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21 Things That Must Happen During This World Cup


"Raheem Sterling must start against Italy as Roy Hodgson should place faith in youth." — Daily Mail headline 

"England must pick Daniel Sturridge—every other team in Brazil would." The Guardian headline

"England 'must embrace Ross Barkley's talents.'" BBC Sport headline

"England must get first XI right." Bleacher Report headline 

Roy Hodgson must read the headlines every day and wonder why he bothers.

English people—and their journalists—must forget in their positive prognostications that their team can't properly control a rolling football.

Brazilians must be laughing at how white a human being can be.

To have secured a spot as England's playmaker, Jordan Henderson must own naked pictures of Someone-Important's wife (as must James Milner to have been inclused in the squad at all).

John Terry must be reminded that if England win the World Cup, the trophy doesn't get presented to him, nor does he get a medal.

Chris Smalling must turn around to see which good player is standing behind him every time he's picked for a game. 

Glen Johnson must think that "correct defensive positioning" is for losers.

Joe Hart must be primed for another hilarious and very costly goalkeeping error.

Daniel Sturridge must stop doing that annoying "I'm-an-'80s-robot dance move" celebration after he scores. 

Wayne Rooney must accept playing wide left for England, just like Paul Scholes had to before him.

Wayne Rooney must look at Jordan Henderson—just as Scholes looked at Steven Gerrard all those years—and think, "I should have played for Liverpool."

Wayne Rooney must not get a red card from frustration at being asked to play wide left, but if he does, please let it be for something properly nasty like a solid nutting of an opponent, not a petulant swing of a boot that barely connects.

England must not lose to Italy.

England must not lose to Uruguay.

England must not feel sad that having lost to Italy and Uruguay, the Costa Rica game is a good chance to "blood young talent in anticipation of [insert name of future tournament they won't win here]."

England must realize that millions of fans care about this team regardless of how crap they often manage to be.

The Football Association must understand that fundamentally changing the game at "grassroots level" could mean that in the future, the team might be able to control the ball like Spanish or Brazilian players, and therefore win something.

The manager, the players, the FA: You must know that despite disappointing us every few years, we still have personal reasons why we root for you to make it all the way. 

I must remember that Dad was dying during the Italia '90 World Cup.

I must remember that all those England professionals had to do was win a penalty shootout at the end of the England-Germany semifinal and my terminally ill father could have watched his country play in a last (for him, probably for all of us) World Cup Final.

I must remember that Vincent Michael Dempsey lived until the morning of September 18, 1990.