After Capello's damp squib of a team crashes out of Euro 2012 in typical fashion, a loss at the first knockout stage after an undefeated group stage of two 0-0 draws and a single 1-0 victory. It's the end of the golden generation, several big names retire from the national side. Including one surprise, the still relatively young Wayne Rooney, who due to his suspension only played the single match. Only one man can rebuild this team, it isn't Harry Redknapp, it isn't Arsene Wenger and not even Alex Ferguson can do a job as well as this man: Simon Cowell.
The evidence against is obvious, but think about the evidence for. We've tried English football managers, we've tried foreign football managers. Neither have worked for England. What we need is not a football manager at all, we need is a man who understands the modern game and the modern footballer. It's not about tactics, squads and formations, we won't win anything until we focus on television, money and celebrity.
Every England fan has an idea of what the team should be, and the best way of silencing the critics is to make them choose. And in what better form than Cowell's speciality: a Saturday night TV show on ITV with an audience phone-in vote?
Like X Factor or Britain's Got Talent we'd have judges – Jamie Redknapp, Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell would be my lineup. Then depending on how much money is left over you'd have Ant and Dec, or the more budget minded Dermot or even the Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield if we're really working on a shoestring budget. With Cowell of course comes the media backing of Max Clifford which would prevent any unsavoury press stories from leaking as a distraction to our brave players.
It's pretty simple, each judge gets given either Defence, Midfield and Attack. We'd play in a 4-3-3 so everyone gets to pick somebody a fair number of players each. Just for the most drama I think you'd have Cheryl as mentor for defence, Jamie on midfield and Simon where it matters in upfront.
Then the England hopefuls can all audition in front of a live audience and we'd get down to a squad of 25. The fear of the Wembley crowd would disappear immediately, there isn't an audience in the world that turns quicker than the punters at the X Factor auditions. If there's one crowd in the world who turn from clapping imbeciles than to booing harpies quicker than the X factor fans, it's the England fans. Or have I got that the wrong way round?
Obviously it could all get a bit too “football” so you'd have a couple of Comedy entries, maybe Owen Hargreaves could start his 'bit' and get injured, David Seaman could try and audition but a beachball thrown from the audience would get best him. Producers could maybe ask Emile Heskey to come back an audition for every selection and never get picked.
With Cowell of course comes the media backing of Max Clifford which would prevent any unsavoury press stories from leaking as a distraction to our brave players.
So once you've got the 25 man squad before each England match you'd have a live show, where the team is picked. Most of the programme would be filled with montages and recaps of previous weeks, training from that week, a highlight of how well players have been doing at club level.
Then a live match, like the 2002 advertising campaign that used Elvis and JXL 'A Little Less Conversation'. Everyone who played would have a number to vote for. Spread this out over an hour and half. Then at the end of each show the results would be read out, and there'd be hugs and tears as players don't make it into the team. The captain would be chosen on who gets the most votes. Not only do you have a “fan picked” England squad you also have a hit TV show and loads of advertising revenue to be invested in Youth Systems (or the FA's/Simon Cowell's Pocket, whatever).
Obviously the team isn't fan picked, behind the scenes there's a coalition (a good one though, not like the government) of former players, managers and TV producers hand picking each player and giving them more screen time and a sob story to guarantee they get picked.
So there we are, having waltzed through the qualifiers the squad is there ready to get on the plane to fly to Brazil for 2014 World Cup. But in a surprise twist, Cowell deploys his classic Wildcard manoeuvre.
Who's this turning up at the airport at the last minute? It's Wayne Rooney who's been talked about of international retirement. Then we see a montage, which looks eerily professional considering the huge surprise this is, of Rooney's career; all his potential, his fall from grace and finally now he's here for redemption.
Obviously someone has to lose out for Rooney to get a place and that man can be no other than Theo Walcott, after years of being put out on the wing he finally finds himself playing where he wants, centre forward ready to lead the attack and England victory. But Cowell picks the little man up and throws him off the plane himself.
What follows is a lot of crying and another montage of all the other times Theo has been left out or substituted. It's cruel but that's television baby. If we lose the World Cup, people can blame the fact we didn't take Walcott, and he can be forever remembered in a Paul Scholes style role, played out of position, messed around by various England managers. (Yes I just compared Walcott to Scholes, bet that's got you wound up).
If we win, Walcott and his tears will be completely forgotten, as the country implodes with joy. The entire England team will enter X Factor as a group and be the first group to ever win, and Christmas number one will be Three Lions, in fact the charts will become obsolete because Three Lions will be number one every week forever.
Or it could go horribly wrong and we don't win anything. But that's nothing new, is it?
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