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Rob Ridgway's "Rat Pack"

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Meanwhile, the fellow who scored twice for Arsenal yesterday says he wouldn’t mind leaving late in the window.

Robin van Persie, who has had several days over the last two years where training wasn’t on his list of things to do, has now all but tattooed “I Would Like Inter To Bid For Me” across his forehead.

This morning’s Mirror sports section had the article, in which the player is quoted as saying he wouldn’t mind the chance to expand his horizons. At this point, if I were Arsene Wenger I’d tell him he could leave in January while I lined up a replacement.

He’s a great player, van Persie is, but he’s cancer in the changing room. I can’t imagine his teammates are real happy with the constant distractions he’s provided. For me, though, he can moan all he wants – as long as he stays with our rivals and causes disharmony. I’m selfish that way.

# # #

I stood upstairs today for another reason. It was the last day of the transfer window and I had business I wanted to conduct.

Talking with Shorey and the scouts regarding Fleck, I had to note that I didn’t want to bid more for Fleck than we had for Henri Saivet. I’m of the opinion that considering my relationship with Rangers, we could wait until we get the price we want to pay. It’s a gamble, because Fleck’s talent is one I wouldn’t want to lose if I had the chance to get it, but the conclusion we reached was that he’s not a better player than Saivet.

I didn’t get to Walter first, though. Newcastle did, to express their own interest. I got a text message from a front office friend of mine at Ibrox that Walter was on the phone with Sam Allardyce regarding the youngster.

I was second best to Ibrox because while I was dialing Smith, I was interrupted by my first conversation with Oleg Protasov of Sunderland.

His interest was in our England u-21, Golbourne.

We’ve got Scott rated at £2.1 million but the thing I like about him is that he’s not only pacey, he can cross a ball like a demon and can play both left midfield and left full back. In that regard he’s rapidly coming to be a useful option off the bench and even as a way to rest Pogatetz from time to time. He has a definite future with us and I’m not interested in selling him.

So the Ukranian manager, who played his club football in Greece, had a job on to convince me.

Faé’s sale actually emboldened me – it’s the first time in my managerial career I sold a player for good value that I actually wanted to sell for whatever reason – so it was easier for me to tell Protasov that I want to hang on to certain players.

I praised him for his decision to bring Pazienza back to the Premiership and told him he had a nice player on his hands, but he wasn’t getting anywhere with regard to Golbourne.

The biggest reason for that is that That said, my asking price for Golbourne would be a lot higher than his valuation in any event. I was honest with him about that. Though Scott would play a lot more for Protasov, there’s something to be said for a young player biding his time and waiting for his chance at a larger club – which we now are by comparison.

So, his wish unfulfilled, Oleg went elsewhere.

That gave me an opportunity to call Walter, wondering as I dialed if I’d get bad news.

We exchanged pleasantries and he told me his phone had been ringing off the hook that morning.

“Newcastle came in with an offer we accepted for Fleck,” Walter said. “However, we did not do the deal because the boy didn’t want to go there.”

“Is that because he wants to stay at Rangers?” I asked. “A boyhood club can, and should, be difficult to leave.”

“He thinks Newcastle is some ways away from where they ought to be,” Smith answered. I couldn’t dispute that -- though Big Sam has them all the way up to ninth in the table after a lackluster 2008-09 season.

“Well, then should we keep talking?” I asked. “I can give him contention for the Champions League just as easily as you can.”

“He’ll listen to you, and you know why that is,” Smith said. “That’s all I know. Anything else will have to be said by his representative.”

“Of course,” I said. “We’re prepared to offer the 30 percent sell on and a fee of £2.5 million.”

“The fee is on the low end,” he said. “I have to be honest about that. I will check with the financial office and someone will get back with you. Good luck, Rob.”

I hung up the phone and waited.

# # #

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Placing bids and waiting...one of the aspects of this game that is truly brutal on the manager, especially with bids coming in for players too...love the closed season as well as the transfer windows in this game.

As far as the story goes, excellent...but nearly 40K views speaks for itself.

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Copper, thanks ... this bid was kind of from out of the blue. I hadn't intended to actively bid for Fleck but Rangers inquired about Cathcart and I decided to turn the tables to see what might happen. RR does have Rangers listed as a favorite club.

___

Text messages flashed by me for most of the morning with last-minute deals.

Newcastle, spurned by Fleck, opted to bolster its defense instead by signing veteran Mexican international Francisco Javier Rodríguez for £4.7 million from Chivas.

Blackburn dipped into the market as well, paying Parma £9.25 million for Algerian winger Karim Ziani, and Manchester City dipped heavily into its transfer budget as well.

Lille Metropole is down two players as a result, but has surely turned a profit for the year. The first player to go was the onetime French u-21 striker Issiar Dia, who netted seven times last season but already has five in his first seven matches this year. That price was a cool £16.75 million.

While I digested that information, news flashed of a second deal between the clubs. This one sent the fine French international midfielder Mathieu Debuchy to the blue side of Manchester for £11 million more.

The only thing Debuchy lacks is pace. He can do just about everything else well – it just takes him awhile to get in a position where he can do it. In a slower-paced attack, though, he can be a very dangerous player. He’s also quite physically and mentally strong. I think that could be a decent pickup for Sven.

Pompey, after making an acquisition yesterday, made a sale today, sending Brazilian central defender Luizao to Bolton for £10.25 million. He featured 36 times for Nilsson last year as a £6.5 million purchase from Vasco, so the club made a nice profit in the process.

While I waited, during the morning break I checked out the internet for more stories. It was reported by more than one source that Liverpool are ready to ruin my day by signing Sergio Aguero away from Atletico, but I can only hope that Javier Irureta is ready to go to the wall to keep his prize asset.

A strike force of Torres and Aguero would make me either start or stop drinking depending on my current mood – and Torres could even be a target striker of sorts for them if that pairing were seriously contemplated. Point being, it would be bad news for the rest of us.

Mercifully, the phone then rang. It was Smith, accepting the offer for Fleck. I instructed our financial department to get the information for his representation before lunchtime. I wanted, and needed, to hurry.

# # #

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I was in a hurry with the press at lunchtime, due to the need to be available for talks regarding Fleck.

I also didn’t want Richmond getting involved in any way, so I kept mum to the media and stuck to the script about last Saturday.

That wasn’t the worst thing in the world, since I had some questions to answer. Most all of them had to do with Baptista, who had an introductory news conference scheduled right after my own. Waters – not Winthrop – had been busy this morning.

As a result, the crowd was a bit larger and I was asked why I had put Baptista on the bench so soon after getting him signed.

“Because I knew he’d score,” I said with a grin. I knew full well what the headlines would read after such a statement, but what the hell. I’m entitled to a little fun.

They didn’t want to talk with me so much as they wanted to talk with Baptista, so my portion of the day was soon over. I then had the enjoyable task of trying to decipher Baptista’s somewhat broken English along with the rest of the press corps.

He’s learning the language but it’s an evolving process. My own conversations with him are held in Spanish, so we can communicate fluently, but this was sort of fun to watch.

The best part of it for me was watching Julio use broken English to duck the questions he didn’t want to answer, such as why he didn’t play more at Real.

A couple of Spanish-speaking journalists made the trip, and when Julio didn’t answer well enough to suit them in English they re-asked him the question in their different language.

Then he just didn’t answer. So I did it for him.

“Julio is a proud man,” I said. “I’m not going to tell Bernd Schuster his business because the man’s just won the European Cup, but Julio thinks he should play more. He intends to show Bernd that he should have played more where he was. However, the most important thing to me is that he plays well where he is, which is Reading Football Club. I don’t want to dwell on the past and neither does Julio. Next question.”

The new man looked at me and simply smiled.

# # #

“Four years,” I said.

“That will do,” Julian Edwards said. As Fleck’s representation, his job was to get his client a contract ‘down south’. I figured Berkshire was south enough for us, and the raise we were offering was a nice bump, easily affordable with the 15 percent wage hike per season our offer contained over the contract’s term.

It seemed like it was going easily. Given the fate of many of my player acquisition efforts, one might even say it was going too well.

“Mr. Fleck has asked for smooth negotiation,” Edwards said. “He wants to play for you provided, of course, that terms can be met.”

“Well, we’d love to have him here,” I admitted. “One would assume we can get a medical done?”

“I will send him south right away,” he said. “We can get a medical done and get conditional papers signed right away.”

“That’s excellent,” I said. “A pleasure doing business with you.”

“And with you, Mr. Ridgway,” Edwards replied, a touch of the diplomat in his voice. You never know when someone will pull the rug out from under you in a negotiation, so he could afford to be pleasant this time. People like Philippe Dumont offer abject lessons on what sometimes happens in that department when you aren’t.

I e-mailed the financial department. We’re spending not quite half of the kitty we got for Cox and Faé, and are getting another of Europe’s bright young talents. To me, that seems like a pretty good day.

# # #

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Looks like RR is handling Julio well so far, but he's got to be wary; he's got an ego on him has that boy.

I myself have never had the pleasure of managing Baptista on FM, but in RL he seems somewhat inconsistent. Utterly indomnitable on his day, but very ordinary on a worrying basis. It'll be interesting to see how he performs for Reading.

PS - A clear pattern has emerged concerning Rob's preferred type of attacker - Giovanni, Maloney, Kalou, Dica, Saivet, Fleck - all talented, technically gifted wingers who can ghost into the striker's position. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there are future moves for Farfan, Elija or Stankovic.

Meanwhile, in defence, Rob seems to prefer pacy gorillas who have some sort of personal-space disorder ;-)

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TV, I have to admit your post almost made me spit my coffee. Funny, and in thinking about it, I suppose apropos in its way!

___

Tuesday, September 1

World summary

Coca-Cola Championship (promotion and playoff places only)

Hull (10), Charlton (9), Ipswich (9), Millwall (8), Leeds (8), Birmingham (7)

League One (promotion and playoff places only)

MK Dons (10), Blackpool (10), Cheltenham (10), Stoke (9), Oldham (8), Carlisle (7)

League Two (promotion and playoff places only)

Accrington (12), Port Vale (10), Rotherham (9), Chesterfield (9), Crewe (7), Bristol Rovers (7), Grimsby Town (7)

Conference National (promotion and playoff places only)

Tamworth (15), Crawley Town (13), Southport (13), Aldershot (12), Weymouth (12)

Ligue One – Marseille (17), Lyon (14), St. Etienne (13)

Bundesliga – Bayern Munich (12), Mainz (9), Köln (9)

Eredivisie – NAC Breda (10), Feyenoord (10), Heerenveen (8)

Serie A – Napoli (4), Livorno (4), Fiorentina (4)

SPL – Celtic (15), Rangers (13), Aberdeen (7)

La Liga – Atletico Madrid (6), Valencia (6), Celta (6)

Another day, another new face.

That won’t happen until January now, though, as the window closed last night without any further additions. Fleck was with us for this morning’s training and after passing his medical, met with his new teammates.

He also met with his new manager, which was a good thing.

Fleck said what all young players say – they want to play but they know they have to work hard.

The first thing I asked him after shaking his hand was to inquire about how his uncle was doing.

Robert Fleck was a teammate of mine here at Reading. He closed out his career here in 1998-99, scoring five times in 29 matches. In his career, he scored 137 goals for Rangers, Norwich, Chelsea, Bolton, Bristol City, and finally Reading.

The elder Fleck was my teammate in my next-to-last season here, before my release and stint in MLS.

He and I got on well – and that was one reason why John chose to listen to our offer. He had been talking with his family.

“He’s good,” he said. “He said to say hi and that I’d like playing for you.”

“Glad to hear it,” I smiled. “I’ve got some plans for you, but at this time I need you to get your head down and get to work. I can see playing you in the cup competitions if you show me you are ready to go and have learned our system.”

“Fair,” he replied. “I can do that.”

“I know you can,” I said before dismissing him to training.

# # #

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I also gave Fleck a present today – I added him, along with Baptista, to our expanded list of 25 players for the Champions League group stages.

Faé’s departure made one slot available and Baptista got the other in place of Shane Long while we help him find a new club.

So, we had a couple of happy new boys at training today. I also got the chance to watch Baptista work.

He’s impressive. He does most everything you could ask a striker to do, and he does the small things very well. Kitson looks a little scared, in fact, which I expected.

Frankly, though, Dave needs someone to help drive him in training since we don’t have another target striker with anything approaching his ability.

Dave also harbors England ambitions after one and a fraction really good seasons, and our entry into the Champions League will help raise his profile. That is, if he can now beat out Baptista to play.

Steve McClaren’s England is the hottest thing going at the moment, making child’s play of its World Cup qualifying group. Optimism about the national team here is as high as it’s ever been. Dave would dearly love to be a part of that. So I don’t need to worry about his motivation.

Grand strategy aside, today was a day to prepare for Bolton. Sammy Lee’s team has won two and lost three to sit in the middle of a huge log jam at mid-table. They will enter play tenth in the league while we’re up to sixth after the win over Boro.

I can see good things on the horizon if we keep working, but today we spent the majority of the morning session working on team defense.

The late-half breakdowns we continually suffer are really starting to annoy me and obviously if we’re going to be a contender domestically or in Europe we have to fix that issue.

That means I’m putting more pressure on the back four. I love Ferreira for the work ethic he brings, but he’s reaching a point in his career where I have to start watching him carefully.

He isn’t bouncing back from matches as quickly as he used to, and I’ve found a need to have Rosenior, Bikey or even Halls spell him from time to time. He signed a two-year deal with us last year and I’m not sure he would earn another deal based on what I’ve seen in recent weeks.

For his part, Paolo just wants to play and contribute, but I need that contribution to be better than what it has been. I may dip into the January market if I can find a young gun there, since Halls really isn’t a long-term solution either.

Some of that slippage showed through in training today. Paolo didn’t have a good day, to be blunt, and it’s got me thinking about his place for the midweek.

Yet, the way I think you should motivate a player isn’t to make him nervous for his future. Paolo, like any good professional, will already put enough pressure on himself so I don’t have to do it for him. Simply moving Bikey to the right full back slot during defensive drills told him all that needed to be said.

It was sad, in a way, but time marches on.

# # #

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Sir John called me to his office this afternoon prior to the board meeting – for the first conversation we had had since I was told he was in on the Beckham bid.

I don’t usually like to wait that long between conversations with the boss, but things have been going well since that time so I really didn’t feel the need to darken his doorway.

He handed me a Reader’s Digest version of our balance sheets, which I thought was an interesting idea on his part. That was due to the numbers I saw as well as his decision to let me see part of the club's books.

He’s spent a lot of time trying to convince me that we needed Beckham from a financial standpoint, so to see what I saw was frankly shocking.

“You’ll notice that things are going well,” he said, directing my attention to the bottom line.

“They seem to be,” I said. “Qualification for the Champions League will certainly help with all that.”

“We are in very good shape,” Sir John said. “Therefore, an agenda item in today’s board meeting will be to announce that your transfer budget for January will be expanded by one and one-half million pounds. Your preliminary budget for January will therefore be £16.75 million.”

I smiled. “Thank you,” I said. “Hopefully we won’t need to spend on top-flight talent, though I wouldn’t mind digging into some youth spending at that time.”

“That is at your discretion,” he said, with hardly a flicker of emotion that would have suggested we had disagreed over Beckham. “Spend as you see fit, up to budget limits.”

“But, Sir John,” I began, and he locked eyes with me. “Isn’t Sidney going to launch his bid for the club after the New Year?”

“I’m giving you the January budget figures for a reason,” the owner said. “I intend to be in charge of this club at that time. That is a battle for me to fight and I have every reason to believe I will win. You should begin your planning.”

I was dying to ask the question on my mind, so I did.

“So why did we split on Beckham?”

“Rob, it was a business decision,” he said. “We may still try to bring him here in January, if we are still in contention in Europe and if we need him domestically. You can’t deny he’d draw.”

“We already draw,” I said, in a gentle reminder. “That’s one reason why your balance sheets are as healthy as they are.”

“We’d arrive as a club,” he said. “And we’d arrive as a destination point for younger players who might do better for us than Beckham could do. But, Rob, someone has to be the first.”

I looked at him, and suddenly realized what he was trying to do. He really was trying to help. He just hadn’t told me all his reasons why. That vexes me, but I have to believe that in time, he will again trust me with all that information.

“I understand,” I finally said. And, I really did.

“Excellent,” Madejski said, extending his hand. Our firm handshake ended the disagreement. I turned to leave.

“Oh, and, Rob,” he said, as an aside. I turned to face him again.

He pointed to his credenza, where a set of rolled-up paper plans rested.

“We’re expanding the stadium again, to be completed this summer. We’re adding to the hotel and to the ground capacity. We should be just under 40,000 by the time we’re done. Does that answer any other questions you might have?”

“To a tee,” I answered. “I think we understand each other again, Sir John.”

# # #

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WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW i just found this and i have to admit this is brilliant fun and so full of depth ive only read the start but already im hooked and i just had to say THANK YOU and i hope you keep going and going!!!!

You have a amazing talent in writing and anything Football Manager related just makes it even better!

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10-3 is there anyone on these forums who hasn't read RatPack?

I can promise you that no matter what time of the day or night you veiw the thread there is always (and I do mean ALWAYS) someone reading it. Quite often it's a non-FMS regular.

How do you keep up the flow of new readers? Are you using subliminal advertising on the forum load up!

Seriously though, stop it! :D

Really, truthfully, excellent work.

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BigDave, first off welcome to the forums and second, welcome to the Rat Pack! Thanks for giving this thread your first post. I am glad you like the start of this story -- if you want additional details you might want to set aside a week or so of time and read its predecessor, 'American Calcio'. I realize it's a bit of a slog, but this work has been in progress for about two years now.

Mike, sir, thank you. I've noticed some names of non-posters reading this thread when I check my comments, and it's flattering to see that RR pulls in people to read who don't usually post. I'm sure that is the case with a lot of work here, but I think the higher view count of this story may pull in some readers. I'm just happy people enjoy it after all this time.

___

One of the teams we haven’t overhauled at this early point in the season is Liverpool. Their manager, Rafa Benitez, got the league’s first Manager of the Month award as a result.

He won five games out of six, which isn’t bad. Still, though, Liverpool does not sit first. Arsenal, which has only its loss to us as a blemish on its record, holds that lofty perch.

Meanwhile, we lay in the weeds here in Berkshire and wait for someone to come along that we can bite. I won’t say I dislike that.

However, Alves’ tying goal against us in the Chelsea match was named as the Premier League’s Goal of the Month for August. I suppose it has to happen to everyone sooner or later, but that really annoyed me.

Not because it wasn’t a good goal. It was. It’s just that now I’m going to have to watch the damn thing all season long.

In the States, if you’re a guy who LeBron James dunks over during an NBA game while a photographer is shooting a picture from under the hoop, you’ve been ‘postered’. Your image might wind up on someone’s wall as an example of ineptitude.

Now, people will watch Alves bend the ball around my entire defense and home for the champions of England, and we’ll get postered each and every time.

I tried to use that for a little negative motivation as we prepare for Bolton tomorrow.

“We’ll be watching that goal all season,” I reminded the squad as I walked up and down their rows during stretching. “And just think, men, all you have to do to stop that kind of crap is to tighten up in the last five minutes before the whistle. That’s all you have to do. I expect you to do that tomorrow. See if you can deliver.”

Lobont wasn’t happy, since he was in goal for the wonder strike. He couldn’t be blamed, but it’s his arm and the back of his shirt that everyone sees on the replay and he doesn’t like it.

So, the players kept their thoughts to themselves as they trained. They seemed focused, if not especially sharp. I’d take one of those over the other one on most days.

# # #

Arriving at home today, I really didn’t know what to expect.

My conversations with Patty haven’t exactly been positive lately, and I know I regret it. I also know I shouldn’t worry about Hardcastle. It’s completely unreasonable.

He has a job to do. I’m paying him for it. If anything ever did happen I’d ruin his business and I’d be proud to do so.

But I had more important things to worry about as I entered the house. I needed to make things right with Patty.

It’s been too long since I felt completely secure in that regard and that bothers me. That’s because lately I have had next to no time to work on my marriage, and with Patty pregnant, now is the time when we should be the happiest.

These things weigh on a man. On the way home I stopped at a fine liquor purveyor and bought a bottle of wine to ease the transition from manager to husband.

I eased my Aston Martin into the left-hand space in our garage and closed the door behind me. Leaning back into the leather seat for a moment, I collected my thoughts.

“No fighting, no opposition,” I said, repeating myself a few times to make sure that R. Ridgway had indeed heard the message.

I looked to my left, in the passenger seat, to make sure the wine hadn’t grown legs and walked away. It was odd, but I actually felt nervous.

Finally, there was nothing else for it. I opened the car door, got out of the car, and headed into the house.

My entry was greeted with silence. After all that worry and all that trouble, no one was home.

# # #

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Meanwhile, we lay in the weeds here in Berkshire and wait for someone to come along that we can bite. I won’t say I dislike that.

Hahaha, I love this line!

Also, argh, you and your cliffhangers! >.<

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Gentlemen, greatly appreciated! A short post today, but one for RR to think about.

___

Sighing, I put the wine into a chiller and flipped on the television set. Sitting back in my chair, I saw Sky Sports’ Champions League preview show and saw their panel of experts picking us to finish third in our group behind Barcelona and Hamburg.

Frankly, I’d be pleased with continuing on somewhere in Europe after our group matches are over. For me, beating PSG at home is vital if we want to entertain any thoughts of making the knockout stages. It all starts with the first match and the momentum it generates, and my hope is that we can come out flying when the Frenchmen come to Berkshire.

Watching the show, though, I got the impression that the press isn’t too keen on our chances even though some of them have picked us to finish as high as second in the Premiership. I wouldn’t mind that – automatic qualification for the Champions League would mean a lot to us for more reasons than the mere financial – assuming Richmond isn’t running the show by this time next year.

It was a very nice late summer day, and finally there was nothing else to do but start preparing dinner. My Blackberry was empty of new messages, I had no idea where Patty was, and finally I decided to place a call.

“I’m about a mile away,” she said. “I decided to do a little shopping this afternoon and had car trouble. Thor is giving me a ride home.”

“That’s not my name,” I heard the security man say, with a laugh in his voice.

“Well, I’m starting dinner,” I said. “What do you want?”

“Hold off a few minutes and we can decide when I get home,” she said. That seemed reasonable.

So I waited. I took a few moments to stand on the front porch and look out over the road, while a warm breeze pushed its way past my face.

Moments later, they arrived. The car pulled up into the driveway, and Patty prepared to leave. She looked over at Hardcastle, smiled, and gave him a hug. Then it was his turn to smile.

Then she got out of the car.

“Hi, Rob,” she said, her voice relaxed and happy. She walked past me and into the house.

# # #

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Break up Patty and Rob, and I'm taking a flight to America to kick you in the gnads, 10-3. :mad:

10-3's just adding a dose of reality to their relationship, since it's been pretty much all roses so far. Sooner or later, the wife will do something to make the husband 100% miserable with his life, as we are seeing here!

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10-3's just adding a dose of reality to their relationship, since it's been pretty much all roses so far. Sooner or later, the wife will do something to make the husband 100% miserable with his life, as we are seeing here!

I'm aware - but the warning is still there just in case he decides to do it ;)

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You cant seriously expect 10-3 to make it easy for Rob. Since when has he ever done that?! If anything, he sets out to make his day the worst possible, despite the amazing on field success ;)

Patty has almost become too perfect, and I think the relationship needed to have a little rock - you know, reflect life, make the story even more addictive.

Well done 10-3, you really do know how to captovate us all.

Keep it up - Or else a kick in the knads will seem like a holiday in the sun with a top model compared to what I will do ;):p

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please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay-please-make-Thor-gay... or else, what WelshWolf will do to you will be like a piece of smooth sweet chocolate cheesecake being hand-fed to you by a top model compared with what *I* will do to you :):p

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10-3 this has been brilliant thus far, are you ever tempted though to move Patty to the background at all and have her as a dutiful wife/mother character for a bit?

Reading Rat Pack and the Padova story (American Calcio? Can't recall the name sorry!) there's been so much between Rob and Patty, is it tempting to give them a bit of peace and give Rob another advasary? Perhaps a powerful board ally for Richmond?

Not being critical, just curious about what appeals to you.

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Wow ... lots of comments on this post. Thanks to everyone, even though a full-on kick in the junk from Viper is not high on my list of things to receive :D

I'd just say this is an exercise in how people perceive the character of Patty Ridgway. Stoehrst, their relationship hasn't always been perfect, as parts of Calcio will attest. However, there's no doubt it has been rooted in some deep love and affection. Bear in mind also that this narrative is seen through the eyes of Rob Ridgway -- so his view of his wife is naturally going to be a bit skewed in that direction. Readers of this story read Patty's character using words selected by Rob.

As far as realism goes, I find the spread of thought here quite interesting. There are celebrity relationships that are even smoother than this one (singers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw come to mind in terms of public persona) while a large number of such relationships do not survive.

Patty's road to prominence has been unlikely, I will admit -- but it does happen for people that way from time to time. People do get 'discovered', and they handle that change to their lives in different ways. I have tried to portray Patty as intelligent, a foil for Rob, and as someone who is occasionally quite insecure. Some of those traits may need to be revisited.

Foozle, if I were to list Rob's current antagonists I'd have to list Richmond, McGuire, Winthrop, Emiliani and occasionally even Sir John. The season's major story arc is still to come, so you never know who else is going to pile on :)

Again, thanks to all for commenting. Another shorter post today ... I'm taking my time with this particular arc.

___

Wednesday, September 2

Reading (3-2-0, 6th place) v Bolton (2-0-3, 10th place) – EPL Match Day #6

Well, she looks happy, anyway.

I don’t begrudge Patty her happiness. I do, however, begrudge her happiness with someone else.

I wanted an explanation for the hug. I’ve got that right.

“I was grateful to him, Rob,” she said with an exasperated tone as we finally sat to dinner. “I went into town last night to do a little quiet shopping so I called to let him know my whereabouts. And, unfortunately, the water pump went out on my car on the way, so he picked me up and took me shopping. He did what he was supposed to do, Rob. He kept people away from me and he made me feel secure.”

I wondered what had happened to the Patty who could, as recently as a year go, go to a workplace that was filled with negativity and come home strong and secure. Now it seems she can’t even go outside without getting a case of the willies.

Given what happened to her in Italy, I suppose a part of that is understandable. But you have to live, and she’s been having trouble adjusting to that fact of late.

“Patty, you know how that looked,” I said. “Please try to see it from my point of view. I don’t like seeing you in someone else’s arms. Remember how you reacted when you saw me with Kate in Venice?”

“Not well,” she admitted, which was a significant thing for her to say. It meant she could at least see my point of view.

“But you’re carrying this jealousy thing too far,” she said. “Look, Rob, I’m devoted to you and you need to understand that. I just needed some help and Steven was nice enough to give it to me. After all, that is why we’re paying him.”

She was talking a good game. “But that doesn’t mean he gets to squeeze his employer,” I said.

I squeezed him, Rob,” she said. “He’s not the guilty one. If you have to be mad at someone for this, be mad at me. Not him. Okay?”

I looked at her across the table and thought it through. I’m still not satisfied.

# # #

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I know, I read Calcio, but the majority of their problems were related to incredible outside circumstances (attempts on her and Rob's life, for example) which are definitely unusual. The issue between Rob and Kate that cropped up at the Christmas party was certainly a pinch of realism and conflict that was mostly internal, and that was normal. I'd venture to say, however, that barring that realistic issue and the other very unique, outside-influenced issues, Rob and Patty's relationship has been almost sickeningly rose-tinted. Not that I'm criticizing your writing, God no, but it is nice to see something happening to Rob and Patty here that happens to the rest of us. Most of us don't have to be concerned about twisted Calcio Ultras trying to kill us, but I know I've dealt with cheating partners, lying women, and a very deep-running sense of mistrust for the opposite sex.

It just seemed like she and Rob leaped full-bore into a deep and intense relationship overnight and haven't really looked back. The Kate incident was an interruption but in the end, it proved minor, at least as far as it hasn't had much effect on them since the end of Calcio and into Rat Pack. This is new territory that I think every relationship deals with, and it's a bit unusual that Rob and Patty have survived a full year of marriage before having to approach it. Also, given my aforementioned mistrust of the opposite sex, it hits a chord with me that now allows me to identify much more with Rob's character and their relationship.

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In short, I agree with stoehurst - except for the mistrust bits (I think that aspect applies to both sexes).

If the couple eventually have to break up for the sake of the story, then so be it! I never much liked Patty anyway :p

...and now, if you'll kindly excuse me, i'm off to purchase a codpiece that I hope will provide me with adequate protection from multiple kicks to the gonads. :D

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I kind of want it to all go wrong for Rob and Patty! I think it would just make things a little more interesting (not that they need to be). I think it's just the nature of the beast that people want to see a car crash.

:D

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Ah, 10-3, the strength of the reaponse to the circumstances you have written here clearly indicate that you, sir, are a writer of the highest standard, with so many here on the board so invested in these characters that some of them are ready to drop everything, get on a plane and do your reproductive organs serious harm. Either that, or popping the corks on the bubbly in order to celebrate!

I for one could see equal purpose behind either outcome from a story-telling perspective, and as such, will firmly straddle the fence, whip out the popcorn and enjoy the ride.

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I wondered if this particular arc would generate the attention it's gotten and even though I've written ahead in the story, I'm going to go back and make a couple of tweaks based on the things I've read here. Not to change the outcome, of course, but to incorporate some really good feedback. Thanks to all.

On another note, I decided to do a little view tracking yesterday. Yesterday's post got 143 page views -- I believe the highest total ever for this story by some margin. This also helps me in terms of writing what you like to read. So thanks again to all -- you make this a lot of fun to write.

Just a note for Stoehrst and those who discuss a 'milquetoast' relationship between Patty and Rob -- Patty's miscarriage last year hurt both of them as well. I know you've read everything and I appreciate that, but there have been a couple of significant low points in the relationship already, that have been admittedly overpowered by the happier, and longer, posts that followed. But I am glad you see a different side to Ridgway. It's going to develop.

___

Well, I don’t have to be mad at anyone. The fact that I’m choosing to be is my own concern.

Maybe it’s that I can’t do the things a regular husband does in terms of taking his wife on the town. Or maybe it’s because I don’t care to see her hugging some guy who has arms that look like tree trunks.

Or, maybe it’s because I don’t buy the answer I got from her.

Yes, there was a repair bill from the shop today for Patty’s car, for a busted water pump. That, I buy. What I’m not so keen on is the idea that she doesn’t admire Hardcastle.

He’s a safe harbor and she needs one, at a time when I can’t be around. That hurts like hell to admit.

I can’t provide that, at least not to the extent she wants, so I have to find a way around the feelings I have as a result of her dependence on someone else to fulfill a basic need.

That’s really what gets me. I feel like a failure at the thing I need to be best at.

All these things, the lesser angels of my nature, if you will, were preying on me as I headed to the ground this afternoon. At least, once I get inside the walls of the stadium, I am more or less in charge of my fate, on the pitch. I feel completely out of control just about everywhere else.

Entering the stadium, I had the chance to clear my mind for a precious few hours and reflect on how good things have been over the last week.

With Baptista now in the fold and Beckham still in Los Angeles, I have a leg up on Richmond in one area of my job that he isn’t likely to usurp until he takes over the club – if he takes over the club.

Speaking of Beckham, he finally opened up to the press today. There was an article in the Los Angeles Times that pretty well summed everything up.

In it, Becks addressed the whole controversy surrounding the transfer saga and also revealed some interesting thoughts about playing for Reading FC:

David Beckham speaks. Finally.

The England midfielder and MLS’ most marketable property has finally spoken out regarding his proposed sale to Reading of the EPL.

A purchase price of $26 million had been agreed between Beckham, the league, and the English team, but the final sticking point proved to be the player himself.

“I didn’t want to leave,” he admitted last week, before the Galaxy’s scheduled game with FC Dallas. “I do like Los Angeles and I promised I would help grow the sport in the United States. That is easier to do from the United States than it is from England.”

However, that course of action is not the best thing for Beckham’s chances of playing in the upcoming World Cup.

“I have to be realistic,” he said. “I’m 34 years of age now and even though I’d like to play for awhile longer, I have been informed that I’ll be fairly considered for any future England teams despite playing across the Atlantic. I have to believe that.”

While Beckham has not retired from international soccer, his concerns about playing for Steve McClaren’s team are genuine. England is red-hot in the international game at the moment and Beckham clearly still wants to be a part of things.

So why not go back to England, to a team based just forty miles from London and with no natural rivalry with Beckham’s old club, Manchester United?

“You have to fit in and you have to be wanted,” Beckham said. “Not to criticize, but I’m not sure I would have been a good fit there and with the style they play I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the experience. Yes, they are in the Champions League and the board really wanted me to play there, but I have to consider what’s best for my career and what’s best for my family.”

Neither of those considerations evidently includes Reading.

# # #

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Just a note for Stoehrst and those who discuss a 'milquetoast' relationship between Patty and Rob -- Patty's miscarriage last year hurt both of them as well. I know you've read everything and I appreciate that, but there have been a couple of significant low points in the relationship already, that have been admittedly overpowered by the happier, and longer, posts that followed. But I am glad you see a different side to Ridgway. It's going to develop.

Perhaps I've been remiss in not better explaining myself. Rob and Patty have had serious stress to their relationship beyond a shadow of a doubt - the Christmas party, the attempts on their lives, and the miscarriage et al - and I think you've done excellently to incorporate such difficult story arcs and issues.

I feel they haven't had any real internal strife and tension. The miscarriage caused some, undoubtedly, but that's another extreme and unusual outside circumstance that is naturally going to place serious stress on the relationship. What we haven't seen much of is the two of them fighting with each other about perceived faults or missteps that one or the other perpetrates; i.e. the fundamental foundations of arguments and fights in most relationships, and the same fundamental foundations of the end of many said relationships. Literally the only thing I ever found difficult to relate to or believe about this series was the way that Rob and Patty's relationship went from zero to 60 so quickly, and their respective emotional scars and trauma caused friction brought on by outside influences instead of each other. They were almost "too mature" in the way they were frank about each others' pasts and how they needed to approach a relationship slowly - to me it seemed like they were both assuming a great deal, since nothing had really happened between them yet to suggest they were going to start one (I'm going way back to Calcio for this).

I'll stop now, just suffice it to say that, as I've mentioned before, this sort of internal conflict grounds their relationship in the tenuous reality of my own mind :).

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Just remember stoehrst this is just pretend :D Great story as always pal :)

I know, I know, it's just a sore subject :o. Plus it's a bit of a departure from 10-3's normal writing and (IMO) an improvement in literally the ONLY place this work could actually be improved. Not "only place it needed improvement." The only place it was possible to improve :D.

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Dechardonay, I have to tell you that your post of yesterday was one of the funniest I've read. Thanks as always for the comments -- oh, and there's a football match in this post!

___

Loaded for bear, I arrived to prepare for the match. Wordlessly, Dillon passed me the final team sheet to sign, knowing that today was not a day where I cared to be bothered.

“Penny for your thoughts, Rob,” he said, inquiring anyway.

“Meh,” I answered, with a look of frustration. “Home.”

“Everything okay with Patty?”

“For her, sure,” I said, scribbling my name on the bottom of the sheet. “For me, probably not. But it’ll pass. Always does.”

Dillon took the now-signed sheet off my desk and headed back into the commons area of the changing room. The look on his face suggested he wasn’t so sure.

# # #

Sammy Lee waited, behind his team in line, and extended his hand.

“How’s the rat race treating you, Rob?” he asked.

“The rats are winning,” I smiled. “You?”

“Passable,” he replied. “Lads are starting to get the idea. You know how it is.”

“I do,” I answered. “Sometimes, though, teachable moments need to happen three or four times before they take.”

“And hopefully you’re still employed when they do,” he grinned. We managers love gallows humor.

I looked ahead in Bolton’s line and saw Oscar Trejo standing third from the front. The striker, who we had tried to sign in the close season, was ready to ply his trade against us for the first time.

Just ahead of me stood Baptista, ready to make his home debut. Though not in the starting eleven while he gains match fitness, his strike against Boro and his demonstrated value to the club even at this early stage meant he would get a shirt for the match in any event.

If Trejo had come here, Baptista probably would not have. Looking at the two of them, with ‘The Beast’ looking like he was ready to bound onto the pitch with a single stride, I think we might have gotten the better of the trade.

The lines started to move forward for showtime. The fans reacted to seeing Baptista for the first time and my thought was that finally, something was going according to plan.

The ovation the team got as it stepped onto the pitch seemed different than usual, at least to my somewhat addled mind. This was appreciative, a warm round of applause that was different from the sort of primal scream you sometimes hear before a big game.

In a way, it was a sign of arrival on the larger stage. In another way, it was the signal of expectation. We were going to have to win and win well. But when is that not the case?

Our best player in the early going was Maloney, looking for any chance to kick-start his season and kick-start the club at the same time.

Less than sixty seconds into the match he was gone down the left, being brought to earth literally by his shirttail courtesy of Antonio Barragán. That brought Mark Clattenburg over at a trot to inform the player that he had better not do that again, by golly, or he’d suffer another talking-to. Couldn’t have that, surely.

Thus fortified by the official, Maloney immediately took off on another run down the left, only to unfortunately trip over the accidentally extended leg of Demy deZeeuw.

It had to have been, judging by the Dutchman’s suddenly sprouted halo.

The reader will by now have correctly interpreted my sarcasm. Both fouls were bookable in my mind but Clattenburg didn’t want to dip into his book so early in the match.

So, we resumed our assault on the Trotters’ goal with Maloney in a blue-and-white funk. Dagoberto picked up where Maloney left off, striking a long, curving shot a few minutes later that presented keeper Oscar Ustari with no problems.

Finally, even Clattenburg had to reach into his pocket after Barragán hauled Dagoberto to the ground by his shirt just thirteen minutes into the match.

I was sensing a pattern, and that sense became even stronger when Trejo’s strike partner, Spanish u-21 starlet Adrian, simply stuck out his leg and tripped Ferreira as he headed forward three minutes after that. Again, Clattenburg kept his cards in his pocket, so I had little option but to now head to the fourth official.

“When these guys start breaking bones, do the cards come out?” I asked, and Andre Marriner gave me a baleful expression.

“Hey, it’s not my fault,” I said, as Dicã blazed over from our ensuing free kick. “Keep those guys off my players, please.”

It was getting a little ridiculous, and also a little rough. The fans started whistling their contempt for the Bolton defenders as they held, grabbed and generally impeded our progress through the opening twenty minutes. It wasn’t pretty stuff, but as long as Clattenburg kept his cards in his pocket the Trotters could play pretty much as they pleased.

Finally, in 24 minutes de Zeeuw scythed down Maloney and Clattenburg went to his cards. Six minutes later, newly acquired defender Luizao stopped a Dagoberto break by simply barging him to the deck.

The defender claimed it was a simple shoulder charge but now the referee had been backed into a corner. He showed Luizao the yellow card as well, sending a belated message. I looked at Marriner from our bench and thankfully, he didn’t see the expression he was getting.

I wasn’t happy with Bolton’s physical style, which seemed to be a cartoon version of what some accused Sam Allardyce of doing when he was there. They were knocking us all over the park and a little imposition of yellow-shaded discipline from Clattenburg wasn’t really stemming the tide.

There was only one way to fix that little problem. Maloney was now off on another run down the left, this time giving an early ball toward the middle as he was closed down by the carded Barragán.

De Zeeuw slid to deflect the cross, and he did – but instead of it going behind, he simply touched it on for the run of Dagoberto. It was like he had thrown the ball to my striker, who took advantage of the deflection to move into space behind Martin Cacares.

From there it was simple. He rounded Ustari and rolled the ball into the empty goal just after the half hour.

The only way to get Bolton to open up was to open them up first, and a bit of luck had allowed us to do that.

I wasn’t sure if Maloney’s cross would have found Dagoberto if deZeeuw hadn’t gotten in the way but it didn’t matter now. Ustari was fishing the ball out of the back of his goal and our fans were celebrating the breakthrough.

Now Bolton was coming fully into the match for the first time, Kevin Nolan testing Lobont from distance. The keeper made a fine save, holding the ball and sending us away with a quick counter. Our attack was flowing through Maloney almost exclusively this time, and the Scotsman continued his fine play with another searing run down the right side of the Bolton defense.

This time, the ball wound up on the boot of Kitson, whose shot went off Luizao. But here, the football gods worked against us, as the ball changed direction into the legs of the beaten Ustari. The keeper saved seemingly by accident and Luizao arrived to clear the ball into touch.

We couldn’t complain, of course. The game gives and the game takes away.

And sometimes, the game can’t be understood. Bolton reverted to form moments later when de Zeeuw, on a yellow card, slid right through Maloney’s legs. He left my winger crumpled on the turf and everyone else wearing blue and white screaming for that elusive second yellow card.

Clattenburg approached at a dead run, arm extended at de Zeeuw, and we thought we were about to get some justice before halftime. Instead, the referee made the ever-popular sweeping motion with his arms, like a baseball umpire signaling a runner safe, as if to say ‘no more’ to the Dutchman.

“You’re kidding!” I screamed, as our physios were given permission to tend to Maloney. Pushing the envelope with Marriner and not looking in the direction of Lee, I started to work the fourth official hard, to the delight of the home crowd.

I saw no reason for the rough play to continue. I didn’t want to wind up Sammy, but I didn’t appreciate his tactics. They couldn’t catch us so they had little option but to play physically.

We tried to reply the right way, with Huth taking a deflection off Barragán just outside the area and aiming for the top corner. His shot was charged down by Craig Gardner, with the spinning ball falling to Dagoberto, looking for a brace.

He hit the ball first-time, and Ustari had the answer, tipping the ball around his left post. After Bolton dealt with the corner kick, Clattenburg blew for halftime.

Maybe, finally, we had an answer to the late-half issues we’ve been struggling with. Don’t let your opponent have the ball.

# # #

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Okay, you're right. HALF a match. :)

___

Not satisfied with burying Maloney under an avalanche of forearms and legs, Bolton turned its attention to Kitson in the second half.

Not three minutes after the restart, Clattenburg was into his book, taking the number of £12 million-rated Chilean Mark González for a rather crude challenge on my targetman.

Kitson’s red-headed temper flared for just a moment, as he squared up to González. That got the crowd into the match, and it took Bikey’s strength to finally pull the striker away from the fray.

Lee had his side trying to play more football in the second half, and when Huth was harshly adjudged to have pushed Adrián just outside the area, Gardner was teed up with a fine set-piece opportunity. However, his effort was poor and Lobont saved with ease.

It was the start of some decent play by the visitors, their first real run of the match. Gardner was in the middle of things, working wall passes first with Nolan and then with Adrian before finally spraying the ball out wide for González.

The Chilean, now with his mind more firmly on the game after going into the book, went back to Nolan with the ball and his return pass to Gardner started up the whole cycle again thirty yards closer to our goal.

Finally, though, Gardner fed Adrian, and his shot was blocked by Huth. Trejo got to the rebound first, and his shot came off Lobont’s feet right to Ferreira.

He was then barged to the ground – hard – by Adrián, in our penalty area. Sonko alertly picked up on the ball and cleared it, while Clattenburg again came forward at a run to show yet another card to the visitors.

“At least now he’s carding them,” I said to Dillon, who still looked as unimpressed as I was.

The match turned over 70 minutes, and I made my first substitutions. Maloney, who still hadn’t completely shaken off the last challenge by Barragán, came off in place of Saivet – and Baptista made his home debut, coming on in the center of midfield for the subpar Dicã.

The crowd was already showing its appreciation for the new boy when I called him quickly to me.

“You’ve seen how the position is played,” I said. “Play behind the strikers and make something happen.”

Of the two, Saivet made the bigger impact, his pace restoring the threat we had on the left side before Maloney had been crocked.

Now Lee went to his bench, replacing Gardner with Joey O’Brien and Adrián with the promising Portuguese, Ricardo Vaz Te.

Fourteen minutes from time, it was time to think about the endgame, and about how we’d try to hold another one-goal advantage.

Bolton was starting to show some more urgency, working a Barragán – de Zeeuw – Gardner three-way passing play to give the latter a decent shot from nineteen yards that fizzed over the top.

The buzz in the crowd told me everyone was aware we were entering our trouble time in the match. I made one more move, nodding to Harper. The vice-captain was ready to enter the fray, having done his warmup a few minutes previous.

I called him to me. “4-5-1,” I said. “You’re in for Kitson. You’re with André, support the central defenders. You know the drill. Get it done.”

Nodding, he turned to Marriner and soon the fourth official had his board up for our last move.

Meanwhile, Lee had made his last move too, taking his off his captain. Nolan left in favor of the Iranian national, Andranik. The elevens were now set for the closing stages.

We held them fairly well. Four minutes from time, Andranik earned Clattenburg’s ire by slicing down Dagoberto as he passed at full speed. Taking the free kick himself, he powered a shot directly at the keeper.

Starting a quick counterattack, Ustari punted the ball forward only for Huth to stand tall and clear the ball through an artfully controlled first touch. Kalou, who had had a very quiet match to this point, simply took the ball to the corner flag without so much as a second thought.

On his way there, the veteran Jlloyd Samuel grabbed a fistful of Ivorian. That was card number six.

They couldn’t catch us, they couldn’t stop us and unlike Chelsea, they couldn’t score on us. The full time whistle was as much a relief as anything else. It had been ninety minutes of ugly football, but then sometimes you have play and win games just like that.

Reading 1 (Dagoberto 6th, 31)

Bolton 0

A – 28,404, Madejski Stadium, Reading

Man of the Match – Robert Huth, Reading

# # #

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Now up to fourth place, MokBull ... will post a table at the end of this day's diary entry.

___

Thursday, September 3

Weatherby knows what she knows.

Today at my general media briefing, she gave an indication that she’s ready to write again, and for me that simply means it’s time to buckle my seat belt, grab a hard hat and pack a lunch. She’s rarely wrong, and when she’s right it means the questions will be flying.

The players left for their various international outings today, so training was about half as big as it usually was. We aren’t in action again until 12 September when we face Newcastle, so for me the time is now to grab a little rest, try to patch things up with Patty and see where all those good intentions lead me.

And, it’s time to talk about our start, which has been good by any measure.

At least, that’s what I had hoped to talk about. Weatherby’s request to see me privately after the news conference told me she knew something was up.

As a result, Winthrop was forced to schedule time. That had to gall him, given his friendship with McGuire.

I could tell by the look of clear annoyance on Winthrop’s face that something juicy was about to hit the papers.

I waited for him to leave before motioning Weatherby toward my office. Soon we were inside, she seated on the opposite side of my desk, with the door open as is my custom.

However, I could sense what was about to happen, so I placed a phone call before we started.

I asked for Waters, to stand outside the door. I didn’t want Winthrop eavesdropping.

The media man was happy to assist. Angry and frustrated for some time over Winthrop’s intrusion into what he saw as his bailiwick of media relations, Waters was soon ready to work from his mobile phone.

Weatherby sat down and took out an audio recorder.

I stopped her.

“Jill, I want it known that even though you’re recording, I reserve the right to go off the record at any time and your refusal to agree those terms may affect the answers you receive,” I told her. “I don’t see a record light on at this time so before we start I want a clear understanding.”

“What do you take me for, Rob?” she asked, a pained expression crossing her face.

“A professional who has a job to do,” I said, searching for and finding her eyes with mine. “And so am I.”

She thought about it for a minute. “All right, I agree,” she said, turning on the recorder. “Rob, let’s talk about Happy Day LLC and the relationship it has with your wife’s modeling contract.”

“They have the rights to my wife’s contract,” I said.

“And this firm is run by Peter McGuire, a former employee of Reading Football Club.”

“As I understand it, yes,” I answered.

“It has also been well reported that both you and your wife have a personal history with Mr. McGuire.”

“That would be one way to put it.”

“Mr. McGuire’s firm is a subsidiary of a holding company owned by Sidney Richmond, a board member of Reading Football Club.”

“Again, as I understand it, yes.”

“Which intends to purchase the club after the start of the new year 2010.”

I thought back to Richmond’s personal letter to me at the time of my contract signing and its veiled threat of dire consequences for me if details should be revealed regarding his intended takeover of the club.

I looked at Weatherby and thought carefully about my answer.

“No comment,” I said.

# # #

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Weatherby pushed hard. She wanted to know my thoughts and feelings about working for a club that was not owned by Sir John.

I didn’t blame her a scrap for asking the questions. Any good reporter would have. She was also trying her very best not to ask leading questions, and you certainly can’t say that about every journalist in the world.

Yet she had a job to do. That meant uncomfortable questions and it also meant invoking my reserved right to withhold comment from time to time.

Did I know that McGuire might be involved with a possible takeover bid? No comment. What were my thoughts about working for an organization led by those two men? No comment there either.

I was more willing to comment on areas I could control, such as management of the football side of the operation.

“Reading Football Club is a going concern, and I hope to help keep it a going concern in the coming years,” I said. “That is true whether Sir John owns the club or whether someone else owns the club. I see no reason to make a distinction there. That is the manager’s right and also his responsibility.”

At that, she smiled, seeing I was opening up a little bit. I couldn’t very well cut Jill off completely. Such an action would be an abrogation of the trust I’ve worked so hard to build with her.

She concluded the interview and returned to her office, thanking me for my time as she left. Meanwhile, Waters returned down the hall to his own office and things returned to normal.

I headed back into my office, sitting in my oversized chair and leaning back to collect my thoughts.

Crossing my legs for a moment, I accidentally banged my knee against the underside of the desk.

“Of all the clumsy things,” I moaned, rolling my chair back to rub a suddenly damaged right knee. As I did, I noticed the fabric of my workout pants was torn and a small trickle of blood had escaped from the skin near the kneecap.

“Odd,” I said, running my hand under the desk. “What could have done that?”

My hand soon made contact with a piece of hard plastic, with a sharp edge. Getting out of my chair, I clambered under my desk to see what the plastic might have been attached to.

It didn’t take long to figure out. It was a wireless microphone attached to a small transmitter. A small red light on the transmitter was flashing.

Red-faced, I pushed a button on my office phone.

Sir John’s PA answered.

“Would you please tell Sir John that I need to see him immediately?” I asked. “And it needs to be in my office. I’ll explain when he arrives.”

# # #

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What's the legality of wire-tapping? I'm ignorant in this area, but if a chairman wanted to wiretap an employee's office is that legal? Companies can monitor employees emails and web use right?

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What's the legality of wire-tapping? I'm ignorant in this area, but if a chairman wanted to wiretap an employee's office is that legal? Companies can monitor employees emails and web use right?

I believe Australian law (which is based on British law, so imaginably the same rules apply), all parties involved must given their consent to the recording.

An English lawyer would know more than I, though.

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Well, from what I've been able to determine, it's pretty much illegal everywhere :)

___

Friday, September 4

“Someone is going to get their cards for this.”

Sir John was as red-faced as I was. The offending instrument was now resting on top of my desk, after a few photographs had been taken of the microphone in its prior location.

“You don’t have to go far for a list of suspects,” I said. “Honestly, I want action taken.”

“As do I, Rob, I assure you,” the owner said with a malevolent stare. He wasn’t staring at me, though. He was staring at the microphone.

The revelation that someone was spying on his manager hit Sir John hard. For some time now, I have been trying to convince him of the danger of his position, and even though he does control the club, my advice to him has been to, as they say in the Air Force, ‘watch your six’.

“I have no idea how long that’s been there, but obviously it was working when I was talking with Jill Weatherby,” I said. The red light on the instrument was now off.

“Who knows?” Sir John said. “And who knows if there isn’t another one in here someplace?”

“I know just the guy to find out,” I said, pulling out my mobile phone. I dialed a number and asked for Steven Hardcastle.

He answered the phone, which was good. He sounded like he was in the middle of a public gathering, which meant he was working, so I wanted to be brief.

He said he’d come by as soon as he could, but then had to tuck the phone away.

“Please, Patty, come this way,” he said.

I didn’t know what he meant by his words or what was going on, but I was quite sure I didn’t care for his tone. It was tender, and I didn't like it.

# # #

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My turn to weigh in on the Patty-Hardcastle-Ridgway deal. Well spun, 10-3. Somehow, I keep forgetting this story is based on a game. One in which you can't actually play the games. Very impressive.

But the turn in the relationship I think is great. The relationship had become an "us versus the world" feeling, with not much internal strife. With as much as Ridgway is away (assuming here), there should be some detachment between the two of them at some point. Turns out, it was just around the corner.

And as a fellow "soccer" fan from the west side of the Pond, let me know when viperk comes. I would gladly assist you in holding off any assault!

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Hi 10-3 congratulations on being a very small member of an exclusive club.

You are the second, possibly third, Yank that I know who has grasped the intricacies of our national sport.

Couple that with a really good imaginstive style of writing and we come up with a candidate for anyone's Hall of Fame.

Keep going - you help me pass a day considerably well.

JimT

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JayR, thanks for the comment and for an accurate observation regarding the relationship. That is how I have written the last several months given the state of their marriage after the miscarriage. However, no relationship is perfect, as we are finding out.

Jim, my friend, thank you for your note and for perhaps the nicest compliment I've yet received. Having learned from Jim Thomson's career, I'm flattered and pleased!

___

Obviously, this wasn’t news I wanted to get out, but Weatherby had to know.

This time, though, I didn’t speak with the reporter. I spoke with her executive editor.

Jeremy Becker answered the phone and he wasn’t in a good mood.

“What’s this I hear about one of my reporters being bugged?” he said.

“It’s not quite like that,” I said. “I was the one bugged, not Jill. However, I have club counsel here and I suggest you have your counsel present as well.”

Becker had anticipated me, and as a result, the conversation resumed a bit earlier than I might have thought.

“It does appear that a conversation I had with Jill this afternoon was compromised by an electronic listening device,” I continued. “You should know this, as her entire line of questioning may have been compromised.”

“Including the questions about the future ownership of the club? That is an exclusive for us.”

“That is correct,” I answered, referring to the first half of his question since I couldn’t verify the latter.

At that, Sir John frowned. Obviously, he had his own thoughts on the matter of ownership, but for the time being, they were pushed into the background.

“Jill was doing her job,” Becker said.

“Of course,” I answered. “And you should know by now, if Jill hasn’t already told you, that I respect her professionalism in so doing. She asked for my time privately and I gave it to her, which is not a courtesy I extend to just anyone.”

“Of course,” he replied. “But what happened?”

“We don’t fully know,” I said. “We have phoned the police to make a report. They are examining the device now to see if they can get a handle on who might have received the transmissions.”

It then struck me that the police might have found it easier to do this had we not turned the device off. This was immediately followed by a second revelation that they could turn it back on again any time they wanted. There’s a reason why I didn’t go into law enforcement as a career option.

“Well, we have a story to run and we’re going to run it,” Becker declared.

“Which could cause great harm to an ongoing investigation,” a new voice opined. A rather devastatingly pretty woman now entered the room, showing a police badge rather ostentatiously as she did.

“My name is Detective Chief Inspector Alba Fulton, Thames Valley Police,” she said.

My first thought, to my shame, was ‘you certainly are’.

Patty had messed up. I didn't want to be next, but ... wow.

She was striking.

# # #

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10-3, it was great to catch up on this story after not being on these forums for several months. The quality has not dropped in the slightest - quite the contrary - it has in fact gone up. :thup:

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