A former Premier League manager approached us here at Tales and asked that we publish his diaries, so he could show the public what life is like out of the game. His only request was that he remained anonymous. Below is this week’s entry:
I received a call from my old ex-player, Claus Jensen, earlier this week, asking if I was able to do some television work for him, covering the Super Cup final for a TV station from the Faroe Islands. Watching a European game live! Manchester United vs Real Madrid! Okay, Macedonia isn’t exactly a footballing hotbed, but a game of that quality can’t be missed! Once I’d calmed down, Claus informed me that the job wasn’t in Macedonia; instead, I would be getting a short flight to the Faroe Islands. Still, getting paid to watch a major European game isn’t that bad.
A few hours before the game, I landed at Vagar airport with my agent. Julie, annoyed that I hadn’t consulted her before taking a job, insisted she came along to make sure I didn’t get myself into further trouble. I felt a little sluggish after taking a sedative on the flight but felt I was coping with it well. We were met at the airport by the station’s PA who took us into the studio’s green room. Claus was already there and he introduced us to the other people we would be working with that evening.
‘Okay Al, obviously you know me,’ he joked, ‘the host tonight is Peter Siverbaek.’
He motioned towards an incredibly well-presented man with slicked back white hair and a tight tweed suit.
‘Peter is the Faroe’s top television host! We’re lucky to have him with us tonight. Sat next to him is Lars Olsen.’
Next to Peter was a much smaller, plumper man who was sifting through notes while slurping a coffee.
‘I know him!’ hissed Julie, ‘he got banned from commentary, didn’t he? He was commentating on women’s football and when a player chested it down he said she’d ‘taken it down with her titties’’
‘Yes, but he apologised profusely and the station let him return,’ said Claus.
This really shocked me. Maybe the Faroe Islands are relatively new to sports broadcasting, but in Britain if a commentator or pundit says something awful they are out, never to work again. There are no examples of people who said awful things and are still allowed to cover football in the media, not one.
‘Hey!’ shouted Lars, as he looked over to us. ‘Good to see you, Al, I’m a big fan! Who’s this fine lady you’ve brought with you?’
‘Nice to meet you,’ I said, walking over and shaking his hand. ‘This is Julie, my new agent.’
‘Wow, I’ve got to go to the agency you used, look at the mam-‘ but Peter stepped forward in between us.
‘Enough of that crap Lars, we can’t have another case on our hands. I already have to sit through this dreadful sport, at least don’t make the game feel even longer.’
Once all our preparation had been completed, Peter began by addressing the camera and talking rapidly in Danish. We all nodded as he introduced us all, in turn, then he started a lengthy conversation with Claus. I picked up a few of the player names, Ronaldo, Pogba etc but didn’t have any idea what was being said about each of them. I tried to read Peter and Lars’ faces to pick up clues, but Lars was ogling at all the women on set and Peter was staring into space, his soul absent as his neck operated his lifeless head, making it nod.
‘Now Alan,’ said Peter, slowly turning to address me. I realised that I had been staring at Peter for a few minutes, saying nothing. There was drool on my tie. I quickly glanced at Julie who had her hands over her mouth. Not a good start, I thought. Peter asked me a few questions about the two teams which I was able to answer easily and I felt very comfortable with what I managed to say, despite the growing dampness on my chin.
I watched the first half intently, writing long notes (mainly about how poorly Manchester United were performing) and noting little bullet points I could bring up. I was finding it increasingly harder to operate the pen, my hand feeling numb and seizing up. What was going on?
The half time analysis began, Peter was still speaking Danish but now in a really lethargic fashion. Lars and Claus began a rather heated discussion about Mourinho which took over quite a lot of the half time discussion period. I began sweating. When was I going to be able to get my point across? The room was beginning to feel a bit fuzzy. I assumed it must have been the heat of the studio and attempted to get ready to speak, but I was unable to move my mouth.
‘So Alan, there was some talk about Bale prior to the game, blah blah transfer blah blah, thoughts?’
Did Peter just say blah blah? Why was his head four feet above his shoulders? I glanced over to Julie who had her head in her hands, but her hands were the size of frying pans.
Had to concentrate. Had to make a salient point. Here we go, Alan. Say that Bale would be a good signing for United but Madrid would be crazy to let him go.
With all my power I got the words out. This is it. Punditry. This could be my new career! I know what I’m talking about, the people in the industry are clearly great to work with and I now have an amazing agent that can get me on the best possible television stations. I’m back! Management can wait, punditry is where it’s at.
I woke up in a hospital bed. After the sudden shock you often experience waking up somewhere you’ve never been before, I turned to see Julie reading a book called Milk and Honey.
She looked up with an expression closer to laughing than any level of concern towards me.
‘What did you take on that plane?’
I told her the name of the drug that had been recommended by Clive Mendonca, when he had needed to be sedated on the way to working on an oil rig.
‘Ah,’ she said, smiling. ‘That explains why you passed out through the table.’ She took out her phone and showed me the video that was circulating on Twitter. I looked awful, my eyes were open but my spirit had clearly gone. When Peter had asked about Bale, I had babbled and spat towards him, before smiling broadly and falling onto the table, before slumping off onto the floor.
‘Is this good for my profile?’ I asked hopefully.
‘I’m sure there’s an opening on Mrs. Brown’s Boys for you,’ she quipped.
‘But…but not management or punditry?’
She re-opened her book and sat back in her chair.
‘Get some rest boss.’
Punditry can wait. Management is where it’s at.