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Several days later, we return to the Australian FFA offices to find CEO David Gallop looking rather perturbed stood in the reception lobby. There are only two other people present, one is the elderly receptionist looking over her glasses and typing with her two index fingers, the other is the grey-haired individual we met last week over in England.
The serenity of the scene is interrupted by FFA Chairman Steven Lowy’s arrival. Bustling because he’s late once again, he raises an eyebrow towards the man present and then asks the receptionist to sign him in.
“Bloody traffic out there, mate. I had to throw the ute about three blocks away.”
“Of course there’s traffic, we’ve invited every football journo in the country to come and cover the announcement of our new national team manager.”
Having tossed his briefcase into his office and taken on a hit of caffeine, he comes back into the lobby rubbing his hands and looking rather pleased with himself. This is a big day for the Australian FFA.
“I don’t know why you’ve got that look on your face, he’s not even here yet. Hmm. Actually, he is cutting it fine. Do you know when he’ll be here?”
“Yeah, I do. There’s good news and there’s bad news on that score, mate. He is here already, the only problem is that the ‘he’ is not the ‘he’ we were expecting.”
Dave Gallop motions towards the man sat down reading a local newspaper. He looks like Noel Edmonds’ dad, a thick grey mane of hair and handlebar moustache like a rejected porn star from the 70’s.
“Who the hell is that?”
“I’ve never heard of him.”
“No, funny that. But your secretary has. Only problem is, she hasn’t heard of Luis-bloody-Enrique! She’s Spanish for crying out loud! You let her make the call, didn’t you? Jesus Christ, mate.”
“You’re not serious.”
“Well let’s send him away, get the right one here and job done, eh? She’s made a small mistake but we can fix this.”
“Oh, I’d love to. But what will we tell the members of the press we’ve invited here on the promise of unveiling our new manager?”
“Can we not offer him the Under-23 job?”
“After inviting them for the top job? I don’t think we’ll get away with that.”
There’s a long pause. After a sigh, it seems a decision is made. Both men are understandably reluctant to proceed.
“Let’s talk to him then, yeah? He must be in the game, he’s obviously got experience, old fella like that.”
“You better hope he says something we can sell.”
Louis Henrik is called into a meeting room with Dave Gallop and Steve Lowy. Dave is still shaking his head and muttering to himself.
“Welcome to Australia.”
“Thank you for the invite, I was surprised to get it but after Ange left you guys in the lurch, I guess you were desperate. As desperate as my wife was to send me out here!”
“You could say that. Look, we don’t know an awful lot about you. What’s your history in the game?”
“Oh, well, I’ve been involved in the game for some time. I worked with Sir Alex.”
“That’s him. I was a scout at Manchester United since he joined the club in 1986 and I did a bit of coaching on the side.”
“Did you discover anybody?”
“Indeed. I was part of the team that recommended Nemanja Vidić and I personally scouted Javier Hernandez.”
This might actually work. The two FFA gentlemen look pleased, they have found their selling point. After they usher him out of the door and towards the waiting members of the press, where he’ll be presented as the new manager of the Australian men’s national team, Gallop and Steven Lowy hang back a moment.
“We’ve got a play-off against Uzbekistan to come, anybody could get us through that. We go to the World Cup with this guy, he gets us tossed out at the group stage and we sack him, replace him with somebody decent.”
“I see what you’re saying, get through this and then we sort things out. Play up the Manchester United connection and then it’s not our fault we were sold a dud.”
“We’ve done the A-League teams a favour by not taking somebody away from them and ballsing up their season.”
“Yeah, keep telling yourself that.”
It’s time to unveil Louis Henrik, definitely not Luis Enrique, to the press. Join us next week to find out how that went and how he’ll deal with the news he needs to announce a squad in three days’ time…