WORLDOFSPORT with Alan Swann
EPray. Tha t Rooney and Ashley Cole NGLAND may have a squad full of players who are not even regulars in their club sides, but there is a way for them to win the World Cup.
Fabio Capello, who thankfully took my advice and left Theo Walcott out of his travelling party, must now implement my 10-point plan to conquer the world.
Don’t peak too early. You don’t want to suffer a drop in form in the knock-out stages when a defeat will send you back home. Losing a group game or at least playing badly can be a good sign and Capello can make this happen by playing Emile Heskey in place of Wayne Rooney.
Hire Rooney an anger management counsellor. England’s greatest talent understandably gets frustrated at relying on clowns like Walcott and Aaron Lennon (Rooney was simmering throughout the recent friendly with Japan) for a decent pass, but World Cup defenders will know all about his temper tantrums and will try and wind him up.
Don’t be afraid. The best teams don’t always win the World Cup as Holland in 1974 and Brazil in 1982 proved. England are far from being the best team, but they are as good as 2006 winners Italy.
Ban the WAGS. They are a distraction and an irrelevance and it’s probably best for team morale that temptation is not placed right under John Terry’s nose.
Sack the paper delivery boy: Every England win will lead to predictions that we will win the whole thing, every England defeat will be treated as a disaster. Players also sulk when they get bad marks (bit like at Posh really) so best they don’t read them.
Eat right: Stay away from any restaurants recommended by South African Benni McCarthy, the fattest professional footballer since Tony Kelly arrived at London Road.
Don’t pick David James: James has started moaning that the World Cup balls are moving about too much and causing him problems. As James has had enough trouble saving the Premier League balls he should be used to, this is a cause for concern,
Keep it simple: Most footballers are thick so don’t over-complicate the tactics. You could pick any team from the 23-man squad (apart from including Stephen Warnock) and qualify from our super-soft group.
Offer banker-style bonuses: Money is after all the sole motivating factor for the vast majority of professional footballers. I wonder how many of them would have pulled out if the World Cup was like the old Ryder Cup and players turned out for nothing. stay fit for the entire tournament, that no England match goes to penalties, that the inevitably bad refereeing decisions go in our favour, that Brazil and Spain get knocked out early and that Diego Maradona stays in charge of Argentina thus neutering the team with the most gifted individuals. IDON’T
even think the injury to Rio Ferdinand is the disaster some are making out.
He would have laboured throughout the competition if his form for Manchester United last season was anything to go by. Ferdinand isn’t fit and I’d be surprised if he manages 20 games in any season before his retirement.
I’d rather have a fit and keen Michael Dawson than a show pony with a bad back. IFEAR
The sacking of Rafa Benitez has come far too late to save Liverpool from becoming a mediocre midtable side.
Benitez was a problem and should carry a lot of the blame for Liverpool’s terrible form last season. Some of his signings made Barry Fry look astute in the transfer market.
But if Liverpool’s transfer kitty really is about a third of what they paid for Italian dud Alberto Aquilani, they are finished as a force in this country.
Tradition and loyalty mean nothing to modern day footballers. With no Champions League football next season, and no realistic prospect of it returning any time soon, it will be a miracle if their current stars don’t leave this summer.
Sadly the fees received for Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will probably go towards servicing the Anfield debts rather than on hiring replacements.
That will test the legendary loyalty and fabled wit of Scouse supporters. I suspect they will be found wanting. ITOLD
you a couple of weeks ago that it was the silly season. How else do you explain the fact that Shaun Batt (below) is likely to start next season playing a higher standard of football than George Boyd? APPARENTLY
England paceman Steve Finn is the new Glenn McGrath. A statement that will have the Aussies chuckling rather than shaking ahead of The Ashes series in the winter.
Finn has taken wickets against Bangladesh at home and away. If I was 10 years younger I’d be disappointed not to skittle a few of their batsmen.
How typical of this country’s desperate media to build someone up so ridiculously. The pressure on a young man who has yet to learn to stay on his feet after bowling will be immense.