And She Laughed No More (Stoke City’s [First] Premiership Adventure) goes off to Short Books a week on Monday. With a timetable that has involved the delivery of three books in twelve months (though the Working Class Hero was already done a good while back, it still required some extensive late editing due to a title change that was forced on us), it’s all been too frantic. My mind is ablaze and I am more knackered than I was even during a period in the building trade when I didn’t have a day off for a month. At least I feel like an honest worker. Here is a bit:
‘They have one man who is fantastic, I think he shoots the ball better with his hand than with his foot’ : Chelsea (h)
The next Premiership visitors to Stoke-on-Trent are Chelsea. It is their most recent new coach, the jovial Brazilian Luiz ‘Big Phil’ Felipe Scolari, who is responsible for the quote above. Personally, I liked Avram Grant, the man who could never fill Jose Mourinho’s shoes. I never much cared for the atmosphere around the Special One, and I particularly disliked him in his late period, when, having discarded his original chimera of charm, he left the public with very little to admire. In place of the charm came the reality of a deep self-regard coupled with a surly arrogance. At least he still wore a decent overcoat.
I had a soft spot for Avram because he was destined to fail simply for not being Jose, and because looked like a an old-fashioned hood, the kind of man who had people who were paid to do his dirty work for him, guys who would leave a horse’s head in your bed. Where Avram was fifty percent Antwerp diamond dealer, fifty percent Godfather, Big Phil was a Gene Hackman look-a-like, the dogged cop who would hunt Avram down across five continents if, as is surely a certainty, they ever make, Chelski: the movie…