This is what my ideal Premiership club would look like

Pink shirts, a statue of Alfred Wainwright, and absolutely no interviews.

 I’ve got my two younger granddaughters, Amarisse and Sienna, sitting at the drawing table working on designs. They are arguing over the felt pens, yet I bought them a set each so they wouldn’t argue but they are only five and four.

I have told them that when I buy my Premiership club, I want the shirts to be pink. Always liked pink. And I want a nice background pattern, hearts perhaps, or dogs or houses.

My older two grandchildren, Amelia and Ruby, aged 14 and 13, are honing their computer skills. I plan to make Amelia match day programme editor, as she is awfully good at writing, while Ruby I can see as marketing director. You would be too scared not to do what either tells you. Have you seen these teenage girls today? Terrifying.

I have spoken to Mr Tan, the Malaysian owner of Cardiff City. I don’t know why old-fashioned football fans got so upset when he changed Cardiff’s shirt to red. Cardiff, founded in 1899, have traditionally been blue, hence their nickname, the Bluebirds, but come on, life moves on. Red, so he says, is a lucky colour in the east, so get it on, boys, as they in that awful betting advert.

He’s also changed the club badge and sacked the head of recruitment, who was the manager’s right-hand man in getting them into the Premiership. He was replaced by some youth called Kazakh, who is apparently a schoolfriend of his 21-year-old son. Kazakh was not totally new to football or to Britain – he had been doing work experience at the club, painting walls. I think at present he is having work permit problems but I am sure Mr Tan will soon sort that out. Well done, anyway.

I did think about green when I buy my Prem club, as no Prem club plays in green, so it would make them stand out. We would get all the veggies and environmentalists shouting “Come on you Greens”. On reflection, I am going for pink. “Think Pink!” That will be the club slogan. Catchy, eh?

Dear old Mohamed al-Fayed put up a statue of Michael Jackson when he owned Fulham, very sensible, so corny and obvious to have a famous ex-player. Should I have Paul McCartney, one of my heroes, or Alfred Wainwright, author of the Lakeland guides? Probably go for AW, as long as the sculptor makes a good job of his pipe.

As owner of the club, lock stock and barrel, I will be able to do exactly what I like, so moustaches all the year round will be mandatory. None of this Movember nonsense, then shaving them off.

I’ll be going in the dressing room, before and after every game, with my own video crew. No player will be allowed to give interviews, put their name to articles or books – only to me. I have always wanted to do a follow-up to a football book I did many years ago, The Glory Game. Not possible any more, now they all have lawyers, agents, PRs, brand managers and commercial deals, and are far too rich anyway, so why should they be arsed. But with owning My Own Club, no probs.

They will all have to wear pink boots, matching their shirt. And I think I will bring back sock numbers. Remember them? Don Revie brought them in but they faded. Adverts, of course, on their bums – not physically, the tattoos would obscure them – but on the back of their shorts. I have always thought that advertising on shorts has been a missed opportunity.

Now, what job shall I give Tortee? I have got my four grandchildren sorted – all girls, you will have noticed. Tortee is also female, been part of our family for decades. She is aged 40, very mature, so I think I will make her manager. She will be the first tortoise in the history of football to be a Prem manager. Not sure about Third Division (North). I think Carlisle United had a tortoise as a gaffer at one time, or was it a sheep?

I’ll have sheep grazing on the pitch when there’s not a game, until they start digging. As freeholder, of the stocks and barrels, I’m looking into fracking. Once that starts, I’ll sell up and be off. Just like Mr Tan, probably . . .

A manager should always take control. Image: Getty

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 13 November 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The New Exodus

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To beat the Trump hype, we need a return to old-fashioned political virtues

If we want to resist the Trumpification of politics, what we need is restraint, duty and incorruptibility.

After the 1992 US presidential election, Alistair Cooke’s celebrated BBC radio series Letter from America struck a poignant note. Cooke described Bill Clinton’s worn jeans and checked wool shirt, contrasting them with George H W Bush’s buttoned-up Wasp manners and buttoned-down Ivy League shirts. Clinton’s style, Cooke argued, was a rebuke to a tired social and political establishment. His casualness was the new America.

Cooke, then 83, was honest enough to admit unease about this departure from the old, patrician modes and manners. “Along with the passing of George Bush,” he said, “we shall see, I fear, the passing of the blue blazer.” Cooke seemed right at the time. But don’t write off the blue blazer just yet. As ruling elites change, so does the appropriate counterpoint. To topple Bush’s stuffy golf club elites, Clinton picked up his saxophone, took off his tie and felt everyone’s pain. And now? The subtext of these turbulent months (the inevitable second question, prompted by “How do you beat Donald Trump?”) is: “What should ­tomorrow’s leaders, the leaders we crave, look and sound like?”

My conjecture is that, to beat Trump and his type – bling, shiny suits, dodgy deals – we should push towards centre stage an underestimated set of political virtues: restraint, duty and incorruptibility. If it weren’t for the gender associations, I would be tempted to call this quality gentlemanliness. Aside from personal virtue – signally lacking in the Clinton camp – how might decency inform public debate as it comes under attack from maverick showmen trained in the media circus? How can the middle ground regain its confidence?

First, level with the public. Maybe liberalism hasn’t failed so much as its messaging has failed. Instead of smashing the electorate over the head with the idea that everything is just great, make the case that not everything can be for the best in all possible worlds. As populists reach for empty slogans, a new space has opened up. Accept and exploit those asymmetries: more people are ready to hear uncomfortable truths than politicians imagine.

Kingsley Amis once argued that a writer’s voice should stay close to his speaking voice: not the same, but close. Adapting that idea, if politicians stayed closer in public debate to the truths that they articulate in casual conversation – some things are impossible; almost every policy creates a losing as well as a winning side; there really isn’t any money – they would be surprised how many people are ready to hear that not all problems can be evaporated into thin air. Stray too far from awkward truths and elections become about simple lies v tricksy lies.

Second, centrists do more harm than good when they rush to categorise dissenting opinion as not only wrong, but unacceptable. “Any suggestion that liberal values are not humanly universal,” as John Gray wrote in a recent NS essay, “will provoke spasms of righteous indignation.” Instead, we need to be more tolerant in our tolerance.

Third, stop pretending that everything desirable can be shoehorned into the “progressive” agenda. “I really care passionately about persevering with the common-sense middle ground and doing it quite well” is a problematic political sales pitch, but not for the reasons that are usually given. The gravest difficulty may come at the beginning, with the faux passion, rather than with the substance – public service and competence – underneath.

It is revealing that those closest to David Cameron expended so much energy trying to persuade us that he was not an updated version of Harold Macmillan. That is why the gay marriage reforms, though admirable, were accorded too much significance. Ah, Cameron was a natural crusader! But he paid a price for dressing up as a “radical” when greater challenges arrived. It weakened some of his strongest cards – calmness, perspective, proportion – just as politics was coarsening. Aren’t Tories supposed to understand the virtues of yesterday? In other words, as an electoral strategy to beat Trump (or Nigel Farage), I’d put up a Macmillan type over a Clinton type every time.

Fourth, cut ties with “messaging experts”. It’s a fraud. They teach that everything must be asserted with powerful conviction. Yet ideas unworthy of powerful conviction are best left shorn of them. The electorate has endured a communications version of crying wolf. As a result of the messaging game, when something genuinely important crops up, it sounds simply like the same old shtick.

Fifth, ditch the bogus quantification. Few things signal untrustworthiness more reliably than fake precision. Something shifted in me when George Osborne argued that Brexit would leave households £4,300 worse off. What, no decimal point? Voters understand uncertainty better than politicians imagine. Precise quantification used to sound professional. Now it sounds suspicious.

Finally, think about tone. Conventional wisdom holds that the mainstream must fight the Trumpian revolution on its own terms: a simple solution, memorably expressed, a guiding vision for the country or the world. If anyone has a good one to hand, I’m all for it. But what if – after decades of ­sophisticated argument and counterargument, as politics has solved the easy problems while parking the difficult or insoluble ones – we have reached a state of such evolved equilibrium that no such easy answer can exist?

Pretending otherwise is no longer a point of difference. It takes you towards the lowest common denominator. As Trump has shown, that is well-occupied territory. Perhaps wooing the angry mob is not the solution. Instead, the admirable and successful politician of the future will have to win back the support of moderate, sensible but disillusioned voters. 

Ed Smith is a journalist and author, most recently of Luck. He is a former professional cricketer and played for both Middlesex and England.

This article first appeared in the 01 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Age of outrage