Curbing Your Enthusiasm: The Manager tries to save West Ham United while the in-laws visit

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 some of you may have noticed, West Ham United are in a bit of bother. Of course, since the club basically tried to ruin my life, I’m pretty pleased to see them in this sorry state. Fans never ran on the field while I was there! No one threw coins at the owners either, and the owner when I was there basically tanked the Icelandic economy.

However, I’m a close friend of the current manager, David Moyes. The two of us have had long careers in football and we respect each other’s longevity in the game. David even rang me after Sir Alex offered him the United job, which I told him he should take with no hesitation. Obviously, that didn’t turn out too well for David, but I don’t think that’s affected our friendship or his mental health.

David had arranged for me to have a meeting with the squad prior to the debacle that was the defeat to Burnley. Off the back of that, David changed plans and took the squad to do some warm weather training in Miami. This cancelled our meeting, so instead, I was to have a conversation with David over Skype so that we could workshop a few ideas to keep them up.

Unbeknownst to me, Carol had invited her in-laws to stay over the weekend. I cannot stand Buck and Pam. They’re both English but moved over to Texas over twenty years ago and now think that they’re red-blooded Americans. They’re as bad as people who pronounce chorizo as ‘choritho’ despite referring to it as ‘that spicy red sausage’ for the first thirty years of their life.

‘YEEEE-HAAAW! If it ain’t ma darlin’ baby girl!’ screeched Buck as he arrived.

‘Hi, Dad,’ said Carol, brightly. She hugged him as he walked through the door. Buck is a big fat guy with no hair and a short white beard. He was, of course, wearing a cowboy hat, checked shirt and jeans. Pam followed him in, almost half his height, wearing a plain t-shirt and jeans. She had oversized sunglasses and a cap with no top on. You’re not Tiger Woods, Pam, you’re an ex-hairdresser married to a fool.

I attempted to slip into my office, but Buck had already clocked me trying to slope out.

‘Dagnabbit, Alan, ain’t you gon say hello to your pappy in law?’

This idiot grew up in Rotherham!

‘Hey, Buck. I would love to chat but I have to make a call to another football manager.’

Big mistake.

‘Football? What En Eff Ell coach gon wanna talk to you? You gon give Bill Belichick a ring? Tell him about your pansy sport?’ He chuckled heartily to himself, clearly ecstatic with his own ‘wit’.

‘I meant soccer, sorry. I thought with you being English, you would realise what I meant.’ I tried not to smile too much at my subtle dig.

‘We don’t feel English no more, Alan. No siree, I got my American passport and I feel just as American as the next guy.’ He grinned proudly as he said this as if he had won some competition.

Rather than try and continue this terrible conversation, I caught Carol’s eye and contorted my face to ask for help. She managed to get the two of them off into the living room, just in time for me to get into my office and turn on my computer.

I had prepared several sheets of notes that would hopefully solve all of David’s problems: who to drop (Noble, Evra, Zabaleta), who to play (Hernandez, Antonio, Kouyate) and the tactics to use (attempt to win games). With these notes, I was sure I could do what I had done many times before: save West Ham’s season.

Soon after I had taken my seat, David called. His image appeared on my monitor and my God, did he look terrible. When he’s pitchside and caught on camera, you can see the deep-rooted sadness in his eyes. But on a screen this small, it was ten times worse. His eyes were bloodshot, the skin around them all crusty. Wrinkles tore into his skin, which in turn looked like it was being held in place by being stapled to his skull. Some people look like they’ve been to hell and back, David looked like he had a timeshare there.

‘Alright, Alan,’ he groaned.

‘Everything alright, David?’ I almost didn’t want to hear the answer. He looked broken.

‘Not really. Training’s not been brilliant and we had to take Harty to the hospital after he drank a bottle of aftersun.’

‘Well, that’s not too bad, I’ve had far worse on some of my warm weather training trips.’

‘Aye, well, we’ve also had Noble down at the police station after he clotheslined a fat bloke off a moped,’ wheezed David.

I was starting to debate whether it was even worth continuing the call when my office door swung open.

‘Darn. Sorry, Alan, I thought this might be the restroom.’ It was Buck, who was now looking quizzically at my monitor.

‘Is that old lady okay? I thought you was talkin’ to one of your soccer buddies?’

‘Buck, this is my friend, David Moyes. He’s in Miami right now with his West Ham United squad, I’m doing some consultancy work -’

‘MIAMI!’ shrieked Buck. ‘You down in that Godless end of ‘Merica?’

‘Excuse me?’ David looked mortified. I could see my face in the smaller picture on the Skype call, a mix of embarrassment and fury.

‘Any of those Flooooridians came onto my porch, so help me God I would get my Colt 45 and I would send them to meet their maker! Then they can explain to Jesus himself why they didn’t take the righteous path!’

I had reached the breaking point. Leaping off my chair, I spun round to tell Buck to shut the hell up about ‘’Merica’ and remind him that he’s not related to Larry Hagman.

As I finally faced him, I realised that he was holding the very Colt 45 he had been bragging about moments earlier. How exactly he had smuggled it through customs I didn’t wish to comprehend, but panic surged through me as I saw it. I bent my knees and raised my arms ready to disarm him, an action I had performed so often throughout my life it had almost become second nature to me.

Before I could strike, Buck’s eyes grew wide and he clutched his chest with his free hand. The colour left his face and he started to fall backwards, out of the open doorway. It seemed that the gallons of fat that swilled through his arteries every day had finally taken its toll on his heart.

BANG!

My body froze. There was a pause as I waited for the pain. But there was none. Just that familiar ringing in my ears. I surveyed the room, finally noticing the smoking bullet hole through my monitor. That was mighty close.

Carol had heard the bang and rushed downstairs to see her father struggling to breathe on the floor. This was going to take some explaining. She hurriedly dialled the ambulance while I stood over Buck, looking into his terrified eyes.

Had Buck tried to shoot me? Or was he always aiming for the monitor? How did he get the gun into the country? Would it be bad form to bring this up in any future arguments with Carol? When was I going to be able to arrange another Skype call with David?

So many questions. But I knew two things were certain.

West Ham are doomed… and Christmas is going to be very interesting.