Roy Hodgson's England had their opening day of warm weather training cut short as torrential rain hit their temporary base in Florida.
The reaction from the football press was predictable: the FA were blasted as idiots for taking the Three Lions to Miami just as hurricane season opens in the Sunshine State.
Sunshine State? That's Florida's official bumper-sticker tagline, but actually the peninsula gets four times more rain than Britain does in the month of June. And indeed, gets significantly rearranged every few years as 100mph+ winds wreak havoc.
So on the face of it, the media reaction - typified by The Daily Mail's chief sports reporter, Matt Lawton, saying "Have England really gone to Miami in Hurricane season? Did nobody check??" - seems pretty reasonable.
All very pithy. Except that when you look a little closer at the facts, it's Lawton rather than the FA who should have done a bit more checking.
Because while Florida does indeed get the odd hurricane in June, it's very rare - in fact, no hurricane has made landfall in Florida since 2005 according to a Miami Herald report.
And considering that hurricane season actually covers almost half the year (June-October), you could level the same charge at any British family who've headed off to Disney World during the summer holidays.
On top of that, there's an incredibly good reason to go to Miami during the summer. Not because it means England's hot weather pre-World Cup friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras will benefit from big, noisy crowds in North America's most Hispanic city; not because the players can experience subtropical conditions without running the gauntlet of Latin American sanitation; but because the humidity and heat in Miami are as close a match for their first game in Manaus as anywhere that Roy and his pals at the FA could have found.
Indeed, Miami is currently more humid: the high rainfall and propensity for big storms means that mornings in Miami in June are characterised by soaring temperatures well into the 30s, together with brutal 95% humidity. Manaus is expected to be around 30 degrees and 80% humidity, with a 40% chance of the match being played in a thunderstorm.
In other words, it's a pretty good approximation for the appalling humidity and crazy rain storms that will - far more than a bit of heat - be the biggest challenge for England's players.
Hodgson and the FA probably did check that Miami was in hurricane season; but then they probably decided that the small chance of losing the odd training session to a huge storm was a small price to pay for the relatively decent chance of Amazonian-style conditions.
So rather than a sarcastic blast from the press, the FA probably deserve a little pat on the back for some sound reasoning.
Having said that, of course, there are plenty of other other reasons to call them a bunch of bungling idiots.
For starters, as any Olympic champion will tell you, hot weather training has to commence months ahead of the big event to have any noticeable effect on performance. Spending a few days in sweltering conditions will make you very hot and tired, but it won't magically transform your underlying fitness levels. Particularly when you get to shelter in an air-conditioned hotel room at the end of training.
Then there's the fact that using Miami as a pre-World Cup base means that England's stars will have a nine-hour flight to get to Rio de Janeiro - NINE HOURS! - where they will train for just three days before a further four hour flight to get from Rio to Manaus for their opener against Italy. Chuck in their nine-hour transatlantic flight from Luton to Miami, and that's a hell of a lot of travel in two weeks. Even if it is all in first class, that takes it out of you.
In other words, they've got the sort of brutal here-one-day-there-another itinerary that normally characterises a backpacker's whistle-stop tour. And you know what backpackers are like - they're so constantly knackered that all they ever do is sit around in dirty clothes talking about how the place they've just come from was so much better than the place they're in right now.
So while England's players might have a sense of familiarity when they arrive in the jungle conditions, in no way will they have had a chance to acclimatise properly, and they'll likely be so whacked out from constant travel that they'll barely know where they are before Mario Balotelli scores the first goal of his hat trick.
Now THAT is something that Roy Hodgson and his pals at the FA ought to have thought about…
- Sports & Recreation
- Roy Hodgson
- Miami Herald