Slaviša Jokanović signs...Mackan reacts

4:07 AM. 

The birds emerge from treetops hitherto unfelled by the council/Amey; they sing a shrill, optimistic song. Dawn brakes. If she hadn't, her car (and mine), a 2010 Nissan Cube, would have ploughed into an ambivalent fox whose dinner it valued more than its life. Dawn shot forward, protected by her seat belt, fleshy pockets of overweight and a puce scarf I bought her for her 46th birthday. The fox turned. Eyes met for a moment. And, according to Dawn's text, the fox smiled at her. 

This tale is significant for its timing, on the morning of Thursday, May 27 2021. The smiling fox anticipated a substantial development in the history of Sheffield United Football Club. For later that day, we made an appointment. Not me and Dawn to the marriage councillor, DEM and Blades to the hotseat. But who? A man, Slaviša Jokanović, who has more diacritical marks to his name than Nigel Adkins ever did. It was no mere happenstance. When I read Dawn's text as I woke at 8:03 AM, I knew there was meaning to her encounter with the fox. A sign. A symbol. A prediction?

I probed the matter on the internet. Googling terms with the pace and passion of Martyn Woolford: 'smiling fox meaning', 'meaning of smiling fox', 'what does a smiling fox mean', 'can you derive any symbolic meaning from a fox which smiles at a human'. Then I hit the search engine with Morganesque queries: 'smiling fox?'

The internet was found lacking, as it often is for questions beyond all but the most trifling things: tiramisus and the like. By now, it was 8:22 AM, and I thought on the matter over a coffee and six rich tea biscuits and a pink wafer.

I carried my ponderings with me to the shower. Thoughts slid through my brain in ways Adrian Littlejohn could never hope to. Vulpes. Fox. Smiling. Cunning. Craftiness. Smart. Teeth. Teeth!? I needed every single one of the 7,927 tingling mint leaves inside the reasonably priced 250ml bottle of Original Source shower gel* to invoke inspiration - and I got it!

Foxes have sharp teeth. Like Blades, you might say(?). Lips of vicious predatory instinct turned upwards into a smile and baring...blades - it all made sense. Let me show you my workings: fox/teeth to fox/blade to smile/blade to the answer...Happy Blades. But why happy?

A few hours later, I heard it on the radio and saw it on the Twitter: Slavisa Jokanovic named Sheffield United manager. I called Dawn and explained how her foxual encounter predicted the whole bloody thing, but she poured cold water over it. Not the fox. But freezing metaphorical water, dampening my imagination like an unrelenting adherence to 3-5-2. 

She told me that she never came close to hitting a fox in the Nissan Cube because she walked into work this morning, and the car should still be on the drive (which it was, in fairness). She also explained that the 'Fox' to whom she referred was the new branch manager, Ryan Fox, who had smiled at her after three full days of giving her the cold shoulder (again, metaphorical, not raw meat).

The meaning of the real smile, it turned out, was that Ryan Fox the new branch manager had been dressed-down by the boss who had said:

"You look like a panicked Kevin Blackwell, sort your face out or you can walk out."  To which Ryan Fox had responded with the wildly faked grin of any parent in a Giggs Family portrait. Anyway, there was no prediction, no real magic at work, although Dawn was. 

I'm afraid no real 'hot takes' in this first blog. Readers may be interested to note that 'Jokanović' roughly translates as Smiling Fox, they (you) may also be interested in my future 'Reactions' which will also appear on these pages. If like me you've read to the end of the blog, you're well within your rights to have lost interest all together. 

Go well. Steve Mackan. (Not me go well; you go well; from Steve Mackan). 


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