Football: Kidnapping the ref's wife and other guerrilla tactics win freedom

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The Independent Online
FIRST, I would like to say a big thank you to all the well-wishers who sent cards expressing their concern at my fate over the last few weeks. I'll be sending both of you a signed photograph.

You might not recognise me straight away as I've had some fresh ones taken to capture my new look. A month in the Central American jungle has achieved where a decade of dieting and half-a-dozen fat farms failed. I'm down to an elfin 13st and I'll be eternally grateful to Pedro, the guerrillas' cook, for his help. His bark-and-leaf quiche and cockroach casserole were so good I'm going to incorporate them in both the players' diet and the club's pie stands.

I was a bit sorry to leave Pedro and the boys. After the first week or so, when they kept me chained to the outside toilet (convenient while I got used to the grub but you had to check under the seat for black widow spiders before relaxing), they turned out to be a decent set of lads. Football's a universal language and once I said "Bobbee Charlton" and "Tonee Cascareeno" they were great.

It turned out they had a team of their own and, luckily for me, needed a new manager - the old one had been tortured to death under suspicion of being a government informer. The politics was a bit tricky and my experience of managing Manchester City a few years ago came in handy - not that Peter Swales went as far as pulling his managers' fingernails out.

The players were pretty useful, all they needed was some English tactical nous. Once I'd stopped their poncy passing around, stuck the biggest bloke up front and told them to hoof it at his head and play for the second ball, we were flying and reached the final of the Guevara Cup. This is a big deal in guerrilla football so, before the match, I gave them all a glass of tequila to relax them. It seemed to do the trick, though the added precaution of taking the referee's wife hostage to concentrate his mind might have helped. We won 3-0 with Ruben Tuesdai, our star striker, scoring a hat-trick of penalties.

They were so delighted they offered me my freedom on condition I asked Tony Blair to set up a task force to examine their grievances. I've been to see him and pointed out that travelling in the area and asking questions is a very dangerous activity. We're hopeful David Mellor will find time to head up the group.

Tuesdai has come back with me. It's a bit of a problem that he's wanted in 30 countries and I don't think he'll be on the post-season tour of the USA but I'm sure he'll be a big asset. The Sludgethorpe Popular Front have offered to sponsor his kit and find a series of safe houses while we negotiate with MI6. He needs a bit of time to settle in: I had to tell him we don't go round kidnapping referees, we just get Sky TV and BBC Radio to slaughter them.

While I made a lot of good friends out there - and we still keep in touch through the Internet ( - it's good to be home, especially as I understand a few backstabbers have been active in my absence. It took a dozen cases of the finest Cuban cigars - from Fidel's personal collection - to persuade Sir Hirem to vacate the manager's office although I am grateful to him for sacking that traitor Kit Mann. The nine Premiership points he won to to lift us off the bottom are handy, too.

With Kit gone we are a bit light on coaching staff and I'm hoping we can come to an arrangement with Ruud. We've offered him a 30-minute stint, twice weekly, at pounds 100 a session netto. Plus he gets his own personal Gatorade bottle and can sit in the good corner of the dressing-room, the one which doesn't get flooded by the showers. In the meantime I've asked Fritz Unstartz to be player-coach. He could be a natural. He has a voice like a town crier and can take out an entire row of tea cups with one sweep of his arm.

Not having seen the team play for a month I've had to take a bit of advice on selection. I checked out those papers that give players marks out of 10, averaged out performances, and came up with the best XI. After Fritz pointed out there was only one defender I made a few changes. Ivor Niggle and Shaun Prone were the unlucky ones.