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I decided to use the plane journey to Sweden as an opportunity to read up on our opponents for the upcoming pre-season tournament. It was also a chance to assess my squad and to identify who were my key players and where I needed to bolster my squad in the transfer market. Joining me on the plane were my two new coaches; Gary Kelly of Leeds United and my former teammate from Birmingham City, Michael Johnson. Good guys who I feel could add something to the squad especially Gary who is known as a practical joker!
Gary Kelly: So, what you make of the squad?
Andy Sheriff: It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Sure we need to improve of course, mainly in midfield, but nothing too drastic. I’m confident that we can get into the top six for sure.
Michael Johnson: Could do with another keeper.
Andy Sheriff: We could since we’ve only got two at the club, but numbers need to be added to the midfield first. We’re not exactly blessed with cash so we need to make an impact during this tournament. Matt expects us to win it.
Gary Kelly: He said that? Christ almighty.
Michael Johnson: Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain!
Gary Kelly: Sorry, mate.
Andy Sheriff: He didn’t say words to that effect but he did have loving eyes whenever he mentioned the prize money.
Michael Johnson: When’s our first game?
Andy Sheriff: Tomorrow.
Michael Johnson: What? He can’t be serious!
Andy Sheriff: Money talks in this game, lads. Both of you should know that. Personally, I just want us to be competitive. Build up match fitness and moral. I’d be happy if we qualify from the group stage. We still get some prize money for doing that, just not the million quid.
Gary Kelly: Euros.
Andy Sheriff: Yes, sorry. Not used to monopoly money you see.
We arrived at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. We sailed through customs and were greeted by a guy in his mid-50s holding up a sign which read ‘Sherriff of Ireland FC’. Who the fuck are Ireland FC and would it hurt to not spell my name incorrectly you bunch of dicks! I’ve got to be nice to the Swedes, they introduced Ulrika Johnson to the UK, something that me and my right hand appreciate greatly. Anyway, the old wise Swedish man took us to the Olympic Stadium where our group games would take place. Once we arrived at the stadium, we got the chance to see the squad in action for the first time. They were doing a few drills on the pitch under the watchful eye of Graham O’Hanlon. Around this time Fred Davis, the goalkeeping coach, introduced himself.
Fred Davis: I tell you what, this is a big stadium. Fancy seeing little old Bohemians from Ireland playing here, eh?
Michael Johnson: It’s a big stadium I tell you that. Have you spotted any fans round the area?
Fred Davis: I’ve two at the bar in our hotel, or were they Crew fans? I honestly don’t know.
Andy Sheriff: How’s the lads been? How’ve they taken to my appointment?
Fred Davis: It’s been grand, no one has a fucking clue who you are and I’m sure you haven’t a fucking clue who any of these lads are either. We’re all in the same boat so no pressure.
Andy Sheriff: How’s training coming along? Any injuries I should know about?
Fred Davis: Nope, everyone is as fit as a fiddle. We’re just finishing off the training so you can pop over and say hello. Better make it quick because I’m taking the lads to the pub.
Andy Sheriff: No you’re fucking not!
Fred Davis: But I’ve promised them.
Andy Sheriff: Well you’re going to have to break your promise aren’t you? Drinking before a game? That’s fucking ridiculous.
Fred Davis: Teddy (Sheringham) says he’s taking his lads (Stevenage) to the pub, and he says he’ll pay for us.
Andy Sheriff: If Teddy Sheringham says he’s taking this team to jump off a bridge would you go and join him?
Fred just bows his head like a naughty schoolboy
Andy Sheriff: Exactly. Ha’way lads, let’s go and introduce ourselves.
I headed on over to the pitch. Graham called the squad over as I prepared to make my intentions clear.
Andy Sheriff: My name is Andy Sheriff; I’ve played central defence for Sunderland, Bournemouth, Birmingham City and York City. This is my first job in management and I’m very pleased to be here at Bohemians FC. I want this club to be successful and I’m sure you all do as well. Last season is yesterday’s news. This is where the hard work begins. I’m not asking you to win every game, I want you to show commitment to the club when you’re out there on the pitch. I want us to be competitive on all fronts this season. There’s going to be a lot of changes going on at the club, we’re all in this together so it’s paramount that we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. Our first game is tomorrow so that means no drinking before the game.
That clearly didn’t go down too well. I knew it wouldn’t so I had a plan in my head to counter the boo boys.
Andy Sheriff: If we win tomorrow against Stevenage, the drinks are on me.
Now that put smiles on faces. Just call me a fucking pro at life! Shit, that reminds me, I need to report into HQ and tell Kelly that I’ve arrived in Sweden. I sent her a quick text on the way to the hotel. Gary interrupted my text by bringing up my choice for Assistant Manager.
Gary Kelly: You still sticking with your choice for Assistant Manager?
Andy Sheriff: Yes.
Gary Kelly: Why?
Andy Sheriff: Because he’s the right man for the job and he’d be the perfect fit for the club.
Johnson overheard our conversation.
Michael Johnson: But will the fans buy into it though?
Andy Sheriff: Have they bought into me being the manager?
Gary Kelly: No one’s heard of you, mate.
Michael Johnson: But everyone’s heard about his guy and he doesn’t come with a good reputation.
Andy Sheriff: That’s right they have and that’s why I want him here. His apparent negative reputation has been blown out of proportion. He’s interested in coming over, I’ve actually spoke to him as soon as I got the job and brought it up when I signed my contract, but Matt’s in two minds about it. If we progress in this tournament and bring home the beacon, Matt will see me as Christ 2.0
Michael Johnson: Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain.
Andy Sheriff: I’m sorry but it’s true. If we can bring more added revenue to the club because of this tournament, he’ll have to listen. I hold all the cards in this deal.
Gary Kelly: And if Matt doesn’t agree to it?
Andy Sheriff: I always have plan B.
I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket, it was our Kel.
“OMG babe our apartment is proper amazeballs lol. U back home soon? Miss u hun xxx”
Hopefully not too soon, I’ve got a tournament to win!