A Fifty Year Holiday…

I’ve devoted far too much of my time to playing Championship Manager 01/02 over the course of the pandemic, as well as following various CM0102 Twitter accounts, reading CM0102 blogs, watching streamers on Youtube and Twitch and browsing CM0102 subreddits. One of my favourite things to see are the random, funny, outlandish, unbelievable or downright impossible occurrences that happen in this crazy game.

With that in mind, I wondered to myself if I could generate a few oddities myself by starting a game, resigning immediately and taking a well-earned holiday after a solitary few minutes of employment. I’ll wade back in to the managerial waters at that point, presumably while looking at a rather different footballing landscape than the one I’d left!

There I was, a fresh-faced young football lover who recently sashayed his way through the UEFA coaching licence course and was eligible to manage at a professional level. I was PRETTY sure that by finishing that course I was on par with that Swedish fella England had hired and those French geezers in the Prem. I thought my agent had realised my worth, but when he got me the gig at Conference side Barnet, I was devastated. Maybe it was my fault. When he’d asked me if I wanted the job at Bar… I immediately cut him off, screamed “YES!” and hugged him. Though Barnet were more than willing to accept my job application (read: Raoul, my agent’s job application on my behalf) on July 14th, 2001 and I can only imagine their devastation when I immediately left the post after finding out I’d incorrectly assumed Raoul got me the Barcelona job rather than the Barnet one.

I excused myself from Raoul’s office in the middle of his “You’ve got zero experience. I was surprised Barnet even wanted you, so why would you think Barcelona would?” speech to pop ‘round the corner for some cigarettes. That quick trip eventually took a number of detours, resulting in a marriage, some kids and a stable career — one that prevented me from returning to football management.

Long after I’d retired and the kids had flown the coop, I received a frantic telephone call. It was Raoul wondering if I’d checked my email lately. I hadn’t. He suggested a quick chat at his office. I might as well, I thought. I’d got no plans and my better half was off on Mars visiting the kids for the day.

As I stroll back into his office on July 14th, 2051 the receptionist immediately tells me how sorry she is. I ask why, but we’re interrupted by Raoul’s door flying open, frantically telling me to get in there.

“Hey! Nice to see you after all this time. I’ll cut to the chase as time is of the essence. Trevor suddenly passed away yesterday morning.” Raoul said.

“Oh, I’m so sorry! Who’s Trevor? And what’s that got to do with me?”

“He is…was…your assistant.”

“Ummm. I’ve never had an assistant and I don’t know any Trevors.” I reply.

“He was your assistant coach for every managerial job I’ve ever got you.”

“I resigned from that Barnet job eons ago. What are you talking about?”

“Well, your resignation — or more specifically the REASON you resigned — made you a meme. The epitome of entitlement. Your name has always been in the public’s faces and due to that, I managed to parley it into a few managerial gigs for you.”

“Yeah, thanks. I’m well aware of the meme. But you must be aware that I've never managed a football team in my life…” I state.

“Not in person, you haven’t. But on paper… Didn’t you ever wonder why you had some extra money in your bank account from time to time?” Raoul asks.

“There was always enough money in my account to pay the bills, so I never paid any attention. Are you telling me I’ve had other jobs? Where the hell have I “worked” then???”

“Oh, you’ve had stints at a few lower league clubs. But you’re the boss of Purfleet right now.”

“Right now? I’m the gaffer at a club right now? Is that why you’ve called me in today?”

“Well, as I was mentioning earlier, Trevor just passed away. He and I were very good at explaining why you were never available. Scouting trips, long-term illnesses, deaths in the family…your Gran died VERY frequently, for example. You know, the usual excuses. Your name got our foot in the door, but then we’d just tell them that you were always in communication with Trevor and attended training sessions and meetings remotely. But Trevor’s passing has made things tricky. We can’t keep up the charade with him gone, so I’m hoping you’ll step back in.”

“That’s a big ask. I’d prefer if my name didn’t get dragged through the mud more than it already has, and being exposed as a fraud probably wouldn’t do me any favours. I suppose I could give it a go. How long could it possibly take to brush up on the time I’ve spent at Purfleet and make it look like I know what I’m doing?”

“Longer than you think. You’ve been there for twelve years now.”

“Twelve YEARS??? I’ve been there that long and they haven’t kicked me to the curb?”

“You even earned them a promotion to Division 3. But they kept you on even after the recent relegation back to the Conference.”

“Blimey. Maybe I need MY history too. Tell me everything. From the moment I resigned from the Barnet job to where we stand today.” I demand.

Now, while upset at being used like this, it does intrigue me that I’ve had this whole other life. And it turns out, Raoul’s been rather busy on my imaginary self’s behalf over the past half-century. Going through my managerial career takes him quite a long time.

“Well, Halifax was interested in you due to your ridiculous ambition to run things at Barcelona. So later in 2001, I got you the job there. They fired you in May 2002 as you had them in the relegation zone. They went down that year.

It wasn’t until Twitter really took off and everyone and their grandmother started sending memes to each other that your name became prominent again. So in 2010, Basingstoke Town thought they’d try to capitalise on it. You were there for about six months before they fired you. They finished 18th that season.

Five years later, Altrincham employed you for a five month stint before firing you in November 2016. Hendon hired you the following May (and fired you the next month) and both teams ended up being relegated that season. Quite an achievement to have two relegated teams in one season!

Worksop had you next for the entirety of the 2018–19 season and you guided them to 20th place and relegation. Relegation is a bit of a theme for your…and Trevor’s…tenures, by the way.

You finished the last 6 months of Harrow Borough’s 2021–22 season for them, and after finishing 2nd the prior season, you got them relegated.

Folkstone Invicta tried you next in 2025 but this time, rather than you dropping them (you finished 18th), they dropped you that summer.

It wasn’t until 2036 that you were back at a club, perhaps due to that President of Scotland that resigned cus he thought he’d been voted in as Prime Minister of Europe. Due to that cock up, your meme started doing the rounds again! Hyde Utd gave you the full 2036–37 season but they ended up firing you after being relegated. But later that year, Plymouth Argyle hired you for your first taste of Division 3 football. They weren’t relegated during that 2037–38 season, but had fired you by August after making a very slow start that they never recovered from. They were relegated that season.

Along came Purfleet the following June and you’ve been their gaffer for a dozen years now. You even won the Conference in your very first season and had them in Div 3 for eleven seasons. Never higher than 15th but never relegated until last month.”

“Ho. Lee. Crap. All those jobs while never showing up for a day of work? I’m not sure if I’m more impressed with your ability to get a non-existent manager jobs or these clubs’ absolute ineptitude at not uncovering this ruse you had going. Honestly, while I’d love to manage a football team, I suppose we’re left with a pair of options. I could stay — if you can call it that — at Purfleet and spend the summer getting up to speed with the footballing world, or I could resign due to the untimely passing of my great friend and right hand man that I’ve never met or even heard of until today. The media would certainly buy that excuse. And I suppose I could then actively start applying for other positions and start fresh… Thoughts???”

“I’m thrilled you’re giving this some serious thought”, Raoul said. “Looking around, I’m afraid there aren’t any job openings in England at the moment. So it’s either stay here or be patient.”

“What about elsewhere in the world? Now that teleportation is a thing, I’d happily give it a go anywhere.”

“There are a few open positions around the world or different levels… From lower league teams like Greenock Morton and Atletico Clube to Portugal to top clubs like Leverkusen, Veroia…”

“You mean Verona???” I ask.

“No, Veroia in Greece. Have you paid any attention to football since you left Barnet? Veroia have moved up from non-league to become a mainstay in the Greek National A league. They’ve even won a League/Cup double.”

“Never heard of them. So to answer your question, no, I really haven’t paid a lot of attention lately...or less lately either. I’ve been more involved with grassroots stuff with the kids and grandkids for the past decades… How about you tell me a bit about “my” club, Raoul. What do things look like here?”

“Well, bad news first. You’re in debt. Not by much, just 36k, but there’s no money to spend. The Purfleet stadium is called Thurrock Hotel and seats a thousand with a capacity of six thousand overall. And the facilities are adequate too.”

“The Rock Hotel? Sounds amazing! I’ll just go ahead and assume it was named after the classic 1996 film starring the late, great actors Sir Sean Connery and Sir Nicolas Cage.”

“Firstly, no. THURROCK Hotel. T-H-U-R-R-O-C-K. Additionally, your club has no assistant…obviously…but four coaches, five scouts and a physio, all of varying levels of uselessness. As far as players go, you’ve got forty-four players on the books, with exactly half of those being over the age of 29. Some good news, bad news again though. You do have a recently promoted 15yo forward from your academy named James Everitt that’s streets better than your starting strikers from last season. The bad news is that he’s still pretty rubbish. You may just have come down from Div 3, but this upcoming season would certainly be no walk in the park.”

“That’s an awful lot to take in at once, Raoul. Can I sleep on it? Discuss it with the family and some trusted friends?”

“Sure thing. We should be fine for the time being. I’ve already disseminated a press release yesterday evening with the same old clichés: we’re requesting privacy to grieve with family and friends and he’s considering his future during this difficult time. That should buy you a few days. So it’s Friday. Chat on Monday morning?”

“Sounds like a plan Raoul. And sorry for your loss.”

Silly premise for a story, I know. But I’ll ask twitter folks which route I should take. Stay or Go. It’ll be over on @CM0102Canada at some point after this is published. There will be lots more “what’s happened in the past 50 years?” talk in subsequent pieces as I explore the WCs, the continental tournaments, the FIFA rankings, club and player records, teams that rose through the ranks and teams that plummeted to the depths from all around the globe. Plus anything else I can think of…or gets suggested! Cheers for reading!

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