Football: The Gaffer Tapes - Now I'm the only Premiership manager with a Ferrari

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The Independent Online
The first week in any new job is a tough one and football management is no different. I've had to quickly get a feel of the office politics - who's got the chairman's ear? Who's the club scapegoat? Who's got the car park place I want? What's the home phone number of the attractive young temp in the club shop? I'm sure Kevin Keegan is thinking the same thoughts this morning - well, apart from the last one.

Like him I had to do some hard negotiating with the chairman. After some expensive past mistakes Sir Hirem Firem wanted me to buy British but I insisted foreign was the only answer. I had my eye on an Italian purchase, quick with a dramatic change of pace, turned well, took corners like a dream. I even threatened to resign. "It's not like it was in the prospectus," I told him. It worked. Now I'm the only Premiership manager with a Ferrari.

Then there was choosing my title, "Manager" is so passe. I pondered "Director of Football but there's plenty of them now, "Head Coach" is too American while Kev's taken "Chief Operations Officer". So I've settled on "Football Kommissar". The press boys love it, just love it, though I didn't understand why some broadsheets suggested it would have been more appropriate if we wore red not blue.

Dealing with the players was a bit more difficult. I let my assistant, Kit Mann, take training on the first day while I watched from my office window. You see more when they can't see you. Besides, I had to justify swapping offices with the secretary - his had a south facing aspect and a built-in mini-bar.

The boys looked keen but I was bit worried by the lack of respect the senior players showed Kit. That's the problem with having a man who only ever played Sunday League football as your No 2 - the advantage is there is no chance of the chairman ever offering him your job.

The real shock was afterwards. I was just getting the Subbuteo out, to plan tactics you understand, when Duane Spice knocked on the door. "How much would you fine me if I missed training tomorrow," he said. "Two weeks wages," I replied (you have to crack down early on).

"Will a cheque do?" he said pulling out his calfskin wallet. "I've got a modelling shoot with Giorgio Armani in London that's worth three times as much."

Naturally I wasn't putting up with that. He didn't get out of the office until he had promised to bring back a lime green suit.

What else have we done. Ah, that first match. Well, as I told the press afterwards, I was delighted with Ego Massive's goal, it showed both his quality and the benefits of the time we'd spent together before the game. I felt the club's first goal of the season would have been a very promising start to the Gaffer Era at the Old Cornfield.

Unfortunately, I was forced to add that the 5-1 defeat should really be viewed as the last game of Big Mick's reign, not the first of mine as I had not had time to work on the rest of the side.

The Gaffer Years really began in midweek with the very encouraging 1- 0 win over Third Division Fallover Athletic in the Coca-Cola Cup. I feel, with the top clubs uninterested, that we could go a long way in this competition. I said to the chairman, keep March 29 free except for booking a hotel near Wembley.

At least that calmed him down. He had kept reminding me that only last week, in fact he said pointedly, "just before I appointed you", I had told him there was no way Kevin Keegan could ever be persuaded back into the game.

After that it was a relief to leave Kit in charge of the boys today as I'm off on a scouting mission in Europe. Don't tell the press but I'm in Spain to watch Real Betis play Oviedo. Accommodation's been a problem, the nearest hotel I can get is a couple of hours away at a golf complex called Valderrama. Still, I expect I'll find something to do.