Gareth Southgate hasn’t pussyfooted around and has named his England squad for the World Cup within hours of the end of the Premier League season. Now all he has to do is sit back, light a big fat cigar and wait for the trophy to come back home after 52 years of hurt and s*** and that.
Right? Wrong. Incredibly, there’s more to winning the World Cup than just naming your squad early, so here’s some tips for G-South gleaned from decades of tournament glory and failure.
DO… A WORLD CUP SONG
Every time we have a great song, we do well in a tournament. Okay, so it’s happened twice, with Back Home in 1970 and World In Motion in 1990.
This time around, the FA haven’t bothered with an official song, which is potentially a massive mistake.
You could easily knock one together in an afternoon – call it a team-bonding exercise. I’m 99% certain that Jesse Lingard has already got the bulk of one written and also has an app on his phone that you could record it on. Be brave.
DON’T… CONFUSE THE LADS IN TRAINING
Learn from the Yugoslavia 1974 squad – their cunning plan was to hold an open training session with a full practice match for all to see, but with players wearing the wrong numbers on their shirts and playing out of their regular positions.
Ah-haaa… that should confuse and bewilder opposition spy coaches, eh? Not quite – the Yugoslavs won only one of their six matches in the tournament, although admittedly that was a 9-0 hammering of the inept Zaire, who everyone beat.
DO… PRACTICE YOUR WALLS
Speaking of Zaire in 1974, let’s not have a repeat of the jaw-dropping moment when Mwepu Ilunga dashed out from the wall and booted a Brazil free kick away before it was even taken. Small details, Gareth… small details.
Okay, so there’s a more sinister subtext to that 1974 incident – Ilunga later revealed that he was trying to get sent off as a protest against the fact that the Zaire squad were told they wouldn’t be paid after their first match, a defeat against Scotland.
They were later threatened by President Mobutu’s henchmen and told they wouldn’t be returning home if they lost by four goals against Brazil (they only lost 3-0 in the end).
DON’T… APPOINT A DOG HANDLER
In 1962, Brazil v England was held up when a dog encroached on to the pitch. England striker Jimmy Greaves took it upon himself to pursue and capture the pooch, only for it to piss all over his shirt.
We can never know whether this incident had some kind of lingering effect which led to Greaves’ injury in 1966 which ruled him out of the final. I’m going to go with ‘no, it didn’t’ though.
Rumour has it that Brazilian star Garrincha claimed the dog as a pet and took it home with him. As a result, Greaves’ nickname in Brazil to this day is ‘Garrincha’s dog catcher’.
DO… CLARIFY YOUR SEX POLICY
Let Brazil boss Luis Filipe Scolari be your lovers’ guide here, Gareth. In 2002, Big Phil imposed a blanket bonk ban (yes, ‘bonk’ – I’m bringing back ‘bonk’) on his squad. They lifted the trophy but star man Ronaldo complained of an ‘ache down below’ throughout the tournament.
Scolari learned from his ache mistake and loosened the blanket ban for the 2014 tournament on home soil. When asked about his relaxed position, he stated that his players could have it off if they wanted to but were to abstain from more ‘acrobatic’ forms of sex.
Brazil 1-7 Germany. Speaks volumes, and we can assume that Joachim Loew is a keen advocate of bedroom gymnastics for his players.
Let’s be honest, he looks the sort.
DON’T… F*** IT UP
Please, Gareth. We’re tired of being embarrassed at tournaments. A brave crack at the quarter finals would make us all so happy. Don’t let us down.