‘Cause you do... Oh you - you use your heart as a weapon. And it hurts like heaven...
Chris Martin’s energetic lyrics rung out as I drove back to my flat after today’s training. The team was performing brilliantly, they hadn’t lost a game in a month and a half, scoring 14 goals in 4 games, including a 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa at Villa Park. I pulled up in the drive of my house – and something didn’t seem right. Alice was always home when I came back from training, she’d even said when I left she would be home today. As I stood thinking in the hall, my mobile buzzed. I flicked open the handset.
“Dan? Its Mark.” Mark Lyons was Alice’s brother. He sounded panicked and close to tears, which if you saw the size of the man, you would have thought next to impossible.
“Yeah, what’s up with you mate, you sound shaken?” I had a bad feeling. I could almost sense the news coming.
“It’s Alice. She’s been in a car accident, head-on collision. Just get to Royal Salford, now.”
“How is she?”
“Not looking good. You’re supposed to be her fucking fiancée, get here!”
Fucking hell. I had sworn to myself never to step foot in that place again. One last thing worried me though.
“Mark, what about the baby?”
A silence answered me.
“Mark. Tell me. Now.” I feared the worst. People don’t pause like that if it is good news.
“Sorry mate.” And with that he ended the call.
I sprinted back out the door and drove as fast as I could to the hospital. Please, God no. I thought to myself. As I passed into the whitewashed halls of RSH I almost ran at the receptionist.
“Alice Lyons, where is she?” I demanded.
“Intensive Care Unit, Room 4C”
“Mr Newton?” A doctor in a white coat approached me. “Come with me.”
“How is she?” I needed to know.
“In a coma at the moment. She’ll come through though. There doesn’t appear to be any major damage.”
“And the baby?” The doc turned with a sombre look on his face. He paused before continuing.
“Please take a seat, Mr Newton.” As I sat down the doctor continued. “Breaking this is never easy. Miss Lyons was in a very critical condition when she was brought in. In order to save her life, we had to put her into a medically-induced coma. Unfortunately, she lost the baby. You have to understand, Mr Newton, both would have died if we hadn’t.”
I just stared at the floor in shock. “What about the other driver? Will the police charge them?” I asked.
“The other driver was killed instantly.” He said, matter-of-factly.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Mr Newton. Follow me to the ward, please. I understand you’d like to be at your fiancée’s bedside.”
The doctor offered a hand up. I just sat there, still in shock. I just couldn’t take it in.
Chapter 17: 3rd November, 2011 Salford, Manchester
“Still quiet on the whereabouts of United manager Danny Newton, after not appearing for the fourth game running...”
I sat in my flat, watching the TV with Alice. She’d only been released from hospital a couple of nights before. She seemed lively - as lively as a woman who’d just lost her unborn child could be – as she turned to me and said, “Dan, just go back, for my sake”
I sighed. “There’s an international break now, at least I can keep it quiet. I’ll go back in at the end of the week.”
It was easy enough to tell her that, but deep down I knew I would have to drag myself back to Old Trafford. Get a fucking grip on yourself! A small voice in my head said. You are the manager of Manchester United! A job that people would kill for, you included!
I turned back to Alice. “Actually, I’ll go back in tomorrow, explain why I wasn’t there. Gill will understand, surely.” She smiled at me and thanked me with a hug.
The next day I walked to Old Trafford and straight up to Gill’s office. Knocking, I heard a stiff reply of “Come in” followed by a look that quickly turned to anger as he saw me.
“And where the fuck have you been, sonny!” He looked ready to pull the trigger as he snapped at me.
I snarled back at him. “I’ve been with my fiancée after a car accident left her in a coma. Boss.” I added in with added sarcasm, and as his anger drained away I also said “In which we lost our unborn son”
Gill instantly looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, no-one here knew. For all we knew you could have been dead. Or worse, lining up the Liverpool job. Want a drink? There’s no training today -”
“I know, international break. One thing though boss.” I interrupted.
“No press conferences for my return. I don’t want any media quizzing me about this rather... personal time in my life.”
“That can be arranged sonny. Some of the players who aren’t on ‘duty’ with their countries are down at Carrington if you want to go. I imagine they’d like to know you’re back.”
I thanked Gill for his time and understanding, a good job, saying that if he hadn’t, I would have offered my resignation, and headed off to Carrington. Back into the grind – 4 wins on the trot when I was off meant we sat comfortably top of both the CL group and the Premier League, including wins over Spurs, Arsenal and Leverkusen. Next up after the break was a nice run of relegation threatened teams, playing Swansea, Norwich and Wolves, before 2 hard games at Napoli and Chelsea.