A game against San Marino. I wouldn’t mind. Reckon I’d pretty much hold my own, even now. But… get thinking. That how galling is it that only an accident of birth denies me – and most of my mates, come to that – 75 international caps? Proper velvetty jobs. With gold braid tassles on, ideally luridly initialled S.M. like some kinky souvenir to a Dutch weekend. There, casually winking at all-comers from the glass cabinet thingy next to the flying ducks. Caps by the absolute lorry-load – mine! – caps that I could throw around the bedroom in a naked romp with luscious hairdressers from Talinn or Lubjanka. (Cos I’d probably take them to away matches… yeh, I would… in a suitcase full of sex toys and vodka! The caps, I mean, not the…) Euro Qualifiers be like being a proper star. Heh-hee-eyy!!
My nephew lives in Hong Kong, by the way. Citizen. Got all this stuff on a plate. So yeh… posh, posh hotels all over. Prague – fancy Prague – or Istanbul. And fifty caps anyways, at least I reckon – for them. San Marino. For me. Qualified? Check. Got boots? Check. You’re in. Could have cruised round no problem – with all that time to play! – and gotten rave reviews from Glenn Hoddle whilst we got stuffed by Malta or the mighty Faroes.
Mum, dad, what were you playing at? It’s just cruel. I don’t believe it.
Last night though – England. A coach ride through sparkling London to a Stadium That Gives You Some Kindof Chance, looking at it. Wembley. Upliftingly equivocal, one might say. (If one was educated – like a surprising percentage of our side, in fact; them having proper jobs and lives and stuff).
England’s Lionless den. A place you might expect to go on and put up a good show. And maybe get some mild but generous encouragement from the home crowd. Between tutts. Sure Cleverley’s gonna be reasonably busy and quick – against our lot, who isn’t? – but with the two young fliers both starting there’ll be space and time to play. They’re not looking to close me down; they don’t wanna do that. They want to fly down the sides with the ball ten yards in front. Then trip over it.
Round Rooney there will be an opening. He’ll flip in and out of The Hole and win the match for them – fair enough – but he will shin a couple of passes pinged at him from Baines or Jagielka – and I will be able to get on the ball. It’s up to me then. It’s not like they’ve got anyone’s gonna tackle me. They/we don’t do that anyway in internationals. Wish Terry was playin’ actually – him and Lescott. Fancy a run at them. Jagielka’s quick and Cahill… there are time’s when Cahill looks class. Expect him to score too.
We look like we’ll line up pretty much 5-5-0. Meaning I’ve got to break out from just beyond our box and score. Which might be okay if I was Gareth Bale. I’m more of an Iniesta/Wilkins combo meself. So I may have to shoot in desperation from the halfway line and hope for a Seaman moment. (Do think Hart has those moments.) Or I might curl a free-kick if we ever get in range. I’d like to offer our fans hope of some incredible win but this implies actually scoring and … I’m not sure if we’ll actually get within forty yards. Still, remember the Alamo – was it the Alamo? – and er… all that.
We are boosted by the knowledge that England are often crap. With a tendency to go glassy-eyed and irresponsible when things don’t go their way. So we’re looking to block and press and frustrate. Only. And never even worry about breaking out. And leave the rest to bad passes from Walker or Jagielka and poor movement or nervy touch from Welbeck and those flyers. We’ll scurry out at Rooney obviously but we don’t expect to stop him completely. Especially when we’re completely knackered – ten minutes in (ha ha.) What’s that line about blankets? Oh yeh – we wanna throw a blanket over the midfield. A duvet, in fact.
Hodgson – fair play – has picked a young side and one filled with stuff that’s either gonna get called ‘promise’ or ‘inexperience,’ depending on the result. We know he’s thinking ’bout keeping pace on the ball, with sharp passes – forward passes – the order of the day. Will they stick? Who knows. Wellbeck sometimes lets you have one and Oxlade-Oosit. If they start flicking casually at it, mind, we’ll have the ball more than them. Then I’ll either dawdle round the centre-circle or try and lob Hart. If they don’t press me I might do a Peter Barnes – remember that one? Siddonit.
Individuals-wise, Walcott is easy enough to stop; ya get inside ‘is shorts. He’ll only play the first half before he gets ‘withdrawn’ – cruel word, that one – then maybe Lennon. Who also won’t want to get too involved. We won’t let them get round the sides much so they’ll have to thread it through us. Not sure they can do that. No I seriously don’t see why we can’t keep it down to about four.
Right, must go. Il Duce wants a word. Vamos, boys!