England needs drugs now - and lots of them

My wife is still moping around, disappointed that Mark Richardson is not in the Olympics, whoever he is. She has a working knowledge of so many sports, the leading players, their age, place of birth, marital status, career successes, awful setbacks - especially their awful setbacks: she is excellent on them, and how they overcame them. She is not interested in their times, records or medals, but just them, as human beings.

I follow only football, but I have been watching the Olympics - with amazement. Who are those blokes out of Star Wars with funny pointy heads and riding those plastic round things - can't be bikes - strewth, what has happened to bikes since I was a lad? Haven't spotted one Raleigh Lenton Sports so far, nor anyone with Sturmey Archer gears - God, they were hot, they were it, the envy of every school bike shed.

Then there are deformed young men and child women with no waists, shoulders the width of goalposts and feet the size of ham shanks, wearing strange all-in-one rubber suits. Are they going underwater diving, looking for Captain Cook's treasure? They can't be swimmers. Surely it is unfair, if not illegal, to cover your body in cling film just to make yourself go faster. Poor old Russians and east Europeans. You can spot them by their old-fashioned cossies. Nobody has told them about rubber suits, or they can't afford them.

Lots of east European wrestlers and weightlifters and the like are out of the Olympics because of drugs, just like your Mark Richardson, ha ha. Why do you follow him? No reason, she said, no logical reason. She just likes the look of him. She hates the gung-ho, flash-git boasters, the ones who snarl and punch the air with their fists. Richardson has always struck her as fairly quiet and modest, which is why she is sad that he's not running.

But he took a drug, allegedly, supposedly, I said. One thing you can say about our footballers - they are not full of nasty drugs. Not while playing, anyway. Come over to football, pet. Forget these dodgy athletes.

Then I thought, is it true? Are our lads clean?

I can't think of a British footballer who has been found full of drugs - I mean, who has taken them to make himself play better. Apart from those with medical problems, such as Paul Scholes with a shot of Ventolin to help his asthma, or Gary Mabbutt injecting himself with insulin for his diabetes.

Off the field, yes, for purely recreational reasons, there have always been players who have abused themselves. Since football began, it has been littered with alcoholics, drinking all their money away, wasting their talents, ending up with nothing. In recent years, we have had a lot of druggies, on soft and hard stuff, not all ex-Arsenal, who have later told us all about it in lurid detail, once they have recovered, once they have seen the light, or seen the size of the cheque for their memoirs.

But on the field, they have been pretty drug-free. I suppose in team games, unlike individual sports, there is not the same pressure to improve personal bests. In athletics or weightlifting, there are constant measures to tell you how well or badly you are performing, how fast you are running, what weights you are lifting. In football, it doesn't work that way. You can't measure how well someone is doing in training. Even in matches, who played well is often a matter of opinion.

In football, speed and strength are important, but not as important as skill. There is no drug, as yet, to make you score goals. Alas. Why not? Surely, by now, there are drugs that can help players to play better? First, we need a drug to speed up reactions, to make players mentally and physically sharper. We could certainly do with that at White Hart Lane. Sol Campbell is too often beaten to the ball these days by smaller, slighter, but nippier players.

British defences in general could do with this drug, because there are far too many dozy buggers, ball-watchers, who stand there bemused, confused, when these foreign johnnies start running and passing through them. And we need it quick, before the German game. Double doses, please, for Martin Keown and Gary Neville.

There must also be a drug that gives self-confidence, makes you feel and play like a winner in every game, regardless of who you are playing against. Chelsea could do with some of that, bucketfuls of it - during the past two years, any crap team has been liable to give them a hammering.

Perhaps Claudio Ranieri has brought a few packets of it, stuffed inside his Guccis. Any leftovers could be given to Andy Cole. He would be advised to overdose on it if he ever gets picked for England again.

An aggression drug would be useful, too - the sort that Vinnie Jones and Roy Keane were supplied with naturally in their mothers' milk. Then we would have no more fairies in the Premier league. Darren Anderton would soon be punching the air, yelling: "Bye-bye sick notes, hello testosterone." My wife would certainly not approve, but the rest of us would.

So come on, Boots. Start working on it. Our lads need you to come up with something to enhance our chances in the next World Cup. England managers are supposed to act like psychological drug-dealers to their players, creating artificial highs, instilling that "never say die" spirit, psyching them up so that they'll run through walls, or at least the Faroe Islands' ace defence. That doesn't work any more. So bring on the pills. Anything, really, that will enhance performance.

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