The smell of the black coffee in the cup on my desk this morning distracted me. Perhaps it had been the cold chill of air on the club car park as I made my way towards the metal steps up to my office that had made me more alert than I usually am at this early hour, but the aroma lingered in a way that I hadn’t noticed in a long time… the last time in fact escaped me.
Finishing a sip of the coffee which immediately perked me up another level I waited for the laptop to finish loading its obligatory set of background programmes, including the anti-virus software that seemed to slow everything up. I played with a newly sharpened pencil as I mulled over the décor in the room, photographs of players and other trinkets collecting dust amidst the silverware and files.
The laptop flickered and the familiar wallpaper presented itself. My first job was to check the mail, and there were the usual array of spam messages and some friendly banter from associates at other clubs. A few messages were from the scouts but nothing special. I closed the mail and loaded up the latest facts and figures from the previous game, seeing what the database could conjure me as regards more effective ways to train the troops. It was all too much without another sip of coffee.
As I passed Henryk in the corridor and greeted him as he finished vacuuming the carpet in the physio’s room, I couldn’t help but notice he wanted to ask me something but had restrained himself. I didn’t press him and would try and remember later to talk with him, giving him the chance to reveal what was on his chest should he so wish.
Training sessions went smoothly in the morning. A few players stayed late to continue practising set-pieces which was nice to see: a good example to the whole squad and not just the youth players. A few training cones had been damaged following a rather nasty collision between three of our bigger players, and as they ended up in a heap on the dewy floor the cones just didn’t have a chance. I can live with those sorts of losses though.
After dinner, it rained heavily so we took the squad inside for some weight and stamina training. The A-Team were scheduled for a relaxation block and massage in the late afternoon, while the B-Team were off to open one of the local sports centres as part of our community relations program.
Henryk had been trying to ask me if I could get Ji to sign a training top for his nephew. I’d gladly obliged. Henryk’s nephew was in our infant academy and it had been his uncle who had come with him to all his training games and was always telling me how one day he would play for the Charlemagnes, and get noticed by me and become a first-team regular. I always joked back at him that people in my line of work don’t usually have the good luck to last that long, but that if I was still around I’d make sure to keep an eye on him. Henryk was a good man. It was important to treat everyone at the club as an individual, with respect, no matter what their role. I’d learnt that from the best.
An email had come through from a rival team enquiring if one of my reserves was up for grabs. They got a quick but friendly rebuff. Another email arrived from my financial department. It seems attendances will be down this season, so the higher we can maintain our position in the table the better. A manager’s worries never cease.
Alfredo has just been in to see me. We had to go over his recovery report following the injury against the Falcons the other week. It’s looking better than I hoped, but he’ll still be out for another 10 days. I’ll have to be careful when I bring him back in, though I can see the eagerness in his eyes. It’s the same I had in my final season. You know the curtain call is near and you want to end the show with a bang. He’s a true professional and a solid man. He really does deserve his nickname.
Just had a phone-call from the head of the Fan Branch in Raszkow. Apparently they want to organise some sort of end-of-season ball for the wives of the players and staff, and I told them that I hadn’t got a clue but that surely it was far too early for planning anything like that. They told me that early planning reaps its rewards, and I laughed. I have to agree with them there, I just hope my planning reaps its rewards in due course.
Gelmirez has just been in to see me. The house for Maxa is sorted and he’ll be rooming with Ivan. Can’t believe the nickname the press are touting before he’s even played a game – The Impaler. Give the young lad a break. Sometimes I do wonder if the football press will do anything for a quick story.
Fifth coffee of the day – I’m going to have to cut down to four. At least I don’t have sugar with it anymore; that counts for something I’d say.
Turning the key in the lock to the office and said good night to Henryk as he sweeps up. It’s a cold chill outside but a lot bitterer than this morning. I’ll have trouble sleeping tonight. Not because of the coffee though – tomorrow is match day. I never sleep well before a big match. I take a second to mull over all that has happened during the day and then make my way down the steps to the tarmac below. As I walk over towards my car, something is nagging me… something…
“Excuse me, Mr. Temmink?”
The flash of lights in my face is blinding… *To be continued*