I have chosen to keep a Diary of my life as I set about a new chapter in my life, trying to become a professional football manager. I'll try to update this as regularly as possible to keep track of my career in minute detail.
It's been a few months since I got my UEFA A-license and I decided to leave the Sunday League football scene to see if I could get a job at a professional football club instead. However right now things aren't looking up to much. I'm currently unemployed, I live with my mum and there hasn't been a single response to any of my job applications.
I've started to write to different national football associations so that I hopefully can get some information on available jobs in their league system. So far I've written to most nations under UEFA, a couple in South and North America, two in Africa and a few more in Asia and Australia. Hopefully I get a response.
I try to make time pass by keeping to educate myself, at least that is my excuse to spend the entire day watching football. I've found that you can pretty much stream football from the internet every hour of every day. It is fascinating. I've also been reading a lot books about football lately. I have to say some of them don't give any insight into football. Also footballer's auto biographies isn't worth reading.
I think this is all I have for now. Hopefully my next update won't be too far off.
Alan had gotten a lecture today, not because he was back in school, but because one of his customers had the urge to tell him that the Americans were wrong in calling them French Fries when they in fact were invented in Belgium. Alan had stared at him blankly for the 3 minute lecture and once he couldn't take it any more he had replied with a bit of bite: "Here are your chips, sir. Can I help you with anything else?"
Alan threw his bag on the floor. He was living in a small flat in Enfield which was about the only thing he could afford. He was working in McDonalds at Marble Arch and each day he had to take the train to Liverpool St station and from there the Central Line to Marble Arch. It was a trip that took a little over an hour, at least he could spot White Hart Lane as he drove past. It was especially pretty on game days seeing the White light caressing the Stadium, it was one of the few things that could make an evening shift and packed train worthwhile. On these nights Alan always tried to be seated on the White Hart Lane side of the train.
As Alan had flung what must've been his Big Mac no. 1,000 over the counter he had questioned why he had used over £5,000 to get his coaching badges. Now he was regretting not having gone to Uni and studied something worthwhile. As the months had worn on Alan had given up. He had given up on ever getting a good education. He had given up on ever getting into professional football. He had given up on his dream, his destiny, and his diary. It was just not going to pan out for him.
Alan undressed and were preparing his usual after work shower. He opened up the warm tap completely, it was the only way to get the feeling and smell of the frying oil out of his skin. As his entire body was turning into a reddish colour that even perfectly cooked lobsters would envy, his phone rang. Alan cursed, turned off the water stream and grabbed his towel. He quickly dried himself and tied the towel around his waste so that it covered his private parts. Alan picked up the phone.
"Hello, I'm looking for Alan Thompson" the voice at the other end replied with a heavy Dutch accent.
"Speaking" Alan said
"Ah yes!" The man said "My name is Stephan Van den Berghe, I'm the Chairman of Olsa Brakel in Belgium"
Alan had no idea what the man was talking about. He guessed that it was some sort of association looking for a different Alan Thompson. Perhaps it's a stamp collector looking for English stamps or a World War I enthusiast looking for like minded people in England.
"Err yes?" Alan replied quite puzzled as to whether this Stephan had gotten the right telephone number.
"I saw your advert in our national magazine." Stephan Van den Berghe replied.
"Sorry Mate, I've got no idea what you're talking about" Alan said and nearly hung up the phone when Stephan Van den Berghe quickly replied.
"Your advert in the Belgian Football Association magazine? You are Alan Thompson with UEFA Coaching A-License, no?"
Alan's jaw dropped. He had sent his advert to the Belgian FA last august, that was 7 months ago and only just now was the first reply to any of the European adverts he had sent out.
"Yeah that's me." Alan said, regaining his composure. His heart had started racing, he was suspecting what was coming up. "What can I do for you, mr. Van den Berghe" Thankfully Alan was good with names, even if he wasn't interested in knowing it.
"I want to invite you to Belgium for a little chat. A job interview." Van den Berghe said.
"Err, yes! Sure!" Alan said as his hard started to pound even harder as his guess was confirmed. "But why me?".
"You were the only possible candidate who had a UEFA coaching license. We thought it would be silly not to ask you first if you were interested." Van den Berghe replied.
"I'm interested" Alan said "But moving to Belgium is a big step for me, I couldn't do it for free."
"We will discuss contract terms if we decide we want you as our new manager, but I can assure you that you wouldn't be doing it for free. We will help you get settled, if we hire you." Van den Berghe stressed the if, as to let Alan know that he hadn't gotten the job yet.
"That sounds good. When do you want me to come" Alan asked getting more enthusiastic.
"As soon as possible" Van den Berghe replied "I will have my assistant book you on the Eurostar to Brussels and we will pick you up there. It's only an hours drive."
As Alan hung up the phone he tried to realise what had just happened. He was going for a job interview. In Belgium! He had to call his shift manager to tell him he needed a few days off. If he got the job he would never had to flip a Big Mac again. He had to quit and get the first P45 of his life. This was huge!
Alan sat down in his seat after having visited the train bar for some coffee. He was sitting in the left hand side of the train in one of the tight seats lined up in neat little rows. Thankfully the seat next to him was empty so he could use the spare seat for his books and papers. It was 10 minutes since they blasted out of the Channel Tunnel and it would now only be an hour before the train arrived in Brussels.
Alan had tried to research Olsa Brakel, but the internet almost came up empty. There was only a Dutch and a French Wikipedia page, so with the disturbing effort of Google Translate Alan had had the chance of learning a little bit about the club. The city of Brakel on the other hand had an English wiki page. It had told Alan that the city was home to the quite famous cyclists Robbie McEwen and Peter van Petegem, which seemed to be the only claim to fame the city had. Alan had been relieved to hear that he would only be an hour from Brussels. So he could get into the city quite easily if he wanted to. Alan picked up a notepad from the seat next to him, he put it in his lap and looked out of the window. His mind drifted away to think about tactics, trainings and trequartistas.
A few hours later Alan was sitting in a small office in an industrial unit in Brakel. The office seemed like any other low revenue industrial office Alan had ever been in. He had been seated by the club secretary, who also was the one to pick him up in Brussels. The drive had taken a little over an hour from the train station and had been a quite fascinating study in Belgian architecture.
As Alan had entered the office the office, a man was already seated, he wore a slightly wrinkled suit and had an open collar shirt and no tie. He had introduced himself as the voice at the other end phone call, Stephan Van den Berghe. They had shook hands and offered the customary pleasantries as Alan was pointed to a an armchair on the other side of what Alan assumed to be mr. Van den Berghe’s desk. As Alan found his seat and was sitting there waiting for Van den Berghe to ask the secretary for coffee before the meeting could start. Alan started to feel uncomfortable and was drumming his fingers on his thighs. His tension was relieved as Stephan Van den Berghe put a big mug of black coffee in front of Alan, which he sipped at lightly. Van den Berghe looked at Alan.
“I’m sure it cannot be a surprise for you why you are here.” Van den Berghe said “However we still haven’t decided if you are the one we want. We have a few matters that we need to go over before we can make the final decision.”
“I understand” Alan said “Fire away”
“First of all I would like to hear your philosophy.” Van den Berghe said “We, as a team, would expect a better league position than we’re in now and it all comes down to the fundamentals of football, goals, we score too few and our opponents score too many. What’s your idea on this”
“Err…” Alan was stumped by the wideness of the first question “Well, I think that most importantly a team has to keep the ball as it essentially gives you two results. One,” Alan held up his finger as if he were teaching kids to count on Sesame Street “When you have the ball, the chances of the other team scoring is very limited. and two…” the second finger came up Alan quickly realised a couple of things. He was now sitting in an office flicking the V sign at a potential employer. His second realisation was also a bit of a relief as he remembered that the V sign was only really deemed offensive in England. Alan tried to gather himself and continue, “when you are comfortable on the ball and able to move it around you might tire your opponent if they are chasing the ball, that way a bit of static play will not only give you a little rest but also eventually create spaces.”
The job interview continued and Alan grew more and more confident. The interview took on an air of being more of a conversation about football than anything else. It was quite fun to sit there discussing football history, the future of Belgian football with the amount of talent they had these days, Alan believed they were a dark horse in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. As Alan looked at his watch and learned he had now spent almost an hour chatting to Stephan Van den Berghe, the chairman made the first move to end the conversation.
“Ah, yes. we need to wrap this up. We would offer you a contract of 400 euro each week, we will also help you with accommodation here in Brakel. You will see a payout of about 250 euro each week after taxes, however we will pay you on a monthly basis.” Alan did some quick maths and found that it was £215 each week which equated to a pay off at about £930 each month.
“I think I can live with that” Alan said grinning, hoping this wouldn’t lead mr. Van den Berghe to think he was overpaying him.
“Good,” Van den Berghe said “We will make our decision within a few days and contact you with a contract by the end of the week.”
A few hours later Alan was in the Eurostar and was contemplating the interview. He thought it went well. Moving to Belgium was a big step, but he would be earning more in this job than he would at McDonalds at Marble Arch. He picked up his book, this was his 4th reread of Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid. As he was reading about the Dutch totaalvoetbal, the trains lights came on and immediately after it all went dark outside. They were now leaving France and was under the English Channel.