Originally featured on Goonersphere
The exterior of the building was as abject as the interior. A squat, dumpy looking two-storey with nothing in particular to draw any attention to it.
The main entrance was the only detachment from the mundane, with double automatic doors which opened without effort. Inside the building, as soon as you passed the double-door threshold, the room opened out. Filling the cavernous space were so many identical pine desks and lumbar support office chairs. It was as if Ikea had made a nest. The walls were a shade of beige which trapped sunlight and smothered it in boredom.
Make no mistake, this was the place that dreams went to die.
Today was a day much like all others. A weekday, and such, the usual throng of people were here. The desks were for one purpose, to find employment. Sat on one side was the person whose sole raison d’etre was to find the person sat on the other side of the desk ( in a far more rigid and unsympathetic chair might I add ) employment.
It wasn’t just the desks and chairs that suffered from a lack of diversity. The people who were employed in this office space all seemed to have the same bland taste. From neutral colour cardigans to novelty mugs emblazoned with zany slogans such as ” You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps “, this workspace would either allow you to concentrate fully, or completely suffocate any motivation.
This job centre was slightly different to most though. It didn’t find work for the public. Oh no.
This Job Centre was for unemployed footballers or ex-pro’s.
Since nine in the morning when the doors were first opened, the queue hadn’t abated. The line was peppered with the illustrious, a who’s who of football and an anorak’s dream. Tony Cascarino, Alan Curbishley, Danny Higginbotham, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Jamie Redknapp, and so many more. All who had finished their career and now found monetary sustenance through punditry. This job centre made connections to the media world and whenever cliched soundbites were required, this Job Centre always had the man for the job.
At one desk, one of the many who were clad in cardigans and were employed was just finishing up with a client. This client was Michael Owen.
The Job Centre Assistant was trying to appease Owen after yet another fruitless search.
” Mr Owen, I share your frustrations. It is just that after a whole season of your banal punditry on BT Sport and your blind observations, the other TV channels won’t touch you. ”
Michael threw his arms up in indignation.
” I’m Michael Owen though! I was a football player! France ’98! England! Other assorted things that happened in my career! ”
The assistant continued.
” It isn’t just TV either. The radio channels haven’t taken up on your offer to appear as a pundit, and the newspapers haven’t got back to me on a regular column. It could be worse though Mr Owen, you still have your horses. ”
Michael looked at the assistant and then huffed his way to the exit, stopping only momentarily to lash himself with a riding crop and neighing exuberantly.
All of a sudden, the brightest light shone from the automatic double doors. Too bright to gaze upon directly, although it was clear that it was originating from outside. It was also heading into the building.
The light was unbearable, but all of a sudden, just before it engulfed everything in the room, it extinguished. At the source of this luminescence was a certain Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard was impeccably dressed as ever, and his hair was a thing of beauty. The light? That was Arteta’s smile and his ridiculously white teeth.
All of the inhabitants of the room were in awe at this spectacular man. He strode with purpose to the assistant who had just finished with Michael Owen. He sat down at her desk and the people in the queue made no attempt to pull up Arteta on his queueing error.
They simply basked in his ambience.
The assistant was taken aback and her normally robotic demeanour was shattered.
” Ah, er, I think, er…”
Mikel Arteta flashed a glimpse of a smile, just enough to blind two people who sat behind her. He then spoke.
” Madam. I ‘ave been told that I am surplus to requirements at my club. I’ve no idea as to what I want to do and I don’t know what I can do next. Can you ‘elp me?”
The assistant went so red it was at odds with the rest of the colourless surroundings.
” Of course, of course! Well, your skills would be ideally suited to modelling. I have an offer from Pantene Shampoo that would be great for you? ”
Mikel grimaced. It didn’t suit him.
” They ‘ave been ‘ounding me for a long time. No ‘air products. No modelling. ”
The assistant went back to tippy-tapping on her keyboard.
” Ok then. I’ve got several opportunities from loft conversion companies asking if you could be the face of their brand? They said that seeing as you converted yourself from an attacking player to a defensive one so well at Arsenal, that you could
endorse ‘conversion’ quite well…..”
Mikel didn’t look happy at this offer, but offered no comment. He simply folded his arms into his chest.
” Ooooooh kay then. Aside from going to the US to play out your final days, I can’t see…..”
At this precise moment, the gray desk furniture started to ring. It was perhaps the most boring looking phone you could ever imagine. Entirely at odds with what this call would entail.
The Assistant picked up and nodded assertives, throwing in the odd ” of course “, for good measure. She then held the receiver to her cardigan-clad busom and spoke to Arteta.
” I have a Mr Wenger on the phone? He has said that he would very much like you to become a coach at Arsenal and your experience and……” She held the receiver up to her ear again. ” Ah, yes. Your experience and mental strength would be key assets for the club.”
Mikel beamed a huge smile at the assistant, which immediately set her phone on fire. She put the phone down hastily, and Arteta got to his feet and happily bounded out of the building, heading directly for London Colney.
The Assistant attempted to regain her composure, but just as she was setting her papers in order, the automatic doors shattered. A diminutive figure had walked straight through them. He was flanked by a horde of suited security figures and he was dressed in expensive clothing.
He dramatically took off his shades and threw them to the floor to add even more hype to the moment.
It was Mathieu Flamini.
Flamini angrily walked towards the assistants desk, but not before being accosted by one member of the waiting queue, who had now recovered by the stupor they were under at the hands of Arteta’s beauty and were now simply furious at being made to wait longer. This queue jumper would be made to pay, and it would be Mark Lawrenson who would mete out the justice.
As Lawrenson went to put his hand on Flamini’s shoulder, Mathieu wheeled around with liquid rapidity, before snapping Lawrenson’s arm and wildly pointing in the stricken pundits face. He then spat in his general direction and ushered his security team in to scoop up Lawrenson from the floor.
The Assistant was stricken with fear as Flamini sat at her desk, but the Frenchman was oblivious to her obvious terror.
” You have a job for me, non?”
The Assistant without hesitation started to tap at the keys. She searched frantically as Flamini lounged on the chair, chewing on a toothpick which had been sourced from environmentally friendly and renewable wood.
The Assistant perked up a little as she found something that may be a match.
” I have some mercenary work that could be of interest to you at Stamford Bridge? Or perhaps a hatchet man role at Marseille? How’s about teaching kids about the darker arts of football with Chelsea? Actually, it seems a man of your talents is very much in demand at Chelsea. They have a requirement for a dirty player since Ramires left to go to China. Does this sound good to you? ”
Flamini scoffed at the Assistant, and waved his hand toward his entourage. One of them bent down and was issued a command via whisper. Then, the member of the entourage, a faceless, hulking man, spoke for Mathieu.
” Chelsea will not be entertained by Mr Mathieu Flamini. Mr Mathieu Flamini seeks a role in which his status as the globe’s saviour is acknowledged. He wants to feel adulation, such as a man of his merits deserves.”
The Assistant typed frantically and positively beamed when she found what would be the perfect opportunity for a man of Flamini’s talents.
” Mr Flamini, Sir. I have found the perfect job for you. It would further polish your memory at Arsenal, and the UK public would adore you afterwards. It really is perfect.”
Flamini sat up straight with this promise of gainful employment. The Frenchman inched closer as the Assistant ramped up the tension by pausing before revealing Flamini’s task.
” Mr Flamini, how would you like to be the man who finally shuts up Piers Morgan? ”
Flamini shot to his feet. His Security team marched to the exit, with Flamini walking with intent behind them. He then stopped suddenly, and swung around in the manner of a cheesy eighties pop singer.
” Morgan. Prepare to be…….Mathieu’d. “