I missed out a day. So what? Not much happened after all ;)
We travelled to Belo Horizonte on Sunday night, and Monday was spent travelling to the stadium to hear pretty much the same press conference from England as we'd seen at Urca the day before, save for the fact that Roy named his team and that Frank Lampard and not Steven Gerrard was alongside him.
Lampard starts & skippers the team - I've made my feelings on that quite plain last time on this blog, so no need to elaborate further. Good luck to Frank nonetheless - hope he plays well, but the side has been picked on sentiment as feared, with the manager trying to accommodate players who've not figured up to this point, rather than tell us he was looking specifically to the future. If the result and performance doesn't bear out his trust in those he's picked, the mood might shift again from the media against the manager.
We fly back to Rio not long after the game and I fly home tomorrow, so my last 'night out' was here in Belo as I joined some of my radio colleagues from rival broadcasters for a few sherberts and a quite delicious steak (they do like their protein over here). Stories were swapped, jokes told, and I got one last opportunity to thank the oppo for their help during this jamboree - and specifically I thanked Mike Ingham for his kind words of encouragement these past weeks. The wireless will be a much poorer place for not having him around.
Well that was uninspiring to say the least.
A 0-0 draw in a game that had minimal meaning sounds drab and it was - the fans were unbelievable though. Despite some having only come out for this game, their unconditional support was duly noted by manager and players at full time.
Nobody really stood out for being particularly good or bad. Shaw had his hands full with Gamboa on their right, particularly in the 1st half, whilst Milner showed a number of times that he does have a trick and can buy space for himself with clever movement. Sturridge didn't have his shooting boots on and Wilshere never looked willing to try and drift past a player like we know he can.
The disappointing 90 minutes were then followed by me being told by the FA's media representative that TalkSPORT were not being allowed to speak to Roy Hodgson in the mixed zone, as the station had, in his words, been 'hammering' Roy since Uruguay.
Well, I hadn't...
By the time I was back at Belo Horizonte airport waiting to board the press flight back to Rio, Roy was suddenly on air with us on the phone from Rio airport as the squad were changing planes to fly home to the UK, after what he said appeared to have been a 'misunderstanding' on the FA's part. Roy apparently said that he never comes to the mixed zone to do interviews. Well, that's quite simply not true, as I spoke to him in both the Manaus and São Paulo mixed zones after Italy & Uruguay.
Just so we're crystal clear on that.
Anyway, it's all semantics and I'm glad he came on to speak to us one way or another. Whilst he has been criticised heavily by some presenters, others such as Adrian and myself have been more even handed about things. The next squad he picks for the Norway friendly in August will be scrutinised more than ever, particularly with Lampard/Gerrard in mind and whether Stones or Flanagan will be reintroduced amongst other things.
Time to pack then...