6.45am Owen woke up at 6.45 and went down to breakfast. He had the same as he always did. Three Weetabix with water. He felt that milk was a little too exuberant a way to start the morning, and so kept things plain and sober. After all, he had more than enough excitement ahead of him today.
7.15am The day before a game, Michael Owen like to get through his most important tasks of the week so as to be completely relaxed before his research. The things that have either been worrying him the most, or have caused him the most excitement, are dealt with so that he can be completely clear-headed. Owen is a professional, and approaches his punditry work with the same fervour he approach his football career. Whether it was Stoke, Manchester United or Newcastle, the clubs all got the same level of performance from him. He took out his to-do list, and began the day's task of knocking off an exercise one by one.
9.30am The big one had to be tackled first. The one that was simply too much to put off for much longer. Owen had been putting off this task, not because he hated it or the idea of it, but because for him, the pleasure was in the anticipation. He could think of no other chore that would give him the satisfaction of this. It had been at the back of, and sometimes the very forefront, of his mind for much of the week, and it would not be delayed for a minute longer.
9.32am Out came his sewing kit. He opened up his laptop, and opened the right spreadsheet. He took the Amazon parcel out from under his bed and placed it on the floor beside him, where he knelt. He opened the bottom drawer of his bedroom chest of draws.
9.40am One by one, with the utmost care, Owen examined each of his pairs of socks. He had a checklist to go through. On a prepared, laminated, double-sided A3 paper, he checked the heels against the photographs to see how degraded the fabric was. At a certain level of opacity - gauged first by the picture chart and then under a specially ordered lamp - pairs of socks would be retired. Two pairs failed to make the grade, and were neatly placed in the bin.
9.56am Owen opened the parcel and carefully took two pairs of new socks from out of the wrapping. He ironed the four socks gingerly, and then sewed a label into each sock. The label had the date of purchase, the date they were introduced to his wardrobe rotation, and to which pair they belonged. This way, Owen could be absolutely sure that each pair was worn the same number of days as any other, until it was retired. Owen had considered measuring the socks usage by hour, but decided such a thing would be an utterly ludicrous waste of time.
10.22am He noticed that the heavy rain from outside had subsided. Pleased that would mean he would be able to visit the stables later to cut the length of his horse's mane hairs to exactly the same length, he allowed himself a little treat. Picking two raindrops in similar positions on the window, he placed a bit with himself about which raindrop would hit the bottom of the window pane first. His heart was pounding with excitement.
11.54am Neither drop had moved a millimeter. The tension was close to palpable, and closer still to unbearable.
1.32pm No movement yet. Ironically, Owen said to himself, a bead of sweat had formed on his head due to the excitement of it all, and had already run to his left eyebrow. He chortled at the sheer, sheer irony, and remembered to amuse Trevor Francis with the story when he saw him in the studio on Saturday.
3.44pm The left raindrop won. Unfortunately for Owen he had long since forgotten which drop he had bet on winning, and had to repeat the process with two new drops.
3.45pm Waiting again.
4.59pm Still waiting.
5.42pm Before the drops could move enough to hit the bottom of the pane, the sun came out and evaporated them both. Owen decided that it was a tie, and that he should get on with the rest of his day, after he had another snack of Weetabix and sorted out his grocery shopping for the week. First, he had to consult which branded and non-branded products were, on aggregate, the cheapest from each shop, and if it was worth ordering from more than one place to secure the greatest savings.
7.30pm Owen sat down to prepare for the game but deep down he knew it wasn't going to happen. He was already over-excited. He looked at the chalkboards on his iPad, at the stats on his spreadsheets, and the handwritten notes about the pros and cons of zonal marking, and it was just too much. He was overwhelmed. He would, he knew, be able to sufficiently prepare in the morning, and any deficiencies could be hidden behind his banter and exquisite riffing with Francis on co-comms, but he nonetheless cursed himself for indulging himself just a little bit too much the night before a game.