Apologies all – The last week’s been a bit hectic so I won’t be back until next Monday (19th). See you then!
“OK, you’re hired” I say happily, standing from my desk and holding out a hand.
“Brilliant, cheers gaffer”, he says with a big toothy grin, also getting to his feet on the other side of the desk and very quickly dwarfing me with his stature. He takes my hand and shakes it.
I take him out onto the training pitch at the Centre de la Formation, where the lads that I’ve asked to show up for first team training are warming up. The others I’m planning on selling or sending out on loan. “Lads, this is my new Assistant Manager”, I call, gesturing for them to gather round. “A lot of you will probably know him, but for those who don’t, this is Peter Crouch.”
Crouchie grins awkwardly down at the squad, most of whom seem to recognise him. He’s a very recognisable guy after all. “Crouchie and I are here to make sure that what happened to this team last year doesn’t happen again. Every one of you should know that the very fact that we’re here means that you all underachieved last season and now I want to see major improvements.” I start pacing up and down the row of players like some kind of Platoon Leader as they listen on. “I’m a fair bloke. If you impress me in training you’ll get your chance. If you take your chance and play well in matches you’ll continue to play. Is that clear?” A murmuring of acknowledgement makes its way through the squad. “Right then. Let’s get started.”
To kick off our pre-season I send the squad on a cross country run. As an Everton fan growing up in the 90’s but only really starting to understand football in the 2000’s I always admired the way David Moyes approached pre-season training. He always worked on the 5 ‘R’s: Run, Run, Run, Run and Run some fucking more. The steeper the gradient the better. Yes it made players complain and yes it sometimes made them violently ill, but the benefits were huge. It built unity, character and determination and sorted the wheat from the chaff. At the end of the day those players would run through brick walls for Moyes, and there wasn’t a fitter squad in England than his Everton side. I like to organise my pre-season schedules in a similar way, starting off with some heavy fitness building to obliterate the Summer cobwebs, followed by some team building. How much we do of that depends on how many players I bring in.
The way I see it, I’m getting to a position in football where I can start to define myself as a Manager, so here’s my philosophy: If you have a fit, hard working squad that are willing to battle for results and run their knackers off, you’re already a step above pretty much every other team you’ll face. If you can add some quality on top of that, you’re laughing. It’s a simple theory but it’s been proved to work by countless Managers before me, so it honestly baffles me that so many teams don’t adhere to it. To the best of my ability I’ve already implemented my footballing philosophy in my career so far. Sometimes I’ve been hindered by financial problems or work permit regulations, but I’ve tried to make it work.
Hicham Aidir is the first to finish his run. I expected no less as he’s fast becoming the personification of my ideals; Fit, determined, hard working and absolute quality to boot. In the South African Premier Soccer League anyway. His prize for finishing first is that he doesn’t have to do 3 laps of the pitch with the rest of the lads on his return. As the remaining AJ Auxerre players arrive back one by one, wheezing and dragging themselves around the pitch though, I smile. Because this time my philosophy could really work wonders. If I can achieve success at at a big club like this with my sensible approach, the sky’s the fucking limit for us.