As England prepare to meet Iceland in the knockout stages of Euro 2016 tomorrow, the Mercury’s chief football pundit Ryan ‘Nobby’ Clough analyses the Three Lions’ chances of progressing in the competition.
Strapped to one of those trolley things and wearing a boiler suit and an ice-hockey mask for his own good, Nobby spoke to us from a glass-fronted dungeon cell in Belmarsh Prison where he is on remand for arson.
Now, what Roy and the boys have got to accept is that Iceland are going to park the bus. In fact the bus is probably already parked there, along with the manager’s 4×4 and a couple of trawlers, I shouldn’t wonder.
But you have to remember that your Icelander comes from a very backward society. In fact it’s a miracle they even found France with the primitive navigational aids they have on them longboats. So, for one thing, your Icelander is going to be knackered from all that rowing; but his other problem is the food in France.
Your Icelander, as everyone knows, survives on a diet of mackerel and puffins. Your Frenchman lives on cheese. So as we enter the third week of competition, your average Icelander is in a weakened state, having been denied puffin since he left home. Craving a nice bit of puffin he is, by now.
Your English lads, in contrast, benefit from being close enough to home for Deliveroo and Domino’s to get through the Channel Tunnel and, consequently, they have been able to maintain a proper balanced footballer’s diet of curry and lager.
The other thing in England’s favour is that, thanks to the wisdom of the British people, we have recently been freed from the shackles of Europe; liberated from the stifling embrace of Euro-conformity.
So Roy no longer has to play any of this airy-fairy attractive passing football with midfield rhomboids and defensive dodecahedrons and twinkle-toed nonces like Ronaldo doing ballet all over the park, as was previously demanded by EU directives.
He can revert to a traditional British tactical game, whereby the goalkeeper hoofs it up the field and the entire team – including Joe Hart – chase the ball about until one of them lashes and unstoppable shot into the top left-hand corner of the net giving the keeper no chance.
So I confidently expect Roy to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty around lunchtime tomorrow, initiating proper British football, terrifying the French, and sending your Icelander home to enjoy a restorative slice of puffin by the eerie glow of a volcano going off at the end of his street. Job done. Bring on the frogs!