There was no fanfare, no big announcement of my arrival, just another day at the office. I was greeted by a short man who quipped ‘No erezs bueno el bozo’ I got the feeling he didn’t like me much.
My first day on the job was tough. I’ve had plenty of hangovers crossed with come downs but man was I rough on the 6th of August 2021. I was 20 minutes late to my first training in session with the boys. To help my condition I tried the old hair of the dog tactic. The beer in the fridge in my room at Pikes hotel was as warm as piss and just as flat, but it helped. My nose kept running as well.
On my way into the training ground I was greeted by a short man, mid to late 50’s, a battered up baseball cap on his head on a slant and a cigarette hanging out his mouth. Being the ever approachable person that I am, I hold out my hand and say ‘ola amigo. Me Scott, new boss, make football team very good’ in that dumbed down way English speakers try to communicate to non English speakers.
‘Wi’ I reply, before immediately remembering it’s Spanish, not French they speak, and say ‘Yes, I mean si’
‘No erezs bueno el bozo’ he replies. I understood bueno as good, so I assume he’s telling me I’m good, or that I’m going to do a good job here? Either way he lowers his head and walks toward a door with the words área de entrenamiento above them. I make a mental note to work on my Spanish.
With my ever so slightly pounding head and dry throat, I decided there on the spot, that I’d go in with the tough guy approach with my new team. ‘Right then, you lot don’t know me, and I sure as hell do not know any of you. What I do know is this…’ I waited a moment as the 21 players stared with anticipation at my next words ‘According to the press, you lot are good for a play off place, and I will accept nothing less. My name’s Scott, your new boss. Any questions?’
During our initial sessions I let one of the coaches, Andorran Juli Sanchez, take control for the most part. I was a rookie and he knew the players better than I did. Juli and myself would become close from this moment out, and would be my source of advice and inspiration many times. After our first couple of sessions I felt the team and set up picked itself. Not one for being overly complex I’d always kept a belief that I’d keep things simple early on and go with 4-4-2.
One thing that was apparent was that whilst we had quality up top, we needed depth. Kevin Martinez, my assistant manager from the start, suggested a young center half by the name of Chechu, who had played at Real Madrid Castilla, Real’s youth team, the season before, and was let go. We snapped him up and he would be a rotation option that season
Kevin also had a hand in the transfer of Brazilian center forward Rodrigo. This was a shrewd signing and definitely gave us strength in depth. Rodrigo would go on to be a key player for me, more on him as my story progresses.
The chairman as well as the media in Spain at that time expected UD Ibiza to finish in fourth place in the Segunda B division, and a play off spot. The league is the fourth tier in Spain, 2 tiers below our local rivals U.D Ibiza, who had just been promoted. More on them later.
By the time 4th September came round it was time for our season opener. We’d played a few friendlies against local nobody’s and I actually saw some good performances in those kick abouts. You always remember your first of everything. Your first beer, your first time with drugs, your first hooker, your first trans girl, you get the idea. So I will always remember my first match as a football manager. As a side note, from that moment on I kept a log of everything I did as a manager. I kept notes from every game, every training session and every conversation I had with anyone above me. I’m sure you’ll agree as we get further into my story, that this came in handy in more ways than one.
For the first game of my career, I went with the tried and tested 4-4-2 set up, and told the players on the day there was no pressure on them to succeed right from the off and that I just want to see how they perform in a competitive game. I was starting to pick up bits of Spanish but mainly told Juli what I wanted to say and he relayed my instructions to the players. After they made their way to the pitch I go across to the other dugout and put my hand out to shake hands with the Numancia manager, but he holds my hand as if he’s trying to break it, says something in Spanish that I was sure was probably not very nice, and walks off. I’d have the last laugh over the smug twat though!
I thought we’d taken an early lead in my debut match as a manager but it was ruled out for offside, but we weren’t to be deterred. We kept going with our direct play and managed to take the lead through Juan Antonio, also making his CD Ibiza debut
My half time team talk wasn’t much, just me smiling and telling the players in broken Spanish how well I think they’re doing. That positivity translated into another unanswered goal from Antonio as we saw off the threat from Numancia 2-0
As their manager walked toward me and put his hand out, I shook my head and walked away. 1-0 to me, for now.
Next chapter – Es tiempo de fiesta en Ibiza