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Mike Bassett: England Manager is a 2001 satirical comedy film directed by Steve Barron. The film follows Mike Bassett (Ricky Tomlinson), who is appointed England manager from a lower football league after managing an obscure team that wins the League Cup.[2][3] It received mixed reviews.[4]

Mike Bassett: England Manager
Mike Bassett cover.jpg
Directed bySteve Barron
Produced bySteve Barron
Neil Peplow
Written byJohn R. Smith
Rob Sprackling
StarringRicky Tomlinson
Amanda Redman
Bradley Walsh
Edited byColin Green
Distributed byEntertainment Film Distributors
Release date
  • 28 September 2001 (2001-09-28)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£3,443,174[1]

A faux-documentary (mockumentary), the film follows Bassett as he starts his international management career after England's football manager has a heart attack.[3] Journalist Martin Bashir provides voice-over, and the film features satirical cameo appearances from prominent figures such as Pelé and Atomic Kitten.[2] Minimal use of on-field action is employed, with the focus centered on behind-the-scenes events in boardrooms and the locker room.[5]

Embracing the embarrassment of England's football record, the film makes use of fan violence, tabloid assassination of the team, and the often amateur nature of English football. After qualifying for the World Cup on a technicality, Bassett and the team head to Brazil for the tournament.[3]

The film was followed by a television series, Mike Bassett: Manager in 2005.[6][7]

In 2014 a second film, Mike Bassett: Interim Manager, attempted to get £250,000 funding on the website Kickstarter.[8][9][10] 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 Emile Heskey); 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- likely a reference to the Hand of God Goal from Argentina's Diego Maradona which helped to knock England out of the 1986 World Cup.

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 says to Bassett that England had 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.


England under Mike BassettEdit

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


Mike Bassett: England Manager is based on the career of Graham Taylor, and documentary An Impossible Job.[11] Shot in high definition, the film is made to look like it had been shot on 35mm.[3]

After the film's eventsEdit

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.[12][13][14][15] 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.[16]


  1. ^ "Box office / business for Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001)".\Accessdate=2016-07-22.
  2. ^ a b "BBC - Films - review - Mike Bassett: England Manager". Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Elley, Derek (27 September 2001). "Mike Bassett: England Manager". Variety. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Mike Bassett: England Manager | Film". The Guardian. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Mike Bassett: England Manager – review | cast and crew, movie star rating and where to watch film on TV and online". Radio Times. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Mike Bassett spin-off is just 30 minutes of TV hell - News". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  7. ^ "ITV to make Mike Bassett series - TV News". Digital Spy. 6 October 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  8. ^ "Mike Bassett: Interim Manager - Make the new film a reality! by Steve Barron — Kickstarter". Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  9. ^ Heritage, Stuart (18 March 2014). "Mike Bassett: Interim Manager – is this the least essential sequel ever?". the Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Mike Bassett: England Manager needs a Kick-start". Radio Times. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  11. ^ Smith, Arthur; Pulver, Andrew (21 September 2001). "Turnip - the movie". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Empire's Mike Bassett: England Manager Movie Review". 5 December 2006. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  13. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (28 September 2001). "Mike Bassett: England Manager". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Neil Smith Updated 27 September 2001 (27 September 2001). "Films - review - Mike Bassett: England Manager". BBC. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  15. ^ Elley, Derek (27 September 2001). "Mike Bassett: England Manager". Variety.
  16. ^ "Weekend box office 28th September 2001 - 30th September 2001". Retrieved 26 January 2017.

External linksEdit