Or A Chelsea Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Chelsea (and Christmas, loosely). Read Part I here.
Scrooge hardly slept a wink. He thought fondly about the happy times that had passed and trophies that had been lost, and more specifically who would visit him next. He hadn’t long to wait.
“I am the ghost of Christmas present,” said a second spirit, who was unrecognisable save for the distinguishing feature of a replica Chelsea shirt worn underneath a rather dapper velvet frock-coat.
The ghost proceeded to lead Scrooge through the pitfalls of the previous weekend’s meeting with West Ham, currently led by much valued and admired former employee Mr. Zola whom Scrooge had begged not to leave upon his arrival at the company.
“How many decent chances did you have in the first half?” asked the ghost. “I’ll tell you – none. Mr. Green was more unemployed than Darren Day after pantomime season. Then, at last, you bring Mr. Drogba on. Suddenly, he’s involved in creating a goal. Shots on target, saves to make. A deep-lying defence with two centre-halves doesn’t look so steady with him and Mr. Anelka occupying them, does it?”
“I suppose not. So what else is there?” asked Scrooge.
“The midfield. Mr. Lampard and Mr. Mikel can’t do everything, especially if you keep taking the latter off. Tiny Deco needs to get himself fit and Mr. Ballack, whilst a great employee is prone to too many duvet days and is never going to be in the office from August until May without at least one break. Mr. Cole (J) seems to spend lots of his time daydreaming and making clever origami figures out of company notepaper but rarely gets any work done – needs a stern word in his ear, if you ask me. And that enthusiastic young chap, Mr. Essien – he’ll prove useful when he comes back to work. But above all, continuity is what you need.”
“I see what you mean. But we’re still quite close to the top of the companies’ index, aren’t we?”
“We are indeed, which isn’t bad seeing as Mr. Cratchit is short-staffed and hasn’t been with us for very long. These are difficult times, though – everyone is struggling, but the rewards are there to be had for whoever holds their nerve.”
“Is business really that bad for everyone, then? Why?” Scrooge enquired, almost forgetting he was holding a conversation with a ghost in a Chelsea shirt and a velvet coat.
“No-one seems to have any continuity at the moment,” said the spirit. “Have you had a look at Mr. Benitez recently? He can’t balance the books at home either and without Mr. Torres, he has to rely on Mr. Gerrard to run the office and there are some days when he doesn’t even turn up.”
“And what about Mr. Ferguson?”
“He’s got Mr. Berbatov, who cost him a fortune, that some of his regular clients are already comparing with Mr. Veron. He worked here for a while too, remember?”
“I’d rather not. Go on,” said Scrooge.
“Well, he seems to have upset the company structure somewhat – it all worked well before he arrived. Then there is Mr. Ronaldo, who seems to have the permanent hump because he couldn’t move to Spain in the summer.”
“…and Mr. Rooney looks like he might do something brilliant one minute and then stamp on someone’s head the next, whilst poor old Mr. Tevez seems to have been sidelined completely. And Mr. Ferguson is only taking them all to Japan on some excursion or other, which seems crazy at this time of year. I mean, you know what Mr. Ferdinand and co. are like for a Christmas outing…”
“Noted. And Mr. Wenger?”
“Who?” asked the ghost.
“Oh, never mind. It’s not really important.”
The spirit led Scrooge home, past Stamford Bridge where some noisy drunken gentlemen were berating the name and good character of both himself and Mr. Cratchit, shouting angrily because there were no trophies any more.
Ignorance and want, the ghost explained to Scrooge, can be such damaging things.
“Are they right though? Do you think that Mr. Cratchit is up to the job?” Scrooge replied.
“Well you employed him. And you’ll never succeed if you keep moving people in and out every year at the first sign of trouble. Tough times don’t last – tough people do.”
And with that, the second spirit was gone and Scrooge found himself back in his bedroom with a third ghost. A dark, sinister apparition that without the use of words presented visions of the future so ghastly that Scrooge almost passed out at the unimaginable horror of it all.
He watched Mr. Gerrard and Mr. Benitez caressing the Premiership trophy. He saw Mr. Terry and his men marching into a half-deserted stadium somewhere in the Balkans to take part in the preliminary rounds of the UEFA Cup. Joyous hordes sang “Channel 5, Channel 5, Channel 5…”, their voices getting louder until the noise was unbearable.
“STOP! STOP! Please, make it stop!” Scrooge begged, weeping inconsolably.
With that, the spirit vanished and Scrooge found himself awake, alone in his room. It was Christmas morning.
He picked up the phone and called Mr. Kenyon.
“Mr. Kenyon? Get out there and find me the biggest turkey you can for Mr. Cratchit and his family. What’s that? I don’t care if Wigan want £5million for him – just do it, please.”
From that day on, Scrooge was a changed man. He called Mr. Cratchit and offered him the advice he had received from the three ghosts and being a somewhat superstitious and religious man, Mr. Cratchit paid heed to his words. Scrooge also said that there would be some money to spend – not much, but Mr. Cratchit realised that Scrooge wasn’t running a company like Mr. Hughes’s with piles of £50 notes to throw on the fire whenever it got a bit chilly.
And yes, Tiny Deco did get better. He was grateful for the turkey Scrooge had donated and enjoyed Christmas lunch with his colleagues. And after numerous failed attempts, he eventually managed to pass the plum pudding to Mr. Anelka (even if he did receive some help from Mr. Lampard and Mr. Mikel).
“Gawd bless us, every one,” he said as he finally succeeded in passing something to one of his team mates. “Merry Christmas.”