Mike Bassett: England Manager

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Mike Bassett: England Manager
Mike Bassett cover.jpg
Directed by Steve Barron
Produced by Steve Barron
Neil Peplow
Written by John R. Smith
Rob Sprackling
Starring Ricky Tomlinson
Amanda Redman
Bradley Walsh
Edited by Colin Green
Production
  company
Artists Independent Productions
Film Council
Hallmark Entertainment
Distributed by Entertainment Film Distributors
Release date(s)
  • 28 September 2001 (2001-09-28)
Running time 89 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Mike Bassett: England Manager is a 2001 satirical comedy film directed by Steve Barron, following the fortunes of the manager of Division One football (English football's second tier) club Norwich City, Mike Bassett, who having led his side to the 'Mr Clutch Cup', is appointed England manager. It received mixed reviews.[1]

The film takes the form of a fly-on-the-wall fictional documentary (mockumentary) following Bassett (played by Ricky Tomlinson) as he starts his international management career. Martin Bashir, well known as a journalist and presenter in real life, plays the interviewer and provides the voice-over, and the film features cameo appearances from Pelé and Ronaldo. The film satirises many targets, such as the mysterious figures who run the Football Association, the stereotypical view of an old-fashioned manager, and the tabloid press's unfailing habit of building the England team up so they can knock them down hard.

The world cup being played is referred to in the film as 'World Cup XVII'; the 17th World Cup was the tournament played in 2002.

The film was followed by a TV series, Mike Bassett: Manager in 2005.[2][3]

Plot[edit]

England manager Phil Cope suffers a heart attack during qualification for the World Cup, which started out well but has gone badly wrong of late. The FA heads meet to decide who should be the new England manager, but soon run into trouble. The most successful Premier League manager is Scottish (based on Sir Alex Ferguson), the second most successful is a former England captain who is interested in the job, but the FA decide that he is too much of a "loudmouth" and refuse to consider him (a reference to the numerous times Brian Clough was passed over for the England job), while none of the other English managers in the Premiership are interested. They are forced to look to Division One, and Bassett, who has just won the Mr Clutch Cup with Norwich City.

Bassett takes over the England team and appoints his assistant manager Lonnie Urquart (Philip Jackson) (a reference to Lawrie McMenemy under the Graham Taylor era) who is very old-fashioned in his beliefs and still acts like a used car salesman and often compares the England players' performances to cars, and coach Dave Dodds (Bradley Walsh), a spineless "yes-man" who once managed with Mike at Colchester United (a reference to Phil Neal under the Graham Taylor era). The team need one win from three World Cup qualifiers to get to the World Cup Finals in Brazil. With a squad featuring a pony-tailed goalkeeper (based on David Seaman); Kevin Tonkinson, an alcoholic Mackem (based on Paul Gascoigne); Rufus Smalls, a striker going through a very poor run of form (based on Andy Cole); Steve Harper, a playboy midfielder (based on David Beckham) and Gary Wackett, an extremely aggressive centre-back (based on Stuart Pearce/Vinnie Jones); he plays an old-fashioned 4-4-2 formation and attempts to bring football back to where it belongs. Unfortunately, he loses his first two games in charge and his managerial career is already on the rocks. Needing to beat Slovenia in the final qualifier to make it to Brazil, England can only manage a draw. However, a shock win by Luxembourg over Turkey sees them go through on goal difference. He and his team record the official England World Cup song with band Atomic Kitten, with compositions by "hellraiser" Keith Allen.

So, England are on their way to Brazil. When they arrive, progress is not smooth as they start their tour by brawling with the Scottish and Irish teams. A difficult group stage sees them on the verge of heading home after they can only manage a goalless draw with unfancied Egypt before losing heavily to Mexico. One of England's training sessions is rendered pointless after Urquart locks the footballs in his Opel and goes shopping. Captain Gary Wackett is gaoled for taking part in hooliganism; midfield playmaker Tonkinson accidentally gets involved in a drunken tryst with a transsexual; assistant manager Urquart is sacked after punching Bassett for berating him as useless and when Mike mixes flaming sambucas with anti-depressants, it seems things can get no worse.

The morning after his drunken incident he is involved in a press conference where he is expected to step-down from the managerial position. When he announces that he is carrying on the press begin to get hostile and Bassett responds by the reciting of "If—" by Rudyard Kipling which he finished by saying "England will be playing 4-4-fucking-2" and storms out. Following this England need to beat Argentina to get through to the second round. England succeed when Tonkinson dribbles past the Argentinian defence, his shot deflects off the crossbar and he punches the ball into the net (alluding to Diego Maradona's infamous Hand of God goal and his legendary Goal of the Century, both scored against England in the 1986 World Cup). England advanced to the knock-out stages where they beat Romania and France. Rufus Smalls scored a hat-trick against Romania and became England's top goal scorer with 52 international goals. But England lose to Brazil in the semi-finals. Bashir states that England equal their best performance since they won in 1966 (in 1990 England finished fourth). This implies that England lost the third-place playoff, which is not seen in the film. The team return to England to a cheering crowd and Bassett announces that he will not quit.

Cast[edit]

England under Mike Bassett[edit]

Fixture Result | Date
Poland (Home - WCQ8 - Group 3) Lost 1-2 | 12 April 2001
Belgium (Away - WCQ9 - Group 3) Lost 0-3 | 20 September 2001
Slovenia (Home - WCQ10 - Group 3) Drew 0-0 | 18 November 2001
Egypt (Neutral - World Cup R1 - Group 6) Drew 0-0 | 15 June 2002
Mexico (Neutral - World Cup R1 - Group 6) Lost 0-4 | 19 June 2002
Argentina (Neutral - World Cup R1 - Group 6) Won 1-0 | 7 July 2002
Romania (Neutral - World Cup - Last 16) Won 3-0 | 12 July 2002
France (Neutral - World Cup - Quarter Finals) Won 2-0 | 16 July 2002
Brazil (Away - World Cup - Semi Finals) Lost 0-1 | 21 July 2002

After the film's events[edit]

Main article: Mike Bassett: Manager

In the follow up TV series, Mike Bassett: Manager, it is revealed that Bassett was sacked by England after failing to qualify for the 2004 European Championships, including a defeat to Liechtenstein. Bassett subsequently guided Newcastle United to two consecutive relegations, before unsuccessful returns to Norwich and Colchester lead to him taking over at his father's former club, Wirral County.

Reception[edit]

The movie received a mixed reception from critics.[4][5][6][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mike Bassett: England Manager | Film". The Guardian. 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  2. ^ "Mike Bassett spin-off is just 30 minutes of TV hell - News". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  3. ^ "ITV to make Mike Bassett series - TV News". Digital Spy. 2004-10-06. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  4. ^ "Empire's Mike Bassett: England Manager Movie Review". Empireonline.com. 2006-12-05. Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  5. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (28 September 2001). "Mike Bassett: England Manager". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ Reviewed by Neil Smith Updated 27 September 2001 (2001-09-27). "Films - review - Mike Bassett: England Manager". BBC. Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  7. ^ Elley, Derek (27 September 2001). "Mike Bassett: England Manager". Variety. 

External links[edit]