Beginnings

August 9, 2009

My first moves were almost done. After my rather successful training sessions, we were getting along very nicely.

Jose Enrique had moved on, and I was looking for replacements. His deal to QPR had given us an extra 3.5M to work with, so we we had around 10M to spend. I had two major players in mind, Lokomotiv Moscow’s Dimitry Sychev, who would be a great fit with our system. There was also Joe Mattock, from Leicester, who was proving to be extremely promising.

Also, there was Sebastien Bassong, who is a very good defender and can partner well with Coloccini, if the latter decides to stay, even though we were relegated.

I believe the rest of our team is good enough to cope with Championship standards. If things start going downhill (which probably is very unlikely, given our squad), I’d start getting some young and decent loan players, and if they perform well, perhaps buy them at the end of the year.

We’ve got a few of our players injured, but I don’t feel like they are vital players, so we should be safe for August.

Howay the lads!

The first session

August 4, 2009

I was munching on some potatoes, which my English friends told me were the best english food there was. Disgusting, I thought. England needs a lot of work in the eating category. I didn’t finish it. I hopped onto my bike, and pedalled off to the direction of our ground.

I arrived at the training ground half an hour before our session started, to start planning with my crew.

Robbie Elliott, our fitness coach, suggested to be intensive and push hard on them.
I didn’t want to do that, as they probably wouldn’t give much effort.

Alan had a lot of experience with the lads, and he suggested to slowly push them harder. I wasn’t so keen with that.

After a long debated session, I went with my own idea. Training would be split into 4 groups, Goalies, defenders, midfielders, and strikers. I would coach the midfielders personally, and sometimes drop in to have a look at the rest.

Once the players started arriving, I began my plans, and we had a 2 hour long session that went quite well, with the exception of one or two goof-ups.

At the end of the session, I gave one last speech.

“Guys, we’re going to be in this team together, in and out. Our goal is to get up to the Premier League this season. Who’s with me?”

Roars followed.

I gave them a challenge for the season.

I flicked the ball up, launched it from the halfway line, and with precise accuracy, flukingly managed to tap the human dummy’s head and into the goal. I struggled badly to hide my surprise.
“We’ll do that after every session. If any of you manage to do that this season, well, then I’ll eat these lumpy things,” I said, pointing at the potato remains I had spotted Alan eating.

The rest of the team sniggered. “See you tomorrow, gaffer!” shouted one.

It’s good to be in charge, but better if you get respect.

Changes

July 31, 2009

I got into bed. I was thinking. Thinking of what could happen. But thinking of what could happen wouldn’t help. It’s what will happen that matters.

The next day I was ready to go. Alan had sent me a list of reports about our players, and I was checking it out. Mark, Steve, Claudio, they all had big contracts. We weren’t exactly going to get much money in the Championship. I had to let them go, or reduce their contracts. There was also the problem with strikers. Not enough quality up front. Oba was decent. Xisco was promising. Mark was inconsistent. The rest of them were not exactly Premier League standard. Alan sent me something else. A shortlist of replacements. Brilliant.

Dmitry Sychev. He was everything I wanted. Young, agile, with international experience. I called. I waited. I enquired. I waited again. I made myself public. Sychev was on my target list.

Another young player. Joe Mattock. Left Back, 18 years old, playing for Leicester. Rang Leicester. They said they would consider it. Made it public again.

And there was another left back. Already on my team, promising, but wouldn’t get time with Joe there. QPR came calling. 3.4 M.

Jose wanted to talk to them. I said yes.

Changes are definitely coming to the North-east.

The deal

July 30, 2009

The moment I stepped off the plane, I knew I was in the right place. Signs, banners, scarves all around bearing the name of my team. I was looking. Looking around the airport. Looking for a plump little business man. His name was Mike Ashley.

I saw him on my fifth trip around the arrival hall. Dressed in a suit, half an hour late, he greeted me with a friendly wave.

“Morning,” he said.

“Thanks for the offer, Mr Ashley.”

“Nah, you were a good choice.”

These three sentences spurred me on with lots of confidence to meet the board. Together we left the airport, gotten into a shining English taxi, and left.

By the time we got to the club, it was almost sunset. This was it. Full of enthusiasm, I went into the conference room. The teams colours shone back at me from the walls. This was my breakthrough.

I proposed my plans to the board. We would bounce straight back up this season. We would get rid of the older, less useful players. We would bring in youngsters. We would get into Europe. Alan would be my right hand man. It would be great.

They loved it. Every single detail, every single comment, they loved it.

And I signed it. One little signature, and it’s here. The dream I’ve had since school. Finally.

Bring on Man United.

The chance

July 29, 2009

I woke up that day, ready for another match.

It never came. The week before, I had been sacked from my job as assistant. I’d been there for years. It was all crashing down around me. I would’ve gone crazy if it hadn’t been for this.

The e-mail. My ticket to freedom. I remember it as if it was yesterday. There I was, lying on my bed, when the computer chirped the sound I so loved hearing. Mail. But I didn’t want to read it. I thought it would be one of my mates, saying they were sorry.

Sorry. They probably weren’t sorry. But I read the letter anyway. It wasn’t from Burnley. People had heard. Heard about me getting fired. And they wanted me.

I suddenly forgot all about everyone. Owen, Michael and the rest.

This was my chance. My path to stardom. I said yes.

My tale had begun.