SO THAT’S it then. Now we can get on with the real thing. The World Cup has been just an idle distraction. A catwalk of talent auditioning for parts in the main production which starts in just four weeks’ time.
How many more players are Arsenal going to sign? Should Chelsea give a clearly burnt-out Oscar some compassionate leave? How will Liverpool cope without shop-soiled Luis Suarez?
Please put away those last remaining and rather sad and bedraggled crosses of St George that are still hanging from bedrooms and car aeriels. Let’s stop pretending that anybody in any of the Home Nations really cares about the World Cup. We watch. We admire. We bemoan. We forget.
The myopic way that proposals for the top clubs to have B teams within an English league structure have been dismissed is just one example of how in denial the domestic game remains. Twenty-five years on from Gazza’s tears, everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten how uplifting a successful World Cup can be. Promising young talent comes and goes, but so long as the cash registers keep hyperventilating, and Luke Shaw is worth more than £30m, then all is right with our world within a world.
What will your overriding memories of the past five weeks be? Mine are USA fighting to their last breath with a conviction that was geuninely inspiring. Of serial offender Arjen Robben, auditioning for Swan Lake and winning penalties to the end, of David Luiz’s free-kick and then his absentee defending. Jose Mourinho was right after all. Mostly though, they are of the colour, the vibrancy, the joy and the passion of the past five weeks. And then there was England’s match with Costa Rica – devoid of any of those qualities. We’d had the invitation to the party, drunk the prosecco, and couldn’t wait to get home for the main course.
England fans shed crocodile tears over the national side’s failures, tournament after tournament. On 16 August nobody will remember the good, the bad and the 7-1 defeats of the summer. It’ll be on with the show. The show that never ends.