“New year, new me” I vowed to the grizzly figure looking back at me from the mirror of my Persian-inspired terracotta en-suite.
I fired up my Panasonic Stubble Master and set about my new grooming routine. Keeping my facial fuzz to a uniform ½ inch length is one of many New Years resolutions I have set myself for this year. Others include evolving my tactics from a “2016-chic” 4-2-3-1 counter-pressing system to a 4-3-2-1 obversive-pressing game plan. Resolutions that didn’t quite make the cut in accordance with my PA’s advice was to ban MP3s in the dressing room in favour of cassettes and insisting the media only portray me in courtroom-style easel drawings.
The biggest change I am determined to make is to curb my seemingly untamable bad manners. I know what you’re thinking, dear reader, but don’t let the cameras deceive you into thinking that I’m the jovial court jester Sky Sports would have you believe. No, compared to my compatriots, I am one of football’s bad boys like Diego Maradona or Joe Kinnear.
In Germany, it is customary to hand out Bratwurst-based nibbles to journalists prior to every press conference and at the full-time whistle, the likes of Tomas Tuchel and Joachim Low will stride onto the pitch and direct a firm, congratulatory slap to the rump of every one of the opposing players. Do I do any of those things? Only sometimes.
I have also been experimenting with some new motivational techniques for my boys. I was due to attend a course on motivational speaking over Christmas but instead opted to stay at home and share a Robin Williams marathon with Ulla and James Milner. Milly abandoned ship after Flubber citing the film’s themes as being “a bit gritty” for his tastes. Looking back now, it’s clear which of those options bore the most fruit as I was able to recite the entire speech from the final act of Dead Poet’s Society prior to our victory over Man City.
Furthermore, Good Will Hunting gave me the tools to cut through the melancholic fog that descended upon the dressing room after our 2-2 draw with Sunderland. Sadio Mane blamed himself for our opponent’s second penalty but I was able to effortlessly glide towards him whilst uttering the words “It’s not your fault” over and over again in an increasingly pithy fashion until he burst into tears. I’ve already added that one to my Football Management 101 manual I hope to publish next year.
I have a genie outfit and an eleven-man-strong brass orchestra ready for my rendition of ‘Friend like me’ when we emerge victorious against Manchester United on Sunday.
It’s these little changes that I hope will put us in good stead for our forthcoming engagement with Mourinho. Master of mind games, he is oft painted as the villain of the piece in these occasions but I actually regard Jose as a dear friend. Hence, why I decided to put my resolution to be more “chillaxed” into practice last night when I decided to play a devilishly mean practical joke on my Portuguese counterpart.
I had it on good authority that every night, Jose has a bottle of 2008 Ne Oublie Port delivered to his hotel room. Much to his potentially match-changing dismay I had the concierge change his order to a Chateauneuf Du Pape! Not even Sir Alex could have Derren Browned his way out of that battle of wits. However, due to my aforementioned desire to be more courteous, I am about to draw up a full and frank written apology to Jose ready to post after Sunday’s match.
Oh, and to the eagle-eyed fans that have written to me over the last week, you are indeed correct in spotting that I have switched my spectacles from RayBan’s RX6925 model in moonlight chrome to the RX6926 model in timber wolf silver.