The phone rings in Mike Charlesworth's office. As the chief executive of the Central Coast Mariners, he thinks it might be an important call. He lifts the receiver, and cops a deafening blast of Estuary English straight to the ear 'ole. "'Allo Mike, me ol' man," bellows Harry Redknapp, with all the affability of a man who's just punched a pub fruit machine and been rewarded with a handful of pound coins. "Howd'ya feel about givin' me the football consultant job at the Saath Coast Mariners? You'll have me? 'Triffic!" There is a husky cackle, and the line goes brown bread.
Mike Charlesworth is stunned. Mike Charlesworth isn't thinking straight. Mike Charlesworth is left alone with his muddled thoughts and – in his confusion – decides that appointing Harry Redknapp as a paid football consultant is actually quite a good idea. Harry has extensive contacts in the world of football – or the South Coast of England, anyway – and is famously diligent when it comes to the financial side of things.
Sure, he basically refuses to work with the media if he can't do it out of his car window. Yes, he can be an abrasive character at times. Okay, he's relatively gaffe-prone. But apart from all that, what could possibly go wrong?
The answer to that question is: well, several things. Though the process of hiring Harry as a 'football consultant' might have been a little more complex than we have imagined, the consequences have been predictably absurd. It was announced at the Mariners' end-of-season awards last week that Harry would be taking on a part-time advisory role with the side. In his capacity as CEO, Charlesworth said that he expected his new 'football consultant' to visit the A-League club on "at least two occasions during the season and hopefully more during the off season."
Unfortunately, Harry has just emphatically stamped that idea into the dirt.
Harry isn't keen on the idea of visiting Australia, see. He wants a job with an Australian football club, but he's not actually going to go all that way to do it. Asked about when he'd be visiting his new team on TalkSPORT, he replied: "I won't be going. It's a long way.
"Thirty-odd hours on a plane. I came home the other week and it took me a week to recover. It's a long way, but it's a fantastic country when you get there."
Harry likes Australia, don't get him wrong. He just flat-out refuses to go there, because it's a right ol' kerfuffle. You can picture Harry, chatting happily away on TalkSPORT, sipping a piña colada on a deck chair in Benidorm and thinking: "Na, this is quite far enough for me." Harry teeing off at his local driving range, being handed an ice-cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc by a dog-tired Spanish waiter and thinking: "This is the fackin' life." He's not going to go all the way to bloody Australia, not when he's in the lap o' luxury already. Sure, he'll take a job over there. But actually visit the place? Not on your nelly, son.
Not only has Harry said he won't visit Central Coast, he's also managed to get his new employers' name wrong. His brief as football consultant is to increase the side's international profile, so the fact that he can't even remember who he works for suggests he might not be the ideal man for the job. "It's the South Coast Mariners," he said, when asked about the name of his new club. "I met the owner, he's a great guy, an English guy. Peter Storrie's involved and they've got an English coach as well. They asked me if I would do a bit as an advisor."
There's other English people over there, see. English people do go there. Harry's not going to go there, obviously, because he's not completely out of his fackin' tree. But good luck to the rest of 'em – he wishes 'em well.
In essence, the Central Coast Mariners are paying Harry Redknapp to be an absentee father figure. Harry is the footballing equivalent of a Cockney dad who's gone off to early retirement in Marbella, taken his new twentysomething wife with him and now sporadically sends his grown-up kids a nudey postcard, telling them to send cash at Christmas. The only real difference between Redknapp and a retired Cockney dad is that he's getting paid for the pleasure. Fackin' 'triffic work, if you can get it.