Leaving Jock Stein behind: Anglo-Saxan Chronicle 16


My meeting with Eugeniu Merciu, the chairman, on my first morning at FC Saxan was a perfunctory affair. No doubt on weekdays Merciu’s agricultural machinery concern has greater claim on his time. He seemed keen to palm me off on Ivan Burduniuc, the assistant manager, as soon as possible.

Burduniuc was eager to please. Would I like him to send me his assessment of the squad?

I heard my voice saying, ‘Yes, of course, please do,’ whilst a voice in my head said, ‘I might as well get something out of you before I relieve you of your duties’.

I’ve agreed to meet the staff and the press and will, of course, also need to meet the players. Not just yet though. I have business to do.

My office, in the back of the main stand – club house would be a better description for the modest, but brightly painted, structure – was like everything to do with the club: modest, basic, but in good repair. I guess Merciu had got some sort of deal on office furniture through his business.

There was a desk, with nothing on it but a phone and a set of trays. Between the desk and the window was a round table, at thigh height, accompanied by three chairs. Along one wall ran a whiteboard.  On the opposite side of the office ran a steel rack, providing space for shelving. That was about it.

In my notebook, I write my first action point as manager of FC Saxan: ‘Buy plants for the office’.

Stein, Clough, and Ferguson were each great in their own way – but would any of them have thought of that?