REPORTS OF an Alfa Romeo Brera being smeared with pasta sauce on the eve of England’s World Cup encounter with Italy prove how closely nations are identified with their cars, at least in the heads of mindless sauce throwers.
It got Driving thinking: what if the England team were composed not of men but of motorcars? What model would be in goal? What models would be in defence? What would the manager be?
Below, we present our World Cup England Motors squad arranged in manager Roy Hodgson’s opening 4-2-3-1 formation. We know what you’re thinking: some of our chosen cars are not strictly English, being manufactured by German and Indian-owned companies. Well, like some accuse FIFA of saying, “rules are made to be broken”. In any case, Mini, Jaguar, Bentley and Rolls-Royce: not English? Woy would choke on his cwumpets.
Manager: Rolls-Royce Phantom
Discreet and sophisticated but with just the right amount of flash, the Phantom is a manager our cars can look up to while knowing it is, deep down, cut from the same cloth.
Goalkeeper: Range Rover Sport
A Range Rover would boss its goal and the defenders protecting it, but the Sport has the wings to leap for those crucial saves.
Right-back: Bentley Continental GT Speed coupé
Muscle-bound footie’s favourite can hold the line like no other, and leave it like no other, too, with devastating sprints up the pitch in an all-or nothing, late-goal charge.
Centre-back (Captain): Morgan Aero
Its blend of old-school entitlement and lashings of misplaced confidence are just what the Aero needs to command respect among its fellow divas.
Centre-back: Aston Martin DB9
This young team needs a steadying hand; something like the DB9 that can trace its roots back to the venerable DB7. Solid, masterful and fleet of wheel when the occasion demands.
Left-back: Land Rover Defender
Obvious really, but its name alone shouldn’t be enough to guarantee selection. OK, it is enough to guarantee selection.
Holding midfield: Range Rover Evoque
Thuggish but light on its wheels, this midfielder must carry the ball confidently to the players ahead, creating chances for our lone striker out front. An Evoque is just the job.
Holding midfield: Jaguar XFR-S Sportback
With the heart of a whippet and the legs of a greyhound the XFR-S will leave the opposition spinning as it powers goalwards. The hardest bit is getting it to drop the ball. Just rattle the biscuits.
Right-wing: Caterham Seven
Blistering pace, pin-point accuracy (for those long, curling passes) and timeless good looks. Reminds us of that other brilliant number seven who once wore an England shirt.
Playmaker: Mini Cooper S
A sense of adventure is what we need from our creative forwards and the hot Mini is so out there, it makes Livingstone look like Dave from the Royle Family.
Left-wing: Lotus Elise
Not surprisingly, given its shared heritage, another pin-sharp forward cast in the same mould as its fellow winger on the right.
Striker: Ariel Atom
Every team needs its Balotelli (OK, maybe not) and the England Motors squad definitely has it in the fast, bonkers and totally uncompromising Ariel Atom. Come on Engerland!
Star substitute: McLaren P1
The ace up the squad’s sleeve. Bring this motor on at half-time and watch even the Germans and Italians feign injury.