Part 1: A new StartAlan Thompson was seated by a long table lined with microphones. The sea of flashes had died down after he had sat down. To the left of Alan, Peter Barnes, the Media and Marketing Executive of FA of Wales was seated; and next to him sat the Welsh captain Joe Ledley. On Alan’s right sat Jonathan Ford the Chief Executive of the FAW. In the front of Alan sat about 50 reporters ready to write down his every word. Alan had a hard time adjusting to the situation, usually the press conferences he had done was standing in front of the door of a dressing room talking to 4 reporters.
Alan had previously been the manager of Olsa Brakel in Belgium. He had been there for a little over 4 years and had lead the club to two promotions. The second promotion had been an extraordinary tale where Olsa Brakel ended up undefeated in the last 11 games of the season and with other results going their way, they ended up qualifying for the promotion playoff. After a nerve wrecking playoff final against Charleroi, Olsa Brakel, the team with the lowest wage budget in the Second League, got promoted to the Pro League.
“Right let’s get this started” Peter Barnes said and looked from Alan to the row of reporters, some with their arm raised like a bunch of school children. Barnes pointed to an elderly reporter at the front. “Dean Jones of the Welsh Football Post”. The elderly man, apparently called Dean Jones, looked at his notepad and then at Alan.
“Welcome to Wales, lad” Jones said with a small smile “Now there’s a lot of pressure on national managers to hit the ground running and produce results from the off. Are you confident that you will be able to get a good start as the Manager of Wales?”
“I think so, yeah” Alan said “Looking at our fixture sheet it is going to be extremely difficult as our first game is away to France, there’s no team in the world that can go to Paris and be confident of getting away with anything.”
As the press conference wore on and Alan was rephrasing the same answer to the same question for the 3rd time he was looking to Peter Barnes as a polite way of asking for the press conference to stop. Barnes took the hint and said “Last question please.” Barnes pointed to a young man standing to the right of the room. “Richard Davies of the Football Informer, please”.
The young man grinned and said: “Considering that you are English, some think it is strange that you have taken on the Wales job. Do you think this could cause conflict in your approach to managing the team.
The question stumped Alan as he hadn’t expected that his nationality to be an issue. He could feel the anger boiling in him. Alan felt like someone had barged in front of him in the queue at the post office. Alan mustered up all the patience and tolerance he had and tried to answer as calmly as possible. “Well, Mr. Davies, I don’t think where I’m from matters at all in this situation. I will manage the team to the best of my ability no matter who we play. I will act like the professional.” He resisted the tempation to add “unlike certain reporters”, but forced himself not to.