Watching the World (Cup) Go By No3: I'm staying home, I'm staying home, I'm staying...
Well I must say I'm disappointed. Not with England, who have already gone further than we dared hope, and not with the World Cup in general, which has been better - much better - than we dared hope.
No, I'm reeling that not one commentator, not one pundit, not one columnist (unless I missed it) reacted to news during the England-Belgium game that Fabian Delph was about to fly home because his wife was heavily pregnant by saying 'Well at least he got something on target last season.'
Honestly, they should have me as a co-commentator. Think of the jokes and japes. I'd love to sit next to Steve Wilson uttering the odd pearl of wisdom and the occasional 'ooh' or 'aah'. That is, after all, what the job entails isn't it? Come to think of it, I'd be constantly emitting sharp intakes of breath and saying in a certain disapproving tone 'Well there was none of this at Spain 82.' So maybe they're right to use Iain Dowie instead.
Actually I'm not so sure some of the co-commentators have earned their money at this World Cup. Some (particularly Danny Murphy) are too dour and convey only the fairly obvious to the viewer. Glenn Hoddle is another who rarely seems to add insight, which for someone of his experience and talent as a player and manager, is odd.
But if the co-commos have sometimes disappointed, the studio pundits have not. I think the presenters and their panels (by which I do not mean the windows behind them) have reached new heights this time.
On the BBC, I think Gary Lineker has hit just the right note in terms of enjoying the tournament, revelling in England's progress and mocking those who deserve to be mocked, like Neymar, other divers, defenders who can't defend, and Neymar.
Alan Shearer is a fine pundit, I think, and I liked his little 'It's coming home' song at the top of the highlights show after the England-Colombia game (although as we in royal blue know, he is still a, well, something rhyming with summer). Rio Ferdinand and Cesc Fabregas have added plenty, as more recently has Jurgen Klinsmann. Having said that, Fabregas did respond to Russia's penalty against his homeland by saying it was the correct decision and adding: 'I've got nothing to say.' - which is not a great position for someone being paid a decent wodge to, err, say something.
It's the same story on ITV, where Mark Pougatch continues to prove there is no branch of sport presenting he is not good at, with Lee Dixon, Ian Wright and Gary Neville supporting him well with a reasonable mix of knowledge and humour. Roy Keane and Martin O'Neill's more deadpan delivery has its place too, and you have to love Slaven Bilic, who comes across as more of a fan than a manager.
Of course, it's no fun for a columnist such as me when all the presenters and pundits are actually any good. It leaves me nowhere to go, apart from highlighting the odd inapporpriate comment from Lawro, without which it would not be a World Cup at all.
And so to the serious business - the bit where we realise that, as of Friday night / Saturday morning, there are only six teams left in the frame and England are one of them. Your head tells you that even if we go out now, we have exceeded expectations; your heart then replies with 'yes but don't blooming go out now, we'll never have a better chance.'
I have, I should report, been doing my bit to help England along their way. My trusty Espana 82 Naranjito mug, use sparingly in recent years purely to preserve it for the four weeks in which we are now ensconced, has been produced for a cup of coffee (no Colombian beans entertained) during each England game so far.
Plus, I have my vinyl copy of This Time, the 1982 England squad song which is better than Three Lions and World In Motion put together, on the side and I touch it before each England game, although have yet to actually play it. I know when I am planning to give it a spin, but we'll see.
One other thing - I only ever watch England games at home (pubs attract too many idiots for such occasions for my liking) and I have started using a little switching-sides-of-the-sofa tactic that in the past couple of years has earned Pompey more points from away games than Paul Cook or Kenny Jackett fully realise.
I always start off at the right end of the couch, then move to the left if I feel England need help. Twice, so far, have they needed me to move, so over I have gone for the final five minutes of the Tunisia game and again for Tuesday's penalty shootout.
Some people will think the above a bit odd - but there are those of us who know the only odd ones are the people who don't do such things. @stevebone1 on Twitter