The Liverpool Problem: First Training

My assistant manager, Sammy Lee, led me onto the training pitch at Melwood. There was already all sorts of activity going on all over the place. The whole senior squad was dotted around, stretching and doing keepy ups. Carragher was isolated on his own down by a corner flag, just screaming. Veins were throbbing out from his head, his face purple, eyes wide, sweat and spit coming off him like a waterfall.

I leaned down to Sammy. ‘What’s going on there, what’s Carra at?’. Sammy shook his head.

‘Since Kenny got the boot, Carra’s taken this notion about communication and has decided to practice his shouting and screaming skills. It’s all he does now, all day long’. I nodded as Sammy spoke. Then something else caught my eye.

At the other end of the pitch I could see Jay Spearing in goals, stuck out on the wing was Martin Kelly and stood near the corner of the box was Lucas. Then as if on cue, Kelly crossed the ball to Lucas who nodded it down into the path of an onrushing Steven Gerrard, who I had just noticed. Gerrard smashed the volley past the helpless Jay Spearing, who didn’t even dive. He just leapt into a kind of joyous up and down arm pumping motion and screamed ‘That’s it our Steve!’ as Gerrard wheeled off pumping his arms at an imaginary Kop.

But what really caught me on the hop was the second Gerrards volley hit the net, I heard a thick Scottish voice. ‘Awww ya beauty! What a hit son! What. A. Hit.’ I craned my head around the dugout I had settled in with Sammy. Andy Gray was hunched there with a microphone and daft looking headphones on. He noticed me from the corner of his eye but turned slightly to ignore me.

‘What the hell is Andy Gray doing here? And he has those daft headphones on, the big ones. He looks like he’s on the way to the home changing room at the Emirates’.

‘Stevie got him in, this is all he does all training, re-enact his Olympiakos goal over and over and over and Andy does the commentary’ said Sammy. I pinched the bridge of my nose. In the background Spearing, Kelly and Lucas took their places to begin the farcical pantomine again.

‘I’ll tell him to leave’ and I looked round the dugout.

‘Andy’. He looked further away, refsuing to acknowledge me.

‘Andy’. Again he just looked the other way.

‘ANDY!’ I shouted. He looked at me with his big hurt eyes, like a small labrador pup whose piss puddle has just been stood in.

‘What?’ he said in his thick accent. The ‘t’ at the end of what really punctuated the end of the word.

‘You can’t be commentating on our training sessions Andy. You’ll have to leave’. He looked lost for a moment and then produced a tactics table from behind him.

‘Ah robbed this from Sky before Ah laift. It’s the tactics table mesailf and Richard used tay use after matches. Ah could use it wih yer trainings?’. He stood there gesturing to the tactics table, his eyes so hopeful. His sanity and his dignity as a man might have depended on this. How could I dent this poor mans pride?

The tactics table smashed onto his prostrate body as it lay on the tarmac outside the gates of Melwood. ‘What a hit son! What. A. Hit.’ I joked to the security man who had first thrown Andy and then the table. The first decision of my reign as Liverpool managaer was done. Now, onto the hard stuff.

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