Godfather Of Champions Chapter 611
“Just like how turkey makes Christmas dinner, I think the best Christmas gift for the Nottingham Forest fans is a victory,” Twain said before the away game against Fulham.
He infuriated Fulham with his nonchalant and self-assured attitude.
Simon Davies, the home team’s midfielder, spoke freely, “We must make this arrogant man pay. Nottingham Forest won’t win!”
The enraged Fulham team launched an offensive at home against Nottingham Forest. The result was that they “attacked beautifully and perished gloriously.”
Although Nottingham Forest was no longer at its wits’ end when up against the opponent’s retreat to defense, Twain still liked it when the opponent pressed out. It gave the Forest team opportunities for sneak attacks. Fulham was successfully provoked and wanted to get rid the Forest team with home-field advantage and momentum. But they counted their chickens before they hatched.
Fulham recklessly pressed up and almost scored a goal at the start of the game, which inspired their determination to attack.
But when they calmed down, they would realize that it was a honey trap.
The Forest team was repeatedly compacted by Fulham, and then suddenly rebounded. They scored two goals in ten minutes and completely stunned Fulham.
In the end, Nottingham Forest took down Fulham, the home team, by 3:1. They really delivered a nice Christmas present for their fans.
When Twain left London, he was roundly berated by Fulham people because he continued to be arrogant at the post-match press conference.
Some might not have understood that he just wanted to provoke the other side into losing their calm. He had already won the game and there was no need to press on. A little graciousness was good. But Twain thought that “psychological warfare” was a normal state. Otherwise, it would be easily detected by the other side. Ferguson was an example of a normal state.
Ferguson was a rather nice old man in private, which Twain was aware of because they had had drinks together before and attended a horse race. However, that was in private and other places, not a football field. Once the two met in a challenge, Ferguson would never let go of the opportunity to needle and provoke Twain by any means. When he mocked Twain, no one could see that he and Twain had drank together in private.
That was the norm. Everyone knew that Ferguson was good at psychological warfare, but not everyone could ignore his sarcasm and provocation, because it had become his character at work. There were times when people did not know if he deliberately provoked them, or if that was how he saw them. The poor Keegan came to mind. Some people liked to play psychological warfare with Ferguson, such as Arsène Wenger, who had exchanged insults with him for ten years.
Twain would do anything in order to win. What was a little of loss of reputation to him? Other people’s affection for him would not allow him to score three points. Therefore, he had to broadcast himself as a fierce character who was arrogant, not afraid to provoke people, and fearless. Of course, he had hints of the traits in his own character, but they were not as obvious as what he displayed. He added some “artistic touches” to himself. When he planned to provoke an opponent, the deceit would be more convincing and others would not know whether he was his true self or if it was just a strategy.
Therefore, he was delighted that everyone thought he was an arrogant and powerless egomaniac. The image and rumors would help create some errors in his opponents’ judgment.
With three points and Christmas cheer, Nottingham Forest’s Merry Men were back in their lair… No, turf. On the bus on the way back, Twain announced the holiday arrangements.
“As customary in the new year, we will have a party, but that is for next year. We will prepare small gifts for everyone during Christmas as per normal, which will be placed under the Christmas tree in Wilford. You can go collect it tomorrow. We will have a half day training on Christmas Eve, so that everyone can have time with family and friends or just relax. You can do whatever you want, but don’t go too crazy. We have a home game on 26th and regular training on the 25th. All right, enjoy this moment of leisure during this busy holiday season!”
At first, the club only set up a small Christmas tree in the lobby of the training base. Underneath the tree was filled with presents, with the names of the players labeled on the boxes. It was Allan’s minor change for the club to win over the hearts of its people, which Twain thought was a good thing to do. He proposed to hold it annually and make it a tradition, and they moved the Christmas tree outdoors and made it bigger. Although the gifts were still inexpensive, small items, it was the thought that counted. Not only the players, but all the club’s non-playing employees would receive a gift carefully prepared by the club on the morning of the 25th. Loyal fans who bought season tickets would receive a greeting card in the mailbox.
Evan made a lot of changes after he took control of the Forest club. He and Allan learned from NBA clubs in America to promote and improve the image of Nottingham Forest. In his view, no one would listen if they always brought up the long history of the Forest club. Who was interested in what had happened over the past hundred years? Even if the team was one of the first teams in the world, what was the point? Today’s football fans only loved the teams that could now make them like it, such as Chelsea with Mourinho, Barcelona with Ronaldinho, Real Madrid with Beckham, and so on.
Allan made the century-old club put down its airs and took the initiative to be closer with the people. Coupled with Twain’s constant victories, the Forest team’s new image was promoted smoothly. Today, flurries of letters gushing with affection flew to the clubs from around the world. The Forest team had added a number of new fans around the world. These football fans were not fond of the Forest team because of the Forest team’s glorious past or long history. They liked Nottingham Forest because the team was strong, had won the UEFA Champions League title, had an idol-like manager, and had a group of famous star players. Then, they discovered the history and were surprised to find that the team’s forefathers were also illustrious. They became more determined to love the team. Most foreign fans basically went through such a process, whether it was with major teams that had long been world-renowned and had always been the top-level powerhouse teams, or a has-been team like Nottingham Forest.
Teams like Real Madrid had to make films and play commercialized games everywhere to promote their brands, not to mention Nottingham Forest.
On the 22nd, they played a game. Training on the 23rd was only half a day, and not very intense. It was mainly focused on the recovery of stamina. After all, the schedule was intensive, there was no need to increase the intensity of the training.
After training had ended, Twain wandered around the training base. He was not taking a stroll, but greeting his colleagues, wishing them a Merry Christmas. He distributed the cards he had bought. This gift was not the gift provided by the club. The club’s gifts were a means of buying people’s hearts. The greeting cards that Twain held in his hands were his own way of showing appreciation. He knew he was lacking in some ways, and without the help of these colleagues, he would not have been able to lead the team to that day. Perhaps he would have been fired by Evan partway. Therefore, on Christmas Eve, it was necessary for him to thank the colleagues who had helped him.
Nottingham Forest was a united team. This unity was not only reflected in the players’ locker room, but also among the coaching staff and the other workers.
The team doctors, physiotherapists, youth team coaches, reserves coaches, goalkeeper coaches, fitness coaches, tactical coaches, assistant managers… Even the turf maintenance workers at the training ground and the security guards who looked after the gate received a greeting card from Twain, as well as a thank-you note thanking them for their work and efforts over the year and for their help to him.
The outside world said that Tony Twain was a demon who did all kinds of terrible things and would betray his own conscience to win. To be honest, the people inside Wilford were initially surprised by these claims, and then they were derisive. The Tony Twain in their eyes was not a uncultured bastard at all.
After he gave out all the greeting cards, he walked back to his office with Dunn and packed up to get ready to go home.
At the door, he saw George Wood, who had been waiting for a long while.
Twain and Dunn were not at all surprised by Wood’s presence. They both knew why Wood was there.
“You only have to make a phone call, George…” Walking up to him, Twain opened the door
“I think it’s more formal to say it in person.”
Dunn had already heard the question and answer for two years. And he thought that as long as he worked at the club, and that George Wood and Tony Twain were still in this team, he would continue to hear it.
“Well, up to you then.” Twain shrugged and pushed the door open.
Wood followed the two men in and stood straight as he said, “my mother invites you both to have dinner tomorrow night.”
Twain turned and went around to behind his desk. He nodded to Wood. “Okay, Dunn and I will be there.”
Just like the club’s distribution of Christmas presents was a tradition that the club intended to maintain for a very long time, Twain and Dunn would pick one night before Christmas to go to Wood’s house for dinner. There was also hope that it would become a tradition — everyone intentionally overlooked the reality of Wood’s mother’s poor health.
Wood, who had finished his task, turned around to leave but Twain stopped him again. “Merry Christmas, George.”
Wood heard him speak and froze for a moment. Then he said, “It’s only the 23rd.”
Twain glared. “Surely I can say it in advance!”
“Sure, Merry Christmas, boss.”
Seeing the two of them like that, the corners of Dunn’s lips slightly curled upwards from where he stood quietly in a corner.
The atmosphere of training on the 24th was very relaxed. They only carried out some simple tactical drills. Everyone was in a good mood. Twain joked with the people around him. There were sounds of laughter and cheery talk everywhere. It was almost Christmas.
During the holiday, everyone thought only of happy things and left the troubles until next year. Besides, there were not many people in the Forest team who felt vexed.
They were off after training in the morning. Twain and Dunn went to the bustling commercial district to buy a present for Sophia. Twain also wanted to buy Shania a large Totoro doll.
That evening, the two of them stood on the doorstep of George Wood’s place and rang the doorbell.
It was not George Wood or Sophia who opened the door, but… Billy Woox.
“Hi, Mr. Twain, Merry Christmas!” Woox smiled brightly when he saw the expression on Twain’s face. He turned to Dunn, and the smile on his face waned to become normal politeness. “Merry Christmas, Mr. Dunn.”
Twain did not go in. He frowned and asked, “why are you here?”
The smile on Woox’s face changed again as he replied, “why can’t I be here? I’ve been busy as George’s agent this year. Isn’t normal for him to invite me to have dinner?”
But there was another reason — George Wood and Billy Woox were related by blood.
This old man!
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Woox. Hopefully you won’t be giving me any trouble next year.” Twain walked in with a straight face.
“I can’t guarantee you that, Mr. Twain. You know, I have to consider George’s interests. You have your opinion and I have mine.” Woox spread his hands.
Over the course of the year, Woox had only signed three contracts for George Wood, but unlike stars who signed endorsement deals with a dozen businesses in one breath, the three companies that Wood for which was the spokesperson were not insignificant: Gillette razors, Armani’s menswear, and Pepsi. Including Nike, for which he had signed the previous year, George Wood only had four commercial contracts. It was obviously not what Woox had said to Twain before he became Wood’s agent. Twain thought Woox was going to drown George with commercial contracts.
Now, he could see that Woox had built a very detailed plan for George Wood. With his taste and status, he would not casually sign any brands. The conditions under which he selected sponsors were harsh. That was why Wood only had four commercial contracts so far.
That was what Twain liked to see. Wood did not have to frequently attend commercial activities and ignore his job on the football field.
Walking in, Twain saw Sophia, who had come out.
She looked a little paler than the last time he saw her. When was the last time he came to see her? It was the end of last season.
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Twain. Merry Christmas, Mr. Dunn!” Sophia greeted with great enthusiasm.
Twain handed her the gift that he and Dunn had chosen for her. “Merry Christmas, madame.” He did not give Woox a gift, firstly because he did not expect Woox to be there, and secondly, even if he did, he probably would not buy one.
Woox did not mind. He went in to help Wood set the table.
Dunn immediately followed him.
Only Twain and Sophia, who had not opened the gift, were still in the living room.
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Twain.” Sophia greeted once again. She looked at the man in front of her with a smile.
Twain rubbed his head, feeling slightly awkward, but he responded with a smile. “Merry Christmas, madame.”
“Are you feeling well?” he added.
“I’m fine. I just can’t overexert myself.” Sophia nodded. “Thank you for your concern, Mr. Twain.”
None of them could find a topic to continue. Although three people were busy in the dining room, the two suddenly quieted down in the living room.
Sophia was the first to stir. She turned her gaze away from the gift in her hand and asked, “How’s Shania?”
Twain nodded. “Ah, she’s good… She’s just busy with work lately.”
Sophia smiled. “She’s a world-famous model. Of course, she’s going to be busy. But… she has to spend Christmas by herself, even though she’s a world-renowned model. I think Shania will not feel too good, will she?”
“Yeah, she kept saying she was unhappy that she couldn’t have turkey with everyone.”
Just as they were about to become silent again, Wood came out from inside.
“Mom.” He stood beside Sophia and looked at Twain.
“Ah, it’s time for dinner. Mr. Twain, please come in.” Sophia made a gesture of invitation.
Twain breathed a sigh of relief. Sophia went first, but George Wood stopped to wait for Twain.
“What’s the matter, George?” Twain noticed.
Wood shook his head. He just looked at his manager but did not say anything.
“I forgot… Merry Christmas, George.” Twain said it to Wood.
“You said it yesterday,” Wood replied expressionlessly.
“Well, happy Christmas Eve then.” Twain shrugged. He did not care how Wood looked at him and went straight into the dining room.
Putting aside the brief interlude, the dinner was a pleasure to have. It was the first time Twain had had dinner with Woox. Even though they bickered, everyone knew it was done in jest.
It was a fantastic experience for both sides.
Twain and Woox had to stand on opposing sides. If they were an office, they were bound to do everything they could to embarrass the other, but it was Christmas Eve and everyone had to be genial. When they clinked their glasses together, Woox winked at Twain, sending shivers down his back.
After dinner, Twain was in a hurry to leave. “I don’t want to be with Woox for too long.” That was the reason he gave Dunn.
But in reality, it was another person who made him feel awkward.
On his way home, Twain received a call from Shania. “I’m in America now, but I worked out the time. You’re not sleeping yet, are you, Uncle Tony?”
“Of course not.” Twain glanced at Dunn and smiled. “How is it going in America?”
“I’m doing fine… Met some people, got to know some people, and that’s about it.”
Twain could almost see Shania shrugging her shoulders beside him. “What a boring life…”
“I’m going to be busy after the new year.” Shania was not in very good mood. “Ah, there’s something I need to do now. Happy Christmas Eve, Uncle Tony!”
“Happy Christmas Eve, Shania.”
Twain hung up the phone and looked at Dunn.
“It’s been a perfect year…”