Scene 1: Int (Night)
[It’s 3am in a kitchen lit by the glow of the moon. Neil Warnock walks in yawning, wearing Paddington Bear pyjamas and fluffy slippers. He opens the fridge and takes out a bottle of milk. When he shuts the door, a ghostly white apparition has appeared behind it]
WARNOCK [dropping the milk]: Jesus Christ!
APPARITION: Not quite. [The ghostly white features move closer] No use crying over it, though, eh?
APPARITION: Yes. It is me. Garry.
WARNOCK [looking around wildly]: How the hell did you get into my kitchen?
MONK: I go wherever I want, and nobody ever seems to stop me. I find it quite peculiar. Middlesbrough…Birmingham…Sheffield Wednesday…Sky…I have the ability to slither in without invitation and then hang around until the scales fall off people’s eyes and they see me for what I really am.
WARNOCK [composing himself]: So why are you in my house, Friar Took-all-the-money?
MONK: I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed watching the Rotherham game on Wednesday.
WARNOCK: I bloody didn’t. I had to fill the bench with kids. They had an average age of 11.
MONK: No, I didn’t enjoy watching Middlesbrough. I enjoyed watching Rotherham. I get a certain pleasure from watching teams getting relegated. I mean, I get a lot of pleasure. It gives me a semi-final feeling.
WARNOCK: Well, you certainly gave relegation a good go with my lot.
MONK: I did my best, but my plan didn’t work at Middlesbrough. I was hoping to bankrupt them, but Mr Gibson found a Post-It note with my calculations of how many strikers I needed to buy to guarantee liquidation. He made me leave before I could finish the job. I did hope Tony Bent would finish what I started, but he spent all the money on defenders so they ended up drawing every game 0-0. Even the village idiot couldn’t find his way to League One. And then you came along with your mid-table mediocrity. [Hisses] You hero.
WARNOCK: Hero? We’re tenth. And we’re bloody broke, thanks to you. I only found Watmore cos he was working in the local Sainsbury's garage when I went to fill up the Montego. His signing-on fee was a Big Mac meal cos he hadn’t eaten for three days.
MONK: You’re still not going to be relegated, though. Such a disappointment. But my greatest project is Sheffield Wednesday. I've really put them through it, haven't I? Oh, that's managers for you; they always know which buttons to press.
WARNOCK: The self-destruct one in your case. I still can’t believe what a shambles you made of that transfer kitty. I’m having to let Fletcher and Assombalonga leave for free cos we can’t afford to pay them any more. We've even prised all the 50p pieces out of the electricity meter, and it's still not enough.
MONK [runs his tongue over his teeth]: I did my best. In the end, I couldn’t get Boro relegated, but I sowed the seeds of the club's decline. They'd be established in the Premier League if I hadn't buggered up the finances so much. Which means you'd be a Premier League manager, instead of a Championship one again. It was all me, Neil. It’s always been me. The author of all your pain.
Scene 2: Int (Night)
[The Warnock marital bed. Mrs W is wearing a Bri-Nylon nightie and an eye mask, sitting up as her husband rolls around screaming]
MRS W [shaking Warnock awake]: Neil? Neil? Wake up!
WARNOCK [trembling]: Oh God, that was awful.
MRS W: The James Bond dream again?
WARNOCK: Yes. But this time, the baddy was a snake.
MRS W [calmly]: Oh, it was Monk this time, was it? You really need to stop eating Stilton before bed. You know it gives you nightmares.
WARNOCK [rubbing eyes]: I'll give you nightmares. Have you seen my injury list?
It’s a 3pm kick-off on Saturday, at ‘fortress’ Riverside.
We’re mired in mid-table mediocrity, but Wednesday may be about to follow Boro’s example of being relegated due to a points deduction. At least their descent will be less high-profile than their near neighbours United, who are about to follow Boro’s example of being relegated with less than 30 points.
View from the other side:
No MDT from the familiar-looking Owlstalk forum yet, but there is a thread called “Colin loves us really”, which is worth a read.
Questions for the audience:
1. Who makes your starting XI?
2. Given Connor Malley’s man-of-the-match debut, which other youngsters would you like to see in the squad/team?
3. If you could only choose one, would you prefer to see Wednesday or Derby go down?