In the manager’s office at Murray Park/ Auchenhowie, or whatever it is called this week, a telephone rings….
Mark Warburton: “Good morning. Former City Trader, Viceroy of Sevconia, and soon-to be conqueror of the galaxy Mark Warburton speaking. If your query is about seeing Dave King’s war chest, please continue to hold the the line. Until the end of time. Now, how may I help you?”
Unfamiliar voice: “Hello Mr Warburton. This is the representative of Lionel Messi. I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you.”
MW: “You’re going to get me out of here?! Brilliant! When and where do I start?”
Agent: “No, Mr Warburton, you misunderstand. We want to help you with your project”.
MW: “Well to be honest, the six people I have got collecting Mark Warburton press cuttings and putting them all in solid-gold albums are managing OK”.
Agent: “No, Mr Warburton. Again you misunderstand. This is a football matter”.
MW: “I’m listening, but make it brief as I’ve got this morning’s respectfully-grovelling Evening Times articles to read”.
Agent: “Very well Mr Warburton. I have my client here with me and he wants to speak to you. Lionel! Lionel! I have Mr Warburton on the telephone, he has agreed to speak to you. No, he won’t slam the phone down on you. I know you are nervous but Mr Warburton is a very respectful man. Now, you asked me to arrange this call so please be brave”.
Messi: “Hello? Is that Mr City Trader Mark Warburton?”
Messi: “Mr City Trader Former Mark Warburton?”
MW: “That’s close enough. Now, what do you want?”
Messi: “Well Mr Former, I have been a great admirer of your work ever since you managed David Brent in London or somewhere. That was a very funny show. The way you lacked-self awareness and made a fool of yourself every day made me piss my expensively-sponsored pants”.
MW: “I think you may be mixing Brentford FC up with David Brent from The Office, to whom I bear absolutely no resemblance”.
Messi: [*Chuckles*] “There! You are doing it again! Very funny!”
MW: “Look, is there any point to this conversation?”
Messi: “Yes, Mr Trader. Having watched your first series many times, I am now greatly enjoyed the sequel: ‘The Sevco Rangers Football Club’. I feel sure it is going to be a big success. It is a very clever idea to set a sitcom in a made-up football club and I think the plot is going to involve lots of trophies. I would like to play a part in it as your star striker”.
MW: “You want to play for Rangers*?!”
Messi: “Yes, Mr City. I want to play for you. And it will not cost you a single Euro”.
MW: “You want to come here? To Rangers*? And play? For free?”
Messi: “Yes, Mr Trader City. I would love to play out the rest of my career at The Sevco Rangers. I will buy out my Barcelona contract and play for you for free. There will be absolutely no transfer fee or wages involved”.
Agent: [*In background*] “Oh my God!”
Messi: “I will also pay my agent his cut of what would have been the transfer fee”.
Agent: [*In background*] “Get in!”
Messi: “So there you have it Mr City Former. I want to be part of your comedic football revolution and will do whatever it takes to make it happen. I am, Sir, your humble servant”.
MW: [*Complete silence for over 30 seconds*]
Messi: “Is there something wrong, Mr Trader Former? Is my offer not generous enough for you? Can I give you more? Just name it?”
MW: [*Sucks air through his teeth*] “Well, it’s like this Lionel. I think you are a very nice guy and a decent footballer on a good day, but – with respect -I am not sure we have a place for you here.”
Messi: “What? How can that be?”
MW: “Well, I don’t mean to be disrespectful Lionel, but we already have Kenny, Tavs, Waggy, Forrester, Joe, Joey, Crooky, Windy and Wes etc. And the season has started. And there’s no way I can wait for foreign players to bed in. It’s a luxury Rangers* can’t afford”.
Messi: “Afford? But I would be coming for free. And I have won the Ballon D’Or many times. I would be an instant asset. By the way, you forgot to mention Joleon Lescott in your list…”
MW: [*Coughs*] “I don’t think you are hearing me Lionel. Rangers* is not the sort of club to go scouring for overseas players”.
Messi: “But I called you!”.
MW: “Remember who you are talking to! A bit of respect, please. I am afraid there is nothing I can offer you here, Lionel”.
Messi: [*Disappointment in his voice*] “OK then Mr Warburton City. But I think you are making a mistake”.
MW: “What did I just say about ‘respect?’.
Messi: “I am sorry, Mr Former Mark. I will stay at Barcelona then. But could I make a small request before I hang up?”
MW: “Of course”.
Messi: “Could you film a clip of you doing your famous David Brentford dance and email it to me? It is so funny”
MW: “Goodbye Lionel”.
Messi: “Ha ha ha! You are so funny Mr Brentford. I shall use that as my own catchphrase. ‘Goodbye Lionel. GOODbye Lionel. GOODBYE Lio-nel!’. Genius! The lads in the dressing room are going to be rolling about laughing at your work”.
MW: [*Slams phone down and reads glowing tributes to himself in the Scottish papers, with repeated nods of approval*]
And if you think that the above scenario is implausible, then you should take a look at this piece: