After a couple of woeful England performances, the future isn’t looking so bright for Steve McLaren.
But when exactly did his honeymoon period end? Could it have been on his first day at work, at the precise moment that he stepped into the England manager’s shoes? And what was anybody else doing at that historic time?
Imaginary Scenes in London, Moscow, Lisbon, Birmingham and London
Kindly written for Footy-Boots.com by The Village Idiot
Note that this is not a true story. It is made up.
As Steve McLaren and Brian Barwick walked down the hall, their feet fell together in time. They had been talking about pension schemes, Health and Safety videos, lunch vouchers and free bus passes, but Steve had taken almost nothing in. He was, in fact, knocked out by the classiness of Lancaster Gate. It was an opulent, modern building with such great attention to detail – little footballs had been carefully embroidered on the plush carpets and all of the womenfolk were gorgeous.
They stopped in front of a heavy oak door.
‘Right, Steve. Here it is. The Lion’s Den.’
‘Oh no. I don’t really want go in there.’ He shot a nervous glance at his new boss.
‘Why ever not?’
Brian pushed the door open and instantly, Steve jumped back, covering his face.
Warily, he opened an eye. The room was actually a huge, state-of-the-art office – not at all what he had been expecting.
‘Your new office, Steve. There’s your desk, your contoured leather chair, an espresso machine !’
Steve poked his head into the room.
‘! a hat stand, there’s the computer, television. Wendy will be able to get you all the tapes of the weekend’s matches. Pens, pencils, crayons. There’s even some of Kevin’s Lego in the cupboard, I think.’ Brian chuckled, then looked at his watch. It was quarter to twelve. ‘So. I expect you have a lot to do then. You probably want to get started. Formations, phone calls, match reviews. We’ve got a press briefing at three.’
Steve nodded. ‘Right.’
Brian smiled encouragingly. ‘I think I’ve remembered everything!’ As soon as he finished his sentence, he clapped a hand to his forehead. ‘Steve! The shoes, the shoes, the shoes. I’ll be back in two ticks.’
Steve couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Kevin’s collection was wonderful and surprisingly organised. The cupboard was piled high with pirate ships, Star Wars stuff, cowboys, and trains. He would be able to build quite a scene.
After a sharp knock, Brian strode back through the door. He was carrying a shiny leather box which he placed carefully onto the coffee table.
‘We have a great tradition here, Steve.’
Brian rolled the numbers on the combination lock.
‘All England managers have to wear these shoes. Every manager before you and every manager after.’
Click! Brian started on the other lock.
‘So, try to take good care of them. There’s only one pair. You know, we expect you to wear them at all times. That’s always been the way.’
Click! Steve craned his neck to see.
The leather case was lined with purple velvet. Inside, there was a beautiful pair of dark brown shoes. One by one, Brian picked them up and placed them carefully on the thick carpet in front of Steve. From his back pocket, he pulled out a shoe horn.
‘You’ll need this, Steve. I’ll turn around.’
The snow was swirling outside the window. Guus Hiddink’s new office, full of priceless antique furniture, was lit by a single oil lamp. He clapped his hands together for warmth and sat down at his new desk. Dimitri had wandered off a second ago, muttering something about shoes. Guus could see his own breath – it came out of his mouth in thin wispy clouds which floated slowly up to the ceiling.
After about ten minutes, Dimitri banged on the door and walked back into the room with a large metal box.
‘My apologies, Mr Hiddinks. I couldn’t find them for a while. But here they are. These shoes, these shoes!’ he cried. ‘We have a great Russian tradition. All Russian managers have been wearing them. Every man before you and every!’ Dimitri huffed and puffed. ‘man after you. They will help you to guide us to Olympic glory!’
Guus watched as he took out the fur-lined boots.
‘!perfect for the punishing Russian winter!’
‘!they have snow shoe attachment!’
Suddenly, he stopped unpacking the shoes and looked up, his nose bright red, moisture dripping off his big beard.
‘They’re too small, Dimitri.’
Any idiot could see that.
Kristal, Simone, Anna, Bobbi, Kitty, Bunny, Bambi, Daisy, Holly, Dolly, Molly and Crystal. On the Portuguese FA’s private beach, Luis Felipe Scolari was surrounded by blondes, young women who all had one thing in common – they were absolutely stunning.
As ever, twenty-four hands slowly caressed Luis’ tanned body.
He opened his eyes.
Bunny was leaning forward, her huge breasts pushing against the fabric of her skimpy bikini.
‘Your feet, sir. Are so large. So! sexy.’
Luis winked, blew her a big kiss and then immediately regretted it. The other girls would now be sure to give Bunny, who was one of his favourites, a hard time.
Women! thought Luis, with a glint in his eye.
Martin O’Neill was sitting on a cardboard box at one end of the Aston Villa boardroom, a
place which in fact looked rather like an airport hangar. It was almost completely empty, apart from a large wooden desk. Here, a hunched figure sat, scribbling in an accounts book, the hoarse rasp of his breathing filling the room. Martin was twenty metres away. If he’d tried to get any closer, one of the security guards would have put a bullet in his head.
Martin O’Neill looked down at his manager’s shoes. His feet were sticking out of the end, the soles were coming off, there were no laces and they were scuffed to bits. Clearly, they were also several sizes too small.
A mouse ran across the floor. It was being chased by a huge rat, a creature that looked as if it had the devil in its eyes. On the edge of Martin’s vision, a figure moved closer. He glanced up at the bodyguard, who nodded expressionlessly.
Martin cleared his throat and began to speak, his voice soft and distinctive. ‘I’m sorry to bother you, sir but I have a request.’ The figure at the end of the room put down his quill. Martin continued, louder still. ‘I’m sorry, sir. These manager’s shoes really, really have seen better days!Look!’ He held a foot in the air. ‘Do you! think !we!could!possibly!re-pl!?’
‘NO!’ barked Deadly Doug, rapping his twenty centimetre-long fingernails on the desk.
Brian Barwick mumbled to himself, on his hands and knees.
‘Insoles, then.’ He frowned and pushed at the wide, empty expanse of leather. ‘That’s what we’ll have to do. You really do have small feet, Steve.’
Steve McLaren, the former Middlesbrough manager and archetypal ‘wrong man,’ couldn’t suppress a smile. He felt like he was in a shoe shop.
'© imaginaryscenes.com 2006