x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Rory McIlroy: An agent of change

Rory McIlroy has gone from dumping his childhood sweetheart to ditching his management company, whom he wants 'to remain friends' with.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, standing with Stuart Cage, left, and his then agent Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler after winning the US Open. McIlroy fired Chandler recently but wants to 'remain friends' with him.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, standing with Stuart Cage, left, and his then agent Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler after winning the US Open. McIlroy fired Chandler recently but wants to 'remain friends' with him.

What a tumultuous year for Rory McIlroy's inner circle.

First, the golfing ace dumped his childhood sweetheart and began dating the tennis champ, Caroline Wozniacki. They must be serious because the romantic Ulsterman has already coined his own joint name for the pairing - "Wozilroy" - which is the 21st-century celebrity equivalent of an engagement notice in Variety.

Then, last month, he ditched his management company, headed by Andrew "Chubby" Chandler, citing vague reasons about fancying a change but wanting to "remain friends".

"It's the hardest conversation," McIlroy said this week, "to sit down with the person who has been there for you for the past 10 years and tell him that you want to change things."

Yes, I can imagine, although dumping your first love a few weeks earlier must have been good practice. In fact, you could probably use the same speech. Or at least try to, though something tells me it is easier to break a girl's heart than a sport agent's …

Scene: A young sports star sits opposite his agent at a bustling cafe (good choice, nice and public, to minimise chances of hysteria, like in Jerry Maguire).

Star: "Listen, we need to talk."

Agent: "Talk? Yes, talking is good. Communication is good. Telecommunication is even better. Nice market. You want me to get you another cellphone deal?"

"No, I mean we need to talk. You know, about us. About our business relationship."

"Oh, now I'm with you. Business relationships, is it? You're after the three Cs. Consultancy, conferencing, client support. Sharp as a tack you are, sonny Jim. Let me talk to some people, yeah?"

"No, you don't understand. I've been thinking …"

"Thinking, eh?! Smart move, kid. Thinking is big news right now. A lot of high-earners love to think, but tell me this: who is the AB1's thinking icon?"

"What? No …"

"You are, Einstein! You are the thinking man's thinking icon. Or you will be, once we have placed that beautiful, thoughtful face of yours on every e-reader in the developed world! I know a guy at Amazon, let me call him right now!"

"No, listen. You don't understand. I am not asking for another endorsement deal."

"So what kind of deal are you after? A book deal? But you've already done two autobiographies, and you're only 23. We normally like to leave at least two years between autobiographies, but I guess we can squeeze a few fresh chapters out of you, especially if you throw in some romance. Tell me, which is your favourite Pussycat Doll?"

"No, I don't want a book deal. This is not about money. It's about the bigger picture."

"So it's big pictures he likes! He wants to be the next OJ! Listen, kid, I've got seven words for you: Labor Day Weekend. Adam Sandler Buddy Movie. Hang on, is weekend one word or two?"

"Please, stop. I'm trying to be serious."

"Serious roles, huh? Well, I can talk to De Niro's people …"

"No, you're missing the point. I want to put some distance between us."

"You don't mean …"

"Yes, I'm afraid I do."

"But, why?"

"Because I feel trapped. I want to face new challenges, meet new people, taste new things. You will always be a special person in my life, but this is just something I really need to do. It's not you, it's me."

"OK, if this is really what you want, I'll make a few calls and get you on the next series of I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! But I'm gonna miss you when you're in that jungle, kid."



Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates 25 years at Manchester United this weekend – a remarkable achievement in any industry, never mind the shifting sands of football management.

The official party has already taken place, with around a thousand guests attending a black-tie gala dinner on Thursday.

How predictable. I cannot help thinking the club missed a trick by marking this incredible milestone in such humdrum fashion.

Imagine the fun they could have had with just a little more thought. Colour theme: Quarter centuries are usually called silver anniversaries, but my shindig would have a scarlet motif, to celebrate the annual reddening of Fergie’s face.

(Future celebrations will be colour-themed as follows: 30 = purple, 35 = puce, 40 = ask paint guys at Dulux to invent new shade.)

Catering: Slices of pizza, served in traditional fashion by members of the Arsenal and United squads of 2004. Plates not required, but protective goggles are advised.

Music: Kung Fu Fighting, Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Mama Said Knock You Out, plus others chosen by “DJ Eric”.

Dancing: A demonstration of “break dancing” by former Reds captain Roy Keane. Subject to availability of Alf-Inge Haaland.

Party games: Musical Chairs (ask other league managers to explain the rules to Fergie), Referee Pinata (like a traditional Mexican pinata, but with a cardboard effigy of Martin Atkinson to bash with sticks), Blind Man’s Buff (subject to availability of Arsene Wenger), Pin The Tail Or Other Sharp Implement to the Journalist, Pass The Tevez, and the Scouse Coconut Shy, in which the coconuts to be “knocked off their perch” all represent Liverpool.

Guest List: Ferguson’s friends, plus the Manchester United supporters who have backed him wholeheartedly since 1986.

Seating: A couple of dozen chairs should cover it (see Guest List).