8.05am Louis van Gaal jumped on his chair, searched for the clutch, brake and accelerator, and found his feet swishing through air. He then stuck forward his right hand to turn on the ignition, and found curiously little resistance to the movement. There was no revving, there was no mechanical or electrical white noise, and there was no vibration. In fact there was deadly silence in his living room.
8.07am He cursed the chair for not being able to perform as required, and rang up the council.
“It’s Mr Van Gaal here.”
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“I see, hello again. What is your furniture refusing to do adequately this time, sir?”
“How did you know it was me? Anyway, no time to get into details as I have to be at work soon. But between us, I am disappointed in the form of the chair, despite it being only my choice to buy it. It functions absolutely without merit as a car, and I therefore must banish it.”

An abandoned armchair

Image credit: Reuters

“See you Thursday, sir.”
“Do you not need me to give you my address?”
“No, but thank you. We’re there most weeks to collect something. Last week it was that your dishwasher had shrunk all your socks.”
“Ah yes, what a waste of money that was.”
8.22am Van Gaal looked at the car sitting in his drive, and a nagging thought crept up on him, as if there was something he was missing. As he walked confidently past his car and to the garage, he felt like something familiar was staring him in front of his face, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
He pressed the remote control to open the garage door, and hopped on his gleaming, expensive six-wheeled lawnmower. He flicked the ignition and pulled the choke, and started on his way down the drive in front of his house. Indicating with his left arm and pulling out into busy, honking and increasingly angry traffic, he merged with the procession of cars on their way to work. He waved a dismissive hand in the direction of angry toots and contorted faces. He watched as Manuel Pellegrini overtook him in his luxury four-door sedan, despite the fact that the Chilean was driving about 15mph and holding everyone else up behind him, too.
8.56am Van Gaal drove past a police car waiting in a partially hidden speed trap. It was hidden to most drivers, of course, because the speed at which they went past it didn’t give their eyes the chance to register the familiar silhouette of a police car when obscured by a few trees. Van Gaal, however, noted a good two minutes before he passed the car that it was there. He even waved at the two policemen in the car as he trundled by them at slightly-more-than walking speed.
8.57am The policemen exchanged glances that betrayed a mixture of incredulity and reluctance. Reluctance to deal with such an avoidable situation, and incredulity because they had to pull Van Gaal over each week for something like this. Last week, it was a toy’s tricycle, and before that he rode a zebra to work. Each time they asked him why he didn’t just take the car, and each time he pointed out that it broke down at the start of the season, and he believed that to be a form of betrayal.

Zebras stand in a row

Image credit: Reuters

8.58am The lights came on, the police car swung out on to the road to the relief of the two-mile long traffic jam behind Van Gaal. They indicated to Van Gaal to pull over. The Dutchman huffed and protested, so belligerently that it was almost audible over the engine noise and sirens. He pulled over on to a grass verge leaving a brilliant trail of just-cut grass behind him.
8.59am As the policeman exited their car, Van Gaal took from his manbag, slung around his shoulder, a notebook filled with scribbles. As the first policeman asked Van Gaal if he knew why he had been pulled over, Van Gaal was already showing him the instances in the past two weeks over when equipment had failed to perform as instructed. The car was in their, as was the chair, and the dishwasher. He had to explain this time that the lawnmower was acting as required, and in fact this fit with the time in the Netherlands, and also in Barcelona, where he had been the first person to use a lawnmower as a means of commuting transport, and people were still doing it there.
9.04am The second policeman asked Van Gaal if he would put the lawnmower in the back of the car, where the sniffer dog would normally be kept, or if he would be coming with them to the station to give a statement. Van Gaal, sensing an opportunity to save face, said that as he was a busy man, with an entire summer’s transfer and tour planning to be done yet, he would - this time - let them take him home to his car.
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