It’s 6am. The 10 remaining candidates are asleep. The phone rings.
“Shahid Khan would like to see you at the Bentall Centre in Kingston-upon-Thames, the cars will be here in 30 minutes”. A female voice says with a matter of fact tone. They hang up.
Gary puts the phone down and relays the message loud enough to rouse his sleeping peers, “Guys we’re going to Kingston, the cars will be here in half an hour”.
After a frantic half an hour of hair dryers, ironing and the tying of ties, the ten candidates shuffle into cars for the 30 minute drive from Fulham to Kingston-upon-Thames. Talk between the candidates is all about Steve’s abrupt exit from the process last week. The remaining candidates no longer know what to expect from the process and some aren’t even sure they want to be there.
When they arrive at a deserted Bentall Centre, the candidates process to the eerily quiet beauty section of the Bentalls Department Store. They are greeted by the cold steely stares of Khan’s lieutenants Alistair and Mike.
In their two teams the candidates line up, nervously waiting for Shahid Khan’s arrival.
At that moment outside, a Teal and Black Jaguar rolls up. Out steps the imposing figure of trans-atlantic business icon Shahid Khan. He walks to the candidates.
“Good morning Mr Khan”
“As you may or may not be aware, the male grooming industry is booming. For this week’s task I’d like you to devise, market and sell your own moustache product. Now, the teams are uneven after last week so Slavisa and Jimmy Floyd, you go and join Team Tactics, while Stuart, you go and join Team Tradition. I’ll see you in the boardroom in three days. Good luck”.
With that the task had been set and the search to see who will be Shahid Khan’s next Apprentice continues.
The debacle of Steve Clarke’s almost appointment does not reflect well on Fulham.
With Kit Symons’ departure hardly coming as a surprise, what is more shocking is that Fulham didn’t appear to have a succession plan. Mike Rigg, the man tasked with finding Fulham’s new head coach, would surely have had a list of names at the ready for when they were needed. Alasdair Mackintosh certainly did, but the last manager he hired was Felix Magath.
Perhaps Rigg did, and does have a list. Perhaps that is why we find ourselves reeling from Steve Clarke’s refusal. If Clarke’s name has been on Rigg’s list all along, that would explain our somewhat inexplicable desire to want him as our boss despite his little better than mediocre record as Reading manager.
It would be unfair to judge Mike Rigg until the coach he hires has had a year or two in the job. Who knows, Clarke saying no might be a blessing.
Whilst for many the delay represents an unneeded disaster, speed isn’t the only obstacle Fulham face.
For Fulham the most important thing is who is appointed, not when. If time was of the immediate essence, then Alan Curbishley would already have his family photos on the desk in the manager’s office at Motspur Park.
Time only becomes a problem if this drags on too long. Preston and Nottingham Forest follow this weekend’s trip to MK Dons and they mustn’t be wasted, but the entire future of the club doesn’t hinge on these nine potential points. However, each game becomes more important with each point dropped and every day with a new coach will stand us in better stead. There is a balance to be had.
There is an argument though to suggest that unless we are working on a deal for Jose Mourinho (or David Moyes), there isn’t a great deal to choose between the candidates. Every day where Head Coach’s chair is sat vacant is, in essence, wasted. There is an expression, perhaps too vulgar for these pages, that suggests one has to “sh*t, or get off the toilet”. We are not at that stage yet, but when choosing between 99p Stores and Poundland, there is a time limit to due diligence.
Of the coaches Fulham are considering, of course we are all hoping that there is someone worth waiting for. To continue the shopping metaphor, a Harrods in a sea of Poundlands. Remember, Harrods got us into the Premier League once.
I just hope whichever direction we go next, we do so privately. It may well not have been Fulham who leaked the Clarke info, but the press have cited Fulham sources more than once in the past fortnight. The whole Championship don’t need to know our business and the last two days will best be forgotten.