My team could be relegated this term

19th March 2004 at 00:00
A public school head bleats about exam pressure: "It's like being a football manager, there's constant stress on your heart."

If they really want to know about stress, football managers should try teaching. Like them, I'm only as good as my last result - be it Sats, GCSEs or A-levels.

And for added pressure my team is at the wrong end of the league tables. My 11th-year squad looked promising at the start of the season but they merely flattered to deceive. I yell by the blackboard about the importance of work rate and homework and targets - what big Ron calls the "Ugly Things". I give them a quick team talk to try and boost performance: "Plan! Be early! Get stuck in! Be first! No excuses!"

Have they listened? No. I trydifferent strategies. Quiet calm. Sulphurous rage. I kick chairs. All to no avail.

Let's meet the players. Goalie Ingrid Shriek hasn't been on form all season. Her hands go up but she's clueless, she fumbles everything.

The back four are breathtakingly dim. They are late. They go missing. They simply will not pass. The new offside law - aka the new syllabus - seems quite beyond them. They've just not done their homework.

The midfield of Swansong, Dillygig and the Crumlin brothers promised much - and has delivered little. Dilettantes all. Crumlin's bike shed canoodlings with his Year 10 paramour seem to have drained him of his former creativity. Cordelia has been too precious. And Dillygig's recent brush with class A drugs has done nothing for his vision. He was never that good with his head. Now he's mostly off it. I await the arrival of the drug squad with dread.

The strike force of Furnace and Mania has been, at best, a shambles.

Furnace has just gone missing. As for Mania - the boy done bad. I took a risk with Mania. I got him on a free transfer from Inclusion. Coach Ron Knee warned me; "He couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo." Big Ron was right. Dave hasn't hit the target all season. He's been red-carded for most of it. The anger management workshop never took.

I can't - like Arsene Wenger - keep turning a blind eye to this mayhem.

Referee Bell will put us both in special measures. El Mania came to me on a free transfer. I've added nothing to his value. I must turn our league-table position around by May or else. Ashen-faced, I soak up stress in the dugout. I chew gum frantically, bite my nails and feel just like Gerard Houllier.

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