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:
‘BIG NEWS. CLAUS JENSEN.’
It had finally happened. I leapt off the sofa and rushed to the car, grabbing my keys off the side on the way to the door. Halfway down the road, I realised I was still in my dressing gown, so turned around and changed into a suit. Got to look my best at the big meeting.
A while back, after reading some of the more negative Brexit coverage, I panicked at what might happen to Carol and me if there was to be another financial crash. So I attempted to diversify the consultancy business. Firstly, I tried to start a football photography business. I began taking photos of Sunday league and non-league games, which people seemed to like. However, the poor tactics of the amateur managers forced me to offer my services as a manager consultant. This, in turn, resulted in my camera being destroyed.
I then ran through several other business ideas which all ended in failure. I tried being a cat groomer (allergic), Uber driver (constantly lost) and window cleaner (don’t have the talent). At a bit of a loose end, I turned to a hobby I had stopped pursuing: drawing. Drawing is so calming. I would sit out in the garden and draw whatever passed by, birds, planes and aggressive neighbours.
It was then that it dawned on me, why wasn’t I trying to make money from something I enjoyed doing in my spare time? I did a quick search online to see if there were any competitions or jobs that needed a low-level artist. They ranged from wholesome jobs like drawing landscapes for churches or schools to the more vulgar ones such as painting naked women on the sides of lorries.
Near the bottom of the list was designing a new logo for a small sports club in the north. I hadn’t actually heard of them and didn’t even recognise the name. They must be one of those little village teams that get volunteers to help run them.
‘I’m sports,’ I thought, stroking my chin.
I had read the brief. They wanted to show unity between them and their community.
‘I’m all for unity,’ I thought. My Charlton and West Ham sides were some of the most unified in Premier League history. We went go-karting all the time.
The design had to be fresh, modern and clean. It was ushering in a new era for the club as, presumably, they had just got their ramshackle ground painted or something.
The fee they had put on the site was relatively small, but I didn’t expect such a small team to be able to pay me handsomely. I reasoned this would be a tiny step into the world of art. By helping a charity case for little to no fee, I would gain some valuable brownie points when applying for future jobs.
I sat down and opened my computer. I opened Microsoft Paint and started searching online for shapes, fonts and symbols. It turns out there are thousands of logos that have already been created and it was difficult not to copy one that had already been created. In the end, I decided to take parts from lots of different logos and smash them together, able to create something simple and elegant.
Pleased with my work, I showed Carol and Julie.
‘It’s a bit… I dunno… Pro Evo?’ said Julie.
Pro. Evo. That can only be a compliment.
‘Well done dearest,’ said Carol, kissing my forehead.
I got Julie to send my design to the email address left on the job posting and told her to use ‘CLAUS JENSEN’ as the text alert if they wanted to meet me. Julie rolled her eyes as I told her.
‘There’s no way they’ll pick it, Alan. It’s a really crap design.’
She loves to be sarcastic.
It took me hours to get to the meeting, but this gave me ample time to prepare my speech. I thought it would be best to focus on the simplicity of the design and how this represented the blank canvas the club could rebuild itself on. Somehow I needed to show my virtuousness at stooping to their pathetic level, without insulting them by referring to their level as pathetic. This would require linguistic dexterity.
The sat nav seemed to be directing me towards Elland Road, which I thought was particularly strange. Why would such a small club hold a meeting at another local club’s massive stadium? Maybe they wanted to trick people less knowledgeable than myself into thinking they played at such a magnificent stadium?
I pulled into the car park at the ground and made my way up to the meeting room. The receptionist called me in almost instantly, seemingly really excited. No wonder. A big shot former premier league manager was designing the logo of an amateur club. This would be huge local news. She ran off, no doubt, to call the local reporter on the beat. He, in turn, probably fainted with shock.
Once inside, I saw my logo up on a small board, proudly on display to the rest of the room. Three men sat behind a small table, beaming at me as I entered. They were all incredibly nondescript. One had red hair, one had blonde hair and one had brown hair. Classic football money men. Not even a footnote in history, remembered by no one. I pity them.
‘Well, well,’ said the redhead. ‘We did not expect to have such an illustrious candidate.’
‘I’m just glad I could help out a club in need,’ I said, taking a seat opposite and leaning back.
The money men glanced at each other.
‘Anyway, we are really happy with the logo,’ the redhead continued. ‘It’s tested really well and we think it’ll be ready to roll out in the next few days. We’ve got the kit manufacturers prepped. In fact, we’re about to tweet it to the world.’
The world! These three were deranged. As if anyone outside of Leeds would care about-
Then it hit me. Hit me like a knee-high Billy Bremner reducer.
‘Wait, what’s this logo going on?’ I asked as the heat rise up my neck and into my face.
‘Everything. The shirts, the stadium…anything that Leeds United creates,’ said the blonde haired man. ‘Ready to tweet it, Clive?’
The brown-haired man slowly raised his hand to hold the phone to his face. He then raised his other hand, his index finger extended. Seconds passed as he slowly cranked his wrist to point his finger towards the phone and began his approach.
My mind was in overdrive. This was it, I thought. I had to do something and fast. Julie was right, the logo was crap. I’d spent less than fifteen minutes on it and had just stolen everything from ClipArt. Only a fool would think that this was a good idea, but apparently, I had three of them sat opposite me. How had I got so confused? Surely it said ‘Leeds United’ in the advert post? My hubris had cost me and was about to cost a massive football club. Yes, they’re from the north but it still counts! I just need to say something before it was too late.
But it was too late. Despite his glacial finger movement, the idiot man had pressed ‘tweet.’
‘Excuse me,’ I said, standing up and quickly walking out of the room.
Taking a few turns down the winding corridors, I took refuge in the men’s toilets. My hands shook as I grabbed my phone, but I managed to find Julie’s number and ring it.
‘Julie! I’ve made a huge mistake!’
I explained what had happened. Julie laughed for what felt like years, as sweat poured down my face.
‘It is really s***, Alan.’
‘I know,’ I squeaked as I slumped onto the floor. ‘It’s just an arm and a torso… It means nothing.’
‘Yeah it really looks like Mussolini helped you out,’ quipped Julie. She appeared to be enjoying this too much.
‘We need to cancel all attempts to diversify,’ I moaned. ‘I‘m coming home.’
Leeds United have since announced that they will reconsider the new club crest design. Privately, they wrote to me, informing me that I am officially banned from Elland Road. I’m not too bothered because Clough was right. Everyone knew that Leeds cheated to get their titles.