As the Brazil 2014 World Cup approaches and the world becomes ever-more obsessed with the beautiful game during the countdown, it sees appropriate to take a look at the only movie ever to capture all that is tragically comedic about the competition – “Mike Bassett: England Manager”.
You don’t have to be an England football fan to understand the subtleties of this film – but it certainly helps.
The frustrations of England fans and their exasperation with a succession of their national side’s managers since England won the tournament on home soil in 1966, is beautifully portrayed.
As Brazil 2014 beckons, it’s probably fair to say that England fans’ expectations have never been lower, with most fans not expecting them to progress beyond the group stage. England are currently 28-1 with 32Red and other bookmakers to win the competition, with 11 other nations ahead of them in the betting. If you fancy those odds with 32Red, there may be a way of getting a free bet through the site’s mobile casino – where new players can get up to £160 in free bets via a £32 for each £20 deposited. It’s probably fair to say, though, that many England fans would prefer to shout for their own team, but have a punt on another.
Such low expectations may play into manager Roy Hodgson’s hands, of course. For when Mike Bassett was England’s fictional manager in is eponymous movie, that’s exactly what happens; England do well despite Mike’s presence.
Mike is a manager from the lower leagues who is completely unfit for the task at hand. He’s a foul-mouthed base character who somehow finds himself in his sport and country’s top job. When England manage to qualify for the sport’s most important competition, a comedy of errors follows.
The role could have been made for the perfectly cast actor Ricky Tomlinson. Mike steers the precarious England ship from one disaster to another. At one point, he advertently manages to select mediocre midfielders Benson and Hedges, having made hi team selection on the proverbial “back of a fag packet”.
The most memorable scene sees a disappointed Mike heading off for an early night before being reluctantly persuaded to go for “one” drink. The inevitable follows with Mike dancing on the tables in the early hours.
Eventually, England’s defeat at the hands of Brazil in the semi-finals does much to undeservedly restore Mike’s reputation. This is a great movie to watch in advance of this year’ World Cup if you want to get into the right frame of mind. There are moments of pure hilarity. Tat said, it’s not perfect and falls back on a few too many clichés. The scripting and comedy could have been a lot more subtle – but it isn’t bad overall and is well worth watching if you’ve never done so before.
Rather like the England side itself; “quite good – could do better”!
by guest writer Matthew Wilkinson