Chapter 637: About Professional Ethics
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
When Nottingham Forest broke into the Champions League final for the second time in a row, Nottingham Evening Post printed “Athens” on their extra to show their excitement. This time, Nottingham Evening Post did not make a move like this. The merriment had already taken place on the night of the game. They had to face the league tournament at the start of the next day, which was really not the time for unbridled celebration.
The beer in the pubs where the Forest fans gathered was sold out, with large numbers of policemen waiting in the streets and near the pubs to watch out for the fans who drank too much and made trouble. Fortunately, with the exception of a few small-scale brawls, more people were persuaded with words.
Because they were all supporters of the team, their verbal conflicts were nothing more than who deserved the most credit for the game. Some said it was George Wood, while some said it was Beckham who scored the goal, while still others said it was Tony Twain. But no matter how much they argued, the more sober people helped smooth things over, and everyone laughed together and put their arms around each other and drank.
“What’s there to fight about? Aren’t they all part of our Nottingham Forest?”
Nottingham Forest’s match against Barcelona took place on the night of April 29th. Early the next morning, Twain took Dunn to London, while Kerslake stayed behind to oversee the team’s training. The two of them went to Stamford Bridge to observe their opponent in the finals. The Champions League semifinal battle of death between Manchester United and Chelsea would unfold.
Chelsea had a slight advantage ahead of the game, as they scored an away goal against Manchester United in the first leg and tied 1:1 with Manchester United.
Grant’s team was able to force Manchester United to a draw at Old Trafford, which was completely unexpected. Even Twain had to admit that he did not expect Chelsea’s result when Grant came to power.
It was somewhat unfair to say that Grant made it to the semifinals on what Mourinho left. After the game, Twain re-acquainted himself with the man he had despised.
Chelsea tied 1:1 at home with Manchester United. The two sides played into overtime but could not determine an outcome. In the end, they had to go with a penalty shootout. Terry missed the ball in the penalty shootout, but Cristiano Ronaldo, who had done well all season, also missed his shot. The penalty shootout moved into sudden death. Kalou succeeded, and the stadium erupted with deafening cheers. When Nani came up with the ball, the cheers at Stamford Bridge immediately turned into boos, which brought a huge pressure on the Manchester United player. he, who was brought on during overtime to replace Rooney, emphasized too much on the angle and missed his shot.
Chelsea knocked out Manchester United to successfully advance!
Tony Twain and Dunn were surrounded by cheering Chelsea fans, their arms raised high in celebration. The stands trembled slightly. Twain had no intention of participating in the celebration of his future enemies, so he and Dunn put on their sunglasses and crept away.
He was a little disappointed with the result.
He had hoped that Manchester United would beat Chelsea and advance to the Champions League finals. He would not have to prepare an additional opponent’s profile and targeted tactics, and Manchester United would inevitably be distracted. Anyway, I am already distracted, so you have no reason not to be affected. This makes everyone even.
Now the results were out. Manchester United was eliminated. With only the league title available to them now, they would not let Nottingham Forest go at Old Trafford. Although they would not have spared the Forest team anyway, they would be more desperate now. When the time came, Chelsea had the most to gain when his team was in tatters in the competition against Manchester United for the league title?
“I did not like Grant from the start, and sure enough, there was a reason…” On the way back to Nottingham, Twain complained endlessly to Dunn.
Despite the disappointment and complaints, the game still had to be played. In the 37th round of the league tournament, the final battle before “the Duel.” There were many possible outcomes in the round, but only one would have a decisive impact — Nottingham Forest’s away loss to Aston Villa and Manchester United win in its game. In that case, Ferguson would win the title a round ahead.
Ferguson hoped to appease people with a league title, as the team had just been knocked out of the Champions League. However, he could not decide. It depended on how Forest and Aston Villa played. What Manchester United could look forward to was that it was an away game for Nottingham Forest. Having just played in a couple of intense games, their form could not be guaranteed. Furthermore, Aston Villa was not weak.
Manchester United’s home game against West Ham United was the first game in the round of the league tournament. Their defeat in the Champions League made all of the Manchester United players become hungry wolves and the poor West Ham United team was in the wrong place at the wrong time. For the pack of Manchester United wolves, the right opponent came at the right time and place.
Powerless to fight back, West Ham United lost 4:0 to the Manchester United star players.
The Manchester United fans began to keep a close eye on the Forest team’s game against Aston Villa.
Unlike Manchester United fans, the Nottingham Forest fans were not at all concerned about the outcome on Manchester United’s side. Whether Manchester United won or lost, the result was the same provided they won — the final battle would be at the summit of Old Trafford at the 38th round.
Twain did not arrange for anyone to report to Nottingham Forest from Old Trafford. It was unnecessary.
Twain continued to use the lineup he deployed against Barcelona in the second leg of the game.
At Aston Villa’s home ground, Villa Park stadium, Nottingham Forest efficiently took down the home team with 2:0. Bendtner scored two goals and became the best in the game.
“The Champions League final is May 21st. The final round of the league tournament is May 11th.” Twain looked at the schedule and then circled the days in red on the calendar. He tossed the pen aside, put his hands together, and turned to Dunn. “The last two games of this season will determine whether we will be heroes or cowards.”
“Don’t exaggerate, what cowards…”
“That’s the case. There is nothing more disgraceful in the world than a first runner up twice over… No, there is.” He discarded his own claim. “And that is first runner up three times, four times, five times, six times over.” He extended three, four, five and six fingers in turn.
Dunn grimaced. Sometimes his and Twain’s football philosophies were really different, but he was always able to cooperate with Twain’s work and suppress his opinions.
He thought that being the first runner up was not bad. It was better than failing in first place. Twain’s thinking was the opposite. They had to win the championship since they were in the final. If they were doomed to fail, it would have been better to be done for in the beginning. Allan Adams would not approve of his crazy thinking, because even if they were the first runner-up, the post-season dividends would still be more than the lower-ranked teams, whether it was the Champions League or the Premier League. There was also an extra bonus for every game they played in the Champions League.
“It’s not too bad. There are ten days between the Champions League final and the final round in the league tournament. We have plenty of time to prepare for each match,” Twain said as he turned on the television to study Manchester United’s game video with Dunn. Although they were old rivals and the mutual understanding was there, targeted observation was still imperative.
“Brosnan called and wanted you to give some comments on the Champions League opponent,” Dunn reminded.
“Him?” Twain shook his head. “Either there’s something wrong with his brain or his boss came up with the idea. With so many days to go before the Champions League final, what can I talk about?”
“Maybe it’s because of some personal feud between you and Grant…”
“In that case, I can’t talk about it even more. Not now, not later.” Twain shook his head resolutely. “Chelsea did not do well in the league tournament and their qualification in the Champions League final was called into question. With their morale currently strong, no one dares think about and mention their loss of not being able to compete in the Champions League next season. I cannot provoke them with my words and add fuel to the fire. I won’t provide support in another team’s hour of need and make the matter any bigger, just in case I stir them up into PowerMAX mode, and then we would be stupefied. So…” He looked at Dunn. “We don’t mention them. No matter the hype out there, we’ll ignore it. Doing our own thing is the top priority.”
He finished speaking, only to find Dunn looked at him with a smile.
“Do I have something on my face?”
“No.” Dunn shook his head and smiled. “It’s rare to hear that you have decided not to take part in a war of words. I’m surprised, that’s all.”
“Hey, don’t actually believe I’m a mad dog that bites whenever I see someone.” Twain rolled his eyes at him.
Twain called Pierce Brosnan back the next day. He told him that he was not going to weigh in on Chelsea’s entry to the Champions League final. He did not repeat to Brosnan what he had said to Dunn. He only said that the team’s focus had been the league tournament, putting aside their Champions League final opponent for now. By the time they were finished with the league game, the question would become a non-issue. Once they won the league tournament, the whole city would be busy celebrating. Who would care about what was going with Chelsea? If they did not get the league title, Twain would be in a bad mood. Who would dare to ask about the matter? Of course, Twain did not want the second result to come true.
Like Twain said, the other media outlets’ top headlines were the fierce battle for the Premier League title, since the Champions League had not yet begun.
Both BBC Five and Sky Sports were working on a special feature on the final game in the hope of attracting television audience.
The other media outlets kept watch at the training bases of the two teams all day long, wracking their brains on how to trigger a war of words between the two teams.
Everyone knew that Ferguson was a veteran of psychological warfare, while Tony Twain was a rising star in the aspect. If the two men could have a brilliant verbal war before the game, it would be a big selling point.
However, the biggest selling point this time was not the two managers, but a player named “David Beckham.”
The last time Nottingham Forest took on Manchester United in the league tournament at home, Beckham was absent due to his injury. Therefore, it was the first time he would face his previous club in the English Premier League and his first return to Old Trafford as an opponent.
He had just scored a key goal in the Champions League semifinals and helped Nottingham Forest break into the Champions League final. Manchester United was eliminated by Chelsea, so it was a matter of course that some Manchester United fans were displeased.
The game was far off, but all kinds of voices about him were rampant.
Some people said they wanted to give Beckham a warm welcome back to Old Trafford, while others said they wanted to show Beckham who’s boss. Some fondly remembered his loyalty to Manchester United, whereas others thought he was more repugnant than Judas due to his empty words. He stated how loyal he was to Manchester United, but joined Nottingham Forest!
Even when Ferguson was interviewed at a regular press conference, he was surrounded by numerous reporters asking questions about Beckham.
Everyone knew for whom Beckham left Manchester United in the first place. What kind of sparks would fly now that the two enemies were going to meet again?
Ferguson had no expression on his face. “I wish him good luck.”
“Sir Alex Ferguson, Beckham helped the Forest team break into the Champions League final while Manchester United was knocked out by Chelsea. Do you regret not recalling David?” a reporter asked bluntly.
“Why should I regret it? Manchester United currently has many outstanding and more promising players. As for the people who left Manchester United, they are gone. I will not hang onto the past. Otherwise Manchester United will not win many championships.” Ferguson’s expression changed for the worse.
What he said was true, and made a lot of sense, but in the ears of Beckham’s supporters, it did not sound good. No wonder there were still people who thought Ferguson and Beckham were enemies.
So what about Beckham?
“Mr. Twain. The press hopes that Beckham will be able to attend today’s press conference,” Miss Barbara Lucy reminded Twain that as head of public relations, she agreed that it would be good to have Beckham present, but Twain had given her George Wood’s name and himself.
“Why?” Twain pretended to be amazed.
“Mr. Twain, you know the reason…” Miss Lucy smiled. She did not buy Twain’s antics.
“Yes. But no way.” Twain rejected the request. “To let David be pulled in for the questioning? I don’t want those flies to affect the state of my main players before an important game.”
The matter was up to Twain, and Barbara Lucy had no power except to make suggestions. Since Twain disagreed, there was nothing to be done. She nodded and left.
Back on the training ground, Twain took a moment to observe Beckham. Nothing odd could be seen, but was that really the case? Twain did not think so. Beckham’s heart had to be in turmoil.
He had been at Real Madrid for four years and never returned to Old Trafford as an opponent to rival Manchester United. Therefore, today’s experience would be his first.
Beckham had some injuries before the home game against Manchester United in the first half of the season, so Twain took him off the squad list to avoid that kind of awkwardness. Now Beckham was in good shape. He had no reason to rule him out.
Although the two men had taken the situation into account when they signed the contract, it had not been imminent. Twain suggested the clause that Beckham did not need to compete against Manchester United to be written in the contract, which Beckham refused. It went against his professional ethics, but it did not mean that he would be happy to return to Old Trafford as an enemy.
In between breaks during training, the players gathered around to chat and joke, but Beckham walked up to Twain alone.
“Can I have a quick word with you?” he said.
Twain nodded, not at all surprised that Beckham had come to him.
The two men found a slightly quieter corner. Everyone else stole glances from the corner of their eyes because they all knew who the real person of interest was in this game.
“Can you take me with you to this afternoon’s press conference?” Beckham got right to the point. His request surprised Twain.
“You know what? I just turned down Miss Barbara Lucy’s request to arrange for you to appear at the press conference.”
Beckham nodded, not surprised that Twain had done so. However, he insisted on his decision. “I know what you think, Tony. But I still want to go.”
“Being repeatedly asked stupid questions by a swarm of flies like: ‘what do you think of the return to Old Trafford and becoming an enemy of your old club?’”
“If I don’t answer, I’m afraid there will be more rumors.”
“Do you really want to go?” Twain looked at Beckham.
“I really want to go.” Beckham met Twain’s gaze.
“Fine, you’ll go with me and George.” Since Beckham wanted to, there was no need for him to stop him, but he added, “if the situation gets out of hand later, I’m going to step in.”
Beckham smiled at him.
The media at the press conference had learned that Beckham would not attend the press conference and had planned to leave once Twain arrived to embarrass him. But they saw Twain with George Wood and… David Beckham appear in front of everyone.
“I know the leading character today is not me.” Tony Twain said as he viewed the excited faces below. He sat down and stopped talking. The media was allowed to aim at Beckham.
Most of the questions were nothing new. It was just as Twain said to Beckham in the morning. No one cared about how the questions were asked, they only cared about how the man was going to answer the questions.
But so far, Beckham had answers that took into consideration both the Forest fans’ feelings and majority of the Manchester United fans. He was not as hard pressed as Twain had imagined. He was a big star player and had faced all sorts of tricky questions before.
Someone threw out the question “will you take the initiative to apply to shun the game?” to which Beckham smiled. “I don’t have any physical problems. If the manager needs me, then I’ll go on. If he doesn’t need me, I can accept being a substitute.”
He shifted the anger of the diehard Manchester United fans, at Twain’s behest. Before he came, Twain repeatedly cautioned Beckham that he could push anything to him as a manager when he ran into any tricky problems.
As a result, Twain came forward. “Any questions about the squad list and the starting lineup cannot be made public before the game.” His remark silenced all the reporters who had just turned to ask him.
If they were allowed, the reporters would have loved to hiss at Tony Twain in return. Instead of continuing to entangle with Twain, they turned back to ask Beckham all sorts of questions about facing his old club.
“Have you thought about what kind of treatment you will get for returning to Old Trafford, David?”
“I don’t know.” Beckham shook his head. “I’m just a little apprehensive.”
“Do you still bear any grudge towards Ferguson now?”
“He’s a manager I have a lot of respect for.” Beckham did not want to dwell on the topic.
“How does he compare with Tony Twain?” The reporters did not want to let him go.
Beckham wanted to open his mouth, but Twain took over the question. “This question is obviously for me. We each have our strengths.”
Evaluating old and new managers was a dangerous thing for players, who would become sinners no matter what they said. Consequently, Twain did not let Beckham speak.
As if it were a signal, the media’s questions became increasingly specific and demanding.
“If you score a goal against Manchester United, will you celebrate?”
“I don’t know… I’m not trying to avoid the question. It’s complicated, and I do not know how I’ll be until it happens, so I can only say ‘I don’t know.’”
“If you help Nottingham Forest beat Manchester United and snatch the league title from Manchester United, will you celebrate it? Do you think the Manchester United fans will accept it?”
“I don’t know…”
Twain stood up. “All right. Remember your professions, you are reporters, not police officers from Scotland Yard. This is the end of today’s press conference!”
“We haven’t finished asking…”
“By the time you’re done asking questions, the lands of Great Britain and the continental Europe will have been connected as one.” Twain ridiculed. He just did not like to see a reporters lay siege to and ceaselessly interrogate his players like they were prisoners. He turned around to take his men away.
The reporters stood up from their seats one after another, ignoring the rule to only ask questions when pointed to. They raised their hands in a scramble to ask the questions that they had not had time to ask.
“David! I still have a question…”
“David, David… Rumor has it that returning to Old Trafford can affect your form. If you do play, will it shake the hearts of the Forest team? Will it lead to a more serious… Uh.”
The question stopped the three people in their tracks, and they turned around to look at the person who asked the question.
Tony Twain said, “David Beckham is now wearing the Nottingham Forest red jersey.”
George Wood said, “Shake the hearts of our team? We’re not idiots.”
David Beckham replied, “I’m a professional player.”
The trio turned to leave the venue and allowed the reporters to shout behind them, without a backwards glance.