Football: Massive attack of egomania and how I cut stars down to size

The Gaffer Tapes
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The Independent Online
People think being a football manager is just a matter of picking a team and playing golf - but it's much more complex than that. You have to be a father figure to your players, someone they can trust, someone who'll support them when they're down.

Take Duane Spice, our supermodel midfielder. He's having a terrible time, he was booed off last week and he came to me in despair. "I think I'm breaking up, boss," he said. "People keep telling me I was never any good, just over-hyped by a clever agent on the basis of a nice set of pins, a moody jawline, a pop singer girlfriend and that hat-trick against Manchester United two years ago."

"That's rubbish, I told him, your legs are no better than Ian Ormondroyd, you've a jaw like Peter Beardsley and your girlfriend snores. Now go out there and start playing or you're dropped.''

Humour. That's the only way.

Mind, I've needed a laugh this week. Kit Mann, my coach, has been arrested at Dover carrying a van load of bootleg booze. It's a terrible blow to our preparations, we'd put all the kitty money into that run and the Christmas Party's going to be a dud if we can't get hold of some cheap bevvies somewhere. It looks like we're going to have to put a few calls through to Carling. Thank God the Premiership's got a brewery as sponsors, imagine if it was the Castrol GTX Premiership.

Not that I'm sure we'll ever get through to Carling, we've a new temp in the office as the last secretary has been suspended after making some scurrilous allegations about sexual harassment. The new one's completely scatty, oddly dressed and usually late. When she came into my office I said, as I always do, "take a letter, Miss Jones".

"Which one," she said, giggling. Then she stopped, looked serious, and said, "Is this a test?" Anyway, Bridget doesn't seem to interested in the nuts and bolts of the job, just the nuts of the first team, I've already caught her making eyes at Duane - that's when she's not filling in her diary.

Kit being indisposed has dragged me back onto the training ground, which hasn't been much fun in the rain. It's been quiet as Ego Massive got delayed coming back from a World Cup qualifier in South America. Apparently his plane wasn't as big as he expected and it only flew to an unlit field by the Mexico-US border. He had to hitch the rest of the way and he's come back with a terrible cold. He's sneezing all the time.

World Cup fever is all the rage of course. Three of the squad have decided they're Jamaican and they've been onto Robbie Earle to get them in the squad. Delbert and Leroy have a shout as their parents are Jamaican - but I think Brian Heckinbottom might be struggling. Owning a Bob Marley record and once drinking Red Stripe at a party in Kingston, Surrey, might not be enough - even Jack Charlton needed some kind of distant relative to have Irish connections.

Hmmphh. Bridget's just asked me: `Do I look the kind of girl to go with a man who dyes his hair black?' I don't suppose `Yes' is the right answer. Not that I do.

Actually, I'm thinking of having it all shaved off. Bald is in. Look at Spurs. Out goes Gerry, whose hair had got so long at the back he had to move it aside when sitting down, and in comes a Swiss geezer with a scalp like a ski slope. He's not alone, everybody loves Jim Smith, Howard's back at Everton and Ray Wilkins is always on the telly and has a job at Harrods FC.

Besides, I need a change of luck. We've lost a couple recently and are in big trouble at the bottom. Judging by the way Sir Hirem Firem is lobbying his fellow Premiership chairman to shaft the Football League and reduce promotion and relegation to two teams (or less) he's equally worried.

Given our position (the team that is, not me and Bridget) I could do without losing Shaun Prone again. He has nipple rash after test-running the new kit - we've told the press he has flu, don't want to affect Christmas sales. Ivor Niggle's also out with an eye infection after jabbing it with the aerial from his mobile phone. Looks like I'll have to pick Duane Spice after all.