1st September 2020
Marcus was going through some scouting reports in his cramped office in Finch Farm, when the door opened unexpectedly and in walked Farhad Moshiri, the Everton owner. Marcus leapt to his feet, spilling crumbs and Irn Bru everywhere. As the orange liquid cascaded over his desk, staining the reports, Marcus frantically tried to mop it up.
“Am I interrupting something?” said Farhad, sitting on the chair opposite the desk. Christ, thought Marcus, Davina should have warned me of this. “Your charming PA said you were alone and happy to see me! Oh, and she gave me this..”, handing Marcus another can of Irn Bru. How does she always know, he thought.
Moshiri leaned back in his chair and began to speak, the air of a man used to being in charge. “So Marcus, you remember our targets from pre-season? Our minimums were to qualify for the Second Knockout Round of the UEFA Europa League, qualify for the UEFA Europa Conference League by the end of the season, reach the Fifth Round of the Emirates FA Cup and the Fourth Round of the Carabao Cup! How are we doing on these fronts so far?”
Marcus began to explain. They had faced Bulgaria’s Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the Best-Placed Second Qualifying Round, easily sweeping them aside 5-2 on aggregate. Next up on the (pre-)European tour was Austrian side SK Sturm Graz, in the Best-Placed Third Qualifying Round, who were just as easily dealt with, winning 6-3 on aggregate. Finally, they faced sterner opposition in the Best-Placed Fourth Qualifying Round coming up against Portugal’s own Sporting Clube de Braga. A very unsatisfying first leg draw away in Portugal was forgotten as an Erling Haaland hat-trick saw them through 4-0 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate to the UEFA Europa League Group Stages, where they would face Russian, Hungarian and Turkish opposition in the forms of CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce S.K and Ferencvarosi TC.
“Good” said Moshiri. “Everything is right on track, how are we doing in the league?” Marcus explained that, in order to progress in the Europa League, he had had to play his second string in the league so far that season. But they were 7th in the Premier League with 9 points. Wins against Aston Villa (2-0) and Newcastle United (4-2) were very welcome, but they’d been found out against Manchester United as Anthony Martial plundered a hat-trick in a 0-4 defeat. “Hmm. I don’t like that we lost so easily to United. It’s disturbing.” said Moshiri. Marcus conceded that, yes, it wasn’t a good result, but it meant that they had qualified for the Europa League as he was able to keep players fresh for the tie, three days before. The first team had got them back on track however, with a 3-0 win over Leicester City
“Fine. What about players? Have we gone for anyone else?” Moshiri enquired. Marcus explained that he had managed to get the total player sales up over £210 million pounds, but hadn’t bought anyone. “Fine, fine, well done Marcus” As Moshiri rose to leave, Marcus’ intercom played it’s usual tinny ‘Flower of Scotland’ piece. Marcus flicked the switch and was met by a blast of distortion with a Scottish accent. He turned to Moshiri and informed him that Davina had sent his office a case of Irn Bru.
“Wonderful! I look forward to it!” And with which parting shot, he walked out. Marcus sank into his ergonomic chair. It seemed a little more squashy than usual. Was that his imagination? And the smell? A faint tinge? Marcus shook his head. He was going mad. It was time to go home.