During our last training session before the Barreirense match, Miguel Borba comes walking onto the pitch. This is pretty unusual, he usually keeps his distance from the first team. He gives me a weak smile and a nod before turning back to the training pitch. “Fernando!” He shouts, “Come with me please.”
Fernando Batista looks puzzled as he takes off his bib and runs over. Borba gestures for him to follow him inside.
“Miguel,” I call after him. He doesn’t turn around or stop walking. I jog after him, not knowing whether or not he’s heard me. “Miguel,” I repeat once I’m practically alongside him. He still doesn’t acknowledge me. “Miguel, what’s going on?”
Finally the chairman gestures to Fernando to keep going and turns to me, looking sheepish. He waits for Fernando to walk inside and around a corner. “We’ve accepted an offer, Franjo. Belenenses have made an improved bid for Batista and we’re selling.” I laugh for a moment. I can’t tell whether he’s joking or just confused.
“No we haven’t”, I smile. “I haven’t accepted any bids for Fernando.” Borba is avoiding eye contact with me.
“No Franjo, I have accepted their bid.” He turns to continue walking. I stand there, frozen for a moment. Did I mishear this entire thing? Am I hallucinating again? Is this one of my weirdly relevant dreams?
No, this is definitely real. Miguel steps inside and around a corner. I sprint after him. “YOU’VE DONE FUCKING WHAT?” I roar from the doorway. My eyes are wide and I think I feel like I’m turning red. I turn the corner as Borba stops and turns back to me, guilt written all over his stupid face.
“This is my club, Franjo,” he says with a hint of sadness. “I’m selling him.”
I’m aware that I’m not blinking. I’m just staring straight at Borba. “How much?” I mutter.
“£23.5k, rising to £54k.” He makes eye contact with me for a moment, then stares back at the ground.
“£54k?!” I laugh, as a wide, maniacal smile stretches across my face, “That’s not even the most we’ve been offered!” He continues to look at the floor. My smile fades but I’m still staring. Still not blinking. “Pull the plug.” I tell him, as calmly as I can.
“I can’t.” He mumbles.
“You can. Pull the bloody plug, Miguel. Reject the offer. I’ve not said no 200 times just for you to go over my head like this.” He says nothing. “What happened to bringing the youth through?” He still says nothing.
“Miguel, if Fernando walks out the door today I’ll be right behind him.” The words just sort of fall out. They echo just for a moment, and then the two of us are stood in silence. I think I’m serious. I’m not 100% sure but I think I am. “We could have a good crack at promotion here but I won’t work for a Chairman who sells my most promising players behind my back”.
Borba looks up at me. I glare back at him. I think he sees on my face how serious I am. He sighs, walks into his office, and reemerges a few seconds later with Batista in tow. Batista looks at me. He seems extremely confused.
“Come on, mate,” I say calmly. “Back to training.”
Fernando walks past me and back outside. As the sound of his studs clacking on the concrete outside fades away, I look at Borba, who is actually looking right back at me now. He has a quizzical look on his face, like he’s trying to solve a riddle. Without another word, I turn and follow Fernando outside towards the training pitch.
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