Laurence Inman has some advice for TEAM GB…..
Next day, and the usual terrible news from the lanes of Surrey as our bike-ride-in-the-country team failed miserably.
I was present at most of the tactical meetings for this event and wish now I’d spoken up. It was all ‘If the Portuguese break, Bradders does this,’ and ‘If France drop back, Wiggers does this.’
‘Chaps,’ I should have insisted, ‘forget the grand strategy! Put away the fifteen-page dossier! Dismiss all notions of Clausewitz and Machiavelli! Just get on your bikes and pedal like maniacs until you get back to The Mall, and, most importantly, do it faster than all the other blokes on their bikes!’
It was the same with Roy Hodgson the other week.
‘Laurence,’ he bleated, ‘I don’t think I can do this any more. What are we doing wrong ?’
‘Roy, Roy, Roy. Oh Roy, isn’t it obvious ? Look at the Spaniards. They win everything. Now think! What do they do that we don’t do, and which, if we did do it, would make us do much better at what, after all’s said and done, is what we’re supposed to do best ?’
He just stared at me in despair.
‘They run very fast. When they pass the ball, it goes where they want it to. And they score more goals than the teams they’re playing. That’s why they win Roy!’
‘But what can I do, Laurence ? For centuries we’ve only known one way of playing. It won us the World Cup in 1876. I daren’t change. The press would kill me.’
‘We didn’t win the World Cup, Roy. We got away with it. Look, start with the training. It’s all wrong. They go out for an hour, wave their arms about, do that silly skipping thing. I’ve seen them on the telly. Get them running fast for a long time.’
‘Hang on, let me write this down.’
‘Passing. Practise passing. Have a player standing fifteen yards from another player and see if they can kick the ball to each other. If they can’t, carry on until they can.’
‘Oh this is good! Why didn’t I call you before ?’
‘And the most important thing, Roy. You must score more goals than they do. Just one more will do.’
‘One ? Are you sure ?’
Back to the Olympics.
Isn’t the first week tedious ? Archery, the minute sub-divisions and classes of weightlifting, rowing, canoeing, swimming heats, fencing, horses, all the stuff you can’t tell who’s winning….
Next week I interview our best hope for a medal since the last one.
Then I go home. Have me dinner. Nice cup of tea. Go to the bog.