The Football Association have revealed that the next England manager will be selected by entering short-listed candidates into the recently vacated Big Brother House and eliminating them one by one until a successor to Sven Goran Eriksson is found.
FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick announced the shock move this morning.
“When Eriksson was hired we were accused of not gathering public opinion before making our decision. We won’t be making that mistake again,” he said.
In a break from the traditional format of the Channel 4 show, the FA will put the contestants up for eviction in pairs after testing their management credentials and general suitability for this most trying of footballing posts. The evictee will then decided by phone vote and given an exit interview on live television by Sir Trevor Brooking (who has recently located his inner Davina McCall).
Before the experiment began, several leading FA figures had to be forcibly removed from the House after breaking into the compound and sniffing Faria Alam’s sheets.
It’s Day One and the housemates are still very much feeling each other out.
First in is Stuart Psycho Pearce and he is all meaty thighs and wild gesticulation to begin with, but doesn’t seem at all in awe despite being a relative novice in the managerial arena. He is soon sharing jokes with the second man to arrive in the House - Big Sam Allardyce. Early indications are that the Bolton boss will be assuming the Galloway role: The red leotard and big cigars, the boasts of dealing with shady foreigners – he’s done his homework and will be looking to play the dominant patriarch.
Next up, Steve McLaren – in many minds the favourite for the job after years in the England set-up. Clearly upset by his boss’s departure, but still keen to impress the voters, the Middlesbrough man’s early contributions involve self-assured, I’m-the-man-to-beat posturing peppered with bouts of uncontrollable crying and plaintive defences of Eriksson.
Alan Curbishley has been quiet thus far but cooked up a mean quorn casserole for dinner, whereas the first foreigner in the equation, Australia and PSV Eindhoven coach Guus Hiddink has established himself very much as the joker. He’s smuggled some reefer in and can frequently be heard encouraging the others to “loosen up and party”.
Luiz Felipe (Big Phil) Scolari, the only one of the Housemates to have lifted the World Cup, is immediately outraged that Sam has pre-empted the rights to the “Big” moniker and threatens to pull out until the others assure him he will henceforth be affectionately known as “Mighty Phil Scolari”.
The only currently unemployed candidate is Martin O’Neill, and he has made few friends early doors, winding everyone up with his contemptuous nasal put-downs and claiming he is the only housemate who has a potential punditry position with the BBC available if evicted. “Hah!” scoffs Psycho, “Is that the same BBC who also employ Mark Bright and Graeme Le Saux?” He has a point. Martin shuts up.
Current Premiership highfliers Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson are also in the running, but don’t seem to be integrating into the group dynamic. Jose spends the entire first evening in front of the mirror practising his shrugging, while Sir Alex mostly stands about in his duffel coat shouting.
In a surprise twist, non-football manager Carlton Palmer has also been invited into the House and has to convince the others he is a bona fide coach. If he succeeds, he wins an iPod. He’s not in the running for the actual job – that would just be stupid.
It’s Day Two and the Housemates are presented with their first task: How to deal with England’s time-honoured “left-sided problem”?
Jose and Steve agree that Joe Cole is the only answer, while Guus and Martin favour giving Shaun Wright-Phillips a shot. Sir Alex would play three central midfielders and have Ashley Cole bombing forward. Big Sam and Alan would have Steven Gerrard on the left, and Psycho and Phil fancy Cole with Bridge overlapping. Carlton looks puzzled for a while, unsure of his right and left, before revealing that he still has Andy Sinton’s number – “maybe I’ll give him a call”.
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Day Three - The Press Conference. Our contestants are asked to explain away a defeat away to Azerbejan without blaming any of the players or admitting their own managerial shortcomings. Jose impresses everybody with his fierce Latin passion, while Big Sam scores highly for blaming the type of grass on the pitch. Sir Alex, who by this stage is already proving to be a “difficult” housemate in the Pete Burns mould, is issued with a warning after storming out of the mock press conference because the journalist posing the questions sounded just like “that intolerable fuckwit Garth Crooks”.
Carlton and Martin are up for eviction and the Irishman goes after a passionate Sun “Save Carlton Palmer” campaign draws extensive public support for the competition’s lanky impostor.
Day Four and there is drama as Sir Alex is automatically evicted for throwing a plate of sandwiches over Guus after overhearing a perceived slight on his star striker. “The boy Rooney should come to Amsterdam if wants… how you say? The grey wings? Yah?” the Australian boss confides to the others,
In other developments, Steve spends 57 minutes sobbing in the Diary Room after hearing the other housemates bad-mouthing Sven. “I feel like I’ve lost my father and my best friend all rolled into one,” he sniffs repeatedly. Jose alienates the others by boasting about his “strength in depth", while Alan knocks up a nice batch of flapjacks.
Day Five. Today’s task involves international referees Kim Milton Neilson and Urs Meier being air-lifted into the compound to provoke the managers with a succession of naïve decisions and pompous English-baiting facial expressions. The contestants have to display appropriately patriotic disgust without encroaching beyond the technical area or browbeating the FIFA fourth official.
Again, most of the housemates perform admirably, but Psycho allows his frustrations to bubble over and kicks Steve in the shins. Steve starts to cry. Both are up for eviction and Psycho progresses. Steve enjoys a passionate and tactile reunion with Eriksson in the Big Brother studio. Trevor Brooking vomits in disgust and stalks out, leaving an embarrassed David Davies to conduct the post-eviction interview.
Back in the House it’s Day Six and things are certainly hotting up. The FA smuggle in Ulrika Jonsson via a side door in a bid to test the contestants’ resilience in the face of overt sexual provocation. Despite a watchful chivalry from the foreign contingent, most of the housemates remain entirely unmoved by her desperate fawning and flirtatious giggling. Indeed, the closest she gets to any intimate contact is when Psycho slides in with an over-exuberant studs-up tackle after she shows him too much of the ball during a friendly back garden kick-about.
It is a tough call for the FA judges, but Guus and Alan are up for the boot after it becomes clear the Dutchman broke wind in the hot-tub and held Ulrika’s head under the water (a big no-no in the wake of the whole Michael Barrymore thing), and Alan offered her some leftover spag bol “a little too suggestively”
The public vote sees Guus evicted as Alan clearly has the housewives vote sewn up due to his culinary expertise.
Day Seven. It’s the big one: Tactics. All the housemates are given a blackboard and told to draw formation diagrams. Big Sam puts a great deal of truck in the long ball game, Alan favours packing the midfield and Jose’s tactics revolve largely around “giving the ball to Lampard”. Carlton (who packed his team with eleven midfield triers and no goalkeeper) and Phil (who misunderstood the instructions and drew a nude self-portrait) face the public vote.
Phil is evicted as the Sun campaign gathers pace, but Carlton decides to walk as it’s become increasingly likely that he might just win the sodding thing. iPod secured, his work here is done.
Day Eight proves to be a day too far for Alan as, tragically, he chokes on some al dente penne that he was testing for firmness. Psycho manfully attempts the Heimlich manoeuvre, but it’s too late – Alan’s voice-box is irrevocably damaged, and he has to return to the Charlton fold where he immediately rehires Steve Gritt to do the shouting while he stands on the touchline and waves his arms about.
And all of a sudden, three become two, as Jose, who has perhaps miscalculated the drawbacks of managing a national team, quits in disgust after being told he won’t be able to “draft in Ronaldinho as cover.”
Day Nine – The Final. My God, the excitement. Psycho and Big Sam go head to head for the big prize. After telephone voting ends in an unprecedented draw, they are forced to play-off by having an arm wrestle which fails to separate them and only ends when both men burst blood vessels in the brain. Despite being in a persistent vegetative state, they go on to accept joint managership of Newcastle United and steer the team comfortably clear of Souness-inflicted relegation bother.
Day Ten. With all other options exhausted, the FA give the job to Tord Grip.