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One of the problems with the English, and I say this as a lover of the country and a fan of the game they gave to the world, is that they take their football too seriously.  Judging by the way they’ve played so far in this World Cup, my claim can’t be written off, the way it was in a friendly chat at a Fort Lauderdale pub during yesterday’s match, as coming from a daft Yank.

Besides, I’m Canadian.

Back to England, though.  Unwilling to shoot, unable to connect on the simplest of passes and scuffing every ball, when the other 31 teams in the tournament are all struggling to keep long balls of any kind in the field of play, the Three Lions played more like the Three Blind Mice.  Truly, they were lucky the Algerians weren’t carrying carving knives.  The commentators for the game and the analysts in the studio all echoed on the same theme.  The English looked tight, were fearful of making mistakes, are feeling the  pressures of a nation that expects nothing less than perfection and show no joy for the game.  In short, they’re taking themselves too seriously.

Can this man save England?

What they need is to have some fun, have a chuckle, take some of the pressure off, realize that, although it’s the World Cup, it’s still just a game and you PLAY it.  I think I know just the person to help.  There is one man in England who knows and enjoys his football but isn’t afraid to take the piss out of it, as well.  That man is comedian Dave Baddiel, and, at this moment in time, his country sorely needs him.

Always good for a laugh, whatever the subject matter, Baddiel’s football passion and acumen are well known throughout the UK.  If you ask me (and by clicking on this article, you did), Fabio Capello has the wrong Dave sitting on the bench.  If he truly wants to lift the players, the Italian should politely ask Becks to catch a plane to LA and have Baddiel substitute in Golden Ball’s place to lighten the mood in camp.  At worst, Fabio can lift the Twitter and Facebook ban imposed on the players long enough for each of them to receive a link to Dave’s new online sit-com, FC Dave.

If you cross pollinate 24 Hour Party People with Curb Your Enthusiasm and throw in a football, you’ve got the basic feel of the show. Filmed as a mockumentary, the weekly ten minute webisodes premiere on Thursdays and follow the misadventures of a five-a-side team.

First Fred...

... Then Peter...

... and finally Joe. Maybe Darwin had it wrong.

FC Dave is managed by Joe, a tragically comic figure, in the best tradition of Fred Flintstone and Peter Griffin.  Every time he puts his foot in it, I cringe and wish that he were, in fact, animated instead of flesh and blood.  No living person deserves to be as hilariously pathetic as Joe.  Convinced that footballing is in his blood, the gaffer is ruthlessly determined, though ill-equipped, to lead FC Dave to the Broadcaster’s Cup, so that his owner can lord it over his television cronies.

Baddiel is seen occasionally, ruling his kingdom despotically from behind his office PC.  Preoccupied with more pressing matters, like running a television network named Dave , the comedian has left the club in the incapable hands of his bucktoothed and bespectacled administrative assistant, Aaron.

Joe has his own hapless protege, a hulking neanderthal named Dennis, who also plays in the side.  The rest of the team is made up of the captain, Ryan, basically an athletic David Spade with a penchant for the ladies, John and Paul, who spend most of their spare time chatting in the shower and the ‘goalie,’ who, petulant at being made to play keeper against his wishes, refuses to give interviews or be filmed.

So far, under their gaffer’s stern guidance , the players have managed to get caught breaking into an opponent’s offices to steal water bottles, lose their kits and play out a match clad only in skivvies and neon colored mesh vests and be written up in the tabloids for their various sexual peccadillos.  Oh, and let’s not forget the WAGS.  Ryan has managed to hook up with the team’s new physio, aka Joe’s sister.  The results on the pitch aren’t any more successful, either.

The FA may turn out to be uninterested in taking on Dave Baddiel as a special World Cup consultant, to help lift the spirits of the national team.  A webisode of FC Dave is just the right length, however, for any England fan to download during half time of the next England match rather than spending that fifteen minutes screaming into a pillow and considering whether it’s time to open the oven door and turn up the gas.

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