I received a phone call this morning from Carlos Antunes. I’m not sure what it could be about and we’ve got no training today, but it sounded urgent so I’ve come into our training facility to meet him. I’m there a few minutes before him so I pour a couple of glasses of water and wait in my office.
“Carlos!” I smile when he enters the room. “What’s going on mate?” I cringe slightly at myself. I suddenly feel like the kind of teacher who sits backwards on his chair in order to “relate”. Carlos looks uncomfortable as he sits down.
“I would like to ask your permission to join Guimarães.” He blurts out.
I’m taken aback. I didn’t expect this. “Ok.” I say, after a short pause. An awkward silence engulfs the room for a few moments. My mind’s gone blank. “Big club!” I say eventually, to break the tension. He nods. “I get it,” I tell him. And I do. “All I would say is take your time.” I say seriously. “You’re our starting number 10, you’re at the top of the pecking order here. Why don’t you stay until the end of the promotion stage, keep playing and developing, and then we’ll have a look at Guimarães in the summer?”
“But I want to win trophies” he replies immediately. He’s almost pleading.
“Being a key player in a championship winning side would be a great thing for a young lad like you to have on your CV.”
“I want to win real trophies!” he blurts out again. I don’t really have a response to that.
“Look, I’ll let you go in the summer Carlos.”
“But I want to…”
“Carlos!” I cut across him sternly. “I am your Manager and you are an SC Angrense player. You’ll go in the Summer.” He looks angry. He looks like he’s about to cry. “I’ll see you at training tomorrow” I tell him, as kindly as I can. Carlos storms out of the room.
The next morning as I walk into training, I look for Antunes. I want to apologise. I think I could have handled our conversation better than I did. But he’s not at training. He’s the only one missing. Now this really annoys me. It’s one thing wanting to move for your career or trophies, but I won’t tolerate players being unprofessional. Whether he’s late or making some kind of stand, it’s not on. I head inside to look for him but Nuno stops me before I get to the door.
“Idiota Inglesa!” He looks genuinely quite annoyed.
“Not now, Nuno. I’ll talk to you later.” I mutter as I squeeze past him and through the door. I start to walk down the corridor.
“Why do you sell the kid, Inglês?” Nuno calls after me. I stop in my tracks and turn back to him.
“Excuse me? What kid?” I demand.
“The kid, Carlos! You sell our best players Inglês!”
I don’t wait for him to finish his sentence, I march to Borba’s office door and throw it open. Borba doesn’t look up. He’s doing some paperwork at his desk. “Where’s Antunes?” I ask, trying to stay calm.
“Guimarães.” He says lazily, still not looking up. “I told you Franjo, this is my…” His words fade away as I walk back down the corridor. I don’t look at the players as I walk past the training pitch. I don’t acknowledge Pedro as he tries to stop me at the main entrance of our training ground. I don’t look back as I walk through the car park, and out into the world.
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