What you are about to read is a ongoing experiment on football fiction. I intend to write similar pieces on a weekly basis. Please use the comment box below to help me decide whether this is a waste of time or it is in fact worth doing each week.
The following takes place in my mind, whilst playing FIFA...
Mid June 2011
It’s the day football fans have been longing to see; their teams are back in training. Some fans are excited about the new season. Man City, for example, can’t wait to see how the new signings gel and are hoping to finally get out of United’s shadow.
For others, it could be a season of misery. The Ricoh Arena, home to Coventry City Football Club, could see a fair amount of away wins after the backbone of the squad has left, and with only one or two new faces coming in, it could be a torrid time.
I have reached Waste Hills, the training ground for Birmingham City. The Blues have been my club for as long as I can remember and are a club who have always had their ‘joys and sorrows too’. My business today is to thrash out terms with acting chairman Peter Pannu, over the vacant managerial position.
Sat in a waiting room outside a small office I watch Sky Sports News. The bookies favourite for the job pulled out last night to open a Teddy Bear museum in Banbury, so this left me, David Deakin, lifelong fan and the bookies outsider at 700/1.
I was called into what seemed like the smallest office in the world. Mr Pannu sat upright in an executive leather office chair with his hands together. Looking me up and down, he told me to sit down.
‘Nice office’ I said. I was nervous and thought small talk would help me relax. Pannu looked over his glasses and calmly said ‘I like it small, it makes my desk look bigger’. A joke? Perhaps. I think he could sense my nerves and so got straight to the point.
‘We will offer you £5,500 per week, with a £100,000 promotion bonus’.
I was thrilled! There was no interview! It seemed the job was mine. Out of nowhere, the squeakiest voice I had ever heard was screeching into my ear. ‘You better do this right and do it quick! I’m paying you good money and you better win the league!’ It was Carsen Yeung, the club’s owner, speaking via video link.
Yeung was in trouble with the law in Hong Kong and so wasn’t allowed to come to England. ‘I want this club in the Premier League! You take us there at the first attempt and I’ll reward you’. I had questions; surely it couldn’t be this simple to get a job at a Championship club with no previous experience in management?
Apparently the job was mine, and before I knew it, there I was, on the Thursday afternoon, giving my first press conference. My appointment had caused a media frenzy and uproar from the Blues faithful. They wanted experience to guide the club back to the Promised Land, not a 22-year-old season ticket holder.
I told them that I can cope with the pressure, and I aim to bounce back at the first attempt. There are limited funds available and I hope to keep the big names there, but the job could send me to an early grave.
It’s Friday, and next week the Fixtures will be out, the friendlies announced and then (hopefully) I’ll be able to get the match preparations sorted. The Europa league will be a huge distraction, but I’d like to at least make the group stage for the fans. It’s not every day Birmingham get European opposition, and it would benefit the club financially.
The new kit has been unveiled. Nikola Zigic and I are to model the home and away tops. The photos are bound to come out looking a little silly. The 6ft 8” Serb dwarfs me, standing at 5ft9”. We are sure to have a comical photograph, where I and youngster, Nathan Redmond, both fit in to one of the striker’s shirts.
The end of my first week in charge sees James McFadden and Stuart Panarby return on trial. I’ll put them through the drills, and see if they’re fit enough for new deals.
I have fully settled in to my new office, and I took a moment to crack open a bottle of wine to celebrate. ‘Is that wine?’ Pannu frightened the life out of me; he must have come in through the air conditioning, as the door was locked.
‘You like a drink then Mr Deakin?’ Pannu said.
‘Well, yeah...I enjoy a glass or two in celebration.’
‘Let us celebrate properly! Bring your wine to the players tunnel... oh, and the keys to the boot room’.
To be continued...