I read a statistic the other day from some Professor guy – trying to decipher the science behind penalty success – that England ‘boasts’ the worst record of any ‘major team’ in the world for games decided on penalties; a meagre 17% win ratio in comparison to Germany’s 71%
Depressing isn’t it.
England will inevitably be forced to the penalty spot again this World Cup, like poor little ‘Spider’ being forced to dance at gunpoint in Goodfellas; he doesn’t dance, he just gets shot in the foot and then violently killed in a later scene (exactly like England, I’m sure you’ll agree, so my analogy stands up to intense scrutiny). Anyway, England are ‘Spider’: well I say no longer, Goddammit!
I’ve chosen the five players, in the correct order of kick, to bring us success. (Of course it may go into sudden-death but… well, I’m only choosing five, so just you eradicate the very notion of this peculiar ‘sudden-death’ phenomenon out of your head, yeah?). The main candidates, depending on who actually goes to South Africa, are largely players who often take, or have taken, penalty responsibility for their club teams; Lampard, Gerrard, Bent, Defoe, Baines, Milner, Barry, Crouch, Carrick and Rooney, amongst others.
Given they’re on the field, here’s my choice in running order (grab a pen Mr Capello):
1. Frank Lampard: Got to get off to a good start, so get penalty machine Frank up first. He may have missed in FA Cup final, but I’d always back him to score; particularly as he’s been successful from the spot 10 times this season.
2. James Milner: Villa’s assigned taker. Without the enhanced pressure of the first or last penalty, this is the perfect place for Milner.
3. Steven Gerrard: Obligatory wrinkly frown adorning his forehead, Gerrard to stride up and slot home, as he has done on three out of three opportunities for Liverpool this year.
Hopefully at some stage around here our ‘heroic goalkeeper’ will pull off an inspired save – no I’m not holding my breath either – or the opposition will help us out by scuffing one wide.
4. Wayne Rooney: with any luck this will be the winning penalty. By this stage the tournaments top-scorer, Rooney will dramatically smash the ball into the roof of the net in a moment of patriotic ecstasy.
5. Ashley Cole: maybe a curious choice, but we need a left-footed player to ‘shake it up’ a little, plus I seem to recall him dispatching some proficient spot-kicks in the past with little fuss (unless I’ve completely fabricated these in my odd little mind). Most importantly, though, Cole taking the last penalty could either see him ‘redeemed’ or simply give the press another reason to spit bile at him, which wouldn’t really alter the status quo; a worthy and willing martyr.
So that’s the plan Capello needs to stick to. If he doesn’t heed this advice he is clearly either an absolute arse or, more likely, he’s manipulated his entire career as an elaborate ploy, going through the whole palaver of playing football, entering into management and winning countless trophies, just so he could finally get the England job, bend over a nation and f**k us all over… proper hard (A sick man. Dedicated, yes, but still a sick, sick man).
So, who would you trust with England’s dreams?
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