I’m all too well aware, thank you very much, of the slightly irritating perception of myself as something of a doddery old-timer in surgical socks. Nothing could be further from the truth. In several decades coaching at a very high level in a number of vibrant and forward-thinking European nations (citation needed) I have embraced bold new techniques in everything from central heating to meatballs. And now, thanks to the gentle yet persistent urgings of Bevington, I am au fait, too,with the thoroughly modern concepts of “just going with it” and Twitter. I’ll admit that until last night I was still labouring under an admittedly attractive misapprehension that a Retweet was something of a Pamper Day at a Duncan Ballatyne spa involving a rubdown, a selection of nibbles and a precision cutting offer (optional). Now, I have a multitude of followers and find myself endlessly re-tweeted. Such is life.
On the football front it’s make or break time tomorrow - but enough of that. Having basked in the glory of my unexpected win against the Swedes, and having being widely photographed not to mention filmed enjoying some downtown downtime myself, so to speak – albeit in a sedately-paced golf buggy - I felt it not unreasonable when my captain approached me on behalf of my players to ask me if I might consider cutting them a little slack. Still clammy from his exertions last Friday, England’s heroic John Terry blocked my path and said:
“Hodge. Ladth are going up the wall here. Our ballth are gonna exthplode if you don’t let uth off the leash.”
“I see,” I said. “What did you have in mind, Skip?”
“I dunno, Hodge. It’th Krakow, innit? You know what they thay about Krakow…”
I’ll admit that until last night I was still labouring under an admittedly attractive misapprehension that a Retweet was something of a Pamper Day at a Duncan Ballatyne spa involving a rubdown
I should reveal at this point that, having amassed three wins and a draw from my dour games in charge to date*, I have already dispensed with the nicey-nicey, pause-and-smile philosophy that The Earl and Bevington have been trying impose on my game. I’ve always been a very firm believer in telling it how it is and, as such, I looked my leader directly in the eye and spoke to him, man to man.
“In essence, John, this is a sperm issue?” EJT winced and looked away. I continued in my typically direct style. “What you’re telling me is that the men need to ejaculate, yes?” The Skipper just stared at me, aghast.
“Lithen, Hodge – leth’th juth say that Dennith Withe and Jody Morrith are thtayin’ in the Olde Towne, yeah? You catch my drift? What thay the three of uth juth keep it low-key? Thtay out partht curfew, thtart a fracas in a bar and get thrown in the thlammer for the night? Nothing too arduouth…”
As his leader, mentor and prime source of inspiration I chose to ignore his speech impediment and soldier on. As you do.
“Very well then, John. Go out and get fucked up. But, son….” I held him by his shoulders and looked him squarely in the eye. “Come back in one piece, hey? Your country needs you.”
Later that night he came staggering back into the hotel lobby, near-hysterical with mirth.
“Ladth, ladth! You’ve juth gotta come and thee thith!”
My many dozens of followers on Twitter keep pointing out an assumed slip of the thumb in respect of my repeated of use of “dour games in charge” as opposed to “four games in charge.”
He could barely stand, let alone speak. Every time Wazza tried to get some sense out of him he’d attempt to steady himself, but the moment he started to speak he would collapse again, under ever more delirious bouts of giggling. Ultimately he was reduced to this gurning, speechless figure, wriggling on the lobby’s highly-polished marble floor, near-asphyxiating as he tried to point outside. Wazza and Gazza helped EJT to his feet and he managed to wave his arm in the direction of the general Skagny Varagny/olde towne area. We followed at a cautious distance, keeping a disciplined line. EJT indicated we should follow him down into a cellar bar and, I must say, it was difficult not to see the funny side of the, how should I put this – cabaret that greeted us as we pushed inside. With the entire squad roaring in delight at the spectacle, it was advisable not to mention wise to show nothing of one’s own personal torment at such public humiliation. For, what I was faced with, in what. It transpired, was none other than Krakow’s most distinguished Sapphic venue, was a chorus – a revue, if you will – comprising seven butch ladies of a certain age all sporting The Frosted Cotton and singing Three Lions in the modish, I’m led to believe, karaoke style. As Bevington sagely grief-counselled me later that night, it was a far, far better thing I did just go with it, not to mention “take one for the team” - which I did, cheerfully (though one could do without Wazza’s now tiresome comedy routine of back-combing his miracle growth and winking every time I address the players). Bevington advised me to go with it, and to give as good as one gets. Therefore I shall merely sate that however it has come about one cannot dispute that the atmosphere among the players is buoyant – as is Wazza Rooney’s hair! A-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Now - bring on the damned Ukrainians is what I say – but enough of that.
* My many dozens of followers on Twitter keep pointing out an assumed slip of the thumb in respect of my repeated of use of “dour games in charge” as opposed to “four games in charge.” Their assumption is that my expansive thumbs have hit Mr ‘d’ instead of his suave next-door neighbour, M’sieur ‘f’. Far from it. I should take this opportunity to place my cards very firmly on the metaphorical table and state in bold that I’ve never been a big believer in dour = dull. For Roy Hodgson, dour is a sainted virtue. Dour = determined. Dour = dogged. Dour = knowing your bloody limits and still being in the bloody tournament, smartarses! On that note I shall leave you safe in the knowledge that your dreams are safe in my hands. See you in the knockouts, naysasyers – and you may Retweet that, should you wish J.
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