DAY FIVE: You spend two hours at work reading about the history of your adopted team on WIkipedia. As you scroll down the screen, taking in the stories of the past, committing the names of heroes long gone to memory, you feel a sense of swelling pride and an increasing responsibility to the badge. For a moment, you consider adding your own achievements to the page, but you hold back. After all, you're not that sad. When you get home, you get straight back to the grindstone, 'attending' an England U19 qualifier to see how a young transfer target copes with the pressure of a big game.
DAY SIX: Success! You've finished a season and booked your place in Europe. You click the button that delivers a short speech to your players, congratulating them on their success, but in your head, you deliver a far longer and far more personal one. You go through your players one by one, checking their stats, thanking them for their contribution. Then you hear laughter behind you. Your partner is standing at the door. You've been speaking out loud. You are told to stop being so silly and to come to bed because you have “real work” tomorrow. Clough probably had to bite his lip in the early days too.
DAY SIX/SEVEN: That would have been a sensible place to save and exit, but you just wanted to see how the World Cup went. After all, a number of your players will be involved and it's a great place to scout for upcoming talent. You start to click through, but you see other teams making bids for players and you don't want to be left behind. Quickly, you run through your shortlist and start firing bids out. But you can't go to bed until you know if the bids were successful, so you keep clicking through. And through. And through. And then you hear the worst noise that any Football Manager can hear. Bird song.
DAY EIGHT: Your partner isn't very well and you have to cancel a night out. You're delighted. You pack them off to bed with a cup of tea and a packet of 'extinction level event' Cold & Flu medicine. While they snooze, you cruise through your second pre-season. You've got plans, you've got ideas, you've got targets to aim at. You know all this because while you were making a cup of coffee, you gave an extended interview to the Daily Telegraph's Henry Winter (opens in new tab) within the confines of your own head. He seemed nice. If you ever write your autobiography, you have a feeling that Henry will be the man to ghost it.
DAY NINE: It's all going so well. You're gliding through games now, tweaking and shifting formations, confident that you know what you can reasonably expect from your players. In an open and far-reaching interview with The Mirror's Oliver Holt (opens in new tab), you explain the secret of your success: Trust. You trust these boys and they respond with consistently excellent performances. Of course, there was the incident with that young Belgian lad. He objected when you fined him for his dismissal at the Emirates, you argued and he ended up on the transfer list. Pour encourager les autres, you tell Holt. You both laugh heartily. Then you realise that you're in the queue for the deli in Sainsburys and people are staring.