Ring every church bell in the land! O, joyous day! Release the doves! Close the school and open the public houses, for on this day we toast the wondrous departure of Mr. Emery and his brand of non-attacking, non-defending football! Strike a commemorative coin, toss your infant in the air, hoist grandmamma aloft upon heaving shoulders, for he is gone!
Has one ever had a chum who was with a highly unsuitable person? Anyone with a grubby monocle could see that the relationship was not working and yet the two of them stuck together, like limpets on a naval mine, until one day the mine goes off. Today, dear reader, the naval mine went off.
A wise man once said that the things you initially loved about someone are the things that you will end up despising. We all recall with shiver-inducing clarity the first half-time substitutions. This fellow does NOT mess about, does he? I very much like the cut of his jib. His seeming nonchalance about explaining his tactics to the press, and therefore the fans. Well this IS refreshing. He cares about the press not a jot! And Mr. Orwell? Your status as the chap who earns £350,000 per week matters nothing to me.
My dressing room is a perfect communist enclave, where merit is the only factor. Begone, perfumed ponce. This is a team of team players! In a team! Then do you remember the initial elation about hydration levels at London Colney? Emery was finally making sure that the players had enough to drink! And not only that, he was making players watch hours and hours of videos of their opponents. He had won three Europa Leagues with Seville. He couldn’t be a total cad, could he? Three Europa Leagues are not a fluke. This was a brave new world. A hydrated world. A meritocratic, no-messing-about utopia where players where akin to the humanoid robot in Herr Lang’s Metropolis. The years of decay had ended.
And then the half-time substitutions began to look increasingly panicked and ridiculous. His press conferences became increasingly inept as his command of English seemed to decline. It turned out that sending your silken assist-giver out to Siberia to purchase a tin of tartan paint was not the best idea in the world and he relented, recalling Orwell to the team as part of his plan W, instigated in late November. The video preparation seemed to induce confusion rather than clarity. Terror rather than confidence.
When he was finally able to impose his vision on the team it was clear that this vision was of the ‘you cannot unsee it’ variety. Emery’s vision wasn’t so much Sir Joshua Reynolds ‘Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen’ than that film of a seagull eating a live pigeon.
How we shall not miss Mr. Steven Collingwood bombing down the wing to ping one over into the box for the eleventeenth time, or admire the vast open plains of our midfield, or witness a £72m forward scratching around for the ball in our defensive third. The abomination of the last eighteen months has been apparent for nearly all to see. His tactics seemed to be reduced to allowing the opponent to shoot on goal and hope that we had enough quality to win the match.
We had become a kind of Burnley in a tattered top hat. A Stoke who knows what chateaubriand is. The rapid decline was plain to see unless you happen to be the owner of the club or his spawn, or are called Chips Keswick. Or Raul or Vinny, as we so fondly, called them a while ago. Edward we shall excuse as he’s only been with us for five minutes, but the rest of them, Team Dither, can all take a fishfork and shove it up their balloon knot.
What happened this morning, do we think? Were a pair of spectacles located for Chips? Did someone thrust a pair of binoculars into the hands of Lord Harris? Our worst competitive run without a victory since February 1992, and it takes them THIS long to work out what had to happen?
But happen it did, and we are now in the Longshanks era. That fleet-foot auburn menace has seemingly impressed the hierarchy. At one time Mr. Emery impressed them so we shall reserve judgement. Whether he is the man to take us to the next level, and by ‘next level’ I mean getting out of a potential relegation battle, who knows?
Neville Saint has been suggested. Michael Porchester of Spurs. Michael Arkwright is another contender. Max O’Leggley is looking for work. One thing is for certain. Any of them will be an improvement on the departed Dick.