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:
I needed to spread my wings. Going from Munich back down to Cardiff isn’t really good enough for a man of my stature. If you think I’m referring to my height, you are mistaken; I’m referring to my career. My official height is 5 foot 8. Whilst that isn’t necessarily considered tall in the modern day, it was back in ancient Rome and if it was good enough for Caesar then it’s good enough for me.
Julie had informed me that while she had been making enquiries across Europe, she was yet to hear any concrete replies. However, she was inundated with requests from across Britain from all levels of the game. Unai Emery, Rafa Benitez and Slavisa Jokanovic had all sent her panicked emails apparently desperate for help.
But one email caught my eye. ‘[email protected]’ had sent me an email with the subject line ‘MY CAREER IS OVER’. Presumably, this was from the QPR manager Steve McClaren, who basically stole the England job from me in 2006. This could be a golden chance to seek my revenge.
Julie was not in agreement.
‘Come on Alan. You don’t have to be that petty. Maybe it would be a better use of everyone’s time if you actually tried to help him? After all, it would be good for the consultancy if you could turn round a team that’s just been hammered 7-1.’
She may have been playing to my ego, but she had a point. I think you would agree after reading these diaries that I am far from petty. If I could turn Steve McClaren and QPR around then maybe those clubs in Europe would fly me over to help them? Or at least reply.
Curiously, Steve asked me to meet him in a pub. That should have been a sign as to what sort of mood he was in. When I got there he was sat in a booth at the back of the room in darkness. He had his face and hands flat on the table and was surrounded by empty pint glasses.
‘Er, Steve?’ I tentatively asked.
He slowly raised his head to look at me. I jumped with a start. I had never seen a man look so broken, so hollow, yet still be alive. He had huge black bags around his eyes, wrinkles like canyons and his cheeks were stained with tears. He also appeared to have shrunk to a shorter height than the listed 5 foot 8. Steve McClaren, shorter than me, as it should have always been.
‘Alan…is that you?’ he said, struggling to get the words out. He raised a bony hand to touch my face. It was eerily cold.
‘My God, Steve, what happened to you?’
‘7 goals Alan. 7! One more and they would have had to put ‘eight’ in brackets!’
‘We all have bad days Steve.’ Although I have never lost a game that badly. I neglected to mention this to Steve. Pathetic Steve McClaren.
‘I thought it was bad when I failed at England. But then I struggled at Wolfsburg. Then at Forest. Then at Twente.’ He was now just staring into his pint glass, a solitary droplet of spit dangling from his lips.
‘What about Derby? You weren’t terrible at Derby,’ I said encouragingly.
‘Richard Keogh,’ he growled, slamming his fist on the table, causing a bit of it to break off. Then he sat back and looked at the ceiling, tears welling up in his eyes.
‘Then Newcastle. That created this stupid hair island everyone keeps making fun of me for,’ he said gesturing at the wisp of hair on his forehead. I had always wondered why he held onto that. Shearer had made the right decision when he shaved gotten rid of his hair island. If I’m ever caught with such an island I’ll get a barber to burn it off immediately.
‘I never should have returned to Derby. That just lead me here, on the receiving end of a 7-1 drubbing. Maybe it isn’t that the club is in turmoil? Maybe it’s just that I’m not a very good manager?’
You’re a crap one, Steve. One of the worst ones. It makes absolutely no sense that you keep getting managerial jobs. But I left these as thoughts rather than words.
‘Look, Steve. I’ve been sent here to cheer you up. Let’s see what I can do.’
Julie had sent me a Spotify playlist that was filled with songs that improved her mood no matter what she’d been through. I turned my phone’s volume up and pressed play.
The first song was very poppy but all in Japanese. I had no idea what they were singing and neither did Steve. He just stared at the phone blankly. I looked at the name of the song and all became clear. It was the opening theme to one of Julie’s silly cartoons she was so interested in. She’s dangerously obsessed and now she was embarrassing me in public with her obsession. I made a mental note to tell her off when I next saw her.
‘Let’s try the next song.’
The next song was ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy,’ by Bobby McFerrin. Now, this was bound to cheer up Steve. No one can feel sad when they hear this one. I looked up at Steve, filled with hope that he would be smiling. Instead, I was met with more tears.
‘This was the song I played to fire up the boys before we played West Brom,’ he spluttered through the tears.
No wonder they lost! No one has ever been pumped up by Bobby McFerrin! Unless you’re being vulgar about one of his sexual partners. Which I’m certainly not.
‘I’m going to try one more,’ I said, scrolling through the song list. Near the bottom, I found it.
‘Good morning, today’s forecast is blue skies,’ sang the phone. Mr Blue Sky. Nobody can feel sad after hearing that song.
It seemed to be working. Some light returned to Steve’s face and his lips began to curl at the sides as he tried to force out a smile. He stopped slumping, instead managing to lift himself out of his chair somewhat to straighten his back.
‘See, things will be okay. Maybe you will be able to turn it around Schteve?’
I froze. It had just slipped out. Had he heard me?
Steve fell forward out of his chair and onto his knees. His head was tilted back, his arms down by his sides with tears streaming out of his eyes. Suddenly, he let out a blood-curdling wail. Everyone in the bar fell backwards, although I managed to remain on my feet, largely due to my strength of character.
I turned and left quickly. Clearly, I had failed. Rather than save Steve McClaren’s career, I had broken it, perhaps beyond repair. Or, maybe I had succeeded? Maybe, after twelve years, I had exacted revenge on the man that stole the job that was my destiny?
Yes. That’s definitely what happened. As I had planned all along.