Is that what you meant Harry?
Following Germany’s rout of Brazil was always going to be a tough act and in fairness to both Netherlands and Argentina, needed Leonell Messi to replicate Maradona’s 1986 waltz through the England defence, van Basten’s 1988 European Championships volley along with Pele’s 1970 effort against Czechoslovakia whilst Robben copied his dummied effort against Uruguay, both scoring this time. The decisive moment had to be the ball cannoning off the referee’s backside into van Persie’s face and onwards to the back of the Dutch net whilst Blind, Martins Indi and Vlaar re-enacted their favourite Marx Brothers routine.
Despite some comedy defending, no-one else had read that script and we were left with a semi-final entirely in keeping with the knockout phase; tight, defensive and not a lot happening for 120 minutes. Louis van Gaal had been hailed as a tactical genius for bringing on Tim Krull for the penalties win over Costa Rica. It wasn’t, it proved to be a fluke as he took the chance that two players who had been doubtful for a match always destined for that ending. A tactical genius would have factored that in and selected Krull to start, knowing his three subs were likely to be needed elsewhere. If the Newcastle stopper was good enough for a place on the bench, he was good enough to start. The press stopped penning their eulogies for Manchester United’s revival wondering if van Gaal is the Dutch David Moyes.
In the end, we were left with the unusual sight of a Romero playing the role of hero. Half a century after Cesar ran amok before being captured by the combined might of Bert Ward and Adam West’s combined Thud! and Kerpow!, George rescued the family name with a better display of goalkeeping in a shootout than the Dutch substitute managed in the last round. Compared to Cillesson, he looked confident and more likely to save than his Ajax counterpart.
All of which left us with a repeat of the finals from 1986 and 1990. The latter was just awful, with Argentina deciding to kick anything which moved although if memory serves, it wasn’t much of a foul that led to Brehme’s penalty. Perhaps the referee just wanted to put us out of our misery following Monzon’s dismissal and I forget who the second Argentine player to receive his marching orders was. 1986 was a more entertaining match, perhaps the chance for Leonell to prove his pomp is at least comparable to Maradona before the performances became drug-fuelled craziness.
All the while this was going on, Arsenal were frustrated in their attempts to sign Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean proved particularly adept at the game of hide and seek he coerced Dick Law into playing. The Arsenal Negotiator-in-Chief thought he’d found the elusive winger in the broom cupboard beside Ivan’s office and is desperate to find him before the official launch of the new Puma kits. That cat is well and truly out of the bag and the media are running with the angle of Sanchez’s signing being announced at the shindig this evening. It’s a bit more subtle than that though. With Sanchez’s hairdresser confirming the past week’s worst kept secret, a deal which was being held up as Barcelona and Liverpool thrashed out the details of Luis Suarez’s transfer is now being held up by Arsenal as the club tries to resolve the ‘details’ which stopped the circus in its tracks.
Now we are told that the Catalans are desperate to unveil Luis Suarez as their player today lest John W Henry run out of whatever it is he was smoking when he thought he would be keeping hold of the Uruguayan. The writing was on the wall for that relationship when the forward’s agent brokered what they thought was a deal with a rival club; perhaps it was lost amid the graffiti which daubs many a wall in the city. For Barcelona supporters, knowing Suarez can’t play until October at the earliest must be like finding your parents have bought the best Christmas present in the world for you, only to realise that there are months left before you can play with it.
On the radar still is Mathieu Debuchy whose price has more volatility than the stock market, £10m the quoted fee in several outlets. Joining him will be David Ospina, the Colombian goalkeeper who the club want to sign from Nice. Which is nice. Nice not nice. Forget it. Meanwhile, whilst we were all bored stiff watching the semi-final last night, Arsène wafted a piece of paper under Florentine Perez’s sleepy head and with the squiggle duly appended, signed Sami Khedira for £23m. Apparently. The only stumbling block is going to be his wages but as with buying an expensive car, if you can afford the initial purchase, you can afford the upkeep or you don’t buy. And still Antoine Griezmann’s Mr20% hasn’t got the hint; the Arsenal ship has weighed anchor and is almost out of the port with only a change of heart by Alexis Sanchez resurrecting that opportunity,
All of which is just the sort of tattle you want from a transfer window. C’mon, admit it; this time around, the summer is less traumatic that last. Amazing what a club can do when it puts its mind to it, isn’t it?