Sebastian Larsson looked at his alarm clock. It hadn’t gone off yet, as he’d set it for 9am and it was only 8am, but he was frustrated anyway. He couldn’t understand it. He wanted to wake up at 8am and yet the clock was still waiting for the time that he’d programmed in. What was the point of an alarm clock, he thought to himself, if it wouldn’t do what he wanted it to do right now?
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Frustrated, he poured a big glug of oats into his pan, and took a spare milk bottle out of the freezer. He opened the bottle, and held it over the pan. He stared, miffed, at the bottle as nothing came out. He shook it, and nothing. He shook it again, still nothing. He decided to run a bath of hot water in the kitchen sink to defrost it.
It took two hours for the milk to defrost, and he was a bit hacked off by having to run up to his bedroom and turn off his alarm clock halfway through. But eventually the milk was usable and he managed to negotiate the instructions on the packet, fighting a temptation to see if it would be any better by chopping up some bacon bits to poach in the mixture. Larsson always felt that things were better when he took control, and he resented the constraints that The Man put on him.
Larsson heard the post come through the letterbox, so went to read the usual list of demands. HMRC wondered why he’d been paying tax at a completely different rate to one that he was obliged to.
The TV Licensing body had sent through another demand that he paid for having a television in his house. His bank manager was again sending a letter suggesting that he only write cheques for amounts that he actually had in his account and, no, this time he wouldn’t be able to rescind any charges. Why always me, Larsson said to himself? Why had the club not warned him about any of this?
With a game to play against Manchester United in the afternoon, Larsson needed to get to the stadium. Getting into his car, he blithely drove at 60mph, down the wrong side of the road. Every couple of miles he’d be pulled over by the plod, who wondered just what he was doing by breaking the law so flagrantly.
He would do the exact same thing in reaction each time, screaming that he was entirely innocent and wondering why he was being persecuted. Because of his fame, the police would readily let him go, only for him to be caught, again, and again, and again. He couldn’t understand why, having made his case the first time, he couldn’t keep forcing other cards to swerve out of his way. He’d always done it this way, and he wasn’t about to stop now.
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Larsson readied himself for the match, putting on Jermain Defoe’s boots, again, wondering why it was that doing it annoyed his teammates so much. Defoe was used to it, so much so that he and most of the Sunderland players took their own spare boots just in case Larsson took theirs before the game. He had to be told in no uncertain terms to wear his own kit, but eventually he listened. And after 20 minutes heated debate with David Moyes, he agreed that he’d be in midfield, not in goal as he wanted. He was fired up, but he wanted to be in control.
Sunderland were a goal down, when a lightbulb dinged in Larsson’s head. The crowd and his side needed to be fired up. A tough tackle, that could reassert control in midfield. In his head, he considered the options available, and then he saw Ander Herrera:
““I’ve waited long enough. I’ll ****ing hit him hard. The ball is there (I think). Take that.”
He looked up. While Herrera was down on the ground clutching his leg, the United players were crowding around him, calling him all sorts, like EFF and CEE. The away fans were chanting for a red. The referee, eventually, sent him off, telling him his reckless foul on Herrera merited a red card and that he had to leave the pitch.
He argued, he argued that he’d not done anything wrong, that he’d barely touched him and that it was a yellow at most. The rest of the Sunderland players crowded the referee, reluctantly having come to defend him, yet again. They knew that this was coming, there was always something with him.
Larsson walked off, and saw the fourth official. How dare they, he asked him, send me off for that? The fourth official just walked away after a few seconds, there wasn’t any point reasoning with him.
Later that night, as Larsson was out for dinner to cheer himself up, he was presented with the bill. He looked at the waiter and said, “What? You’re saying that if I order food I have to pay for it? How long has this been going on?”