Why England will win the World Cup!
Oh dear. I woke up to find a car on our street decorated by two flags of St George. Plonker, I thought. Imagine my surprise when I realized they were on my car.
The wife tells me I reeled in, scrabbled through a box in the loft, half fell back down the step-ladder, staggered outside singing 'Engerland, Engerland, Engerland', and wedged the darn things on to me front bumper meself.
Trouble is, sobriety hasn't made my mind any clearer. I suppose it's good to hear these common-sense let's-not-get-ahead-of-ourselves pessimists chuntering on, but it's all a bit coy and Jane Austen if you ask me ('Why Mr. Hansen, we must not talk of such things'. Face down, flutter eyelashes).
SO....HERE'S WHY ENGLAND ARE GOING TO WIN THE WORLD CUP.
1. Fabio Capello
Il Capo. Da Boss. He's like one of them firebrand headmasters they send into failing secondary schools, isn't he? You can imagine the classroom pre-Capello...
Fabio Capello -Who's the Daddy?
There's Mr Down With The Kids sidling up to the lads in the classroom as they drape themselves across the desks:
Wazza's scoring 'Red til I die' into the table top with the end of his compass and trying to chat up the middle-aged classroom assistant; Owen's got a card-game on the go;
Stevie and Frank are busy trying to sit in the same seat (and Gerrard's going to ground first). The goalies are gathered in one corner trying to play noughts and crosses on the wall, but never quite making any of the crosses.
"Hey!" says Stevie Mac. "S'up? You guys is playing well good football, innit?"
"Mmm", he continues, "looks like rain. I've got my brolly if you need me to walk you to your cars, lads."
After the withering report from the Office For Flipping Appalling Letdowns [OFFAL], the new broom arrives. And what a broom!
"You want Fame? Fame costs - even for you bunch of pampered millionaires - and right here's where you start paying - in sweat, and a nice new sensible kit."
"Mr Capello to you. You do what I say. Repeat after me. There is no 'I' in team."
"There's no F in chance!" mutters someone or other.
"For that I shall not only pick you for every game, I will play you out of position!"
"Oo my groin!"
"SILENCE! And you Mr Ferdinand. You think you get it rough with that hairdryer? Meet my wind turbine in a force nine gale!"
England have been solid as a full-fibre breakfast since Capello's arrival - at least when it has really counted. 4-1 and 5-1 v Croatia tells you what he's about.
He's selected according to form (Lennon, Johnson) but stuck by the unsung (Heskey and Barry), and his players have responded.
Plus, he's solved that great philosophical puzzle that has dogged England fans for years. The Gerpard Conundrum. Yes, it turns out that Gerrard and Lamps can play together if they're not treated like the teacher's pet and head boy. Frank sits deeper, Stevie floats around from the left-hand side, and the only two-eyed Cyclops in history, Wayne Rooney, gets to be top dog.
Capello's a true leader. As we speak, Russell Crowe will be haggling for the film rights to the Capello story. ("My name is Fabius Maximus Pointsus Capellicus").
England have bags of it: Lennon, Walcott, SWP, Rooney... you know what could not come off a shovel any quicker. Lennon danced round Croatians like that peroxide blonde lass who jiggled round the inert John Sergeant in Strictly Come Dancing last year. Only Sergeant looked better.
South Africa's going to be cool. We won't have to watch the likes of a Scholesy dessicate like a stale slice of thin-sliced Mother's Pride in the baking midday sun. We can play high tempo, hard-pressing football and not get knackered.
4. David Beckham
For the odd free-kick and the odd wave. But mostly for the press conference platitudes. He's great at saying nowt with a charming grin. The rest of them can concentrate on the footie.
Or rather the lack of them. England's 2006 story was spoiled 'cos it was the WAGs that dogged the tale. Stay away, loves, and leave your menfolk to get on with the job in hand, before returning home with the spoils of victory.
6. The new kit
In the Capello mould. Clean, no-nonsense, smart. I love it. It says 'we mean business' rather 'we mean to make thousands of parents buy this stinking polyester tut for their pestering little brats. Again.'
7. Derren Brown
He's English. Just get him to say we're going to win on national telly and we're laughing, surely?
Rooney has been on fire
A couple of years back Shrek was getting shredded by people who thought he wasn't up to much really. Just a hulking hairy freak of a teenager whose best years were behind him. The lad's world class. He must stay fit. And calm.
9. Slaven Bilic
I'd take him along for the team talks. Lack of Englishness? If by that, you charming WUM, you mean that we don't lump it up front to the big fella enough, or cringe like girls in a butterfly farm when we realise we just need a draw, or never practice penalties 'cos that's all in the lap of the Gods innit, then fine. We're un-English. Bilic's team didn't get within spitting distance of England until after the whistle (allegedly).
Now let me anticipate your moans, you miseries:
Heskey can't score. (Everyone else seems to manage when he plays.)
Johnson can't defend. (He can learn and I never saw Wes Brown do lollipops and nick up a peach of a cross like that, so who cares?)
Croatia were rubbish. (When they played England, yes. Coincidence?)
Wait 'til the penalty shoot-out. (Shut up. You're making me nervous.)
Be quiet, Robbo, you're rubbish at predictions. (All right. But we ARE going to win it. You'll see.)