While not the most ardent fan of the beautiful game, Professor Stephen Hawking did once enjoy a brief dalliance with the footballing world when he was asked to work out the chances of England romping to glory at the 2014 World Cup.
Hawking then set about analysing data from 45 England matches all the way back to 1966 – data regarding tactics, psychological strain, penalty conversion rates, political climates in host nations and even the temperature and weather conditions in which the games were played.
As we say in science, England couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.
The Professor also found that to optimise their mathematical chances of winning the tournament, Roy Hodgson’s team should play in a 4-3-3 formation, wear red all the time, hope for a European referee in every match, kick-off as close to 3pm as possible, pray for ambient weather and play all their games below 500 metres above sea level.
He also deduced that bald and fair-haired players were more likely to score at a World Cup, but offered that factoid up as one of football’s “great unexplained mysteries”.
Ever since the dawn of civilisation, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable.
They have craved understanding of the underlying order in the world. The World Cup is no different.
I am an Englishman and will be cheering our boys all the way to the final in Rio, but my money is on Brazil.
You would be a fool to overlook Brazil.
Of course, Germany went on to win the World Cup, thus proving that scientific scrutiny and rationality has absolutely no place in football whatsoever.
Professor Stephen Hawking RIP (1942-2018)