‘Many of you, I’m sure, don’t know me, but I’m here now and between us we’re going to steady this sinking ship, stabilise the club and move forward. How does that sound?’ Jock asked
‘Well, if it was me addressing new staff that report to me, I’d want to be less negative’ Rose replied
‘It’s not negative’
‘It is, the first thing you’re saying is you don’t know me, don’t is negative. If I was you I’d reinforce the positives, they might not know you, but don’t let them know that you know they don’t, remind them who you are’
‘That was a bit of a mouthful’ Jock said. He then considered it for a few moments, before adding ‘Lads, in Mexico they speak Spanish, I do not speak Spanish, not fluent anyway. But look at what we achieved in 2 years down there not speaking the same language. Now just think, we’re all here, we speak English and just think how well we’re all going to get along and what we can achieve here together. How’s that?’
‘Better’ Rose replied
The simple things is what set Jock’s Cancun side apart from the rest, so he told his team on the first morning of being in charge. ‘We didn’t try anything too fancy, we played simple balls between ourselves, and it helped we had 2 consistent finishers and an absolute beast at set pieces, but you get the idea’
He continued when the players acknowledged he spoke ‘No pratting around, this is a new start for all of us. Thankfully for you lot there’s no relegations from this league otherwise you’d all be in the lower leagues now. We’ll be going back to basics and playing with the same intensity and set up as my team did in Cancun’
Before he could assess the squad, Jock was approached by 2 men. 1 he recognised as Ryan Telfer, the clubs apparent best player, the other he’d not yet met
‘I’m Vashon, the club captain, and this..’ Vashon was cut off
‘Ryan, I’m not here to discuss pleasantries, I want out, and I need you to make it happen’
‘Ah, so you’re the top player here, the main guy, the big cheese’
‘Yeah, I’m the best this clubs got, and I’ve done all I can, I’m out of here’
‘If you’re shit hot why couldn’t you win a few more games? Who on Earth is going to want a star player that has shown as much desire as an empty can of Irn Bru? In fact don’t answer that, you can train and play with the reserves for all I care, I aren’t offering you out you’ll have to get your agent to sort that out. Vashon, as captain please see this reserve player back to the reserves locker room’
Telfer was officially moved and made a part of the Ottawa under 19’s squad following this impromptu meeting.
Discussing things in their first training session, Hoskins and Jock had already decided they’d be sticking to the rigid 4-4-2 set up that brought success to Cancun. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it were the words Hoskins used. Jock explained about the play maker in the middle, the threat from set pieces and the how the wide men would be key.
In a sort of dismissive way, Hoskins jokingly said ‘Why not sign that Uscanga guy, he’s not in the Cancun team is he’ and he wasn’t wrong. The new manager at Cancun, Hector Real, had the same problem Jock was going to have in terms of the age restrictions in the league, so Uscanga, one of Jocks main players missed out.
As well as that, Luis Alonso also went back to his parent club, so Jock made a couple of calls. First was to his old boss Jose Orantes at Cancun. It started off friendly enough, Jose congratulating Jock on his new position but he stopped short when Jock asked him about his replacement Hector. He asked about Uscanga’s availability, Jose replied saying he’s already on the transfer list at 31K and was expecting the bid from Ottawa as soon as Jock was confirmed as boss.
The next call was to Deportivo Toluca, who were Alonso’s club. He hadn’t made the squad in Liga MX and was in their reserve side. Less than 3 thousand US dollars is all it took to get Toluca to accept the bid. Why they couldn’t use his aerial ability Jock didn’t understand, but it would be to Ottawa’s gain.
Once the transfer window opened, Uscanga & Alonso were confirmed as Ottawa players, alongside backup center half Amir Soto (signed by the clubs director of football at the end of the previous season), as Jock looked to build his new team in the same mold that he built his old one
As the season runs from March – October in Canada, it meant that by the time Ottawa’s first league came around, two thirds of the season down in Mexico had been played before Jock had taken his first proper training session.
On the fourth of February news broke from Cancun that they’d sacked Jocks replacement Hector Real, after a disastrous run of form
‘I’m sorry Cory, I know you’ve trained well and you are quick, but like I said we’ve already decided on the starters and tactical direction. Obviously things change, but please accept that you’re a back up winger that can play as a forward’
‘What can I do to start games?’ Cory Bent asked
‘It’s up to you to change my mind. You know what you offer, you know what you’re good at, you need to show me why you should be in the team when you get the chance’ Jock replied
Cory Bent is a winger cum forward and this was his second season at the club, and Jock had told him he would be starting on the bench in the clubs first game of that season.
In Jocks debut match as Ottawa manager, a number of things occurred. Starting forward Durrans came off with a pulled hamstring in the 19th minute. Cory Bent then got his time to shine in front of the new manager, and didn’t disappoint.
Uscanga played a no look through ball that split the Forge FC defence apart. Bent timed the run to perfection, breaking the offside trap and slotting the ball in at far post
The Ottawa fans and anyone else connected with the club could be forgiven thinking this was as good as it was going to get. During the 24 loss season, they went ahead in 6 games, only to come out the losing side. This time it would be different, as once again Uscanga controlled the ball and played in a deftly weighted ball for Bent to again stroke in to the corner of the goal. Half time came and 2-0 was the score
‘Cory, that is exactly what I spoke about earlier. You’ve changed the game you really have. Paul (nodding toward Uscanga) I don’t need to tell you what I think of you or how well you’ve controlled this game. For the players that were here last season, forget all that has happened. We will not buckle, we will not lose this game!’
Forge FC came out swinging in the second half, but the back 4, for the first time in a long time looked solid and held their ground. Alonso clearing all long over the top balls, as well as not getting beaten at any of Forges 9 corners. Vashon Neufville (great name!) was solid at left full back as was his counter part on the right hand side Zach Verhoven. Ottawa saw out the second half and secured a well deserved 2-0 away win. Cory Bent taking home the man of the match award
The 2 goal showing from Bent gave Jock food for thought. He’s got some pace about him and looks a decent forward. Mista, the manager that left Ottawa had played Bent on the right hand side all last season, making 23 appearances and scoring once. In short of 80 minutes this season he’s managed to beat his goal tally from all of last year.
But from then on out, he would be deployed as a center forward and for the 3 games following this opening day win, Bent scored another 3 as Ottawa kicked off Jocks time in great fashion, winning 3 and drawing 1 to sit atop the table, for now
First chapter – BACK TO THE JOURNEY, MAN – PROLOGUE PART I