The difference between their skills and that of a dead ferret was that a dead ferret wasn’t employed at Boca at the same time that I was
Ace had made the arrangements to the various people at the teams training area at the Victoria Stadium upon his and my arrival that morning. Not that Boca Juniors had much of a workforce save for the players, 1 assistant manager and a coach, but felt I had to do a meet and greet at my first ever job as a football manager.
‘The team are all on the training field just over there pal’ Ace motioned toward a huddled circle of people 40 or so yards away. ‘Best go introduce yourself eh’
I walked the short distance over to the group and held up my hand and said ‘Afternoon all, how are we?’ Silence. Not the start I had in mind
‘Me. Scott. Your. New. Boss. Watch’ I then said in that dumbed down way English speakers tend to speak to non-speakers of the language, and as I did I picked up a ball, placed it down and hit with my left and they all watched as it sailed high and wide, clipped the inside of the post of the nearest goal and went in. Boom. Pick that one out
‘See. Me. Good. Turn. You. Into. Good. Team’. Silence, again. Obviously.
Ace was laughing overly harder than I thought he should’ve been, and then a few of the players started laughing along when 1 of them walked forward towards Ace and I heard him say ‘This the guy then?’
‘Yep, sure is. Look I’ve gotta dash, places to go people to see you know how it is, catch ya later Scott’ and with that he left. The new man held out his hand to me and said ‘I’m Alex, I’m Irish like you. I don’t wanna know how you ended up here, I keep asking myself that same question yet here we are’
‘Scott, nice to meet ya. What’s the team like then?’
‘Shite for the most part’ How quick he is to judge his team mates, I wonder if I’ll be afforded the same luxury. ‘They’re only a young club and this is my second season here, you’ve heard the term farmers league? Well see him over there, the big tank, he’s actually a farmer in Malaga, comes here on his days off to train and play’
‘Right, like San Marino then?’
‘Wouldn’t say that we’re as bad as that, but yeah all the clubs in the second division are amateurs, there’s a couple of pro clubs in the top division but even then it’s nothing exciting, nothing like the big teams back home like Cork and Saint Pats’
‘Oh I’m a Bray fan myself’
‘Shame, could’ve had some banter with you, I follow Cork obviously’
The rest of the day was spent with me meeting the players individually, discussing their strengths and weaknesses and giving out aims for the upcoming season. The main thing was not to get relegated from the second division with the odds being we’d be finishing bottom, any higher would be a bonus.
After speaking to the players next up was meeting my staff, all 2 of them. Assistant manager Allen Bula and coach Julio Sanchez. After assessing them in my mind, I’d figured I’d see how tactically savvy they are, and based on ratings of 1-20 they’ve got a tactics coaching rating of 7. That’s a COMBINED tactics coaching rating of 7. Add to that Andy had told Ace who told me there was no money to spend, on staff or players, not that I knew many players or staff available in Gibraltar anyway, and I would have to spend the first part of my career tolerating the skills, or lack of, from the clubs existing backroom staff.
The difference between their skills and that of a dead ferret was that a dead ferret wasn’t employed at Boca at the same time that I was. I looked at them in a pitiful sort of way. I don’t know who felt more fucked, them for having me as the boss, or me for having that sorry lot to rely on.
Despite our total lack of coaching skill we had our first training session together. Things got off to a good start and I left everything to the squad and we had an okay-ish session, there were a couple of decent looking players, talent wise I mean, not good looking in an attractive sense. Nothing really stood out save for a couple of goals, but they all seemed to gel together well.
As for team talks and motivational speeches, footballers, even part timers that have other full time paying jobs, can smell fear, or at the very least indecisiveness. The vice captain from the previous season, goalkeeper Philip Hermida had asked me ‘On behalf of the squad, tell us about yourself. We all know each other well enough but we don’t know you’
‘Well I’m glad you’ve asked. I’ve got a background in football in the great nation of Ireland, Dundalk wanted me you know (a few blank expressions at the name, lie or no), anyway I’ve come here, with my experience and ideas to get this club going places’
I took a moment and carried on speaking ‘I reckon, looking at the league table, we may not finish bottom of the league, but I’m sure we can finish mid table’
I could sense Hermida tried to hide the laughter coming out of his mouth. ‘You do realise that this club is probably the worst in the division if not this country?’
‘Yet you’re it’s goalkeeper aren’t you? Meaning you’re also the worst? That ought to shut him up
‘I’m only a part time player, this isn’t my main job….’ I quickly cut him off
‘So? You’re here as a player and will be treated like one, and as such I will expect you to act like one. As you know this league is amateur night every night, none of you aren’t replaceable’
With that I allowed the players to warm down and carry on the rest of their day without another word being said. Ace had quickly reappeared and did speak to me on his way out however ‘I like that you didn’t back down there. Footballers are a fickle bunch’
‘Got to get my authority across early on I guess’
‘That you do pal. You ready for your first game in a couple of days?’
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Next chapter – Away we go
Previous chapter – I’m here, just about
First chapter – Part 1
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