"Typical Germans"

Alex Ferguson's ungracious post-match interviews have been a feature of our football landscape for a long time, long enough for nobody to really bat an eye-lid at the latest xenophobic outburst.

Interestingly, though, I think Ferguson betrayed regret at his own team with these comments. Rafael's sending off was completely justified, no matter how many Bayern players helped him on his way. Equally justified, had it happened, would have been Dan Van Buyten's red card for seeking out Wayne Rooney's injured ankle and stamping on it (for the second time).

Where was the typical United response to this foul? Rooney hopped in pain, but didn't throw himself to the ground and writhe in agony (which, lets be honest, we've all seen him do). Likewise United's midfield, betraying inexperience, failed to follow in the hallowed footsteps of Keane, Giggs, Scholes, Beckham etc. by surrounding the referee and exacerbating the situation. Gibson and Fletcher were rabbits in the headlights - Carrick as anonymous as ever.

Ferguson, as ever, used his post-match interview to deflect criticism from his players, probably in the knowledge that our press would love nothing more than an opportunity to slag off those bloody Germans.

A Dose of World Cup Reality

Throughout the season murmurings of South Africa have become tremors of excitement; Capello is photographed or quoted at every turn, phrases such as 'on the plane' and even 'in the waiting lounge' have somehow entered the vernacular when describing players' chances of making the squad - all we need now is a World Cup anthem.

It's the time of the season when possible squads and starting elevens are mulled over by every fan in the land, Brazil shirts become omnipresent in a country five thousand miles away in which less than one thousandth can claim Brazilian heritage, and nauseatingly triumphant adverts creep onto our televisions. On the field if a player stays on the ground for more than two seconds after a challenge their country's World Cup prospects are immediately questioned.

For most top nations this would be an overreaction, unfortunately for England if the player in question is Wayne Rooney it's probably reasonable. This highlights the only aspect of the whole World Cup hype that the media have failed to pick up on - England essentially have no chance of progressing into the latter stages of the competition.

Rooney, on reputation and form, is England's only World Class player heading into the tournament. Ashley Cole would probably qualify if fit, Terry and Ferdinand would like to think they do but haven't now for a couple of seasons and Gerrard arguably never was (based on international performances). Capello is in fact England's shining hope alongside Rooney - a manager who can inspire and demands respect from his players and any opposition.

However elsewhere the squad and first team is full of glaring deficiencies: there is no reliable goalkeeper, there are currently question marks over every defensive position, our best winger (Lennon) is injured, a pedestrian midfield of Barry and Lampard have never proven themselves in tandem against quality opponents, Gerrard has spent most of the season in the doldrums and beyond Rooney the striking department looks toothless at this level (Defoe could prove me wrong here, but I doubt he will get the chance to).

So before any media-drum starts beating our brave boy's chances we should recognise that our squad lacks the technical talent, mentality and experience of big international games to be anywhere near favourites for the competition. And when we go out in the quarter-finals these will be the reasons for it; not poor refereeing, cheating foreigners or the heat.