Harty on the World Cup and Sami Hyypia

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JOHN Motson and others used to trot out the old stat about Liverpool never losing when Ian Rush was on the scoresheet, until the 1987 League Cup final when, despite Rush notching for the Reds, Arsenal ran out 3-2 winners.

Another well-worn footballing statistic is the one concerning a European side never having won a World Cup tournament in South America.

Over the years, there have been a few near misses – Holland ran hosts Argentina close in 1978 and the Germans gave Maradona’s Argentina a game before they ran out winners again in Mexico in 1986.

But, despite the host nation Brazil being hot favourites, along with Argentina, who are already cranking up a Falklands controversy, could 2014 be the year when the European hoodoo is finally lifted?

Clearly Spain and Germany both travel to Brazil strongly fancied by various pundits around the globe. The Spaniards are on this amazing run of having won the last three major tournaments.

But what of England’s chances?

It’s almost bizarre in some ways, somewhat different from previous tournaments.

Roy Hodgson’s squad arrived in Brazil with perhaps the smallest level of expectation from the footballing nation.

Unbelievably, a lot of pub talk up and down the country is based on failure, with many predicting England not even making it out of the group.

To my mind, that actually strengthens England’s chances. If the majority expect abject failure then any kind of positive result will be seen as a resounding sucess.

If you base world football on the Premier League, whether we like it or not, England are not a Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal.

In point of fact, we’re probably in the group of teams below the big boys.

In their various primes, the likes of Fulham and West Brom have been in that number and done well under the managership of Hodgson, Fulham even made it to a European final!

Therefore, with the level that we are probably at, Hodgson is clearly the best man for the job.

All this negativity from various quarters doesn’t really help, in my opinion England have enough quality to get out of the group.

Then, when you get to the knock-out stages, as every football fan around the globe knows, anything is possible.

The romantic in me would love a semi-final place but, realistically, I still think England have a good enough squad to get to the quarter-finals.

In other news, without wishing to offend the new Brighton manager, the arrival of Sami Hyypia to the Amex leaves me with a combination of being underwhelmed and the jury being out.

Clearly time will tell. I just hope that come Bonfire Night, we’re all converted and doing the “Hyypia, Hyypia shake”.