A 1,000 per cent brilliant plan to save England


As a man who knows absolutely nothing whatsoever about football, I reckon my time has finally come.

As a man who knows absolutely nothing whatsoever about football, I reckon my time has finally come.

Hand over those boots, Mr Keegan, and let me step into them now. It's time to give the game the shake-up it so obviously needs. It's clear, even to me, that too much attention has been paid to obviously unattainable objectives such as scoring goals and winning. What we need is new strategies and tactics created, preferably, by a man with a highly developed sense of humour and a drinking habit.

Which leads me - neatly, I feel - to training (hope I'm not getting too technical here). Given that we are going to be smashed by whomever we're daft enough to play against, my first act as manager will be to toss any notions of physical fitness straight out of the changing-room window. My team will consist of blubbery wrecks, asthmatics, Eric the Eel and some blind people. There will be no discrimination in the brave new England that I intend to build.

No sobriety, either. The first training session will take place in my local; if 14 pints is good enough for the leader of the Conservative Party, then it's certainly good enough for my lads.

And I won't be having any slackers. I'm not having my key players going all glassy-eyed and unconscious and slumping to the floor when we're only half-way through what promises to be a vigorous and demanding work-out.

Once we've got the statutory Hague over, we'll be moving on to the hard stuff; then it's all back to my place for a dozen bottles of red and the passing-round of a sensemilla Widdecombe. I may allow the lads a couple of hours' kip in front of the porno video, before we awake at around noon, ready to do some serious work on a packet of Capstan Full Strength (untipped, naturally), a greasy fry-up, then back down the pub for a lunchtime refresher and a heart attack.

A bold and innovative stroke would be to send the lads on to the field dressed in the same gear as their opponents. The confusion that will create might enable us to slip a couple of balls in the back of the net, but it's unlikely. Such an objective will not be our first priority. What we intend to do first is all stand around squabbling over who's turn it is to go in goal. I'm hopeful this may lead to a punch-up or, at the very least, a couple of the more emotional players getting all tearful and walking off the field in a huff. Then their mums will come round and tell us to play nicely. With luck, one of them may confiscate the ball, and we'll have to go home.

In the event of that not happening, I have plenty more diversions up my sleeve. Hiding the ball up the back of the shirt and walking round scratching the head has worked on innumerable occasions. As has the carefully rehearsed and choreographed group faint. Nothing takes the heart out of a football team more than seeing their opponents lying flat on their backs, apparently unconscious, with some of us doing a credible impression of an epileptic fit.

Football is a game of two halves. Well, not any more it isn't. Once the half-time whistle blows, that's it for us. It's off the field, into the tunnel, out the other end and keep on running. We'll have done a good reconnaissance job on the area. There'll be plenty of places where we can hide. I pity the poor referee, trudging the back-streets of wherever we're playing, calling out our names in a pathetic manner as we all crouch behind some dustbins, giggling.

I think the word you're looking for is "brilliant". In fact, it's 1,000 per cent brilliant. I fully expect to hear from the blazers at the FA any minute now. It's over to me, England selection board. Yes, the ball is in my hands. Give me just one season, and I promise you an unrivalled record of incompetence, mediocrity and ignominious defeat. Or has that been done already?

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