In Which I Fix English Football

Years ago, when Terry Venables was about to retire as England manager, I offered my services to the F.A., and applied for the job. Rather graciously, they wrote back and turned me down.

More than a decade later, the game is still a mess. They’ve obviously learned nothing. So after the recent Switzerland game, I wrote to the F.A. again.

Dear Brian Barwick,

I went to watch England last night. It was another anxious ninety minutes, deja vu all over again. But I have a theory, and I believe I have the solution.

Collectively, England players have three major problems.

1) They assume they merely have to show up to beat ‘smaller’ teams. Quite where this misplaced sense of superiority comes from I’ve no idea, although I suspect it might have something to do with us once having an Empire.

2) Conversely, they suffer from a crippling fear that this might not be the case; that San Marino can make them look stupid (as they once did) or that ‘minnows’ like Croatia might actually be a much better side (which they are).

3) It’s obviously a psychological issue, which makes things worse, because the last thing the average English footballer – David James aside – wants to consider is that there might be a cerebral aspect to the game. It’s all, blood, thunder and God Save The Queen, innit?

So if we assume that we don’t want to return to the desperate days of Glen Hoddle’s empty-headed quackery (the man is quite clearly a maniac) we’ve got to look for a solution that relies on the few aspects of the English footballer’s psyche that might – with a little prodding – become a positive: the fear of losing their place in the side.

Assumed wisdom in soccer circles – if there is such a thing – suggests that the introduction of a new manager spices things up: with the slate wiped clean, the players who’ve been coasting realise they need to prove themselves again, while those previously excluded are given a second chance. It’s all hands to the pumps.

So here’s my solution: employ a whole series of managers, but restrict their involvement with the national side to two games apiece. In the first game of each series, the players will be fighting for their places in the second. In the second, the players will be desperate to impress the new manager they know is coming in for game number three. As an added bonus, the involvement of managers clearly out of their depth (like Steve McClaren, for instance) will be kept to a minimum.

Please let me know if you’d like to discuss my idea further.

Fraser Lewry
(England fan #55355280)

PS. Did you know that Fabio Capello is an anagram of ‘I, Capable Fool’?

And guess what? No reply.

I pay through the teeth and go to every home game. I eat the ridiculously over-priced food. I put up with the queues. I watch the national side under-performing again and again and again. I suffer.

And when I offer to solve the crisis (for free, mind), they ignore me.

It’s no wonder the sport is going to the dogs.


  1. I’ve come to expect that from the FA.

    Not a sausage from the suits at Lancaster Gate when I suggested replacing Wembley’s fabled Twin Towers with 300-foot statues of Brave Kylie Minogue and her wonky-faced sister Dannii.

    No wonder the English game’s in such a mess.

  2. Nice Fras.

    If I had anything to do with it I’d put you in charge.

  3. A few things in response:

    1) It’s Kylie who has the wonky face, Scaryduck, not Dannii. Although the latter does out-stupid the other one on name spelling.

    2) Fraser, I regard the FA’s refusal to consider your application/advice as further evidence of their terminal stupidity.

    3) If those overpaid, dimwitted fools don’t start winning, my finances are going to take another tumble. I used to enjoy watching the game with Him Indoors – now I have to go out and spank the credit card just to get over the stress of it. Not to mention the price of manicures after another 90 minutes of biting down to the quick.

  4. I genuinely cannot find anything wrong with this idea.

  5. Lets face it the reason England seasonally underperforms with the national game, is not manager rotation, we just dont have enough great players. Strikers is my case in point. where are the England goals going to come from. Peter Crouch for gods sake!Since Alan Shearer left, he was good not great, we have been devoid of talent upfront. The reason of course is that there is too much money in premiership football, they are so rich that they can shop all over the world for the best talent which means home grown players dont get the opportunity they need to develop.

  6. Greenkey: Your argument doesn’t hold up: Italy are World Champions, yet Inter Milan, for instance, regularly field teams containing 10 non-Italians – the foreign influx isn’t just an issue in the UK. As for Crouch, his goals-per-game ratio for England is better than Shearer’s.

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