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:

As it’s international week and all the players are away from their clubs, my consultancy business has gone a bit quiet. I feel this is a good time to pause, take stock and reply to the various bits of mail I’ve received while writing this column. Many of you have taken the time to write in and I read all the letters and emails I receive. I will try to reply to as many of them as I can below.

‘What’s the secret to longevity as a manager?’

Timothy Greene, Ruislip

A very interesting question Tim in Ruislip. Personally, I think the ability to adapt is key. Update your squad after a few seasons, change your tactics with the times and embrace new technology when possible. For example, in the early 2000s, I insisted that all the Charlton players had email, you simply had to at the time. This allowed me to send them detailed reports on their performance, even if this took multiple emails to get my point across. However, the entire club’s IT systems were destroyed after Mark Fish tried to download photos of Anna Kournikova. I went back to paper copies after that.

‘Is time travel possible?’


While this has little to nothing to do with my column, I will answer your question Goku. I believe that time travel may be possible. However, I subscribe to the belief that we will only be able to travel back to times when a time machine has been invented. Otherwise, someone would have travelled back and told Sven that Gerrard and Lampard cannot be paired together in midfield. Also, Michael Carrick would have 100+ caps and we would have won at least one more World Cup. I’m sorry if that disappoints you.

‘Are you Team Swift or Team West?’

Josh Wright, Newcastle

A rather perplexing question, I think I prefer Taribo West over John Swift, as he has achieved more in the game. There is still time for John, however. A very interesting question, thank you, Josh.

U should never have left the Hammers. Loved u mate. Is it true you’ve got an allotment? Any ideas on growing parsnips?

Bill, Wukington

Well Bill, thanks for your support. I had an allotment up until recently when all my plants were mysteriously burnt down. My suspicion is my terrible excuse of a neighbour was seeking revenge after I killed his dog. You may think that this is a fair exchange. However, my allotment was far more expensive than his crappy dog.

Regarding parsnips, sow them in March-April and harvest them in October-January. The rest you’ll probably know if you’re an experienced Lotter (that’s what we call ourselves), but the key thing is parsnips like friable soil. Too many people forget that part.

Why couldn’t you play a monkey up front. I’m aware the coaching process would be long and extensive but the savings you’d make on the transfer fee make it a viable option.

Mr M Monkey

I am fairly sure that this is a wind-up. But, bizarrely, you make a very good point ‘Mr. Monkey’. The amount of money saved in transfers and wages would be worth the risk and the time invested in coaching. However, I’m not sure that a monkey is the best animal. A gorilla would make a great target man. No, wait! A giraffe! No one would beat it in the air. In fact, here are my top animals for each position:

GK: Octopus
DF: Lion
MD: Horse
FW: Giraffe

Just had to write. It’s Kamikaze here. You called me Donald. I am called Donald but lots of the boys called me Kamikaze, Kami, Kammo. We met in Malaga 1996. We used to drink together in Aldo’s? Well, we drank one Tuesday night in Aldo’s and you said you’d see me on the Weds and we’d sort out tickets for the season. It’s not a problem cos i hate Charlton but I would’ve gone just to keep in touch. Anyhow followed you ever since to see how you got on and you’ve done great. Really pleased for you. But you should n’t have your Thursday coffee in Costa – Starbucks is better and don’t hog the middle on the M11. See you soon!

Kamikaze, Aldo’s

Are you the one who’s been tailing me? Are you the guy who been asking if I need the sugar every single time I have a coffee on a Thursday? Or are you the guy who keeps honking his horn when I’m on the M11? Don’t come near me ever again. I put a restraining order out on Lee Bowyer, don’t make me do it to someone else!

‘I’m looking for a young, virile man with a penchant for finishing mid-table and linking himself with jobs but never applying to marry my daughter. Do you know anybody?’

Chester Billingham, Wilmslow

If you had been paying attention to any part of my column you would have noticed me mention my wife Carol several times, Chester. But moreover, I would like to address your ‘finishing mid-table’ jibe. My Charlton side once finished 7th. No one refers to that as mid-table. I found this email insulting quite frankly. I’m a successful manager by any metric. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attackers off the shoulder of Richard Rufus. I watched floodlights glitter off Phil Chapple at Ashton Gate. All those moments are lost to the internet…like, lower league lineups from pre-1999.