I fall to my knees, the tears streaming down my face as my trembling hand holds the phone to my ear. I can’t breathe. I feel as if a huge weight is pressing down on my chest, restricting me to short, sharp gasps of air.
“I take it that’s a no then?” Asks the mildly annoyed voice from the other end of the phone. I use my free hand to wipe the tears from my blurry eyes.
“Of course it is, you bloody spoon!” I manage, through my hysterical laughter.
“Oh well let’s run through the checklist shall we?” I straighten up. “Because you bailed on Auxerre! Because you bailed on me! Because you’re the Hull City manager for fucks sake! Why would I want you as my assistant again?” I pause, the laughter now well and truly gone from my voice. “Frankly, Peter, why would you want the job?”
“I do my best work for England.” Crouch replies glumly.
“Oh I know you do.” I pull myself back into my office chair, still holding the phone to my ear. “I haven’t forgotten. 20 goals in-”
“22.” He cuts across me. “22 goals in 42 caps.”
“Right. Not really the point though, is it? We’re talking about the assistant manager’s job and I need someone I can trust.” He starts to protest, but I cut him off. “Besides, I’ve already hired someone.”
“Have you?” He sounds quite hurt. “Who? Bechkoura?”
“No, Bechkoura’s sticking with France, the unappreciative tit… It’s Rui Faria.”
“Rui Faria?!” He groans. “Why does he even want the job? Aren’t his hands full with United?”
“Aren’t yours full with Hull?” I laugh. “You know… Being the manager and everything. And Faria’s great! He’s worked under Mourinho for years, worked at a load of top clubs…”
“Not scored any England goals though, has he.” Crouch replies bluntly.
“No, you’ve got me there.” I concede. “Sorry, Crouchy.”
“I just thought you could have used some international experience on your team, you know… After…”
“The Semi Finals is still a fucking achievement! Why will nobody agree with me?!” There’s a long, awkward pause.
“Is it though?”
“Yes. Good bye Peter. It’s been a pleasure as always.” I scathe, before hanging up and slamming the phone down on my desk. “It’s still an achievement.” I repeat quietly, to my empty office.