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:
The new C********** Team Ethic Consultancy (CTEC) was up and running! Despite having issues getting the website domain off of the California Tax Education Council, I had already been hired by struggling Premier League outfit Bournemouth. Last time I was in Dorset, I committed ‘canicide’, whereas this time I hoped the only crime I would commit would be being a good team building…master…man. Maybe a speeding fine instead, those b****** speed cameras are always catching me out.
I set off for Bournemouth fairly early in the morning listening to my driving playlist on Spotify. Let me reel off a few of the bad boys that make an appearance: The Who, The Jam, The Blur, The Mumford. But my favourite ‘jam’, as the kids call it these days, is Private Eyes by Hall and Oates. This song is nearly perfect, with great lyrics, great melodies and great beats. But most of all, it is easy to sing along to. I do this often while travelling in the car, regularly losing myself in the music, I forget that I’m in the real world and start to act like I’m in a music video.
‘P-riva-ate eyes, they’re wa-atching you, they see your e-very move,’ I sang, pointing two fingers at my eyes then at the drivers either side of me. Sometimes the groove would take hold as I change lanes, which in hindsight was rather dangerous to my fellow drivers.
I stopped off at a service station for a quick toilet break, continuing to play the song on my headphones. As I came out of the cubicle, I realised that I was in the bathroom alone. The song was hitting its outro and the rhythm had taken over. My hips were shaking and I was doing the Locomotion around the room while timing all my claps to perfection. What an amazing song.
By the time I’d arrived at Bournemouth I had moved on from Daryl and John and was listening to the Brothers Doob (The Doobie Brothers). Eddie Howe met me at the gates, just as What A Fool Believes hit its chorus.
‘But what a fool belieeeeeeeeeeves, he seeeeeeeees, boop boop boop boop’ I sang in my best Michael McDonald impression. Eddie looked a bit taken aback.
‘Sorry, Eddie. Once the Doobie hits you just can’t stop, you know?’
There was a long pause.
‘Okay Alan, come in, I gathered the lads in the cafe like you said.’
The Bournemouth squad were huddled together in the cafe all sat in their various cliques. None of them were speaking to each other which wasn’t a good sign. No wonder they were at the bottom of the league (I no longer recognise Crystal Palace as a football club).
‘Alright everyone, gather round.’ There was a murmur as the team slowly got up and sat as one in front of me. It’s always important to gain respect from your squad as fast as you can. I find it’s a good idea to pick on a big character in the squad by trying to make a joke or something. I noticed that King was not paying attention, laughing and joking with Connor Mahoney. Time to act.
‘You think your funny, King? We can’t all be ‘Joe King’’
What a haymaker. I could see it already. Joe would flounder, lips dry, sputtering nonsense, I will have shown my dominance. But there was something wrong. There was no such reaction. No raucous laughter. Just silence.
‘Boss, my name is Josh. Not Joe.’
S***. Now I look a fool. And I believe I see that.
‘I’m not here to learn your names!’ I said, slamming my hand down on the table. This was a good save. Rather than look like someone unable to learn names because I’m stupid, I look like I am far too important to care.
‘What I am here to do, is get you reprobates working as a team!’ I picked up the bag I had brought with me and poured its contents over the table. Out spilled thousands of straws, packs of blu tack and sellotape. I had also prepared a list of all the player’s names, that I proceeded to tear up so names could be drawn out of a hat.
‘In your various groups, use the tools provided to build bridges across the gaps in the tables. Maybe, by doing this, you’ll also build bridges to your teammate’s hearts.’
The teams got together and starting working away as best they could. Already you could see the fractures in the team. Steve Cook and Simon Francis kept making the bridge too short, unable to reach across the relatively small gap. Callum Wilson and Benik Afobe kept trying to get the same straws to use, almost coming to blows in the process. Strangest of all, Emerson Hyndman and Nathan Ake were arguing over some television show I’d never heard of.
‘His name is Tien!’
It was fair to say they struggled to build bridges, literally or figuratively. General ineptitude combined with poor relationships had resulted in utter failure. The Youtube video on team building that I had hurriedly watched two days prior hadn’t said what to do if they couldn’t build the bridge.
‘Boss, this is s***,’ King quipped with a sneer on his face.
Well, this made my blood boil. I clambered up on the nearest table despite my vision being blinded by white-hot rage.
‘Listen, you snivelling little t***. I’ll tell you what’s s***. Being 19th after six games and having -7 goal difference. Being put to the sword by Oumar Niasse. You all think you’re hot s*** don’t you? Swanning around, all Mr. Premier League. You all need to have a real, hard look at yourselves. You’re the Cherries. No one is intimidated by Cherries. What are you gonna do, be a scary cake topping?’
I was in full flow now, striding up and down the table.
‘You face Leicester next. The Foxes. They’re intimidating. You know what happens when a fox meets a cherry? The cherry will be crushed. Just like you will be. You’re pathetic and everyone thinks you are. When asked to name all twenty teams, everyone names you last. You represent a town full of decrepit racists. In a few years, you’ll all be an answer on Pointless. I want you all to know that will be the greatest thing you will ever achieve.’
The room was silent. I stepped down onto the floor and strolled out with my head held high. I got back into my car and turned on my playlist.
‘What I want, you’ve got, but it might be hard to handle, like the flame that burns the candle, the candle feeds the flame…’
Ah, Daryl and John. You always know how to make my dreams come true.