Well, the football’s whizzing along, and I must admit, it’s been great fun. The organisation seems good, the welcome friendly, and the stadiums are impressive too, with the exception of the one England played in at Frankfurt, which has such an absurdly designed roof (like a tent) that when the sun shines, it throws lengthy shadows across the grass, making it tricky for people watching on the telly to see anything. Anyone notice how the second game played there â€“ I forget which one it was â€“ had the rooftent closed to prevent this from happening? Stifling heat and yet they have to close the roof â€“ did anyone actually think that design through?
For me, the best performance so far came from Spain yesterday, a side with a rich footballing tradition that has flattered to deceive (ring a bell anyone?). Torres looked superb, and how nice would it be â€“ I daydreamed to myself â€“ if he came to New Highbury next season to partner Henry?
Onto today â€“ and England are in the strange position of being able to qualify with a game to spare, despite having played very poorly for 45 minutes against Paraguay. They say (whoever they are) that some teams grow into a tournament â€“ a bit like England did in 1990 â€“ and for our sake, let’s hope that’s true. I’ve cried into my England beer far too many times in the past to be too positive about our chances just yet I’m afraid. I’m not negative, I’m just a realist.
We need to improve â€“ and that must start today. Will Walcott play? He has to â€“ because if he doesn’t with two of our strikers still not fit, then Sven’s decision to bring him will look even more strange. Why bring a player if you’re not going to play him?
If he plays Theo and he’s scorching hot, Sven will wear the smuggest grin in town. If he plays him and he’s completely out of his depth, he could look a total fool. But if he doesn’t play him at all, he’s definitely going to look like a fool, so for that reason – and I’ve laboured this point somewhat now I feel â€“ Walcott will get a good half-hour tonight.