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Nottingham Forest seemed to have suddenly found their drive to move forward after the match against Arsenal. They achieved three wins and one draw in February, and they shot up to eighth place on the ranking table. They were just two places below sixth.

The team's results have gotten better, and one man's brain started becoming more and more active.

Evan Doughty would look at the calendar every single day to see what day it was and how many days were left until the end of the season. Twain said that he would quit after the season ended, and those words of his kept resounding in Doughty's mind. It was a well-known fact that Twain was going to retire at the end of the season. The press knew about it and so did the fans. He even repeated those words during the FIFA Football Awards ceremony that was held at the end of December last year. Twain was dead set on retiring once the season ended.

However, Evan Doughty was not willing to let Twain leave the club a second time. He once made a mistake in the past regarding this issue and he could not make the same mistake twice.

He wondered if Twain had changed his mind after two months.

Evan Doughty would head over to the Wilford training grounds every single day to observe Twain's behavior during the team's training sessions. He wanted to figure out what was on that man's mind.

This day, he saw Twain chatting happily with his colleagues and joking with his players. He even saw him put an arm around Bale and Wood and say something to them.

It looked like he was in a good mood and was enjoying his work.

Evan Doughty felt that the time was ripe.

  ※※※

"Hey, Tony. I heard that your wife's back." The players would gather around and have idle chat during the breaks in between their training sessions, and the coaches would do the same. After all, they were humans just like the players, and they too needed rest.

The coaches were even more gossipy than the players, and they were always able to get their hands on information quickly.

This was shown in how they were already asking Shania Twain's husband for more inside information even though the British tabloids had only reported news of Shania's arrival in England the day before.

Twain could do nothing about his gossipy colleagues.

"Yes, she returned yesterday."

A few of the coaches glanced at each other and laughed. "Looks like we're definitely going to win our next few matches! Haha!"

All the other coaches began laughing with them. This was a joke that was referring to a phenomenon that happened before Twain left Forest. The team had a tendency of performing consistently well every time Shania arrived in England back then.

Twain allowed his colleagues to laugh as much as they pleased. There was nothing for him to be unhappy about. To him, harmony in the team was the key to achieving good results. Why would he possibly say something that would ruin the harmony that they had now?


Twain walked back to his office alone after the training session was over. He was going to leave his notebook on the table and pick up his car keys before leaving for home. There might be a restaurant located on the training grounds, but he had no intention of dining there. After all, his dearest wife Shania had prepared lunch and was waiting for him at home. Not only that, the dishes that were served at the restaurant were mostly fit for athletes, and were not meant to be eaten by the average person. Twain was not an athlete, and there was no reason why he should eat a tasteless meal at the restaurant.

After entering his office, Twain placed his notebook on the table. He then took his car keys from the drawer and prepared to leave. However, just as he raised his head, he saw a figure standing at the door.

"Evan!" Twain said in surprise. "You scared me. You didn't make a sound while you were standing there. You're just like a ghost, do you know that?"

Evan Doughty laughed in embarrassment after seeing Twain's reaction. "I'm sorry. I saw that you were busy, so I didn't dare to call out to you. Are you preparing to head home?" He looked at the car keys that Twain held in his hand.

Twain noticed what Doughty was looking at. He dangled his car keys and said, "Yeah. Shania's waiting for me at home."

"Ah…" Doughty was a little disappointed. "Looks like now's not a good time to talk, then."

Twain found his comment to be odd, so he asked, "Is something the matter, Evan?"

"Uh…" Doughty hesitated for a moment but was not able to get the words out. "When would you be free? I'd like to speak to you about something privately, Tony."

Twain thought about his schedule for the next few days and said, "I'd have time this weekend, after the away game."

Doughty nodded. "I'll meet you this weekend then. Goodbye, Tony. I don't want to take up too much of your time, or else your wife would complain about me."

Doughty was well aware that Shania did not have a good impression of him.

Twain did not say anything else and only watched as the club's owner walked out of the room. The 60-year-old man before him seemed to have lost all his arrogance and tyranny from four years ago. He was just like any other aging man now. They could try all they want, but the relationship between the two of them would never revert to how it used to be in the past. How could anyone pretend that nothing ever happened when there was a visible crack on an originally smooth surface?

Doughty rarely joked with Twain now, and Twain would not go over to Doughty's office to have a chat with him either. They might appear to be close to each other on the surface, but one would still be able to tell that there was something different about their relationship if they paid attention to the fine details.

The difference in their relationship was not something that could be described in words. It was something one could only feel.

However, neither of them needed to be told that their relationship was not like it used to be. They both knew that very well.

  ※※※

Nottingham Forest faced Manchester City in an away game that weekend. Both sides played their strongest possible team for the match, and Forest managed to edge out City with the help of a controversial goal. The press that was associated with Manchester City all believed that the goal was an offside goal, and they could not stop babbling about it during the post-match press conference. Twain responded by pushing all the responsibility onto the shoulders of the referee for the match, "…I was not in a good position then, so I don't know what happened the moment Chen Jian passed the ball. However, since the referee has allowed the goal, I believe that the goal should stand… What is important is not the process, but the outcome. The outcome of the match is that we won, and I'm very happy about that."

The press could do nothing about the shameless Twain. They could only watch helplessly as he 'stole' what should have been their victory away from them. Of course, that did not stop them from deriding Twain in the papers, but Twain did not care what they said about him. He has been a manager for 15 years, and he has spent the past 15 years attacking and deriding the press, just like they attacked and derided him. He had grown utterly used to their attitude by now.

The highlight for this weekend was not the match against City, but rather what was going to happen in the hotel that the team stayed in following the match. Or, to be more precise, what was going to happen in Twain's hotel room.

This was a scene that both Twain and Doughty would find familiar. After all, it was similar to the scene that was played out four years ago in Twain's hotel room in Madrid. The main difference was that one of the main casts from back then was missing today, and the plot for the show was different as well.

If the show they acted in four and a half years ago was about politics and trickery, the show of today would be a tearjerker.

And the man who was acting as the miserable main character was Evan Doughty.

"Evan, you said you had something to speak to me about. Are you just here to persuade me to stay with Forest?" Twain sat at the edge of his hotel bed and stared at Evan Doughty, who sat on the sofa across of him.

"What else would I possibly want to speak to you about? Tony, do you still distrust me?"

Evan Doughty had a bitter expression on his face. He had just spent a lot of effort to express his desire for Twain to stay with Forest, but all Twain did was respond with a question. How could he not agonize over it?

It was true what people said. Some scars could never heal completely…

"Of course I trust you, Evan. If I didn't, I wouldn't have accepted your invitation to return to Forest as a manager," Twain said.

Twain's attitude only made Doughty even more uncertain about what was truly on his mind. To Doughty, Twain had said those words half-heartedly and did not really mean them.

Twain noticed the expression on Doughty's face and laughed wryly. "How do you want me to prove to you that I trust you? I really meant what I said…"

"Then stay at the club, Tony."

Evan Doughty gazed at Twain but was not able to discern anything from the latter's expression.

"That's impossible, Evan. I have a family, and my health doesn't allow me to continue working as a manager any longer," Twain shook his head and refused Doughty's plea.

"But… You haven't suffered any health problems for the past few months…"

Twain raised a hand and cut Doughty off. "I know my own body best, Evan. I feel like I don't have as much energy as I used to… Besides, are you saying that I only have a health problem if I pass out by the side of the pitch and get sent to the emergency room for 48 hours? You are my friend. I'm sure you don't want me and my family to go through that once again, right?"

Twain's words rendered Evan Doughty speechless. He had been so desperate to keep Twain at the club that he had not thought about how he should act as a friend. If he truly meant well for Twain, then he would always put his health first.

Neither of them spoke for a while. Evan Doughty had his head lowered and did not know what he should say. Twain, on the other hand, had averted his gaze towards the television. News of the match that just ended earlier between Forest and Manchester City was being broadcasted, and the focus of the news was naturally on whether Mitchell was offside when he scored the goal.

Twain had mentioned during the press conference that he did not see what had happened prior to the goal, and now he finally had the chance to take a good look at it. The news replayed the scenes before Mitchell scored the goal. Mitchell was positioned in a straight line with the Manchester City's defenders before kicking the ball. The camera then froze at the moment he kicked the ball, and Twain could clearly see that Mitchell's upper body was slightly further ahead than the defense line…

Strictly speaking, Mitchell was definitely in an offside position when he scored the goal. However, whether or not an offside was ultimately given was at the referee's discretion. If the referee thought that Mitchell's upper body being slightly further in front did not have any major bearing on the match, he could choose not to rule it as being offside. However, if he had gone by the book and ruled Mitchell as being offside, Twain would be the one defending his team at the post-match press conference.

The voice-overs in the news did not share Twain's opinion. They believed that Manchester City had lost the match due to the referee's poor decision, and they condemned the referee for it. Twain then cast a glance at the logo of the channel and realized that it was a local news channel. No wonder, he thought to himself.

Twain did not have any interest in listening to the rest of the news. He looked away from the television screen and at Doughty again. To his surprise, Doughty also had his eyes on the television and appeared to be lost in thought.

Twain contemplated for a moment. He then laughed and said, "Look at me now. I've really gotten on with age. I need the referee to help me win games these days."

Doughty shook his head after hearing Twain's words. "It's the referee's mistake. What does that have to do with you? We might not have had as much possession as Manchester City for the match, but we had more shots on goal, and we deserved to win. We were just unlucky with several of our shots. There were numerous times when we could have scored but didn't…"

Twain did not interrupt Doughty. The edge of his lips went up gradually without his knowledge as he quietly listened to Doughty speak.

Evan Doughty noticed the change in expression on Twain's face, and he realized that he had said too much. He immediately stopped talking and looked at Twain.

"Ha!" Twain laughed. "I just find all of it really interesting. You were once a man who could not differentiate between a 'coach' and a 'manager', but now you are able to make good analyses like that. We are always changing... Evan, I do not wish to continue working as a manager for another decade. I'm already 50 years old this year, and I have a heart problem as well. I will definitely die before Shania, so I want to make the most of the time I have left. I want to spend more time with my wife and Teresa… You are also a man of family. I'm sure you can understand how I feel."

Doughty nodded. He could not possibly shake his head, could he?

"But…" Doughty decided to fight back eventually because did not want to be so easily persuaded by Twain.

"I know that you are thinking about what's best for the club, and I mean it. I've always believed in you, Evan. However, I'm really not fit to work at Nottingham Forest any longer. We are all changing, and so is Nottingham Forest," Twain said. "There is no such thing as a club that will always win in this world, and there is no such thing as a team that will always become the champions. The clubs that have managed to create a dynasty in the past all had their ups and downs, and the same happened for Nottingham Forest…"

Twain became distracted as he spoke.

The days when Hebert Chapman led Arsenal on a rampage in England were too far away. Sir Matt Busby, the man who led Manchester United to their very first Champions League title, had passed away a long time ago. Bill Shankly, who has a deep, lasting influence on Liverpool, was nothing more than a name now. Brian Clough, the man who fought against Liverpool when they were at their strongest and the man who created 'England's Red Generation' alongside Liverpool was just a bronze statue that was situated in the Nottingham city center now. The all-powerful Ferguson, who dominated the Premier League ever since its inception, has become an elderly man who basked in the sun in his backyard every single day and who did not even watch his favorite horse races anymore. Arsene Wenger, the godfather of Arsenal who was also a legend of the sport like Ferguson, was already 70 years old this year, and his retirement was imminent…

Every single one of those glorious names would become buried in the sands of time someday, and their achievements would become nothing more than a memory. Twain believed that he, along with his Nottingham Forest team from four years ago, would be destined to a similar fate in a few years' time. It was just like how the children who were born these days would never truly appreciate the greatness of Michael Jackson. Similarly, the fans of Ronaldo would never know how great Maradona was, and the fans of Maradona would never know how great Pelé was because they had never had the chance to see him play football before their very eyes. Likewise, Pelé's fans would find Alfredo Di Stéfano foreign. Everything in life would have to come to an end someday. Twain had gone through so many things in his life up until now, and there was nothing he could not put behind him.

"I cannot stay in this managerial position forever, and I should not have to stay in it forever. What Nottingham Forest needs is a long-term plan that you will slowly execute over several years. However, I'm a man who is too eager to achieve success, and I also want instant gratification. A man like me is not suitable to lead Nottingham Forest into the future."

Doughty looked like he wanted to stop Twain from self-deprecation, but Twain quickly went on to say, "Do you still fail to understand, Evan? Why did Forest's results plummet the moment I left? Why did nothing change even after hiring numerous good managers? I don't wish for Nottingham Forest to become 'Tony Twain's Nottingham Forest'. We might have won countless trophies if I stayed as the manager, but we'd never become a truly strong team. Most people cannot live a hundred years, but many football teams in the world have been around for centuries. It's impossible for a team to be truly strong and powerful just by relying on the abilities of one person. Why is Liverpool considered a powerhouse team? They were nothing before Shankly, but what's important is that they managed to win five Champions League trophies after Shankly left."

Twain leaned forward and looked at Doughty.

"There are certain media outlets that have touted me as Nottingham Forest's Shankly. Do you know what was the best decision Shankly had made in his life?"

Twain smiled as he watched Doughty's expression change from confusion to realization and then to frustration.

"His decision to resign out of the blue and leave Liverpool forever."

Twain had heard about Shankly when he was just a regular football fan. He was also familiar with Shankly's successor, Bob Paisley. However, he could never understand why Shankly would choose to resign when he was doing a great job as Liverpool's manager. Given his success at the club, Shankly should have stayed as the manager and worked to achieve greater things with the club. For example, he could have led Liverpool to their first-ever Champions League title. Twain and many others believed that he was capable of achieving that if he had remained at the club.

Twain did not understand why he left back then, but he did now.

Twain's words stunned Evan Doughty, and his mouth dropped open. He then sat on the sofa in a daze and did not make a single sound for a long time.

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