A former Premier League manager approached us here at GSITM 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:
Julie was still sending requests for consultancy work out to the continent. Yet again, I didn’t receive any word back. This is getting ludicrous now. It’s as if I am stuck in an infinite time loop: I send out messages to Europe, I hear nothing, I try to help a mediocre manager in Britain, I do, repeat.
Speaking of mediocre managers, one of the requests I did receive was from Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham. The Chilean was desperate for my help. He couldn’t understand how his team had started so badly. After all, he had spent a lot of money on lots of players, he did that at Manchester City and won the league!
I set aside a few minutes just to laugh. Laugh as loud and for as long as my lungs would allow. After all, Julie knew first aid if anything did go wrong. Luckily it didn’t, so I was able to laugh, chuckle then chunter until I was all out of breath. I then deleted Manuel’s email and moved onto one of the more reasonable requests.
I settled on David Wagner at Huddersfield. He had been a Premier League manager for over a year now and I was yet to meet him. It was finally time to change this.
David met me over at the John Smith’s Stadium, or the Kirklees Stadium when it’s not sponsored by a disgusting beer. His office overlooked the pitch, which looked mightily impressive despite being in Yorkshire. The office was covered with photos of David’s previous achievements both in England and Germany. In the corner, there was a rather ominous looking cabinet that I felt may be referenced again shortly.
‘Alan, please, take a seat,’ he said, motioning at the chair opposite his desk.
‘Why did you ask me here today?’ I asked, shifting to get comfortable in the seat.
‘Well, Alan. I am unhappy with our recent performances if I am perfectly honest with you.’
This was awfully candid from Wagner. Normally the managers I meet are so deluded that they think the problems don’t stem from them. Instead, they seek to blame anyone they can: the players, the board or even the plumbing.
‘What’s been the problem?’
‘Well, we have been far too defensive. We never look like we’re going to score, there’s never a period of sustained pressure and the tempo is far too slow.’
‘Okay, that’s quite a comprehensive list. Do you not think that maybe some of those things are down to you-’
But before I could finish, Wagner had leant forward on his desk and rested his chin on his hands. Looking up at the ceiling, almost a bit like Carrie Bradshaw on the phone to her friends, he dreamily asked:
‘What do you think Jurgen is up to right now?’
I took a moment to process this.
‘I bet he would know how to manage my team,’ he crowed. ‘He is a magical manager.’
By this point, he was spinning around on his desk chair, his feet in the air. He then leapt onto his feet and pranced over to the tactics board behind me. Grabbing a pen, he started furiously drawing formations and writing names.
‘I’ve tried, Alan. I have really, really tried. But Aaron Mooy just isn’t Hendo. Ben Hamer is not Alisson Becker. I even tried signing an Egyptian, but Ramadan Sobhi is just not as good as Mohamed Salah.’
As often happens to me, this was starting to get strange.
‘David, you don’t have to play like Klopp, there are plenty of other ways to-’
‘SILENCE!’ He snapped before I could finish speaking. ‘I WAS BEST MAN AT HIS WEDDING! HIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO PLAY!’
He was now massaging the side of his thighs far more than any man needs to.
‘I TRY AND TRY BUT NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS I CANNOT BE HIM!’
I slowly began to stand up and back towards the door. Wagner scuttled over to the ominous cabinet. Because of course, he did. He swung open the large doors so hard that they made a huge bang as they hit the wall. What was inside made me stumble backwards with shock.
The cabinet was covered in Klopp. Pictures, clothes, letters, stamps, glasses, pottery, hair, nails, eyebrows…liquids. Wherever you looked, there was Klopp. Wagner ran his fingers across as much of it as he could.
‘Someday… I will become him,’ he whispered under his breath.
Clearly, unless I caught, killed and skinned Klopp so that Wagner could wear him whilst on the touchline, this was a lost cause. While I would certainly have the mental and physical capabilities to pull that off, I didn’t want to deal with the consequences of those actions. Time to leave.
‘Well, David, I think it might be time to hit the old dusty trail,’ I said rather loudly.
Wagner swung round. He now was now wearing a blonde wig, a Liverpool tracksuit and four pairs of glasses.
‘Hendo! Gigi! Jimmy! Come to me!’ He was rubbing his thighs again, although this time he was gyrating his hips as well. The wig slipped and wobbled across his forehead as if it was a plate he was balancing on his head.
I spun on my heels and left, hurtling out the door and back towards the car. Wagner’s crazy obsession with Jurgen Klopp is plain to see on TV. The way his eyes light up whenever Klopp is mentioned. The fact he wears such similar glasses and talks about football in the same language. But in person, it is a far more terrifying beast.
What in God’s name do I have to do to get a consultancy job in Europe? When will one of these appointments not end in something insane happening? And what branch of law enforcement do I call to report what I just witnessed?