Things might be hindered on my lack of knowledge of Spanish other than ‘Vamos motherfuckers vamos’
Heading into my maiden game as a manager I was hell bent on playing a bog standard no frills, spills or thrills 4-4-2. Even the sorry state of a team I had inherited could play that. Simple long balls up top in the hopes one of the strikers could get a lucky break, and 2 banks of 4 that would hopefully keep things tight. Hopefully being the key word. Our opponents would be Gibraltar Phoenix FC. No, me neither.
As it’s our first game together I kind of wanted to be a bit cautious, so we went all out attack, also known as throwing caution to the wind. I convinced myself that in other games where we’re away or probably going to get spanked we’d tweak the approach. Nothing serious like we’ll just hoof it up top quicker than normal, oh no that’s some serious in depth tactical stuff. I’m talking changing the central midfielders from support to defend, or the full backs from just a defend mentality to all out defensive full backs. Alex Ferguson mixed with Pep Guardiola tactical stuff!
It was up to the players to learn the tactics set before them. Things might be hindered on my lack of knowledge of Spanish other than ‘Vamos motherfuckers vamos’ but they’re still players and I expect there to be some desire to win football matches, amateurs or not. My first ever starting 11 looked like this:
Hermida (GK). Zamboglou. Rodriguez. Capurro. Neal Robba. Ellul. Guerero. Sansolini. Ronco. Lara. Kevagn Robba.
You won’t want a match by match review of every game we have, but lets say our first game together wouldn’t be the one that defines me as a manager. We conceded early on to a dodgy penalty, the foul was outside the box I’m sure of it and I let the linesman in lieu of a fourth official know just how I felt, but we pulled it back level shortly after. Neal Robba was pulled, literally kicking and screaming from the reserves side and thrown into the first team on the morning of the game. As the penalty was given I shouted ‘Are you fucking kidding me?! You, the shit Robba, get a fucking grip man!’ I yelled toward the aforementioned left back, who mouthed something back in Spanish ‘And ya can cut that foreign speak out an all’ was my angry reply.
Before the game restarted, I pulled right winger Ellul aside and gave him some instructions ‘Come on now, ya can’t miss the little fast fella, swing the ball his way, let him do the rest’ and as the game restarted, Ellul took the words of advice on board, called for and received the ball on the right wing and went on his darting run forward.
Just as I had asked, Ellul swung the ball from deep and it found it’s way into the path of the onrushing Kevagn Robba (the slightly better Robba) and as I visualised it, as he had done in training a couple of times, he guided the ball home to level the score to 1 apiece. It wasn’t the best looking goal, but Robba was in the right place as the ball bobbled in front of the Phoenix keeper and with as deft a touch as there could be levelled things up
We conceded 3 more goals in the game to lose 4-1 in my opening match as a manager. But we weren’t to be deterred, as we won 3 and drew 1 of the next 4 games, all in the league to show that the squad, as barebones and as shit as you can get do have something about them.
Next up would be the aptly titled Division 2 cup, which for simplistic terms is a cup for teams in the second division. I get the feeling it’s like Gibraltars way of saying you’re pretty crap, you’ll not win the actual cup so here’s a little watered down version to play with. But we don’t care, we being me and probably only me until we get to the final, we’re taking it seriously.
College 1975 were up first, and we scored 2 early goals but conceded 2 second half goals to take us to extra time. Remember when I said about the whole tactical stuff, well I risked it for the figurative biscuit by shifting a full back into a striker in extra time and it paid off, as we scored 2 in time added on to record a 4-2 win
Leo FC would be our quarter final opponents, and the good Robba scored after 27 seconds to set us up for a 3-0 win. No sweat, bones or hearts broken so far.
FC Olympique at least held on until the 21st minute before letting us in, and we scored 2 more in the first half and sat back, played chess and did crosswords in the second half as they failed to even get a shot on target in the full game. 3-0 in the semi final
I let the boys know it was a great achievement getting to a final of any cup, I got a couple of grunts and half arsed smiles and nods back from them.
Fickle bunch, footballers.
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Next chapter – The end is near
Previous chapter – Carry on wayward son, the journey’s just begun
First chapter – Part 1
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