THE WORLD CUP WAS JUST.
Even hours after the heinous behavior of the Dutch in the Final, one can still feel their illegal challenges smearing the game. However, even though the U.S., Ghana and, perhaps, even Germany, can claim to have experienced misfortune, the team that played the most positive, optimistic, joyous and hopeful football (which is why I tipped them at the very start), Spain, actually won.
THE WORLD CUP WAS NO PLACE FOR STARS.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Kaka. These were the stars that Nike pushed as being god-like entities who would light up South Africa. In truth, they might as well have not bothered coming. Even Adidas's Lionel Messi barely flickered. This was the Curse of the Pitchman who was not much good on the pitch.
THE WORLD CUP WAS DOMINATED BY THE TEAM ETHIC.
Argentina coach Diego Maradona said it well, even if he was speaking, at heart, of himself. He declared that the stars had not been selfish enough. He said that they had become too conscious of being part of a team and that teams had not been constructed to free those stars to be themselves. You know, as they did for Maradona.
THE WORLD CUP WAS A DISASTER FOR NEGATIVE COACHING.
There are those who believe that coaches outwit each other. As if the players are mere pawns being moved around a board. But here we had supposedly sophisticated coaches like Italy's Marcello Lippi and Brazil's Dunga taught a lesson in the Art of Football. Holland beat Brazil because they were, ultimately, more positive. Their reversion to the negative in the final was quite pathetic. The abject reliance on defensive power has its limits. Just because Italy won that way in 2006, it doesn't mean that is the only way to win. Perhaps football might now find room for more progressives coaches like Germany's Joachim Low.
THE WORLD CUP WAS TERRIBLE FOR ENGLAND.
So much hype, so little ability. So much hype, so little effort. So much hype, so little imagination. England, in its own, truly inimitable way, managed to play the sad drunk at the bar who tells you he used once to be in Hollywood. They weren't merely bad. They were merely embarrassing. A pub team entirely out of place on the world stage.
THE WORLD CUP WAS STILL FUN.
But only just. People whined about vuvuzelas, when they should have admired the fact that the World Cup was being played on a new continent. The quarter-finals provided the most consistent excitement. But the best game was probably Cameroon vs. Denmark in the first round. The best player, without any doubt at all, was Japan's Keisuke Honda. If only the Japanese had stayed longer in the tournament, Honda's remarkable skills would have found their deserved stage.
THE WORLD CUP WASN'T GREAT FOR THE U.S.
For America to have made a breakthrough, it would have to have reached the semi-finals. While the Americans left much to admire with their attitude and class, they still lacked poise and skill in vital areas of the pitch. Both at the front and the back. Coming from behind is great to watch. But, far too often, the U.S. shouldn't have been behind in the first place. The barriers the team must overcome in the States are so high that only consistent exhilaration and success can get the U.S. to make the leap into permanent national consciousness.
THE WORLD CUP WASN'T GOOD FOR OLD POWERS.
While the Germans showed what concerted effort and real aforethought can do to revitalize a country's football, old powers like Italy and France descended into the pit of incompetence: the former through an utter lack of vision, the latter through utter and total mismanagement. The French had players capable of greater things. They also had a manager who didn't even have the good grace to shake the hand of South African coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
THE WORLD CUP WASN'T A TRIUMPH FOR KIM JONG IL.
A man who claims that he can communicate telepathically with his coach, has to be able to show that he communicated sound, tactically astute thoughts. Instead, the North Koreans went down 7-0 to Portugal, which would suggest that Kim Jong Il might not be so difficult to negotiate with, even if one sends Miley Cyrus to do the negotiating.
THE WORLD CUP WASN'T GOOD FOR REFEREES.
Yes, it's hard for referees, but missing the fact that a ball is more than a yard over the goalline or that a player is offside by the width of a river, should surely not be beyond the wit of even an oaf-like organization such as FIFA. Finally, finally, FIFA promised to consider goalline technology and even perhaps the addition of a couple of extra officials. But perhaps these extra officials might be equipped with seeing-eye dogs. Just in case.
THE WORLD CUP WASN'T GOOD FOR OCTOPUS-KILLERS.
Paul the German Octopus had an unblemished record. Even when he stretched his abilities beyond that of choosing the winner in every game Germany played. Yes, he picked Spain in the final. While everyone from Argentine chefs to disgruntled German fans threatened him on various social networking sites, Paul floated along, confident in his own talents. If only Wayne Rooney had managed the same.
THE WORLD CUP WASN'T WHAT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN.
Perhaps we always demand too much of World Cups. Perhaps in a world where money owns everything, it is ridiculous to offer romantic notions about a simple ball game. Yet the highs (Honda, Ozil, Muller, Iniesta, Germany, Spain) were too few, and the lows (England in every game, the Dutch in the Final, Italy in every game, goalkeepers, Brazil, Africa's poor showing, Uruguay, Van Bommel, did I mention England?) were too many. One can only hope that Spain's triumph will lead coaches around the world to regenerate the idea that something positive and beautiful can truly win it all in the Beautiful Game.