Harry Pearson has been worrying about all the different factors affecting the football in Germany, most importantly "the exciting new marketing opportunity - sorry, World Cup match ball".
"Strangely, though, once Stevie "G-Force" Gerrard, gob freshly wetted, did get his chance to pummel the ball goalwards in Frankfurt it was suddenly not quite so smart any more. Now, in fact, it was if anything a dumb ball, banana-ing off the midfielder's boot and into the crowd as if caught in the vortex of a black hole located somewhere at the back of the stand."
[I expect he penned that before Gerrard found one of the smart versions of the ball against Trinidad & Tobago yesterday]
"At this point some of us found ourselves suddenly confronted by a factor we had never factored for before, and we asked: could the ability of the players be a factor? It is a worrying thought."
Funny. Actually England have a collection of individuals in Terry, Lampard, Gerrard, Beckham, Rooney, Cole and Owen with bags of ability. Sven hasn't quite worked out yet out to get them to work together as a team, though. (I think he should build the team around Gerrard). Poor performances in the group stages don't matter as long as the team gets through to the knock-out phase. Italy scraped through their first group with three draws in 1982, if I remember correctly, but they still went on to win the tournament, including a terrifically entertaining defeat of Brazil along the way. England might still wake up but on current form there are at least six other sides in the tournament looking in significantly better shape.