Football manager Charlie Gordon is struggling with one defeat after another at the club he loves. Only a decent Cup run is keeping him in work, but tensions are running close to the surface ahead of the next round: Chelsea away.
Footballers fall into two categories: artists or assassins. Soon Charlie is going to find out which players can deliver - and just how much pressure they can all stand.
Meanwhile, as the country prepares for a general election, one of the most dangerous political assassinations in the IRA's history is being planned in London. An active service unit await the critical signal to proceed...
Both sides will converge on the capital for a result that will shake everyone's lives, with consequences far beyond football.
Alastair Campbell is a former journalist turned strategist and spokesman for Tony Blair and New Labour. He is now a writer, consultant strategist and mental health campaigner. Paul Fletcher enjoyed a sixteen-year career as a professional footballer. He is now one of Europe's leading stadium experts, joining a rare breed of ex-professional footballers who have successfully made the transition from 'team sheet to balance sheet'. He was awarded the MBE for services to football in the 2007 New Year's Honours list. He lives with his wife and family in Lancashire.