Football: Gerard et moi - the dream team

Fan's Eye View: Gerard Houllier
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The Independent Online
WANT TO know a tiny little snippet concerning Gerard Houllier? It's not exactly what you'd call exciting or juicy, I'm afraid. At least it's true, though, and it does slot quite conveniently into my own long- term plans for the Reds.

When he was having his first liaison with Liverpool as a schoolteacher in the early Seventies, the current Liverpool manager became friendly with local couple, Mike and Breda O'Grady. They used to go out for meals, visit the theatre, that sort of thing. When Gerard returned to France, they corresponded for a while but then lost touch.

Anyway, in the intervening period, while Gerard was back home honing his managerial skills, I was fortunate enough to become acquainted with Mike and Breda, and a fine couple they are, too. For the past 16 years, we've sat next to each other in the Main Stand at Anfield. We've never budged from there in all that time. We have this reciprocal arrangement whereby they supply me with treacle toffee and I keep my mouth shut the whole game. OK, so some might question the ethics involved but, what the hell, it works for us.

Now the way I see it, Mike's and Breda's one-time entente cordiale with Gerard holds distinct possibilities for both the Reds and myself. The thing is, if I can persuade them to rekindle their relationship - understandably they've a slight reluctance in case their intentions are misconstrued - then it could open up a few doors pour moi.

What I've got in mind is some sort of informal introduction to Gerard. Nothing too contrived, you understand. Maybe, a game of boules, or a Continental breakfast, or a French rock music night. Something along those lines - anything, provided it's short and sweet. Once we've broken the ice, I'm convinced things would blossom. He really does seem my type of guy. Down to earth, loves shell suits, in his forties. Besides, cast adrift in an alien city such as Liverpool, true friends are never easy to find so befriending someone like Gerard could turn out to be a real bonus. Perhaps, I'd even get to meet some of his other friends.

Obviously, I wouldn't want to rush things. Softly, softly, catch the minkee, after all, eh? The odd pie and pint, at first. Maybe a top-of- the-range takeaway from Harry's Continental. With French mustard, of course. Then, possibly, a show at the Liverpool Empire. In fact, Les Miserables is on until the end of February. Now is that fate or what? You couldn't plan it.

Looked at optimistically, we could be firm buddies before you can say Jacques Robinson. Who knows, with fingers crossed, I wouldn't even rule out having an input into team selection before the season is out. OK, so realistically that may be being overly ambitious. It may take a tadge longer. Certainly, though, I don't see any major obstacles to us being installed as joint managers for the start of next season. And I'm sure Phil Thompson wouldn't mind - fellow Scousers and all that. Besides, we'd make sure he was well looked after. Set him up in business, maybe. You can't do enough for loyal club servants such as Thommo, can you?

OK, so let's say it all works out as planned. Ged et moi. Joint managers. Where would we start? More to the point, where would we beguine?

Well, first, I'd want to know what Ged had in mind. What are his plans? What makes him tick?

Does he wear the same glasses for reading? To find all this out, I'd take a leaf out of the book of the great managers and do exactly what they all used to do, which was to listen. And I mean listen hard. Bloody hard. In fact, by the time I'd finished listening there'd be nothing left worth listening to. At that point, but not a moment sooner, I'd start asking questions. Incisive ones. The sort an attack asks of a defence. Ones to get right inside Ged's penalty box and behind his full backs to the byline. What's your favourite formation? What defensive strategy do you propose? Will you sign Sacha Distel? Is Joe Corrigan big enough for the job as coach? Is he too big?

Which is your favourite English cheese? By the time I'd finished we'd have covered everything.

We would be of one mind, Ged and me.

From then on, the rest would be a breeze.

We'd keep Owen, Heggem and Carragher, get shut of all the others and bring in Barthez, De Boer, Desailly, Roberto Carlos, Ortega, Rivaldo, Veron, Zidane, Denilson, Ronaldo and Batistuta. As long as we remembered the cardinal rule of football - keep your feet on the ground - then we'd conquer the world. Delusions of grandeur never get you anywhere in the end. Just ask Louis XIV.

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