Mike Bassett: England Manager
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|Mike Bassett: England Manager|
|Directed by||Steve Barron|
John R. Smith|
|Edited by||Colin Green|
|Distributed by||Entertainment Film Distributors|
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.
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 voiceover, 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 in Japan and Korea, rather than Brazil as in the film, although Brazil would host the tournament in 2014. The film was followed by a television series, Mike Bassett: Manager in 2005.
In 2014 a second film, Mike Bassett: Interim Manager, attempted to get £250,000 funding on the website Kickstarter. After the time limit for the funding expired, the campaign was cancelled, and there has since been no further news of this second film.
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 Premiership 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 2-0 win by Luxembourg over Turkey sees them go through on goal difference. He and his team record the official England World Cup song with girl group Atomic Kitten and "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 4-0 to Mexico. To make matters worse, Bassett also receives a phone call from his wife back in England, informing him that his son was bullied at school for the Egypt draw, resulting in his eyebrows being shaved off (a reference to an Egyptian custom, in which a family, when mourning a death of a pet cat, would shave off their own eyebrows).
One of England's training sessions is rendered pointless after Urquart locks the footballs in his Opel and goes shopping. Captain Gary Wackett is sent home 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 finishes by saying that "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 and blasts a shot which deflects off the crossbar. Tonkinson then punches the ball into the net.
England advance to the knock-out stages, where they beat Romania and France. Rufus Smalls scores a hat trick against Romania and becomes England's top goal scorer with 52 international goals. But in the semi-finals, England lose to host nation Brazil. On their plane journey back to Britain, Bashir states that England equalled 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. At the airport, the team depart the plane to a cheering crowd, where Bassett confirms to the waiting press that he will remain as manager.
- Ricky Tomlinson – Mike Bassett
- Amanda Redman – Karine Bassett
- Bradley Walsh – Dave Dodds
- Philip Jackson – Lonnie Urquart
- Phill Jupitus – Tommo Thompson
- Dean Lennox Kelly – Kevin Tonkinson
- Martin Bashir – Interviewer
- Robbie Gee – Rufus Smalls
- Geoff Bell - Gary Wackett
- Pelé – Himself
- Ronaldo - Himself
- Kevin Piper – Norwich newsreader
- Robert Putt – Jack Marshall
- Malcolm Terris – Phil Cope
- Terry Kiely - Harpsey
- Philip Dunbar – Sussex rep
- Ulrich Thomsen – Dr. Hans Shoegaarten
- Lloyd McGuire – Midlands rep
- Atomic Kitten - Themselves
- Keith Allen - Himself
- Gabby Logan - Herself
- Barry Venison - Himself
- Alan Green - Commentator
- Brian Moore - Commentator
- Clive Tyldesley - Commentator
- Martin Tyler - Commentator
England under Mike Bassett
|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 F)||Drew 0–0 | 15 June 2002|
|Mexico (Neutral – World Cup R1 – Group F)||Lost 0–4 | 19 June 2002|
|Argentina (Neutral – World Cup R1 – Group F)||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
In the follow up television 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.
The movie received a mixed reception from critics. When the film was released in the United Kingdom, it originally opened on #3, behind Artificial Intelligence: AI and Moulin Rouge! in the top two spots.
Comparison to actual England performance at the 2002 World Cup
Some events in the film were surprisingly similar to actual events during England's 2002 World Cup campaign. England only qualified automatically following a last minute David Beckham free kick against Greece. In the finals, the team drew their opening match against Sweden but narrowly beat Argentina thanks to a Beckham penalty. After easily beating Denmark in the second round, the team were knocked out by eventual winners Brazil.
In addition, a brief comment by one of the FA board members early in the film about searching for a new manager in Scandinavia references the controversial decision at the time to appoint Swede Sven-Göran Eriksson as actual England manager
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