Sven and the FA’s tabloid firestorm gives this low-budget charmer a chance to return from the benches and confirm the unique talent of Ricky Tomlinson.
After their manager dies halfway through the World Cup qualifiers, England’s football team seek an emergency replacement. The obvious candidates turn down the role, so Norwich boss Mike Bassett (Ricky Tomlinson) is appointed. The press are quick to savage the newcomer, who responds by recalling a disgraced striker and refusing to play an attacking strategy. Defeat against Poland fuels the critics, so Bassett orders the team to intensive training at a hi-tech sports clinic. But instead of a miracle cure, the squad are crippled by injury, and look set to extend 30 years of hurt… But getting to the finals via a loophole in the rules, there’s one last chance to prove themselves…
With the real England team providing enough material for ten comedies, director Steve Barron did not need to dig deep. Some wonderful moments are lifted from Graham Taylor and Glenn Hoddle’s time in charge, while old wounds such as Maradona’s handball are repaid in full. The ‘luxury player’ (chosen because of sporadic genius) is Gazza in all but name, while captain Gary ‘Wacko’ Wackett is clearly Stuart Pearce. Such tributes will please fans, but the real joy – and one which takes the film beyond just England fans – is to be found in the performance of Tomlinson. Repeating the no-nonsense Bobby Grant/ Jim Royle approach, the actor is perfectly cast, able to indulge both his comic timing and talent for drama.
UK | 89 minutes | 2001
Director: Steve Barron
Script: John R. Smith Rob Sprackling
Ricky Tomlinson as Mike Bassett
Amanda Redman as Karine Bassett
Philip Jackson as Lonnie Urquart
Bradley Walsh as Dave Dodds
Martin Bashir as Interviewer
Phill Jupitus as Tommo Thompson
Dean Lennox Kelly as Kevin Tonkinson
Robbie Gee as Smallsy
Geoff Bell as Gary Wackett
Pelé as Himself
Ulrich Thomsen as Dr. Hans Shoegaarten
Geoffrey Hutchings as Geoffrey Lightfoot
Angela Curran as Margaret
Danny Tennant as Jason Bassett
Sean Gilder as Journalist
Mark Burdis as Journalist
Nigel Lindsay as Journalist
Sue Barker as Herself
Gabby Logan as Herself
Keith Allen as Himself
Natasha Kaplinsky as Herself
Dickie Bird as Himself
Robert Putt as Jack Marshall
John Alford as Deano
Dean Holness as Danny
Scott Mean as Parksey
Terry Kiely as Harpsey
Peter McGillycuddy as Gorgeous
Toby Redwood as Berksey
Thomas Kenyon as Macca
Andy Ansah as Super
Robert Campion as Smudger
Alex Lawler as Sexy
Dion Osborne as Ossie
Danny Husbands as Normal
Declan Perkins as Perky
Phil Gridelet as Grids
Jenny Frost as Herself
Liz McClarnon as Herself
Malcolm Terris as Phil Cope
Ian Lindsay as Manchester Rep
Lloyd McGuire as Midlands Rep
Chris McQuarry as Alan Massey
Stephen Walters as Supporter
Barry Venison as Himself
Ronaldo as Himself
Kim Durham as Benson
Robert Hudson as Hedges
Des Hamilton as Scottish Player
Paul Rattray as Scottish Player
Neil Peplow as Scottish Goalie
Glen Mulhern as Irish Player
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