You could, though, almost as soon as South Korea scored, or at least until VAR decided they had.
Jonathan was off again. “Disbelief! Bewilderment! Utter shock! This hasn’t happened since nine-teen-thir-tee-eiiiiiiiight! Yesterday’s heroes have become yesterday’s men!” But best of all, he reckoned, England could now not be knocked out of the World Cup on penalties by the Germans.
That was, of course, quite a parochial view of this seismic shift in world footballing matters, but Jonathan soon regained an, eh, less narrow focus by suggesting Germany’s exit would bring “national shame”.
“Would you get a grip, you dingbat,” you really wanted Kev to say, but alas he didn’t.
Back on RTÉ you just wanted to reach in to your telly and give poor old Didi Hamann a hug. He’d already been feeling a little down before the match and not 110 per cent optimistic about the do-or-die game ahead when Peter Collins did nothing at all to raise his spirits by summarising Germany’s World thus far: “We had the ill-advised meeting of Özil and Gundogan with the Turkish president, we had the players being dissatisfied with their Moscow base, then we had the 1-0 defeat to Mexico, and finally some indiscipline on the sideline at the end of the Sweden game.”
“Danke for that,” said Didi’s face, although his chief concern at that point was the fact that Jogi, with his latest line-up, had used 19 of the German squad. By Didi’s definition of “settled”, it wasn’t.
Come full time he just looked forlorn, although what hurt him most wasn’t so much the first round exit, rather Manuel Neuer’s wandering upfield in the closing stages facilitating South Korea’s second goal, which he reckoned was just daftly disrespectful. That allied to the behaviour of the suspended backroom staff who had rubbed Sweden’s noses in it at the end of their group meeting, he said, amounted to national “embarrassment”. With all the high-fiving going on over on the BBC, it was a refreshingly grown-up take on it all. Classy, too.
All Wrighty, then
Some time later. “For some reason I can’t seem to shed a tear for them,” said Ian “Wrighty” Wright on ITV, Gary Neville chuckling, while Slaven Bilic and Martin O’Neill studied their shoes. Not that either of them was in floods either, but you sensed they felt these were the days they really earned their ITV bucks.
Would Brazil make it a double World Cup whammy? “Not if Neymar can keep his toys in the pram,” said Damien The Duffer, most of us reckoning they had all long since been chucked out.
But some semblance of World Cup order was restored, Brazil advance despite all Serbia’s huffin’ and puffin’.
Next: Brazil v Mexico. Now we’re whistling.