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:
At the end of the last edition of this diary, you may remember that I was tied to a chair in Mark Hughes’ office at the Bet365 stadium. Since that diary was published, Mark has been fired from his post. Now you must be wondering two things, how did I get out of that mess and what have I done this week? First, I will tell you how I escaped Stoke.
‘Unfortunately for you, Alan, I don’t agree with Gandhi.’
Mark was now stood over me, snarling and ready to strike. I turned my head away, anticipating a pain I hadn’t felt since I dropped my keys down a storm drain. How had it come to this? At least I would have quite the obituary, being beaten to death by a Welshman in Stoke. Quite the combination.
Before Mark could strike, there was a loud crunching and crashing noise outside the window. I looked up to see him pause and look to his left to see what it was. Clearly in shock, he stepped back away from the window. There was more crunching, this time closer to us, although this time it was accompanied by some faint screaming. I craned my neck in an attempt to also see out the window, catching sight of something yellow just before it met the wall.
There was a huge crash as the window smashed open, hurling glass across the room. The shards were followed by the yellow arm of the large excavator reaching into the wall. It narrowly missed the scrambling Hughes as he fled the office. I was knocked to the ground by the destruction, left lying on my side, my cheek pressed to the ground. Turning my head, I looked up at the huge hole that was now in the wall.
The noise had stopped, replaced instead by the quiet whistle of the wind passing through the smashed steel and masonry. The arm of the excavator slowly lowered, stopping by my feet, which were apparently dangling over what was now the edge of the building. I could hear footsteps clanging against the metal of the arm. They were getting louder as the person got closer, finally stopping almost by my feet.
‘Long time no see… Addick-san.’
I had a strong, Proustian moment, mentally whirring back to my darkest days.
‘Ryuji…what are you doing in Stoke?’
‘What a lovely way to greet an old friend,’ he said, untying me and helping me to my feet.
It was Ryuji alright. He was still broad-shouldered and had maintained his shoulder length blonde hair. However, he had at least moved with the times sartorially. Last time I saw him he was in a bright purple suit with gold trim (that was covered in another man’s blood at the time). Now he was much more restrained, opting for a nice grey pinstripe number. However, it would have been improved with a feathered fedora. Everything is improved by a feathered fedora.
‘Why are you here?’ I asked again.
‘I’ve been keeping tabs on you a while. I enjoy reading your weekly diary online, it is the highlight of my week and is very well written,’ he definitely said. ‘You did many great things for me in Japan, Alan. Now that I’m working over here, I thought I would watch your back in my spare time.’
‘Well, thanks, Ryuji. But you’ve just destroyed part of a wonderful stadium. People are going to notice a massive hole in Mark Hughes’ office wall.’
‘Don’t worry, Addick-san. Unlike you, I’m still a member of the family. They’ll make this go away. Put it in your diary! It will be the only place online this story will be told! Even with your usual high level of wit and humour, no one will believe it.’ Ryuji really likes my diaries. He just wouldn’t stop telling me.
He took me home in the excavator after he revealed he had crushed my car during the rescue. We were silent for most of the journey. Despite being great friends in Japan, putting our lives on the line for each other, I had left the family. I didn’t want to know about the horrors of his business, just as he didn’t want to know my new revolutionary back three formations. It would have been nice to talk, especially considering the journey took twice as long as it should have. The other motorway drivers were furious.
Suffice to say, after all that excitement, the next week was a bit of an anti-climax. Ryuji had given me his number, in case I needed to summon him in an hour of need. I decided to cancel my appointments for that week, instead becoming somewhat of a hermit, rarely leaving my living room.
I attempted to read The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, but couldn’t get past the first few pages. Carol tried to get me into yoga, but the stress of the previous week had bothered me to such a degree, that I pulled my back within minutes of the first stretch. Instead, I put on electronic ambient music and stared at the ceiling, trying to relax. It didn’t work. All it did was bring on an existential crisis, making me panic about the gaping maw that is death.
Once I recovered, I finally turned my phone back on. Ryuji was right, there was no news about damage at the Bet365 stadium, only about Hughes’ sacking. But I did have a message from Julie.
‘BIG NEWS: CLAUS JENSEN’