I staggered back to the underground
And the breeze blew back my hair
I remember throwin’ punches around
And preachin’ from my chair
The Who ‘Who Are You’
Hey you! You Nuno Espirito Santos! Who are you?
12 Minutes and 54 seconds the Southbank sang the same song over and over again. It was a mantra really. Nuno had a dream, to build a football team….and it carried on and on. We sang our hearts out really. ‘The Steve Bull’ song from the new stand lasted 12 seconds. I didn’t hear the Northbank. The Billy Wright stand are wondering how much of their pension fund was in Carillion shares. 12 minutes and 54 seconds my friends. Never castigate my stand to me again. Nuno is remonstrating with the Referee…who is this Nuno?
This man who has decided to pull this club from the nether regions of the Championship, who is he? We see him on the touchline, mobile, passionate, animated but also at times refined, magnanimous sometimes and sensitive. All these facets wrapped up in this man and yet to us he is unknown in many respects. We know his football, total football at times and yet he has not been here a year and this team is his. They belong to him. Saiss has been emasculated by his new blonde hair do. He should dye it black again. It’s cost him half a yard of pace. Another bow legged Forest player skips past him and he falls over like the kids trampoline into next doors garden. Confused, wondering what happened. Looking a little out of place. Nuno.
São Tomé is his place of birth and it bears the psychological scars of hardship. The boot of foreign invaders, the bare feet of the slaves that were brought to work on the sugar plantations around the island. Now looking at it you may see it’s beauty and it’s elegance but you also see the rage of rebellion, the cords of harsh work in tropical conditions, the resentment against authority too, independence and fortitude. I am a firm believer in the effect that a persons home town has upon them. Do we not know? Us in Wolverhampton, how a place can instigate a certain character and vision of the world?
I think this place São Tomé is indeed a place where Nuno or a person like him would be born. It is situated on an island, so yes, Nuno will understand the island mentality of us British. And I suppose in a way Wolverhampton is a proverbial island, surrounded by ‘others’.
But I think these things have condensed somewhat into a Philosopher now rather than a warrior. I suspect that his presence within the system of young men at the club has had a galvanising effect. I suspect that he has given them a new purpose borne from the sun blasted Island on the Earths equator. Maybe he has given these young men not only an arena to perform to the best of their abilities utlising all their creative aspects too, even the ones they thought they didn’t possess, and offered them a respect and an opportunity too maybe. These young men at our club have had varied careers and seen others places before them in the team. They have been farmed out to other clubs where they were a minor success or failed to spark. They were perhaps young men short on confidence possibly. Now they have the space and the philosophy to grow and develop into the players we as fans would expect them to be. We must forgive them for today. Forgive them completely and instigate them to pick themselves up and forge ahead again. Pick the sword back up and stand straight. Morgan Gibbs White, you too may stand with your brothers and be equal to them. You are growing and learning young man. Talk well with Bright Enkobahare and know each others minds.
I am comfortable to regard Nuno as Philosopher/Coach. I think there is a hint of Jedi about him. Recognising that ‘us’the crowd, the great unwashed demand the most excellent football but alas. Dark paths in front of us. Through one reason or another I had to walk home from town to Ashmore Park. Along the canal as soon as I got to Bentley Bridge. In the mud and the dog shit, the snow and the freezing puddles. Sometimes it was pitch black and all I had to see by was the lights from the houses that backed onto it. What happened today? I’m not quite sure. It didn’t fucking click did it. The gears of the universe that is Nunos intent lost some fucking teeth and slipped a little. We were slow off the mark again. A Forest team full of those grotty little bow legged boys with the 30 quid trims and the shitty beards. Probably on 300 quid a week, coming here and roundly taking the piss against us.
We were firing blanks. I wrote about atmosphere this week and totally lost the plot didn’t I? Moaning about Fosun not telling us everything. Communicating little to us but it was never that was it? It was always going to be that shiver that starts in your feet and works it’s way up your cold legs, up your spine to your neck, then around the top of your head to your eyebrows, then your brows furrow and you get that gold and black angst again.
A dropped glass or plate in the pub would make my Squaddie mate Ian jump and grab onto me, then he would go for a piss and hide in the bogs for ten minutes until he sorted himself out. Stress. We knew didn’t we? It was coming. It was great getting those wins but pessimists that we are we knew it wouldn’t last and that’s why it’s been quiet. We knew what everybody else didn’t know. We saw it in Saiss. We saw it in Bennet and we saw it in Doherty too. It was creeping in and the light from the floodlights got a little dimmer as our brows furrowed and those thoughts, those black dark canal paths disappeared into the gloom. Another puddle another fucking splash of mud on the back of your leg.
It wasn’t even that Forest were any good. They were just as good as Brentford who we bollocked 3-0. Same looking side, set up the same. Moving the ball lovely. But here we are and we are too fucking slow off the starting block. Fair enough the building of momentum throughout the match is a beautiful tactic. But these bow legged bastards need to be put under the cosh from the starting whistle. We need to destroy these teams from the get go. Instead we allowed them space to grow, space to move while we stepped over the ball, jinked a tasty pass into nothingness, ran…..somewhere, to do….something. I don’t know what.
The Crazy Train has pulled up at ‘Dysfunction Junction’ and the music has gone a little quieter on that train as we stare out of the windows at the gloom. It was bound to stop somewhere along the track so a few people could get off moaning and a few people could get on. We knew the party would get a little quiet around this time. It’s a fucking long train ride isn’t it? There may be a few more of these towns too. Dotted through the last half of the journey before we pull into the Premiership or crash off a bridge into a rain gorged river. I haven’t got a fucking clue to be honest. Leo looked knackered. Jota got a kicking again. Another useless fuckwit of a referee. Another long trudge back through the wet dark streets home. I’m sure somebody is following me at one point then see it’s my own shadow. I’m counting canal bridges, three more to go, counting matches left to play but all I count is months. 2 fucking 0. For fucks sake Wolves. I’m thinking of throwing myself in the canal, then laugh at this foolish though, then realise it’s dark, I’m walking down a dark canal laughing to myself. Jeff? Nuno? Laurie? This is what it means to love the Wolves. Half insane men down dark canals laughing at their own jokes.
But I’m not going to be sad. You see Nuno was born in a place that looked like paradise but had blood soaked into it’s soil through struggle. That struggle was for freedom from bondage. This division is fucking bondage to me. Do we have a right to say how shit it is? Forest fans sing ‘Champions of Europe, you’ll never sing that’. We fucking invented the European cup you fools. Nuno will know how to deal with this place, this Dysfunction Junction’. He now has to motivate a team that are demoralised by it. Who think their pretty little jinks around the pitch will shine a bright light in the snotball of this division. Sometimes it does. But poems don’t win wars. Pretty faces still get punched. Brand new cars break down. Wolves will sometimes lose games. Nuno will know what to do.
Massive respect to my brother Greeny who is a man I would be proud to aspire to be like. My brother Carl who’s appetite for Wolves is only matched by his appetite for burgers and my brother Horace who I have greatly missed. Much love.