Guilty: Jagger, Churchill & Blessed

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Leave Fabio Capello and Emile Heskey out of it: here are the people who really undid the Three Lions.

Mick Jagger, toxic football luvvie
Remember that Japanese horror movie Ringu, in which a cursed videotape killed everyone who watched it? The Rolling Stone is the World Cup equivalent of that cursed videotape. Not content with cheering the USA to defeat against Ghana on Saturday, he turned up in Bloemfontein to put the hex on England on Sunday.

Before this World Cup, the last time I remember seeing him at an England World Cup game was against Argentina in St Etienne in 1998. And we all remember how that ended. No wonder I’ve always preferred Keith Richards.

"Have you seen the Muller, Barry, standing in the shadow?"

Winston Churchill, Britain’s waning bulldog
The most famous British prime minister, the charismatic epitome of the cigar-chomping, brandy-slurping bulldog spirit that made this country great has had a worse World Cup than Fabio Capello.

The Sun, clocking that the Algeria game fell on the 70th anniversary of Churchill’s “finest hour speech” plastered its front page with the hope that that group match could be the England team’s finest hour and a half. Instead, it was their darkest – until Bloemfontein.

Maybe The Sun were harking back to the wrong party. Churchill was prime minister in 1954 when England got stuffed 4-2 by Uruguay in the quarter-final. That was our record defeat in a World Cup finals – until Bloemfontein.

Churchill’s imperious state funeral was held on 30 January 1965, a year and a half before Jules Rimet was gleaming in Bobby Mooreu’s hands. And the man running the country then was Huddersfield Town-supporting Labour leader Harold Wilson. As England have only ever won the World Cup under a Labour government, maybe the 71% of the British electorate who didn’t vote Labour in May are to blame.

"Win it for us, Alf, and I'll get you knighted"

Feruccio Valcareggi, the coach who was always in meetings
Capello’s only previous World Cup, 1974, was as disastrous as 2010. There were more factions in the squad than in the Italian parliament; in a vain attempt to keep everyone on side, Italy coach Valcareggi held so many team meetings (one even took place on a train after their game against Haiti) that Capello became allergic to them.

Literally: so severe was Capello's reaction that – and this isn’t widely known – he had to take massive doses of antihistamines before that clear-the-air session with the England players that didn’t clear any air at all.

Saatchi and Saatchi, agency of destruction
Why did Saatchis, creators of the Carlsberg team talk ad that put the nauseam into ad nauseam, decide it was a good idea to use the memory of Sir Bobby Robson to shift a few cans of lager?

Even the mock solemnity of the second’s silence as his image filled the screen felt bogus. Probably the most tasteless use of a dead England manager in a TV ad – in the world. As the official beer of the England team, Carlsberg’s mad men were storing up bad karma – and it was England, not Saatchis or Carlsberg, who paid the penalty.

Brian Blessed, ham actor who makes vuvuzelas seem subtle
A valiant, fabulously OTT attempt to drown out the vuvuzelas with some cod Shakespeare and show the Three Lions how to roar which might have worked if he’d been in the England dressing room and hadn’t finished off with a loud invoking of the spirit of Harry, England and the geographically promiscuous...

...St George, the least effective saint since Val Kilmer
What kind of English patriot is he anyway? He was born nine miles from Tel Aviv, the son of an official in the Roman army, probably slayed the dragon in Cappaddocia in Turkey and, some historians suggest, dealt on the black market.

More to the point, he also happens to be the patron saint of two other 2010 World Cup finalists (Greece and Portugal) and of the Free State of Bavaria, from whence came Gerd and Thomas, the Mullers who undid England in 1970 and 2010. 

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