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:
This week, I’m off to Everton. Julie left me an email saying that David Unsworth wanted me to go in and have a meeting with him and Wayne Rooney. I don’t know why I was only meeting these two. I really need to see the whole team if I’m going to fix things. What possible hold could Rooney have over the club that means I can only meet him and Unsworth?
I arrived early on the Monday morning, the day after Leicester had beaten Everton. The atmosphere around Finch Farm was subdued. Obviously, this team is in crisis. The signings have been strange, the football’s been crap and now they’re manager-less. If only a highly qualified, dashingly handsome, available manager was on the premises.
If I was going to worm my way into the top job, I would need to be tactful. I don’t want to be known as a backstabber within the industry; I’m not Michael Gove, for goodness sake. No, I would just need to politely inform any higher-ups I bump into that I’m the right man for the job.
I met David just inside the reception area. He walked into the room and thrust out his arms.
‘I detect the El Supremo!’ he said, beaming and shaking my hand.
‘Oh, come on Dave,’ I said, trying to hide my blushes.
‘Right, let’s go and see Wayne,’ he said, his face darkening. He handed me a small piece of paper.
‘Alan, don’t lose that number, you don’t wanna call nobody else.’
He appeared to be talking almost exclusively in Steely Dan lyrics! I’m a Danfan myself, but to use them in a conversation like this is just…strange.
‘I’m also a fan of Steely Dan, Dave. I love Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.’ I thought that maybe this was a way we could bond (and find some dirt to oust this weirdo from his job).
‘Lyrics? What lyrics?’ It was if I’d told David Cameron that poor people exist. The man was baffled. I opened the piece of paper. 999 was written on it. What had I let myself in for?
David took me through an unmarked door that led down some unlit stairs. He took out a torch and turned it on, lighting up a long winding tunnel.
‘Al, I’ve got to ask you, just to check: is there gas in the car?’
‘Yes there’s gas in the car.’ I couldn’t help but sing it to him. But this man had a serious mental issue.
‘Just in case she go crazy, got to make a getaway, papa say…’ That barely even related to the situation. I assumed what he meant was, I might need to make a quick getaway. I was starting to get nervous.
We walked for about fifteen minutes, getting deeper and deeper underground. After a while, the walls, that had previously been compacted soil with wires running over them, started to be covered with a clinical tile. They were a brilliant white, so much so that the light of the torch reflected off them, forcing me to squint.
David then turned the torch off as we approached a door at the end of the tunnel. It was marked with several warning symbols and multiple locks held it shut. David got out a key card and slid it through the reader. His hands were shaking.
‘Keep your eyes on the sky,’ he said, as he opened the door and pushed me inside, slamming it behind me. What a lunatic.
The lights above me slowly turned on, one at a time with a large clang accompanying each one. I was in a huge white dome that at first glance appeared to be completely empty. The ceiling was clad in the same, clinical, white panelling. A black throne sat in the centre of the room, facing away from me. A television was the other side of it, although from where I was stood, I couldn’t see what was on it.
‘Welcome,’ said the person sat on the throne. I knew immediately who it was.
Wayne Rooney looked over his shoulder at me, his face expressionless.
‘Come. Join me,’ he said, slowly turning back to face the television. I walked over to him, nervously, trying to remember exactly where the door was. With everything so glaringly white, it was hard to tell.
In front of the television was a Playstation, Wayne appeared to be playing on FIFA. There were no other chairs, so I just sat cross-legged on the floor next to him. He handed me a controller. It was only now that I noticed he was in a full Everton kit.
‘Wayne, do you know why I was invited here?’ I asked, selecting to play as West Ham (sorry Charlton). I am terrible at FIFA, so I hoped if I talked enough, I would distract him to the point I could sneak a win.
‘To help the team play better,’ he said calmly.
‘Where are the team?’ I asked.
‘Over there,’ said Wayne, pointing beyond the TV.
I looked over to where he was pointing. At the far end of the dome, there was another door, but this one had a glass panel in it. It was too far away for me to see inside, so I paused the game and got up to take a closer look.
‘Why have you paused it?’ growled Wayne.
‘Sorry, Wayne… I just wanted to see your teammates,’ I said coolly, slowly approaching the glass panel.
I peered inside and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The Everton squad were piled into a tiny room. Some were slumped up against the wall while others lay flat out on the ground. They were surrounded by the odd bit of food, bowls of water and at the back was a horrendously stained toilet. I no longer cared about the job.
The empty eyes of Ashley Williams, Phil Jagielka and Dominic Calvert-Lewin stared back at me. But as I scanned the room, I saw other players I didn’t expect to see there. Kevin Campbell, Tomasz Radzinski… Danny Cadamarteri. My God. How long had they been trapped there?
I needed to get out of here. I swung around, hoping to see the outline of the door, but no sign. What I did see, was an incredibly angry scouser picking up a large television. Wayne launched the 50-inch screen at my head, the wires whipping through the air, cutting the ground. I rolled to my left, hearing a huge crash over my shoulder. I’m ruddy terrific at forward rolls.
I turned just as a furious Scot Gemmill burst out of the prison with an almighty crash. The mob were furious and rushed the now terrified striker, who was attempting to shield himself with his Playstation. I took this as my chance, sprinting back to the door I had come through and running my hands up and down the wall looking for the hidden handle.
The sounds of violence were ringing around the room as I finally wrenched open the door and hurtled out into the tunnel. It was pitch black but I knew I needed to keep on running. I ran as I heard the worst sounds I’ve heard since my visit to Leicester, I can still hear them now, I will hear them every day.
I rushed out of the tunnel into the reception area, my clothes torn from all the loose rocks tearing into me. There was blood on my shoes, in my eyes, on my knees. But I don’t care. I need to get out. The horror of what I have seen will stick with me forever. This place is carved from nightmares. No wonder they’re in the relegation zone.