THE POSSIBILITY OF A DRAMATIC REDUCTION IN THE VOLUME OF THAT EFFING BRASS BAND
Tonight has the potential to become one of the great memorable evenings for followers of the English national football team. For should Scotland lose to Croatia at Hampden, and Macedonia manage a draw in Serbia, Craig Levein's team (he's not escaping blame for this on our watch) will become the first Scottish side ever to finish bottom of a World Cup qualifying group. But a pleasant spot of schadenfreude isn't the only thing England supporters are hopeful of celebrating tonight. Because there's the possibility of a dramatic reduction in the volume of That Effing Brass Band, should any of Poland's 18,000 fans - hopefully a lawyer, doctor, architect or nightclub bouncer, though a builder would do - bump serendipitously into Adrian Chiles and take the opportunity to shove the ITV frontman's confused noggin into the bell of the sousaphone. Though England could also qualify for the 2014 World Cup, and that would be good too.
England have to beat visitors Poland if they want to make certain of their place in Brazil next summer, because Ukraine are only a point behind them in the table and are off to San Marino, who will only do the English a favour if they bring to an end their 56-game losing streak. Still, hopes remain high that England can sort this out themselves, and not just because Poland are a fairly shocking shower. (They've only scored eight goals in the seven qualifiers not against San Marino, while their star man Robert Lewandowski has only ever scored six times in competitive fixtures, and four of those came against Guess Who.) It's also because England are on a stunning run of one win in a row, a sequence which has caused everyone to lose the run of themselves as usual, although fair's fair, if you extrapolate this trend it's World Cups and European Championships from here on in until judgment day. Watch out, Spain!
"I don't think I can be putting a stronger, more confident bunch of players on to the field," trumpeted Mr Roy, before remembering his City and Guilds in Expectation Management and adding a caveat. "But football is not science. If it was science, and everything was based on logic and science, I think we'd be 99% there. But it's a game. Things happen in games that you don't always want to happen." Having spooked himself, and with safety-first in mind, Mr Roy is reportedly contemplating switching Montenegro matchwinner Andros Townsend for James Milner, and Michael Carrick for Frank Lampard. Not that he plans to fully ignore the gambling man who lurks within, a chap hitherto unseen in the pre-Townsend era. Word is he will prefer Phil Jones to Chris Smalling as the man to fill in for the suspended Kyle Walker at right-back. That's the sort of risk few associate with Mr Roy, as Jones could score two and lay on another, get himself sent off for a ludicrous head-high challenge incorporating internet-meme-friendly gurn, or accidentally take out at least five of his own players, England finishing the game with nine men, and one of those a Wayne Rooney preoccupied with worry. Yes, it promises to be a memorable evening, one way or another, so do remember to tune into ITV for the game, hopefully presented by a man with a tuba wedged over his head.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE TONIGHT
Join Scott Murray from 8pm BST for MBM coverage of England 2-2 Poland, but only after you've checked in with Ian McCourt, who'll be liveblogging the rest of the World Cup qualifiers from around 6pm.
QUOTE OF THE DAY No1
"They came on to the pitch and did their show. They were just waving their arms around and then did a belly flop and glided along the grass. They were n@ked, which may not have been that smart" – Sirius midfielder Johan Arneng reacts after the Swedish third-tier match between his side and AFC Vasby had to be halted after two German streakers invaded the pitch.
QUOTE OF THE DAY No2
"I just want my grandchildren to grow up to be good people. Even if they do play too many computer games" – 'Arry Redknapp continues his book publicity tour … sorry, computer game shill 'Arry Redknapp continues his book publicity tour.
WIN! WIN! WIN!
We've got five copies of Daniel Harris's splendid new book – The Promised Land: Manchester United's Historic Treble – to give away. Simply answer the following question correctly: which Manchester United game of that 1998-99 season did Lord Ferg miss, and who took over? Emails to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Manchester United book competition' in the subject line by 6pm BST on Friday 18 October, please.
"I was guessing there would be a short cul-de-sac off Lord Ferg Way (yesterdays' Bits and Bobs) called Moyes Close. However, I am hoping there will be a Moyes Crescent, which takes you back before the start of Lord Ferg Way, on to Docherty Street" – David Warburton.
"Re: France planning to ask for a review of the World Cup play-off seeding system (yesterday's Bits and Bobs). Hello pot … this is the kettle. France! Asking for a helping hand in the World Cup play-offs? France! Really? Not that I'm still bitter, but for the love of God, karma, please come and sort this out" – Nick Murphy (and others).
"Sometimes, the stars align, and pedantry of the very prettiest kind is made easy. On Sunday evening, David Mitchell explained (via the medium of yet-another-panel-show) that Churchill's famous speech was simply 'We shall fight on the beaches …' and so on, with no 'them' cluttering up the lines. Yesterday, the Fiver re-inserted the apocryphal 'them', causing embarrassment all around. I hope Mr Roy has done substantially more homework" – Matt Dony.
"Further to Mike Barron's letter regarding the use of the word 'zucchini' (yesterday's Fiver letters), although I accept the point that zucchini should not be used in the singular, I would like to point out that the lesser-used 'zucchino' is also correct in the singular, the plural form of which is indeed zucchini. Interestingly (and I use this very loosely), Zucchini is also the German word for courgette in the singular, so you'll need to have a word with them too. I'm now going to go and cry in a corner for knowing, and worse still, caring" – Katherine West (and others).
"In your spare time (which I'm assuming you have plenty of) could you possibly work out who's had the most letters published since the Fiver's inception? I have a wager that it's Noble Francis while a colleague thinks that Paul Jurdeczka probably still holds top spot in the Letters Published League (LPL) despite a lack of recent form. And yes, I know there is undoubtedly something better I should be doing with my time" – Dexter Varley.
JOIN GUARDIAN SOULMATES
We keep trying to point out the utter futility of advertising an online dating service "for interesting people" in the Fiver to the naive folk who run Guardian Soulmates, but they still aren't having any of it. So here you go – sign up here to view profiles of the kind of erudite, sociable and friendly romantics who would never dream of going out with you.
BITS AND BOBS
Former Senegal coach Bruno Metsu has died of cancer at the age of 59. "He fought like a lion. We had a lot of adventures together. I will remember his magnificent smile and his love of life," said his close friend Claude Le Roy.
Sunderland's Craig Gardner either hasn't got a clue about maths or he's just damned caretaker boss Kevin Ball with the ultimate piece of faint praise. "The lads in the changing room were buzzing, it's been a total 360," he parped.
Inter president Massimo Moratti has agreed to sell 70% of the club to Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir. "Now I will try to adapt to a new rhythm," trilled Moratti, dancing a little jig of joy at the prospect of trousering £300m.
Cardiff City fans have called on the board to be more transparent after a board meeting which failed to shed any light on why a 23-year-old was made head of recruitment and why Malky Mackay may still be sacked. "Bluebirds fans deserve a full explanation," said Supporters' Trust chairman, Tim Hartley.
Sami Khedira reckons he is being unfairly blamed by Spanish hacks for Real Madrid's poor form. "I will never be one of their favourite sons. I'm not Spanish, I didn't cost a lot and I'm a disciple of Mourinho," sobbed the German international.
And Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez has kicked off the tedious transfer saga of next summer by making known his wish to sign Radamel Falcao. "Nothing is impossible. Falcao is a great player and I am aware that he wants to play for Madrid. They told me," he said, presumably referring to the imaginary Mr 15%s who visit him in his sleep.
STILL WANT MORE?
How well do you know your football shirt sponsors? Test your sadn … sorry, knowledge with our quiz.
Former USA! USA!! USA!!! boss Bob Bradley on leading Egypt to the World Cup play-offs, despite the revolution, a stadium massacre and the cancellation of the domestic league.
Romelu Lukaku stars as a Shakespeare creation and a bottle of bleach in this week's Gallery.
The Icemen cometh! Sachin Nakrani on Iceland's World Cup day of destiny.
And four Polish fans who live in England talk about tonight's game at Wembley, their divided loyalties … and Adrian Chiles.
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