World Cup TV View: Pundits marvel at Brazilian footwork but Roy Keane has no time for dancing

Things hotting up nicely in Qatar but spare a thought for those cold England fans in Nottingham

Ah here, Brazil. Just the 36 minutes on the clock and they were 4-0 up, and if you’ve a soft spot for South Korea, as you should, it would have been left in smithereens.

Ally McCoist spoke for us all. “Ridiculous.” Especially that Richarlison goal, which you only ever see on the PlayStation, or whatever machine the young people use these days. Lucas Paquetá's was gorgeous too, but as Ally said, “it wasn’t as good as the last one, it was only excellent”.

But Brazil’s post-goal(s) celebrations led to a heated debate at half time in the ITV studio, one that had slight generational overtones.

Eni Aluko: “I love it, we’re at Brazil’s party!”


Graeme Souness: [Heavy sigh].

Roy Keane: [Went off on one]. “I can’t believe what I’m watching – I’ve never seen so much dancing, it’s like watching Strictly!”

Anger mounting. “I don’t mind the first kind of jig, whatever they’re doing, it’s the one after that, and then the manager getting involved! No, I’m not happy with it, I don’t think it’s good at all, it’s disrespecting the opposition.”

And apart from dance-gate, Eni opted to place the focus on Brazil’s fabulousness, Roy and Graeme instead wondering what on earth South Korea were thinking when they decided they could go toe to toe with the jiggers. “They’ve been an absolute shambles,” said Graeme.

Sure look it, he was right, and their coach must have been tempted to chuck a towel onto the pitch before half time, but after watching Croatia v Japan, when you’re treated to all-dancing PlayStation football, you should just genuflect.

Second half. Less exhilarating, Brazil all danced out, Jon Champion reduced to telling Ally about a local tourist attraction, a desalination plant. “A desalination plant,” said Ally, “it’s not high on my agenda.” You had a notion, though, that Roy would love a visit to a desalination plant. “All credit to removing salt from seawater.”

Jon and Ally were, though, woken from their slumber by a zinger of a South Korean goal, Paik Seung-ho neither jigging nor reeling when his thunderbolt entered the net, when he would have been perfectly entitled to respond in such a manner.

On Brazil dance, then, their next opponents the ever doughty Croatia.

Their tussle with Japan was more sedate than samba, Guy Mowbray somewhat hinting at his desire for the contest to end. “By the time this is over in the land of the rising sun, I think that sun will have risen.”

The most memorable moment, really, one that would have had you reaching for the Kleenex, was when Luka Modrić was subbed off in extra-time, leaving you with the sinking feeling that you’d never see the little maestro on a World Cup stage again. Although football looks so effortless for him, like he could still boss a game while sitting in an armchair, who knows, he might still be around in 2042.

Hold it. He’ll be around on Friday – Croatia through on pens.

Penalties? You know yourself, cruel as ever.

Rio Ferdinand: “That walk up to the penalty spot is a hard, hard walk.”

Gary Lineker: “How would you know?!”

Rio: “I’ve done it on many occasions, in the Community Shield.”

It was a buoyant BBC panel, after their lads had cruised into the quarter-finals, and while we might be envious of our neighbour’s success thus far at this World Cup, if you’d tuned in to GB News on Sunday evening, thereby doubling their viewership, you’d have realised that it’s actually no cakewalk following your nation in this tournament when it’s winter in your part of the world.

The channel sent Will Hollis along to Nottingham’s Trent Navigation Inn, which has the biggest outdoor telly screen in England’s midlands, 500 souls sitting in the cold and downing copious amounts of pints while watching their boys see off Senegal.

“I went to the toilet twice and missed both goals,” one fan told Will at half time, the pints and the chill getting the better of his bladder. By full-time hypothermia appeared to have set it. “Brilliant, weh gun win Wooold Cwup!”

It’ll be -2 degrees when England kick off against France on Saturday – in Nottingham, not Qatar. They should dance like they’re on Strictly to try to keep warm. Just do it out of sight of Roy.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times