Anticipation made methodical: Anglo-Saxan Chronicle 11

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‘So,’ says our host, Chairman of FC Saxan, ‘I challenged you to think how we could approach the problem of football management as an engineer. And you have suggested that we should approach football as a systems engineer would. And that we should develop protocols, the way that, say, a safety engineer might. Both good ideas. But I think two ideas is not enough. My intuition – intuition has a place in engineering, you know – tells me that to make this work, we need a third.

‘To make this work’: I think about that phrase. Crikey, he’s serious about this. Intuition? What else does he think we’ve been relying on here? Certainly not evidence.

‘Our third idea,’ says Karen, ‘should be the playbook.’

The what?

‘We should anticipate the challenges that we are likely to encounter and specify in advance how we will counter them. That way, nobody is required to think: we can channel our energies into implementing the solutions we have designed.’

‘Such as?’

‘Well,’ Karen continues, ‘the visiting team at Saxan today [no, Karen, I can’t remember who they were either: never heard of them before]: they were good at passing, weren’t they? So how should a team respond to opponents who are good at passing?’

‘Play their best ball-winner, perhaps?’

‘I don’t know. I guess that’s one way. I’m not saying I’ve actually designed the playbook yet, only that it could be done. Whatever challenges are thrown at us, we should know at least how we should respond, if at all possible.’

Paralinguistics can sometimes cut across languages. I’d swear the grunt Merciu gave means, both in English and in Romanian, something along the lines of ‘I’d like to hear more about that in due course, but for now you’ve persuaded me’.

Oh, just the fruit salad for me, thank you.

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