Gareth Southgate has offered Wayne Rooney the services of the paper bag he wore over his head while starring in a 1996 advert for Pizza Hut.
The England manager is keen to protect his waning captain, whose recent non-performances have been described variously as “distinctly sub-par” and “just plain rubbish”.
Although team-mates were shocked to hear Rooney subjected to a ruddy good booing during the 2-0 win over Malta, supporters – including a good many of those doing the booing – were not.
He will start on the bench for the World Cup qualifier against Slovenia and may don or remove the bag at his leisure.
Southgate rose to prominence at Euro ’96, missing a decisive penalty in the shoot-out of England’s semi-final against Germany.
He subsequently appeared in an advert for low-quality pizza alongside Chris Waddle and Stuart Pearce, wearing a paper bag on his head for what was widely assumed to be anonymity.
It later emerged that Southgate had worn the bag as a preventative measure against the scalding hot topping all coming off in one go and burning his chin.
Waddle and Pearce took no such precautions and were admitted to hospital after becoming entangled in a meat feast.
And now the bag is back. Will Rooney wear it? A nation waits with baited breath.