A Chelsea Carol, Part I of II

Or A Chelsea Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Chelsea (and Christmas, loosely). In two parts, as you’ll probably need a piss and a coffee in the middle. With sincere apologies to Charles Dickens.

Luiz Felipe “Cratchit” Scolari peered around the chalkboard – free from any tactical notations, the word ‘Robinho’ crossed out on one side – at his master, Roman “Scrooge” Abramovich and asked incredulously:

“So, I must win the Premiership and the Champions League this year, master? I haven’t really had long to prepare though, have I? I only arrived in the summer, after all.”

“Hmm, I might settle for one of them. But I really want both. Problem?” barked Scrooge.

“Er, no – no problem, I suppose. And I don’t have any money to spend on recruitment in January?”

“Well, not really. Although if you can locate a willing hard worker in the poorhouses of Wigan, Bolton or Sunderland not riddled with disease or the effects of old age, I may find some shillings for you to invest. But you’ll have to shed some of the workforce here – if they would rather die than go to a mid-table side or Tottenham, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population,” Scrooge remarked, whilst thumbing through a 2009 Sunseeker catalogue.

“Shillings?” asked Cratchit, somewhat distressed by what he had heard.

“Yes, shillings.”

“Not Guineas?”

“No, not Guineas.”

“And we have to play better football and score more goals too?”

“That’s it,” said Scrooge as he departed.

Cratchit raised his eyebrows. “No pressure then,” he thought. What a pickle; with a busy festive season approaching and his beloved son Tiny Deco looking increasingly frail and helpless, he recalled the job advertisement shown to him by Mr. Kenyon that promised near limitless funding for restructure and shook his head in disbelief.

He browsed the CV’s sent to him by Mr. Arnesen, head of the company’s graduate trainee programme and his heart sank further. Not one candidate seemed suitable for the arduous tasks ahead. Cratchit recalled that some young trainees of his old friend Mr. Wenger had gone to a workhouse in Burnley recently and how they had returned suitably chastened and humbled by the experience. For ‘tis a cruel business and no place for the young, he thought to himself.

Meanwhile, as he reached his palatial home that evening Scrooge was taken aback by a supernatural happening. The ornate knocker on his front door seemed to take on a different form; the ghostly apparition of his former associate, Mr. Mourinho.

“Not you again. What is it this time?” asked Scrooge wearily as he entered the hallway, losing his footing briefly on the doormat printed with the image of Mr. Kalou that had been given to him by the merchandising department.

“We’re busy men Scrooge, you old puta,” said Mr. Mourinho, “so I shan’t bother with all that chain clanking – I was never one for frills over function, as you know. Three spirits will visit tonight with messages for you. Well, they’re really for your man Cratchit, but seeing as you like the odd dabble in staffing matters, maybe you can pass them on to him?”

Scrooge glanced into the porch at the portrait of his estranged friend Andriy which once took pride of place above the hearth, now discarded alongside the Road to Moscow photograph album, gold embossed “With love, from Avram” on the cover, both ready for the rag and bone man. A wistful smile danced across his lips.

“OK. I’ll pass them on to him.”

“Lovely. Right, I’m off to have dinner with Didi – erm, sorry, Rafa now – happy Christmas!” chirped Mr. Mourinho, confirming to Scrooge that things had indeed become a little strange and other-worldly.

The Portuguese spirit wafted away on a cloud of bullish confidence, pausing only to avoid an ambulance that seemed to veer deliberately towards the puddle that he was floating above.

Scrooge closed the door, picked up the phone and dialled security.

“Mr. Kenyon? Can you and Mr. Buck ensure that I am not disturbed this evening? No calls, visitors – nothing. Understood?”

He slammed down the receiver and climbed the stairs to retire for the evening.

Scrooge was unsure of the time, but that night he woke suddenly as a deathly chill filled the room. He peered from under his duvet and saw another spirit before him that looked a bit like Alan Hansen, but without any foundation on.

“I am the ghost of Christmas past. And I don’t have much time so let’s crack on – I’ve got Daniel Levy to see in an hour.”

The sceptre led Scrooge through seasons past. What happy, joyous times they were. Premiership trophies were lifted by Mr. Terry as records were broken by his miserly defence, which Scrooge had always secretly admired for its careful approach to business. He felt a pang of regret as the ghost showed him newspaper headlines offering rewards to any player that could outwit this fearsome, watertight department. Scrooge wondered where that most Dickensian, diligent and beloved of his employees, Mr. Carvalho, had got to.

“I’ll spell it out for you, Scrooge. Pretty football is all very well, but if you don’t have the foundations of your own home soundly built, you might as well pack up and start again. No use trying to hang fancy curtains if the walls are falling down, eh? The amount of time that little urchin Bellamy had to take his shot on Sunday? Unbelievable. Shocking defending. Your man needs to get it sorted and sharpish.”

Scrooge couldn’t really disagree. The ghost continued.

“And he maybe needs to intimidate the officials a bit more. I know Mr. Mourinho could be a pain in the arse, shouting about injustice and bad decisions all the time, but they did listen to him sometimes. You cannae prove it directly, but I reckon you got awarded penalties by referees who shuddered at the mention of his name and Stamford Bridge back then, that you maybe wouldn’t get now, didn’t you? Just ask Sir Alex if you don’t believe it works.”

“Mr. Cratchit is trying very hard to be polite to everyone, as I have requested – his staff, the officials, the gentlemen of the press…” mumbled Scrooge.

“Exactly,” said the ghost as he floated towards to door, pausing to pick up a Morrison’s carrier bag that made a noise like bottles knocking together. “Maybe he needs to grow a pair. I’m off now, but my pal will be along in a minute…”


A Chelsea Carol, Part II of II »