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 pal Sean Dyche. He asked me if I could meet him during Burnley’s pre-season training so he could run a few ideas past me. I love Sean, he’s a great man but an even better coach. I’ve said it several times but it bears repeating: he is a future England manager. His Burnley side gets a lot of plaudits for their hard defensive work but equally, they’re often cited as a boring team to watch. Far from it! In my opinion, as a former future England manager, they play two up front and often play some brilliant attacking stuff. I jumped at the chance to see Sean in action.
I signed in at reception and met Sean in his office that looks out over Burnley’s new training facility. He was wearing only a towel, meaning I could see his many tattoos normally hidden from the lowly civilian. On his back is a large British bulldog with a Union Jack bandana eating a distressed French cat; one arm has a portrait of the Queen (similar to a stamp) and the other has a portrait of Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses. I’m not that big a fan of tattoos to be perfectly honest, but if you like something enough to put it on your skin, so be it. I was sure there was some sort of pattern to Sean’s tattoos but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
‘Sorry I’m not clothed Al, just been in the shower after a morning in the gym,’ he growled. He then walked into the ensuite and opened a large bag of gravel that was left on the floor.
‘God, builders! What are they like?’ I said. ‘Leave their crap everywhere don’t they! When Clive Mendonca bu-’ but Sean was looking at me quizzically.
‘Builders?’ he said. Then he grabbed a mug adorned with the year ‘1588’ pictured on top of a crushed wooden ship, ran it through the bag and started gargling. Once he had finished he spat the used stones into a macerator he had in the bathroom.
‘Did you think this voice was natural Al? It’s taken me years to sound like this. I believe that 40% of your managerial success is based on your voice. That’s why Alan Ball got relegated at City.’ He spluttered a bit, then spat some gravelly blood into the sink.
Sean finally put on a suit and we sat down to have a chat about his plans for the season.
‘I love your group, Sean. All work hard together, play some good stuff; hell, you even managed to control Joey Barton.’ I was trying not to sound too giddy but I couldn’t contain it.
‘Al, when we sign a player we make sure they fit a certain profile,’ he said, standing up to look out over the fields outside.
‘Naturally, yes. We did the same at Charlton.’
‘No…no you didn’t Al.’
I was a bit taken aback by this. The atmosphere began to cool. He turned slowly and held his arms out wide.
‘British Al! Keep calm and carry on! Crumpets and tea! Dunkirk! The Battle of Britain! Railways, Rover cars, binge drinking, Allo allo…’ he ripped off his shirt sleeve and pointed at his arm, ‘Del Boy!’
He had started pacing, his face had turned a funny purple colour.
‘It’s the greatest country on Earth, you can’t buy better than British! You went out and played the foreign markets! To be fair, you picked up some decent deals, Bartlett, Johansson, Jensen. But they didn’t have it, Al. Not that burning desire, for Queen and country, for the cliffs of Dover, for Terry Wogan! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bigot, we have plenty of Scots and Irish, but they are close enough to share it too, I can see it in their eyes!’’
I knew Sean enjoyed the British way of life, but to see him as some sort of crazy nationalist was deeply concerning, almost unreal. I quickly drained my tea, then looked at the cup: it had a picture of Mrs Brown on it! I needed to get out.
I started to slowly get up while Sean was ranting about national speed limits. I thought if I could keep him distracted for long enough, I would be able to sneak out unscathed. After all, he should love me. I am British. Although I do have some foreign ancestry as Carol found out (of course I do, everyone does). I hoped Sean only hated you if your foreign relations were in the last three generations. Otherwise, I was in trouble.
‘But what about Steven Defour? He’s Belgian but you signed him,’ I said, backing away, ready to unleash my electric pace if the atmosphere got too heated. It wasn’t too far to the car, I could easily get there before Sean.
‘PAH!’ he screamed. ‘BUREAUCRATS! IT’LL EXPAND OUR MARKETS THEY SAID! HIS ATTITUDE IS APPALLING!’ His arms were flailing now, smashing a Winston Churchill bust and Kenneth Williams portrait.
‘Every damn training session, where’s the waffles boss? Why aren’t there any waffles? You promised me waffles when I signed.’ He fell to his knees.
‘THERE AREN’T ANY DAMN WAFFLES! THIS IS BRITAIN!’
I saw this as a chance to accelerate my escape. I started to silently spring backwards, one eye on the door, one eye on Sean, like an Eastenders chameleon. I had made it to the door frame. I turned once more to check if it was safe to move.
‘He’s the last one,’ Sean said, slowly rising to his feet. ‘No more, we stick to the islanders now!’ This was bad news, I wanted no part of this and he was about to see me fleeing. What could I say to set him off again!? Then it came to me.
‘What about Ashley Barnes? Isn’t he Austrian?’
Sean let out a scream filled with such pain I feared for his life and mine.
‘AAAAAAARGH! TRICKED! LIAR! HABSBURG SCUM!’
He was back on the floor pounding the ground. I took this as my cue and hurtled down the stairs, leapt over the barrier in reception and out the front door. I’m not signing out! Screw fire safety! I had to leave!
Once in the car, I got out my little black book. I went down the list of names, past Shaun Bartlett, past Sol Campbell (name struck through) down to Sean’s name. I ran my pen through the middle of the letters. A solitary tear ran down my face, landed on the page and made the ink run.