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:
You may be aware that Leicester fired their manager. It was only a few hours until they rang Julie, asking if I was available to meet.
I couldn’t believe it. I had considered myself out of the game and I was only focused on the consultancy business, but to receive a phone call that quickly… Maybe it’s fate. Yes, that must be it. A watched kettle never boils, a stopped clock is right twice a day and a former Premier League manager only gets hired once he stops looking.
Julie informed me they were simply hiring me in my consultancy capacity. They didn’t want me to be the manager, they just wanted me to gee the players up. Strangely, I did not feel that familiar sense of sadness and dread. Infact, I was pleasantly surprised. My life had moved on. This was the new Alan.
I arrived at the King Power, where the squad had been brought together into the cafeteria. I looked through the vision panel in the door before entering. It was a jovial atmosphere. Too jovial. These people thought they were untouchable.
Suddenly, I had a flash of inspiration. I turned to the club aide, who took a step back. She must have clocked my frenzied expression, a mix of joy and concentration. Carol says it looks like someone is tearing my brain out the back of my head whereas I imagine it’s what Picasso, Van Gogh and Sir Bobby Robson looked like before they created art.
‘Do they know why they’ve been gathered in there?’ I asked.
‘We just said we’d gotten someone in to talk to them,’ she said carefully. ‘They don’t know you’re here.’
Perfect! I asked her to get rid of them all and rearrange the meeting to the next evening. It must be after dark. This final point was incredibly important.
‘Okay…’ she said, hurriedly making a call on her phone.
I hurtled back into my car and starting asking a for a few favours. Lights, speakers, curtains, I needed it all. It was time to put on a show!
I had set everything up perfectly. The stage was in the centre of the room, adorned with velvet curtains either side while lighting rigs had been installed above us and huge speakers sat level with the stage. It felt like a theatre.
The players entered nervously, clearly unsure what to make of the display. I tried to assure them everything would be fine. But they didn’t know what was coming.
‘Settle down everybody. Listen, the only one who’s going to have to be up here is me.’
I grinned a cheeky grin.
‘And a few volunteers of course.’
A groan drifted around the room. Kasper Schmeichel and Harry Maguire were called up on stage and I started running through a few role playings scenes. After Kasper had cast a few spells and Harry had rolled to check his armour score, I realised I had bought the wrong roleplaying guide. Quickly searching for alternatives online, while Kasper and Harry had a battle on a lava-soaked mountain, I got the day back on track with some dispute resolution discussions.
‘Now, Kasper. If Harry has failed to meet a header that has sent a striker through on goal, what do you say to him?’
‘Erm…I see that you did that Harry and I acknowledge you missed the header. I would like you to meet it next time, but I am aware you are trying your best.’
‘Good.’ This was the moment. While asking Harry to say his response, I slowly drifted behind the curtain and started the programme I had set up. It’s a little-known fact that Jonathan Fortune is an absolute wizard of a theatre producer. I asked him to help me with the show and he planned it to perfection. All I had to do was press one button and we were off.
As I came back onto the stage, the lights began to flicker (a pre-programmed lighting show), the curtains waved in a sudden wind (big fans) and there was even some clanging coming from the roof (this was all clever sound design from Jonathan). The players started laughing at first, but the noises suddenly transitioned from laughter to whimpering.
‘I HEARD SOME OF YOU HAVE BEEN MISBEHAVING,’ boomed out a loud voice.
The crowd of players went silent. After a pause, they all started rushing around the room and screaming.
‘HE’S BACK! HE’S COME BACK!’ shrieked Robert Huth, rushing to the door in an attempt to escape. But I’d bolted it shut. We’re here for the long haul, Bobby.
‘I EXPECT A CERTAIN STANDARD FROM YOU ALL!’ the voice screamed out.
‘THE GAFFER HATH RETURNED!’ moaned Danny Simpson, his knees and elbows covered in blood after being shoved to the ground in the malaise.
I had asked Nigel Pearson to record a few lines for Jonathan to include in the programme. I’m quite scared of Nigel if I’m honest. The story about him fighting off the wolves is well known, but I’ve heard about the other animals he’s fought off. Let me tell you, they’re much bigger than wolves. If you’re ever in trouble in India, call Nigel Pearson.
The big cardboard cut-outs that I had put on rails were now rolling around in front of the spotlights. This created the illusion that Nigel was leaping around the lighting rigs up in the ceiling which turned out to be too much for the players. A few were desperately trying to tear their way out of the doors and windows, others were trying to dig their way through the ground while the rest had resigned themselves to what was coming; they simply lay on the floor cowering, crying and wetting themselves.
Suddenly, there was an almighty crash to the side of me on the stage. A bloodied animal corpse had landed to my left and smashed through the wood. It was impossible to tell what it was, all I could make out was fur, bone and blood. I looked up above me. Nigel was stood on a lighting rig, shirtless, his body covered in oil and glistening, his cargo shorts torn at the knee. He leaped off the rig and onto the stage in front of me, slowly rising and letting out an almighty roar.
‘I’ll take it from here Curbs,’ he snarled, leaping down to his former charges. His fists swung around him in a blur, filling the air with the sound of bone colliding into bone. All you could hear was screaming, snapping, splattering. I saw broken men covering the floor, whimpering for their mothers, the only emotion in their eyes was fear.
This had gone too far. I’d aimed for a silly light show like Scooby Doo, instead, Pearson had gone all Bronson on the Foxes squad. I had no idea he would show up and mutilate the players! At least he had kept his shorts on, the last thing I wanted to see was a sparkling Pearson wang.
I ran off the back of the stage and out the one fire escape I hadn’t locked. Pushing the adjacent Biffa bin in front of the door behind me (you can never be too careful), I rushed into the car. Slamming my foot onto the accelerator (obviously, after changing into gear, I’m not American) I drove out of the car park and away into the night.
Once I was away, I rang Julie. My palms were so sweaty on the steering wheel I could barely steer. I needed to find out. I needed to know.
‘Did Leicester cover our expenses!?’ I spluttered down the line.
‘Yes,’ she said.
Relief poured over me. Those lighting rigs were expensive!