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Roker Ramble: Joe Hart is yesterday’s man; get Pickford in for the World Cup, Gareth!

Hart to Hart or Hart to Pickford? Gareth Southgate can do no wrong... Garth Crooks? Do me a favour. Vladimir Putin - sporting icon. Phil Bardsley is still doing it where it counts, and Lionel Messi doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League
3.2.1. Ready or not, here I come....
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

There’s an urban myth that when Coca Cola first moved into China in the fifties or sixties they employed a firm of translators to convert their strapline ‘Coca Cola – it’s the real thing’ into Mandarin. However, as the story goes, something went wrong somewhere along the line and come the big launch day there were thousands of billboards all across China bearing the line ‘Coca Cola – Bite the Wax Tadpole’.

There’s another urban myth that Joe Hart is going to be England’s #1 goalkeeper at the World Cup in Russia - the same Joe Hart that’s conceded 30 goals in 14 appearances so far this season. And I know he’s got a flaky defence in front of him, but he wasn’t any good in Torino last year and before that he was the first player that Pep got rid of at Manchester City.

The reason being, according to Pep, was that his ‘sweeper skills’ weren’t up to scratch. I didn’t even know that ‘sweeper skills’ was a thing, and at the time I was sceptical, but he appears to be right.

In the Hammers versus Everton game, Hart was off his line like a whippet on amyl nitrite, reached the ball at 25 yards on Mach 9 and cleared it downfield...

... straight to Wayne Rooney - who having changed position and embraced the new love of Allardyce, is now De Brooney - the midfield genius who can wap the ball on the volley straight back into Hart’s empty net from fifty yards.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League
Sod this for a game of soldiers.....
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

If Hart isn’t yesterday’s man yet, a season at West Ham under David Moyes should ensure that by next summer his confidence will match that of a debutant actress after an audition with Harvey Winestain. It has to be Jordan Pickford as England’s #1 next summer surely, and if we’re looking to the future as Southgate says he is then we could do a lot worse than Burnley’s Nick Pope as backup.

Southgate featured this week as part of the World Cup Draw. I don’t dislike Southgate, I certainly welcome his attitude towards bringing new young players through, but he always has a look on his face as if he’s expecting something unpleasant to happen at any minute.

However - it probably won’t be the sack. Martin Glenn - the FA Chief Executive - this week announced that Southgate would keep his job ‘even if he loses all of the games at the World Cup’.

Hurrah! In terms of motivational speeches that’s right up there with Henry V on the eve of Agincourt. I feel a warm flow of national pride flowing through my nether-regions as I write.

If he fails to reach the knock-out stages of the World Cup he should be pilloried in Parliament Square and shot with sh*t.

We’re playing Tunisia and Panama for God sake!

I didn’t even know Panama had a football team – half of the Panamanian population didn’t know they had a football team. Not get out of the group stage? Glenn talks about ‘being realistic’. We are anticipating putting a team out, aren’t we?

Gareth Southgate Press Conference to be Unveiled as New England Manager
And then we'll fix you up with a slot on 'I'm a Celebrity'
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Glenn went on spreading his deep level of football knowledge with a grateful public:

The World Cup’s a really important staging post for our development, I think.

You think? Easy to see how this guy got to be FA Chief Executive, I think.

Anyway, the World Cup Draw was kind to us despite the doom and gloom. As a spectacle it was a lot of men in suits playing with balls, and it was disappointing to see Gary Lineker fronting it after all the valid criticism he’s leveled at FIFA.

All the ‘greats’ were there, including Gordon Banks, who I would’ve sworn died some years ago (no disrespect Gordon), and Pele, with whom the Russian President Vladimir Putin posed for photographs and had these words to say-

Вахт, что черный человек делает в моем Кремле.

Which loosely translates into:

Who the f*ck let this black guy into my Kremlin?

Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
And they paid me this much for fixing the vote.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

So, the World Cup in Russia - it’ll give us footy next summer, which can’t be bad, but let’s hope it’s the last time they get any sort of major global event until they clean their act up.

Next, a question concerning football and broadcasting that should’ve been tabled a long time ago....

Garth Crooks – really?

Has there ever been anyone so unsuitable plonked in front of a camera? The man has opinions, which is a good thing, but he delivers them like he’s reading out a list of Nazi atrocities at Nuremberg.

Garth Crooks
And then I won The Most Boring Man on the Planet award.

He seems to have the personality of a wardrobe and permanently exudes an intensity that could bend spoons. Does he ever lighten-up, or smile, or see the funny side of anything – ever?

If I watch him, which isn’t very often, mainly because the BBC seem to save him for those viewing times when everyone is doing something else, I feel uncomfortable. I have no interest in what he’s saying, not because it has no value, but because his body language and style of delivery is so robotic as to convince you he's not so much communicating as discharging source code for analysis later.

He’s probably been on the BBC for absolutely ages now and he’s never improved - perhaps it’s time to get Joe Hart in to start his media career.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

Elsewhere, it’s good to see Phil Bardsley still in the Premier League, still clearing balls off the line... he’s a good fit at Burnley. Mark Hughes is becoming the bitter old man of the Premier League - he really needs to start hugging people and getting some touchy-feely action in order to chill out a bit.

He could do worse than look at Roy Hodgson, who takes it all in his stride at seventy something, but will probably peg out from a sudden heart attack if Zaha keeps trying to level the game on 95 minutes week in week out.

And what is it about pulling your socks above your knees? Both Ashley Young and Riyad Mahrez do it, so it can’t do any harm, but what’s the point? Is it just to keep your knees warm? And how do they stay up - do they have elastic bands? And - why do so many players get injured in the warm-up... what’s that all about? Why has Pep started practicing his management techniques on the opposition players - like Nathan Redmond - are his City players fully topped up now coaching wise?

Why has Andre Villas Boas quit his job in China to take part in the Dakar Rally next year - which will apparently start in Peru, travel through Bolivia before finishing in Argentina? Dakar is in Africa - how can you have the Dakar Rally, not in Dakar? And why do they keep cutting Lionel Messi’s statue in half in Buenos Aires? Twice this year someones cut him off at the legs and left him on the pavement.

So many questions. I think I’ll drop Garth Crooks a line....

500-Million-Yen Golden Statue Of Leo Messi Left Foot Go On Sale
The other half's on the pavement in Buenos Aires
Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images