I pitched up at Heston services at 11pm on Tuesday night. It’s where my contact had insisted we meet. Out of the public eye and with a bit of privacy to discuss business. I was warming my hands on a half drunk cup of tea, considering my options for the week ahead when a firm hand gripped my shoulder and a harsh voice spoke directly into my ear, “so you’re in the market for a right back are you? You’ve come to the right place, boy.”
Earlier that day Kieran Trippier had been hauled into my office. In he limped, a look of resignation plastered across his face. “I’m sorry Kieran, but I’ve got to keep a balanced squad and you’re inclusion, at the moment, is making things lopsided. You’re the only proper right back in the squad and you can’t walk, let alone run at the moment. You’re not much use to me, son.”
He glanced up at me across my grandiose mahogany desk. I pressed my Waterford crystal glass, filled with a dash of something strong to my lips and held his stare. “I understand, boss,” he said. “I understand.”
It was with a hint of sadness that I watched him hobble out of the room. He had been the first choice as right back for the season, but business is business and £5.5m is £5.5m. Business had to be done and getting back what we paid for a crocked full back is good business.
It also meant that I had £5.5m burning a hole in my pocket and left me in dire need of a right back.
“So, who’ve you got lined up for me?” I firmly enquire to Gary, the agent I’m now sat opposite at Heston services. His heavily ringed left hand crashes against the table as he swivels to pull a few pieces of paper out of the pocket of the suit jacket he’s just placed over the back of his chair.
“I’ve got a few options,” he remarks. “I’ve got a Brazilian, a young Englishman who’d fit into your defence like a glove, a pacey Spaniard and a reliable Portuguese number. Take your pick.”
It was quite the selection. I’d made overtures to Hector Bellerin before the season started, but we couldn’t pull a deal together then and it was unlikely we could now. Arsenal are demanding £6m and won’t entertain the £5.5m I’ve got to play with.
I ask Gary to get Kyle Walker-Peters on the blower. He duly obliges. The youngster sounds enthusiastic, but I’m not convinced. He represents a budget option that would leave a little cake left over to feed other areas of the team if needs be. I’m not sold, though.
I’d been watching Bernardo Silva in training closely and he looks detached from the rest of the lads. His English isn’t quite there and the rest of us struggle to understand Harry Kane at times, too. A fellow Portuguese speaker could be just the tonic.
There’s too much red tape for me to get Danilo in, though. The league rules make it tricky for me to get anything done and Gary wants a big fee to set it up, too. I politely tell him “no chance”, for he’s a slightly terrifying looking man and the teenager behind the counter at Costa Coffee doesn’t look he’d be too much help if it comes on top in this deserted service station.
“I’ll take Cedric then, Gaz, set it up,” I say.
“Call me Gaz again and I’ll do you,” he responds. I stutter out an apology as he reaches back into his pocket to get the necessary paperwork.
The ink is still drying as I start the engine and get back onto the M4. It wasn’t the stress free transaction I’d hoped for, but I got a right back I think highly of and hopefully he can help Bernardo assimilate into FC Fakin’ Run Aboutabit that little bit quicker. I’ve also got £500k left over and it’s always nice to have a bit of margin to work with.
Cedric turned up bright and early Wednesday morning and will slot straight into the side for the weekend. We’re going to stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation that served us well last week and hopefully Kano’s efforts on the training ground will pay off for our skipper.
No administrative cock ups this week, Gabbiadini starts. He’s got over last week’s mishap and we had a laugh about it yesterday, which was a relief.
Team for week 2:
Butland – Cedric, Stones, Keane, Bertrand (VC) – Xakha, Kante – Gabbiadini, Alli, de Bruyne – Kane (C)
Subs – Ake, Silva, Rodriguez