The internet, you may have noticed, was broken in recent weeks. Not by Kim Kardashian (thank God), not even by Donald Trump, but by the literary stylings of football’s Steve Bruce. Some of you may not be aware of this, but Bruce wrote a trilogy of football-based detective novels in 1999. Yes, you read that right. Football based detective novels. Yes, three of them. I know, I know. Now this article is not meant to be about dissecting these masterpieces, which have featured recently in the rarefied air of the Second Captains and Guardian Football Weekly podcasts. For that, you are much better served by looking here for what amounts to one of the best reviews of anything in the history of ever.
Bruce’s late-blooming success has not gone unnoticed in the publishing world. Hurlers on the Ditch can exclusively reveal that a global publishing powerhouse is currently considering going to print with a spurt of football manager-written books, both fiction and non-fiction alike. A source within the publishing house sat down with me last week to give an exclusive outline of some of the most interesting books that may well be hitting the shelves of a bookshop near you very soon.
“A Clockwork Oranje” by Louis Van Gaal
The ex-Manchester United and Barcelona manager has penned a chilling debut novel, focusing on a group of oddly dressed hoodlums who stalk the streets of a futuristic dystopia spouting a strange language which is slightly grounded in English but is essentially a jumble of words related to possession and philosophy. The book’s protagonist, fueled by wine plus and the soothing tones of his favourite saxophonist (and accompanied by his droogs), carries out ultra violence all across this futuristic Manchester on any football fan known to have uttered the word “Attack”.
“The Neville Wears Prada” by Roy Hodgson
Though former England and Liverpool manager Hodgson’s book is technically a work of fiction, much like Steve Bruce’s epic trilogy, there is more than a hint of autobiographical inspiration surrounding this book’s hero; a man who unexpectedly gets the England national team job only to be undermined by disrespectful players and a bitchy assistant manager who has a penchant for designer shoes.
This saucy novel focuses on our hero’s attempts to turn around the perennial car-crash that is the England team, all the while fighting against perceptions of him as a weirdo who reads actual books and the back-stabbing politics playing of his Prada-wearing assistant. Hodgson’s trademark sense of humour shines through in this side splitting offering which is guaranteed to have you spitting out your cocktail.
“Conte’s Inferno” by Antonio Conte
Less of a novel and more of a sprawling, epic poem, this revolutionary masterpiece is said to have been inspired by a nightmare had by Chelsea coach Antonio Conte. Having worked with defenders of the caliber of Georgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, Conte is said to have suffered visions of being taken through the circles of hell and having to watch Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill play football.
What results is a haunting missive from a deeply troubled mind, featuring hallucinations of David Luiz being re-signed for Chelsea and Victor Moses playing as a wing-back.
“Fantastic Bungs and Where to Find Them” by Sam Allardyce
Though this project is still at an early stage due to the author’s recent change in employment status,the premise is exceptionally exciting. England’s most successful ever manager (by win percentage) will pen a wonderful travel diary as he jets around the world meeting with interesting and engaging “middle eastern and Asian businessmen and maybe a sheikh or two” as he explores the exciting world of third party ownership and illegal payments. We can not only expect Allardyce’s classic wit and turn of phrase to characterize his book, but can also look forward to his gastronomic adventures around the world as he attempts to drink wine from ever bigger vessels.
“Guardiolas of the Galaxy” by Pep Guardiola
Ever the maverick, Guardiola has pushed the boundaries of managerial literature by producing a graphic novel detailing the travels of a charismatic ex-manager who, having wept tears of salt as there were no more footballing worlds left to conquer, decides to leave his earthly life behind him and embrace inter-galactic travel.
Our daring, leather jacket wearing hero, however, cannot quite manage to leave everything behind him on earth and soon finds himself acting as a football missionary, bringing his special brand of tika-taka to the outposts of this galaxy and beyond. However, this space opera takes a dramatic twist when the protagonist gets a blast from the past in the shape of his greatest rival, the one they call Mou.
“Corkonian Pyscho” by Roy Keane
Though age, and the prospect of becoming borderline unemployable, has mellowed ex-Ireland captain Keane’s legendary temper, this darkly comic debut novel indulges the Cork native’s penchant for losing the head. We are told the story through the eyes of Troy, an ex-pro who has recently taken his first steps into management. The problem is; the players are all idiots. Troy just cannot get his head around how any one person could be as stupid and as lazy as every single one of his useless excuse of his squad seem to be. After the standard ranting and raving (and even the throwing of a tea cup) fails to improve their attitudes, Troy resorts to the only rational measure available to him; he starts butchering his players. The book follows Troy’s attempts to cover up the ever increasingly brutal murders of his players as well as his battle to keep his fledgling managerial career alive.
“Harry Redknapp & the Prison Evasion Plan” by Harry Redknapp
In a work we are assured is fiction, the former Spurs manager brings us a tense court-room drama which focuses on a falsely prosecuted football manager having to find a way of explaining why his perfectly reasonable tax affairs appear to look incredibly illegal. In a powerful novel, Redknapp, unusually naming the main character after himself, details one man fighting against a corrupt system, one which discriminates against him just because he “don’t read and tha, and cuz I let my little dog open a bank account or whatever. She’s a top top top dog in fairness”.
Described as a cross between “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Making a Murderer”, Redknapp’s unique literary style, which sees him go off on page long tangents about legendary deals the title character has pulled off, makes this debut novel must read.