It was in another general election year, 1997,that Edward Heath travelled to Hull to lend his support to the young, fresh-faced Conservative candidates charged with ousting established MPs John Prescott and Kevin McNamara and blocking the path of rising star Alan Johnson.
As the former Prime Minister hogged the limelight during a campaign press conference I asked why he expected the trio to make any impact at all, given the local and national political landscapes at the time.
“Labour collapse!” he blurted.
So with a nod towards the late Parliamentarian, who admittedly had as much to do with football as John Terry has with sailing and playing the piano, here are five reasons why England will win the World Cup:
- Spanish collapse. And Brazilian, Argentine, Dutch, French, Portuguese, German and Italian. That should do it.
- Wayne Rooney. Capable of winning any game almost single-handedly.
- Faith in Fabio. England’s coach has only ever had his sights on victory in South Africa. That single-mindedness coupled with a no-nonsense approach to the players sets him apart from our previous coaches and could make all the difference.
- It’s winter down there. All those flash continental lightweights must be freezing but the conditions should be ideal for our boys.
- The last time the hosts were drawn in the same group as France, Mexico and Uruguay was… 1966.
Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, here are five reasons why they won’t:
- Dodgy defence. The facts are our keepers are not what they used to be, our full-backs are good going forward but prone to getting caught out defensively and our centre-backs are either inconsistent or untried at this level.
- Reffing hell. A common complaint, with some evidence to support it, is that the top players get off lightly with Premier League referees when it comes to pushing, pulling and pouting. Maybe the players can’t help it, but World Cup refs won’t stand for it.
- Fickle Fabio. From saying adamantly that players would only make the final 23 if fully fit suddenly the squad should be sponsored by St John Ambulance. Then there’s the return of Jamie Carragher and Capello’s bid to recall Paul Scholes, suggesting the coach has doubts about his squad and Carlton Palmer was unlucky to miss out.
- Altitude. Not quite as high as Maradona in 1994 but enough to make the already unpopular tournament ball do strange things. Yes, of course it’s the same for everyone but these disasters always happen to England.
- The last time the hosts were drawn in the same group as France, Mexico and Uruguay they won it. So that’s South Africa then.
More like this at: http://football.fanhouse.co.uk/world-cup-2010/