“Hello and welcome to the Etihad in beautiful Manchester, England. I’m your host, Jamie Carragher, here with Gary Neville, as Nicolaj Bur’s Panathinaikos look to –“
“Manchester?! Stockport, more like, Jamie-lad, yeah?”
“Gary, we discussed this. You promised.”
“I make a lot of promises, Jamie-lad. Especially because Scholesy, sometimes, for a laugh, makes me say things with a bread knife… He’s obviously a crackhead, but... Yeah.”
“Gary, that’s…just… No. You promised to respect City–“
“Hitler promised not to invade Czechoslovakia, Jamie-lad. Welcome to the real world. And aren’t you supposed to be talking about the match?! Now who’s letting who down, yeah?”
“I was talking about… When you… Nevermind… Panathinaikos were recently crowned as Champions of Greece, knocking Olympiacos off of their perch behind the managerial trio of Nicolaj Bur, Jesse Sorenson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But Frank Lampard’s men have to be seen heavy favorites tonight, don’t they, Gary?”
“Fat Frank has been phoning it in all year. Sixth in the League, out of the real Cups before I’d even finished my tea. Probably getting sacked in the morning. It speaks volumes, doesn’t it Jamie-lad, that his only chance at silverware comes here tonight, at the Stockport Council House in a third-tier, Mickey Mouse Cup. Anything less than a double-digit win, and Frank should be sacked for being a proper eejit.”
[Jamie laughs awkwardly.]
“Surely, Gary, even you know how ridiculous that sounds. And I, for one, think that Lampard looks dashing in his sweater-vest. Southgate-esque, even. If you can’t be impartial, Gary, well… You know what it’s like. You’ve been in the hot seat, during that short period in Valenc–“
“Now who’s breaking promises, Jamie-lad? Eh?! I’ll [beep]-ing cut you.”
[Awkward silence fills the air as Gary stares Jamie down. Gary reaches suddenly forward, to grab what appears to be a bottle in a brown paper bag. Jamie flinches visibly. Gary chuckles darkly, taking a long pull from his bottle. In the background, the initial notes of the Europa Conference League anthem — Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’ — begin to echo in the stadium. Jamie regains his composure]
“Well, Gar, it looks like…yes, here come the teams. Lock grandma in the cupboard, because we’re ready to kickoff here in Manchester. Live, it’s the Europa Conference League Final!”[Note: if you are here during the live blog, you will need to hit refresh to see new updates as the match progresses.]
If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused… Don’t worry. The basic concept behind the Nearly Men save is explained here. Just need to catch up? Each installment in Nicolaj Bur’s story can be accessed through the Nearly Men Archive.
And if you just can’t get enough…join us for The Ballad of Toothless Bob, a series conceived and co-authored by Seattle Red and Oriole that explores the world of Nicolaj Bur, away from the pitch. What is Project Arcturus? What lies beyond the twisted redstone door, deep in the bowels of the Santiago Bernabéu?