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[FM15] Raising Cain

The story of a failed young manager's attempt to resurrect his career ... and his life.
Started on 1 September 2015 by tenthreeleader
Latest Reply on 12 August 2016 by zappo137
tenthreeleader's avatar Group tenthreeleader
8 yearsEdited
Raising Cain

June 1, 2014
Press Association

"Torquay United Football Club have terminated the contract of manager Kyle Cain with immediate effect.

The Gulls’ relegation from League Two into the Vanarama Conference made the 40-year old’s position untenable in the eyes of many observers, and board chair Thea Bristow made the move today after the club’s relegation was confirmed.

“Surely no one worked harder in his job than Kyle Cain did, and we thank him for that,” Bristow said in Torquay’s official club statement. “But we also needed results, and Kyle couldn’t provide enough of them to keep us in the Football League.”

“We wish Kyle the best of luck in his future endeavours.”

# # #

“So, that’s that, then.”

Kyle Cain sat back in his living room chair. It was threadbare, but that was all right. His professional life was too, so they matched.

The former Leyton Orient striker had done two things of note in his life, only one of which was admirable: first, he had spent his entire career at his boyhood club.

Second, he had spent nearly every penny he had made in the game in a bewildering variety of ways.
He had done everything except gamble on his club and go to prison. He had spent money on drink. On women. On trips. On good times. The Torquay job had come at the perfect time because it allowed him to stay in the game he loved while rebuilding his bank book, to a modest extent.

Only the club didn’t win.

He had tried everything. Positive motivation, negative motivation, no motivation. He admitted that the last idea was the worst – where, in the club’s penultimate match of the season, he had given no team talk at all prior to a 4-nil hiding at home to Mansfield Town -- the match that confirmed his team’s relegation.

Bristow had allowed him to manage one more match, perhaps out of a sense of pity as much as anything else.

He worked hard. He worked insanely hard. But in his hand, as he sat in his chair, he clutched a P45 which he had squeezed into an accordion-shaped mass of paper, wet with the sweat of his hand but still readable and legible. That was a good thing.

He had been on a one-year contract and as a result had no severance package. He was under stress.
A lot of it, in fact.

Across from his chair, Kyle’s wife sat silently.

Stacy Cain’s face bore the look of a woman who has been through a lot but who didn’t see any better options. She read from a Kindle while her husband sat across their sitting room and brooded.

Both the Cains were East London born and bred – not Cockney, but you could see it from where they were. Kyle had grown up almost within sight of the Matchroom Stadium – along Manderville Street, just on the other side of Hackney Marsh from the ground.

Stacy had grown up on Glenarm Road, less than a mile from Kyle. She had watched him play at Hackney Marsh as a schoolboy and celebrated with him when he signed for The O’s. They had been married for twenty years. Now, they had just moved home, across the street from the ground, in the Oliver Road Allotments.

Their ‘drum’, in the local parlance, wasn’t a lot to write home about. It was enough. That was about all that could be said about it. Most of their remaining savings had gone into the place.

Kyle felt guilty.

“Bloody failure I am,” he said.

“Oh, seckle,” she replied, looking up from her reading. “You did what you could. But now we’ve got to figure a way out, yeah?”

Kyle had spent some of his money on Stacy. She appreciated that, even if she hadn't appreciated -- at all -- some of his other spending. But they had reconciled, and they were a team again.

Their daughter, sixteen-year old Jenna, was sat at a desktop computer playing Minecraft. She had been the only child, the apple of her father's eye, and had always been his biggest supporter. Including his wife, at times. That was hard to admit. But he had deserved that.

"Yeah," he finally said. "We've got to figure a way out."

Kyle leaned back in his chair, and wondered how that was supposed to happen. His reputation was, to be kind, unsettled. His first managerial stint had ended not only in failure, but in relegation. Who on earth would take that kind of chance?

There was no money in the bank. There was no severance. Kyle wondered what he was going to do.

# # #

Author’s notes: FM15 with Home Nations loaded. Starting, obviously, as “unemployed”.
1 September 2015

# # #
Lovely start to the story and a well written first update, very much looking forward to this!
Thanks so much ... I hope this effort is well-received. I appreciate the comment!

At first, the job search started well. In a manner not true to his nature, Kyle was optimistic.

Things had crashed down hard around him at Torquay, but he felt he had learned from his experience. And, for whatever it was worth, he had a recognizable name.

He wanted to be known as an innovative young manager rather than the one who had lost six of his last seven matches and gotten his team relegated. It was going to take some time to get to that point, however.

That’s why he was surprised when he got an interview at Barnsley, freshly relegated from the Championship, but which was looking to make an impression as well as an immediate trip back to the second tier.

Kyle was nervous as he sat across from chairman Maurice Watkins, and the chairman could see it.
That didn’t bode well, but the conversation certainly did get better from that point on. They talked easily, even if the applicant couldn’t help but attempt to straighten the knot on his tie on more than a few occasions.

The conversation then shifted to the youth setup. In his research on the club, Kyle had noted that the youth program wasn’t quite up to scratch – and for a club looking to retool, it certainly should have been.

He asked for an assurance that the youth facilities would be upgraded. He didn’t get that assurance.

He asked for an assurance that the youth staff would be upgraded. He didn’t get that assurance. But everything else seemed to go reasonably well.

As a result, when he reported back to Stacy, he was optimistic.

“I think I’ve got a shot,” he said. And he thought that for two days, while he waited for the decision.

They chose Terry Butcher instead. And Stacy wasn’t pleased.

“Why on earth did you ask them for something?” she asked. “That was ridiculous!”

“Because I get to ask for things,” he replied. “If I’m going to stay in a job longer than a year I need to be able to have input into the operation.”

But that didn’t cut any ice with Stacy, who had had to cut back on household items already. Kyle had found some part-time employment through an agency, but the thing of it was, he needed to be available when football jobs came.

He wanted to learn from the Barnsley experience, and thought he had when Weston-super-Mare was ready to make a move.

He had a strong interview there, too, but the job went to caretaker Ryan Northmore. So, he was oh-for-two.

Sutton United was next, and that interview went better than either of the other two. But the job went to Pete Batey.

And now Stacy was starting to get upset. Kyle could see the conversation spiraling downward and that wasn’t good.

“You need to look for a different career field,” she said. He tried to defend himself.

“What I need,” he retorted, “is a bit more support from you, to be honest. You’re just dred.”

“You need to finish the deal,” Stacy snapped. “Provide for this family.”

As she spoke, Jenna entered the room. She had heard everything, and from the sounds of things she was about to snap. When Kyle was in danger, Jenna never reacted well – even to her own mother.

“He’s trying,” she screeched. She had gone from zero to sixty, as the phrase goes, and was defending her father.

Stacy’s reaction to Jenna was as a blowtorch cutting through a steel pipe. Kyle tried to defuse the situation.

“Jenna, love, thank you but please don’t talk to your mother that way,” he said.

“Just you leave that to me,” Stacy thundered, continuing to shoot a look of death at her daughter through red-tinged eyes.

“I’ll do no such thing,” Kyle said. “You went extra on me and her and that has to stop. If we’re going to do this, we had better do this as a team.”

Stacy glared at him.

“If you had done things as a team we’d still be in Torquay,” she yelled, leaving the apartment and slamming the door behind her.

# # #
So much realism in this, Jenna would be me in this situation haha, great update.
The Cain family is not a happy ship at the moment. But yes, everyone needs a friend through thick and thin.

She had been frustrated, Kyle told himself.

And, after a night away from home, Stacy returned, seeming penitent. She had even tried to show it to Kyle after Jenna had gone to bed, though the experience was, to Kyle, a bit uncomfortable.

Jenna was less willing to forgive than her father had been, though, and the relationship between mother and daughter was strained nearly to the breaking point for a few days.

But on a day away just after the season started, Kyle went to Kidderminster to discuss the vacant position with Harriers. The early-season dismissals had begun, with the chairmen having the itchiest trigger fingers doing the deed early on.

Gary Whild had been let go after only eight matches and two wins, and Kyle liked the thought of trying to win with a squad that, on paper, was not bad at all.

This time the interview revolved around expectations, which were not being met. The job went to former Aldershot manager Kevin Dillon, who had a better pedigree and a Continental A license.

Terry Skiverton got the permanent job at Yeovil Town when it came up, and then there was Woking.
Garry Hill, who had gotten the Surrey club promoted to the Vanarama Conference National in 2012, was shown the door during the second week of September, with only two wins from the first ten matches.

Stacy liked that job better since it was closer to London and, as she admitted, the West Midlands weren’t exactly her first choice for a new home.

But with money becoming an increasingly important issue, Kyle didn’t really care where he worked as long as it was somewhere.

For Stacy, location was still important. Jenna was still in school, of course, and it was always good to he close to London and family.

Yet, it didn’t matter, since Kyle didn’t do well enough in the interview. Again.

Martin Foyle did, and Kyle was starting to get discouraged.

Jenna was good to him, though, and that helped a lot. Having one supportive face in the house when he found out that, once again, he hadn’t been selected, meant much.

She even got a job waiting tables at a local restaurant to help the family. Kyle appreciated that, since things were beyond desperate in terms of the bank book. The family was living hand to mouth and though Stacy had calmed her rhetoric, it was still pretty plain she felt that her husband either do better in his job search or find a different career.

Yet, Kyle perservered. Brackley Town of the Conference North let former Rushden man Jon Brady go after a series of bad results. Kyle was mentioned as a prime contender for the position – but this one went to Dean Holdsworth instead.

The losing streak was nearly as long as the one he had managed at Torquay now, and his mood grew blacker and blacker with each perceived failure.

It was at that time that he decided to capitulate.
# # #
Wow, Kyle has been so unfortunate all these interviews and he still hasn't got a job! Hopefully he does sooner or later.
Sadly for Kyle Cain, there's plenty more where that came from.

“I’ve decided that I’m going to try to find a full-time job out of football,” Kyle told the family after one more good job, that of Cheltenham’s, had gone to Nick Barmby and his Premiership pedigree instead of to the hungry young manager who needed a break.

Literally. He was nearly ready for assistance by that time, and his discouragement was like Winston Churchill’s famed “black dog”. It just didn’t look like anyone wanted him, even as a coach. He applied for several lower-level jobs and found nothing along those lines, either.

With that, he started applying for jobs around East London, in the hopes that someone who owned a business and supported Orient might put in a good word for him. That didn’t seem to help much, either, but these things take time.

But he couldn’t resist trying. The Southend job came up – but after a good interview, the position went to Colin Lee. He tried at Doncaster, but when he found out that Jamie Carragher had put his hat in the ring, he knew his position was untenable and two days later, the club confirmed his suspicions by an e-mail.

They all seemed to be the same:

Dear Mr. Cain:

Thank you for your time and interest in interviewing for the manager’s position at Doncaster United. We were impressed with your enthusiasm and your desire to see our club succeed.

However, we have gone in a different direction in our managerial choice. Your qualifications certainly do not preclude you from finding success in your search with another club, and we wish you well in your attempt.

David Blunt
Board Chairman

# # #
It hurt. All the rejections did.

Jenna read over Kyle’s shoulder as he opened his e-mail and even her comforting rub on her father’s shoulders didn’t help.

A single tear ran down Kyle’s cheek as he reached back over his shoulder to touch his daughter’s hand. He was trying as hard as he could, but things just didn’t seem to be working out. At all.

His confidence was so shattered that he didn’t even land the first “regular” non-football job he applied for, which was at the allotments themselves. He thought he could work on the grounds or something while waiting for a football job to come along. But they hadn’t been impressed enough with him.

Hemel Hempstead was next after a perfectly dreadful start to their season. The interview was pleasant enough, but Kyle was hardly surprised when the position went to Mark Stimson instead.

What followed, though, was rather extraordinary.

After being turned down by the club, he received a personal e-mail from the club’s commercial director, a lady called Diane Moore. She had been very kind in the interview and after a little discussion when it was done, informed Kyle that she herself had been unemployed herself when she had found her job and as such could see and understand the hunger in his eyes.

“If there’s anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to ask,”
she said, and when the Lowestoft Town job came up two weeks later, he took the lady up on her offer.

“I think if you were able to put in a good word for me, it might do me a world of good,”
he said after he had interviewed with Town, in a bit of candor. The interview had included their commercial director, and the connection seemed natural.

Moore’s answer was surprising.

“I’m afraid I don’t know anyone there,”
she replied.

But that was the whole point of letters of reference. Nobody ever knew the people to whom the letters were sent. That didn’t make sense to Kyle.

So he sent the information he had. It seemed quite reasonable.

Her reply was shocking.

“I don’t feel comfortable in that type of situation,” she wrote. “It doesn’t quite work for me, I’m afraid. I don’t feel I can help in that way. But I wish you the best and I’m sure you will find something soon.”

At that, Kyle blew a gasket.

It was bloody hard enough trying to find a job without people promising you things they had no intention of ever delivering. It cut him hard. Very hard, in fact. It wasn’t supposed to work for her. It was supposed to work for him.

Why someone would want to promise something to a desperate man and then not deliver, Kyle simply could not understand. He was furious and it was only by the hardest that he stopped himself from shattering his hall mirror after reading the last e-mail.

“People aren’t going to help you, Kyle,” Stacy had said. “You have to get used to that. Nobody is going to help you.”

All the while, he did a slow boil. He needed support at home. He wasn’t getting it. He needed someone to keep their word. He couldn’t get that either.

It had been a very bad day. But he had thought all day about how to reply to Diane Moore, and finally, he did.

He copied the woman’s words into his reply, and thought very carefully. He was never known as a master of words, but at that point in time he struck gold.

“Thank you for your kindness,” he wrote. “As for your opinion on my future employment, you might very well think that. I couldn’t possibly comment. Thank you for your time.”

He hit the ‘send’ button, and sat back in his chair, smiling a little smile of satisfaction.

His name was Kyle Cain, not Francis Urquhart. But right at that moment he wished he shared the fictional Prime Minister’s initials.

House of Cards¸ indeed.

Kyle had had enough. Capitulation, hell. It was time for him to show his teeth.

# # #
I bet his confidence is rock bottom, I think anyone's would be, I think Stacy needs to give him some more positive words of advice because I'm sure they'll help him! Love the story, great start.
He's got more issues than merely being unable to find a job. And as for positive feedback, let's just say Kyle will have to look for awhile longer.

“You know, I really don’t know why I’m married to you.”

Stacy sat in her chair across from Kyle, who had finally managed to corral a job in the shipping department of an East End warehousing company. The worst of things appeared to be over, but clearly Stacy Cain had her sights set higher.

“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?” he asked, and Stacy looked at him with a start.

“Well, who woke you up on the wrong side of bed today?” she demanded. “I’m just saying. You have a dead-end job, you can’t find a job in the field you want, and sometimes I wonder why I’m still married to you.”

He looked at her with a level expression.

“Where in the hell do you get off talking like that to me?” he asked.

“Since you slept with half the East End and wound up in a career that gets us nowhere,” she retorted.

“We’ve been over that and over that,” he replied. “The marriage counselor told us that it wasn’t fair to keep bringing it up. After what I did…”

“…doesn’t matter,” she answered. “I feel like this is a dead end.”

Kyle leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. He had one nerve left and here she was stamping on the damned thing. A feeling of helpless anger raged within him. So it was fair to dredge up his past whenever it suited her. It didn’t seem like anyone really cared about his well-being.

That’s life. Get a helmet.

He stared forward, his eyes trying and failing to focus on a picture hanging on the far wall. She kept talking. He didn’t exactly hear. Her words sort of all ran together, and finally he just leaned his head back in his chair.

He let Stacy talk it all out, and waited for a time after she was done.

He remembered the old saying: “You know where you find sympathy? You find it in the dictionary, between s**t and syphilis.”

Finally, he turned to her.

“I’m really sorry you feel that way,” Kyle said. “Genuinely sorry. But I’ll tell you this, Stacy … I’m going to take Jenna out for dinner. When I get back, I’ll expect you to be gone.”

She looked at him with wide eyes.

“Oh, yes,” he said. “I’m taking you seriously. If you don’t see a reason to be here, then you don’t have to be.”

“But … where would I go?” she asked.

“There are hotels around,” Kyle said. “But I’ll tell you something, as a footballer and as a manager. If someone on my team thinks I’m dred, they don’t have to stay. They can go.”

He sat for a minute, having called his wife’s bluff. The ball was clearly in Stacy’s court.

“You’re neither a footballer nor a manager,” she finally said.

Kyle returned to his e-mail, which contained correspondence with Wrexham on a job. He planned to go the next day and interview. The Red Dragons were languishing in the middle of the Conference table and clearly didn’t feel they should be, and the job appeared attractive to Kyle.

He was a bit surprised at himself, at how easily he had dismissed twenty years’ worth of relationship. But she had said she didn’t want to stay, and who was he to stand in her way?

In terms of coldness, he had taken a page from Betsy Moore’s play book.

Jenna entered the sitting room from her bedroom, dressed nicely for a dinner out with dad. Kyle rose from his chair, and to Jenna, it was as though nothing had happened. The entire conversation had been so quiet that she had never guessed anything was wrong.

And as father and daughter enjoyed a quiet dinner, Jenna still couldn’t tell.
# # #
When Kyle got back, Stacy was gone.

Sometimes calling someone’s bluff produces exactly the result which will bring the most pressure, and that’s just what happened in this case.

Jenna was quiet about her parents’ estrangement, and after 48 hours had passed, she wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Stacy return home.

“Kyle, let’s talk,” she had said, and had been unnerved to see her husband sitting, silent, through an entire conversation.

He had a different look about him. He sat with his face set, staring straight ahead as she talked. He wouldn’t even look at her, and when she was done, he finally turned to face her.

“Thank you for your honesty, Stacy,” he said. “You said what was on your mind and that’s good for you.”

“That’s it?” she asked. “After twenty years, all I get is ‘thank you for your bloody honesty’?”

“After twenty years, all I got was ‘I don’t know why I’m married to you’,” he said. Then he smiled, which really unnerved his estranged wife.

“You see, you gave me the courage to do what I really needed to do if I’m ever going to be happy in life or in a job,” he said. “I have to be me instead of trying to be what everyone else says I should be. You’re back in this house right now for yourself. I know that, you know that. You’re probably out of money, which is why you came back here.”

She said nothing.

“I know that you don’t get on with Jenna because she gets on better with me than she does with you,” he said. “And I know that right now, even as bad as things are going for me, you know that without me, you’re on the street. Your horrid, unemployable husband. Without me, you’re nothing, until you find someone else who will put up with you.”

She looked down at the floor.

Kyle really hadn’t thought twisting the knife would be this easy. He wasn’t sure whether he really liked himself for doing it, but watching Stacy squirm after all she had said … well, that felt nice.

“This is what I should have said to you years ago, Stacy,” Kyle said, warming to his task. “I’ve let you walk all over me – well, that’s over. I got down on my knees and apologised for what I did back in the day. You know that. And you hold it over my head like I’m some sort of dog that needs extra training. Well, I don’t. I’ve worked damned hard to support this family. Jenna sees it and evidently you do not.”

“Do you love me, Kyle?” she asked. It seemed like a 180-degree change of direction in the conversation and it took Kyle by surprise.

“Of course I do. I wouldn’t have let you in the house if I had thought otherwise.”

“That’s good, because the reason I came back here isn’t because I’m out of money. I came back here to tell you I’m pregnant.”

# # #
Bang! Have that for a plot twist! Another amazing part to your story. Nice work man :D
Isn't it, though? :) Thanks for reading!

That was shocking news. Kyle had been wrong on more than one front and he had to decide how to deal with it.

Stacy left that evening once again, and wouldn’t tell Kyle where she was going. So while he continued his job search, he had some extra thinking to do.

He had said he loved Stacy, and he meant it. He also knew that Stacy had access to the couple’s bank account, which was why she hadn’t run out of money.

So the thought of her on her own while carrying their second child was unnerving to Kyle as a man. The sixteen years of separation between Jenna and the unborn child was another issue for him to consider.

He had been very sure of himself. And he had misjudged, again. He felt like he was back at Torquay, where he made a hash out of trying to make good judgments.

Wrexham turned him down, hiring Andy Cale, instead. He didn’t wonder – if he was capable of that kind of misjudgment on a personal level, it wasn’t surprising that they didn’t want to hire him either.

He wondered if Stacy had really been right all along – if someone as capable of errors in personal judgment and professional judgment was really in the wrong business.

His desire for revenge on the people he saw as wronging him was stronger than ever, but as for what to do about it and how to go about it … well, those were different matters completely.

All he knew was that whatever made him feel good personally was wrong either for himself or for someone else. And the Wrexham job didn’t work out either. That went to Andy Cale.

It was to the point where he was about ready to give up.

St. Alban’s City was next, but his interview there was almost half-hearted by comparison. Word had gotten around about Kyle and his seemingly perpetual search for employment. Well, it was perpetual. What it was, was perpetually unsuccessful.

That was a position Kyle thought he could have walked, but that job went to John Beck instead.

It had now been almost five months since he had worked at Torquay and he felt it was pretty plain that nobody wanted him. He thought about coaching, but his interviews in that area didn’t seem to be gaining any traction for him either.

He started to turn toward other things. He started to read more, and found a second part-time job so that things were a bit easier for he and Jenna around the house.

Stacy stayed away. She kept drawing from the bank account when she needed money and Kyle really didn’t mind that. After all, she was pregnant with his baby and it would have taken a crueler man than Kyle to turn away someone under those circumstances.

It also kept her, and her persistently negative attitude, out of the house.

He had dinner with Jenna one evening and it suddenly dawned on him that since Stacy had left, his daughter had not asked, even once, about her mother’s well-being.

He asked her about it.

“Dad, it’s always about Mom and it always has been about Mom,” she said, picking at her food. “You know that. And you always knew that. I know you did some bad things, but I forgave you for them. She never did. I just don’t see how she can live her life that way.”

“I don’t either, sweetheart,” Kyle said. “I really don’t see how either.”

# # #
Bradford Park Avenue was next up for Kyle, but his heart wasn’t in the interview.

He was actually thinking about Stacy. That seemed odd to him.

She had told him, “oh, by the way, we’re pregnant” and then marched right back out of the house. What kind of person did something like that?

And the fact of the matter was that, obviously, Stacy being pregnant was a pretty significant surprise.

Kyle and Stacy were both thirty-nine, having been married quite young. Jenna had been planned – and so had brothers and sisters who, for reasons unknown, had never arrived. But Kyle had become a father at the tender age of twenty-three, and it had grown him up a bit.

And now, Stacy was pregnant again.

These things were on his mind as he sat with Avenue chairman John Dean at the Horsfall Stadium. The club was semi-professional but had still reached the Conference North – and for some reason, Dean’s ambition had outstripped his bank book.

Kyle could see it – anyone could – Avenue were overextended. He couldn’t get assurances regarding being able to change out portions of the playing staff, and also couldn’t get assurances regarding contract status for certain key players. There just wasn’t a fit.

But there was something else.

Kyle was afraid to fail again.

He could see all the signs – a club which didn’t seem to have the ability to match its ambitions, setting up someone to fail. Perhaps the reality was different, but Kyle’s mind was racing, and all he could see was a club that seemed destined to have difficulty.

So the inevitable rejection e-mail, when it came, wasn’t surprising.

This time, though, Kyle didn’t seem to mind the feeling he had. Usually when he was rejected he wallowed in self-pity. Now, he seemed to simply accept failure as it came to him, in the same way a combat soldier, knowing he’s doomed in a given engagement, seems to take death stoically, simply as a ‘cost of doing business’.

Jenna was now taking on additional hours as a waitress and as such wasn’t with her father most evenings, as she tried her best to help her father make ends meet.

It was sad. He was lonely, in his way.

And he felt like a going-nowhere, complete failure.

The word burned itself into his mind.

# # #
I honestly feel like I know him as a person if you know what I mean, you put a lot of detail into these updates :)

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