Back in Rio after a bleary eyed early bus to Manaus airport. I do love Brazilian drum rhythms, but not necessarily at 2.30am blaring out of the nearby Fan Fest P.A. system that's next to our hotel. When your alarm is set for 4am...the biter bit, I suppose, as I get my own dose of 'noise gate' (see earlier blog)
This hotel was a real exercise in contrasts. As you walked down the corridors there were countless elegantly carved solid dark wood benches and seats - plus the doors and door frames were similarly made from oak or maybe mahogany. Soon as you entered your room, it was pure IKEA flat back balsa chippings throughout.
A minor quibble. I do appear to have escaped the jungle without being attacked by mozzies. Until my tablets are finished in a week's time, the jury's out on malaria, though :)
In a break with tradition, I did manage to sleep on the plane. For a bit anyway - you can't help but marvel at how beautiful Brazil looks from the air. We flew back over the Amazonian rain forest tracking South & East and even once we were out of the so called 'malaria area', the lush vegetation remained below throughout on a beautifully clear morning.
It was a bit higher up on Gol! Airlines than it was in my days aboard the 'Flying Eye' in Birmingham, so I couldn't detect any traffic problems below! I did that job for 2 years flying in a 6-seater Seneca aircraft. I sat in the front next to the pilot and got so used to seeing out of the front window as I flew, that getting back in a jumbo jet in those days as a regular punter was very disconcerting!
See no reason to change my opinion on what I saw last night from England. There's stuff to work on, but that was far better to watch then we've seen at many a major tournament. We've spent 2 years working on a specific structure and ideal - the days of our 'keeper booting it downfield time and time again from hands is gone. The days of diagonal long balls (fight balls) from full backs hoping to get a knock down from a barrel chested centre forward are also conspicuous by their absence.
I'm desperate for Rooney to get out of this World Cup funk he appears to have got himself into. Uruguay might be more his sort of game against a more traditional formation and straightforward approach. But our system won't change - that much is clear from Roy Hodgson himself. He mentioned prior to the Italy game that you don't have 'an epiphany' as he put it about changing style or system just before a big game and expect players to unlearn what's been drilled into them in the times Roy has had them for training, friendlies or qualifiers these last 2 years.
It'll be really interesting to see the demeanour of the squad and management at training tomorrow. We'll all be looking for clues, hints as to body language, spring in the step, everything. Perhaps this is where Dr Steve Peters' expertise in psychology could be particularly useful, given that his door is always open to players who might need a pep talk. Stuart Pearce, speaking to me and Adrian earlier tonight, sang the praises of Peters during his time as U-21 coach.
You may think it all guff that he's here and place him on a par with Glenn Hoddle's choice of Eileen Drewery - unfair comparison. This is a scientific approach, not hokum. Every sportsman or woman needs an edge. If that edge comes from an open door policy with a vastly experienced psychologist, so much the better.
And remember, whilst we all want to go far into this tournament, the real target for Sterling, Barkley, Shaw, Cahill, Oxlade Chamberlain et al is France in 2016 for the Euros.
Progress is slowly being made, you can be sure of that. Let's not let one narrow defeat upset the applecart and spoil what seems on the face of it to have been very worthwhile work on everyone's behalf.
Roll on Thursday.