Opinion: A useful analogy?

Watery sunlight creeps through the gap between the plush curtains as you groggily open your eyes. A cappuccino rests on the bedside table, next to the designer spectacles which have become your trademark. Wearily, you begin to sit up, turning on the DAB radio as you sip the smoking tide. But in the dulcet tones of Evan Davis you begin to discern a disturbing development.

“In a shock move, the Football Association last night voted to open the selection of England’s final World Cup squad to the public through an instant referendum. Votes are likely to divide sharply down club lines as tribal supporters ensure as many as possible of their players are on the plane to South Africa.”

Your Italian stallion heart bridles at this nonsense. Surely this is your decision, and yours alone, as England’s proud, cerebral coach? Pulling on one of your many silk dressing gowns, you storm off to phone Sheepshanks and Horne to berate their idiocy.

Six months later…

Another morning breaks. But this time you are out of bed, pacing around the room, eagerly expecting the results. David Dimbleby has been broadcasting for 25 hours straight and yet he looks exactly as he did when he began. You surmise that he must be some sort of highly developed android.

“And I’m delighted to say that the results are now in. 36% of the country has voted for Chelsea, with Manchester United on 30%. But a bizarre incident, owing to a failure of the authorities to make clear the parameters allowed for this referendum, has meant that Brazil have in fact come third, on 24%. If you’d like to register your disapproval, you can contact us di-gi-tal-leh, or if you like to, er, TWEET, you can tweet us at @bbcgeneralselection. Of course, it remains to be seen how the England coach Fabio Capello will interpret these results which could be described overall as a hung, or balanced squad.”

A couple of days later you announce your squad. It contains a large number of Chelsea and Manchester United players, including Terry, Cole, Lampard and Rooney. But alongside Terry and Cole in defence will appear the towering figure of Lucio, a truly world-class defender, and your nominated vice-captain. Alongside Lampard in midfield appeared Kaka, arguably the world’s best player, and partnering Wayne Rooney up front would be the mercurial Robinho. “I have attempted to reflect the wishes of the British people in this final squad,” you say before the gathered press.

Manchester United fans are outraged. “Our style of play is much better suited to Brazil’s!” they cry, little caring that this squad represents the best chance of lifting the Jules Rimet trophy. “This is a betrayal! There’s a flamboyant majority against Chelsea!” Yet even as they rage against the selection, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes appear on BBC News, speaking against greater representation for Man Utd in the squad.

That night, sensible England fans go to bed cautiously optimistic about their team’s chances.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • OMG, LDV wins the prize for the most intrusive web advertising. Please stop.

  • Anyway, before I was so rudely interrupted by a massive popup advert for a video game (bad targetting, I think), I was about to say:

    “Capello was so incensed by the selection, that he’s resigned as manager of England. His son will succeed him with immediate effect”.

  • John Emerson 21st May '10 - 1:43pm

    erm, I realise this isn’t meant to be too serious, but I too would be outraged, Brazilian players in a English football team? We would be thrown out of the World Cup, (not to mention why would Brazilians join a English football team), Which neatly brings onto the second point, English football team?!, a better analogy for the UK parliament might be rugby where you could have the British Lions, say , and the phone-in picking league players?

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