Match Report

David Sullivan was up late, working at his desk by candlelight, as he had forgotten to pay his electric bill. Suddenly, out of the darkness a figure appeared changing in form, now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. ‘Is that you, Karen’, Sullivan muttered. ‘ No, I am the ghost of glories past. ‘What are you doing, Sullivan?’

‘I’m making a list of players I need to get rid of, but I’ve run out of paper.’

‘Look and you shall learn’, the spirit whispered. A picture of Arnautovic appeared in the gloom. He was surrounded by books. ‘What are these books? I didn’t know he could read.’, Sullivan asked. The ghost answered, ‘That one is called ‘Trophy hunting in Manchuria, by Carlos Tevez. And that other one is called ‘Famous Austrians who tried to destroy the East End of London.’

Another scene appeared.’ I know who that is’ Sullivan remarked.’ It’s ‘The Thinker by Rodin’.’No, you are wrong’, the ghost replied.’ That is Manuel Pellegrini, your manager. He is still trying to work out his best formation. He says Hernadez and Arnautovic don’t work. Ogbonna, Noble and Snodgrass are too slow. Cresswell and Obiang are past it. Lanzini may never get back his former self.’

‘And what is that he is muttering?’ asked Sullivan. The ghost hissed,’Escoria,Escoria, Escoria. In English, it means Dross, Dross, Dross.’

Another scene appeared.’ Where are those three men’, Sullivan asked. ‘They are Cousillas, Maresca and Valero, your coaches. They are in the sauna at Virgin Active. They have just had a session in the gym trying to work out how to get fit. Now they are in the sauna because they hate the cold weather and can’t wait to get back to South America.’

Sullivan’s mobile rang.’David, can I call you back? I’m having a vision…….I know Ann Summers just lost three million and there’s no money in sex any more……..Anyone can buy a cheap dildo from China……… And the commercial property market is crashing…….I don’t think we can repay ourselves our loan. I was hoping to get £70 million from Liverpool from Lanzini and Arnautovic is not even worth the price of a portion of sweet and sour pork…. We can’t sell the club until 2021 or we have to pay those London Legacy people a packet.’

A vison of a poor man appeared in a corner. ‘I’ll have to go, David.’ Sullivan put his phone down and ask the ghost about the vision. ‘That’s Bob Crachit, one of your long suffering supporters’, the apparition murmured.’He can’t understand why he has to scrimp and scrape to afford his season ticket, whilst the players he watches earn fortunes each week and can’t even pass a football.Judging by their performance at Everton, they can’t even be bothered to make an effort any more.And he has the dream of Tiny Tim becoming a mascot but he can’t afford £700’ Sullivan looked disconsolate. ’That’s Karen’s ermine money.’

‘It’s all so unfair’, Sullivan wept.’We’re still eleventh in the league. And we’ll be changing the pitch surround from green to claret in the summer, which is a tribute to Karen and shows she is worth every penny of the £800,000 per year we pay her for her part-time contribution. What more do people expect? OK, we made a few promises, but it’s not as bad as the promises made about Brexit. And our women’s team is in the semi final of the cup.’

‘I’m going to turn over a new leaf. I want people to like me. I’m going to give every player ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ or at least give it to their translators. I’m going to explain to Pellegrini that we need three defenders at the back and that his system hasn’t produced an away win this year. I’m going to speak to Donald Trump and get a ban on exporting players to China. I’m going to stop cheap deals where we pay good money for nags who keep getting injured. I’m going to publish real attendance figures. I’m going to stop crap adverts on the big screens during play. I’m going to make ‘Beat the Batak’ into a national sport.’ ’ Who are you?‘, Sullivan asked. ’My name is Hazard and I am the nightmare that slices through teams like a knife through butter.’And as the light of dawn crept through the window, the apparition disappeared and David Sullivan tried to remember where he could find more paper.