My next seven (hectic as hell) days...

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It’s a busy time. Here’s what I’ve scheduled for work over the next seven days – and that’s before the inevitable calls and demands of a normal working week.


After writing a 450-word piece, drive from Almeria in southern Spain to somewhere close to Barcelona – over 600 miles.

I’ll stop at the football clubs in Almeria, Murcia and Elche before finding a hotel when I’m tired. Could be Valencia, could be Tarragona.

The good news is that my fiancée can currently travel with me – though she won’t come to Rome next week.

She is an architect, but the crash in Spain’s construction industry has left her out of work for the first time in her life. Her ex-company employed 32 a year ago. Now it employs two.


Watch Barcelona train in their swanky new training ground, then fly to Manchester. I’ll finish my weekly 600 word column on Spanish football for The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi on the plane.

They’ve tempted a lot of British journalists over to live, including the former editor of The Daily Telegraph. Gabrielle Marcotti, Jonathan Wilson, Simon Kuper and Ian Hawkey also contribute from afar on football.

Pick a hire car up at Manchester Airport and collect a sack full of United We Stand mail, which my younger brother Sam has been taking care of.

The lads in the Post Office are a mixture of match-going Reds and Blues. The Blues usually pretend that there’s no mail or that they’ve binned it.

Sam, 14, did very well in his trial games for Manchester United last week – scoring a hat-trick in the first match at Carrington.

“Son, he’s doing us all proud here,” said a beaming father on the phone. “He’s on fire, selfless and fast.”

A coach confirmed as much, comparing his style to Carlos Tevez. I promise not to get too excited.

Another brother Jonathan, 32, is looking to go into management. He made the short list for the Trafford job in the Unibond league last week, but lost out, probably due to inexperience.

I was gutted for him, but he did well to make the shortlist on his first managerial application.


Meet a couple of contacts in Manchester, then interview Nicky Bell, the Salford lad who has the lead role in Awaydays, the seminal book based in Birkenhead which has been turned into a film.

Then drop a videotape featuring a rough guide to Rome in at Channel M’s studios in Manchester. I spent Thursday filming it in the Italian capital. The editors will turn my mush into something broadcastable.


Film a piece for the BBC about the Champions League final. Visit the Channel M studio to do voiceovers and whatever else they want me to do to make the Rome piece passable. Monkey tennis?

A Barca-United final means my phone’s busy, but when it comes to TV Channel M are my priority. They’ve been a joy to work with in recent years and are there throughout the year, not just when United or Barca reach a final.

Drive to Liverpool and check into a hotel, which has been taken care of. This Scouse hospitality is killing me.

Meet the writer (and long time Liverpool season ticket holder) Kevin Sampson in a pub for tickets to the premiere of his film. I’m pleased for Kevin, one of the sharpest writers of his generation.

He mentioned the possibility of Awaydays being turned into a film when I first met him 10 years ago. United have won 10 titles since, Liverpool 0.


Drive back to Manchester and get some fresh quotes by telephone off a man who scores lots of goals at Camp Nou.

Hopefully hear news of a book idea which is being submitted by a man to whoever book ideas are submitted to in 'that London'. That would be for Christmas 2010.


Continue transcribing Andrew Cole quotes for my next book. I’m already at 6,000 words, with 90 minutes of tape still to go.

I like Cole's vernacular, which includes ‘fizzing’ (training very well) and ‘five bags’ (£5,000).

He’s also talked about Vietnamese boat people, the miners’ strike, XR2’s and Kevin Keegan calling him Adrian.


Travel to Kingston Upon Hull to see Manchester United at the KC Stadium.

Catch up with mates from the match. Try and spot a white phone box. Secretly hope that Hull stay up.

End the week with the prospect of an even bigger week ahead.

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