Liverpool: A Modern Chronicle

Posted by BreakfastPercy on August 24, 2012, 05:04:03 PM

MAY:

An elderly gentleman surveyed his training pitches from an office still cramped with unpacked boxes. Grey curls framed a face that bore the lines of a statesman's struggles: the elastic of his bird-like features beginning to perish; jowly expressions hastily troweled on. Today that weathered face glowed like a Lava Lamp of self-satisfaction. This was his graduation.

With a sip of 'good old-fashioned' English tea, he allowed himself an approving smack of the lips and a moment of quiet reflection. This man had made it a personal mission to educate people to the simple pleasure of tea-time everywhere he'd gone, even places as far afield as Denmark and Norway. He may never have been able to fix everything wrong in the backwaters of the Empire, but at least he'd always given them tea, and that record would speak for itself.

He tilted the near-empty mug for closer inspection. It was a leaving gift from old colleagues, a quirky thing he had only just taken out of it's own box truth be told . One of those kitsch 'make your own' mugs: 'you don't have to be mad to work here, but it certainly helped Christian Purslow' printed boldly in red around the edge. He wasn't sure what that meant, but then it was still a gift; and he'd always said 'never look a gift Poulsen in the stats'.

Finishing his tea, he let out a sigh and reclined back in his chair. The sense of relief from having gotten out when he did was nearly enough to lull him into a coma, and Liverpool was a city now firmly on the list of places he'd happily never visit again. There were twenty-odd white shirts down on the pitch in front of him, he suspected it would take a lot more than twenty white coats to sort out the mess he'd escaped from barely 18 months ago.

The clock chimed for lunch, 'no rest for the wicked'. Rocking forward, he set his mug back on it's coaster, and paused. At the bottom of the mug was a poorly printed caricature of himself, smiling away like he'd just been invited to dinner with the Fergusons. Was it meant to be flattering? No doubt somebody had gone to a lot of effort to capture his likeness, but as he knew all too well, effort and ability wasn't always an even marriage. Perhaps he should get it re-made, he could no doubt make a much better mug of himself. A shrug of the shoulders filed the topic away for another day. It would do the job for now, and he preferred a mug to a cup.

He was wincing his way out of his chair when a knock at the door announced the entrance of what he presumed to be a handyman, overalls covered in enough paint to suggest he couldn't find a brush.

“Hello Sir, sorry to bother you. I need the okay on your nameplate, 'cause once it's up it's up. Oh and sorry about the confusion over the phone: Hodgson is easy enough, but with your... condition- and not being a football fan you see-” The workman was cut-off as he hesitated.

“That's fine, I’d like it above the door and nicely shined. Of course if a job's worth doing, then it's worth doing right.”

Thoughts from tins of white paint to stock footage of BNP marches flashed a confused picture over the handyman's face before he remembered that awkward phone call. Right. 'Worth doing right'. No more was said, but with a nod of acknowledgement the two men sidled uneasily past stacks of boxes and out of the office. A new era shuffled along behind them.

JUNE:

It was morning, and the smell of coffee beckoned across the room like a cartoon pie on the window sill. The breakfast trolley began its rattling procession around the room and- with distracted but sincere thanks for the coffee that was carefully set in front of him- the man at the head of the table eyed the fellow to his left.

“Hey Tom, have you tried one of these?” The man's appreciation battled against last night's sleep, and he raised what seemed to be a tablet computer in his hands. This was boardroom QVC.

“This Kindle thing is epic!”

Still blowing away his own cobwebs, Tom looked up from an angry Smartphone to find he was missing a few pieces of this jigsaw.

“Sorry John, epic...what?”

“Kindle! Epic Kindle!” John cracked a smile.

“Oh yeah I was there when you bought it right! We went shopping in London.”

“Yeah great day. Great day! It's a superb little hobby.”

John eased back into his chair. He was relaxed, but his mood was tempered by the excitement of change. His mind wandered. Whilst John had decided that having his coffee fetched wasn't exactly an ego massage after this many years, it still had some kind of importance. Perhaps it was more of an almost-sexy glance in the ego's direction. On days like this such perks may well be earned, or risked.

A new vantage point and a realization that the breakfast trolley was already being marched out of the room jolted John into more substantial matters. He leaned forward, forearms resting on the table, his eyebrows raised.

“Ok gentlemen, it's time we got to work.”

The room subdued, with certain members preparing in case they were called on, others looking quiet but receptive. Some of these men weren't needed today, but as part of the decision-making process John felt it was important to have them here. Today was significant.

John acknowledged the room, before setting his spectacles back and eying each of the men in turn.

“So this is it then, Brendan's our man. I have to say he's not quite what I expected, but he ticks all the boxes. He's got the character, the calibre, and he's ready to go.”

“But more importantly John, can we call him 'Brendan Rodgers' in the press release and watch the fireworks?” To John's right Ian Ayre chimed in to ripples of laughter. If Eddie Yates had been weaned on Bailey's instead of Gin, Ian would be the living, breathing bi-product poured into a suit and left to set.

“I think that's a little close to home Ian.” John said prudently. “Plus you don't want to burn yourself out, you've got all those 'in the know' Twitter accounts and sightings at Liverpool One to be getting on with!”

John concealed a smirk, he sympathised with sports fans in the digital age but the hysteria was still funnier than it was tragic. As the other men fell about joking and speculating that this meeting might well be over very soon, John reached into his briefcase and pulled out a huge stack of papers. He dropped the papers on the table in front of Tom with a thud and Tom's laughter slid away in slow-motion like he was witnessing a toddler edge towards a busy road. To the other gentlemen at the table, Tom himself was that toddler.

“What the-” Tom said recoiling from the document. “That must be nearly 200 pages!”

“Well since we're all in agreement, that Thomas is our new manifesto. 'Brendan Rodgers' has spoken! Since you wanted the glory of the press conference, you can do the homework!”

Tom slumped in his chair as visibly as a man could at a boardroom level meeting. “All things considered, it's onwards and upwards. Next up, I believe we have a stadium meeting to attend!” This latest announcement was greeted with the biggest laugh yet, and the men took the signal to leave their seats.

“Well then,” Tom said, rediscovering his mettle as he rose from his seat as well. “Since you're so good at sourcing commercial partners Ian, I suggest you break the news to our dear friend Mr Henry that the first round is on him!” With this latest announcement cackles of laughter erupted and the men in suits bowled out of the room to raucous suggestions that it would be a messy 'stadium meeting'.

JULY:

Pristine playing fields were scattered with cones, a myriad of routes and courses. Grey clouds threatened without conviction, but a certain pre-storm static fizzled air heavy with the smell of cut grass. Yelps for possession mingled with the clashing of shin-pads and the thud of boots on turf. Two men (neither men were 'old' but one was clearly of slightly more advanced years than the other) perched on a ramshackle wooden bench, studious.

“Are you sure this’ll work Stevie?” Asked Brendan Rodgers. He was watching the training match in front of him through tactically placed eye holes in today's newspaper.

“Erm Honestly boss. If Jamie thinks you're making direct eye contact, he'll totally lose it! He'd do you with the style and speed of a professional boxer if he thinks you're challenging his authority.”

“Fair enough, but we'll need a better solution than this: my arms are aching. Still, some of these players are surprisingly... decent.” Rodgers finished his sentence tentatively. Saying things like that could get a man committed quicker than an Owen Hargreaves medical.

Fortunately, no men in white coats had turned up, and the team was taking on board his ideas. It was slowly sinking in that 'we haven't come to play'. No, that's not it. 'We've come not to play'. It sounded right, but they had come to play in a certain sense, they just weren't to play around. How had Mr Henry explained it? 'ADIDAS is playful, warriors are not'. It had made sense at the time. Anyway, however it was written down, some of the boys definitely knew how to not play.

“How's the mood in camp Steven?” The Northern Irishman carried on his inquisition.

“Erm y'know, it's not bad boss. Jay Spearing was a bit down 'cause Pepe fraped him and set his status to 'in a relationship' with the Anfield Cat. Some of the foreign lads took it seriously and haven't spoken to him since. Think it upset some of the younger lads as well, including Jay obviously.”

“Is Jay 'young' though? His bio says he's 23!”

“Erm yeah boss but he's tiny, he only left the under 11s last year when somebody updated Wikipedia to say he'd had a kid.”
Steven's relief was visible when his answer was met with a satisfied nod from the boss, confirmation further questioning would lay elsewhere. He'd had to tread very carefully since certain journalists had started to snoop around. The press would have a field day if they found out that England's Captain had sired a child using pig embryos implanted into the womb of his wife's 14 year old sister. Worse still, if Avram Grant knew the real reason Steven hadn't touched a slice of bacon in 23 years, then that'd be his cosy retirement at Maccabi Haifa up in smoke. Goodbye 'Steo & Speo's Father & Son Gaza Giftshop'. Rodgers eyed him curiously as if sensing Steven's tension, but moved the conversation on to other players.

“Charlie Adam looks good,” mused Liverpool's new manager. Ever since he'd joined the club, the man from Carnlough had been curious about Adam's so-called 'Hollywood balls'. How could a man that forewent the half-time oranges for intravenously administered scotch eggs possess such a delicate left foot?

“Nah boss! He's just a Match of the Day player!” Advised Steven.

'Match Of The Day player' was one of these new terms that propelled itself from the anus of the internet at the malleable brains of lazy fans. As far as Rodgers could understand, a 'Match of the Day player' was someone whose few, audacious contributions in a match served as propaganda for fans only able to catch highlights of the game. Such highlights, it was said, covered up footballing behaviour that could level a man as the veritable Robert Mugabe of soccer philosophy. He would need someone to take advantage of this whole social media thing. Perhaps he could tempt Ledley King from the world of espionage and subterfuge that was keeping Gareth Bale free for pre-season friendlies

These kinds of opinions often developed a momentum of their own. Having heard Sir Ferguson claiming he would pay £10million 'for his (Adam's) corners alone', Rodgers himself had found it rather exciting that Blackpool had then accepted less for the whole player. Sure, he'd be the first to admit that intermittent pauses in play- as Adam shuttled back and forth along the East Lancs Road to fulfill corner duties at Old Trafford and break ankles at Anfield- would have been impractical, but the whole saga was still confusing.

Loud cheers and hollering snapped the manager back to reality. Steven looked embarrassed, and it didn't take long to figure out why. On the horizon a tall dark figure was leaping what was now the final fence at the edge of Melwood. Brendan Rodgers exhaled with frustration. Andy was making another break for it. Last time he'd used Joe Cole as a human trampoline to jump the wall, and it'd taken them hours to find the right Wetherspoon's. Rodgers turned to his captain, his face beetroot-red with rage.

“Ok then Stevie, you win: if we can't sell him we're at least getting him chipped!”

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