This is episode three of a wider series. To start at episode one, click here.
“It’s the sound of the underground, the beat of the drum goes round and round. Into the overflow, where the girls get down to the sound of the radio.”
Monster hit “Sound of the Underground” by a pre-tattooed arse Cheryl Tweedy and pals reverberates round an empty Old Trafford, via the powerful PA system.
The sun is shining but there’s a typically cold north-west chill in the air. Phil Neville is passing the ball back and forth with Mickael Silvestre on the pitch, getting in a bit of pre-training training, like they always do.
“Miki. Weird how this song is about plumbers eh?” Phil muses. “Listen to the words mate. They are talking about bathroom walls, water running in the wrong direction and overflows. Odd, innit?”
Silvestre shrugs, passing the ball back six feet along the turf with a precise left boot. “I like the ginger one” is all the Frenchman can muster in response.
George Bond’s typically booming voice echoes across the pitch as he assembles the players, the underground’s sound cutting out immediately.
“There’s a few new boys I want you to meet.”
Manchester United have returned to the transfer market to add to the acquisitions of Alan Smith and Ricardo Carvalho. But who is it this time?
It’s the Brazilian Lúcio. This is a major move. The 25-year old shakes hands with everyone, but is smiling at Rio Ferdinand first. It’s almost like they know this could be a defensive partnership made in heaven. The now ex-Leverkusen stopper is more or less the perfect footballer. A physical monster who works harder than anyone on the pitch but has a graceful dribbling style to complement his defensive skills. This could be the most important signing of Bond’s short reign so far. £10.5million is a steal.
Next from the tunnel jogs Kakhaber Kaladze, also 25. He is feeling the cold. A black scarf covers most of the Georgians face as he nods to his new teammates. A forever underrated utility man, Bond parted with the best part of £20million to bring in the Georgian from Milan. Equally adept on the left side of defence as he is in defensive midfield, Kaki, as Nicky Butt has decided to dub him, is strong in every department. Click on the above image and have a look for yourself. It doesn’t cost a thing to click on it. Unlike Kakhaber Kaladze, who was very expensive.
As the fifth and final early season signing at Old Trafford casually appears at the mouth of the tunnel at the corner of the pitch, the excitement in the squad is so palpable that Ruud van Nistelrooy starts coughing uncontrollably, while youngsters Ryan Shawcross and Phil Bardsley both faint, the latter bashing his forehead on a training cone as he hits the turf.
“Buongiorno” says the iconic Italian Paolo Maldini, with hair so perfect it causes a teenage Cristiano Ronaldo to kick over a stack of Powerade bottles in anger and do stepovers by himself in the opposite corner of the pitch for the rest of the day.
The legendary defender joins Manchester United for just £1.9million from Barcelona. At 35, he’s just getting started.
In an odd twist of events that can only be comparable to the John Obi Mikel saga between United and Chelsea that those of you with a time machine will recall, Maldini officially left Milan for Barcelona a few days ago for a fee said to be £1.3million. Now this coincided with the squad registration deadlines for the upcoming UEFA Champions League. As the last 48 hours have unravelled, it is said that Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard had promised Paolo the run of the Nou Camp as a key man. When pressed in a conference (see what I did there?) he confessed that the 35-year old was ultimately being signed as back up to Giovanni van Bronckhorst and youngster Fernando Navarro, and may not even be registered for the Champions League.
One private jet hop and a handful of signatures later, Paolo Maldini was a Manchester United player. United having agreed to shell out the paltry £1.9million required to release him from the Barcelona contract the ink had barely dried on. He’ll certainly get the playing time he desires in Manchester.
Training ends but Alan Smith stays out a bit later, practicing headbutting bricks out of the Manchester sky. He is watched by Darren Fletcher (19) and Kieran Richardson (18), who share a giant bag of Monster Munch sat in the dugout, comparing Nokias.
It’s the opening day of the Premier League season, and after the disappointment of the penalty shoot out defeat to Arsenal in the
Charity Community Shield, this is a must win fixture. The first opponents? Bolton Wanderers.
A Welsh masterclass and a debut brace from brick-header Alan Smith dispatches of Bolton comfortably. Big Sam had fielded a strong side notably including names like Iván Campo, Jay Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff, but it evidently wasn’t enough for a rampant United.
Next up was an away trip to Birmingham which ended in a 2-2 draw, before a 1-1 at home to Chelsea; where Alan Smith scored again.
Mid-game, Adrian Mutu was subbed off for Eidur Gudjohnsen as Ranieri thought it was strange that he could run at 125mph for 45 minutes, before crashing out completely, complaining of a cold.
So George Bond has completed his transfer business, is unbeaten in 90 minutes and performances have been solid but unspectacular so far.
The Dartford Hardman gets in his car and zooms away from the stadium, with Girls Aloud blasting out of the stereo.
What does no nonsense Londoner George Bond drive?
A growling 338 bhp 2003 BMW M3 of course. What else?!
It’s been a decent start, but there’s much more in store…
Thanks for reading.