Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Brazil 2014: Pontification

1. Hart
2. Glen Johnson
5. Rio Ferdinand
6. Phil Jagielka
3. A Cole
4. Jack Rodwell
8. Tom Huddlestone
10. James Milner (vc)
7. Aaron Lennon
11. Jack Wilshere
9. Wayne Rooney (c)

12. Onuhoa 13. Green 14. Smalling 15. Cattermole 16. Gerrard 17. A Johnson 18. Defoe 19. Baxter 20. Zamora 21. A Young 22. Bertrand 23. Foster

Assistant Coach: (Sir) David Beckham
Head Coach: (Sir) Roy Hodgson

This is an utterly pointless exercise but it beats watching Deal or No Deal or pretending to do my job properly. I'm bored by the constant talk about players battling for World Cup places so instead I've skipped implausibly ahead to Brazil 2014. Why not? It's a fun debate-catalyst, allowing fans to exaggeratedly promulgate the best young talent at their football club. This is unless you 'follow' Chelsea where the talent is mostly continental (purchase the latest Football Manager for further details, or simply to escape the real world and have statues built in your honour).

Joe Hart - who else? - dons the gloves, having spent four years avoiding the zealous gazes of journalists waiting for him to make a howler and destroy his confidence. Green and Foster watch on hopelessly. Hart has been in superb form this season and is a terrific prospect for future major tournaments. In defence, Phil Jagielka takes over from the lovely John Terry. Ferdinand is the new Paulo Maldini. And Cole and Johnson, aka Carlos and Cafu, are still capable of wonderful full-back play in the winter of their careers. In reserve, the versatile Onuoha, Hodgson's old-boy Chris Smalling and the pacy left-back, Ryan Bertrand, provide adequate cover. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard's apprentice, James Milner, shares a midfield with already one of the most accomplished playmakers in the Premiership, Tom Huddlestone, and (not yet) complete footballer and athlete extraordinaire, Everton's Jack Rodwell.

An array of substitute-options includes matured enforcer, Lee Cattermole, a greying Gerrard and a well-sanded Adam Johnson (who no longer represents Manchester City since the Arabs thought f**k it and walked away and left behind an elephantine wage-bill that meant liquidation... and FC United and FC City and AFC Wimbledon are all now part of the Football League... and the MK Dons stadium has been reduced to rubble and a fast-food restaurant... and here, chef Ferguson, confused by his oven-clock, yells at waiters Benitez and Wenger [who wants 'more protection'] to fetch drinks for the Redknapp family and James Corden who are out celebrating another triumphant publicity stunt... and later Arry will tell Corden he is his real son, and that Jamie was just some good-looking, good-passing bait for extra media attention... and this will explain many things).

Up front, England's captain, and one of the few survivors from the 2010 World Cup winning team, is three times World Player of the Year, Wayne Rooney, who - like Hodgson - is now fluent in several languages, reads Milton and attends ballet in his spare time (incidentally, Coleen has replaced Carol Ann Duffy as Poet Laureate). Rooney is supported by Aaron Lennon and Jack Wilshere, two different but equally entertaining threats. At the very top of the game, 4-3-2-1 is becoming more and more popular and successful a formation, and seems to be the best system for Rooney. Another Hodgson old-boy, Bobby Zamora, has continued to develop into a player fit for an England shirt, while Ashley Young, Jermain Defoe and Everton wonderkid, Jose Baxter, offer pace, skill and taut finishing as super subs.

Becks is an inspirational Assistant to Hodgson. And wise Woy is a worthy successor to Capello whose tactical genius saw England win the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. After injuries to Beckham, Lennon, Wright Phillips, Downing and Ashley Young, Rory Delap (no longer Nothern Irish) was drafted into the squad. In the dying seconds of extra time against Germany, Crouchy gets his head to a Rory Delap throw-in. The victory parade is witnessed by millions, and when 'Smithy' tries to climb onboard and make a speech, he's greeted by eggs, coins and glass bottles.

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