JUST when you thought the blast of the Vuvuzela was going to dominate this World Cup, out come the Germans blowing their own trumpet. Loudly. Some readers may need earplugs at this point.
If all this absorbing World Cup needed was a bit of bite, then the legendary “Kaizer” Frans Beckenbauer and his coach Joachim Loew have provided it, spurring old enemy England on to greater things – hopefully – when they meet Algeria in Cape Town on Friday night.
Lest we forget, England’s opening 1-1 draw with the USA last Saturday was a bit of an embarrassment next to Germany’s 4-0 blitzing of Australia a day later.
Today, the legend that is Beckenbauer – one of the men who will decide whether the 2018 World Cup will go to England, Russia or Spain – said: "What I saw of the English against the US had very little to do with football. It looked to me as if the English have gone backwards into the bad old days of kick and rush.” Ouch.
While Germany’s Bilt newspaper insisted: “We’re going to blow you all away” after catching the Socceroos on the hop, the English tabloids were forced to lament “The Hand of Clod” after Robert Green’s lamentable error gifted another former colony a point.
Coach Loew, whose contract runs out during this tournament, is complaining he’s got too many options after the return to form of his Bayern Munich strike force while England have injury niggles and selection problems to ponder all over the pitch.
Loew said: “As far as our attackers are concerned we have so many players who can turn a game and I've got a range of possibilities as far as our defence is concerned."
If England don’t win Group C ahead of the Yanks, Algeria and Slovenia, they’ll face Germany in the last 16 (assuming they manage to come second)... and even if they do end up on top, they will probably play Ghana before a quarter-final against the old enemy.
Beckenbauer, 61, won the World Cup as both a player (in 1974) and coach (1990). He explained his quotes in South Africa’s free Times newspaper by saying: "The English are being punished for the fact that there are very few English players in the Premier League as clubs use better foreign players from all over the world.
“I am not sure if the their coach Fabio Capello can do much about it."
Still, there were nicer words from former boss Sven Goran Eriksson, now in charge of the Ivory Coast. He said: “I think England were unlucky. Robert Green was very unlucky.
“I feel really sorry for him because it must be awful to do what he did. He's a good goalkeeper and you always feel sorry for people when they do things like that.”
The Swede, who never got the recognition he deserved for taking England to three successive major quarter-finals, added: “Don’t worry. England will qualify. I am sure they will qualify.”
Neal Collins (nealcol on Twitter) is in South Africa to promote his first novel A GAME APART. For more information see www.nealcollins.co.uk. If you think the Scottish bagpipes should be banned rather than the Vuvuzela, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1hrMRk5FnY.