I have never been a fan of Halloween. I do not find it particularly significant on any level and giving children sweets for dressing up makes me feel awkward and unwanted. Their costumes are intended to be scary- all fake blood-stained hooks and serrated teeth- but the effect is lost, thanks to the poor production value of food-colouring makeup and made-in-China wigs, capes and polystyrene accessories.
They do not scare me; they annoy me. This said, should a genuinely terrifying apparition present itself at my door this Monday night, eager to butcher me, harvest by organs and drink my blood, I will be terrified.
As lovers of the Premier League, these apparitions are familiar to us all…
The Premier League manager is more than a job description. It is a morbid, torturous passage that transforms many a lithe and talented sportsman into a grey-haired, neurotic zombie in just a matter of seasons. The youthful glow begins to fade early on, noticeable in the whitening hair and tired eyes, then spreading to a general paleness of complexion and stony-faced stare. Then comes the pain, insanity and murderous exploits.
But who is the worst among this deranged breed? With which member of this disturbed community would you least like to me confronted, alone in a ratty graveyard or abandoned factory of death? Let’s have a closer look…
From the onset, there a few names that need to be omitted. Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe is first. He is not scary; he is the protagonist’s boyfriend that gets killed in the first few scenes of the slasher movie. Maurio Pochettino is not the perpetrator; he is the beguiling and wrongly-accused exchange student and Alan Pardew and Aitor Karanka are merely dads at a charity golf day.
Southampton’s Claude Puel has a scary name, but looks more like a retired game show host than a horrific merchant of death, while Walter Mazzarri is simply Alec Baldwin making a guest appearance. Mark Hughes’ mumbling hair is not frightening at all- it just wants a hug- and David Moyes looks more like a terrifying reaction shot than a homicidal maniac.
The excessive characterisation and comical voices of Claudio Ranieri and Sean Dyche result in a sense of quirkiness, rather than unpredictable terror and Jurgen Klopp is, well, Jurgen Klopp. Not scary.
That brings us to our first collection of scaries: the undead. As we all know, Arsene Wenger cannot die. Like his minions of 2003, the man is invincible. Give him a cape and a glass of merlot-flavoured gore and he will go on for another one thousand seasons. During the day, he is not scary. But at night, I suggest staying far, far away.
His vampirous nemeses are the rather special Jose Mourinho and stylish Pep Guardiola- the latter skilled at not getting a drop of blood on his expensive suits at feeding time. Mourinho is hardcore. With him blood, bones and organs fly as he devours lifeless bodies. Just look into his unblinking eyes and the pain of those he has destroyed will stare back at you.
Although dark and deliberate, the undead are not the scariest entities on this list. As we all know, they are only dangerous at night and can be repelled with the careful use of garlic, crucifixes and holy water. Those on the second list are not so easy to avoid. These are the psychopaths.
First is Everton’s overgrown ginger schoolboy, Ronald Koeman. Despite his comical appearance, the man is still, silent and deadly. They say he has a penchant for raiding animal homeless shelters with a fork. Alongside the devilish Dutchman is the mafia-styled maniac and part time soap opera villain, Antonio Conte. They say he can kill you with a single press conference.
Next is the marauding pair of Mike Phelan and Tony Pulis, always on the run from the guards of an old mental asylum. They had escaped earlier by hacking their way through man and masonry, using nothing more than the femurs of slaughtered inmates. They lost their leader, Francesco ‘The Brain Eater’ Guidolin in a shootout in the bathroom, but he will be surgically reincarnated as the petrifying Slaven ‘Psycho’ Bilic in part two.
Despite this formidable collection of crazies, there is one that would reduce even the bravest among us to quivering stress balls of trauma- Bob Bradley. Just the name induces panic and unrest. There is something inherently unsettling about this reptilian construct of a man. It is as though he has borrowed parts of the souls of fallen heroes to maintain his youthful skin, as he feeds on the weak and unfit. His eyes are the piercing blue of a missing Austrian schoolgirl and his wax face is modelled on the wife of an 18th century, one-eyed taxidermist. Terrifying.
Yes, the Premier League manager is a scary thing, but you are safe- safe for now, behind your TV set and normal life. As Halloween approaches, remember this: do not be so impatient with the badly dressed girls and boys as they demand sweets. Give them what they want and send them on their way with a smile and a wave and, as you get into your safe, warm bed, be grateful that you do not have to go to training with a monster first thing on Tuesday morning.