Date: Jan 24th 2013
Majesty … Mad Jet Ski … Reading Football Club
Press Conference Room 39
(2nd door on the left just past the gents toilet).
The Reading Manager, Sporting ABeerGut enters the room sporting a big smile and takes his seat at the press conference table next to his assistant manager and personal shopper Sylvie van der Vaart. His eyes unnoticeably survey the room, assessing the waiting melee of press and public and mentally preparing for absolutely anything.
Nothing, and no one, was going to catch him off guard today.
SABG: Huh? What?
Reporter2: He said ‘Morning’
SABG: Of course it is. We knew after the game that we’d all go home, think about this week’s result and wake up knowing full well that it would be morning. Next question.
R2: We haven’t started yet
SABG: Started what?
R2: Asking the questions
SABG: So it’s just me then?
An uneasy silence falls over the room. Glances are exchanged. Was SABG taking another step along the road to a mental breakdown?
R1: So, quite wet and windy today, eh?
SABG: I thought we agreed not to talk about my personal hygiene?
R1: Well, you do look a bit rough this morning.
SABG: Yes, I forgot to shave. Just my face though. The legs are smooth as silk.
More silence and an awkward sideways glance from Sylvie.
R2: So, after failing to qualify for the Champions League and now missing out on a Europa League spot, what are your plans now?
SABG: Plans? We’re supposed to have plans?
Sylvie leans over and whispers something in his ear.
SABG: Ah yes. Plans. We have them. Lots of them, in fact. Big plans, smalls, Plan A, Plan B and emergency back-up plan Zero Dark Thirty. The plans are in place.
R2: So what will you be doing?
R1: About 5-10 at Her Majesty’s pleasure.
The whole conference room erupts in a fit of laughter.
SABG: Sorry. Not following. What do you mean?
R2: I think he’s referring to your recent court case where you were accused of embezzling previously allocated funds under the ownership of Reading Football Club.
SABG looks confused. Sylvie whispers in his ear once more.
SABG: Oh … the whole missing money misunderstanding. It was obviously an accounting error. If I’m honest, I was just in it for the money. Trying to make LOTS of it in case … I don’t die.
R2: But you were found guilty and are due to be sentenced next week.
SABG: I know. How unfair is that? I only re-directed a few Euros into an offshore pyramid scheme whilst falsifying tax returns and forging shareholder signatures.
R2: That’s pretty damning evidence.
SABG: Rubbish. It was a victimless crime. I mean, it’s not like I kicked a ball boy or something!
(ASIDE) Turns to Sylvie and covers his mouth.
SABG: You know, the number of lies I tell on a daily basis would decrease significantly if people stopped asking me stupid questions.
Sylvie: You don’t like that reporter?
SABG: Oh I think he’s one in a million. I just hope that the next lightning strike hits the same one.
Sylvie: Come on, it’s not that bad.
SABG: I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than be here right now. But, seeing as I’m already here, I’ll have to stick pins in someone else’s eyes instead.
Sylvie: Your mic is still on … !
(TO THE ROOM)
R2: People are saying that you’re systematically destroying the club. Dragging the club down the table. Blindly activating your Wild Card and decreasing your team value with every incompetent transfer.
SABG: I can’t believe the real Reading fans are saying that!
R1: Why not?
SABG: Well … none of them can even spell ‘systematically’, for a start.
R1: With that sort of comment, you can’t be making many friends – how do you feel? Empty on the inside?
SABG: The best thing about being empty inside is having a lot more room for alcohol.
R2: Moving on. After recovering from your recent bout of gout, will you be playing an active role in the team training sessions?
SABG: No. Climbing onto the garage roof to get my son’s football is enough exercise.
R2: So you’re not in top condition?
SABG: Nonsense – I said … I’ve just been up on the roof! And … I went to the gym last night and now I’m totally ripped.
SABG: Well, I tore a muscle in my back …
R1: Sounds like you need a personal trainer at the gym.
SABG: I have one. And he’s also a taxidermist. Thinking about it, it might be time to join a different gym.
R2: You could always install some exercise equipment in your office.
SABG: I know but it’s hard to find an exercise bike with a little basket on the front where I can put my nachos and beer.
R1: Will you be talking in riddles the whole time?
SABG: Yes. Now riddle me this: If I glue a piece of bread to a cat’s back and the buttered side is facing up …
R1: … will the cat land on its feet or will the bread land on the buttered side?
SABG: Errr, no. I was actually going to ask … how to get the cat into the toaster?
R2: Jeez … So, how is your relationship with the players?
SABG: It’s great. On all levels. Only this morning we had a light-hearted discussion about which one of them had the coolest boots.
R2: But that’s ridiculous!
SABG: That’s what I said. It’s absolutely clear that I have the coolest boots!
R1: Back on topic. There’s been a lot of speculation about your future. Alan Pardew said that you might be taking up a managerial position in France.
SABG: France? Not a chance. Joey Barton lives there you know. Clever lad and all that but it’s a shame about the other 97% of the population.
R2: So you don’t trust the French people?
SABG: Do you? I mean, how do they get the mashed potato inside their French Fries? HOW DO THEY DO IT? Not to be trusted at all.
R2: So what does the future hold?
SABG: Actually, I’ve had an offer from a top club in Italy, in fact: G.S. Fidene Calcio. Twinned with Dagenham and Redbridge, obviously.
Sylvie: I’ve been meaning to ask, how long will it take us to drive to Rome?
SABG: Not sure, baby. Depends on how much Red Bull I drink and how many nuns I hit on the way.
(SABG STANDS UP, TURNS TO FACE HIS ADVERTORIAL ADVERSARIES)
SABG: Ciao Tutti!
And with that, they depart. The noise was deafening. Hundreds of voices talking at once and the flash and whirr of camera’s filled the air but SABG didn’t hear any of it.
Was it the end of an era? Not at all. SABG already knew he would be in charge of Reading for the rest of the season.
This was the start of something beautiful.
The comeback was on.