DAY TEN: Your boss calls. He wants to know why you've saved a Word document to the public server that appears to be a very long list of surnames with scattered comments like, “needs to work on tackling,” and, “might develop after a loan spell.” You tell him that it was an experimental staff assessment template and was something you had hoped to unveil at the next monthly meeting. He buys it and he's impressed. Too impressed. Now you need to come up with an actual experimental staff assessment template because you'll be unveiling it to the rest of the office at the end of the week. You tell your partner, but receive only a long sigh in return. That's so typical of them. Sometimes it's like they don't understand the importance of European coefficients at all.
DAY ELEVEN: A terrible knee injury robs you of your goalkeeper in March. You spend the rest of the night watching your games through your hands as your rusty reserve stopper makes a hash of everything that comes his way. You hold an immediate inquest and conclude that the only way to keep your back-up players fresh is to manually control your reserve team. But it's too late for this season. Your title hopes are dashed in a grim eight-match winless run, but you do at least reach the FA Cup Final. “Injuries can happen to anyone,” you tell 'Geoff Shreeves' as you work on the washing up. “In a way, it might be a blessing. It takes the pressure off and we'll learn from this experience.” 'Geoff' purrs politely then lifts his leg in the air and licks his own bottom.
DAY TWELVE: This is it. It's Cup Final day. You take a walk around the block to clear your head, imagining yourself to be strolling around the grounds of your hotel, idly chatting about the weather in an effort to calm your players down. And then it's time. And because things have to be done properly, you put on your best suit and blast 'Abide With Me' through Spotify. That's not overdoing it, that's just enjoying the moment. Shaking hands with the door knob and pretending to introduce your team to Prince William; that was overdoing it.
DAY THIRTEEN: You argue with your partner about the amount of time you're spending on the laptop. You make a spirited defence, claiming that Football Manager is cheaper than gambling, healthier than drinking and safer than most of the drugs. It's a brilliant riposte and, had your partner still been in the house when you'd thought of it, it would almost certainly have won the argument. But if the house is empty, then there's no-one to object to another few pre-season games, is there? Every cloud, eh?
DAY FOURTEEN: You look up briefly from a detailed report on a regenerated Peruvian right-back who's been turning heads in La Liga. Where is your partner? It's been quiet for a really long time. There's an envelope on the kitchen table with your name on it. You definitely saw it on the last coffee run, but you didn't open it. Maybe there's a clue in there. Maybe not. It doesn't matter. You're just one player away from challenging for the title. And then you'll be a winner. And then they'll see. They'll all see.