Michael Baggaley: Tiswas treatment the way to make sure penalties are spot on
The week has been full of the usual soul-searching after our lads went out of the Euro quarter-finals to Italy, so here's my nine-point plan to make sure we win the next World Cup. (No, I couldn't think of 10).
1 KEEP WAYNE ROONEY FIT
WE'VE got to do it somehow. Let's face it, the only thing slower than Rooney in Ukraine was the queue at customs.
He's a brilliant player so there are only two possible explanations for his lack of mobility: a) He wasn't fit;
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b) His hair stylist told him his rug would be fine so long as he didn't try any sudden movements.
2 GET A SONG
SINCE winning the World Cup in 1966, England have only twice reached the semi-finals of a major football tournament.
On both occasions, they have been accompanied by great songs – New Order's World In Motion for Italia 90 and Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds' Football's Coming Home for Euro 96.
Coincidence? I think not.
I want to see Roy Hodgson on a music video wearing a baseball cap backwards while being chaired shoulder high by Keith Allen and Christopher Biggins.
In fact, get him rapping......
"You've got to hold and give, "But do it at the right time, "You can be slow or fast, "Just don't cross the half-way line." etc.....
3 HAVE A MAN SENT OFF
NOT one of theirs, one of ours. Seriously. If we have to play desperate backs-to-the-wall stuff every time we come up against someone decent, then why not turn it into an heroic rearguard effort. This way we have an excuse.
4 CANCEL WIMBLEDON
NOT the football team, the tennis tournament.
This may seem harsh on tennis fans, but England's exit from major competitions usually coincides with the start of the strawberries and cream fortnight. Just as traditionally, some breakfast TV presenter will say,"It was penalty heartbreak for England, but never mind, we can all get behind Tim Henman/Andy Murray today." Aaaargh! One does not make up for the other.
5 LISTEN TO THE FOREIGN MEDIA
AFTER England's exit, the Italian sports newspaper Gazetta dello Sport said: "The British criticised Capello because he was Italian and defensive.
"Mr Roy enjoys the immunity of his citizenship, but never have we seen England so closed and bunched up."
I don't know if I agree with this or not. I just like the fact they think the England boss was in the Basil Brush Show.
One for the teenagers there.
6 ENCOURAGE THE ENGLAND PLAYERS TO PLAY ABROAD
NOT by telling them to "b***er off" obviously – they weren't that bad at the Euros.
However, trying a different culture can improve even the best players.
I'm in good company here. Consider what former Hull City manager Phil Brown said on Radio Five Live this week.
"Why, for the life of me, hasn't Pirlo played in England? Is he just homophobic? Is he Italian through and through and doesn't want to leave them?"
Genius Phil. Just genius.
7 STOP HYPING OUR PLAYERS
THE case in point is Ashley Cole. He's undoubtedly an extremely good player, but Cole is routinely described as "the best left-back in the world" by pundits who, I suspect, couldn't name half-a-dozen other international left-backs.
To be honest, I couldn't name half-a-dozen international left-backs either, but in Wednesday's semi-final both Portugal's Fabio Coentrao and Spain's Jordi Alba were fantastic.
In short, Cole is not necessarily the best left-back on the planet just because he's a bit better than Leighton Baines.
WE'VE only won one shoot-out from eight in our history so clearly there's a problem, but what to do?
Hodgson's squad practised penners at Euro 2012 but, as the pundits always tell us, you can't replicate the pressure of taking them when it matters – i.e. when a German/Portuguese/Argentinian/Italian goalkeeper stands between England and glory.
This may be true, but you can have a go.
Now I'm not proposing anything barbaric such as electric shocks for every player who misses in practice, although Chris Waddle probably deserved 5,000 volts for that effort at Italia 90.
Instead, why not draw on a great English institution such as Tiswas.
Players should expect to be covered by a bucket of cold baked beans if their shot is saved or sloppy custard if it goes over the bar.
Come on, what have we got to lose?
9 PICK DAVID BECKHAM
IF only to stop the moaning since it was announced Becks hasn't been picked for the GB Olympic football team.
Listening to the radio on the drive into work, I heard one caller say he had planned to go to the England games, but wouldn't be doing so now that Beckham wasn't playing.
Really? What does he do at normal football matches? Go home whenever his favourite player gets subbed?
Another quite seriously suggested that Beckham had been left out because Olympic team manager Stuart Pearce was jealous.
After all, Gary Neville beat him to a coaching job at the Euros and so Pearce was apparently taking revenge by dropping Neville's best mate Beckham.
For goodness' sake, get a grip.
I know Becks is one of this country's most popular exports, but so are Wallace and Gromit. We don't want them playing up front, do we?