Curb it like Alan

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:

When you’re a manager, pre-season is one of the busiest times of the year. Basically, it’s you and your squad, kept in the bubble of whatever club you’re managing, with a month to get everything right. You can try and get a few players in to make things better. You can remove a few of the bad eggs or the people who aren’t up to it. Ultimately, if you fail in those few weeks you’re starting behind all your competitors.

I thought this would be a good time to give all the managers out there my pre-season training regime. I like to put my teams through hell if I can. They hate you during the summer months, but by God, they’ll thank you in March when they’re fitter than everyone else.

I have divided my fitness regime into nine levels, or circles as I like to call them. Not sure why I say that it just feels more right if you know what I mean? Anyway, here are the forms of torture I used on my players. Torture, sorry I meant fitness or… no, I meant torture. Carry on.

Limbo

For the first ‘circle,’ I get them to all enter a limbo competition. This strengthens their back muscles and is a bit of light fun before the real tough stuff begins. The fools think I’m going to take it easy on them at this point. Fun fact, the back injury Kim Kallstrom had when he joined Arsenal was a result of his Spartak Moscow coach using this regime.

Lust

Everybody knows that footballers are beholden to their most primal desires. If you haven’t got a player in your squad with a sex tape online, you’re not a professional football manager. But I don’t want any funny business under my roof, so to speak. I use a technique that I learnt from a little bloke called Ivan Pavlov.

It’s rather simple really. I take the squad to somewhere sexually charged: a strip club, a sex shop, an aquarium (I have had some very particular players). Each member of the backroom staff is then given a very powerful cattle prod. Whenever a player shows any signs of lust, we zap them with all we’ve got.

Not only does this keep them incredibly focused on football throughout the season, but their desperate attempts to escape the rod increases their speed and agility. Why do you think Paolo Di Canio was so agile?

Gluttony

Fatten them up like a Christmas turkey. Cram them with as much meat, potatoes, pasta, basically anything that will increase their body mass. If they put all of that in their body, it’s got to go somewhere and that somewhere is their muscles. Or all over their shoes if they have a weak constitution like Danny Mills.

Initially, this will slow them down. Training sessions become a bit of a slog as they put on a few stone while you demand them to do a thousand shuttle runs. But once that mass of food turns into masses of muscle, you’ll have one of the strongest teams in the league.

Oh yes, it’s a good idea to reinstall your toilets prior to this endeavour. I think you can work out why.

Greed

Ah, the main pitfall of the modern footballer. The amount of money they earn is so ridiculous that upon retirement, they will never need to work again.

For this circle, I fill the back of the club coach with cash. The back tyres of a bus really compress when you withdraw millions exclusively in fivers. Initially, the players always look confused. Why would money influence them? They already have millions.

This is when I reveal that I have filled the coach with their wages. As in, the amount they should be earning that month. I then tell them that they only get what they can grab. The bus then starts to pull away, the window at the back slightly open so a few of the notes can blow in the wind.

Well, you’ll never see a group of players run so quickly. When we had Dennis Rommedahl this went particularly badly as Dennis was so much quicker than everyone else. He got about three-quarters of the club’s total wages. A few children went hungry that August I can tell you. I think Dennis invested all of his money in Tamagotchi. What a fool.

Anger

This one is much less convoluted. I make the squad do shuttle runs up the largest local staircase I can find. The backroom staff and I then unload all the anger we have allowed to build up inside ourselves towards them.

It can get rather personal and many a fight has broken out in the past. Also, we’ve had people reveal things about themselves that they maybe shouldn’t have divulged. One kit man actually admitted a major crime he had committed during one tirade. He’s still doing time now, the disgusting beast.

Heresy

I’ll be honest here, it’s quite hard to catch someone committing heresy on the training pitch. I had to work really hard to get this circle to work.

So, after the anger circle, I tell the squad that they can have a period of rest to regain their bearings. They are allowed to wander around the training ground doing calmer drills, little circuits, things like that. Spirits often raise during this period, as they think the worst is over.

What they don’t realise is the backroom staff and I have the power to accuse them of heresy if they raise a foolish opinion. Richard Rufus says that Fawlty Towers is overrated? Dean Ashton thinks Steely Dan isn’t a great band? Dean Kiely thinks that authoritarianism is an underrated form of governance? Call heresy and punish them in a way you see fit. That will teach them to have freedom of thought.

Violence

This is exactly the same as the anger circle, but this time the staff can use moderate violence on the squad. It’s important that the violence is only moderate. Any more than that and it would just be barbaric.

Fraud

I’ll be honest, I can never think of a way of implementing this one. Am I supposed to admit I am a fraud? That seems highly ridiculous, they would never believe me! Or should I accuse them of being frauds? Possibly, but there’s no fitness advantage to that, unlike every other circle they have completed.

Sometimes I try to frame them for some sort of financial fraud, but more often than not that gets me in hot water and not them. Personally, I have found it easier to move straight on to the final circle.

Treachery

By this point, the squad should be fairly broken and be recovering from their minor wounds after the violence circle. If they’re not, you’re doing it wrong.

Use this time to call a squad meeting to apologise for your abhorrent behaviour. You need to really sell this, so they truly believe you. If a few of them cry tears of relief, all the better. I once got the whole of my squad to collapse to their knees, such was their happiness with this being ‘over.’

But this is where you play your trump card. Stick the landing here and you’re home free. On the way out of the room, just when they’re at their most relieved, turn back and shout:

‘TREACHERY!’

Then go back to circle number one.