It’s all over for another four years. All the excitement, the drama and wondering why England are so disappointing time after time.
After looking to Brazil for the last few weeks, now we can turn our attention the bread and butter that sustains us between the chasms of non-World Cup years. The tournament did throw up some key questions. Here’s a look at the follow on questions arising from events in Brazil.
How solid is Robin van Persie’s form?
He started the tournament by leaping gloriously like Chris Martin leaps on the opportunity to write a moody pop-ballad, but by the end, Robin van Persie looked distinctly more pedestrian.
While the early evidence hinted Louis van Gaal may know the right combination of button pressing and ego massaging to reignite his Manchester United career, he failed to score another meaningful goal in the tournament and put in some performances to match.
His penalty in the pointless third/fourth place playoff ensured he scored four goals at the tournament, which isn’t shabby, but isn’t necessarily a guarantee of an instant renaissance. A recreation of his debut season at Old Trafford – after last year’s injury-fest – is far from assured.
Schurrle to take a more important role at Chelsea?
Andre Schurrle’s first season at Chelsea wasn’t an unequivocal success. Yes, he did make 30 Premier League appearances, but 15 of those came as a substitute with Jose Mourinho deciding the German’s 80’s quiff was generally only fit to grace the last 20 minutes or so of games. He did however manage eight goals, which was the joint third highest contribution in the squad.
His performances at the World Cup may have changed Jose’s opinion. Once again, he was no stranger to starting as a benchwarmer. Jogi Loew introduced him six times as a substitute, but what was remarkable was how crucial his contributions were. Yes, the job was already done when he scored twice against Brazil, but in general, his introduction brought about an improvement in Germany’s performance, most notably his good work in setting up Mario Gotze’s World Cup winner.
In a summer when Chelsea are hoovering up some top talent, they may already have the man who can help sustain a title charge.
Have West Ham gone mad?
Every World Cup seems to be followed with some eye-brow raising deals for players who enjoyed a purple patch during the competition. Apparently many years of middling performances are a less reliable indicator of success than a handful of games against opposition of indeterminate ability.
Looking every bit like 2014’s version of Liverpool’s Diouf/Diao transfer missteps is West Ham’s purchase of Ecuador’s Enner Valencia. He scored three goals in three World Cup games on the back of 18 goals in 23 games for Pachuca in Mexico. The 27 league goals from 130 Ecuadorian league appearances prior to that are less encouraging.
Valencia looks talented, but £15 million worth of talented? Hmmm … if the jury may not be out, but they’re certainly considering leaving the room.
Will van Gaal bring a Dutch of class to United?
The Netherlands’ third place at the World Cup was painted as a resounding success for Louis van Gaal. And it was. Providing you think they were never going to beat Argentina and would have been outclassed by Germany. His springing of Tim Krul from the bench for the penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica being held up as a prime example of his managerial cojones. The fact they went 120 minutes without scoring against Costa Rica being somewhat overlooked.
‘Just think what he’ll be able to do with the resources available to Manchester United. Wayne Rooney, RVP … er … Marouane Fel .. eh … well Rooney and van Persie – that’s something to work with’. Van Gaal certainly has the experience and strength to be a success at Old Trafford, but plenty of big reputations haven’t lived up to expectations in the Premier League.
Too valuable to Luis?
Luis Suarez had one too many bites at the cherry to come back to Liverpool. Another sizeable ban and the potential for further misdemeanour’s made it hard to turn down the £75 million Barcelona waved in their faces in return for their star. Now they need to go about compensating for the loss of goals, assists and general irritating people that the Urguayan so consistently provided.
And now thoughts turn to what will happen with the money. Brendan Rodgers has already been Supermarket Sweeping his way around the transfer market, but now he’s been handed an even chunkier warchest.
While previously they used to spunk £20 odd million on a big name who almost never worked out, now they tend to spunk smaller amounts on some players who occasionally do work out.
Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic are already in the bag with more to come. Will they be able to match the heights of last year’s credible title challenge? We’ll know by about the end of September.