This is episode six of a wider series. To start at episode one, click here.
“Go, go, go, go go, go, go, shawty, it’s your birthday. We gon’ party like it’s yo birthday. We gon’ sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday.”
George Bond awakens, his pounding head in his hands, his leopard-print dressing gown half open, one Fred the Red slipper hanging off of a cold foot.
The last of his empty late night beer bottles clink together on his living room floor, as the young manager tries to piece together what happened at the United Christmas Party last night, before that taxi home…
18 HOURS EARLIER
“It’s going to be, you know….lovely ladies? I just know it.”
David Bellion is standing at a mirror in his hallway, the 21-year old perfectly trimming his goatee ahead of the Manchester United Christmas party. A teenage Cristiano Ronaldo clutches a lukewarm bottle of Stella in David’s living room, sitting up on the kitchen counter, swinging his legs.
“What, like, dancing ladies?” The Portuguese wonderkid nervously ponders, wincing as he takes a sip of “delicious” beer.
“Well the gaffer said he has a big surprise for the Christmas party lined up, maybe a special guest or two. That must be it!”
“Surely not, David. Although that would be awesome!”
The boys giggle like schoolgirls, play one last game of PES on the PS3, destroy the ozone layer with Lynx Africa, then head downstairs for their taxi.
“I am fed up with this sh*t.”
Paul Scholes isn’t quite as enthusiastic about the night out. The 29 year old is needing coaxed into making an appearance at the party by old pal Ryan Giggs.
“Come on mate. You always say that. Then you and Butty have a couple of drinks and play that game where you flick Keano’s ear and see who he catches first. It will be good, don’t give us it.”
Scholesy sighs like he is dialling into a conference call with a printer supplies company as Alan Smith pulls up outside, his blonde hair dazzling under the streetlights.
MUCH LATER IN THE EVENING…
The Christmas party is in full flow, Ricardo Carvalho has broken his elbow and left for A&E after tripping over his own feet on the dancefloor. The Ignition Remix by R Kelly will do that to a person.
Paolo Maldini looks effortlessly cool, all black polo neck and sipping red wine. Ruud van Nistelrooy joins him at a table right at the back, while Gary and Phil Neville have shown up in costume, dressed as Laurel and Hardy. Mike Phelan doesn’t see the funny side, but new boys Lucio and Kaladze share a laugh and a cigarette at the side door as they arrive.
George Bond rises to his feet, the beer and whisky clearly starting to hit the gaffer right between the eyes.
“Boys! Listen. It’s been another GREAT month. Beating the scousers on penalties in the cup. And…a Norwegian masterclass destroying those so-called ‘invincible’ London muppets led by THAT Frenchman, 5-0!”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the four goal hero that day, face turning red, sinks behind a cocktail menu he is pretending to read, like he wants the ground to swallow him up. The noise level in the room drastically drops as people start to pay attention.
“We’re top of the league with a game in hand, we’re through to the last 16 in the Champions League and most of all…..*hiccup and stagger*….I love every, f*cking, one, of, you.”
The room is starting to realise just how drunk the boss really is. Even Darron Gibson and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, who had snuck in their own alcohol, can’t quite believe what they are seeing.
“On that note. I have a surprise for you all…”
Ronaldo and Bellion share a giggle, elbowing each other in the ribs and sitting up excitedly.
The DJ smashes some buttons and 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ BOOMS out of the Hilton Hotel’s speakers.
Lights flash and a curtain twitches, then opens, as the special guest comes slinking out…
Ronaldo and Bellion are crestfallen.
It is not a young, attractive, woman with a great sense of rhythm in eye-catching attire. Of course it isn’t.
It’s a 33-year old Dutch man, standing almost six foot six in height, grinning like the Cheshire Cat in a two-piece suit, holding a pint of Heineken.
“It’s our new goalkeeper, Edwin van der Sar!”
Bond finally sits down.
Roy Carroll shouts something completely inaudible and charges out of the hall. 17 year-old Tom Heaton puts down his Capri Sun and chases him out the door towards the taxi rank, clearly concerned.
The iconic shot stopper sheepishly steps down from the stage, wiping his brow from the sweat caused by the heat of the dancefloor’s blinding white spotlight. He takes a seat beside Paolo and his fellow countryman Ruud. Is there now a clear divide in the Man United dressing room? The young and old?
It has been so far so good for Bond and co, but will the wheels come off the 2003-2004 campaign in the new year? Or do the Old Trafford boys have what it takes to see out the season with some silverware?
In other news, Mick Jagger has just become Sir Mick Jagger, and DVD sales have just overtaken VHS for the first time in history.
What a time to be alive…
Thanks for reading.