A reporter from a local TV Station stands outside a slightly shabby looking football ground
Reporter (to camera): Hartsworth United under-13s are riding high. Top of the league, and unbeaten in two seasons, they have attracted the attention of top talent scouts and agents up and down the country. But recent complaints from parents and opposition players have raised concerns over the team’s coaching methods.
Cut to the interior of the team’s changing room. The Manager – an old-school Malcom Allison type in a vintage adidas tracksuit – is standing in front of a chalkboard. He is all windmilling arms – clearly explaining a fiendishly clever set-piece routine. Occasionally he turns to the board and draws something, but the picture is obscured from the camera. A couple of times we cut to a group of young lads – also tracksuited - dutifully scribbling notes
Reporter (V/O): Brian Hemmingway has been Hartsworth’s manager for nearly five years and he’s developed a reputation for turning regular local teenagers into Premier League stars of the future.
Manager (fade audio up): …so what we’re basically saying is: It’s all about teamwork. Jamie - you’re the skipper so you have to lead from the front and make sure we’re keeping a disciplined shape. You MUST keep plenty of shots raining in on the target – really open up that defence.
Think about Rio Ferdinand and the boys at Manchester United – they really work the channels well and crowd the box during set-pieces. Once we’ve got Boycie “in the hole” – young Jacko can get in unopposed round the back, and … BAM! (Slams the back of his hand against the board) It’s game on!
The Manager stands back to reveal the final diagram, which is a crude stick-figure rendering of a young woman on a big bed surrounded by footballers. Arrows and dotted lines point suggestively to various parts of her anatomy
Reporter (off camera): Er, do you think it’s appropriate to advocate such blatant sexual activity in front of impressionable young boys?
Manager (shrugs): They have to learn sometime. These kids will be in the big leagues soon - Better to learn how to behave now than a few years down the line when they find themselves threes-up with a drunk, incapable glamour model in the penthouse suite of the Grosvenor House Hotel and they can’t work out what goes where… Honestly, lads – you never forget your first roasting – it’s a vital confidence-builder.
Now – who can tell me what do we do if the slapper cries foul in the morning and goes running to the Old Bill?
The Skipper, Jamie, a callow, spotty youth with a recently-broken voice and nervous disposition raises his hand
Skipper: Flush the Rohypnol, call my lawyer, and… and… (scrunches face up as he tries to recall)
Skipper (triumphantly): Get an injunction against the News of the World!
Manager: Bingo! I LOVE this kid.
The Manager goes and ruffles his captain’s hair
Cut to the Manager’s office - a room not much bigger than a broom cupboard. Close-up on a chalkboard behind him which says “Training Schedule” – a list of disciplines that include “Roasting”, “Maintaining your Bentley”, “Contract Negotiation”, “Brawling” and “Retirement: Pub or Punditry?”. The Manager is at his desk being interviewed by the Reporter
Manager (talking head): These boys have got it nailed on the pitch, no question - never worked with a better group of kids - but I’m talking about life skills. To be successful in this game you have to have a certain swagger, an arrogance that says “I’m the man – now give me a chilled bottle of Cristal and a roped-off VIP area or I’ll smash your face in.”
Reporter: Do you not have a duty to these kids to ensure they become responsible members of society? Surely, if we give them more positive messages about fame and accountability, we can create a new generation of football stars who are role models – not boorish, stereotypical thugs. Shouldn’t we be saying that turning out like Gazza or George Best would be a bad thing?
Manager: George Best? Lying in a hotel room with a naked Miss World rolling around thousands of dollars in cash? Where did it all go wrong, eh?
Reporter: With respect, that’s not quite what I meant …
Manager (laughing, holding hand up and looking apologetic): I know, I know. I’m being facetious. In all honesty, good as they undoubtedly are, these lads will struggle to pull a Miss World. I’ll be pleased if they can get themselves splashed all over page 9 of the Daily Star coming out of a Travelodge with a passable-looking Big Brother contestant. Make it a Page 3 Girl, and my work here is done.
The reporter is stunned into silence and the Manager gives a lingering look direct to camera – a bit like David Brent might, after delivering one of his pearls of wisdom
Cut to a room that looks a bit like a youth club, with a pool table, drinks machine etc. Boys are milling around like normal kids – laughing and joking
Reporter (V/O): Brian’s controversial training methods cover all aspects of footballing development. Today he is teaching his players how to handle themselves during the crucial “Nightclub Ejection and Stumble to Taxi” scenario.
For this drill the boys are role-playing – One of the larger ones has on a bouncer’s bomber jacket with “Security” on the back – three others stand outside the door with cameras, ready to “pap” the chosen player as he is dragged from the premises. One-by-one the boys practice their demeanour from the “bar” to a waiting “taxi” which, in this instance, is a child’s “sit-in” car with the word “TAXI” pinned to it. The manager looks on intently with a clip-board
Manager (as several of his charges perform the task): Keep the mobile phone on view at all times, Danny. Remember lads – even if it’s just the Speaking Clock, we want you to look like a trendy hard-nut, with trendy hard-nut mates… Boycie – where’s the cocky sneer?? You look far too mild-mannered … And the punch at the paparazzi has got to be wilder… I want to see more flailing … ANDY! Come on son! You can do better than that! Imagine you’ve stuck away 13 large vodka tonics and just had a hand-job from Jodie Marsh in the gents at China White. I’m looking for a DRUNKEN STRUT … Look, watch me:
The Manager rips his T-shirt half open and goes over to the bar. He downs a bottle of Lucozade Sport and belches loudly before giving the rest of the room the universal body-language for picking a fight: chest thrust out like a peacock, hands beckoning anyone and everyone to “come and have a go if they think they’re hard enough”.
Manager: Come on then! Who wants some?
He saunters over to one of the smaller boys and jabs him in the chest
Manager: Oi! What you lookin’ at? Poofter!
Boy (terrified): N-nothing, boss…
Manager: Do you know who I am?? I make more dosh in a week than you do in a year, you pathetic scumbag!
The Manager swivels round violently and grabs a nearby pool cue. He swishes it menacingly about him causing some of the players to leap out the way
Manager: I’ll take all you fuckers on! Come on! Right now! Let’s go!
Suddenly the Manager pauses and comes out of character momentarily
Manager: Right. You’ve made a scene and shown everyone in the bar that you’re an ill-bred oaf with a dangerously inflated sense of your own worth. What now? OK Dennis (he gestures towards the boy playing the bouncer) – throw me out.
Dennis moves gingerly over to his Manager and places his hands on the lapels of his tracksuit
Dennis: Come along now, Sir. I think it’s time you left.
He starts to march the Manager towards the door
Manager (shrugging him off and beginning to slur his words): Get your fucking hands off me, sunshine. I was just leaving anyway. This place is a shit-hole.
He saunters through the door, mobile phone clamped to his ear before spying the waiting “paparazzi”
Manager (staggering towards the boys): Get out of it! Fucking vultures!
He shoves his way through them, pausing to grab one of the cameras and trample it into the ground. As the boys scatter he lurches up to the waiting “taxi” and leans on it, breathing heavily, before, again, coming out of character and addressing the class
Manager: Striking one of the photographers at this point is perfectly acceptable, as is drunkenly embracing a team-mate, leering at a passing mini-skirted honey and vomiting in the gutter. With the taxi entry it is vital to establish a rapport with the cabbie right from the start. Observe:
He squeezes himself into the toy car, filling it entirely. It is one of those ones where you sit on a seat and scooch along with your feet. Somehow he manages to remove his wallet and wave it in the direction of the non-existent driver
Manager: Take me to Epping Forest Country Club, Driver - and get there fast or I’ll cut you.
Cramped up absurdly inside the car, phone still clamped to his ear, he flicks a V-sign with his other hand out the window at the paps as he scoots off. The car only gets a few yards before collapsing under the Manager’s weight. He picks himself up, dusts himself down and turns to face the class
Manager: Any questions?