Auxerre Chairman Dennis Sundberg’s a smart man, you’ve got to give him that. He knows I’m eyeing up a move and I know he wants to convince me to stay. Only an hour or so after the final match of the season he’s dipped his hands into his deep Scandinavian pockets and put £5M of his own money into Auxerre.
This certainly doesn’t convince me to stay, but it does allow me to make Auxerre’s first signing of the Summer. It’ll be the only one I make before I know where my future lies as I don’t want to spend the next manager’s kitty, but whoever has the reigns at the start of the 2023/24 season, I’m sure they’ll thank me for finally making Mamadou Doucouré’s stay a permanent one. I offer the centre back a generous contract and he bites my hand off. Welcome aboard for the 3rd and final time, Mamadou. Let’s try and keep those ankles unbroken, shall we?
Opportunist that I am, while I’m in talks with Mamadou and his agent I give his current club, Borussia Mönchengladbach, a call regarding their current managerial vacancy. Why not?
Our commercial roundup for the year makes for nice reading: Firstly because of the massive amount of money we’ve made through sponsorship and broadcasting compared to last year and secondly because of the stats on who’s sold the most shirts. Probably unsurprisingly, global superstar Arturo Vidal tops the list, with last season’s top scorer Hicham Aidir close behind, although presumably most of those were bought early on. McCarthy’s a perplexing 3rd, while Foden and Zoun round out the top 5.
So let me try and explain my thinking a bit here in terms of next season: What I’d really like at this point, having spent a year in a top European league, is to maybe drop down in terms of the division I’m managing in, but take over one of the really big hitters in that league. I realise that’s not very clear, but luckily a perfect example presents itself just 2 days later: The Boca Juniors job. Boca Juniors are a huge club and if we’re being perfectly honest, they’re probably too big a club for me just at the minute. Is the Argentine Primera Division as big a league as Ligue 1? Probably not, but in terms of the club I’d be managing it’d still be a big step up. I’d love to challenge for silverware this season at a club like Boca so I send in my CV just in case. I do however turn down Stade Brestois’ offer of an interview, because… Just obviously.
Back at Auxerre, defenders Isaac Sohna and Billy are rewarded for their good form with lucrative new contracts, while Sylvain Laurent turns professional.
But just to ruin the good feeling around the place, Zoun comes knock-knock-knocking on my office door telling me he wants to move to Toulouse to play Champions League football. Now if I’m being honest, I’ve never been fully convinced by Zoun. He had a great second half of our title winning season in Ligue 2 and he’s popped up here and there this season, but honestly I’m of the opinion that he’s yet to step up to where we currently are, never mind stepping up further to the bloody Champions League. I sit down with him and let him know that Auxerre are in a good position and that the club can grow into a challenger for European football. Zoun says he’ll give us a year to get into the Europa League and stomps out while me and Bechkoura exchange smirks. You may as well go now, mate.
As May draws to a close I apply for a few more jobs that fit my preference: Standard Liège are an interesting proposition in the Belgian Pro League A…
… As are Spartak Moscow in the Russian Football National League…
… And Besiktas in the Turkish Super League.
All 3 would be more than capable of quenching my thirst for silverware. I also head over to Mönchengladbach for an interview. The Bundesliga outfit is obviously the outlier out of these possibilities as silverware would be extremely difficult to come by, but I can’t pass up an opportunity to interview for such a great club in such a great league.
Interviews with the other 3 swiftly follow and talk starts to circulate as I’m heavily linked with Besiktas in particular.
Unfortunately in the days leading up to the European International League Semi Final and with my contract only weeks away from expiry, the rejections start to filter through.
Are there other jobs available? Yes.
Do I think that any of them represent good career moves? Nah.
I know what I need to do. I scroll through my phonebook and make the call.
“Sylvania? Meet me at Stade l’Abbé-Deschamps in half an hour. I’m going to need an agent.”