In fact, it was one reason Twain bought him—Ibišević was not the kind of player who would spoil the atmosphere in the locker room. On the contrary, he had a significant role to play in the team's cohesion. When Ibišević was at Hoffenheim, he did not play in the main force. Yet he provided substantial assistance to his two direct rivals, Obasi, and Demba Ba, with their assimilation into life in Germany. His selfless help kept him on the team even though he only scored five goals within thirty-five appearances in his first season at Hoffenheim.
Now his strong point was further developed at Nottingham Forest, where the atmosphere was better. Twain also hoped that the team's number of amusing people would increase. Having solved the problem of Ibišević, Twain now had to consider how to solve Matías Fernández's problem. It was more troubling than Ibišević's problem.
First, Fernández's English was improving at a slow pace. Habitually silent, he was more like an invisible man in the team's locker room. He did not have an introverted personality. It was because he could not understand nor speak English, so he kept quiet and never participated in the conversations with his teammates. This gave the impression that he was "awfully unsociable" and "not easy to get along with." His teammates also distanced themselves from him intentionally or unintentionally. This also led to his alienation by the team on the pitch.
Twain felt that if he still did not solve the problem, Fernández might seriously consider whether his move to England was appropriate. Perhaps he would think carefully and realize that Britain had neither the delicious Spanish cuisine, nor Spain's blue skies, white clouds, and sunshine, and decided that he must have transferred to Nottingham Forest on a momentary impulse. Thus, he was probably busy figuring out how to escape from this perennially overcast and rainy country. That would not do. Twain did not buy him just to send him away again.
However, even a simple conversation needed to be done through a translator due to the language barrier. The result might not be as good as that of Ibišević. The more important reason was that he could not rely on a conversation every time to solve the problem. After all, not every issue could be resolved by talking alone. So, he had to think of another way.
After his additional practice with shooting accompanied by Twain, George Wood marched back to the locker room. He was currently covered in sweat and just wanted to take a shower, change his clothes, and go home to be with his mother. When he walked to the locker room door, he found the team's manager, Tony Twain, standing there as he smiled and waved. "Hey, George! I'm so glad to see you!"
"You see me every day." As soon as Wood saw Twain smiling so brightly, he knew it was not a good thing and became wary.
"Haha!" Twain touched his nose and gave two dry laughs. "Then... When's your birthday?"
"April 1st. Don't you know?"
"Er..." Twain knew. How could he not remember his favorite disciple's birthday? Not to mention that the date was easy to remember—April Fool's Day! However, he had a request. "Can I ask you to have another birthday right now?"
Wood widened his eyes since he heard something strange. "My birthday is already over this year. My mother gave me..."
"I know, I know." Twain bobbed his head repeatedly. "In truth, I just want you to convene everyone and gather your teammates to your house for a small dinner party..." He rubbed his hands together and smiled more brightly. "You can drink and eat meat, but don't look for prostitutes. You all can bring wives and girlfriends along... I allow you guys to party till twelve-thirty at the latest. I'll agree to you guys collectively coming in late an hour for the next day's training. What do you think?"
Wood no longer viewed Twain as a human being. He looked at his boss as if he was an alien. "Don't look at me with that expression..." Twain shook his head. "Fine, I'll tell you the truth. Don't you think Matías's condition isn't right all along?"
"The Chilean?" Wood thought carefully and shook his head. He did not believe there was anything wrong with Fernández. "That's because you don't know what he used to be like," Twain explained. "He's not always so gloomy. He can also be very sociable and cheerful, but we have to create the conditions for him. I think it's a good idea to get everyone together to hang out. You're the team captain. The team captain's job isn't just about leading your teammates in the games, George."
Wood thought it over seriously and then frowned as he said. "But my birthday is over, and they all know it. That won't fool anyone." What he said was true. Only a few people should know the truth about the party. It would be difficult to explain why the team captain's birthday was moved to September 19th, whereas everyone knew Matías Fernández's problem.
He could not let Matías know what he was doing. He did not want to put any more pressure on the Chilean. He wanted Fernández to think it was just a party and gradually took the first steps to have a good time with his unfamiliar teammates. Everyone would accept him enthusiastically. After this, he would realize that the team was so lovely and enjoyable that the bad weather and food in England did not matter at all! He would love Nottingham Forest, he would like the grass and trees here, and he would pledge his allegiance...
However, it was no longer feasible to use George Wood's birthday as an approach. So, what excuse could he use? The two men were in deep contemplation at the entrance of the locker room.
"What are you doing?" When Dunn did not see Twain in his office, he went to the parking lot only to find his car still there. Dunn went looking to the locker room, only to find the man he was looking for, standing outside the locker room with George Wood. "Ah, it's like this..." Twain told Dunn about it in detail when he saw his partner here.
Dunn felt it was odd and said. "What's there to worry? Did George not just renew his contract with the club?" With that, Twain understood. "Ha, that's a good idea!" He rubbed his hands and laughed. "George, use this pretext and call everyone together for a lively party!"
Wood had no objections. Although he felt that just because he had renewed his contract, he would have a big party to celebrate was a little... overboard; it was much more reasonable than postponing his twenty-fourth birthday celebration to September 22nd or having his twenty-fifth birthday early.
September 22nd was the date Twain chose. It was midweek, with neither a Champions League group stage game nor the league tournament to deal with. It was an excellent time to relax. Also, thank heavens; it had been a clear day from the morning to the evening. "The weather forecast says it won't rain tonight." When Twain said to Dunn sitting beside him in the car, a sense of relief could be felt.
Dunn frowned and said, "Why are we going to their party? What's more, you said during the day that you wouldn't go to the party, just so that everyone can relax and hang out..."
George Wood announced the decision to hold a party in the back garden of his home the day before, hoping everyone would come. Eastwood initially heard it was Wood's private party and wanted to refuse. However, Bale and Lennon joined forces to persuade him to go, and he decided that though it was alright to reject Wood, it would be difficult to ignore his entire team—almost everyone was going.
At this time, according to the written "script," Wood falsely invited Twain, Dunn, and Kerslake to participate. The straightforward Kerslake was so delighted that he would say yes. Dunn suddenly coughed next to him and interrupted his attempt to speak. Then Twain immediately did not give Kerslake time to react and took over to "tactfully decline" Wood's invitation, quick as lightning. He said that as coaches, appearing on such an occasion would make everyone uncomfortable, so they would not go! Everyone could rest assured, just hang out, and have a good time to their hearts' content! It would allow everyone to be late by an hour for tomorrow's training!
The players cheered when they heard that Twain said they could be an hour late for the next day's training session. The matter was settled, and everyone was happy. Only Kerslake pursed his lips at the side, looking a little frustrated—he wanted to go, but no one cared about how he felt. So, in this way, the entire Nottingham Forest team went home to change after training and then went to George Wood's home to gather.
Twain's white jeep was parked in a dark corner where the streetlights could not shine upon so as not to attract anyone's attention. Nottingham Forest's number one and number two figures sat in the dark car at the moment. "Idiot, I said that we will not sound good if we said we would come. But if I don't come, why would I try so hard to organize this event for them?" Twain refuted Dunn's ignorance.
"You can hear about Wood's and the other players' reactions to the party tomorrow." Dunn rejected Twain's statement.
"As the saying goes, take what you hear to be false, only seeing is believing." Twain wagged his finger, then opened the car door, picked up a black backpack from the back seat, and beckoned to Dunn. Dunn helplessly got out of the car and followed. What he could not understand the most was why he had to be here for such a matter?
"I found them a South American band and then have them sing a song called 'El Cóndor Pasa!' The original, not Paul Simon's English adaptation! It will stir up Matías's emotions and make sure he can find the sounds of his country in faraway England!" On the way to Wood's house, Twain excitedly told Dunn about his "clever arrangements."
"But it's a Peruvian folk song, not a Chilean one." Dunn poured cold water on him instead.
"Peru?" Twain was a little surprised. He really did not realize, but... "Never mind! Isn't Peru and Chile next to each other? It's all the same! South Americans are good at singing and dancing. I believe that with wine and music, Matías's mood can be lifted. Chinese people place importance on that things are easier to handle with drinking. This is a universally applicable truth! Ha!" Twain laughed proudly. Dunn had little interest in his enlightening remarks, so he kept his head down and walked without saying a thing.
Since they had said that the coaches would not attend the party, Twain and Dunn obviously could not press the doorbell at the door and just walk in. To be clear, Twain and Dunn were here to take a peek this time secretly. It was also possible to understand why Dunn was so disgusted with the matter... He felt like a voyeur.
Twain and Dunn were familiar with the surroundings of Wood's house. They came here at least once a year. Initially, the mother and son lived in the apartment rented by the club. Wood later moved houses again, still not far from Wilford, but the environment was better—standalone house with its own courtyard and undisturbed. It was close to the River Trent: the air was fresh and greenery, perfect for Sophia to nurse her health.
There were many big trees around Wood's house, some of which were outside the back garden of his house. The lush branches reached into the garden, leaving a shade that allowed people to cool down below in the summer. The destination of Twain's trip was among the stout trees.
Twain led the wordless Dunn to circle outside the yard before he finally locked onto his target. However, when he looked up, he discovered a person lying above in the darkness! The discovery startled him. After he could see who it was, he barked in a low voice. "You think you're James Bond, Mr. Brosnan?"
Pierce Brosnan was so alarmed that he nearly fell from the tree. He turned his head to look below, just in time to lock eyes with Twain. "Get down!" Twain pointed firmly at his feet. "Otherwise I'll call the police, Mr. Reporter!"
Brosnan could only admit his bad luck for having bumped into Tony Twain. He scowled as he climbed down from the tree while he defended himself. "I've just gone up. I did not see anything..."
"Why are you here?" Twain did not listen to his excuse. "I heard that the Forest team is having a private party, but the media did not know beforehand. I thought there might be some potential news..." Brosnan said with his head bowed, feeling somewhat aggrieved.
"What a good and professional reporter." Twain laughed and said. "But who did you hear the news from?" Brosnan clammed up and shook his head.
"You're surprisingly loyal!" If Twain knew who had told Brosnan the news, he would not have fired the man, but a rebuke would have been inevitable. For his own sake and that of the "informant," Brosnan chose to be silent.
Twain no longer cared about Brosnan or who had given Brosnan the news. Anyway, everyone knew that Brosnan was the team's "designated reporter." So, it was also innocuous that some harmless "inside information" was revealed to him. He began to carry his backpack on his back and did some warm-up exercises.
"But Mr. Twain... And Mr. Dunn, why are you here?" At this point, Brosnan realized something was wrong—he met the team's top two people outside Wood's house at the same time. Twain first spat into his open palms before he replied, "None of your damn business!" Having said that, he ran up to climb the tree...
Then Brosnan stared agape at Twain agilely climbed up the tree using his hands and feet before he laid on the branch that he had just rested on. After he settled his position, he waved to Dunn below and said. "This is a good spot, Dunn. The view is great."
Dunn crossed his arms in front of his chest and stood in place while he refused Twain's enthusiastic invitation. "I don't want to." Twain shrugged from the tree and stopped urging. Instead, he pulled out a thing from his backpack to put it in front of his face. Under the dense cover of the branches in the night, Brosnan could not see clearly, but judging by Twain's gesture and where that thing was placed, it should be a pair of binoculars...
"They did not hire prostitutes. All the women are their girlfriends or wives..." Brosnan felt the need to speak in fairness to the team's players. Looking at the situation, Twain intended to follow Ferguson's lead and catch them in action. He was currently gathering evidence. "Shut up! Come up if you want to see!" Twain's eyes did not leave the binoculars.
Under the fairy lights, like the many stars in the sky, in the spacious garden surrounded an open-air swimming pool, a lively party was gradually formed. The guests were all having fun chatting and dining. A wooden platform was set up in the corner near the house where a well-dressed South American style band of musicians sang to add to the fun. Twain scanned the crowd and found his target.
Matías Fernández was interested in the South American-style band, standing in a daze with a wineglass. Because of the distance and the noise from the people, Twain could not hear what they were singing, but he was satisfied with Fernández's interest in it.
Liu Bang used the songs of Chu everywhere to demoralize Xiang Yu the Conqueror's army, while Twain used their strategies to help Fernández find a familiar voice in far-flung Britain. But Fernández did not appreciate the Peruvian folk song for long. Twain saw that George Wood walked over to talk to Fernández.
Are they communicating with words? Twain was quite surprised. They seemed to be able to communicate in Spanish and Portuguese barely... Through the binoculars from the tree, Twain admired with great interest as George Wood, a man who was not good with words, chatted with Fernández—both used a lot of body language, and probably half of which was through guessing and the other half through words. They were able to talk for a few minutes, which Twain had to hand it to George.
After a moment of talking, Fernández had already turned around and walked with Wood to the crowd. Twain knew the matter was basically a success, but he was in no hurry to come down. He continued watching.
Surrounded by his teammates, Fernández was busy greeting the women, and more smiles appeared on his face as the wine in his glass lessened. In the end, all red-faced and smiles, he jumped on the stage, grabbed the microphone from the band's lead singer and sang!
Twain saw the scene and laughed in the tree, which almost caused him to fall from above. Seeing this, he could finally put his at ease completely. He slipped off from the top.
Dunn was still standing below waiting for him, while Brosnan, lying on another branch, came down when he saw Twain slip down. In fact, he did not know what was going on—it looked like George's party was normal. They did not spend tens of thousands of pounds hiring countless prostitutes to come here for his teammates to have threesomes and orgies. The atmosphere was lively but not chaotic. Everyone played some games to help liven things up, but they were football-related, such as who could kick the football to a target. They took bets, but only small wagers. Twain would not object. To his bewilderment, when Fernández ran up to sing, Twain suddenly laughed.
He really could not understand what the man was thinking. Just as he was confused, Twain had already walked over and patted him on the shoulder. "Mr. Bond, you came here at the right time. You're lucky enough to obtain exclusive information that no other press can get—I'll allow you to write what you saw tonight and send it to the newspaper, though, don't write about what Dunn and I did here."
Brosnan did not expect this gift to fall from the sky. He hurriedly nodded. "I know what to write and what not to write, Tony. But can you tell me why..."
"I don't think it'll take you long to find out, Mr. Reporter. If you have confidence in your IQ, you may as well guess, haha!" He patted Brosnan and called Dunn so they could leave. Pierce Brosnan scratched his head and then glanced with a frown toward George Wood's yard, where the lights were bright, and the party was in full swing.
"Hey, Dunn. I did not think the Chilean can sing. It was a big loss that you did not go up to see this scene!" On the way back to the spot where their car was parked, Twain recounted with delight to Dunn all the interesting things he saw. "He was holding the microphone like a mic hog in a KTV! I never knew he has musical talent..."
"I take it that things are going well?"
"Ah, very well. I really want to hear Matías sing... No, I must let him sing… in the locker room..."
"Actually, this has nothing to do with me. Why do I have to come?" Dunn still brooded over Twain's initial shameless insistence that he must come.
"You were the one who didn't want to climb up to watch the show. You would have something to do if you had climbed up too. Of course, you made a wasted trip since you did not go up." Twain blamed Dunn.
"I didn't want to be like the paparazzi. This is not the way a coach does things..." Dunn said with a frown.
Twain sneered at the claim. He made a face. "What is supposed to the way a coach does things? As long as we achieve the goal, we must explore every option."
"I think there should at least be some dignity… Climbing a tree to peep is not a good idea. It would be damaging to your image if they caught you."
"I'm very dignified in front of them. However, sometimes you need to deploy some schemes to help you shape the 'dignified' coach image, Dunn." Twain began to teach Dunn his insights as a manager all these years—the key was on the word "pretend!"
"As long as Brosnan doesn't talk, no one will know that we're here tonight to sneak a peek. I'll pretend to ask George tomorrow how the party is, and I'll pretend to be interested in whatever they talk about... As long as we achieve our goal, it doesn't matter how we do it. If Matías fits in with the team because of this, then it doesn't matter if I act like the paparazzi tonight."
Dunn found out that he could not argue with Twain, because it was the truth—as long as Brosnan did not reveal it, no one would know what they did tonight. Moreover, Brosnan certainly would not spill the beans. His integrity could be seen from his refusal to sell out his informant who gave him the inside intelligence. Furthermore, if the matter were to be leaked, Twain would know one hundred percent for sure it was Brosnan who leaked it. There was no need to point out what would happen to the person if they angered the King of Wilford...
Although Dunn felt that doing so smacked of deception, there seemed to be no other way. Twain laughed. "Dunn, it's exciting to be a manager. Don't look so serious all the time. A serious look doesn't mean that you are very professional and dignified. It can only alienate others. Look at me! I think tonight's event was quite fun. Just take it we came out to relax for a night. No big deal!"
He opened the car door to the side of the front passenger's seat. "Come, I'll take you home!" Dunn muttered. "You are always right!" Then he got into the car.
"Ha, you're absolutely correct in saying that!" Twain shamelessly took this as a compliment and laughed with delight. He had a great night, and his mood was excellent too. Dunn just added the icing on the cake.