Musical Chairs–A Manchester United fiction

You will forgive my English, s’il vous plait? But I must tell you about this, how do you say?–strange?–oui, that is it–this strange dream that I had.

Perhaps it was the disappointment of watching mes frères lose the Euro, in the Stade de France, no less, and never being allowed to take the pitch. Porquoi, Didier, por quoi? Or maybe the jet lag and the food. The food is merde, what you call shit, in China.  Then, too, perhaps it is the wooden pillows the new boss says we must use. “To take us from our comfort zone,” he says. Mon dieu! Je ne sais quoi.

I am sorry. I forget to speak English when I am stressed. I spoke to Olivier. He says it is the same for him. But, I do not know why I dream the dream. Only that it comes to me every night, and it is terrible, the fright.

In the dream, I walk into a large room. All the lads are there. They are dressed oddly, however. They have the colors of United, as they should. But the kit looks like a–how do you say? Sailor?  Oui, a sailor’s shirt. It has the huge, square collar, oui, with the knotted kerchief.  And the boots. They do not have the boots, non. It is the saddle shoes they have, like in golf, non? Like little boys. As well, they all have the floppy beret with the pom-pom.

Only, Zlatan does not dress like the sailor. Or wear the little boy shoes. Or the pom-pom. He wears the proper kit. And the armband, to0. He says he will kick ass to anyone who tries to make him dress like the little boy. I do not have the balls to kick ass in the dream, though. So, I look the little boy also. You see? The dream, it is not good.

De Gea wears the little boy clothes, as well. He is not with the others, though. Non. He is in a corner, in a chair next to a boît à musique, you would say a music box. And his little boy outfit is always a different color. Tonight it is green. But it is never red. He is the keeper. So.

The boss is there, too. Mes oui. He is in the other corner, leaning against the wall. His hands are in his pockets, and he is watching. He always watches.

The other lads, they are in the middle of the room. They stand waiting around ten chairs.  When I join them, De Gea begins to turn the handle on the music box. The songs that it plays are all little boy songs. This time, it is Andy Pandy.

You do not know Andy Pandy? It goes, “da da dada da, da da dada, Andy Pandy has come out to play”… Merde. this is embarrassing. You get the idea, non? Ah, c’est bon!

While Andy Pandy plays, all the lads, and me, we skip around the chairs. All of us except Zlatan, who is already sitting in one chair, arms crossed, wearing a look that dares anyone to move him. His feet are on the other. A tag on the back says “Reserved for Pogba.” The rest of us skip to the music. “Andy Pandy has come out to play, da da dada da.” We skip, and the music plays. The music plays, and we skip.

But then, De Gea stops turning the handle, and the music is suddenly quiet. Everyone goes mad, trying to get one of the ten chairs. It is–how you say–mayhem. Some, like Marco Rojo, they pull a chair out from under another, and sit on it.  Luc Shaw did not like when Marco did that to him. He punched Marco in the face, and took his chair back. Zlatan cheered and clapped for Luc.

I do not have to punch anyone, though. Non. I am fast enough, and strong enough, to get a chair and keep it. I smile. I am happy I have my chair. But Carrick is standing there. He is angry I have the chair. He makes fists and stamps his feet. I stick my tongue out at him. He stamps his feet again, and looks to the boss.

José sighs, and shakes his head. He stops leaning on the wall in the corner, and comes over.

“Morgan,” he says.

“Oui, boss?” I say.

“Morgan, you must get up. You must let Michael have the chair.”

“Por quoi, boss?”

“Because he is the vice-captain.”

“But he is too slow, and not strong enough. I won the chair fairly. You said we would all have the chance to prove we deserve the chair, non?”

“Yes, Morgan. I did. And you have proven you deserve the chair.”


The boss sighs at me, and shakes his head. When he stops shaking his head he looks at me. His eyebrow is raised and he is smiling in that way that is not a smile. It is the way that says, “you do not understand.”

He is right. I do not understand. If I am better, should I not keep my chair?

Finally, he makes a gesture that says get up from the chair. He keeps making the gesture until I get up. When I do, Carrick slides into the chair, and sticks his tongue out at me.

Unhappy, I leave the room. When I go through the door, however, I am in another big room, and everyone is there. De Gea has his music box, but he is wearing yellow. The boss is in the corner, watching, hands in pockets. Zlatan already has his chair. The music starts and the rest of us skip around the chairs. This time it is “Mary had a little lamb, it’s fleece was white as snow…”

Ah, you know this one. Tres bien!

When the music stops, Marco does nothing. He has still has a black eye, so Luc takes his chair without a fight. I let Carrick have one, too, but am still fast and strong enough to get another. I am happy again. But now Basti is standing over me, having a tantrum. As before, I stick out my tongue. But when I do, the boss sighs, and comes away from the wall.

“Morgan,” he says, “What am I going to do with you?”

“Let me have the chair I won fairly?”

He sighs again, and makes the gesture to get up. Basti sticks his tongue out at me even before I stand and leave. Trying not to cry, I run out the door.

I am sure you have guessed that the door leads to another room just like the other two. But of course. It is almost exactly the same, except that De Gea is now wearing blue, and Basti and Carrick are in the corner with the boss, both wearing crutches. My hopes rise. Maybe now I will get to keep my chair!

The music plays “Jack and Jill,” but stops just before Jack breaks his crown. I win a chair. It is a wonderful feeling until I realize that Rooney is standing there looking at me.

“But the boss said you would never play midfield again!”

Rooney shakes his head and looks towards Mourinho. The bastard doesn’t even move from the wall. He just gives me the smile that isn’t a smile, takes a hand from one pocket and gestures to get up. When I do, I realize some of the lads have gone to one to the other corners. I don’t want to go through the door again. it is like banging my head on the wall. So, I go to see them.

Mata is there. Herrera, too. And Fellaini. They are all on their cells. Mata is the first to look up.

“I’m talking to Koemann,” he says, smiling. “He says there is room for both of us at Everton.”

Fellaini sees me, and waves me over, holding out his cell. “My old gaffer is at Sunderland, now. He wants me to join him. They wear red and white, just like you did at So’ton!” He is so excited that his hair bounces up and down as he talks. Ah, the Belgians are a funny people.

“I don’t know, Marouane,” I answer. “Shouldn’t I fight for my place?”

Mata snorts like champagne has just gone through his nose.

Herrera looks at me with pity. He holds out his phone for me. He’s been listening to music. It isn’t Andy Pandy, Mary Had a Little Lamb, or Jack and Jill. Non. It’s the Doors, and Jim Morrison–he is buried in Paris, of course–is singing. I like this song. It goes:




More Stories Ander Herrera andy pandy Bastian Schweinsteiger José Mourinho Juan Mata Luke Shaw Manchester United Marouane Fellaini Michael Carrick Morgan Schneiderlin surplus to requirements. Wayne Rooney Zlatan Ibrahimovic