Hope?

I spent my next few weeks of summer doing what any smart manager would do… throw their hat into the ring for literally EVERY single job going. Columbus Crew? Count me in. LAFC? I’m down for some MLS action.

Neither came to any fruition. I continued to search for more jobs, anything, just to begin my adventure. The main football season had kicked off already, the transfer window had shut in all countries, and the Carabao Cup was already heading into the 3rd round… I was beginning to lose hope, when suddenly, I had a brainwave… AFRICA!

I was so impressed with myself that I allowed myself a little celebration. I stuck Toto on the speakers and cranked the volume up. I did a little jig and hop, before settling down back into my comfy chair and began writing my applications. Yes, you heard me, applications, plural of application. It turns out most major African nations need U23 managers desperately. I applied for Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, all of them for the U23 post. ‘Surely… surely I can get one of these‘ I thought. Jerry the cat walked in, rubbed up against my leg and curled up on my feet like a foot warmer. He may have been making himself comfortable at this point, but Jerry and I had no idea what adventures laid waiting for us.

Jerry, you’d better not be scared of planes, or flying, or both” I exclaimed as I burst into the room. I picked him up and swung him around my arms, before dropping him back on the floor, and running around the room like a child at Christmas. I had 5 replies from the different FA’s… ALL 5 WANTED ME! I had never had so much variety in my life, I was giddy with choice! I decided I needed to sit down and work this one out, so I grabbed a pen and paper, and made some brief notes.

Cameroon
These guys are mostly well known for producing a certain Samuel Eto’o, and generally being a very good African team. Their current manager, ex-Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf is also new to the job, having been appointed the same summer, so it would be a complete rebuild adding me to the backroom staff.

Ivory Coast
Arguably the most recognised African team, the Ivory Coast was a very appealing case indeed. With players like Didier Drogba, the Touré brothers and most recently, players like Wilfried Zaha (albeit he switched allegiance from England), and Eric Bailly in the ranks, they have a reputation for producing talent. Could I continue the trend?

Senegal
Senegal have emerged as a dark horse of sorts, with many predicting them to progress from their World Cup group, and they very almost made it. But back to the present day, and they have a strong side currently, with some more young players to come through. Senegal would be an exciting side to work with for sure, especially knowing Sadio Mané and Baldé Keita have established themselves on the world stage.

Morocco
Two words. Hervé Renard. The current Morocco manager has won the most prestigious African tournament not once, but twice with two separate nations, firstly with the major underdogs of Zambia, and secondly with the Ivory Coast. To work under him would provide me with some crucial experience, plus a country that has produced Mehdi Benatia can’t be that bad at football…

Ghana
Ever since the infamous ‘Luis Suarez’ incident in 2010 during the quarter-final of the World Cup, I have never seen Ghana reach the same heights. Asamoah Gyan is still the captain, and he has been hiding in and around the Arabian leagues for a while now. This would be a big rebuild challenge for me, I need to produce some fine youth talents to bring Ghana back to their former glories.

After sitting and considering the options, and mulling them over, I decided to begin a reply to Mr. Aliou Cissé, the current manager of Senegal’s national side. I began to pack my bags when I hear a ‘ping’ from my laptop. It read:

To: Thomas Bailey

Subject: Welcome!

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A New Dawn.

It had been a tough few years, but it had finally worked out. After working through a few years of replacing bulbs and switching off engine management lights, the patience had finally worn thin. I walked into the manager’s office inside the crummy Halford’s store one day and handed him an envelope. Inside, it contained my letter of resignation. I had finally completed my management course, meaning I could begin to look for a job in the football world. He looked at me with a smirk, telling me “You’ll never make it boy…”. I was never to forget those words. I grinned and walked out, not uttering a word as I left. I’m Thomas Bailey, and this is my story…

If there’s one thing you don’t know about getting into football management, it’s that it’s… bloody difficult to get into the job. It was mid-summer, and I was expecting to see job offers rushing in for the new kid on the block, but it wasn’t to be. I flicked through the list of vacancies, hoping to see if there was a reasonable opening for a new guy, and then it came… Hemel Hempstead. They were a small, but stable club that I could start out at! I sent in my application, and sat and waited… and waited… and waited. Maybe it got lost in the post… maybe they’ve already got it… no, it’s been a day, and this is the Royal Mail we’re on about, of course it hasn’t got there yet. Days passed, and I began to lose hope, when suddenly… the postbox rattles. I almost run to the door, stumbling over myself to see if it had arrived, eager with anticipa- just bills. That was it. Just some bills. I slumped back on the sofa and wanted to cry. Maybe I’ll never get my shot…

A few more days passed, and eventually… it arrived. A reply from Hemel Hempstead chairman David Boggins. They had accepted my application, and had invited me for an interview! I grab my black bomber coat and hop into my rusty Vauxhall Corsa, and head off to Hemel Hempstead in search of the new home of Thomas Bailey and his management skills… if he knew how to get there of course.

So that didn’t go to plan… I slam the door of my poor old Corsa, and smack the steering wheel, making the car horn yelp as if it had truly felt the pain I had just experienced and now inflicted. I apologised to the car before giving myself a going over. What had happened in there? Well I may have messed up the interview a teeny-weeny bit. How? I may have argued back to the chairman about academy issues. In my defense… I… yeah, I’ve got nothing. I may have just blown the best chance I had to get onto the footballing ladder.