The Football Underworld – Mission Improbable

Originally posted on Goonersphere

His family sensed it.

The normally bubbling brook that is the morning school run was devoid of noise, incomprehensible as that may seem. The two youngsters in various stages of full school uniform shovelled their sugary cereals with real urgency. For once, the school bell couldn’t ring quick enough.

His wife was running along the pre-ordained tracks of the morning routine, finishing off the kids packed lunches and simultaneously munching on a slice of toast. The hustle of family life normally was all she needed. She gleaned energy from the all-demanding lifestyle of the modern working mother. She juggled numerous responsibilities that would cause most people to collapse within themselves after a couple of weeks of her hectic schedule, but she was never happier than when she had an itinerary brimming with tasks.

Not today though.

She had been aware of the power struggle that her normally ice-cool husband had been part of in recent weeks. She had implicit confidence that the man she married would hurdle over this complication much like every other he had faced.

This morning proved otherwise. She had only ever seen this facet of her beloved once before, during their stint in Spain. She had never wished to see this side of her man again after that instance. Seeing the fixed, wide-eyed stare and nigh stationary position, she was in a hurry to get the children out of the house so they wouldn’t exacerbate what was already a grave situation.

Not only that – she didn’t want to be around when this blew wide open.

The children, never seeing their father like this, were sensible enough not to push the matter and within minutes, all activity in the house had ceased. His family had curtly kissed him goodbye and then left him with complete silence and only his own brooding manner for company.

How could this happen? After what I have done for him? Does his position render him blind? Or is it simply arrogance? Who is the man that has the knowledge? Not him, he isn’t manager. It’s me. So why overrule me in matters that have no relevance to him? This could be disaster and he simply lets it happen! I have to rectify the situation. This malady must be contained….

Even though he was meant to be on annual leave, the people who were in positions such as his often found their job so luring that it became all-encompassing. This in turn would cause symptoms throughout their private lives if they didn’t have a partner and family that were understanding of the unique demands a job like this places on them. So when he pulled up to the security guards window that was the front for the sentry who stood guard at the entrance to his sanctum, Winston didn’t raise an eyebrow.

” Morning Boss “.

With that perfunctory greeting, the barrier raised and he slid his Maserati into the space nearest the entrance. He needn’t worry about bumping awkwardly into his enemy. He knew exactly where he was and his locale couldn’t be further from him. A yacht that resembled a small island moored in the Mediterranean would pose no threat to his plans today.

His Saville Row suit swished as he entered the foyer and the receptionist, in full gossip flow to her colleagues about the very man who was watching her, upon noticing his presence, gulped from her piping hot coffee and offered a smile.

His expression didn’t change to the layman. He could conceal his satisfaction from scaring her but a flicker of a sneer from his repugnancy at her existence flashed upon his visage. She wouldn’t have seen it anyway, too busy gabbing away and stealing a living.

He climbed the stairs and entered his office, which loomed over all the others in the building – to his behest of course. How could he be expected to build a legacy and destroy the competition from an office you would give an Office Clerk?

He placed his Italian Leather briefcase upon his mahogany desk with the assured movement of someone who is more than aware that he was bedecked in the finest clothes and his reputation preceded him in the most powerful of circles.

He sat at his desk but with his highback swivel chair facing the window. He already knew of the man that was sitting on the small guest sofa at the other end of the office.

The man on the sofa, resplendent in the noisiest leather jacket known to man, spoke in gruffed tones and his words gave off the impression that he reserved his vocal chords for only the most important of conversations.

” Same as the last? ”

The suited man sat at the desk with his back still showing to the gruff fellow, spoke up. His monotone would have been irritating to anyone who was not aware of his power and influence.

” No, and his location may be difficult. I have enclosed all the details you need in the folder on the glass table in front of you. The same rules as before – destroy all things relating to our dealings and all will be well for you. Show you are a specialist in failure and my wrath will be the last thing you see. Leave no trace and your reward will match your efforts. Now go. ”

He swivelled his chair around and saw the man and the folder had gone. He had no wish to speak face to face with this person so his back would be all he sees. Their previous dealings had all gone swimmingly, but this was on another level. The opponent he faced was more than his equal and his vast wealth was evidence enough that he was capable of outwitting him. He would have to strike with surprise on his side.

He would regret ever letting such a prize possession go. He would rue the day he decided to ignore his advice, his pleading.

Two Days Later – Somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea

The gruff man had travelled incognito and under the surface to his present location. It was rough and required mettle, but risks were to be avoided. His boat had a routine engine and carried him to the point where he needed to drop anchor. He would need this for his escape. He rigged up his diving gear but just before he placed his goggles on, he gave one last look through the binoculars. Better to be safe than sorry.

The yacht was of a brutish size. A lesser man would marvel at such a feat of machinery and give himself up to thoughts of what treasures were housed within this behemoth – but he wasn’t built that way. He stashed the optic device and placed the goggles on. With that he was then in the water with nary a ripple. The benefits of being experienced.

Within minutes he was touching the hull of the vessel in question. He lifted up his goggles and with his exquisitely trained hearing he could tell only one guard stood on the outside deck. The rest of the staff and indeed every body on the boat was inside and enjoying festivities.

The water – which was as black as ink from the reflected sky above – lapped at the gruff man. He waited for a couple of seconds and began his ascendancy up the ladder.

About two thirds of the way up, he stopped his rise. With his dexterous fingers, he fished out a small circular object from the plethora of stashes that were upon his person. He pressed the centre of the circular thing in his palm and threw it upwards.

He immediately began focusing on the face of his watch. Fifteen seconds passed before a cloaked thump emitted from above. That was the signal to finish his climb.

He hauled himself on deck and unhooked his cumbersome diving gear. He held it all in one hand before letting it fall into the sea. There it would sink and he could locate it when needed. He found the main entrance to the main confines and he placed a small wire with a bulbous head into the keyhole. He then tapped a button which was upon a band which circled his head. A lens no bigger than a postage stamp swivelled into his gaze and it showed what was on the other side of the door. It was very easy to get carried away by the subterfuge and ‘James Bond’ style gadgets and gizmos, but what the general public were ignorant of is that all these things could be picked up from a shop in the centre of London or many sites online.

He fished the wire out of the lock and concealed the lens out of view. The camera had shown that there were no more guards other than the one currently slumped on the deck next to him. It would seem his quarry was more preoccupied by populating his boat with the hoi-palloi rather than let safety be his overriding thought. This was where his dangerous boss really had came into his own. He had planned it so well, he knew that his target wouldn’t have foreseen any need to employ any more than the bare minimum. The thought was worth remembering.

He slipped the door open and, aside from a few raised eyebrows, all the guests he came across were all too fixated upon themselves or the endless pursuit for the next high to even comprehend why a tall, muscular man dressed entirely in black was in their field of vision.

The hallway he walked down was dazzling white but with filigree of gold liberally sprinkled. Oil paintings at regular intervals were to each side of him and the floor was plush and dampened his weight.

After a few turns and passing rooms that held all manner of debauchery, he came across a closed door – the first since he entered the inner confines. This was where he was.

He bust open the door – keeping the theme of surprise which had served him so well. What greeted his eyes was his target sitting at a grand piano, quite obviously merry, and in the middle of serenading his guests, who were all incapacitated through whatever had passed through their system.

The target immediately stopped his fingers devilish dance across the ivories. He calmly looked at the trespasser with an air of expectancy.

He sighed and began to speak.

” I knew he couldn’t keep his maniacal mannerisms quiet. It was the reason we parted ways back in  2007.  He can never quite keep his hat on his nefarious thoughts. The problem is that he is one of the finest in his field. The question then turns to the philosophical doesn’t it? Do you sacrifice your scruples for success? ”

The gruff man was taken aback by the gall of his target. This situation normally led to screams, thrown glasses and fainting. An undercurrent of respect flowed beneath his indignation.

The target now slipped from the piano bench with brandy glass in hand to the expansive window which gave a fantastic vista of the dark waters outside. He stood with his back to him.

” I made the decision to bring him back. It was I who made the original call to end his tenure with us as his caustic methods gave only a bleak outlook for the future. It was only after repeated attempts to scale the heights he had achieved in his first spell that I began to lust after the spoils of war. His ways may be destructive, but he and success are the best of friends. A man in my position must aim for this no matter the consequence. It was this rule which has granted me the power I wield now. ”

He turned to face him.

” I know why you are here. You are to be my damnation. Sent by him, you are to be the envoy for the ruination which is a symptom of crossing the man of which we speak. Before you put this dastardly scheme into action, let me try and appeal to your conscience. For it is probable you know not the true story. ”

The gruff man pondered and came to a conclusion he had never reached in his unique line of work. He motioned for the man with the brandy to continue.

” He sent you because he wants respect. He believes I should not interfere in matters of which he is chief. He has a fair point. At what point though, do your soldiers who carry out your instructions stop becoming men and start being mere assets? He has quelled the one quality that I truly admired him for. He used to breed such patriotism within his ranks as he fought for their rights and their names. This time though, he crossed a line.”

He swirled the brandy in his exquisite crystal glass and took a sip, all with an elegance you would expect from such a man, but not in the current scenario. He was indeed a special customer.

“He believed –  such as I  – that Petr Cech deserved to move on. His service had been perfect throughout his years at Chelsea. He had gone above and beyond all expectations. We both met and discussed Petr’s request to leave. I believed he should move to wherever he desired as he is still a man – a family man – and given his duration at Chelsea it meant he was settled in London. Jose’s main thought was to let him go, but not to strengthen our rival. He lives and breathes competition and the sight of Arsenal strengthening was one which he couldn’t bear. He wished for Petr only the best, but this was overridden by his ugly need for continual glory.  He didn’t want a man who had made London his home  – for his family as well – to be able to continue to work in London. I stepped in as I did back in 2007. I knew there would be repercussions but ultimately – some things cannot be ignored. Petr deserved better. ”

The gruff man knew it was Jose who had given him these tasks – but he wasn’t aware of why. It just wasn’t his business. Now he was so ensconced in the events, he felt that he had a duty to do the right thing. In all his training, he was taught to learn as little of the missions and your targets as possible for your conscience can be the biggest obstacle of all. He was only now realising the truth in these words.

He got to his feet and stood eye to eye with the man the public knew as Mr Abramovich. No more words were exchanged. The gruff man then left the scene as rapidly as he had entered. He left with the voice in his head affirming he had done the right thing.

As he got back on his boat after getting rid of the diving equipment, he ruminated on the amount of money he would lose after effectively cutting ties with Jose Mourinho. The fact he always had a steady line of work with FIFA sated the nagging financial worries.

He sailed off into the distance with a mission incomplete but a clearer conscience.

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