Jump to content

[FM 20] The Nearly Men, Vol. IV: I Am Not A Demon. I Am A Lizard. A Shark. A Heat-Seeking Panther. I Want To Be Bob Denver On Acid Playing The Accordion.


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 860
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Two changes/announcements for this year's thread that I want to include from the outset…

Those of you who have read my threads before know that I like to have an in-game narrative going and typically don’t adhere to specific transfer policies (e.g., youth academy only), beyond focusing on youth.  This time around, I will use specific transfer policies at a handful of clubs, driven by the narrative.  For example, at least one club will be youth academy only.  Details will follow – it will be clear why/why this is happening, in the save.

The big news, though, is this… 

@oriole01 has graciously agreed to write several chapters in the story, to flush out the in-universe canon.  Frankly, this is going to be integral to the to the broader narrative, going into the story at a depth beyond what I’ve done before.  I’ve long admired @oriole01's  writing and story-telling abilities (which truly are on another level).  I’m ridiculously excited about this and genuinely can’t wait to see his contributions.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, ManUtd1 said:

Two changes/announcements for this year's thread that I want to include from the outset…

Those of you who have read my threads before know that I like to have an in-game narrative going and typically don’t adhere to specific transfer policies (e.g., youth academy only), beyond focusing on youth.  This time around, I will use specific transfer policies at a handful of clubs, driven by the narrative.  For example, at least one club will be youth academy only.  Details will follow – it will be clear why/why this is happening, in the save.

The big news, though, is this… 

@oriole01 has graciously agreed to write several chapters in the story, to flush out the in-universe canon.  Frankly, this is going to be integral to the to the broader narrative, going into the story at a depth beyond what I’ve done before.  I’ve long admired @oriole01's  writing and story-telling abilities (which truly are on another level).  I’m ridiculously excited about this and genuinely can’t wait to see his contributions.

:eek:

giphy.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, bigmattb28 said:

Oh. My. God. The King has returned!!!!!

giphy.gif

2 hours ago, Rikulec said:

:eek:

giphy.gif

:brock:

48 minutes ago, Mandy42 said:

I don't know if I have the energy to go through this all a 4th time! 

Mainly as i'm not a huge fan of the accordion 

I was just saying to myself that, if this thread needs anything, it is more accordion...

13 minutes ago, nie jem frytek said:

Not mentioning the African version of the challenge :herman:

giphy.gif

Now I just feel guilty.  Damn.  But, you're right...FM18 did see a short-lived African version of the save.  "PM Donkey Waffles" will forever be my favorite name for a tactic.

2 hours ago, B.W.G said:

@ManUtd1 and @oriole01.....

source.gif

 I'm right there with you!

1 hour ago, abulezz said:

This looks like its shaping up to be a monster of a save :)

Uh oh...pressure is on.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, HawkAussie said:

Time to have some fun in watching this saving go from strength to strength.

Hey! Good to see you again, brother. It has been a while. Can't wait for the full release... 

l0HlBO7eyXzSZkJri.gif.e29694109f6c26bd19ba9ccdda263d29.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Mandy42 said:

 you best be running out at kick off to an accordion then!

Most accordion, you say?  Done.

2 hours ago, BillHoudini24 said:

This year I'm early to the party, yaaaay! Let's go! 

3oKIP9iTS7Ze73m1P2.gif.1cff3a60cf051b20beebd8056144c10f.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yay! I see that in my time away from the forums, you got in an entire new thread I have to read, in the FM18 version, and it's almost time for the FM20 :) 

The FM17 thread was one of my favorites of all time, I clearly have more complete nonsense to read through and now keep up with!

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/11/2019 at 19:03, hasdgfas said:

Yay! I see that in my time away from the forums, you got in an entire new thread I have to read, in the FM18 version, and it's almost time for the FM20 :) 

The FM17 thread was one of my favorites of all time, I clearly have more complete nonsense to read through and now keep up with!

On 12/11/2019 at 19:26, Jimbokav1971 said:

 

15 hours ago, MarcxD said:

Awesome! Looking forward to see how the narrative will develop this time especially with the help of @oriole01 👍

14 hours ago, sc91 said:

Always a brilliant read. 

8 hours ago, Tacchi said:

oh yes, I miss u!!!

 

7 hours ago, noikeee said:

Hi, here's an overused GIF.

6 hours ago, Sysiphus said:

Looking forward to it!

Thanks, guys!  Can't wait to dive in and tilt at a few more windmills.  Literally and metaphorically...

Tuesday can't come soon enough...

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, bigmattb28 said:

Following on FM Cheap seats bro. This is gonna be good

Thanks, man! Should be a fun journey this year. Just need Tuesday to roll around :lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm absolutely delighted to see this return for another go-around, and feel blessed to be able to directly contribute to a series of threads that have served as my foremost source of inspiration on this forum, and has undoubtedly helped shape my experiences as a writer. To be giving back to that now is a dream come true for me, and you can all rest assured that I will pour my heart and soul into this new story, just like I would any of my own. Best of luck on the save @ManUtd1, I'm sure together we'll bring a lot of joy, excitement, and fraudulence to the table, as always.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The huddled media are not quite sure of what to make of the situation.  Summoned early in the morning for a press conference, they’re more interested in seeing what meager snacks have been laid out for them to consume while waiting for the Chairman to arrive.

Sources inside the club have all but confirmed that the press conference will serve as the unveiling of the heralded, yet unproven manager Nicolaj Bur – the Danish-Dutch answer to Pep Guardiola who has been making waves with the Brøndby youth academy and reserves, while also gaining an online following for his thought-provoking, viral video dissecting (and conclusively resolving) the eternal debate as to whether one should bite or lick one’s ice cream cone.

Behind the scenes, the drama has already begun with a junior member of the coaching staff insisting that the side adopt a 3-striker formation, sure that their opponents will be incapable of adjusting. 

“I'm telling you, these teams won’t be able to handle it, Boss.  They won’t know who to mark.”

A low, dark chuckle from another member of the coaching staff - Bozidar Bodrozic, the club's Head of Sports Science - who sits in the corner with a grumpy look on his scarred face, shaking his head in disbelief as he takes a swig of plum brandy from a flask. A sharp, barking laugh follows, apropos of nothing.

Bur is unmoved.  Three strikers?!  A thing of the past.  A filthy, underhanded thing.  “No, three strikers is not for us.  You’ve got to stick to your principles…although we may need some time to build up to that point, yeah?”

Jesse Sorenson, Nicolaj’s best friend since childhood and soon-to-be Assistant Manager, can barely stop the laughter from bursting out.

“Principles? You’re not going to off yourself like that ‘arry bloke, are you, Boss?  That one that done shot the short fella?”

“Allegedly, Jesse.  Allegedly.  Redknapp is innocent until proven guilty.  And if you keep bringing that up, his lawyers are going to lose their minds and come for you.  Just leave it be.”

Bodrozic just takes another swig, somehow looking even more disgruntled.

The young press officer gives a nod, beckoning the Chairman to step into the next room with the media, preparing to reveal their new manager and – hopefully – in the process, create some good press in the midst of a sea of criticism for how the club has been run as of late.

Before they can be summoned to join the Chairman in the press room, Bur pulls the young press officer aside.

"Just one second...eh... Between us, what's the deal with this Bozidar? He seems a little, I don't know...off."

The press officer glances back towards the others, before closing the door to the press room quietly.

"Look, you didn't hear it from me, ok?"

"Hear... What? All anyone will tell me is that his methods are 'unconventional,' and that I shouldn't ask too many questions, or otherwise question his authority. Something about not looking him in the eye, too... I thought that was a joke, but having met him, I'm not so sure..."

The press officer sighs in resignation. She can tell from the look in Bur's eyes that he isn't going to let this go.

"Again, you didn't hear this from me. Got it?"

Bur nods.

"You've heard of 'Moneyball,' right?"

Bur nods. There must be more.

"Well, Bozidar is a proponent of what he likes to call 'Serbian Moneyball.'"

"And, that's different...how?"

"I'm not an expert, but as best I can tell the Serbian variant is less reliant on rigorous statistical analysis, and more focused on combining incessant yelling with expired medications from the former Soviet Bloc, and abrupt, inexplicable changes in the ambient temperature."

Bur is at a loss for words, unsure as to whether he's the target of some practical joke.

The press officer continues, enjoying the thrill of a shared secret, unaware of growing Bur's unease. "I even heard that Bozidar's grandfather was the head of Pinochet's secret police. I don't know what to make of that, though. And, it's not like there are actual records of him doing anything...well, there are all those photographs. Those do not look good. But, his grandson can't be that bad... I mean, Bozidar is really, really into Coldplay. You can trust someone who likes Coldplay, I think."

Bur mumbles something incoherent, trying to take it all in.

The press officer continues amiably, sure she has found a like-minded individual in Bur. "Honestly, Coldplay's early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Ghost Stories came out in '14, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He's been compared to Bono, but I think Chris has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor."

Bur nods, making a mental note to keep his distance from both Bozidar and this young press officer, who cheerfully begins to usher him towards the press room.

As they enter, Bur tries to center himself – concentrating on the image of a single flame and feeding all of his emotions, all of the angst and anxiety, into it, until his mind becomes empty.  Not empty of all thought.  Rather, devoid of distraction. 

“Remember the flame, lad, and the void. Become one with the void,” Bur’s father had said, “and you can do anything.”  

Bur has obtained some measure of control using the flame and the void these past few years.  But today will be the biggest test he’s faced.  By far.

Safely wrapped in the void, Bur’s focus is resolute.  Nothing can shake him, not even the press officer's overly-friendly invitation to dinner later that night, her hand on the small of his back, whispering about the “beautiful” chicken nuggets she is planning to pick up from the local McDonalds and prepare – “peeled, of course, à la Française”  What kind of nutter peels a chicken nugget?!  Aside from Coldplay fans, of course.  Those crazy bastards will peel anything.

For all of Bur’s calm – all of his focus – the void is shattered when the cameras begin to flash and the first softball question is lobbed in his direction.

“Can you describe your feelings, Mister Bur, sitting here today as the new manager of this great club?  Proud?  Nervous?”

Bur stammers, nodding enthusiastically.

“Yes…  Yes.  If it…  If it is to be said.”

“I’m sorry…what?”

“If it…  If it is to be said… So... Would be… It is.”

The press murmur, looking amongst each other, wondering if Bur is suffering from a stroke.

“Are you alright, Mister Bur?”

“Yes… Uhh… I merely wish to…to answer in the…affirmative fashion.”

“You can speak to us normally.”

“Oh, uh…ok.  No.  Thank you.  So, I…  Uhh… I shall.”

Bur’s first press conference would not improve from that point forward.

He will have to prove himself on the pitch.  The hard way.  The only way.


Cross-posted at From the Cheap Seats.

Edited by ManUtd1
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, oriole01 said:

I'm absolutely delighted to see this return for another go-around, and feel blessed to be able to directly contribute to a series of threads that have served as my foremost source of inspiration on this forum, and has undoubtedly helped shape my experiences as a writer. To be giving back to that now is a dream come true for me, and you can all rest assured that I will pour my heart and soul into this new story, just like I would any of my own. Best of luck on the save @ManUtd1, I'm sure together we'll bring a lot of joy, excitement, and fraudulence to the table, as always.

This comment.  This comment right here, doctor.

giphy.gif 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Time continues to skip forward randomly. Details at elev…

Futurama Globetrotters

Per usual, I’ve holidayed several years into the future, to allow for a unique playing environment. I have loaded the top leagues in Belgium, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Spain and Sweden as active, with a large database/pool of potential players, including all internationals worldwide and all players from clubs in European, African and South American continental competitions.

By the time June 2023 rolls around, we’ve got a few changes to the football world…at least, for our purposes.


Champions League Review, 2019/20 – 2022/23

In 2019/20, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City claimed the Champions League title, with a 1-nil win over Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus. (I for one would like to think that urCristiano did me a solid, here, ensuring that I wouldn’t have to manage City…)

  • 2020 CL Final 2019/20 CL Knockout rounds

  • But that’s not even the best part. Pep resigned from City in June 2021 after failing to win his 4th straight Premier League title…finishing 2nd behind Unai Emery’s Arsenal left him a broken man.

In a move designed to astonish, inspire and offend in equal measure, City promptly hired Jose Mourinho to replace him.

Pep has steadfastly refused to comment directly on this decision, instead choosing to speak only in Suessian riddles to voice his displeasure.

giphy.gif

I do not like that Portuguese man. I do not like him. Pep I am.

a94749b63818d5598b3a041e0fd920a2.png

Sarri would claim some small measure of redemption the following year, as Juventus defeated Jorge Jesus’ Atlético in the 2020/21 final (Simeone was sacked in May 2020).

  • 2020/21 Champions League Knockout 2021 CL Final

  •  

giphy.gif

Unai Emery’s choreographed entry at the Emirates was a sight to behold, as the club celebrated its first Champions League title just one short year after claiming the Premier League crown.

a94749b63818d5598b3a041e0fd920a2.png

In 2021/22, Unai Emery’s Arsenal beat Massimiliano Allegri’s Bayern Munich, a feat which…if we’re being honest…might be the most ridiculous thing to happen in this entire save. Just shut it down, lads. We can’t top this.

First, he wins the Premier League. Then, the very next year, he brings home the Champions League?!

In real life, Unai will be lucky to still have a job next Tuesday and get out of the Big Smoke with his kneecaps intact.

In this world, however, Unai will forever be an Arsenal FanTV legend.

  • 2021/22 CL knockout rounds 2022 CL Final

    Finally, in 2022/23, Diego Simeone’s Liverpool beat Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United, 3-1.

    Boooooring.

  •  
  • 2022/23 Champions League Knockout 2023 CL Final

  •  


2022 World Cup Review

In a beautifully-insane 2022 World Cup, Mexico defeated Switzerland on penalties after a 4-4 draw in the final. That means that the Swiss are officially eligible for the save…which is, quite frankly, amazing. I’m so excited.

Full credit as well to Belgium, Cameroon, Mexico and Portugal, all of whom reached the quarterfinals.

  • 2022 World Cup Knockout Rounds 2022 World Cup Final

  •  

European Leagues Review, 2019/20 – 2022/23

In the domestic leagues…Michel’s Real Madrid have won two straight titles, after Albert Celades’ Valencia shocked the world in 2020/21. As already noted, Manchester City have won 3 from 4 in England, under the unholy managerial twosome of Pep the Bald and Jose the Grumpy. Sarri’s not sorry in Italy, as Juventus dominates domestically, with Antonio Conte’s Inter stealing a title in 2020/21. Erik ten Hag’s Leverkusen dethroned Bayern in 2022/23, with Allegri getting the sack as a result. PSG did PSG things in France. In Greece and Serbia, Pedro Martins’ Olympiacos and Murat Yakin’s Crvena zvezda have done their best PSG impressions, respectively. Belgium has been a bit more unpredictable, with Alex Pastoor’s Club Brugge taking the title this year. The Allsvenskan has also been unpredictable, with Andreas Alm’s BK Häcken taking 2 from 4.

Premier League Overview Bundesliga Overview Super Liga Overview Allsvenskan Overview Ligue 1 Overview Superleague Overview La Liga Overview Serie A Overview Jupiler Pro League Overview


Ok, that was a lot of background. Just give a shout in the comments if you want any specific screenshots or information beyond what is above.

Throughout the save I’ll be updating a tracker, to show our overall progress in redeeming the Nearly Men. This is where it sits, as of June 2023:

Save Tracker, June 2023

And now…finally. The stage is set.  Our hero is in the wings, waiting for his cue.

Cross-posted at From the Cheap Seats.

Edited by ManUtd1
Link to post
Share on other sites

So Fabian Ruiz is racking up the assists for Lautaro Martinez for Man Utd in a few years time, that sounds like a plausible and terrifying combo tbh. I enjoy watching both players a lot - hopefully they take other club colours in the future instead of Utd. :brock:

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 15/11/2019 at 18:19, ManUtd1 said:

You can trust someone who likes Coldplay, I think."

This gif is from a coldplay performance,  I kid you not. Make of that what you will

source.gif

 

Edited by kidthekid
Link to post
Share on other sites

Pana-logo-watercolor-tint.png?resize=640,620&ssl=1

Panathinaikos AO - June 2023

I love pressure.  I eat it for breakfast.

Well…not literally.  It’s a metaphor, see.  And a quote from the greatest movie of all time, The Rock.

Truth be told, I much prefer prodigious quantities of the finest Nordic grapefruit in the morning, with a bucket of coffee on the side. There's no such thing as too much coffee.

After all, you don’t get to manage the Brøndby U18s at the age of 20 – and the reserves at 22 – if you don’t have ****ing tiger blood coursing through your veins, coupled with encyclopedic knowledge of Telleusian tactics.  No.  No, no you don’t.

Then again, Sofie probably wouldn’t have run off with FC København’s reserve keeper if I’d spent a little less time studying Oostende’s groundbreaking utilization of an underlapping, inverted regista…  Yes, it was her birthday. But in my defense, we were still waiting for the food to arrive, so I really don’t see what the problem was.  More to the point, Nando’s was a night out on the town, just like she wanted.  Again, I fail to see the problem.

When I later asked why she'd run off with Kristof in the first place, she also gave me a bunch of crap about not listening to her enough, or something. I dunno, I wasn't really paying attention.

Anyways... "C'est la brie," as the French say. It just wasn’t meant to be.

You were always destined to be the Liam to my Noel Gallagher, Sofie.  The Christian Slater to my Christian Bale.  The Fat Ronaldo to my Cristiano. The Rebekah Vardy to my Colleen Rooney.

It was time for a fresh start, regardless.  Time for a change of both pace and scenery.  Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to take charge of the fortunes at a historic club…one down on its luck and willing to take a chance on me.  Our goal is nothing less than to avenge the Trifýlli’s loss to Ajax in ’71.  The semifinals in ‘85 and ‘96, the quarterfinals in ‘92 and ‘02… Triumphs for a little club like ours in the modern era, but not enough.  Never enough.  Second place is nothing more than first loser, after all.

The echoes of past glory can be heard throughout Athens, if only you stop to listen.  But it is a new dawn at the Spyros Louis.  A new era. 

The Nikolaj Bur era.

seperator.png

Welcome to Nicolaj, Athens.

Yes, that's right. We start our journey in Greece this year, with Bur and his merry band attempting to bring Champions League glory to Panathinaikos AO, one of the most successful clubs in Greek footballing history.

33d76ace791636a1b26ffbb7cfa61ede.png

f217994d3f7ed2eac81fff2c343a1876.jpg ae18f95a4ce87893c95a3c5b3d4f63f5.png

d810c69ace711114dcd659df5f019fbc.png

No one asked you, Niki.

33d76ace791636a1b26ffbb7cfa61ede.png

Founded in 1908, Panathinaikos AO ("All-Athenian Athletic Club") have claimed 20 Greek top flight titles, 18 Greek Cups and 3 Greek Super Cups. Panathinaikos have never been relegated from the top flight, and are one of only 2 clubs to claim the title undefeated, accomplishing the feat in the 1963-64 season. (Suck on that, Arsene.)

33d76ace791636a1b26ffbb7cfa61ede.png

1082px-1971_Champions_League_Final_Ajax_

An iconic (colorized) picture of the sides walking out for the 1970-71 European Cup Final at Wembley.

33d76ace791636a1b26ffbb7cfa61ede.png

Panathinaikos are also the most successful Greek club in the Champions League by a large distance, having reached the 1970/71 European Cup final at Wembley, where they lost 2-nil to Johan Cruyff's Ajax.

A semifinal appearance in 1984/85 ended with a 5-nil aggregate loss to Joe Fagan's Liverpool.

More recently, Panathinaikos reached the Group Stage of the last European Cup tournament of the pre-Champions League era, in 1991/92, finishing 4th behind Sampdoria, Red Star and Anderlecht.

In 1995/96, Panathinaikos reached the Champions League semifinals, falling 3-1 (aggregate) to Louis Van Gaal's Ajax after a 1-nil win in the first leg in Athens.

Panathinaikos would also reach the 2001/02 Champions League quarterfinals, finishing ahead of Sparta Prague and Jose Mourinho's Porto in the Group Stage, before being eliminated by Carles Rexach's Barcelona (2-3, on aggregate) after a one-nil win in the first leg in Athens.

33d76ace791636a1b26ffbb7cfa61ede.png

Olympic Stadium, panorama

Athens' Olympic Stadium, aka the "Spyros Louis," named for the first modern Olympic marathon gold medalist, in 1896.

3f7ade3321f3a6de7561e0f55069a5d2.jpg

Nikolaj gives the club photographer his best "Blue Steel" face.

33d76ace791636a1b26ffbb7cfa61ede.png

There's no question that we have work to do in Athens. The squad is bloated, but should be good enough to compete domestically.

To compete in Europe, though, we've got some serious work to do. The youth aren't good enough. And the "established" players will only get us so far.

A detailed squad review will follow in due course. For now, let's just all assume that no one is safe, not even Federico "Feddy Macs" Macheda.

We'll be playing PM Krigsherre and PM Laenket, the strikerless tactics I developed during the beta which are detailed here: I Want to Take His Face...Off. I'm also tinkering with a version of the tactics that is more deliberate when in possession. Once I get it right, I'll post them on From The Cheap Seats.

Getting this revised tactic sorted may be an important early step, as the club vision includes a "preference" for playing a possession-based style (a description that no one in their right minds would ever use for PM Krigsherre and PM Laenket).

33d76ace791636a1b26ffbb7cfa61ede.png

Pana club vision

The Board doesn't seem to be expecting much of young Nicolaj.

570951240361a103ffae609b6eb4f5ca.png?ssl=1 fd6c64526105eb6873ba9cd75c06e893.png?ssl=1 1b3f77775df0055b03c5ffd5931c0fe3-1.png?ssl=1 3da3cf26c9246346f895f8c5d95a5455.png?ssl=1

If it's all the same to you, lads, I'd rather not learn any of your names. Not now, at least. Pretending that we have some sort of "bond" or were "bros" ... Really, that would just make it hurt more when I trade you next week for a cup of coffee and bag of magic beans.

33d76ace791636a1b26ffbb7cfa61ede.png

Cross-posted at From the Cheap Seats.

Edited by ManUtd1
Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, hasdgfas said:

Ooh! Greece to start with. I love this! A big project in a smaller league to begin a save is always fun :) 

Good luck!

Thanks, man!  Definitely will be good fun in Athens.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

Uhh...ok.  Simeone sacked by Liverpool, the day after winning the Champions League.  There's a Brendan Rodgers joke in here somewhere.

a3ff5e7f242e7ca8bda6d1612909cc8d.png 

Does he have a chance of jumping onto the Poisoned Saddle?

Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, wynter said:

Does he have a chance of jumping onto the Poisoned Saddle?

*cries in Bobby Manc and Manuel Pellegrini*

Edited by ManUtd1
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, HawkAussie said:

Actually who has won the Europa League and Conference League so far in this save?

Bournemouth are making their move!

27bc2f6b75e19e17f4263946387d4df1.png 

2d5c72de5edc5e5d49040159d4551b2a.png 

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, smp20 said:

Wooo! I'm only 9 days late for this but you've still only just started :). All th best with this challenge, Pana is a lovely place to start!!!

Glad to have you on board, man!

Link to post
Share on other sites

lightning-saturated-3.png

The Ballad of Toothless Bob, Vol. 1 - Rooooxxanne

Jesse Sorensen, recently-appointed as Assistant Manager at Panathinaikos, stands outside the door to Nicolaj Bur's apartment in Athens.

Nicolaj has invited the entire playing and technical staff over, to break the ice, so to speak.  Jesse does not know what to expect, and is not looking forward to what he is sure will be a night of awkward conversation.  The people, the city, the language - it's all too new.

The door swings open to reveal a smiling Nicolaj.  At his elbow is Selene, the young press officer who seems to follow the managerial duo around like a lost puppy, hoping they don’t cause an international incident with their halting, fumbled efforts to speak Greek.  Selene is creepily over-smiling, and somehow managed to match the color scheme of Nicolaj’s outfit perfectly…almost as if they’d planned it.

“Uhh…hey there, Nico,” stammers Jesse, as he enters passing a bottle of wine to Nicolaj. Jesse is a little creeped out by Selene's overly-cheerful demeanor.

“Don't you two look fancy,” Jesse says, winking at Nicolaj, a subtle nod to the matching outfits.

Selene giggles amiably.  “I read a book on how to be the perfect party hosts.  Rule number one?  Dress to impress!”

Nicolaj chimes in, less enthusiastically.  “Rule number two? Fine anyone who doesn’t show up.”

As Jesse looks around, he notices that the only other person present is Bozidar Bodrozic, the club’s Head of Sports Science, who appears to be thumbing through Nicolaj’s vinyl music collection, clearly having taken charge of the music for the evening. 

Jesse thought he was fashionably late, but it appears that almost everyone has blown off the party…hence Nicolaj’s desire to issue a round of fines.

The door buzzer rings again.  Nicolaj buzzes the visitors in, without checking to see who it is.

Moments later, the front door opens to reveal the groundskeeping crew – Merle, Magnus and Taako.  A bizarre bunch, if you’ve ever met them.  Jesse and Nicolaj share a knowing look, as the three newcomers make themselves at home.

Merle has a reputation for being the life of the party, and is carrying no less than four glass baking pans, demanding to know where the kitchen is.  “I made lasagna,” he announces triumphantly.

Nicolaj is confused.  “But...I told you I would order pizza for everyone.”

Merle is not impressed. “I spent all day in the kitchen. For you. I made four lasagnas.”

Four lasagnas?! Four lasagnas, Merle?!”

“What can I say,” Merle responds, exasperated.  “I like to party.”

“We… I... I already ordered pizza…”

“One of the lasagnas is chicken.”

Chicken?!  Chicken lasagna?!”

Merle looks like he wants to fight.  “Yeah, what of it?!” 

“I mean… I've seen it on menus, but only at those pretend pubs at the airport.”

Merle just glares at Nicolaj. Everyone else looks rather uncomfortable.

To break the tension, Selene points Merle to the kitchen and takes the other guests on a short, impromptu tour of Nicolaj’s apartment.  “Let’s see…this is the bathroom, the kitchen...the bedroom…and...uhh...this, this is a scale model of the rolling boulder scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.  With actual rolling boulder.”

Selene activates the diorama.  A model boulder rolls down a ramp and into her hand. “Pretty cool, huh,” gushes Selene.

Jesse can hardly keep himself from laughing out loud.  “Super cool.  And sexy.  Super sexy cool.”

Bozidar, momentarily distracted from Nicolaj’s epic music collection by mention of the word 'sexy,' remembers that he brought a housewarming gift. He passes Nicolaj a large bottle, wrapped in a paper bag.  “Almost forgot.  Is Serbian Rum.  For the you.  So strong is the banned in Serbia, yes?!  Is banned in Serbia, Nico!!!”

Nicolaj isn’t sure what to think of this, and passes the bottle back to Bozidar.  “Thank you, I guess.  You…you enjoy. You go ahead and start in. I’ll have some later.”

Taako is unimpressed at the turnout and, quite frankly, at the tiny apartment.  So far, this Nicolaj hasn’t lived up to his reputation.  In perhaps vain hopes that things will improve, Taako asks, “so, what do we have on offer for the night, beyond pizza?"

Selene perks up and intejects, hiding something behind her back. “One word, two syllables…”

Magnus groans.  “Don’t say Charades.”

Selene whips out a box from behind her back.  “Yahtzee!”

Jesse immediately grabs the bottle of Serbian Rum from Bozidar's hands and starts to open it, a look of resignation on his face.

Magnus just sighs, closing his eyes as if suffering some immense existential pain.  “Is Charades off the table?”

Thirty minutes later, and little has changed.  Bozidar is still browsing through Bur's music collection.

Taako shakes the dice cup.  “Come on…”

He lifts up the cup to look at the dice, a look of confusion across his face as he pulls out the instructions for the fifth turn in a row.

The door buzzer sounds.  Selene leaps up to buzz the new visitors in, visions in her mind of playing the perfect host at the party.

Nicolaj sighs.  “It’s just the pizza.”

Magnus leaps to his feet in celebration and begins to dance awkwardly, chanting in time with his movements. “Pizza pizza go in my tummy, me so hun-gee, me so hun-gee!!!”

Merle stares daggers at Magnus, thinking of all the time he spent in the kitchen making lasagna, only to be publicly betrayed in such humiliating fashion.

Jesse points out the obvious.  “We can’t buzz the pizza guy up.  Someone has to go down.”

Everyone stops.  No one moves.  And then, quick as a flash, they each touch the side of their noses.

It’s a seven-way tie.

The buzzer sounds again.

Nicolaj picks up the die.  “Ok, staring on my left with one.  Your number comes up, you go down.”

Everyone nods agreement.  Nicolaj shakes the die in his hand.

Taako interrupts.  “Just so you know, Boss, you are now creating six different timelines.”

Nicolaj scoffs sarcastically. “Of course I am, Taako.”

As Bozidar finally finds an album he approves of, Nicolaj rolls the die. As the die falls from his hand, a rooster crows in the distance.  Everyone’s vision goes blurry, a ringing echoing in their ears. 

As the die tumbles across the table, the rooster crows a second time.  Time itself seems to slow momentarily, before lurching back to normal speed.

The die finally comes to a rest, with two pips showing.

Merle chuckles awkwardly. Nicolaj shakes his head, confused, before counting off, starting to his left.  “One…two… That’s you, Selene.”

Selene exits, cheerfully heading down to pick up the pizza. The air in the room feels different somehow, but no one is willing to acknowledge it.

To help break the tension, Bozidar gently places the needle on the vinyl.  The Police’s “Roxanne” begins to play. 

Merle stomps off into the kitchen to serve himself some chicken lasagna, just as Sting sings the opening lyric.

Bozidar, now dancing slowly by himself in the center of the room, leans back and belts it out, “ROXXXXX—”

But Jesse cuts him off with a firm, “no," turning off the music.

A thousand yard stare in his eyes, Taako softly whispers to no one in particular, “I wonder what’s happening in all those other timelines.”

Overhearing him, Nicolaj again scoffs.  “Taako, there are no other timelines.”

png-page-divider-letterpress-dividers-52

More than a thousand miles away, the last sunlight of the evening percolates through the broken window of an abandoned warehouse, nestled deep within a rundown industrial estate in Leeds.

Children of varying ages are strewn around the large interior, napping, waiting for night to come. Because night is when they take to the streets.

A middle-aged, balding man sits reclined in a tattered easy chair, wearing a full Leeds United kit, sweat-stained almost beyond recognition.  The chair appears to be next to a makeshift altar of some sort, placed up against the wall.

The unmistakable sound of a roster crowing wakes the man from his slumber. Confusion reigns as his vision goes blurry, a ringing echoing in his ears. 

Immediately, the rooster crows a second time.  Time itself seems to slow momentarily, before lurching back to normal speed.

Disoriented, the man rises, shaking his head slowly from side to side. As he stretches, you notice that his replica jersey has even more stains than you'd previously thought possible.  The man’s ill-fitting, Billy-Bremner-match-worn shorts leave little to the imagination. The man yawns... Revealing that he is missing nearly all of his top front teeth.

Banging a shoe against the floor, the man shouts a war cry at the children, “get a’gate yer lazy berks, we’re off t’work soonish, yeah!?”

At his call, dozens of haggard children rise, a dangerous glint shining within their eyes.  Yet, those same eyes hold nothing but love for the man they know as “Father Bob,” their garrista.   A man known to the West Yorkshire Police by a different name, “Toothless Bob.”

As one, the children line up at the makeshift altar, lighting candles as they pray.  The extra light brings into focus a golden statue of Sergio Ramos atop the altar.  The boys are paying homage.  The light of the candles casts a heavenly glow upon an oil painting resting above the altar, a painting that appears to depict The Last Supper, with Don Revie at center of the table surrounded by Bremner, Giles and his various acolytes.  Brian Clough lurks in the shadows, ready to strike, a sickly pallor across his face.  A half-starved dog lurking beneath the table appears to bear the visage of Pep Guardiola, as a naked babe with the face of a smirking Jose Mourinho taunts the Pep-dog with a side of beef.

One by one, the children lay their offerings on the altar, gold and silver catching the light from the candles. With each offering, the children mimick Ramos’ tug on Salah in ritualistic honor of the Crooked Warden, the God of Thieves. Their God.

The children turn their attentions to the man known as Toothless Bob, who now stands on a raised platform in the middle of the cavernous room, waiting his instructions.

“Lads, lads, lads,” Toothless Bob purrs, his voice like an iron rasp wrapped in velvet. “We’re home t’the Millwall in sixty days, yeah, the poor little kittlins that they be.  There’s a war coming.  Time to battle up.”

What Toothless Bob did not know is that a war is, in fact, coming...  It just isn't the war he expects.

png-page-divider-letterpress-dividers-527.png

Cross-posted at From the Cheap Seats.

Edited by ManUtd1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...