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Bilbo Baggins

Seb Morse - Endeavour

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'Arise, Sir Sebastian.' My whole life flashes before my eyes; childhood, adolescence, university, my first foray into coaching. Meeting Laura, getting married, the births of our children. My managerial achievements with Oxford United: a steady progression up the ladders of the Football League, back-to-back European Cups, a Premier League title. My World Cup win with England last summer in Australia finally set the wheels in motion for the ceremony now taking place.

A knighthood for services to football is a richly deserved honour after all of the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into my career up to this point.

Half an hour later I sit in a lavish drawing room at Buckingham Palace, talking to King William V. I say King William V but I know him as Will. It started formally at various functions and awards nights but we slowly grew close over the years, his role at the FA causing our paths to cross. I now consider him a friend, we sometimes holiday together abroad when his duties as monarch and mine as manager aren't demanding the bulk of our attention.

We casually chat about our families.

'How's George getting on at Sandhurst? Has he decided on a regiment yet?'

'Come on, Seb, you know it's not up to him. He likes the pomp of the Horse Guards but I think he'll end up in infantry. Has Evelyn decided on what she wants to do next year yet after she finishes school?'

'She doesn't know, she's got her heart set on Oxford but I've told her to keep her options open. Truth be told I'd prefer to see her take a gap year before thinking about uni, she needs a bit of life experience. How's James getting on at Cambridge?'

'I worry about him, I really do. He's mixed in with a bad crowd and spends more time boozing than studying. I want to see him...'

'You're not exactly in a position to be too judgemental, Will! Come on, you know what it's like, getting blotto is all part of the experience.'

'Yeah, I guess you're right. I'd just like to see him have some of George's attitude, though, he's got his head screwed on.'

The discussion turns to football.

'Why did you turn down the Bayern job? Surely you've achieved everything you set out to at United?'

'I'm just not interested in moving to Germany to work, I'm happy in Oxford.'

'A few years living in Bavaria would be just the ticket for me.'

'I've got nothing against Germany, me and Laura were over in Berlin just the other week for a bit of a break. It's just...'

'You're not sure if you'd adapt to it?'

'That's exactly it.'

Two hours later, arrival at Kensington Palace. We decamp from the jet black Range Rover and make our way up the stairs. A royal protection officer greets us at the door, a burly, ex-Special Forces type. 'Good evening, your majesty.'

William's inner sanctum is a far cry from Buckingham Palace, which seems stuck in a technological time warp. Nothing has really changed since the death of Queen Elizabeth. He rarely spends time there other than official functions and the like, preferring the modern comforts of KP.

While Kate's away the lads will play, it's Aston Villa up against Swansea.

The match is a dull affair, both teams failing to create chances. William and I switch off and start to talk politics, he can't stand the new Labour Prime Minister.

'Dad, can you help me with my homework?'

Alexander, William's youngest son, enters the room.

'Sure, what are you stuck with?'

'It's Algebra, I just can't seem to get my head aroun...'

'Seb, do you mind?'

'Not at all, Will, I'm happy to just zone out for a while with the telly. It's been a long day.'

'Get yourself a beer if you want one.'

Five minutes later I'm raiding William's fridge. A bottle of Fuller's beckons me. I quickly cobble together a sandwich and head back to the lounge.

'And it's still 0-0 here at Villa Park, Nigel Pearson's side are struggling to break down a solid Swansea defence. What do you think the manager needs to change at half time, Gary?'

'Well, Steve, they really need to bring on another striker and change the pace of atta...'

I'm not interested in seeing how this pans out. Up, down, up, up, down, I flick through channels in search of something which will pique my interest. Oh, look, it's Countdown. Why do I have a bit of a thing for Susie Dent?

I start to feel tired, the day has taken its toll. I struggle to keep my eyelids open. Hmm, that couch looks comfortable...

Seb... Seb... wake up, Seb.

'They're playing like a team of stampeding tigers, Jeff! Oxford are looking good to clinch the playoff spot here, Colchester aren't at the races at all.'

The blaring television wakes me up from my slumber. It's vintage Soccer Saturday. Will must have put a dvd on, he's a bit of an anorak and collects hundreds of old matches no matter the division. He knows a chap at the beeb who can source anything, Copa Libertadores finals, league matches from the Serbian third tier, cup finals from Gibraltar.

'It's a penalty, Jeff, it's a penalty! Oxford United have a chance to... and yes, Jordan Graham scores! Oxford are through to the League 2 play-offs on the final day of the season. Incredible scenes here at Colchester!'

I doze off again...

Seb... Seb...

'Why did they sack me, Seb, why?'

Huh? I turn to my head to see Jurgen Klopp walking into the room. He takes a seat in the recliner beside me.

'Jurgen, what are you doing here?'

'Glazer just sacked me, it's ridiculous, we dominated the final but we just couldn't break Arsenal down.'

'What do you think went wrong?'

'It's hard to say, Falcao had his chances but he just couldn't get the better of Mertesacker. I've got to hold my hands up, Ranieri got the better of me on the day...'

'For God's sake Sebastian, wake up!'

'Huh, Laura?'

'It's nine o'clock, you're going to be late for training if you don't get your miserable arse out of bed.'

'Bollocks, why didn't you wake me earlier?'

'I tried but you were out like a light. Then you started sleep-talking, you were mumbling about Prince William for ages, then it was some bloke called Jurgen.'

I immediately regretted the heavy night of drinking, I had twenty minutes to try to recover before I set out on my almost daily ritual of a bus ride from Laura's flat to the Oxford Rover Sports & Social Club. A quick shower. Two pieces of toast. As I'm about to go out the door I stop to grab my tattered old Barbour jacket. It looks like rain today.

'Seb, you've really got to stop with these nights out on the town. I know you're cut up about Wembley but you've got to get over it.'

'I'm sorry, love, it's just... look, I've not got time to chat right now. We'll talk later.'

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‘I need you to explain, Seb. Why did you apply? Sheffield United? Did you really think they were going to hire you?’

‘I was fed up with all of the pressure you’ve been putting me under. I just… I knew I didn’t really have a shot at it but I saw something in the Mail about you preparing to sack me if we got a bad result against Tranmere. Why are you briefing the press behind my back, Darryl? How am I supposed to have any standing with the lads if they’re reading stuff like that? I think you’re undermining me.’

‘I’m shocked that you would even consider accusing me of that, Seb. That’s not how I operate. You’ve put us in a delicate situation. We’re not impressed with the way the team has been playing lately, you know that. We’ve been seriously thinking about…’

‘Come on, Darryl, think of what we did last year. Think of how close we were to going up. I know things haven’t gone well but there’s still time to turn it around. If it wasn’t for Jordan’s injury we would have started a lot better. Wrighty as well, he’s the club captain and he’s been a big miss.’

‘You can’t put it all down to injuries. Your tactics were all wrong at the start of the season. You’ve failed to control morale, we haven’t forgotten the row you had with Jakupovic, either.’

‘You can’t beat me with that stick, it’s not my fault he kicked off. As for the tactics, I was trying to figure out a way of integrating McGlinchey into the team. I’d never played with a number ten before, it was always going to take time to…’

‘The aggressive team talks, why do you insist on trying to scare the lads into submission when things aren’t going well? They do talk to me, you know.’

‘Look, I’m the manager of this bloody football club. I’m not going to kowtow to you, I do things my way.’

‘We’re going in circles, Seb. I’m just going to cut straight to the point. I know a man fairly high up at the Mail, he’s told me that the editor is rolling out a big inside scoop on Friday and it’s going to put the club in a bad light. They know that you applied for the Sheffield job. They’ve got sources, Seb, so many sources. If you sit down with Sarah and draft up an apology for your actions I’ll consider…’

‘An apology? I’m not going to apologise because of a bloody article in the Mail that hasn’t even been published yet.’

‘You’ve got no other option. If you don’t do it you’ll be clearing your stuff out of your office this afternoon.You really should go along with my plan, think of the damage to your reputation that another sacking here could do to your career.’

‘Bugger this, you’re not sacking me again. I quit.’

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Cheers :) I've had a hard time deciding how I should approach the story as I've only recently started writing about FM and this particular universe sprang into life elsewhere. Have settled on a way of going about things now, though.

Apologies to anybody who started reading this story with the stream of consciousness bit after the England bit, In future I won't be so indecisive.

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‘Jurgen, Jurgen, can you look this way, Jurgen?’

‘Over here, Jurgen, over here!...’

‘Jurgen, Jurgen…’

‘Please, gentlemen, ladies, please, we need to get started. We’re going to have questions from a few of you and then we’ll be going to go aside for a separate session with the newspaper reporters. If we could please stop, I repeat, stop with the camera flashes. You’re here to meet the new manager, this isn’t a photo call.’

The media room at St George’s Park was bursting at the seams. A shocked throng of journalists were assembled for the opening chapter of what had the potential to be the most controversial England appointment of all time. The ability of the new manager wasn’t in question. Jurgen Klopp, 50, was undoubtedly one of Europe’s most highly regarded coaches. There was, however, an issue that was set to divide the opinion of the English public. His nationality.

The FA’s press liaison officer had been preparing for a day like this all of his life. Jamie Cook, 27, had landed the job on merit after a few years of work in public relations. He tried to assert himself, speaking in a deliberately stern tone.

‘Okay, you, and then you. If I could just get you to say your name and your organisation before you ask your question, please.’

‘Ollie Ross for Sky Sports. Jurgen, what made you want to take the job?’

‘Well, Ollie, it’s a fantastic opportunity. The team proved itself with the win in France at the Euros under Hodgson, I want to take them one further. I really can’t say anything more than that. I want to win the World Cup.’

‘Jurgen, with just five months to…’

‘Name, please?’ Cook couldn’t stand it when journalists ignored his simple instructions.

‘Sorry, David Adams, BBC. With just five months to go before the World Cup what are you going to do to get to grips with the team?’

‘Well, David, I’ve been watching a lot of football since I left Man United. I’ve got an idea of the players I want to take, but naturally I’ll sit down with the coaching set up and utilise their inside knowledge to help me get going.’

Cook was impressed with the way the German calmly batted away the questions. He was clearly a seasoned pro and took press conferences in his stride. For ten minutes he oozed charm, confidence and charisma.

‘Okay, we’ve really got to wrap this up now. We’ll have one more. You, over there.’

‘David Smith, BT Sport. Jurgen, do you think your being German is going to be an issu…’

‘I’m going to have to cut you off there, Tim. We’ve got to get going.’

‘Cheeky sod,’ thought Cook. He had clearly spelled out in the invites that there were to be no questions along those lines. Klopp grinned as he rose from his chair and exited the room. He had the air of a man entirely content with his station in life.

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