Three Weeks (Mini-sode 9.5 – Shep: Managerial Globetrotter)

It would have to be behind the backs of Bucaramanga.

As I take the first sip of my tea since entering what’s become know as my booth in Señora Bucaramanga, I look back on the last three weeks. Upon reflection, one thing is clear; A lot can happen in three weeks. Whether you plan for a lot to happen is a different kettle of fish but 21 days can throw up a ton of surprises. The first week is relatively uneventful. The standard training, meeting and sleeping routine that has become so familiar to me. But when Pierre informs me that the Peruvian Football Federation are rumoured to be interested in an interview, it takes me aback. It seems way too quick to consider international management. Whether’s that a credit to Pierre’s abilities as a bloody good agent or a sign of the FPF’s desperation, who knows but I have to admit it’s flattering to see my job so far being recognised on such a scale.

A pale, bearded bloke with a embroidered cap walks into the restaurant and looks around frantically until he catches my eye. He smiles with a scent of relief before walking over, taking off his cap and taking a place across the booth from myself. We must stick out like a sore thumb.

“I was starting to think this was all a prank.” I laugh as he orders his coffee. “So, what’s the offer?”

Week 2 was a bit more hectic. I spent a few days training directly with Andreas Neumann, our youth player. He’s really got an eye for a goal and while we’re both a little impatient to get him involved in the first team, he’s bound to the youth training facilities in a bid to prove me right to Alvarez. Passing drills and dribbling exercises to develop his play-making skills are in hopes he can play as a number 9 or a number 10. I can’t wait to get him involved in a couple weeks time.

Just as I pushed him and his exaggerated movement to the back of my mind, Pierre showed up at my door again with something that completely blew me away. An international representative wanting to meet for an interview. But it wasn’t Peru. It was a much, much bigger deal with all respect to Peru. Even if I wasn’t fully interested, I couldn’t turn a chance like this down. I told Pierre to set up an interview but they would have to come to me and it would have to be behind the backs of Bucaramanga. I’ve spent the last few months building back the board’s trust and winning over the changing room and if they caught wind I was sniffing around another job, that’d royally fuck everything up.

“I can’t do it anymore because of the expectation on my shoulders but you could. A left wing appointment who comes in and shakes it up, makes some changes! So what do you think?” He leans back into the booth, patting his lips with a napkin.

“It sounds amazing, it sounds, really really good actually. But…” I stop to assess his facial expression change. “I just couldn’t leave these guys now. I’m really loving it here and it’d be harder to leave this job than start a new one.”

There’s a bit of an awkward silence and I can imagine he’s a bit pissed off. I’ve made him fly all this way for basically nothing. He finishes the rest of his coffee, shakes my hand and turns to walk away before I call after him.

“Er Ryan mate?” He turns round with a defeated look on his face, the Welsh badge almost protecting his chest like a miniature shield.

“If I could take your job and keep my own, I would. I just think international management isn’t for me yet. It’s, too soon you know?” He sympathetically nods before opening the door and vanishing into the mid-afternoon crowds.

I might have turned down the best job of my career but it feels too easy, it would feel undeserved. But that’s not to say I’m not honoured by the offer. If it was a South American team only a short flight away, it would be possible. Maybe an Ecuador or a Bolivia. Even Peru if they decide the act on their supposed interest.

I digress. Wales, until another day.

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