To the mines with North Korea

Alan Shearer

“We sat here before the game and said England players man for man are better than Germany’s. If the Germans are watching that, they must think we are mugs.” Not just the Germans, Al.

Peter Drury

If the good Lord is ever looking for a candidate to break news that the world is about to end in say, ten minutes or so, Drury has to be the man. When Pete is in the gantry, apocalypse is always just one half-decent ball into the box away.

“Cannavaro disappears, possibly forever,” he boomed, as the dismayed Italian skipper risked the black hole of a Johannesburg tunnel.

But even by Drury’s hyperbolic standards his farewell to the USA’s chances was a remarkable slice of cheeseteria: “Bye bye big American sigh!”

Andy Townsend

Has anything epitomised ITV’s coverage of this World Cup better than the moment they broke away briefly from their cheerful, jingoistic optimism about England’s chances for some cheerful, jingoistic analysis of England’s linesman at the tournament, Darren Cann? Andy, needless to say, was at the forefront: “The flag’s up. Look, nice positive signal.”

Townsend has his moments though. When the South African coach had difficulty getting a message through to his players with the stadium din, Andy had a startling vision of a bright, new technological future. “You kind of need a mobile vuvuzela where you can maybe dial a number on it and get through to someone else.”

Adrian Chiles

These foreign types and their peculiar ways will forever remain a mystery to Chiles. “The South Koreans threw the kitchen sink at them or whatever the Korean equivalent of the kitchen sink is,” he puzzled, no doubt imaging some rudimentary contraption used to scour stone vessels with urine.

Clive Tyldesley

“The Spanish players are too nervous to sing.” Or could it be that their anthem has no lyrics?

Stephen Alkin

Self-appointed global football spokesman – “the world of football is still bemoaning that day in Paris last year” – Stephen’s brief sometimes even extends beyond planet Earth.

“A terrible, terrible day for European football,” he lamented of Italy’s demise at the hands of Mars’ representatives Slovakia.

Also out: Mark Bright, Matt Holland, Alan Hansen, Gabby Logan.

Surprise Packets

Ossie Ardiles

Delivers his verdicts in the manner of a concerned but avuncular visiting Latin physician, marooned unexpectedly in a surgery without air conditioning. You shouldn’t really be able to understand a word he is saying but somehow you get the message that you are berry, berry sick.

Credit must go to Ossie for breaking all known taboos to finally reveal just why Jimmy Magee insisted, all those years ago, that he “stroked the ball like it was part of his anatomy.”

“The ball was my lover. I went to bed with the ball. Absolutely. It was everything.”

Dennis Irwin

A dark horse for a gig on Xposé after his investigative work on the Landycakes and Bianca love mystery. All the more so since Dennis got the wrong end of the stick completely.

Brings a calm authority to the Souness role after Graeme’s mid-tournament transfer to Al Jazeera and has already begun work on the most important tool of any pundit’s trade – his very own language. So Germany’s midfield terminator has become “Schwarzsteiner” and Italy paid the price for being a bit “pedantric” going forward.   Suppose they can bore you all night long.

More surprises: Clarence Seedorf, Jurgen Klinsmann

Through on pens

Damien Richardson

Rico the Regulator. “The term and conditions of the second half are going to be set by Paraguay.” Having spent the first week arguing with Stephen Alkin, Rico came alive when paired with George Hamilton, chucking away his thesaurus and chuckling giddily at George’s every joke. A pleasant change from Houghton’s “Why didn’t he go across the keeper, George?” whining. Make him the regular No 2.

“Ah well, there’s always Wimbledon.”

Johnny Giles

You might argue that we could safely dispense with Gilesy now that he has delivered the four-yearly State of the Football Nation address.  Stays in for his perceptive verdict on Chile’s Estrada: “You can tell by his face that he’s a headbanger.”

Just through: Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, Jim Beglin

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner

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