How to fix England’s penalty shootout problem ahead of the World Cup

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

England's trouble with penalty shootouts has become a defining characteristic and running joke over the last 20-plus years. Since losing to West Germany through a shootout in the semifinals of the 1990 World Cup, England have lost six of seven shootouts at major tournaments. The most recent was against Italy in the quarterfinals of Euro 2012 and their lone success in that span came against Spain in the quarterfinals of Euro 96 (just before they lost to Germany again in shootout at the end of their semifinal).

Eager to avoid the seeming inevitability of this happening again, England manager Roy Hodgson is considering action. From the BBC:

Hogdson says he will also consider a psychologist to work on spot-kicks.

"We have some confident penalty-takers, but others less confident and it's how we get to them," he told Sky Sports.

And that's where Hodgson is wrong. Confidence isn't the problem — incentive is.

Of course these players are all top competitors and want to win, but in many cases one can miss a penalty and still be victorious either through teammates making theirs or the other side missing too. Customized incentives for each individual shooter, however, would stop them from thinking they're just one piece of a team with a comfy safety net around them and reinforce the selfishness and greed necessary in this unnatural one on one situation. Plus incentives are the only thing that work with footballers these days. Just look at Wayne Rooney. Man United handed him a new £300,000 a week contract because he said he wanted out and the very next day he scored a pretty goal for them.

So with that in mind, these are the special rewards Roy Hodgson should dangle in front of his (potential) penalty takers to ensure shootout success...

Wayne Rooney — An extra £300,000 a week, courtesy of The FA, on top of the £300,00 a week Man United are now giving him. (Payments will continue every week until he misses).

Daniel Sturridge — Inclusion of his goal celebration to a future edition of Dance Dance Revolution.

Steven Gerrard — Robot Phil Collins capable of performing the musician's entire catalog any time and any place. Only requires one eight-hour power charge every two weeks.

James Milner — "The History of History Books" coffee table book.

Leighton Baines — A new telephone number so David Moyes can no longer call him in the middle of the night and, with a quivering voice, say "Leighton, I need you."

Jack Wilshere — A likable personality.

Danny Welbeck — The complete Back to the Future trilogy on Blu-ray.

Frank Lampard — A map that will lead him to pirate treasure and/or a Starbucks gift card.

Gary Cahill — A Tibetan Mastiff also named Gary.

Glen Johnson — 87 toilet seats.

So that solves that problem. I will gladly accept whatever you were going to pay that worthless psychologist, Roy.

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Brooks Peck is the editor of Dirty Tackle on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow on Twitter!