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Can't Smile Without You

Tottenham Hotspur Story
Started on 23 November 2015 by St. Martin
Latest Reply on 27 November 2015 by Jack
  • POSTS7
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Author's Note: Before I begin, may I thank you for reading? I am a real life Tottenham Hotspur supporter and look forward to taking the helm of my beloved lillywhites to bring you the action. As you'll soon find out, my story will be largely text-based, and in a narrative style. I will use some images, on occasion, mostly to add some visuals to the story; but I am a believer in creating an interesting narrative. Hopefully, I will be able to give some life to the new top man at White Hart Lane, Lucien St. Martin, and keep it interesting while I update you all on how we're doing. I have loaded England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as well as Brazil and Argentina. Thank you for reading.

Can't Smile Without You

A Tottenham Hotspur Story


Lucien St. Martin was sitting on his front porch in Paris' ritzy sixteenth arrondissement, gazing up at the clouds which moved slowly on a hot, sticky summer afternoon. He was taking a drag off of his Gallois cigarette and allowed his mind to wander off to things that had been. St. Martin had been a very successful footballer in his prime: a midfielder who represented his native France some 80 times and managed to tally up more than 20 goals and, more impressively he thought, 43 assists. He recalled those nights on Parc des princes playing in front of the better part of 50,000 cheering supporters, making split-second decisions to get the ball forward for the likes of Thierry Henry and playing beside the great Zinedine Zidane. As he got lost in the daydream, he even began to twitch his feet this way and that, physically reliving the glory days. It had been a magical time and, while it wasn't always so successful, he could always count on remembering his final tournament, in France: the World Cup 1998.

But those days had to end. Internationally, he went out as a champion and he would only play 3 more seasons in club football before, ultimately, retiring from the game. Spells at AS Saint Etienne, Real Madrid and, eventually, Paris St. Germain would lead to him becoming a somewhat household name in the European footballing world. Retirement in 2001 was bitter-sweet. He was leaving the game that he loved, and the game that loved him back, but he was leaving with so many fond memories. In any case, it didn't take St. Martin long to get back into football, first as a youth coach at his first professional club, AS St. Etienne, then as a first team coach at Burnley in England. By 2010, he had made the steps into management, taking control of Burnley and leading them to a disappointing overall result before getting sacked after just 13 months in charge. Those were dark days.

In 2012, Lucien had taken on management of the small French side, Paris FC. The French media had a field day when such an illustrious former footballer became the manager of such a small club. "It makes no sense," one reporter wrote. "Lucien St. Martin, the winner of a World Cup for our beloved France, is now managing one of our country's least successful clubs. This writer believes that this move shows that St. Martin has no ambition as a manager, which is odd because he was a supremely ambitious player."

But truth be told, Lucien enjoyed managing Paris FC and had even returned to play for them in the 2013-2014 season when the club was low in quality options at midfield. In that season, he made 14 appearances (proudly) and even managed to score a goal. But it was clear that his legs weren't what they used to be and he would never regain the match sharpness for which he had been so well known.

Lucien was awoken from his daydream when his pocket began to ring loudly. He crashed back down to earth and took out his cell phone.

"Salut?" said the Frenchman.

"Good afternoon, I'm looking for Mr. Lucien St. Martin, could I please speak to him," a woman, English she was, probably from London.

"This is him. And who am I speaking to," asked Lucien somewhat assertively. He had hoped that by signing with such a small club, the press would leave him relatively alone on his days off and he would have the option to just focus on developing himself as a manager; but in reality, he could not hide from them and they had been getting on his nerves lately being intrusive as they were prone to be.

"Ah, excellent. My name is Andrea, I'm Daniel Levy's personal assistant," relief came over Lucien. Relief, and then excitement.

What on earth does Daniel Levy want with me, he pondered to himself. Andrea continued.

"I'd like to put you through to him now, if it's a convenient time for you."

"Of course."

The phone went silent and then a man picked up.

"Lucien, good afternoon. I hope I'm not bothering you at a time that is inconvenient," it was Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Daniel Levy. Lucien had never met the man, but he did seem to know a lot about him: among the Hotspur faithful, there are mixed and very polar emotions regarding the Chairman but he had been very successful in implementing a financial programme that has seen the club grow massively from where it had been before he took over and the players that have come through Tottenham have been extraordinarily exiting: Berbatov, Modric, Lennon, and of course the masterful Gareth Bale.

Lucien’s heart began to beat quickly. What could Levy want? Surely, he wasn’t calling the manager of Paris FC for a transfer. Maybe he was interested in linking the clubs, making Tottenham a parent club and offering Paris the chance to take on young players for loan? Lucien would soon find out.

“Without going into too much detail, Lucien, I need a new manager.”

“Oh?” Lucien was floored, but remained externally calm.

“I remember your days with Real Madrid and the French national side fondly, and I know that you had a hard time in Burnley, but your performance with Paris FC has been very good. Long story short, I’d like you to come to London and meet with me and we can discuss whether or not this would be a good fit for you and for the club.”

“Of course,” said Lucien. The pair chatted over the phone for another five minutes or so before hanging up. What had just happened? Was that for real? Those questions were answered in about an hour when an email confirming the meeting, with an attached plane ticket arrived in Lucien’s mailbox. He could still scarcely believe it. Though he had never lived in London, he had been there on many occasions and always found it an extremely enticing city. He would be visiting again in a few days and, to be honest, he was excited about it.
Great to see another "textie" writing here. Glad to see your work and will be looking forward to more!
Maybe it's a North American thing :lol: Either way, thank you for the comment, I look forward to bringing more content.
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Can't Smile Without You

Chapter 1: A New City, a New Job


As he stepped onto the tarmac at Heathrow Airport in London, Lucien St. Martin couldn’t help but be excited. Of course, he maintained his steely exterior as he approached the black town car which had been sent to pick him up. “Never let them see what’s going on underneath,” he thought to himself. “This is Britain: stiff upper lip and all that.” The chauffeur stepped out and opened the door for him and he stepped in. He was thankful to be alone in the back seat of the town car, it would give him the chance to collect his thoughts before he sat down with the Chairman.

Fiddling with some papers from his briefcase, Lucien began to plan out what he wanted to say: Tottenham are a great club, they could achieve great things with the right decisions being made, there were just a few final steps to take before getting into Champions’ League football, and young players had to be the future. He felt that nervous twinge in his gut that he hadn’t felt since he was a young player, making his debut in the first team. “I haven’t felt that in a while,” he thought to himself, touching his abdomen. “It brings me back.”

The car ride seemed to take an hour, thought it was relatively quick. When they arrived at White Hart Lane, Lucien thanked the driver and stepped out of the car. He made his way towards the corporate offices and approached the secretary.

“Hello Andrea, I’m Lucien St. Martin; I have a meeting with Mr. Levy.”

“You can go right in, he’s expecting you.” And so he did go right in and found a board table, encircled by the top brass at Tottenham Hotspur and one, lonely chair just at the end. Andrea followed him in with a notebook and took a chair in the corner of the room, directly over Daniel Levy’s right shoulder. She was pretty, with an illuminating smile. It put Lucien at ease to be able to catch her gaze throughout the meeting and become, once again, reassured.

Having never married, Lucien was as eligible a bachelor as they came. He had dated and, during his playing days, had many women but he never settled down and never married. It hadn’t really occurred to him that he might like to and he was not really bothered by his single status.

“Please, sit down.” Daniel Levy’s order to the prospective new manager was firm, but polite. “Welcome to White Hart Lane,” he said smiling. “We’re very pleased to welcome you here and we have been very much looking forward to this meeting.” Levy introduced the various members of the board sitting around the table and then got to the point. “What we are looking for is a manager who is willing to work with young players, and bring young players into the club, within the first team. We understand that this will mean that we may have to temper expectations for the first season or two, but that’s what we believe will give us the best chance to move forward.”

Lucien was relieved to know that the board had agreed with his assessment of what needed to happen. “I couldn’t agree more. And may I say that I think you’ve assembled a very strong squad here. Only two or three pieces are missing before Tottenham are perennial favourites to compete in the Champions’ League,” Lucien said. “In particular, I think that Spurs could use a second striker to put some pressure on Harry Kane and provide an alternative to him when it’s needed, and some additional firepower from the midfield. Obviously, Christian Eriksen and Harry are top players and I think I could build a very strong team around them.”

A smile crept onto Levy’s face. It was pretty clear that he was happy to hear what he had heard. “Our expectation would be that you qualify for the Europa League again, and that you reach the knockout round in that competition this year. Europa isn’t a priority for us, and we would rather you focus on the Premier League, but you should still be able to make it past the group stages there and earn some extra income for the club.”

“I agree with that assessment,” said Lucien.

The conversation went on for another quarter of an hour before Daniel Levy informed Lucien that the decision on the new manager would be made within the week and he would be informed regardless of the outcome. The men thanked one another for the meeting and Lucien returned to Paris that night.

***

It had been three days since the meeting at Spurs and Lucien had been busy with training at Paris FC when his phone rang.

“Good evening Lucien,” the familiar voice of Andrea at White Hart Lane again. Lucien’s heart jumped up into his throat – part because he was speaking to a beautiful woman, part because he was about to find out the result of the interview.

“Ah, hello Andrea.”

“Mr. Levy would like to speak to you, may I put him through?” Something in her voice seemed to suggest good news – but was Lucien projecting?

“Sure.”

“Lucien, how are you?”

“Good thank you. How are you?”

“I might be better in a minute. I’d like to offer you the job. Would you like to accept it?”

“Thank you. I would.”

“Then I’m very good because I now have a new manager.”

“Alright, I’ll send you the contract information, you can sign it and you’ll start next week. I’ll inform the Paris FC board and we’ll come to an agreement on compensation. I will see you next Saturday.”

“I’m looking forward to it. Thank you Mr. Levy.”

“Thank you, Lucien. Goodbye.”
Your writing style is awesome! It's really given you a great foundation to build a good story on :D
Thanks so much, Jack. I am really looking forward to this.

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Can't Smile Without You

Chapter 2: Starting Fresh


It had been two weeks and Lucien had finally arrived in North London, ready to take on his job. To be honest, he had found it difficult these last two weeks to dedicate himself fully to the task at Paris FC. His thoughts lain with the Lillywhites of North London and he spent more time than what was responsible as the manager of Paris on watching video clips of Tottenham and their rivals in the English Premier League. Sure, it meant he was prepared for what was oncoming but it did occur to him that he was, perhaps, not leaving on the most professional note. As a player, St. Martin prided himself on his ability to finish a task with the same dedication with which he had started, but this commitment apparently did not carry through to this situation. And who could blame him? He had just received what was, by any standard, a massive promotion and this was his first foray into high-level management.

Daniel Levy’s beautiful assistant, Andrea, had sent him all of the information to prepare him for his first day at the Lane and his transition to London. The club had prepared him a small flat on the High Road, about 15 minutes away from the stadium. It was a nice enough apartment, though it was thoroughly modern in its décor and architecture, which didn’t suit Lucien’s more rustic taste. Perhaps he would find a new place outside of the city that was replete with rustic charm. Not a priority at the minute, though, was it? He had a team to organize and lead. His plane arrived at Heathrow at 3:30 that morning, and he arrived at his new home about an our afterwards. Nerves kept him awake for what seemed like forever but was, in reality, only another hour. Though early to bed, early to rise may make one healthy, wealthy, and wise but Lucien would have to rely on other good virtues to achieve that on this occasion.

A board meeting had been scheduled for 09:30, where Daniel Levy and his associates would speak to Lucien briefly about what was expected and they could have a conversation about what was to come in the following year. Immediately following the board meeting, there would be a Press Conference where Levy would announce St. Martin as the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur and St. Martin would have the opportunity to meet the English press who were, he knew from experience, sometimes quite savage and brutal. Next, he would meet his team – the part for which he was most excited – and introduce himself to them. Finally, he would meet with his staff at 15:30 and then the rest was up to him. A busy day ahead.

Six thirty came and the loud buzz of the alarm rang through what was a largely empty apartment space. Exhausted, Lucien got to his feet and stumbled his way to the bathroom where he took a morning piss and brushed his teeth. In the mirror, he saw blood-shot eyes staring achingly back at him and hair that looked as though he had lived in a cave for the last ten years instead of the high-end Parisian sixteenth arrondissement. Lucien, being a person who prizes continuity and ritual above almost all else, had a very intricate morning routine: he would begin with a hot shower, switching the water to ice cold for the last fifteen seconds in order to stimulate blood flow. It was supposed to be very good for skin care and vascular health. He would then come out of the shower, dry off using an Egyptian cotton towel – always cream in colour – and put on his silk bathrobe which he picked up in China as a player. Then, he would smoke his first cigarette of the day with a cup of steaming-hot espresso while reading the newspaper before returning to the bathroom to moisturize his skin and comb his dark brown hair. Next, it was on to the bedroom, where he would dress himself and take a final look in the mirror to inspect if there were any deficiencies that needed correcting. He had on occasion strayed form this routine but often found that, when he had, he was often ill-prepared for the day ahead.

So it was today and then, by 08:30, he was picked up and brought to White Hart Lane where he was shown to his office to prepare and await the board meeting. Soon enough, Andrea was at his door to escort him to the board room where the board, except for Daniel Levy, were all seated.

“Good morning gentlemen,” he said calmly as he walked to take his seat. They all responded with various nods and grunts, as the English tend to do, and Lucien took his seat. They all waited in almost deafening silence for fifteen minutes before the Chairman came into the room. Embarrassingly, Lucien got to his feet when the Chairman came in – as he believed was the English custom – but the rest remained firmly planted in their seats.

“Please, sit down,” said Levy warmly, a wry smile beginning to form on the corners of his lips. “Thank you for taking the time to speak with us this morning. We’ll keep it brief as I am more than unusually busy. I will start by giving you my expectations for the season and then we’ll talk transfer and wage budgets. Alright?” St. Martin nodded his approval of the agenda and Levy continued. “We expect that you will qualify for the Europa League once again this year, and by so doing solidify our position in the Premier League. We expect that you will do this all the while using our young players in the first team. I think speak for all of us here when I say that we hope that this investment of time and energy into the young players will lead to a strong future for the club in the medium-term. Likewise, we expect that you will make the sixth round of the FA Cup and that you will make it to the knockout stages of the Europa League this year. All of this should be achievable with a little over 17,000,000 pounds in transfer budget and around 200,000 pounds per week for a wage budget. Is this agreeable?”

Lucien agreed to those terms. The rest of the meeting was fairly uninteresting: the group discussed specifics about the squad, the proposed public relations campaign, and the upcoming training camp in China before Daniel Levy called an end to the proceedings in order to allow him and Lucien time enough to go and have some photos taken at the pitch. Soon enough, it was time for the meeting with the press. As far as press conferences go, this was a tame one. Levy started off by introducing Lucien St. Martin as manager and expressing complete support for him. Then a few questions were asked of St. Martin that one would always expect at these sorts of things. There were no difficult questions and there were certainly no curveballs thrown at that event.

Finally, time to meet his squad. The first team were all assembled in one of the board rooms when Lucien arrived. He walked into the meeting room with a quiet air of confidence that one might have expected from a Frenchman, and he took his place at the front of the room.

“Good afternoon, thank you all for coming. I’m the new gaffer, Lucien St. Martin, and I’m looking forward to working with you. I don’t have a lot to say today, but I wanted to introduce myself to you all and tell you that if we play to our top potential, I see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to qualify for the Champions’ League this year.”

Eyebrows were raised: did he really just say Champions’ League? Most experts agreed that Tottenham, though a good squad, was probably more likely to reach the Europa League than the Champions’ League. Certainly, this ambition was well received by the vast majority of the team, but Erik Lamela, the talismanic right winger, and Nabil Bentaleb, another young central midfielder, were not convinced.

“Gaffer, we’re pleased to have you and all, but don’t you think that you’re being a bit too ambitious with this?”

“No Erik, I don’t. I think that we can achieve the goals I’ve suggested, but only if we play our best on a consistent basis.”

“I’m still not really convinced, but I’ll certainly give you my all.”

“Alright, well, I’m happy with that. This season will be something special, lads, I really think it will.”

Leaving the boardroom and the players behind to chatter about the meeting that they had just had, Lucien was ready for a small nap and a bite of lunch before going on to meet his staff.

Can't Smile Without You

Chapter 3: First Friendlies


Now it was a warm July morning, a Wednesday, and Lucien St. Martin went through his normal morning routine before going down to White Hart Lane for the team’s first friendly of the pre-season. It wouldn’t be too big a challenge for the Spurs side and it was more of an opportunity for them to put in a good physical performance and get some touches on the ball at match speed. Maybe some of the players Lucien saw as being backup would put in a good performance and earn themselves more attention throughout the pre-season, but by and large, this was not a match for team selection.

As Lucien arrived at the ground, he could feel a buzz, an anticipation. It had occurred to him that he would like to meet the President of the Spurs Supporters Club in London, Tim Fellowes, so that would be his first meeting. Tim was a keen young man from just up the street. As Lucien walked down the corridor to his office, Tim’s shadow was easily seen sitting in the chair outside of the manager’s locked office.

“You must be Mr. Fellowes,” said Lucien, extending a hand a warm smile. A good relationship with the fans would be important to him in this venture and this seemed as good a way as any to make it work. “Please, come in.”

The two entered the office and began with some small talk over a hot cup of tea, delivered by the lovely Andrea. Soon, their talk turned to the coming match against Ajax. “Are you looking forward to the match,” Lucien asked.

“Very much so; looking forward to seeing the lads put in a performance today. Have you any idea who you’ll be playing and you’ll be waiting on?”

It was obvious that Tim wanted to know everything. “I’ll tell you, but you must promise me you won’t tell anyone about it until after the team sheets are released.” Tim agreed. “Alright, I’m going to be trying to play with a 4-1-2-2-1 formation – you know the one,” Lucien drew out the familiar shape which had become the go-to formation for most of Europe in the past two years. “WE want to play a modern, attacking football this season and I think this gives us the best chance to do that. I’m keen that we don’t give our opponents too much time on the ball and the Chairman is keen to make sure that we keep possession and attack well. That kind of tells you how we’re going to play in possession and out.”

The truth was, Lucien wasn’t one who cared much for possession football. He didn’t care how long he had the ball, as long as the ball ended up in the back of the goal when he was done with it. But the Chairman wants what the Chairman wants and, if it were up to Lucien, the Chairman would get it. “We’re going to push them when they’re in possession; it will be a lot of hard work to transition back into attack and then we’re going to attack directly a lot of the time, to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. Hopefully, we will be proficient enough in winning back the ball that we can have a decent amount of possession without wasting time passing it backwards and laterally all day – that’s not how Spurs play football.”

Tim seemed impressed with the manager’s desired tactical approach. “That’s brilliant, gaffer; we fans just want to make sure that our football is still attractive to watch while it brings success.”

“That’s what I’m hoping for too, Tim.”

The meeting concluded with a photo for the club press, and a short interview with the director of PR. No doubt, they would be releasing a news story on the club’s website to get fans onside. Tim was a thoroughly nice chap, and Lucien genuinely enjoyed his meeting. He even scratched down a little note in his personal notebook that he would like to meet with Tim monthly to keep abreast of how the club’s supporters were feeling about manager and the lad’s performances. But with such a hectic schedule, who knows if it would happen.

It was now 09:30 in the morning and the lads were on the pitch doing a very light training session ahead of the match. Lucien thought he’d like to go down and spend an hour with them during this training session so he quickly changed into his tracksuit and boots and made his way down to the pitch. Assistant Manager Jesus Perez had the players running through a series of low-impact exercises, mostly just getting some touches on the ball, when Lucien arrived at the pitch.

“I’ll just speak to them for a moment, Jesus, if you don’t mind,” said Lucien. Jesus nodded and called the boys in. They jogged leisurely toward the manager. Some took a knee, others stood up. “Right lads, today we are facing off against Ajax from Amsterdam. It’s going to be the fan’s first look at us for this season. I’ve just had a meeting with Tim Fellowes and for those who don’t know, he’s the President of the London Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Association. He’s looking forward to seeing how we can do in today’s match and so am I.

“What I want to see from you this morning is a bit of fun. We’re not training this morning to run our legs out – we’ll do that tonight – we’re just having as many touches on the ball as we can and looking to get a little more acquainted with the tactics I want to bring into the season. Keep your focus this morning and don’t worry about going full hog. We want you to be rested and fit for this afternoon. Now carry on with training and I’ll see you later.”

The lads got back to their training and Lucien went back inside.

***

As the friendly approached, and the stands filled up, Lucien had a nervous tingling in his stomach. Granted, it was only a friendly and, granted, it was the first friendly of the season. But something was niggling at Lucien: he wanted this match to go well for the fans, the lads and for himself. If they could do well in this match, then it would get the whole of the first year off on the right foot. If they failed, it was going to take some work to convince the lads of his views.

The team had just finished warming up and made their way back into the dressing room. Jesus had them all sat down when St. Martin walked into the room. “Right lads, you’ll remember that earlier today I said to take it easy in training because the hard work starts tonight, yeah? Well I meant it. We want to work hard to win back possession tonight and we want to play a direct style of football when we’re off the ball. Hugo, you’ll be between the sticks and wearing the armband for us tonight. Centreback, we’ve got Jan and Toby. Next to them Kyle will be on the right and Danny is on the left. Dyer, I want you to play holding midfielder just behind Christian and Nabil. Erik, you’ll be playing on that right wing but I want you to get forward and cut inside to be a threat on goal. Kyle will worry about creating the width when we’re in possession. The same goes for you, Nacer and Danny. Finally, in front we’re going to go with Harry. Don’t forget to put pressure on their back line when we’re not in possession.”

The team went out as such and played a drab 45 minutes of football. 1-1 was the score going into halftime and the lads never really looked like they had any sharpness. Lucien was relatively upset at the performance but you couldn’t tell it from his team talk. “Well, boys, that was a bit of a let-off wasn’t it? But that’s alright, it’s your first match of the season and we’re not too worried about performance. Just go out there and work your asses off and we’ll be happy on this end.” His calm demeanour looked to really relax the boys, who thought they might be in for a hair dryer treatment. “But we are going to change things up for the second half. You lads put in a good half, but we’re going to literally just do a swap of our boys.” Jesus read out the new lineup and the boys went back out for another boring half. 2-2 was the final score this time.
This is unbelievable writing for a member so new to the site! Some really good stuff coming out of this story and all I can say is keep it up!

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