|" . . . storming off the set"|
In Brazil, it’s all hands on deck in a desperate late effort to start preparations for the World Cup. The government issue a five-week-plan and liberate the entire nation from their day jobs in a despairing attempt to build an array of new stadiums from scratch before June 12. Nobody from Brazil is available for comment on their progress, but an undercover Sky cameraman spots Pele and Roberto Carlos frantically laying bricks in Sao Paulo. Meanwhile, in Fort Aleza, Ronaldinho tweets a photo of fat Ronaldo in a JCB but the Brazilian FA confiscate his phone and transfer him to Manaus to oversee fire safety regulation.
With the majority of stadiums both unsafe and incomplete, FIFA move all matches to nearby beaches. England begin the World Cup in inauspicious fashion, losing 2-0 to Italy. The media savage the team for a performance of such hopeless technical ineptitude, effigies of Hodgson are burnt in the street and armchair pundits revel in the Lampard/Gerrard debate entering its second decade. However, Hodgson surprises the nation by shuffling his pack and a youthful midfield quartet of Barkley, Wilshere, Townsend and Januzaj inspires England to victories over Uruguay and Costa Rica, ensuring progress.
Meanwhile, ITV’s coverage of the World Cup is marred as Adrian Chiles reappears after a commercial break sporting a bloody upper lip with Roy Keane’s chair conspicuously vacant. It later emerges that Keane took offence to a Chiles quip regarding Ireland’s aspirations of qualifying for a major tournament. Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Viera and two cameramen were required to separate the pair and Keane has not been seen since storming off set – although tourists do claim to have spotted him meditating in the Amazon rainforest in the company of Mick McCarthy and a group of indigenous tribesmen.July
England win three consecutive penalty shoot-outs on the way to the final, with a Pirlo-esque chip from Chris Smalling enough to beat the Germans on sudden death in the semis. They face off against hosts and five-time champions Brazil in the final. England concede a goal early in the first half but Hodgson rallies the team at half time with a magnificent adaptation of Churchill’s ‘We shall fight them on the beaches’ speech, and a second half brace from Januzaj leads England to improbable World Cup glory. Furthermore, with England’s starting XI in the final having an average age of just 22, the victory also serves as a damning final indictment of Alan Hansen’s most enduring contribution to punditry (‘you’ll never win anything with kids’).
England kick off their Euro 2016 qualification campaign with a chastening defeat in Romania and so begin another 50 odd years of hurt…