I’ve stayed late in my office tonight, pouring over stats, thinking about performances. The thing is, and this is a bit cliché really, but you really do learn more from losses than you do from wins, so I’m in quite a … good? … predicament at the minute where I can’t really change anything because aside from our blip against Pinhalnovense, everything is … well, it’s fine. But it takes either a very brave or a very stupid Manager to just accept that fact and happily put out the same team in the same shape week after week. So now, I’m trying to work out where we can improve. Where are the weakest points? What can we do to turn this good team into a great one?
Just then, my office landline rings. The only people who have this number are Joakim and Pizza Hut. I hope it’s Pizza Hut. I tentatively pick up the receiver and hold it to my ear: “H-Hello?”
“Hello is this Mr Franjo?” Says the unfamiliar voice on the other end. It isn’t Joakim’s voice, nor is it any of the Pizza Hut staff, unless they’re a new hire.
“It is”, I reply, “Who’s speaking please?”
“It’s a pleasure Mr Franjo” he continues, in a scripted sort of way. I don’t think I’m the first person that he’s called. “My name is Jonathan Doumbia. I am the Manager of the Burkinabe national football team.”
“You’re the Burkina Faso Manager?” I ask, my heartbeat quickening.
“I am.” Doumbia replies. “We have a World Cup Qualifying match against Senegal next Friday and I’m making my calls around to the club Managers tonight, before I name the squad.”
“Go on.” I reply quietly, heart hammering in my chest.
“Well, I just thought I’d let you know that I’d like Lassina to join us for training with a view to playing for the National side”, He continues.
“Lassina… Lassina Touré?” I ask, trying to play it cool.
“Yes, I thought as we hadn’t met before I’d ask your opinion first, would it be OK for Lassina to join us, Franjo?” He asks.
“Yeah I don’t see why not”, I reply casually, the smile already stretching across my face.
“Excellent, thank you. I’ll speak to you again soon, I’m sure.” Says Doumbia, before he hangs up.
As soon as the line goes dead, I leap away from the phone, punching the air with delight.
I’m managing a fucking international player! A bonafide international player!
I reach back to my desk draw and pull out the bottle that Alexander gave me at the end of my Höllviken tenure. I call it my Failure Whiskey. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion and this seems as good a time as any to crack it open. I do so and pour myself a glass, sitting back in my chair and grinning from ear to ear.
Fuck the stats, I decide as I google the Burkina Faso side. I have a look through some of their current internationals: Bertrand Traoré, the forward on loan at FC Metz from Chelsea, Charles Kaboré, the ex-Marseille midfielder currently plying his trade with Krasnodar, Bakary Koné, the AS Nancy Lorraine defender who used to play for Lyon. I’ve heard of these players! And now Lassina bloody Touré is going to be training, and possibly playing with them!
My first international player, I smile to myself.
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