AFC Bournemouth’s promotion: The Secret Victim
Matt Arnold’s concerned for the future of Manish Bhasin following AFC Bournemouth’s almost certain promotion to the Premier League….
Victory over Bolton on Monday means that AFC Bournemouth are all but up to the Premier League. The final part of what the media are insisting on calling a ‘Fairy Tale rise’ is all but complete.
Some have questioned this interpretation, after all, the story wasn’t, as I recall, ‘Cinderella couldn’t go to the ball so she gave Kenwyne Jones 35 grand to take her.’
Mean spirited perhaps. This promotion is, after all, a remarkable success for Eddie Howe and his men, as Gary Linker tweeted… ‘perhaps we’ve found the ‘English Special one’. You can mock, but comparisons between Mourinho and Howe do hold weight, both have their success bank rolled by Russian billions.
Okay, lest people accuse us of being jealous, it’s time to point out that Bournemouth’s triumph is not just a fantastic achievement, the most unlikely top flight promotion of the last decade. If you don’t count Blackpool. Or Burnley. Twice. Seriously though, well done Bournemouth, and well done Mr Howe, who’s had a big week.
As well as promotion, he was named ‘Manager of the Thrillenium’ (or something) at the Football League awards; while Nigel Adkins silently swore the revenge of the righteous from whatever tower Prince Eddie had him locked in for the night
But it’s not good news for all…Will someone please think of Manish Bhasin?
The Football League show host claims to be a Leicester City fan. Much in the same way, one presumes that David Cameron swears his supports West Ham, sorry, Aston Villa, because Manish has one true footballing love. And it’s not the indefatigable Foxes.
It’s Eddie Howe.
In a sport where the hegemony of heterosexual machismo is rarely challenged, the way Manish visible swoons on screen at the mere mention of Eddie is positively enlightened.
What’s more infuriating, for the fans of the 71 league clubs that aren’t Bournemouth, is Manish presenting trademark; a weekly assertion of Howe’s brilliance framed as a ‘question’ for the pundit
With no Bournemouth highlights to show next year and the BBC about to lose the rights to Football League anyway, Manish’s entire raison d’etre, his sole reason to get out of bed every Saturday, is about to be ripped from his grasp
Or is it?
First he, and his minion of the mundane Steve Claridge, will need to secure a lucrative transfer to Channel 5. Then the opening link of their new highlights show could then go something like this.
“First to Burnley, back in the Championship under Sean Dyche, his predecessor there of course Eddie Howe. And what a fine job he’s done since returning to Bournemouth Steve?”
But as 2015/16 progresses, the task will get increasingly tricky and the references more tenuous
“Next in the Championship/ League One [delete according to your current personal optimism rating] to the County Ground. Where Eddie Howe, of course, was briefly on loan 2004. Never played for them BUT what a great job he’s done at Bournemouth since his return Steve?
By September desperation will have kicked in. And as Claridge once more confuses telling us what we can see with punditry
“A great cross there Manish, swung in and he gets the end of it, header, goal”
And low, Manish will respond with an utterly straight face…
“Yes, ‘On me ‘ed son’ as it were. Speaking of Eds, what a great job Eddie Howe’s done at Bournemouth since going back there Steve?”
At this point, C5 will be forced drop the presenter, as his obsession completely overshadows their shiny new show. Then nothing will be heard from Manish for a few months, until weird screams ring around the production offices.
Investigations will reveal that the fired host never in fact left, he merely hid, in the studio roofs, Phantom of the Opera style.
With just a phone and the Bournemouth Phone Director for company it will emerge that Manish has spent his days since, systematically calling every household in the BH postcode to declare ‘Hasn’t Eddie Howe done a fantastic job since coming back to Bournemouth?’ the second someone answers.
This had been a rewarding, if pointless task, until one man responded ‘yeah, suppose he’s done alright, but to be honest I give more credit to the players and the investor’.
The affront to Manish’s worldview caused the tell tale howls of anguish.
With no idea what else to do with him, and the situation becoming, frankly, a bit of an embarrassment, Channel 5 will, naturally, the only course of action is to seal the presenter in a subterranean studio with a collection of old football clips, a never ending supple of shiny shirts, and, of course, Steve Claridge for company.
For years Manish will live there, never leaving, happily linking to the games great moments, and then shoehorning a reference to dear Eddie after each one “Liverpool there, lifting the FA Cup in 1977, of course, the year Eddie Howe was born, and what a magnificent job he’s done since returning to The Cherries Steve?”
Of course, unbeknown to him, this is never broadcast, though rumours of unofficial streams on the dark internet abound, no one you know ever actually see’s one. For decades he’ll keep this up until, inevitably, Nuclear Armageddon wipes out all of the UK. All except that is for Manish and Claridge, safe and secure from the fallout in their underground studio.
“Wimbledon winning the FA Cup, what a great day, Bobby Gould assisted in the dugout by Don Howe of course, who’s no relation to…
It’s now, Claridge finally snaps “It doesn’t matter anymore Manish. There is no one watching, there never was. And, anyway, there’s no one left to watch no football, and, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, no more AFC Bournemouth. It’s just us”
At which point, like Charlton Heston at the end of the Planet of the apes, Manish looks upon Steve, and finally realises the deadly folly of his own kind. He’ll open his mouth to roar.
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