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:
It is time for crisis talks. I arranged to meet Julie in a small cafe near the village I live in. I like this cafe, it has large windows that look out over a lake. It means I’m able to stare out into the middle distance, deep in thought. This adds gravitas to any conversation. I pause, turn and think in silence, my face reflecting back at me in the glass. It certainly helps when you have nothing to say, I’ll tell you that much.
I ordered an Affogato Al Caffe. It’s a coffee with ice cream in it. Why have coffee, then dessert, when you can have both at once? Julie had requested a cappuccino via text. It was waiting for her as she entered. It was raining outside, so after shaking the standing water off her coat and hanging it up, she came and sat opposite me.
‘Thanks for ordering Alan,’ she said, still warming up. ‘Why did you want to meet?’
I looked out the window for a few seconds. Gravitas.
‘After what happened at Selhurst Park, I thought we best discuss what the best next move would be,’ I said, poking at my ice cream.
‘I would advise against storming into a chairman’s office again,’ she said curtly, leaning back and folding her arms. ‘If you recall, I told you not to do that at the time.’
‘I should be hired above that snivelling little s*** Hodgson. With his stupid lisp mouth and his face like a bird.’ She didn’t laugh at my put-downs.
‘Since I’ve been your agent Alan, you’ve made a former England manager piss himself, almost been murdered by Tim Sherwood, killed a dog and passed out live on Faroese television.’
‘Three of those were accidents that weren’t my fault. Maybe I’m charmingly hapless?’
‘Well sadly, 15% of haplessness doesn’t pay my mortgage.’
Savagery. So this is why she agreed to come? Is she ditching me? My first agent f**** off to start a successful cheese business (seriously, you don’t even make cheese like that, how is he making money?) and this one wants to leave because I ‘don’t earn money.’ Never heard anything more absurd.
I realised I had been staring out the window so long that my ice cream had melted in the coffee.
‘So you want to ditch me already?’ I tried to look as upset as I could.
She looked down, seemingly thinking. Then sat forward to look me in the eye.
‘No, not yet. You have a lot of experience in this business and I can see you’re a good person at heart. We just need to exploit your skills for monetary gain. What are your skills?’
She got out a pen and a journal, ready to write notes. I noticed she had written David Seaman in her notebook but crossed it out, with a note next to it saying ‘surname makes this a bad idea.’ I chose not to press her on this, instead choosing to look out the window again. What were my skills?
‘Well… I have my voice? What about becoming a voiceover artist? I could be like that bloke on the X Factor.’
I leaned back in my chair and took a deep breath, then unleashed my best impression of Peter Dickson (I had to google this reader. Of course I don’t have that w*****’s name memorised).
‘JASON MANFOOOORD!’ I yelled. Julie jumped in her chair. The other cafe patrons turned to see what the fuss was. I ducked slightly in my chair.
‘Jason Manford wouldn’t be on the X Factor,’ Julie said, frowning. ‘Plus that was just you yelling. You didn’t sound remotely like a professional voice actor. Anything else?’
I suggested several things Julie didn’t like. Podcasting with Kevin Lisbie (no money in it), doing a reality show with Paolo Di Canio (a career killer) and being the face of Paddy Power. This last one even I didn’t want to do and Julie spluttered coffee out when she heard me suggest it.
‘Come on Alan, no one wants to work for them. What would you do, do a crap betting based cover of, I’ve Had The Time Of My Life? Give me a proper suggestion.’
‘Well, a lot of ex-players go into presenting. Like Gary Lineker. But I don’t think I can do live presenting…’ I looked out the window for a bit longer. Julie’s patience was clearly wearing thin. She started clicking her fingers to try and grab my attention.
‘Sorry,’ I said, turning back. ‘I could be a documentarian?’ She perked up at this suggestion.
‘Really? I can kind of see that if you found a topic you were interested in. You would look the part, stood in some field in an awful green and purple raincoat.’
How did she know about my old coat?
‘What about a show when I find ex-players and what jobs they do now?’
I told her about the time I stumbled across Chris Perry working in a B&Q. He had a horrible growth on the side of his neck, which he assured me wasn’t life-threatening. The thing was bulbous. I asked what terrible events had occurred that meant he ended up working in a retail job. He murmured something about ‘life not turning out how he planned’ and turned to leave. But his massive growth was so large that it knocked over a large gazebo into the lighting display, which then caught fire. I haven’t seen him since. I suggested that, if we could find players like Chris, whose star had fallen, we could turn it into a show.
‘No, Alan.’ Julie furiously scribbled through the notes she’d just written ‘You were close, but laughing at the unfortunate is not good TV, despite what the ratings say.’
I then suggested a travel programme with one of my previous international scouts at Charlton, Tim Beswick. Julie seemed to like this idea as well, until I searched Tim online to find he hadn’t been seen since he went on a scouting mission to Peru. They had found his campsite, with a copy of Mundial Magazine, a map pointing towards a third tier club and a notepad that had the words ‘THERE ARE NO MORE LEFT BACKS’ written on it. That was three months ago.
‘What about your managerial talents?’ Julie asked. ‘What was your best skill?’
‘Well, definitely the way I cultivated a team. My sides had ability, don’t get me wrong. But I always thought I was best at motivating a team, really getting them to work together.’
‘That’s it!’ Julie said, slamming her hand down on the table. I jumped back, sloshing ice cream coffee on my jeans.
‘Sorry… you should do some sort of team building consultancy!’
She explained what she thought that job would entail. I would be hired by a club that was having issues with teamwork and togetherness. By doing a few simple routines, or maybe even through trips away or something like that, I would improve them. I would mould them into a fighting force. With that, they would get up the table. Just as I had in the past at Charlton and West Ham. I could do this. This was my calling.
‘Okay!’ I said, standing up. Raising my fist above my head, I declared to the cafe:
‘I AM STARTING A TEAM BUILDING CONSULTANCY BUSINESS!!’
People may have run away, but the world now knew what I now knew. I was back.