Has anyone else noticed the eerie symmetry between David Cameron’s coalition cabinet and the soon to be announced England World Cup football squad?
Both are made up of 23 proud individuals looking to serve their country – with at least five of them only present thanks to massive good fortune and last minute negotiations - despite no discernible qualifications for the job (I’m thinking of you, Theo Walcott)…
But will it work? Not only are the Liberal Democrats now perched at the country’s top table unelected and snivellingly lacking in conviction - surely they are entirely at odds politically with the very party they have leapt into bed with? Am I missing something, or is this not the very definition of divisive government?
And what if? What IF? What if the England football team was ALSO infiltrated by five ideologically opposed interlopers? What then, eh?
The new Con-Lib alliance today decreed that England’s World Cup Squad must include at least 5 Scotsmen – none of whom are to have any footballing credentials whatsoever. Moreover, one of them must be made vice-captain and accompany Rio Ferdinand on mandatory press junkets wearing a nice suit and grinning like the cat who got the cream.
News Report – May 17th 2010
Austria May 20th
Fabio tucked nervously at his cufflinks and appraised his surprisingly ruffled reflection in the splendid mahogany-backed mirror in the penthouse suite of Irdning’s plushest hotel. This was bad. Talk about a curve ball.
The lot of an England football manager in the weeks leading up to a World Cup is traditionally beset by selection dilemmas: How to best resolve the eternal Lampard/Gerrard conundrum? Is Emile Heskey capable of mixing it with the world’s best? Jamie Carragher? Really??
The last thing he needed was the additional stress of figuring out whether it would be possible to deploy Wee Jimmie Krankie as an emergency holding midfielder in front of a flat back four. Bloody politicians. What the hell do they know about football?
It had been tricky enough trying to solve the problem of how many wingers to include in the final 23 what with Adam Johnson pulling up trees in the last weeks of the season, and Ashley Young still knocking on the door. But that was before he took a phone-call from the new Sports Minister telling him to bump Aaron Lennon in favour of Susan Boyle.
The English players in the squad had hardly been brimming with enthusiasm at the news. No fewer than seven squad regulars retired from international football with immediate effect following the announcement. Joe Cole gave a tearful press conference, shocking many with his candid eloquence: “It was my dream to play for my country in South Africa,” he had said, an innate sadness washing over his ingenuous features. “But clearly the manager has decided to go in a different direction. If the final midfield berth is to be filled by an opera-singing Glaswegian virgin who’s never even played in the Premier League, then I fear my services are no longer required.”
That hurt. The players blamed him for betraying them. OK, so Cole was struggling to make the squad anyway, and his retirement was actually a blessing in disguise, but it had been tough explaining the situation to poor Lennon. The youngster had been devastated and begged to be given a chance to go up against Boyle in a winner-takes-all session of sprinting and dribbling – but, alas, Fabio’s hands were tied. Heartbreaking, really, although the silver lining was that Susan probably had the edge when it came to crossing…
Fabio’s maxim had always been “the team is everything” – he’d successfully quashed many a faction in his Roma days, and was credited with successfully making Francesco Totti “man up” after being tied to his mother’s apron strings all those years – but trying to manage the integration of these five clueless insurgents was trying his much-vaunted patience.
Even now they were in their Austrian training camp, preparation for the tournament was being severely hampered by dissention in the ranks and petty bickering. Oh, for the days when the biggest challenge he faced was showing a little moral fibre in quashing off-field playboy antics! Fabio now thought back on the Wayne Bridge fiasco with something approaching fondness. Certainly a cuckolded left-back was nothing compared to what he had to deal with now.
John Terry still caused him headaches though. Only yesterday he had been forced to placate his former captain with promises of ice cream and extra PlayStation 3 privileges, after Lorraine Kelly gave him a fearsome nipple cripple during a friendly training ground game of shirts v skins.
There were some surprising new faces in Capello's final World Cup squad
He looked at his watch. Still an hour before dinner – time to get some R&R. He went out to the balcony and plonked himself wearily onto the sun-lounger. On the table, within easy reach, were the welcoming comforts of a room temperature bottle of chianti and Captain Correlli’s Mandolin. Bliss.
But the peace was not to last. Within minutes he was alerted to harassed-looking Franco Baldini gesticulating up from the quadrangle below.
“Merda!” Fabio hauled his aching bones from the balcony and down to the player’s lounge.
What confronted the debonair manager upon his arrival was nothing short of anarchy.
David James was in a boiling rage after what appeared to be a complex incident involving hair gel, porridge and his favourite pair of goalie gloves; Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch and Matthew Upson’s gentle game of monopoly had been upturned by a maniacal Sean Connery who was now bellowing Flower of Scotland at the top of his voice and attempting to play the bagpipes; and the complimentary Pringles and hummus dip had been crunched into the carpet during an impromptu Strip the Willow session orchestrated by the excitable one out of the Proclaimers.
In a dark corner near the pool table, Wayne Rooney sat rocking quietly, his rugged features contorted in horror, the word “TWAT” daubed crudely on his forehead with permanent marker. No doubt the work of an impish Krankie during the star striker’s afternoon nap, Fabio thought grimly. Frankly, he’d had enough.
“Silenzio!” he bellowed, over the playground-level bickering and squawking. A grudging peace descended on the carnage.
“Connery! Krankie! Kelly! Boyle! Er… You! Proclaimer!” he barked in his most authoritative Tuscan lilt.
“This is not a kindergarten! We have a football tournament to win! If this outrageous behaviour continues we will be eliminated in the group stages and you can forget that open-top bus parade through Picadilly Circus!”
“But of coursh, Gaffer! Thatsh the general idea!” It was that ancient James Bond throwback with a typically unhelpful quip.
Fabio curled his lip and made a mental note to punch Nick Clegg right on the schnozz if England failed to make the semis at the very least. These bloody politicians had a lot to answer for…