In a new blog on www.football-league.co.uk, Stuart Roach shares his experiences of South Africa:

Terry Paine barely hesitated when he was asked for one word to sum up England's performance in their World Cup opener against USA here in Rustenburg.

"Pathetic," spat the former Southampton midfielder, who was part of Alf Ramsey's world-beating 1966 squad.

The 71-year-old Paine has made quite a name for himself as a pundit on television in South Africa, a second career not dissimilar to the confident and eye-catching midfield performances that made him a legend at The Dell, and his reputation made him a shoe-in for DSTV channel Supersport's coverage of England's opening game.

He didn't disappoint, predictably slating England's performance after they had failed to build on their remarkable start to the game against Jay De Merit's USA, although he did add a positive gloss to his acerbic undercoat in a man-of-the match display amongst the Supersport panel that also included former Watford and England winger John Barnes and Dutch legend Edgar Davids.

The fact is that Paine, awarded the MBE for his services to football, doesn't pull his punches as a pundit and is quick to speak his mind, whether good or bad. It's a mix that has made him a hugely popular panellist amongst South African football fans in the same way that Saints fans loved him for his midfield mix of craft and honesty.

His 713 appearances for Southampton remain a club record and when he moved to Hereford United in 1974 to add a further 106 to his tally, he set a Football League appearance record of 819 games that has since been beaten only twice, by Tony Ford and Peter Shilton.
He made a total of 19 England appearances, including one against Mexico in the 1966 finals, and when the outspoken Paine retired from playing he predictably went into management with Cheltenham Town.

The proud Paine brought in his winners' medal and World Cup replica to share with the Supersport viewing public and there was a glint in his eye too as he analysed England's opening performance of the first World Cup in the continent that he now calls home.
"Pathetic. That's it, there's little more to offer," he said.

"There was little movement and a poor tempo, just a generally poor performance. You couldn't get a better start than they had and from then on you would have thought they would have got stronger and stronger, but they didn't."

USA didn't escape Paine's critical eye either, rather they added to his frustration that England failed to overturn what the former England man considered a side of limited ability, with a defence anchored by De Merit coming in for particular criticism.

"I don't think that USA are a particularly good side, I have got to say that. I think that defensively they are all at sea and that is why I'm more disappointed that England couldn't force the issue," Paine said.

He added: "USA have got a result when they weren't expected to. However they have got it, even though it was a goalkeeping error, the fact is that it goes down as a 1-1 draw and they will be highly delighted."

When asked whether it was right that injured England captain Rio Ferdinand and crocked midfielder David Beckham were on the sidelines, or whether they should have been watching from the stands, Paine was unequivocal. "Personally, I would have banned them from the camp altogether," he retorted.

And he refused to spare goalkeeper Robert Green's blushes by blaming the much-criticised Jubilani ball being used at this tournament for the first-half howler that cost England victory, preferring: "Green had chocolate wrists!"

Pained elaborated: "The goal had nothing to do with the ball, it was all about technique. He didn't get his body there, the hands were first and he was pushing at the ball. It is soul destroying, but I have said for a long time that England haven't got a goalkeeper that we can rely on."

Barnes makes a good stooge for Paine at this World Cup and the former Hornet had mixed views on the performance of the current Watford player at the heart of the USA defence. De Merit, the first Football League representative to make an appearance at this tournament, was solid and determined in his battles with Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey and when the Supersport anchorman suggested that USA "are not your football version of the Harlem Globetrotters in terms of excitement and attractiveness" Barnes was clearly including the Watford man in his response.

"The positives for America are that they have got heart, discipline and organisation - that can take you a long way. In the last 25 minutes, as USA ran out of steam, England ran through their midfield quite comfortably and were often four against two - four England forwards against two central defenders in De Merit and (Oguchi) Onyewu - but because of their positive attitude, commitment and desire they managed to get a result."

But if De Merit feels his sternest test of this now intriguing Group C series is over and done with, Barnes had a warning for the 30-year-old defender.

"People are talking about England and USA getting seven points and guessing which one of them will top the group, but no-one should underestimate Algeria and Slovenia. The US won't like strikers running at them and Algeria in particular have strikers who will give defenders a hard time. Playing against the Algerian strikers, who are quick and playing one-twos in and around the box, is going to be difficult for De Merit. He and Onyewu will struggle against quick strikers who are going to play down the side of them and that is what England didn't do."

As England returned to the Royal Bafokeng Sports Academy to lick their wounds after Saturday's disappointing result, Paine completed the post-mortem of their failings with the sharp twist and turn of positivity that has made him a legend in a suit and tie, just as he was in the red and white stripes of Southampton.

"At the end of the day," he begun in true pundit style, "they have got a point and we know how important that can be. I cast my mind back to 1966; we were at home, the host nation and the red hot favourites and in the opening game we were expected to beat Uruguay but we drew 0-0.

"It was all doom and gloom but Alf Ramsey took us to Pinewood Studios to meet all the stars of the movies like Sean Connery. It lifted us a lot and we went on to not only qualify from the group but actually win the World Cup, so it can happen. This is forgotten, it's the next game that counts now."

Stay tuned to www.football-league.co.uk throughout the World Cup for Stuart's blogs, direct from his base in Johannesburg.