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Russell and The Toffees


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Chapter 1 – Vacancy

‘Liverpool’s mobster scene was never rated highly amongst the film directors in Hollywood like Chicago’s was with infamous figures such as Al Capone. But, the 1980s had been filled with street gangs in the northern city of Liverpool thanks to a sudden increase in organised crime. It is believed that Al Capone wanted to set up an office for smuggling drugs into the UK at Liverpool too.

Liverpool Crime – A Brief History'

Dark clouds loomed over the centre of Liverpool as the ice cold wind blew fiercely through the trees at Stanley Park. The summer sun hid behind the clouds, refusing to come out and heat the green parks and terrace housing surrounding Goodison Park. There weren’t many people wandering the streets, but one man was heading towards Goodison Park for quite possibly, the most important interview of his life.

An aspiring football manager was forcing his way through the gusty winds, hoping to land the job of his dreams. Europe. The Premier League. It was a lot to come to terms with, should he get the job. He originally grew up and played for Tranmere, just across the water from his interview at Goodison Park. He had played and managed at Tranmere and was excelling at his job at the league one club. The Everton chairman was quick to spot the 32 year-olds talent and quickly offered him an interview when the job opened up. His name, Russell Booth, was not a very recognisable one in football.

Russell pushed himself through the small entrance building outside Goodison Park and walked up to the reception desk in front of him. He introduced himself to the attractive receptionist, who escorted him to the waiting room, where a single row of chairs waited emptily.

The chairman was a short, well built man with shoulders big enough to carry a dozen bags of potatoes at once. “Welcome to Everton Football Club,” said Mr Gibson, who’s slightly high pitched Scottish tone of voice brought a smile to Russell’s face. The chairman grinned back, and his large extruding features, overlapping and bulky, reminded Russell of Al Capone, only his suit was impressively worse. “Have you seen the weather, Russell?”

“Yes. I had to get here somehow,” Russell responded sarcastically.

Mr Gibson rolled his eyes, unimpressed by Russell’s sarcasm. “Can we cut to the chase, boy.” He began, unbuttoning the top button of his shirt to allow breathing space. “I called you here because we haven’t got a manager and you have been impressing down at Tranmere. To be fair, we could do better – but we’re a tad financially insecure, which means you fit the bill. You’re ambitious, passionate and love football – what more do we need?”

It was a rhetorical question, and Russell knew not to answer it in case it blew his chances.

“Tranmere are likely to hate you,” continued the chairman, “but I assure you, it’s much nicer in the premier league. The glitz and glam – you’ll love it, not to mention the money.”

“So,” began Russell, hoping to get his words right, “are you offering me the job?”

Russell’s attempt to not be up front failed to work and Mr Gibson replied sharply, “Yes! In time. Can you not just wait. I need to know a few things first.”

Russell nodded his agreement and relaxed in his chair.

“First up. We’re cash short as you know, so you’re going to have to do some bargain hunting – can you do that?”

“Of course,” said Russell, “I have learnt to do so at Tranmere.”

“Good. Now secondly, whatever goes on here,” he said, leaning forward in his chair, looking deeply in to Russell’s eyes, “stays here. You got that?”

It sounded more like a threat than anything, and Russell began to stutter. “Y-Y-Yeah, I t-think I-“

Mr Gibson interrupted Russell with an enormous laugh, shaking the surrounding walls. “I’m kidding, Russell. Just keep what needs to be kept in the board room private. There’s nothing to hide here.”

And with that, the brief interview was over and after more small talk, Russell was asked to sign on the dotted line and told to prepare himself for the press conference in the morning.

It was fast. A short interview followed by Russell’s signature. Never did he expect to be manager just like that, but he was. Everton were feeling pretty desperate, it seemed.

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I suppose it's about time I started to post this. I have been writing it for some time now and have come to the conclusion that I should start posting it. Hope you enjoy and keep reading when it starts to get good. Mucho love.

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Chapter 2 – Russell Booth

'Liverpool have been ranked last in the latest national poll on housing in a record braking five categories: ‘Worst housing conditions’, ‘poorest sewerage’, ‘Most overcrowded city’, ‘dirtiest water’, ‘dirtiest slums’. One Mr Gufflebert suggested that “Liverpool be destroyed and built from the ground up or destroyed completely.” These proposal were put forward to parliament, with 392 voting for Liverpool to be rebuilt, whilst the remaining 266 voted for it to be destroyed all together.

British Housing Poll – 1834'

The journey home wasn’t far for Russell – just a ten minute car journey. There wasn’t much to see at his current one bedroom house. With just himself to look after, Russell had few belongings and there was no sign of a woman’s touch inside the house. He had been single for some years now, having split from his long term relation in June 2001.

“Hello Moggy!” He called as he entered the front door.

The cat jumped from its pillow on the window and pushed himself against Russell’s legs, letting out a cry for attention.

“I have just got,” began Russell, bending over to stroke the cat a welcoming hello, “the best job anyone could ask for. And with twenty big ones coming in every month, we can sell this place and move somewhere nice!”

It didn’t take long for Russell to turn on his laptop so he could start his ruthless search for a new house. Russell’s house, somewhat shabby wasn’t going to be good enough for a high earning manager, that was for sure. He couldn’t ever bring himself to bring a woman back to his place.

Any normal person would understand exactly why a woman wouldn’t want to go back to his place, given they had seen it before hand. Paintings hung awkwardly from bent nails embedded in the wall whilst his sofa, a moving out present from his mum twenty years earlier, had seen better days.

The house was able to push through warm water, but not hot – the sewage system was lacking in strength and a foul smell wafted throughout the house during the summer. When it was sold to Russell, it was said to have character thanks to it being built in the early 19th century, but not the sort of character anyone would want to buy.

Within minutes, Russell had spotted a multitude of houses that were big enough for a family of twelve, and for a price he could afford given he kept his two year contract. One visit to the bank and he knew he would be able to get a decent mortgage for his dream home.

“You know what, moggy,” he began, talking to the cat that was clearly not interested, “We’re going to get a big house. I’m going to get a lady and you’re going to get Whiskas three times a day!”

The cat’s ears perked up at the idea that he might get fed a little more often, but rested his head as soon as he realised he wasn’t getting any food any time soon.

Russell paused for a moment to relax and gather his thoughts. He put his hands through his short, dark hair. Since he drove home, all he could do was get excited at the idea that he was about to manage a side playing in Europe, a side that had won the top division on no less than 9 occassions. It was a club with history, and a club he hoped he could make history with.

He couldn’t relax himself, it was the biggest thing to ever happen to a Booth family member and it was already beginning to spread to the news channels.

‘We are getting reports that Everton have signed a new manager for the forthcoming season – more details on the way as we get them’ – sky sports.

After a long and tedious night of pre-recorded episodes of 24, Russell had managed to escape thoughts of football. He hoped watching 24 would help him sleep and take his mind of football.

Whilst it took his mind off football, it didn’t help him sleep. All he could think about was Jack Bauer and Russell’s own imaginary missions, playing it out scene by scene in his head whilst he lay there trying to sleep. Finally, Russell reached the end of his imaginary mission, killing off the last of the sheep that escaped ‘Bauer Farmyard’, letting him fall in to a long sleep.

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Chapter 3 – Early Morning

‘The AMC Gremlin has been ranked amongst some of the most hideous and worst cars ever made. It was launched, quite appropriately, on the 1st of April, 1970 and is to this day, widely believed to be one of the best April Fools jokes made by a car manufacturer. However, creators of the car deny it being an April fool’s joke.’

Worst Car’s Ever Made – The Definitive List

Russell ‘Bauer’ Booth was somewhat rudely awoken by his alarm clock at 6 o’clock. Reaching his arm out, he hit the snooze button, knowing that the press conference was three hours later. Russell had always wondered, though, why a snooze button was ever invented no one knows– for it only meant he would go back to sleep constantly until it was too late.

After intermittent bleeping from Russell’s alarm clock, he finally managed to pull himself out of his bed – it has 8:25am.

“Ah ****,” he muttered to himself, remembering that he had half an hour to get to Goodison Park – but first needed to shower, eat and dress up fancy. Although he knew it could be done, he was more concerned about the short drive to the Everton ground. His car, a small AMC Gremlin, was nothing more than an April Fool’s joke since all it did was conk out when he needed to be somewhere.

The cars blue exterior, embellished with a body long white stripe ensured it would catch people’s attention. Russell took care of his car and ensured it was always clean but his lack of knowledge in motor mechanics meant he couldn’t ever truly fix the car. The oddly shaped car was different to anything on the roads today and was exactly why Russell chose to own one. He had hoped that one day he would have enough money to restore the car to full working order.

Having quickly jumped in and out of the shower, Russell quickly ate breakfast – two slices of toast covered in golden syrup. His all time favourite meal. Russell snatched his keys from the drab looking sofa and made for the door.

His car was waiting for him in a pristine looking manner, having only cleaned it a few days prior. Russell jumped in to the car and forced his window to open by pushing the window pane down from the inside.

By now, it was nearing 8:45 and Russell had only just managed to start the engine. The only problem facing Russell now was the traffic, which started immediately off his drive all the way to Goodison Park.

What should have been a ten minute drive turned out to be a thirty-five minute drive. Arriving late to the opening press conference at 9:20 meant Russell would be in **** before anything had even happened.

Upon climbing out of his Gremlin, surrounding press barged and snapped, trying to ask questions and take pictures of the new manager before he got to the press room.

Many of the questions echoed through the surrounding journalists, “Will you be planning on turning up 20 minutes late to every match?”

Sarcasm at its best. Russell knew that they would use it against him in the headlines later on, regardless of what was going to be said in the press conference. But there were more things that would grip the headlines than just a late manager, as Russell would find out as he entered the building.

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Chapter 4 – Press Conference

'Lawn Mower Of Death: Yesterday at 2:34pm, three individuals aged 18, 29 and 31 were found dead after their lawnmower miraculously took control of itself and went on a grass cutting, human de-limbing rampage. The machine’s location is currently unknown and people are being warned to stay away if they see it as it is ‘armed and dangerous’”

Newspaper Headlines, 2002'

It took some pushing and shoving, but Russell eventually managed to get inside the press room unscathed. Behind the white boards, Russell met Mr Gibson’s evil stare.

“Late,” he started, anger rising in his voice. “Twenty minutes late. We have people to introduce you to, people I would like you to meet before you get out there. It’s important, you know.”

Mr Gibson pointed to his right towards a tall, dark haired woman. She was in her late twenties, early thirties, a little younger than Russell and classically attractive, dressed down in a tracksuit but still beautiful. Her name was Claire, Claire Redburn. And she was Russell’s new right hand woman.

“I would like you to meet Claire,” began the chairman. “She is going to be your new assistant.”

It came as a shock to Russell, who had never known a woman to be a part of football, bar that Tina lady. But for a woman to be his assistant was something he didn’t quite know how to handle and his response was quite unwelcoming, even though he didn’t mean it to be.

“A Woman – I’m sorry,” Russell said quickly, “I just wasn’t expecting to have a new assistant both so quickly and in the form of a lovely lady.”

“Well,” came Claire’s voice as she turned to face Russell, “you will just have to get use to it now, arsehole.”

Her stubborn remark and Russell’s opening words didn’t make for the best of starts and now they had to put up with each other for the rest of the year.

“I’m sorry, but I just didn’t –“

Russell was interrupted by Mr Gibson’s outstretched arm, “Get out there and answer some bloody questions – and stop bickering. Both of you. I want this to run smoothly.”

The two walked out from behind the white boards and sat comfortably in the chairs as the photographers snapped the two together.

“Hello, Russell,” called a journalist inquisitively, “who is this lady at your side?”

Before he could answer, Claire looked sharply at him and responded in his place. “I am Claire. The new Everton assistant. I know I am a woman, you do not need to point this out to me over the year. Please, put aside your sexual prejudice. I still know what I am doing”

“Do you and Russell get on?” came the immediate reply, “And are you two happy to work together?”

“No.”

“Yes.”

Claire and Russell’s immediate and untimely responses showed the tension that was building between them already.

“Look,” began Russell, “we have only just met. We are both new here and haven’t had time to get acquainted-“

“Acquainted!” Called the journalist in surprise, “You plan to become more than just acquaintances, Russell?”

“No, no. As I have just mentioned,” Russell said calmly, “we have just met. I’m sure we will develop a healthy business partnership.”

The journalists attempt to cause a storm over their relationship had failed and Russell was eager to answers questions about the job, not his relationship with a newly met assistant.

“A question to the both of you. Is this the dream job you have been looking for?”

“Believe me,” began Russell, “this is a dream come true. Working down the road has been a good experience, but the lure and temptation of the Premier League was too much. Definitely a dream come true.”

Claire smirked and rolled her eyes at Russell – “To me, being an assistant manager at any premier league club is a dream. But having grown up here in Liverpool, Everton is the best thing that could happen to me. Bar Russell.”

Her snide comment didn’t go unnoticed, and the press were likely to put it down to sexual tension the next day. Russell could see the headlines: Back Room Sexual Tension.

“Do you still think sexism still exists within football, Claire, since you earlier stated to not be prejudicial towards woman in the game?”

“I do. Tina has shown that woman can be strong figures in football. Now, I hope with my addition, woman will become more accepted in men’s football and will become more involved as time goes on.”

“Thank you, Claire. To you Russell, do you think it will be difficult for your assistant as one of the few women in the man’s game and do you think she will have the same effect as a man would in her position?”

Russell’s answer was short, but to the point. “I believe it may be difficult to start, but I’m sure she will have the same effect as anyone else would.”

“Also, what will your tactical approach be towards the game?”

“Preferably,” began Russell before Claire took over to prove that just because she was a woman, it didn’t make a difference to her knowledge of the game and the impact she could have.

“We will be playing a game of short balls, building play up rather than any of that kick and hope. We like to be attacking, and if we’re one nil up, we will go for two. If we’re two, three or four up, we will keep going for another. You can never sit back and think you’re comfortable – no matter the score.”

It was a strong answer and the press, as well as Russell, were impressed at her knowledge of the game.

The journalists had just enough time for one more question due to Russell’s late arrival. “What will your aims be in the transfer market?”

“To put it simply,” answered Russell, “we will be looking to buy and grab some cheap bargains. We’re not Man city and we’re not Real Madrid – We’re Everton. And to put your speculation heads at ease, I haven’t made contact with anyone yet but I will be looking to delve in to the market should I need to. These things take time and discussion, something that will happen promptly later on.”

There was small talk amongst the journalists as the management team and Mr Gibson thanked them for their time. The journalists followed Russell, Claire and Mr Gibson out to the Everton pitch where more photos would be taken. They were however, more interested in the runaway lawn mower which was aptly being chased by the grounds-man around the pitch behind them.

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Thanks for the kind words :)

Chapter 5 – Claire

'Best Football Drills: Rank 34 – The Escapist. In this drill, one individual must run from one side of the pitch to the other without being hit by an incoming football kicked by another player.

Best Football Drills, 2004'

Claire stood in her office. It was smaller than Russell’s, but just as well decorated. She was delighted to have been given the chance at being a part of football but still aggrieved that she was put with Russell – even though she hadn’t had a chance to speak to him properly so she could get to know him. A knock came at the door.

“Come in,” she called.

“Hey, Claire. It’s me, Russell.”

“You,” came the reply, disappointed that it wasn’t someone more interesting. “What do you want?”

“Well, I just realised that Dynamo Kiev have flown in from the Ukraine to give as our first pre-season match. And I haven’t even met the squad – I didn’t even know we had a match – I just thought we were going on tour to Holland.”

She laughed in a patronising manner, realising that she had already got the upper hand over Russell. “And what do you want me to do about it? You’re the manager.”

“I know. And I know you don’t like me for what I said to begin with – but I didn’t mean it like it came out. I just want you to give me a hand with setting the squad up later on.”

She smiled, “It’s ok. I guess I will get over it. What will I get out of helping you, though?”

“You get to think you have the upper hand and bully me about knowing more than me, will that do?”

She smiled again, “Ok, whatever. Lucky for you, I have been doing some research all night.”

“Thank you. What can you tell me?”

“Everything, I suppose. But I’m not going to. Here are the basics that I found out,” she pointed to a list on her desk and began to go through it with Russell. “The squad is in pretty good condition, but we could do with perhaps another striker. Saha is aging a bit now at thirty, and is the best we have got. Perhaps I could get the scout to find some talent. Midfield, Arteta is our best whilst Jagielka is our best defender. The team, on the whole in comparison to the rest of the league have a poor first touch and dribbling, but have good fitness and high levels of concentration.”

“This is brilliant – quite helpful, Claire,” responded Russell in a surprised tone.

“Thank you,” replied Claire before carrying on. “Dynamo Kiev look good, I assure you they will be a difficult team to play. I will email you a suggested team sheet later on, for now, you should go and meet the players yourself.”

The conversation ended fairly abruptly and Russell made his way to the training pitches where he met with the Everton first team coaches. Training had already been underway for an hour and a half and was set to finish in another half an hour. It was a short session full of pre-season fitness training.

“Anything to report?” Asked Russell.

“Well – the players are fit but when we started the escapist drill, Vaughan ended up being taken to the physio room. It’s not looking too bad, but he won’t be playing tomorrow against Dynamo.”

“How come everyone else but me knows about Dynamo tomorrow?”

“Because we do. Now that Vaughan is out – you are a little stuck on choice up front.”

Russell thought to himself for a moment having looked at the team list in Claire’s office. His only real choice was playing one up, with Cahill in a supporting role just behind.

The training session continued and Russell introduced himself to the squad and announced that Vaughan was set to be out for up to three weeks. The squad was small, and any injury crisis was bound to hit the team’s chances hard. Russell drew up a preliminary squad on his hand having seen them play for a bit.

“I’m going to go run some things over with Claire,” Russell said, speaking to the first team coach. “Could you tell the scout to get his team report over to me before the night is over – I need to sort the formation out ready. I don’t want this to be a simple fitness test tomorrow.”

And with that, the training session ended and Russell headed back to Claire’s office.

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Might not get a chance to post the next update in the coming week, really busy but I assure you it will go on (I've written up to about chapter 50 so that's a promise).

Chapter 6 – Claire, Again.

'The latest bid for Wayne Rooney has come as a surprise to most people, with League One Club Yeovil placing a bid of £15,000 for the striker. When confronted over the matter, Yeovil manager stated that “Wayne is a good player and I am certain we can attract a player of his calibre to the club.” It is not yet certain whether Wayne will stay with Man Utd or whether he will in fact join the League One club.

Transfer Rumours, 2009

Did you find anything useful whilst you were down there?” asked Claire.

“Well, only what you had already told me and some first hand experience with the players. Oh, and Vaughan is injured. He can’t play tomorrow.”

“****,” said Claire. “That buggers your striking possibilities up. Could bring someone up from the reserves. Or get someone in?”

“I’m definitely thinking about getting someone in. I hear the reserves is full of strikers – but none will be good enough. I think I’m going to play Cahill behind a single striker.”

“Aha,” replied Claire, raising her eyebrows. “Good choice. Play in a counter attacking fashion.”

Russell agreed and the two went on to compare brief notes from the mornings training session before agreeing on the starting line up for the next day.

“Thanks, Claire. You’ve been a great deal of help today – I think we might just make a good team here.”

She laughed and nodded in agreement. “I hope so. I got this email a little earlier – it’s from the scout. Got a team report on Dynamo and a couple of ‘top of the head’ suggestions on strikers.”

“Fantastic. Go on.”

“Well... Dynamo Kiev are likely to field a simple 4-4-2 and are missing a fair few of their first team regulars – but that’s not to mean they won’t be a threat with the likes of Milevskyi. So it could be a good test without being too difficult on the lads.”

“Hopefully it will be a confident booster,” added Russell.

“The scout also reckons Maierhofer of Wolves might be a reasonable addition to the squad – he says he ‘he isn’t the best striker and isn’t going to set the world on fire, but we’re lacking in the final third. Jermaine Beckford of Leeds may also come as a handy add on too. I will continue my search’.”

“Hmm, maybe I’ll see about a more detailed report of the two. Especially if Saha is being looked at by several teams. Hopefully, we can keep a hold of him.”

Just as Russell finished his sentence, Claire’s eyes widened and her eyebrows perked up.

“Talking of Saha,” she began, turning the computer monitor towards Russell, “Sevilla have just sent us an email.”

Russell took a closer look. It wasn’t a formal bid – but it mentioned £4,097,000 and Tom De Mul. A quick search came up with results about the player. An attacking right midfielder – not quite the player they were after.

“It’s a good amount of money – pretty precise, but we can’t really afford to lose Saha right now,” commented Russell.

“You’re right. But another £4m in the bank will give us about £8m to play with – then we might be able to get someone worth while.”

The two twiddled their thumbs at the possibilities available to them. After much thought, deliberation and google searches, Russell had come to an idea.

“How about we send them an email back – something like £5m for Saha in exchange for, say, Luis Fabiano too. The thing is – we need Saha, and I would like to keep him. He's got experience and he is about our only real choice up front at the momnet. This way it looks like we’re looking out for the best interests of both him and us. See what they say to that.”

It was a cheeky offer, and they both knew it was likely to be turned down and keep Saha a little happier than if they were to simply close the doors of a move.

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Chapter 7 – Dynamo

’Black-Pooling: In the first pre-season friendly at Blackpool, the away fans from Derby proceeded to urinate on the towns landmarks and make every pool of water, including the surrounding sea, turn black via the use of large quantities of food colouring for the fourth year in the past ten years. It is estimated that the disgruntled Derby fans, who lost 6v0, spent over £750,000 on food colouring – possibly more. One Blackpool fan described the situation as the worst “black pooling ever.”

Headlines From pre-season 2002’

Russell stood waiting at his desk for his emails to come through. After another five minutes of waiting, Russell was confronted by the one email he was waiting for. The reply from Sevilla was, as he anticipated, turned down. There was little within the email, but Sevilla made it clear of their withdrawal.

Russell flipped open his phone and sent Claire a text, ‘They withdrew their bid. Will be there in 5 minutes.’

Quickly, Russell jumped in to his car and made the short trip to Goodison Park and this time, made it in time for the match. Although it was just a friendly, Russell wanted the players to impress me so he could make a good assessment of what the team was lacking.

“It’s our first game and I don’t want you to get too worn out and injured before the season begins, but I want you to impress me. Show me what you got. We’re lacking in squad numbers, but make sure that when I look in to getting new players in, that you have your place cemented. Now get out there and show Dynamo you’re better than them!”

The players walked out to a large crowd of 21432 – much larger than originally anticipated. The game got off to a start as the clock hit 2:30pm and the players started slowly.

“At least they’re not straining themselves too much,” said Claire sarcastically.

It didn’t take long for the game to pick up a bit of pace and within 15 minutes, Everton were setting the pace and a perfect brace from Steven Pienaar put the home side 1v0 nil up.

“This could turn out pretty well you know, Claire,” began Russell. “If we keep playing like this for the rest of the year with the added help of some extra players, we can attack the top four. Give ‘em a run for their money.”

“I hope so,” returned Claire.

The 26th minute presented Dynamo with their best chance of the match so far with a cross that presented an open goal. The shot failed to hit the target and Heitinga managed to scramble the ball away.

Half time approached and Everton began to form a counter attack, with Pienaar heading the attack. A quick one two presented Pienaar with a one on one situation. A low shot saw the ball dive under the Dynamo goalkeeper, doubling Everton’s lead.

“Looking good,” nodded Claire to Russell as they headed back in to the tunnel for the half time team talk.

“Sure is, although,” said Russell, “there are some points that could be improved upon and I would like you to point them out to the team. That way we can see if they listen to you.”

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Chapter 8 – Dynamite

’It has been three years since the greatest comeback in football history, with Liverpool stealing the trophy from AC Milan. However, we can today reveal that AC Milan in fact won the tie and as the players stepped forward to collect their medals, the trophy sat unattended and a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque dive saw Gerrard grab the trophy and make a run for it out of the Stadium. The game everyone saw was a replica match as Gerrard would not give the trophy back.

August, 2008’

First of all,” began Claire, “well done on the half time lead. But there are things we are lacking and we shouldn’t rest on the two goal lead.”

The players smirked at Claire as if to say, ‘you’re a woman, you don’t know a thing.’

“Your passing is too long. We need to play more direct, short balls. We don’t have enough numbers at the end of the pitch for long balls. Got that?”

The players nodded but most of them weren’t paying attention. They couldn’t change in a flash to listen to a woman, even though Claire knew exactly what she was talking about. For some reason, they continued to hold on to their sexist views.

“Whatever you say, missy!” Came a voice. It was Gosling and Russell wasn’t happy.

“you’re off.”

“But-“

“But nothing. You will be lucky to even be on the bench at this club if you continue like that. Rodwell, you’re on.

Claire nodded her thanks to Russell’s interruption and continued, “Our defence keeps getting cut open – you need to work together in the back line and not like individuals.”

The team talk was soon over and Claire thanked Russell once again before they walked back on to the pitch for the second half. The Everton fans were loud and the fact it was only a friendly didn’t stop from them going berserk.

The referee got the second half underway and within minutes Dynamo ripped the Everton back line to pieces thanks to a lack of communication in the back line.

“Bloody hell.” Russell shook his hands in the air before directing a comment towards Claire. “We just told them to stop playing like individuals and start playing like a team – a bit of communication at the back line please – there isn’t any talking between them.”

“Yeah, well – they clearly don’t listen to me, do they?”

“They’ll come around,” he responded in a hopeful tone.

The play continued and Dynamo carried on passing the ball through the back line of Russell’s defence. The first half had been good, great at times and poor on occasions. This half was turning in to a different story. The Everton team were imploding, not literally, but the performance was.

“Pass the ball!” shouted Russell as the Everton wing back hoofed the ball into the Dynamo defence. “Ughh. They can’t do anything right. I think our little half time talk did the opposite of motivating them.”

“New blood?” suggested Claire.

“Yes. Get Bilyaletdinov and Distin warmed up, they’re on next.”

As Claire proceeded to tell the fresh legs to warm up, Dynamo struck gold as they scored a curling effort from the edge of the area. 2v1 and looking as though Dynamo were going to get ten.

“We need you to get on there and play your socks off,” Claire told the players.

“But won’t our legs get cold?” responded the Russian Bilyaletdinov innocently and without a hint of sarcasm.

“No – don’t play your socks off literally; just get the game rolling in our favour again.”

As the referee brought the two new Everton players on, Russell managed to persuade his standing legs to take a seat.

“Not going quite as well as we,” said Claire as she turned her head to see the fast moving Dynamo striker go for goal, “planned.”

Having just sat down, Russell immediately got back to his feet as the second goal rolled in to make the scoreline 2v2.

In what was turning in to a disaster second half, Russell began to contemplate the various new signings he needed to make. “Claire, you wouldn’t mind helping me out tonight with scouting for talent would you? You see,” he pointed to the pitch, “we’re in need of new players and our scouts are a bit slow on the whole list of good players to talk to thing.”

“Of course,” she said, “but you’re going to have to buy me a drink or something.”

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Wow, thanks for the comments guys!

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Chapter 9 – Cheese and Onion Crisp Sandwich

’Scientists from the University of Food have today announced their latest medical findings after spending the past 24 years of their lives dedicated to finding a link between the eating of a Cheese and Onion crisp sandwich and the reduction in hair growth. The report suggests that by eating one cheese and onion crisp sandwich a week will cause you to go bald within three years. One scientists, aged 79 said, “this report finally confirms why I am bald.”

Newspaper Headlines, 2009’

The match was coming to an end and Dynamo had fought back to grab two goals. But it wasn’t over yet and Dynamo continued to look dangerous in the final third. With just fifteen minutes left on the clock, Russell decided the team needed to go all or nothing – how he always thought a team should play. Never settle for a draw, go all out attack.

“Baxter, you’re on. This is our last chance. Attack. Just go for it.”

“Just attack?” asked the young striker who wasn’t an ordinary first team player.

“Just attack,” confirmed Russell.

Within moments, the instructions to attack were implemented, with a short ball being passed directly though the middle of the Dynamo defence. A missed opportunity, but the closest Everton had come all half.

The dynamo players were beginning to get tired as were the Everton players. But the Everton player’s weren’t going to give up that easy when the crowd were cheering as though they were beating Liverpool 3v0.

Tim Howard rolled the ball out to the Dutch defender, Heitinga. A quick look up saw him move the ball forward before passing the ball out wide to resently substituted player Bilyaletdinov. It wasn’t a fast building attack, but the ball was moving in the right direction.

As the dynamo players moved in, Bilyaletdinov knocked the ball through the first set of legs and over the next before racing up the wing.

As fast as he ran, he hit the ball, swooping in to the box and over Dynamo’s first line of defence. Sitting in the open was Fellaini. One touch saw Bilyaletdinov’s cross land at the feet of Fellaini as the Dynamo players sat watching, rigid and in hope their goalkeeper would make the save. He was left open in the middle of the box and he struck the ball with absolute precision.

The crowd went silent before erupting in to a mass of cheers. Fellaini had scored the sitter. The winner in the 86th minute.

“Finally!” exclaimed Russell as he raised both hands in the air. “Just hold on to it.”

The final whistle came after an agonising wait. It was a funny atmosphere in the stadium as the players began to exit the field of play. It was as though they had just won a final. So tense, nerve racking and one of the most intense experiences of both Russell and Claire’s careers.

“To think that was only a friendly,” said Claire as they sat in the dressing room.

“We did it though,” came the voice of the goal scorer.

“Yes,” replied Russell, “but none of you learnt a thing out there in the second half. We won, but out of one good bit of play at the end. Dynamo deserved to get more than just two that half, but Timmy over there did a good job to save the numerous attempts. More to the point though, none of you listened to a word Claire said. What she said was right, and even if it wasn’t, you listen to her.”

The words rung in the players’ heads. They knew Russell was right, and he knew it would bring some of them around to realising it.

“None the less,” he continued, putting the second half display behind him. “We have some Cheese and Onion Crisp Sandwiches waiting for you upstairs and a goody bag full of kids toys. Perfect or what?”

And with that, the team ascended to the room upstairs whilst Russell and Claire remained seated.

“Time to do some scouting...?”

“Yes,” returned Claire as she looked at Russell. She was beginning to get on with him just as she had hoped she would do. He had stuck up for her and was in no way the sort of person she thought he was when she first met him. “Let’s go.”

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Chapter 10 - Scouting

’Last night a Chelsea scout, Clingsworth, handed in his latest assignment to the clubs manager. Sadly, the scout ‘failed to find any players’ of which the manager is reported to have said “no players. I’ll give you no players.” The events that followed were captured on CCTV, where by the football manager proceeded to punch, kick and finally decapitate the scout using a machete. The Chelsea manager; who is likely to be jailed for the incident considering its severity, is currently being held in custody whilst his defence team prepares an impossible task.

Newspaper Headline – 2007’

Where do we start?” Asked Claire as they walked up stairs towards their offices.

“Well,” replied Russell, thinking about the players he liked, disliked and the positions he was looking to fill. “I don’t like Gosling, but he will have to stay.”

Claire nodded her agreement after the day’s earlier comments before Russell continued.

“We’re definitely going to keep Saha I think– we need him as our key striker for the moment. We’re low on squad numbers and need more players – whether they be on the bench or starters, we need more. I’m looking to bulking up the strike force though, so let’s start there.”

The two walked in to his office, the bigger of the two whereby Russell sat in the window space as Claire sat opposite. The office was nicely decorated with picture frames yet to be filled by Russell, bar one on his desk which was filled by his cat’s big head and its funny smile.

“How do we go about finding players?” asked Claire, who whilst happy to help, didn’t really know where to start.

“I’m not entirely sure but I think Everton use a special tool. I suppose what we do is draw up a list of players we think are attainable and cheap. Just go through each team if we must. I might have a glance through the other English leagues, they tend to have some talent hiding away down there.”

Claire waited patiently as the Everton computer system booted up. It was never quick and once loaded, it took almost a year to log in. Eventually, Russell logged in and found the tool he had been looking for. Football Manager.

“It’s a tool Everton use for recruiting, you know,” said Russell as he turned the screen towards Claire. “Funny, but its sure to narrow our search down considering we’re not experts.”

“Great,” said Claire who had played Football Manager on numerous occasions before. She was delighted to be able to use the database to find players as she knew her way around.

An hour went by and their ruthless search saw numerous names written down on a piece of paper.

“Show us who you have got then?” Asked Russell, hoping he would get to go home some time soon. It had been a hectic start to the pre-season, but a good start none the less and was tiring him out.

“Well,” said Claire as she passed her list onto Russell. “The main ones I would pick out are Postiga of Sporting, Djalo and Niculae. Any one of them would be a good addition up front I think – Not to mention that they are all transfer listed for a good price so we can still bulk up the midfield and defence if we need to.”

“Good Job. I will look into contacting their agents tomorrow after our scout has done a full report on them. Will send him an email now to do a brief over night report on them.”

“Okay, and you got?” Asked Claire.

“I have got a couple of additions,” said Russell as he began the email to the club’s head scout. “Here, have a look at this sheet.”

Claire looked over Russell’s finding, of which he had highlighted the ones he thought to be best.

At the top of his list were names such as Trochowski of HSV, Cesare Bovo of Palermo and Scott Brown of Celtic. These were just some of the players Russell was enquiring about to the scout. Come tomorrow, Russell was ready to get his hands dirty in a bundle of cash.

“Oh, and Claire,” said Russell just remembering something, “what do you think we should do about Gosling?”

“I think you should leave it, Russell. Wait until you’re sure we don’t need him. He may be troublesome, but we need him for the moment and it was only a pass by comment. I’m over it already.”

“Are you sure?” He asked in an uncertain tone, “Because I don’t want you getting...”

She laughed and nodded, “I’m sure. Dont worry. The players you have picked out seem promising anyway, whoever they are,” she laughed. “Lets hope we can get some of them in before the season starts so they can all get together at the training ground in Holland.”

“For sure. The email’s been sent and we should have some reports tomorrow, followed by conversations between us and their agents, followed by the signatures of the players.”

“You hope,” Claire smiled, moving in her seat to stand up. “I’m glad all this is sorted for tonight. Think it’s about time we got off home.”

Russell thought for a moment and stared at Claire’s hand. “I was meant to buy you a drink, wasn’t I?”

“Yeah, but don’t worry about it until another day. It’s been nice working with you today. I guess I will hear from you tomorrow about those transfers then.”

“Indeed you will,” answered Russell. “It’s been nice working with you too.”

Claire got up to her feet and reached for her bag. “See ya later.”

“Yeah,” Russell replied despondently as she left the room, “see ya.”

She’s married, uninterested and just a work colleague - that’s how it should stay, he thought to himself. No matter, it was probably just another one of his crushes due to his usual lack of womanly attention. She would never want me anyway.

Russell got up and left the room and headed for home. A short wait over night and Russell could finally start to get in to the transfer market.

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Indeed it is :) This ones a long update... sigh, I think at the time of writing it I was just trying to cram a load in to one update. Silly. Must have been about 3am when I did it.

Chapter 11 – Liverpool's Rafa Beneebaneetuz

’Crispy Comeback: Gary Lineker yesterday announced he was looking to make a comeback into football – claiming that “All those crisps I keep eating – it just makes me fat and bald.” It is suspected that Arsenal will attempt to lure the crisp shaped man to the Emirates, along with a number of other old frail men to balance the team out.

Headlines – 2009’

Russell’s dreams were rudely interrupted as the cat crawled under the covers and on to his chest. Digging its claws in deep, Russell jumped from his bed in pain.

“Why do you always do this? Huh? Just because you’re up and hungry, doesn’t mean I want to be up.”

But the truth was, he needed to be up and it was a good way to make sure he was up every morning and the cat knew it.

By quarter to ten, Russell had fed the cat, showered and got himself half dressed, with one arm through his t-shirt, the other hung out. All that was left for Russell was to check his emails.

The first was junk, the second was from his brother, asking if he could borrow £10,000, again. It was the fourth time he had asked in four days, and it was about to be the fourth time Russell deleted it from his inbox.

Finally, after trawling through numerous emails, he came across the reply from his scout.

It’s 4am and I am pulling my hair out at watching so many videos and making reports on the players you have suggested. If I am honest, any striker would be of help, and I can happily recommend that you talk to Postiga and Niculae. I have seen them play and for a combined fee of around £3.5m, I think they will make good purchases...

You won’t have much cash left, so see about getting rid of anyone you think is deadwood. I would highly recommend you talk to Trochowski’s agent as he seem to be pretty fly and currently unhappy. The phone numbers you need are below...

With this, Russell cleaned his teeth and slapped his face before picking the phone up to make some calls. But before he got the chance to dial any numbers, the phone began to ring.

“Hello?” Asked Russell, confused as to who would be calling him.

“Hello. This is Rafa Benitez,” said the Spanish voice on the other end of the phone. “This is quite possibly a risky deal. But I have heard that you need some more cash.”

Even more confused, Russell asked what appeared to him as the obvious question, “Why do you want to give Everton, your rivals, a random lump sum of money?”

Rafa laughed, “No no no. I want to, er, buy your player.”

“Go on, go on, go on,” said Russell, imitating his favourite line from Father Ted.

“Young Shane Duffy,” said Rafa. “A hot prospect, I know. But he’s no use to you at seventeen and you need the cash for better things, like a new team.”

Russell thought for a moment. It was near suicide what he was thinking about doing. Selling a hot prospect to the arch enemy. But for a good price. £1.4m was what Rafa was offering and Russell knew that an extra lump of cash like that might go a long way to buying a decent midfielder.

“Look,” said Russell analyzing his options in his head, “you might have yourself a deal here.”

A somewhat evil and sarcastic laugh rippled down the phone line before Rafa said his thanks, stating he would be in touch.

Russell had got his first taste of big time transfer dealings. Sadly, it could come as a suicidal fail. But he was leaning towards selling the young starlet for a bit of cash for the present. Perhaps the fans would see it as a good deal as the player is no use. At least, that’s what he hoped.

Picking the phone back up, Russell rang Postiga’s agent, who spoke much better English than Russell first expected. It was a short conversation but the agent made it clear Postiga was looking to leave Sporting soon and that Everton would be ideal.

“1.7 million,” confirmed the agent - Sporting’s demands for the player would be accepted should the £1.7m be accepted by Russell.

Russell didn’t feel the need to negotiate and simply dived in and accepted. The deal was half way done – all that was needed now was a discussion about contract details and a medical.

Next on Russell’s list was striker Niculae. This time, the agent was less fluent in English and it took Russell ten minutes to tell him he wasn’t trying to buy a new flat but a football player.

“Nic-u-lae. How much for Niculae?”

“Er, £2.4million.”

Russell paused for thought. The club, AJ Auxerre had put the player on the transfer list and in no way was he prepared to pay more than £2million for the player.

“How about £1.8million?” Offered Russell.

“No no. £2million. Final Offer.”

Russell wasn’t keen on spending nearly all of his budget on two strikers – but there was always the offer Rafa made to him earlier and in reality, Russell only felt he needed new strikers.

“Deal,” said Russell emphatically.

Again, all that remained for Russell to do was to make sure the contract was sorted and the medical was passed.

With just over £300,000 left to spend on bulking up his team, should the deals go through, Russell was going to have a difficult time recruiting players of a high calibre.

It was time to call Rafa back.

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