With the domestic football season coming to a dramatic close in most European countries (such as Moneybags City looking set to win their first title and the Juve-mafia taking the Italian crown) there’s normally not much to look forward to over the summer. Maybe the odd friendly cup tournament, but that’s about it. Thankfully, every two years there is an international tournament. The World Cup or The European Championships. This year, we luckily have the Euros, being held in the wonderful countries of the Ukraine and Poland. Of course, this is a joyous time for us fans, as it continues the football season far into our summer holidays. On the other hand, share a thought for those poor people in the world, who at this time of year are stressed, anxious and are as near to a mental breakdown as Charlie Sheen is everyday of his life. That’s right, I’m talking about the managers. Roy Hodgson, Giovanni Trapattoni, Joachim Löw etc. Each one of these men has been charged by their country to win the Euros. But just how do they do that? Well, don’t despair managers of Europe, I have come up with 10 fool -proof ways to ensure Euro 2012 victory.
10. Plan Well in Advance
This may sound like common sense, but believe it or not many managers and football associations overlook this. The planning for the Euros doesn’t start as the season ends. Oh no. It starts the minute the team qualifies, back in October. Don’t be a fool and wait until you are on the plane to the Ukraine when you decide what formations you’re going to play or who’s going to play where. Lets’ face it; you probably aren’t as gifted or as talented as “the special one”, so this approach most definitely wont work. The planning doesn’t just fall down to the managers; their football associations have to do their fair share of the work too. Basically, what I’m trying to get at here is if you decide on your manager a couple of months before the Euros, things most probably wont go too well for you. Look at the likes of Germany and Spain, whose manager’s have been in place for what seems like 4534 years. Perfection takes time, so the planning is vitally important. If you’re still not convinced about planning well in advance, just look at Capello’s team selection the day of the World Cup matches in 2010. I’m sure you don’t want that kind of problems whilst you’re trying to win the Euros, so plan, plan plan!
9. Total Football
Total football is a simple yet effective way of dominating the opposition whilst still retaining your shape and discipline. It’s important not to get total football confused with the Barcelona style of “tiki-taka” – total football means that every player can play in every position with the exception of the goalkeeper. Although, if you are manager of England, keep in mind Joe Hart’s last gasp header against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, it could come in handy in some games. Back to total football, and I hear you may be asking why this would win you the Euros. It requires enormous technical ability from each player, so having dead wood in your team is a no-no. Also, you may find that you have a hidden gem on your team, who may be far more comfortable playing in midfield than attack, or vise-versa. You never know, your 3rd choice goalkeeper may become the top goal-scorer at this year’s Euros as a result of total football. Obviously, as a result of the immense technical demand on your players as a result of total football, you may need to start at this year’s Euros and continue it on until the next one for it to become effective. Once again, it may take time, but just take a look at that nerdy girl that used to sit next to you in History. Back then she was an ugly, acne-infested nerd, and now she’s a supermodel. Good things do take time.
8. Leave the WAGs at Home
A major problem for most guys is the distraction that females cause. It’s not their fault, how can you help yourself from being distracted when your wife is a 4-time winner of Miss. World? However, when it comes to a major footballing tournament such as the Euros, the WAGs have to stay at home. You really don’t want a fiasco like the 2006 World Cup with England, where the poor performance was blamed on the WAGs. It really isn’t worth the hassle. Sure the player’s may miss them. The media will most definitely miss them. You may even miss not having them to look at, but at the end of the day Mr. Manager, you are there to win the Euros, not look at supermodels. What does the term ‘WAGs” actually stand for? Well, cultural analysts from Uzbekistan suggest that it stands for “Wives Against Goals”, purely because if your star striker spots his supermodel girlfriend in the stand, he most definitely wont be aiming at the goal.
7. Get the Country Behind You
The mood in your country before a major tournament is one of the most important things to sort out before you get on the plane. Your country needs to be excited, optimistic and 110% behind your boys for you to have any chance of doing well at the Euros. How are you going to do this? Well, getting on the good side of the media is probably the most vital thing you can do. The media controls public opinion. If the media says Britney Spears is a coke addict, then she’s a coke addict. If the media say that Ched Evans should never play football again, then he should never play football again. If the media say that you are the greatest thing since slice bread, then the public will think that. Also, the amount of fans you have out there following you will greatly affect the morale of your team. If you are manager of, let’s say Ireland, and your players walk out into a sea of green in their first game, their morale will be sky high, and they may go out there and demolish whoever it is they are playing. Just make sure that’s in a footballing sense, we don’t want any nasty incidents occurring.
6. Do a “Suarez”
Before we go any further, no, do not be racist. What I mean, rather, is make your players so patriotic that they will do anything to win. You need to ensure that your players will put their bodies on the line in order for you to win, they need to take the ball in the head, neck or chest. Of course the Suarez incident in the 2010 World Cup can be seen as cheating, but he is a hero in his country as a result of it. Wouldn’t you like you or your players to be remembered in folklore for the next millennia? The players in your squad have to be so patriotic that they will kiss that badge before they go to bed every night, otherwise they wont be able to sleep. Players like Saurez win tournaments, not just for their footballing skills, but also for their risk taking and their will to do anything to win.
5. Don’t do a “Zidane”
Moving on from being a living legend, we get to a “what not to do” at the Euros. Let’s state the obvious. Don’t get sent off. Don’t get banned for the final. What else? Oh, that’s right, don’t head-butt the opposition in the most important game your country has ever been involved in. This would be possibly the most stupid and foolish thing anyone has ever done, apart from Ashley Cole cheating on Cheryl. Now that was crazy. But back to the point, getting sent off in the European Championship finals would put your country in the worst possible position, 11 vs 10. In a game where one goal is easily enough to win, you need all eleven men on the pitch in order to achieve your ultimate goal, which isn’t head-butting your opposite number amazingly enough. By all means, be the football side of Zidane, but for god’s sakes don’t viciously assault the man that’s marking you!
4. Have a Delicate Mix Between Youth and Experience
Someone once said “You don’t win anything with youngsters”, and although not ultimately true you do need some experience mixed in with youngsters. Just like when you are making a cake, you need to mix the ingredients thoroughly. Now I may sound a bit like Gordon Ramsey, but my point is simple. The experienced players, the ones who have been there before, will know how to handle themselves at a major tournament. For the youngsters, this may be their first ever major tournament, and for some of them it may be their first ever time away from their mothers and fathers, and so they will need a father figure there to guide them. Just make sure they’re all CRB checked, just to be on the safe side. On the football pitch, this mix will pay off, as you will have the flair of the youngsters as well as the cool-heads of the experienced players. Hopefully, this will result in none of the younger players busting into tears when they miss from 0.34 millimeters out, because let’s face it, its bound to happen at some point.
3. Don’t Concede
Easily said, not so easy to do. This may seem obvious to most people, but it was always going to figure highly on the list. If you don’t concede, you don’t lose. Simples, hey? A well drilled defence and an acrobatic goalkeeper who can spring like a kangaroo will most defiantly help the cause, but everyone needs to chip in. Think about a house: if the foundations aren’t correct, it will fall down. If the walls aren’t made properly, it will fall down. If the roof is top-heavy, it will fall down. The same can be said for your football team. Defence, midfield and attack all need to defend like the Brits defended Britain in World War Two in order for you to win a tournament. Especially tournaments like the Euros, where some of the most formidable attacks in the world are situated.
If you had half a brain cell, you could probably see this one coming. Not conceding is only half the battle, you need your team to get up the other end and bang some in. Goals can come from anywhere; a corner, a free kick or even a goal kick, so if you have selected the right players then you should find this part easy. If, however, you have selected someone like Emile Heskey, then you’ve pretty much had it on the goal-scoring front. You need to score like you’re back in high school and you are at the prom with the girl of your dreams. Scoring, in my opinion, is the most important thing you can do at Euro 2012. Apart from the crazy goal celebrations, but I’ll leave that up to the discretion of your players.
1. Be Spain
Finally, we have reached number one of my ’10 Easy Steps to Winning the Euros” and to be honest there is one sure way to win the European Championships. Simply be Spain: the reigning champions. Easier said than done maybe, but at the end of the day Spain have got to be the favourites for the tournament, and if any one of you want to win the Euros easily, then being Spain has got to be top of the list. Their passing style of football will pass the death out of any team it comes up against, meaning that they wont concede because they will have 99.99% possession. Also, they have the firepower up front to score bags of goals, with players like Llorente and Torres. The country is always well behind the football team, and the players put club differences behind them when they play for Spain. They most definitely have a mix between youth and experience, and have been there and done it before. Being Spain is definitely the most easiest and simple way of winning the Euros.
So there we are. Your easy guide to winning the Euros is complete, and now as I’m sure Mr. Hodgson will be reading this he will get to work implementing my ideas into the England set-up for the upcoming Euros. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team had to learn Spanish in a vain attempt at implementing my number one step. At the end of the day, it will be interesting to see who does come out on top at this summer’s Euros. I just hope they give credit where credit is due and state this guide as the obvious reason for their triumph.