One Mailboxer inserts his tongue into cheek to offer his thoughts on Liverpool's newest signing. Plus thoughts on league-owned clubs, badges, and swearing...
With only two weeks to go until the start of the season, Man United still have plenty of work to do in the transfer market. It seems the enormity of the task is dawning on Van Gaal...
Jose Mourinho woke from contented dreams and knuckled the sleep from his eyes. It was Sunday morning, it was early, and he had things to be doing. He sneezed. He was not well. But still, it was a big day, and he was excited.
He stepped out onto the streets of Liverpool. A weak sun was struggling over the rows of houses. Dressed in the manner in which he was dressed -- with hood up, with glasses on, with the ridiculous false beard he'd been wearing all season back at the hotel -- he was confident he would not be recognised. As he strolled through the streets he nodded respectfully to the people he passed. He gloried in the sights and sounds of a city slowly rousing itself to consciousness.
He saw a young couple walking hand in hand towards him, lost in one another's eyes. With a smile he stopped them and asked about the best places to park for Anfield. They told him, happily, and he thanked them. Then, as they turned to go, he begged a further moment. Still smiling, he explained to them that love, properly understood, is simply an illusion caused by temporary chemical imbalances in the brain; that in time their feelings towards one another will change and likely curdle; that soon they will be unable to stand the sight or sound of one another; that they will find themselves locked into a mutual and parasitic relationship founded entirely on misery, the causing and receipt of; and that by this time next year they will regard one another as either a burden or, more likely, a joke.
To the sound of muffled sobbing, he walked on. Two pigeons fluttered into the air as he passed, before settling back to the pavement and resuming their argument over an abandoned chip. One pigeon was desperately scrabbling around to get straight at the chip; the other was simply sticking his head in front of the chip at every opportunity. Eventually the aggressor pigeon misdirected a thrust and knocked himself cold on a bin. Mourinho nodded in approval.
As he watched the scrapping birds, a young man approached him with a clipboard. He explained that he was representing an environmental charity and could he possibly have a moment to speak about the future of the planet. With a regretful chuckle, Mourinho said that he had nothing but respect for anybody who spent their time attempting to make the world a better place, and agreed that the issue of the future of the planet was the single most important challenge facing the broad sweep of humanity. However, he added, it was quite obvious that the time for action was several generations ago; that the selfishness and venality of the international business community had broken the planet beyond repair; that they had been assisted in this by a political establishment that was in small part supine and in large part utterly corrupt; that the choice had been made long ago that money was far, far more important than people; and that the only option left to humanity was to attempt to have as much fun as possible with what little time remains before the seas rise and claim us all.
To the sound of a man dropping his pen, he walked on. He passed a small park. Daffodils were craning their necks towards the sunlight, and dogs were strolling around on their leads, followed by yawning owners. A jogger puffed past, shiny new trainers squeaking; Mourinho gave him a cheery wave. A small boy was kicking a plastic football around, giggling as he beat defender after imaginary defender. Mourinho tripped the child over, picked up the football, and kicked it onto a railway line.
To the sound of wailing, he walked on. The sun had fully risen now, and he was coming back to his hotel. He sneezed again, and turned his mind to the events of the day. It was going to be a tricky one. He was going to have to play a kid in defence. His options up front were limited to an inadequacy or a tragicomedy. The nature of Liverpool's game meant that time-wasting would have to be promoted from end-game expediency to conscious strategy, for when it comes to robbing an attacking side of its momentum and a crowd of its voice, nothing works better than standing about waiting for a throw in.
In short, he was going to have to stand firm against the forces of destiny, narrative and romance, and -- yes, a quick check in the wardrobe confirmed it -- he'd forgotten his good suit. A lesser man might have quailed. But Mourinho just smiled to himself. 'What ever am I going to do about Steven Gerrard?' He sneezed, again.
Andi Thomas and Alexander Netherton