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The Alfa Romeo Metaphor

  1. I answered a call from Paco that began with a string of profanity.

    "Paco. Paco. Calm down, you're shouting so loud the speaker in my phone is distorting," I said.

    "Go to Diaro de Cadiz," Paco said. "I don't know if you'll believe this, but we weren't renting the training facility. We owned it. Now we've sold it."

    "What?" I asked. For those of you who don't recall, Cadiz CF SAD had a training facility across the bay on the mainland. I had thought that the town of San Fernando owned it. Apparently not.

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ID:	547188In yet another moronic, cost-saving measure, the owner's consortium forced the club to sell it's training facility without having another place to go.

    "So, you'll train in Ramon de Carrenza?" I asked.

    "Hell if I know," Paco replied. "Hopefully, they'll text or email or call me before training tomorrow."

    "But I don't get it, I suppose I should, but you are in first right?" I said. "You won tonight."

    "I know," Paco replied. "We win and after the match it is announced that we don't have a place to train the next day."

    "What about San Fernando?" I asked. "That's their home ground? Will they be evicted in the middle of the season?"

    "I hadn't thought about that," Paco replied. "They barely draw anyone so any old pitch would do. It's just baffling. And completely insane, too. I saw you drew away. You're first. That's always good."

    "I guess so," I said. "But we're not playing very well." I told him about the former Wimbledon star and now movie star Vinnie Jones coming to visit.
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  3. I saw Ivor Heller's car rolling up to New Malden. Ivor is the Club's Director in charge of Communications. A moment later, Chairman Erik Samuelson stepped out of the door to the locker room followed by John, Wimbledon's communications specialist, Ivor and Wimbledon's most iconic figure, Vinnie Jones.

    Training stopped. Balls that were in the air thudded to the ground. Everyone began walking or jogging over to meet every Womble's hero.

    "Here they are," Erik said gesturing to all of us.

    "It's great to be back to bloody old England to visit Wimbledon," Vinnie Jones said. "I'm absolutely facking chuffed how well you're doing. Keep it up."

    "I'd like to introduce you to our new manager, Enrico Pucci," Erik continued.

    "Nice job, mate," Vinnie said thumping me on the back. I think he loosened one of my lungs. "Facking top of the table and first in yellow and fouls. Top drawer. Well facking done."

    "Thanks, thanks," I said trying not to cough.

    "So let me get this straight," Vinnie continued. "You're American, but Italian, too. Owd you facking pull that off?"

    "That'd be my parents," I replied. "They kept up their dual citizenship."

    "And I've seen that vid of you," Vinnie said poking me in the chest. "That highlight reel of your tackles. Not facking bad at all for an American pussy."

    Then he burst into laughter as did everyone else.

    Jesus Christ but he's still a large, intimidating man. I'm just glad that we're not in the relegation zone or something.

    "Let's get a picture of you two," Erik said.

    Vinnie wrapped one of his gigantic, gorilla-length arms around me and smiled like he was about to rip someone's arm off. I handed Erik my cell so he's snap a pic. John started taking pictures.

    "You know we call him The Don," Captain Andy Frampton offered. "From the Godfather."

    "Well all you [ladyparts] better keep kissing his facking pinkie ring," Vinnie replied. "Cos he's going to get us another promotion."

    Everyone cheered. Everyone got their photo taken with him.

    "Let's talk later, I really like what you're doing here, mate," Vinnie said to me as Erik hustled him away for more photo opps on what would be a busy weekend for everyone associated with the club.

    Vinnie is in town.
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  4. League Two: AFC Wimbledon v. Accrington Stanley FC

    "You know how lucky you are?" the grandfather asked his grandson as he climbed into the car.

    His grandson just squealed and bounced up and down despite the seatbelt keeping him restrained.

    "What have you fed him? Injections of sugar?" the grandfather asked the father then turned back to look at his grandson in the back seat. "Vinnie Jones will be at the match tonight. Has your Dad told you about him?"

    "Mmmm hmmmm," the grandson replied.

    "Key member of The Crazy Gang," the grandfather said. "Actor, raconteur. And you can get his autograph. Your father and I were at that Cup Final against Liverpool. What a match. What a match."

    "You screamed yourself hoarse as I recall," the father said.

    The grandfather grunted.

    "How's school?" the grandfather asked.

    "Willy good," the son replied. "I willy wike my science class. We're wearning about planth."

    "Did you lose any more teeth?" the grandfather asked.

    "No!" exclaimed the boy. "I have a new one gwowing in, thee!"

    "There simply is no parking," the father complained after a few minutes of driving around the neighborhood near Kingsmeadow. "Accursed sell-out matches. Should've taken the bus."

    "Try round this next corner," the grandfather suggested. "Everybody wants a piece of Vinnie."

    They could hear the chanting and singing from two blocks away.

    The crowd outside the stadium was large as people milled around prior to entering. The grandfather, father and son got in the queue to get in.

    "I really wish we'd sort out a new stadium," the father said.

    "I don't understand why Merton Council is still dragging their feet on this," the grandfather added. "The bastards."

    "Gwampa!" the boy scolded.

    "Oops, sorry," the grandfather replied.

    Eventually they got in and the son grabbed his Dad's programme and a pen and ran to get in line for a Vinnie Jones autograph. The father followed his son, but more slowly.

    "Wook!" the grandson said holding up the programme for his grandfather to see. "I got hith autogwaph!"

    "And his picture with him," the father added. "I'll email it to you."

    "And here comes the rain," the grandfather observed. "Just in time for kickoff."

    "Smith and Loveridge up top," the father added while reading through the programme. "Been a while since we've seen those two together."

    They chanted their players names as they were announced and then the match was underway.

    "C'mon, lads!" the grandfather grumbled after ten minutes of cautious play in the driving rain.

    "PENALTY! PENALTY! PENALTY!" everyone screamed in the 20th minute when Accrington's Conor McLoughlin missed his tackle on Simon Johnson in the left side of the penalty box then everyone cheered when the ref pointed to the spot.

    "What? Dummigan?" the father asked as right back Cameron Dummigan grabbed the ball and walked to the penalty spot with it. "He can't take penalties! O, Lord. I can't watch."

    And the crowd roared as Dummigan buried it.

    1-0

    But the father and grandfather were both holding their heads in their hands when left back Jim Fenlon failed to mark the Stanley right winger. Goalkeeper Dunn managed to get a hand on the shot, but couldn't keep it out.

    1-1

    "That was horrid defending," the grandfather observed.

    "Maybe the sun was in Fenlon's eyes," the father added.

    "But Dad, ith waining even harder," the son said.

    Everyone groaned again when James Loveridge was in alone but rolled a shot harmlessly wide in the 29th minute.

    But then Accrington kept the ball in the Don's half for the remainder of the rain-soaked first half.

    "We'll still win wight, Daddy?" the son asked while they stood in line for a soda and hot dog.

    "Well, maybe," the father replied.

    "Not with finishing like what we've just seen," added the grandfather.

    After ten minutes of dreary, rain-soaked ineffectiveness, Vinnie Jones stood up in the director's seats and started exhorting the fans to cheer their Don's forward. The fans responded with a roar and chanting.

    "It didn't help," observed the grandfather. "At least he's got some spirit."

    "C'MON YOU DONS!" screamed the father.

    "Loveridge has been worthless," the grandfather remarked when Jack Redshaw replaced Loveridge with a little more than 20 minutes to go.

    "Fenlon wasn't much better," the father remarked as Reuben Hazell came on for Fenlon.

    "Hazell?" the grandfather said. "He can't play left back."

    "Look, Dummigan is moving over."

    "Oh, good."

    But it wasn't good. Dummigan promptly forgot to mark the Accrington right winger and he scored again.

    1-2

    "****!" exclaimed the grandfather. The father facepalmed.

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ID:	548618"Are we going to loothe?" the son asked. Neither man answered.

    "Loveridge plays seventy and has how many chances? Three?" the grandfather grumbled as they trudged through the driving rain back to their car.

    "Two, actually," the father noted.

    "Two? And didn't test the keeper with either," the grandfather said. "And Redshaw gets twenty and forces three really good saves from their keeper. What the **** is wrong with Loveridge?"

    "Ith Vinnie Joanth going to beat thumbody up?" the boy asked.

    "No, son, nobody is going to get beat up," the father replied.

    "Maybe somebody should," the grandfather grumbled. "Wake some of them up."
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 06/04/2014 at 09:13 PM.
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  6. "COME ON YOU DONS!" Vinnie bellowed as he walked into the backroom of the restaurant we'd reserved for our post-match party.

    Everyone cheered.

    "Who hasn't gotten a picture with him?" Chairman Erik said once the cheering died down. "Queue up."

    Gwen pulled her Dad into line. I followed and got my phone ready to take pictures.

    "Immense pleasure to meet you, I'll always remember that away match in Newcastle when you shut down Gazza and that Cup Final," Gwen's Dad said once it was his turn. Vinnie wrapped an arm around him and they both smiled. I snapped.

    Then Gwen stepped up.

    "She with you?" he asked me. I nodded. "You been here how long and you're dating models? I'm facking impressed, mate. What's your name, love?"

    "Gwen."

    "Pleasure to meet you, Gwen. I can tell a model from a mile away. Awright, how we doing this?"

    Gwen stood up on her tiptoes, stretched up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. I took the photo.

    "That's a keeper," I said examining the photo.

    "You ain't kidding, mate," Vinnie agreed but probably for different reasons.

    We all carried in this fashion through dinner, but there was a pause as the staff was clearing the plates. You know what pause I'm talking about. They happen at every party.

    "Now listen up," Vinnie said standing up. "This is important."

    "Back in when we was in the lower leagues, we was like a family," he said. "I don't stay in touch with anyone from Leeds or Chelsea or Sheffield United. But me and Fash the Bash talk all the facking time. Warren Barton lives out in LA and we talk fairly regularly. I even ring up Bassett and Gould on occasion."

    "We trained together, ate together, partied together," Vinnie continued. "Even the facking Chairman, Erik. Yes, that's facking right. Sam Hamamm would show up. No, it's true."

    "We're all innit together, you see what I'm saying?" he said. "Wimbledon against the world. There is no bond with a club like the one you'll have with Wimbledon. We're different. We do everything different. Playing here was the best part of my football career and I mean that from the bottom of my facking heart."

    We ordered a fleet of taxis when the party broke up at club curfew time.
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  7. Sunday 14 December 2014 noon

    "**** my head hurts," I said. "How're the rest of you feeling."

    "Like a lorrie is parked on my head, crushing it," Wools said quietly.

    "Something died in my mouth while I slept," Hanks added. "I don't think I got all of it out."

    Lil just put his fingers to his lips to indicate he'd quite prefer silence to us talking.

    "That was an epic party, though," Rachubka added.

    "Jon, are we finally going to have everyone fit?" I asked.

    "All except Pat Baldwin," physio Jon Whitney replied.

    "Okay, so what better way to get over getting embarrassed than playing the team in second," I said. "What do we have to look forward to Lil?"

    "I'll start from the back," Lil said. "They've got an immense keeper. Bigger than Dunn. He's great on crosses but has trouble on low shots. Their defense is solid enough, pretty well organized, but a bit slow. Matteo should have fun with their left back."

    "They play a 442 and their midfield is useful enough, but pretty soft," he continued. "They have nobody like our Tomlinson to win the ball in the middle of the park. Their right mid, Will Atkinson, has scored a healthy number because their left mid, Bruno Andrade, is their dangerman."

    "Now their strike force is what we should worry about," Lil said. "Akwasi Asante is fast, young and full of promise. Thacks should mark him. Andy should mark Freddy Eastwood who is the top scorer but slow."

    "Thanks, Lil," I replied. "Alrighty. I'm tired of playing defensive football to compensate for injuries. We have our top players healthy, but we're misfiring. I want to play an attacking 442. Damn the opponents, full speed ahead."

    "Now because we're misfiring offensively, we're playing a friendly this Tuesday against semi-pro club Chesham United," I continued. "Sooner or later we're going to get our **** together and start scoring."
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  8. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. Chesham United

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ID:	549007Since Loveridge needs a rest or a benching, Jack Redshaw starts alongside Smith.

    GK: Daniel Lincoln
    D: Cameron Dummigan, Kris Thackray, Andy Frampton (C), Jim Fenlon
    M: George Francomb, Mark Tomlinson, Daniel Barlaser, Matteo Nole
    F: Jack Redshaw, Michael Smith.

    In the 12th minute, Chesham center back Brandon Peters dove in for a tackle on Michael Smith and got all leg. There was a bit of handbags after as my players wanted it to be clear that this was a friendly. Peters got a lecture and no card.

    Whitney signaled that Smith's day was done. Great. Just what I ****ing needed. Another injury to the striker who makes the offense purr. ****.

    I sent Jack Midson on. Last season, he was ever-present. This season, he hasn't shown me much.

    And what an evening he had. He just always did the right thing and got himself into good positions.

    I swapped everybody except Midson and Lincoln at half time.

    Afterwards, Smith told me he'd be fine for Saturday. Guess who's starting alongside him?
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  10. League Two: AFC Wimbledon v. Southend United

    Today is what I imagined winter would be like in England. 10C (50F) and drizzling. Humidity about 250%. It didn't so much rain as perspire cold water everywhere. The dampness penetrated to my core after 5 minutes outside. I was decked out in oversized, hooded raincoat. Much like Arsene Wenger's puffy coat except for rain.

    I decided to release my line-up on Thursday instead of Saturday morning.

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Cameron Dummigan, Kris Thackray, Andy Frampton (C), Jim Fenlon
    M: George Francomb, Mark Tomlinson, Daniel Barlaser, Matteo Nole
    F: Jack Midson, Michael Smith

    Subs: Daniel Lincoln (GK), Reuben Hazell (D), Brad Smith (D), Steven Gregory (M), Leandro Depetris (M), Simon Johnson (M), James Loveridge (F)

    "I want a win," I said. "If we're going to win this league, we have to beat the top teams. We let ourselves down last week. We let our fans down including Vinnie. I have faith that we can go out today and play the way we know we can."

    "Smith is back," I continued. "He's our target man. Use him. Play off him. Make runs off him. Short crisp passing and work hard off the ball. Tight, alert defending. Watch for the man behind you making runs into the channel. Talk to each other."

    "Let's go."

    Today was a slow start. I'm fine with that. Feel the other team out a bit.

    From a 9th minute corner, Matteo grabbed the rebound and dribbled 70 yards into the opponents penalty box. They just kept backing off. The left back made a nice tackle as Matteo made a move for the end line. The ball bounced out to the left flank and Fenlon tried to cross back post for Francomb but they cleared it.

    Southend then brought the ball quickly upfield. They passed their way through our midfield and defense and striker Freddy Eastwood was played through. Thankfully, he shot weakly into Dunn's stomach.

    We were getting the ball down and moving it around nicely. In the 12th minute, Dunn rolled a goal kick out to Andy who turned and fed it to Danny Boy. Danny zipped a pass up to Smith. Smith rolled off his defender and fed a pass into the path of Midson. Jack isn't fast nor is he that great of a dribbler, but he held off his defender until he could hit a shot. It whizzed just inches wide.

    This is exactly the type of determined effort Loveridge hadn't been showing.

    Midson headed high from a Francomb cross and Smith shot high in the next two rushes upfield. We were looking good. Southend, on the other hand were not looking threatening at all. When given a chance, they were wasteful or regularly chose the wrong pass. We also did a great job of recovering when they regained the ball. Unlike the last month's worth of matches, we were first to nearly every loose ball and when we weren't, we pressured them hard.

    Every rush upfield looked dangerous, like this might be the one that breaks the deadlock and gives us the lead.

    Then Southend midfielder Will Atkinson missed the ball with a late tackle and caught Francomb just below the shin pad on George's planted leg.

    I screamed bloody murder. So did 5,000 Wombles in the stands. The ref awarded the free kick but jogged off to prepare for the ensuing free kick. The linesman who was 20 yards away and had a perfect view didn't wave his flag to indicate anything.

    I pointed at Simon then walked up to the fourth official.

    "How was that not a red card?" I asked the fourth official from about 2 inches away from his face. "He misses the ball and takes out his shin. He's bleeding from the wound for God's sake. His sock is ripped from the gash."

    Francomb lay on the turf in obvious pain. Frampton jogged up to the ref and as Captain asked several questions. He must have been talking about the blood on Frampton's leg because he repeatedly pointed toward his own ankle. Tomlinson, Barlaser and Thackray surrounded the ref.

    Atkinson had jogged back into a defensive position and Smith jogged over to where he was standing and glowered at him menacingly. Atkinson tried to ignore him, but Michael can get pretty intense. Several Southend players thought Smith was going to do engage in some ultraviolence and stepped in between them.

    Smith was saying something to Atkinson, but I couldn't hear what it was because the fans had started singing a rude and obscene version Three Blind Mice.

    The ref ran over to stop the Southend players from shoving Smith. Smith is a big boy and they were having trouble pushing him away. Smith never raised his arms. Smith is also a smart boy.

    "This game is going to get out of control if the alleged referee who is allegedly in charge of this match doesn't start stop ignoring FIFA's rules," I growled.

    "Enrico, you'd better step back or I'll have you tossed," the fourth official said.

    "If they try anymore ultraviolence, and that alleged ref doesn't do something, I'll protest that all four of you are incompetent," I shot back as I backed away.

    When I turned, I nearly got knocked down by Hanks and Wools. They were rushing up to pull me off the ref.

    "What the ****, boys?" I asked. "I wasn't going to touch him? Geez."

    "When we can see the veins standing out on your skull from the bench, we fear you're about to commit GBH," Hanks said.

    "What's GBH?"

    "Gross Bodily Harm," Wools explained.

    "Oh," I said.

    The foul on George was just at the half hour mark. The remainder of the half was littered with exuberant tackles and fouls. We committed about 10 fouls. Several of them should have been cards. Southend committed about 15.

    The only instance of football was in the 40th minute when Southend's Eastwood played a pass up to Akwasi Asante. Thax came through with a thunderous tackle that got ball then man and sent Asante flying. Eastwood got to the rebound and smashed a shot for a low corner that Dunn dove and tipped around the post.

    "First off, if this was a boxing match, we just traded body blows and we're still standing," I said once we were in our locker room at half time. "I like your fighting spirit. Now let's go out there and pass circles around them. This means we're going to need to work harder off the ball. Clear? Okay. Thax and Andy, switch sides. I want Andy on Eastwood and Thax on Asante. Clear? Good."

    "I want to build up more slowly than in the first half," I continued. "Let's camp in their half more and make them do all the hard running. We can up our game. I know you all have it in you. Let's show those *****ers."

    They all cheered.

    And they did what I asked. We had them packed into their box for the first 15 minutes of the second half.

    Former Tottenham youngster Nabil Bentaleb ran over Barlaser in the 53rd minute.

    Once more I bellowed at the ref and berated the fourth official while the Wombles sand Three Blind Mice behind me. No cards were produced.

    Whitney signaled that Daniel could play on. I got Leandro warming up. From the restart it was clear that Danny Boy wasn't running well at all. I subbed him out a minute later.

    In the 58th minute, Fenlon got chopped down. The Wombles were singing Three Blind Mice at every foul Southend committed whether the alleged ref called it or not. Leandro jogged over to take the free kick. I yelled at the ref and berated the fourth official some more.

    Leandro curled in a ball to the near post. Simon had made the near post run and flicked it goalward. It hit the keeper. He shot into the keeper's midsection. The ball fell to Midson.

    He gave the ball a poke like any striker worth his salt would do from 4 yards out in the middle of a melee of swinging legs and sprawling defenders.

    1-0

    Somehow it made it in.

    For those of you who followed my little story about my so-called semi-exploits in the lower leagues of Spain and now England, you'll know that I'm deathly deathly deathly afraid that my team's opponents will take the ball straight down the field and score. For those of you who recall my days in Cadiz, you'll know that it happened quite a bit. But I wasn't worried today. We just had a fighting spirit in us. Tomlinson and Thax were timing their tackles beautifully and were inspiring their teammates. My back four won every header and we were first to every loose ball.

    Southend were only able to manage long-range shots that flew over the bar or were relatively easy saves for Dunn.

    At the 75 minute mark, I sent Stephen Gregory on for Midson. He'd run himself into the ground and deserved the ovation he got as he trudged off.

    I switched to a 451 with Tomlinson in the defensive midfield role and Gregs would partner Leandro in the middle. I told Gregs to stay back and bottle up the middle.

    Southend only managed one decent chance in the remainder of the match. And it was a close call. They won a corner. Their center back Luke Prosser timed his leap the best, hung the longest and got his head on the ball. But he couldn't head downward because he was only a yard or two from the goalmouth. He's header smashed against the crossbar and high into the air landing out of bounds.

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ID:	550241The rest of the time we held the ball well and frustrated Southend.

    I held my breathe when their left midfielder tried to get a cross past Cam with 2 minutes of the 3 minutes of extra time gone, but Cam was up to the task and blocked the attempt out for a corner.

    Dunn nabbed the cross from the ensuing corner and wasted some precious seconds.

    The clock rolled past 3 minutes of extra time. The fans were all standing and screaming for ref to end it.

    Leandro, of all people, crunched Bentaleb with a jarring tackle. I looked up at the clock. 93:11. He had to call it soon.

    They lobbed a ball into the box that was headed by someone high and wide of our goal.

    Then I heard those sweet three blasts from the blind mice's whistle and we'd done it.

    There was a bunch of shouting and carrying on in our locker room after this one. I joined in. We'd played a solid match.

    Everyone else in contention for a play-off spot had dropped points today except us. Consequently, we were in first at the halfway point of the season.
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  11. That has to be the best story I 've ever read !! Keep it up man ! I wish some day you ill publish a manager story ! And why not make it on a yearly basis !

  12. Quote Originally Posted by kolas79 View Post
    That has to be the best story I 've ever read !! Keep it up man ! I wish some day you ill publish a manager story ! And why not make it on a yearly basis !
    Thank you very much for the compliment. I'm blushing.

  13. WOMBLEblog.co.uk
    Donnybrook at Kingsmeadow

    Thrash
    20 December 2014 20:49

    We were like a pack of hounds baying for blood I tell you. The center referee Brad Mabley only carded Southend players for cannibalism and flagrant heresy. This was more like the way the games were called when I was a lad and the Crazy Gang were climbing up the divisions. Wimbledon midfielder George Francomb laying bleeding on the turf didn't even warrant a card in Mabley's opinion. Our wee lad Mark Tomlinson was booked for dismemberment late on.

    The fouls today were really that bad and we howled for justice all match long. Mabley whistled Southend for 28 fouls, but there were a dozen he ignored. No, really.

    As for the football, there really wasn't much. Southend were intent on preventing us from playing and succeeded to some extent. But the possession stats showed that we kept the ball well enough: 62%. This was mainly because we tend to play the short pass from free kicks to keep possession. The goal being a rare exception.

    And Jack Midson recalled from obscurity nets the only goal is sublime. He really carried us last year and is behind Loveridge and Smith in the pecking order, but it was good to see him shine in one of the brief interludes between the trench warfare Southend waged.

    Now I get why Loveridge will probably be back next match. On his day, he terrorizes League Two defenders with his speed and dribbling. I recall someone comparing Freddie Kanoute to Thierry Henry once saying that on his day Kanoute was just as dangerous as Henry. Of course, he added that Kanoute's days were few and far between. I hope Loveridge can overcome his Kanutesque tendencies as Manager Pucci seems to rely on him.

    Of course, who am I to question him. He's brought us to the midway point of the season in first. Nor am I one to complain. At least not too much.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 09/04/2014 at 05:08 AM.
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    Analysis of the Wimbledon season so far

    Duff 21 Dec 2014 08:23

    I hope you like the new logo. We got tired of the boring old one. So tired of it that we finally figured out how to configure a new one. I know it's not much, but it's better than just text.

    Also, I'd like to introduce a new contributor to our humble blog Don E. Brook.

    First and foremost, we are sitting atop League Two. While this is obviously wonderful, here's a little perspective. Franchise FC, aka MK Dons, are propping up the table in League One. While many of you may be dancing from the schadenfreude, keep in mind that 5 points separate 24th from 15th. But we can always hold out hope that they drop while we get promoted.

    Elsewhere in London, the Gooners top the Premier League. A possible swan song for Arsene? Spurs are 3rd, Chelsea is 6th, Fulham are 10th and West Ham are looking a bit dodgy in 15th. Crystal Palace are hoping to stay in the running for promotion from the Championship and currently lie 5th. Charlton are 8th and QPR are 13th. Brentford are 4th in League One.

    As for our hopes for promotion, we have a 5 point edge over the club in 4th. The top 3 are automatically promoted. It goes without saying that there are a tremendous amount of points to play for, but 83 saw Chesterfield promoted automatically last year.

    I say we need a central defender for extra cover. Manager Pucci obviously has no faith in Reuben Hazell. He's only played him at right back since the 6-1 thrashing at Rochdale in early October. Pat Baldwin has been mostly injured and unimpressive. Teenager Ben Harrison has been emergency cover during the November injury crisis, but he's young and doesn't look terribly promising.

    Otherwise, I think we're set.

    Chris Dunn and Daniel Lincoln are a great tandem in net. They've both played well and I feel Lincoln has the potential to surpass Dunn.

    Cameron Dummigan and Jim Fenlon have been good enough. I'd wish they'd improve their reading of the game, but they're both young and it will come. Say what you will about Brad Smith, but he's got great pedigree and is a sold back-up for either fullback position.

    I can't say enough about Mark Tomlinson. The wee lad has stood tall and leapt into the breech bravely and effectively. He's done a great job protecting the back four and the team plays poorly with him out of the line-up.

    Daniel Barlaser has also been a revelation paired with Tomlinson. In Leandro Depetris, we have two players who can pull the strings in midfield.

    George Francomb has been even better than last season. This season he's added goals to his excellent wing play.

    The other flank has been somewhat disappointing. Matteo Nole is quick, has Formula 1 top end speed, can pass well, dribble well and cross well. He should be terrorizing opponents down the left flank. Except that he hasn't. He's got the 193cm tall Michael Smith in the middle, but we haven't seen a single cross anywhere near Smith. Simon Johnson has been adequate as backup, but nothing exceptional. Fabian Rowe has apparently had a row with Don Pucci and is sleeping with the fishes or whatever the footballing equivalent is. We need to address the left side in the summer.

    While Loveridge has faded lately. I won't blame him. He's been forced to carry the team offensively and looks exhausted. He needs some rest and I think the partnership with Smith will reignite.

    What we need is backup for these two. As much as Jack Midson has given to this team, I don't think he can carry the team forward. Jack Redshaw is fast but has shown little ability in his limited minutes.

    So there you have it. Another central defender and striker.

    Oh, and a new stadium while you're at it
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 10/04/2014 at 03:04 AM.
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  15. Merry Christmas

    The so-called Festive Period is festive for anyone unconnected with the footballing industry. Everywhere but England takes a winter break. The weather could be worse. It's projected to be above freezing (barely) over the next week. We travel to Wycombe Wanderers on Boxing Day and play two days later on the 28th at home against Mansfield Town.

    I am just getting a feeling that the team is pulling together. It's the little things. Passing in the 4x1 or 4x2 passing squares is really creative and crisp. Fewer concentration lapses.

    It might just come down to I won't say who's playing alongside Smith up top. I won't tell anyone, but between you and me, but Midson will play until either he stinks it up or Loveridge shows me something. Both are banging in the goals in training, I'll tell you that much.

    Maybe the realization has set in that I'll bench anyone if they're not performing.

    So we trained early on Christmas Eve morning so we'd have the rest of the day free.

    Gwen and I wandered central London "shopping" for rest of the day. The truth is I'd bought my few gifts and she didn't have any money. I told her the usual nonsense about don't get me anything and all that. We were heading to her house to have dinner with her parents and brother later.

    "What do you think about us?" she said as we stepped outside of a Burberry's store.

    Ruh Roh.

    That was a drastic change from discussing the latest in men's fashion.

    "That's a loaded weapon of a question," I said. "And I might be just about to blow both my feet off. So ... to answer your question ... on the one hand, you're smart and great fun. Your very direct and I like that. The bottom line is you take my breathe away. Let's face it. Except on rare occasions, you're going to be the most beautiful thing in the room by a long shot. On bad days I worry about our age difference and have no idea what you see in me. I find you baffling. Not in a bad way. More like in a ... um ... what's the word ... um ... enigma. There always seems to be a new side to you. I've met a number of beautiful woman and, sadly, a far too large percentage were dummer than a bag of hammers and as complex as warm milk. Um, I think I'm done."

    She just wrapped her arm around me and squeezed. We walked for a while.

    "You know what I hate?" she said. "I hate how most of the women I know have all kinds of rules and tests. It's such bullshit. Can you believe that Darcy, one of my model friends, you know her, her and Alicia are inseparable, asked her beau that same question and it started a massive fight and ended in them breaking up? That was just a few weeks ago."

    "So why'd you ask me?"

    "I dunno," she replied. "Maybe to see how you'd respond."

    "Sweet Mary Mother of Jesus you're full of ****," I said in Spanish.

    "Ooh, I love it when you swear at me in Spanish," she said. "That's so sexy. But seriously, I hit on you six months or so ago at Borderline. I don't have any regrets. Shouldn't lovers talk about **** like this? Sort things out or whatever?"

    "Does anything need sorting?"

    "No, but we should get on the tube to see Mum and Dad," she said. "Wouldn't want to be late for burnt, dry-as-tinder meat and soggy pudding. Christmas traditions and all that."
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 11/04/2014 at 04:12 AM.
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  16. League Two: Wycombe Wanderers v. AFC Wimbledon

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ID:	552394Thankfully, we're not traveling up to Newcastle or anywhere else far away. We're taking a mere 1 hour bus ride into deepest, darkest Buckinghamshire to High Wycombe. Not a bad deal really. I'm also grateful it's a national holiday and a 3pm kick-off as the high today will be 5C (41F). Thankfully, there is no wind today.

    Wanderers ground, Adams Park, is a tiny little stadium that despite being tiny is still double the size of our current ground. It seats 10,000.

    Wanderers aren't doing particularly well this season and the ground is expected to be half full.

    I announced early in the week what this Friday's line-up would be and that we'd be playing a 451 against Wycombe. First, we're away from home. Secondly, I need to rest Mark Tomlinson and with him out of the line-up, I won't play a 442.

    GK: Daniel Lincoln
    D: Reuben Hazell, Andy Frampton (C), Kris Thackray, Brad Smith
    M: Stephen Gregory (DM), George Francomb, Leandro Depetris, Adam Pepper, Simon Johnson
    F: James Loveridge

    Subs: Chris Dunn (GK), Cameron Dummigan (D), Jim Fenlon (D), Mark Tomlinson (M), Daniel Barlaser (M), Michael Smith (F), Jack Redshaw (F)

    I set it out very simply for them. I expected a win and had faith they'd deliver.

    Adam Pepper delivered in the 3rd minute. Loveridge held up the ball and drew the defenders rightward then fed the ball into the gap into which Peps was running. He blasted past the keeper to give us the dream start.

    0-1

    We spent the first 20 minutes of the match in their half.

    In the 23rd minute, they won a corner. Brad Smith forgot to mark his man, Wanderer right midfielder Luke Rooney. Rooney rose and smashed a header goalwards. Thankfully, Lincoln tipped it over the crossbar. We cleared the next corner.

    Leandro and Adam were controlling the game nicely with support from Gregory. We kept possession of the ball well and generally were the more dangerous side in the first half.

    They created two decent chances, but Lincoln was well positioned for each chance and made the saves look easy.

    In the 41st minute, they played a high ball up to there big forward Anderson Banvo. He won the header and looked about to get to his own knock-down first when Captain Andy intervened with a diving toe poke.

    Unfortunately, the ball zipped across the penalty box, past Thackray and right into the path of Matt Tubbs who smashed his shot past the surprised Lincoln.

    1-1

    That was a freak goal. Nobody was at fault. Nothing to worry about as long as we got the next one.

    "Nicely done out there, boys," I said. "We're keeping them nicely in check and controlling the midfield. We're looking more dangerous. That goal was freaky and I have confidence we'll take the lead back. Just keep doing what you're doing, the goal will come."

    Unfortunately for us, Brad Smith was really poor to start the second. It was looking like Wanderers would score because Smith was so really having a bad day at the office. I replaced him with Fenlon in the 52nd minute.

    That didn't stem the tide. Wycombe hit us with wave after wave of attack. Lincoln made several great saves and they wasted some great chances.

    "PEPPER! PEPPER!" I hollered during a break for an injured Wycombe player at the hour mark. He jogged over to within speaking range. "Drop a little deeper and mark their inside right midfielder. That should slow them down some, okay?"

    "Got it, Guvnah," he replied.

    With two midfielders in front of the back four, we stemmed the tide but the game was still in the balance.

    "Jack, get warmed up," I said to Jack Redshaw. I'd decided that Loveridge just wasn't leading the line well enough. Mainly, his shooting had been wayward all match long.

    We started exchanging chances instead of parking the bus and defending with Redshaw running hard up top.

    In the 76th minute, Leandro got chopped down just outside the top of the box just before he was going to shoot.

    "Mark, get warmed up," I said. "You're going on for Pepper."

    Regardless of what Leandro did here, it was time to protect the points. Leandro kept fooling around with the placement of the ball until he got it just how he wanted. He stepped back.

    The ref blew his whistle.

    Leandro pasted a shot directly into the wall. Luckily the ball rebounded right to him so he took another swing at it. The keeper was just landing from his dive and Leandro got his shot through the disintegrating wall. There was nobody there to stop his shot from bulging the net.

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    Leandro's first goal for Wimbledon!

    With Tomlinson and Gregs sitting deep and protecting the back four, Wycombe only created two more real chances despite nearly 90% possession.

    Banvo's replacement Craig Sutherland rattled the crossbar with a header in the 83rd and I felt a flashback to Cadiz with time running out in extra time.

    Stephen Gregory had played solidly all game. Yet he decided that he needed to play a ball across field out to George Francomb on the right wing. He had Fenlon, Thacks, Tomlinson and Leandro as easier, shorter and safer options.

    You all know what happened. His pass was intercepted. They quickly played a long ball pass out to the right flank where their right midfielder was wide open. He controlled the ball and curled in a cross before Fenlon could get back and shut him down and before our defenders got organized.

    We lucked out. Lincoln came storming out, leapt and snared the cross.

    I exhaled in relief.

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  18. Saturday, 27 December 2014 3pm

    The players who played yesterday did a longer stretching session followed by a slow jog around the New Malden complex. The players I rested or who didn't play worked on some running and passing drills. Then we worked on some team tactics in preparation for Mansfield Town as a group. Then we split into small groups and worked on some position-related training. We finished up by working on our set pieces.

    We were done by 4:30pm.

    Kris Thackray and Jim Fenlon were chatting together as they walked toward the buildings and warm showers.

    "Fens, Thacks," I said jogging up beside them. "I wanna extend your contracts. You're interested, right?" They both nodded. "Can we talk on Monday before training?"
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    They both nodded. I walked over towards George Francomb to ask him the same thing. I have 18 players whose contracts are expiring in the summer. These three are integral to my plans for next season. James Loveridge was integral until he went ice cold in December.

    Captain Andy Frampton is getting far too slow for League One. I hope he'll join the backroom staff. Same for Reuben Hazell. They're both 35 years old.

    Adam Pepper hasn't impressed and Simon Johnson is decent cover; both are easily replaceable.
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  19. Is this story dead?

  20. Come on Enrico your hungry readers are waiting !!!!!

  21. Quote Originally Posted by Dobbi View Post
    Is this story dead?
    Quote Originally Posted by kolas79 View Post
    Come on Enrico your hungry readers are waiting !!!!!
    Relax, boys. Update coming later this evening (US time).
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  22. League Two: AFC Wimbledon v. Mansfield Town FC

    The whole reason I want to have a double squad, i.e., two full sets of players, is for situations just like today. Center backs Frampton and Thackray and right midfielder Francomb are the only holdovers from Friday. Today is my strongest outfield setup. I've decided to give Lincoln a start.

    GK: Daniel Lincoln
    D: Cameron Dummigan, Andy Frampton, Kris Thackray, Jim Fenlon
    M: George Francomb, Mark Tomlinson, Daniel Barlaser, Matteo Nole
    F: Jack Midson, Michael Smith

    Subs: Chris Dunn (GK), Reuben Hazell (D), Brad Smith (D), Stephen Gregory (M), Leandro Depetris (M), Simon Johnson (M), James Loveridge (F)

    We started out with the ball and kept it until Mark played a high ball up to Smith. He flicked it on and Midson got there first and forced the keeper to make a good save.

    In the 9th minute, Fenlon played a pass up to Midson who flicked it over to Smith. Smith saw Cameron Dummigan's over-lapping run and played a ball behind the left back. Cam's shot hit the post and veered across the goalmouth. Midson and two defenders all lunged for the ball and the ball crossed the line.

    1-0

    Midson ran to the corner flag kissing his badge and was joined by his teammates. The fans serenaded him with "He scores when he wants" until just after the kick-off when the announcer announced that it was an own goal by defender Gaz Dean when they started hissing, whistling and booing.

    That's a candidate for review. WTF?

    Mansfield got off their first shot in the 20th minute, a tame effort from long range that that was well wide. I'd told the boys to attack as Town doesn't score many goals. Because we were pressuring them far up the field, they had trouble getting out of their end.

    After Smith had a shot blocked in the 25th, our next chance fell in the 29th. George's corner was cleared right back to him. He whipped in a second go round which hit Michael Smith in the back. The ball fell to Captain Andy who smashed a low shot goalward.

    2-0

    It touched nothing but net. Frampton doesn't score much so it was quite a celebration.

    In the 33rd minute, Daniel Barlaser was jogging across the center circle with the ball. He dipped a shoulder and spun the opposite direction to protect the ball then started to jog off with it as he completely fooled the Mansfield midfielder Matty Pearson. Pearson responded by diving in recklessly and crunching Danny Boy's ankle. There was little to no intent to get the ball.

    My players surrounded the ref after he whistled for the foul demanding a red card. The fans roared their disapproval. I screamed along with them.

    After pointing at Leandro to get warmed up, I walked up to the fourth official.

    "What was that?" I asked.

    No response.

    "For the love of God what do those clowns have to do to my players to get carded?" I asked. "He clearly intended to injure my player. Look. Look. See? My physio is signaling I have to replace him! Do you have anything to say in defense of Boyesen's indefensible calling of this match? Mansfield are going to pass 30 fouls at the rate they're going!"

    "Shut it, Enrico, or I'll have you sent off," the fourth official said to get me out of his face.

    "He was going for the ball," Mansfield manager David Irons said as he walked up.

    The fans started singing Three Blind Mice.

    "Funny, me and the fans see it otherwise," I said as I walked away.

    Leandro replaced Danny Boy.

    We got a ridiculous foul called in our favor a few minutes later in the 39th. Cam took a throw deep into the corner. He heaved it into the box in the direction of Michael Smith. Michael flicked the ball into the mosh pit. Now you would think we'd have a bunch of players there. But the lone Don in the goal mouth was Jim Fenlon. I didn't see him jump. I saw five Mansfield players leap and one of them headed clear. As the forest of legs leapt, I saw Fens falling underneath.

    Then the ref was whistling for a foul. Manager Irons was apoplectic.

    "That wasn't a foul," I told the fourth official as Irons was busy screaming at the fourth official.

    "See even Pucci agrees with me!" Irons screamed.

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    Midson got his goal.

    The remainder of the match was rather dull except for some great saves by Lincoln to preserve his shutout.

    What annoyed me were several moments such as this one. Thacks hoofed the ball forward into the opposition box in the 69th minute. I would prefer that he pass it to a midfielder and we try to work it into the box. Manfield cleared the ball out and immediately launched a long ball into the space Thacks had vacated. Mansfield striker Harry Panayiotou raced onto it. Any foot race Captain Andy engages in is going to end badly, he has plenty of great qualities, but quickness and speed are not among them.

    Lincoln dove and blocked Panayiotou's shot out for a corner.

    We were going to have to work hard during the week to make sure that we weren't sloppy against bottom feeders Morecambe.

    Cheltenham, Hartlepool and York all won to keep pace with us. Southend lost and Rochdale tied.

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  24. Monday, December 29, 2014 noonish

    "I'm worried about the Morecambe match," I said once we were all sitting down for our coaches meeting. "I think we started getting sloppy and we're going to pay for it against them."

    Assistant Manager Sean Hankin, Coach Mark Woolley, Goalkeeper Coach Paul Rachubka and Chief Scout Lil Fuccillo all nodded.

    "Danny is going to be out a month," blurted out Physio Jon Whitney. "I chatted with him this morning. That ankle is pretty swollen. We'll have a scan when the swelling's gone down."

    "Well that's why I signed Leandro," I said. "We'll be fine."

    "So our focus this week is attacking?" Hanks asked. I nodded.

    "Also, I'm going to offer George, Fenlon and Thacks new contracts," I added. "I don't want someone signing them for next season."

    "Loveridge?" asked Wools.

    "When he regains his confidence and starts scoring again," I replied.

    "Should we mention this to him?" Wools asked.

    "Nah, he'll figure it out. Or he should," I replied. "Lil, tell us about Morecambe."

    "First off, they stink like shrimp that've been left out in the sun for days," he replied. "Secondly, they are not playing without any confidence. Yesterday, against Hartlepool, who I might add lie third, they dominated possession but couldn't score. Hartlepool scored late to snatch the points. It really depends upon how we play, honestly. They're poor at every position but right back. Andy Parrish is their right back and he's solid."

    "They play a 451 with wingers," Lil continued. "But they don't have fast wingers and their striker isn't particularly dangerous. Their defense aside from Parrish is slow and poor. We should be able to do the business against them."
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  25. "Fens, good to see you, sit down, how are you?" I said.

    "Just fine, Gaffa," my left fullback Jim Fenlon replied. "I've been thinking about it and, if you don't mind, I'd like to propose my terms. I'd like to stay, but it's got to be the right deal."

    "Understood. Shoot."

    "I'd like one thousand a week, a two hundred pound appearance fee and the same clean sheet fee," he said. "I also want a twenty-five percent raise once we're promoted."

    "Through next season?" I asked.

    "Yeah."

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ID:	559092"Okay, here's my counter," I said. "I am limited by the Don's Trust to paying you nine hundred, but I can sweeten the deal some other ways. How about three hundred for appearance, three hundred for clean sheets, twelve thousand if you make the team of the year and six thousand if we get promoted?"

    "Um ... sure," he agreed. "Toss in a loyalty bonus and I'll agree."

    "Fine by me," I said. "How's two thousand sound?" He nodded. "That was easy. I'll have the terms drawn up and you can sign them tomorrow."

    We stood and shook hands.

    "Congrats, man," I said. "You've really been solid for us this season."

    "Thanks, boss," Jim said and walked out.
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  26. "Welcome, George," I said shaking hands.

    "Meet my agent, Kevin Payne," George said. We shook, too. George's agent was in a double-breasted pin stripe suit which was in sharp contrast to George's ripped jeans and hoodie and my track suit.

    "We're very interested in what you have to offer," Mr. Payne said.

    "Just to be clear from the get go, but you understand that we as a club have a policy that we don't pay agent fees, right?" I said.

    "I do," said Mr. Payne.

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ID:	559110"Here's my offer sheet," I said sliding it across the table to them.

    They looked it over for a moment then George nodded and smiled.

    "You likes?" I asked.

    "My client appreciates these terms, but I hope you will understand the need for us to go and consider the bigger picture before making our final decision," Mr. Payne said.

    "Please notice that this offer is only good for today," I said pointing at the bottom of the sheet. "Just text me or call with your final decision."

    "I'm glad this was easy," George said as he stood up.

    "Yeah, well I want you here," I replied as we shook hands. "You deserve this."
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  27. "Boss, I ****ing hate this part of football," Kris Thackray blurted out as he walked into the conference room at Kingsmeadow.

    "Relax Kris," I said as we shook hands. "You'll like my offer."

    "Cos my agent in Germany really botched the whole deal," he continued. "My German is really poor and the ****wad tried to bargain so hard that Aachen just refused to talk to me. Even after I fired him."

    "That's because you were meant to come here," I said sliding his offer sheet across the table. "I hope you find this satisfactory."

    "Can I sign now?" Kris asked.

    "Sure," I said and handed him a pen.

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  29. League Two: AFC Wimbledon v. Morecambe FC

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ID:	559705As is the fad, Morecambe lined up like Barca. I have no idea why. They're slow, have poor ball skills and can't press because they're disorganized. We beat them third match of the season 2-1 away.

    The weather is pretty decent for the January. Not southern Spain, but nearly 8C (46F) isn't so bad. I celebrated by donning my scarf and parka but not wearing my stocking hat.

    Their striker Padraig Amond is reasonably quick, but their wingers are slow. David Morgan and Andy Fleming are nothing special. Their defense is poor.

    My subs bench is:

    Daniel Lincoln (GK), Reuben Hazell (D), Brad Smith (D), Steven Gregory (M), Adam Pepper (M), Simon Johnson (M), James Loveridge (F)

    We marched straight down the field from the kick-off and Midson blasted high from 20 yards. Good start.

    The noticeable feature of the first 15 minutes was the inability of Leandro to put in a decent corner or getting anyone to challenge for it in the air. We had three that were easily cleared and the danger came because we always got to the clearance and created a chance after.

    Matteo Nole had our first real chance in the 19th minute, but from a bad angle. He managed to get the ball past the keeper but it rolled past the far post.

    In the 27th minute, Captain Andy Frampton made a fundamental defensive mistake. He didn't know where their forward was when they got the ball. The Shrimpers center back hoofed a ball over his head. Amond was behind him and Thacks was keeping him onside. Amond was first to the ball and calmly slotted past our keeper Chris Dunn.

    0-1

    What would our response be? It came within three minutes.

    Nole drove the left flank and played a ball back and inwards to Leandro Depetris. Leandro drove for the end line, but stopped suddenly and passed backward to the top of the box where Jim Fenlon was standing. Fens saw George Francomb standing all alone on the far side of the box. He zipped the pass over and George smashed it home.

    1-1

    But we conceded again within 5 minutes.

    They played a ball up to Amond who held off Captain Andy then dished to an onrushing Andy Fleming. Dunn blocked the shot, but into Andy. Amond poked the rebound goalward. It ever so slowly rolled as Dunn tried to crawl back and swat it away.

    Mark Tomlinson caming sliding in and attempted to clear it as it rolled across the goal line. He only managed to put it into the side netting.

    1-2

    The players all ran over to the linesman protesting that Amond was off-side. Weak. You ****ing played him onside. ****.

    Okay, bad luck, that sucked. How would we respond?

    Well, they tried. Leandro and Matteo attempted two shots each. As per usual, Matteo's went wide. Leandro's were blocked and saved, respectively.

    "Cam, Andy, Kris and Jim, you can't let their lone forward stand behind you when they have the ball," I said once everyone was sitting down at half time. "Unless, and this is a big unless, you are playing an offside trap. And that **** we were pulling wasn't. Andy and Kris, it's your responsibility to keep a good line. I want less geese flying in a V formation in the sky and more classic Arsenal. Clear?"

    They all nodded.

    "We had bad luck, but we've had plenty of chances," I said. "Just keep plugging and we'll be back in this."

    Now if youinterpret "keep plugging" as passing square or back and waiting for someone else to do something, then we kept plugging. I just kept clenching my jaw tighter and tighter and shoving my hands deeper and deeper into the pockets of my parka.

    At 60 minutes, I put on Loveridge for Nole. I told Lovers I had faith he'd work himself into position to take some shots.

    The response was immediate.

    George brought the ball up the right flank and laid the ball off for Cameron Dummigan on an overlapping run. Cam crossed to the back post for Jack Midson, but they cleared it.

    Loveridge controlled the clearance just inside the top left corner of the box. He made a run for the goal line and tried a near post chip for Midson. Jack slammed his header directly into the face of some poor Morecambe defender. The ball rolled out to the top of the box and it looked like Leandro was going to shoot.

    Unfortunately, he played the ball across the top of the box for Fenlon who blazed high.

    We won a freekick just right of center about 25 yards out in the 66th minute. Leandro grabbed the ball and started his ritual of placing and replacing the ball until it sat perfectly. Everyone lined up to crash the back post while Andy and Thacks disrupted the wall.

    The ref blew his whistle, I held my breathe and I think everyone else in the stadium did the same. Leandro took his three step run up and nearly shattered the crossbar. Everyone groaned.

    Minutes later, it all fell apart.

    They played a ball up to Amond. He stopped it dead and waited to see what options he had. He had one. Both Andy and Thacks were trying to get the ball off of Amond. Andy Fleming saw this and ran into the gap Thacks had left. I had been yelling at Leandro in Spanish to cover Fleming because I saw this run coming yesterday.

    Late runs are murder.

    Apparently, Leandro isn't used to hearing me yelling in Spanish and just jogged back letting Fleming go. Amond flicked the ball into the space, Fleming touched the ball twice and lasered a far post grass burner past Dunn.

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    Goodnight, Alice. We sucked today. Morecambe were professionals about it and saw the game out. A rare and precious away victory for them. You're welcome, Shrimpers.

    Rather than grind my teeth into dust, I started checking the other scores from League Two. Holy Schnikey! Everybody that mattered was losing points. Burton (8th) drew with Southend (6th). Cheltenham (2nd) lost to Rochdale who moved up into 5th with the victory. Hartlepool (3rd) lost to Scunthorpe.

    "First, I want to say that we had some bad luck today," I said after. "But ***** ****ing ***** we stunk it up out there. How the **** did we make Morecambe look good? Nobody worked hard at the right time. You all ran a lot, but so does a ****ing chicken when it gets it's mother****ing head cut off. Every goal was symptomatic of what we do wrong defensively. From our inability to defend against balls over the top to cover runs into the channels to late runs from midfield."

    "Now here comes the ****ing irony of it all," I continued. "Despite it all, we're still first. Everyone lost today. I guess it's better to be lucky than good, eh?

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  30. "And I'll have just the Spaghetti alla Carbonare," I said to the waiter at my favorite Italian restaurant.

    "Thanks," he said and walked off.

    We sat in silence for a moment.

    "So, off to southern France tomorrow," I said.

    "Southern France," Gwen echoed. "Wow."

    "Why so pensive?" I asked. "It'll be awesome."

    "I don't know, actually," she replied. "It's my big break. The one you dream of. I could be on billboards."

    "That would freak me out," I said. "I'd probably crash if I was driving."

    "Yes, officer, I can explain," she said, imitating me. Poorly I might add. "I saw my girlfriend on that billboard back there in a skimpy dress and had a minor brain aneurism or something. Yes, that's why drove into these parked cars."

    "Do I really talk like that?" I asked.

    "Impersonations aren't my specialty," she replied. "But I had the eyebrows and the shoulders correct, didn't I?"

    "I have no idea what you're talking about," I said trying to pretend I'd been insulted.

    "You've got what we call big match jitters," I said. "I've always been nervous before matches. But it seems a million times worse before big matches. This is where routine comes in handy. Same routine every night before bed so my body is prepared to sleep. Pre-game meal, pre-game nap, I always had my pre-game mix I'd play in the car, then the mix I'd play on my iPod. I get dressed in a certain order."

    "Left sock first, left shoe first," she added somewhat mockingly. "You still do it exactly the same way now."

    "The routine helps me relax, helps me focus," I said. "I realize that modeling is a smidge diff than football, but you know what I'm saying. Grasp onto the small things that are easy to control while life changes rapidly before you eyes."

    "It is scary," she said. "I could afford to move out of my parents. God but that's embarrassing to say."

    "You're right to be scared," I said. "I went from broke to more money than I knew what to do with in nearly no time flat. Looking back, the acceleration was ... um ... well, all of a sudden I went from walking and taking the metro to expensive apartment and a sports car and more cash than ..."

    I sighed.

    "Your Lasagna Al Forno, Miss," said the waiter. "And your Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, sir."

    "To the south of France," I said raising my wine glass.

    "Mmmm," she said as we clinked.
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  31. Sunday, January 4th 2014 8:30AM

    "I think I figured out how we should defend when they have a lone striker," Assistant Manager Sean Hankin said once we'd all sat down. "We have Andy marking him and Thacks covering. As in Thacks sweeping up anything Andy doesn't defend properly. He's also a wee bit faster than our Captain."

    "That's a great idea," I said. "Anything else?"

    "Yeah," said Goalkeeper Coach Paul Rachubka. "Go with Lincoln next Saturday. He's been looking great in training. I've got a feeling."

    "Works for me," I said. "We've been letting in a few too many with Dunn between the posts. Our focus this week is defense since we're away to Rotherham. I made a few calls right after the match and we'll be up against the semi-pro club Bognor Regis this Tuesday evening."

    "What you got on Rotherham, Lil?"" I asked.

    "They play 4411 mostly but occasionally use a 451 with wingers," he said. "I think they'll go with the 4411. Jason Scotland will be their striker which is good for us as he's slow. Luke Chadwick is typically their man in the whole. If Tomlinson marks him, we should be good. If you play a 451 as I expect you will, you should have Depetris mark their central midfielder Billy Knott. Anything good that happens for them usually comes through him."

    "Their defense is pretty solid," he continued. "I've been particularly impressed with their right back Julio Rico. At least going forward. He also takes all their free kicks. He's pretty good at the set plays."

    "You're correct Lil, I'm going to deploy the 451," I said. "I want to try James Loveridge at the left midfield spot. Nole's been creating chances for himself, but maybe Loveridge can convert a couple."

    "Oh, one more thing," Lil interjected. "Hit them hard from 15 minutes until half time. Statistics point out that they concede the most during this period."

    "Alrighty," I said. "Let's go out there and help them run off that loss."
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  32. Click image for larger version

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ID:	560058"Paco, how are you?" I said in Spanish when I saw who was calling.

    "Great, great!" my friend and former Assistant Coach at Cadiz Paco Leal said. "I see that we both played like donkey **** yesterday and that despite that we're still both in first!"

    "I have to admit that I didn't check the El Segundo B4 results," I said. "Let me guess. Loss at home?"

    "How did you know?" Paco replied. "I simply don't understand how we continue to do this. We were up against the lowest scoring team in the top ten. Yet, they put three past us. It's utterly insane. We play them off the park, but they manage three really weak, stupid goals."

    "We just lost to the bottom side at home," I said. "We made them look really good. So embarrassing."

    "We lost to San Fernando again," Paco said. "At home. No food poisoning as an excuse this time."

    "Oh, man," I said. "The poor Cadistas! Another year of suffering at the water cooler. Local derby's can be so brutal."

    "How's the model treating you?" he asked.

    I told him about Gwen's big break. He told me the latest with his kids.
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  33. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. Bognor Regis Town

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ID:	560163I put the team out in a 451, because I wanted them to get some goals in this formation. As you'll note, we dominated possession (64%) but the first team couldn't score.

    GK: Daniel Lincoln
    D: Cameron Dummigan, Andy Frampton, Kris Thackray, Jim Fenlon
    M: Mark Tomlinson (DM), George Francomb, Adam Pepper, Leandro Depetris, James Loveridge
    F: Michael Smith

    The second team got the goals in the second half. It was especially nice to see Jack Redshaw score. Simon Johnson hit a long through ball from inside our own half into the channel. Jack raced onto it, got the keeper to go down and scored from a bad angle. Very nicely done. With his skill set and speed, I simply do not understand why he hasn't been able to score.

    The bad news was Kris Thackray left the match in the 33rd minute. Another groin strain. Physio Whitney thinks it'll be three weeks out. ****.

    Now I have a decision to make. Teenager Ben Harrison or Reuben Hazell next Saturday against Rotherham. Seriously, I'm going to lose sleep over this. I vowed Haz wouldn't play in the center again because of his last several performances.

    Quite a dilemma.
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  34. Wednesday, 7 January 2015 9pm or thereabouts.

    "Hey, how was the shoots today?" I asked.

    "Oh, that went well," Gwen replied. "It's everything else."

    "Oh, no," I said. "What's going on?"

    "Okay, this is just mad, utterly mad," she said. "These models I'm with are putting on a show of starving themselves at every meal. They'll eat a half of a single roasted carrot and one leaf of lettuce and that's it. I might be exaggerating a wee bit, but not by all that much. I, on the other hand, had slathered this delicious fresh cream butter on freshly baked bread and was onto my second piece before I noticed that everyone was staring at me in horror. This is at our first dinner after we'd all arrived. I mean the other models were staring at me. John was sitting next to me completely oblivious and already onto his third slice."

    "These women are absolutely ****ing cadaverous," she continued. "And I swear I hear the one in the room next to me purging. You know, throwing up. I think she orders room service then gets all guilty and remorseful because she's consumed calories and up it all comes. Anorexia, bulima and probably a whole lorrie full of other eating disorders of which I don't know the names. It must take a massive amount of photoshopping these women to make them look reasonable. They look awful. It's mad, I tell you, mad."

    "Wow," I said. "And it's not like you eat a lot."

    "I know," she said. "It's so bad that John and me and the make-up lady went out on our own tonight. Had Boullibaisse. Never had that before. God that was good and the cadavers weren't around to kill the buzz. We're going out for drinks in a bit."

    "I just feel like such a ignorant, country girl just moved to the big city," she said. "I just show up and smile and be nice to people and these other models are these mean, cadaverous cows that only bare their surgically altered death mask grins when the cameras are clicking. I don't pay attention to the tabloids, but the murder rate at these shoots must be high as it seems everyone is plotting against everyone else like in some horrid soap. I think the make-up lady, Janice, has taken to me so as to school me in the dark arts of the trade."

    "That and I think most of the models are blowing the producer," she said.

    "Sweet Mary Mother of God that sounds horrendous," I said. "When do you escape again? Friday?"

    "Yes, Friday," she replied. "I just hate, absolutely hate feeling like an obese cow. These cadavers are getting into my head."

    "It's a case of mind over matter," I said.

    "How's that?"

    "You don't mind and they don't matter," I said. "Seriously. **** them. You'll be back in the darkest, most untrendy corner of London soon enough, you'll get your massive payday and you won't have to feel self-conscious eating a ****ing sandwich. You won't have to see any of these women ever again or at least for a while. **** 'em."

    "I miss you," she said.

    "Hang in there, chin up as you native islanders say," I said. "And do what you can to keep that wicked humor of yours in place. I bet you're going to have a lot of funny stories to tell."

    "Yah, see you Friday," she said. "I'll text you when I've landed."

    "We'll go out," I said.
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  35. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
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    Bad news, Wombles, scans are back and @KrisThackray will be out about
    3 weeks with a groin strain. #Wimbledon
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  37. The Late Night Alfa Romeo Report

    I am officially in trouble.

    Gwen even said so herself. I parked the Alfa and waited for her just outside of Customs at Heathrow. She literally ran up, threw her arms around me, gave me a big, wet, sloppy kiss then whispered in my ear that she loved me. I am not an idiot. I had the presence of mind to respond accordingly. Hey, I'm part Italian, you know. I am NOT going to say the wrong thing in a situation like this. That would be against my nature.

    So after a romantic dinner, she was not in the mood to go out on the town. It was as we walked into my flat that she pinned me up against the wall and informed me of how much trouble I was in.

    So here I am, lying in bed unable to sleep.

    It's been eight, short, whirlwind months in southwest London. My Alfa Romeo has never run better. As metaphor for my life it's passenger seat is frequently filled with a gorgeous woman who just informed me of her undying love. I am excelling at my job.

    The worry underlying dating Gwen is that I'd be a fling. The dating-an-older-man thing. So she can say she'd been there done that. So you all had probably noticed a certain ambivalence, a certain amount of detached observation perhaps, toward Gwen. But come on, what would you do if you found yourself dating a model?

    Yes, I am definitely in trouble. The best kind of trouble.

  38. League Two: Rotherham United FC v. AFC Wimbledon

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ID:	560728It was much nicer when we got on the bus at 9am at Kingsmeadow. After a bus ride to King's Cross, a train ride up north to Rotherham and a bus ride to the New York Stadium, the temperature had dropped to 3C (37F). Now it's only a 2 or 3 degree drop, but now it's afternoon.

    New York Stadium is new and really quite nice. Then again it's only 2 years old.

    My subs are:

    Chris Dunn (GK), Ben Harrison (D), Brad Smith (D), Steven Gregory (M), Simon Johnson (M), Matteo Nole (M), Jack Redshaw (F)

    Rotherham have lined up exactly as Lil predicted they would. I told Mark Tomlinson to mark Chadwick and for Leandro Depetris to mark Billy Knott. These two and Scotland were to get extra helpings of special sauce.

    As you can tell, I've set us up not to lose. We'll frustrate them first and build from there.

    Michael Smith blasted over from the edge of the box after 5 minutes to get things started.

    12 minutes in and Tomlinson was laid out flat on his back. Rotherham midfielder Billy Knott had the ball and spun to protect the ball as Mark ran up. Knott didn't like Mark trying to get to the ball and decked him with an elbow.

    "WHAT THE **** WAS THAT?" I screamed at the ref. Wimbledon players surrounded the ref, Craig Pawson, demanding a red card. Instead Pawson signaled a free kick for Rotherham.

    "Did Tomlinson's skull illegally connect with his elbow?" I asked the fourth official. "What possibly could Pawson have called?"

    "Hold on," the fourth official said and had a quick conversation over the headset. "Tomlinson for shirt pulling."

    "So neither the linesman nor Pawson saw the elbow that has knocked out Tomlinson?" I asked. "Then why the hell is he unconscious?"

    By this time, Whitney was checking him out. After a moment, Mark was stretchered off. Gregory knew the routine and had gotten himself warming up the moment Mark dropped.

    "Godammit, Whits, let me stand up," Tomlinson complained as the stretcher went past me. "I'm fine."

    "Mark, we're not risking a concussion," Whitney said. "Stay down and let's check you out."

    We had two quick chances after Julio Rico blasted the free kick high. Then we had three shots blocked in succession. Rotherham weren't able to get the ball into our half and we were starting to dominate.

    In the 24th minute, Lincoln hoofed a goal kick over the center circle for Smith. He headed down to Leandro. Leandro played it out wide for Loveridge. He beat Rios and charged into the box with Rios on his tale. Rios tried a tackle from behind and only managed to chop out Lover's legs.

    TWEET!

    Rotherham players surrounded the ref complaining about something. I have no idea what. Leandro placed the ball on the spot and started placing and replacing it until he got it just right. By the time he was done, the protestations had subsided.

    0-1

    Miller's keeper Adam Collin never had a chance. Leandro placed it in the upper corner.

    But within seconds we'd given up our lead. Keeper Collin punted it forward. Gregory won the header but right to Rotherham's other central midfielder Matt Dolan who headed it into the channel between Frampton and Dummigan. Of course, since you already know they scored, you know that Frampton had no idea where Rotherham's lone striker Jason Scotland was.

    1-1

    Scotland hit a perfect first time shot into the far upper corner.

    Hanks was off the bench screaming at Frampton and Hazell. I know that they'd talked all week and worked all week on keeping track of the opposing strikers. Frampton was supposed to mark Scotland and Haz was supposed to cover. Because the play was a bang-bang type of play, Haz had no chance to cover.

    Frampton put up his hand to recognize that he'd blown the coverage.

    Smith bailed him out just two minutes after the restart by not at all figuratively but literally bulldozing through the Miller's defense to give us our lead back. Smith got the ball and spun on center back Pierce Sweeney. He then ran at him. At the edge of the box, Sweeney stepped up. I know the ploy. You decide that the ball might get past you and the man might get past you, but not both. He failed utterly. He simply bounced off Smith and the ball fell favorably right in front of Michael.

    The other defender came flying across with a last ditch tackle which Smith rode, maintained his balance and tried to go through the keeper's legs. It hit the keeper's knee, rebounded up at Michael's head and he nodded it past the fallen keeper.

    1-2

    He ran over to the Wombles in the corner, turned, spread his arms and waited for the tsunami of blue shirts to engulf him. That was smashmouth hockey at it's finest.

    Smith had two more chances before half time, but just couldn't convert. Rotherham had nothing.

    "I know none of you have probably ever watched hockey, but Smith's goal is what you would call smashmouth hockey or in this case smashmouth football," I said to begin my half time talk. "That was epic."

    "Aside from the goal which it looks like we got it all sorted out now, we've played great," I said. "Just keep plugging up the midfield and playing the pass that's in front of you. Great job, keep it up."

    We kept them at bay to start the second half. They'd probably had a stern lecture from the manager about their play. I know I would have.

    George Francomb put the game to bed in the 63rd minute. Leandro took a free kick from the right and about 50 yards from goal. Everybody lined up for a back post special. Instead, Leandro spotted George at the top of the box and Rotherham didn't get out in time to block the shot. It managed to sneak through.

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    Minutes later Smith killed it dead. Lincoln punted the ball down the right flank spotting George unmarked. He streaked past the defender and whipped in a cross for the late arriving Smith. He volleyed it home.

    1-4

    Now you might think that this was all easy peasy. You'd be wrong. After each goal, Captain Andy lost track of Scotland and Rotherham played a ball into space for Scotland to run onto. Each time, Haz couldn't get over to cover. Each time we got lucky. The first time, after our third, Scotland's shot dribbled just wide. The second time, Lincoln saved him further embarrassment by tipping the ball just wide of the far post.

    I wasn't about to lay into our Captain in the changing room after such a nice, solid victory, but we needed to defend better. Hanks and I were going to need to figure this out.

    We now had some separation. We were nine points above Wycombe in the last playoff place. Cheltenham had won to keep pace with us, but Hartlepool had lost were five points behind us in third.

    While I would really like to win the league, promotion was most important. And the good news is we have seven points separation from fourth place and needing a playoff to gain promotion.

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  40. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
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Size:  4.8 KBEnrico Pucci @enricopucci - 10 Jan
    Worry not, Wombles, @MarkTomlinson responded well to his testing and
    doesn't appear to have a concussion. #Wimbledon
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  41. Sunday, 11 January 2015, noon

    "I've watched that video a dozen times and I think we should ask the FA to review that elbow," I said once everyone was sitting down for our coaches meeting. "Knott definitely threw an elbow."

    "I'll have Mark do his baseline tests again this afternoon," Physio Jon Whitney said. "Double check everything is okay. Sometimes concussion symptoms are late blooming, so to speak."

    "I'm shocked he doesn't have a concussion," Assistant Manager Sean Hankin said.

    "I know, he was out cold for a moment," Coach Mark Woolley added.

    "Thoughts about yesterday?" I asked.

    "I'm concerned about how many chances Scotland had," Hanks said. "Frampton was exposed. Framps should have been able to handle him."

    "Losing Mark so early was the reason," Wools replied. "Mark is several leagues better than Gregory."

    "And improving every game," Hanks interjected.

    "Well," said Fitness Coach Dave Wilson. "Framps is getting slower. I've got him on a leg work program to keep what quickness he can but there's only so much we can do, he's 35 after all."

    "So we need to protect Framps and Haz, don't we," I said. "Next Saturday, I want to play 442 at home against Scunthorpe but I'll take your suggestion that we need Mark and Leandro to stay back and make sure we don't have a gap between midfield and the D."

    "Especially Leandro," Hanks added. "He tends to forget his defensive duties."

    "What you got, Lil," I asked.

    "Scunthorpe give up a lot of goals in the second half," Chief Scout Lil Fuccillo. "Hold them in the first. They don't score much at all in the second."

    "They play a 442 and you need to worry about their striker Jayden Stockley," he continued. "Their left back is out which is good cos he's one of their top assist men. Fenlon will need to keep a close eye on their right midfielder, Yohan Lasimant."

    "Bottom line is Scunthorpe have one of the best defenses in the league, this is going to be a tight game," Lil concluded.

    "Mid-week friendly to keep the second stringers fresh," I said. "Anyone got anything else?"
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  42. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
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    Congrats to @michaelsmith11 and @reubenhazell for making the League
    Two Team of the Week! bb.co/8Jml9a #Wimbledon
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  43. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
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    Confirmation that @MarkTomlinson does not have a concussion and will
    be available for Scunthorpe United's visit this Saturday. #Wimbledon
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  44. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. St. Albans City

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ID:	566688It's Tuesday, 13 January and we welcome St. Albans City to The Fans Stadium - Kingsmeadow for an evening friendly match so my second string players can stay match fit.

    Because we have so many injuries, Reuben Hazell and Brad Smith will have to start but Smith only played 45 minutes and Hazell 73. I let Haz stay in for so long because he spent the majority of the match standing around. Matteo Nole and Steven Gregory also only played 45; I will need them fresh for next Saturday.

    Unfortunately, Simon Johnson fell and landed on his elbow. Physio Whitney says he'll probably be out two weeks. Harry Pell replaced him and played reasonably well.

    I'm still frustrated that Redshaw is unable to score. On paper, he should have been a good signing. He's fast and finishes well. Oh, those intangibles...

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  45. Click image for larger version

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ID:	566844Wednesday, 14 January 2015 2pm (or so)

    "Oof," I said as Michael Smith hammered a shot off of keeper Chris Dunn's shin. Coach Mark Woolley had the wingers and strikers working on one-timing angled passes.

    "It's like this every training, every day," Wools sighed. "I've been working with Michael for how long now on placing his shots? I don't know. He's just not picking up on placing his shots."

    "Like Lovers," I remarked as James Loveridge slid a pass between Dunn's legs and into the net.

    "Well maybe not quite like Lovers as Lovers can't do that in a match," Wools replied.

    "Point taken," I said.

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ID:	566846My phone jangled in my pocket.

    "It's the boss," I said to Wools and strolled off.

    "Erik, what's up?" I said.

    "Grimsby want to loan Fabian Rowe," Chairman Erik Samuelson said. "And Fabian has agreed to it."

    "What? That is good news," I replied. "I'm finally rid of The Entitled One."

    "While the loan lasts until the end of the season, don't forget he's still yours until June 2016," Erik said.

    "I'll let him burn that bridge after he crosses it," I replied. "Anything else?"

    "No, just battling with Merton Council's Zoning and Planning Board," he said. "Some day hopefully before I pass on, the club will be in a new stadium."

    "Hang in there," I said. "It'll all pull together."

    "I hope so. Goodbye."

    Click.
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  47. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
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    FA declines to review incident in which @MarkTomlinson was knocked
    out by Billy Knott. #Wimbledon
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  48. League Two: AFC Wimbledon v. Scunthorpe United FC

    Attachment 568759Attachment 568757I've got running tights under my pants then track suit over my pants. I've got a sweater and my Wimbledon scarf and Wimbledon hat on then my official Wenger-style Wimbledon puffy parka. The official temperature is 5C (41F) but with the damp and the wind and the wind-blown rain which varies from ice drops to ice shards to biblical downpour, today is really going to suck.

    Despite the inhospitable weather, Kingsmeadow is packed and jumping. Props to the fans. Seriously.

    They're singing "the wind and the rain won't stop the pain that we are going to inflict on you" and chanting "you beat us five to two, we're going to kick you in the [indecipherable]." What ever it is they're chanting it rhymes with two.

    My subs are:
    Chris Dunn (GK), Ben Harrison (D), Cameron Dummigan (D), Steven Gregory (M), Harry Pell (M), Adam Pepper (M), Jack Midson (F)

    I told them to carry on from the last match. I told them to be careful and not get They looked pretty pumped up to set things straight after last September's ass whuppin' so I didn't say much else.

    We started out strongly. Michael Smith hit the post in the 3rd minute after George Francomb played him in. James Loveridge hit the crossbar in the 6th after nearly everyone touched the ball as we prodded and probed the Scunthorpe defense. The rebound fell to Matteo Nole at the top left of the box, but he shot high.

    In the 10th minute, Smith played a ball in behind the right back for Nole to run onto. The Scunthorpe right back Grant Ward lunged with a desperation tackle and only managed to take out Nole's feet.

    The ref pointed to the spot and flashed a yellow card at Ward.

    Leandro Depetris jogged over and picked up the ball. While Ward's teammates begged and protested, Leandro placed and replaced the ball until it sat just how he liked it. Then he stood staring at the ball until the ref blew the whistle. The keeper guessed the right way, but smashed his shot into the lower corner.

    1-0

    We responded just like I wanted them to: we kept possession and kept the ball in their end.

    Their first chance was a harmless long-range shot in the 26th minute.

    In the 29th minute, everyone charged the goal on a corner except for Smith. Leandro played the corner into the mixer and it was cleared out to Smith. His volley nearly shattered the upright.

    I could barely see this the rain was driving so hard. And I was at midfield. I can't imagine the fans at the far end could see much.

    But with a half hour gone, we'd hit the post twice and the crossbar once. Were we going to regret these close misses?

    In the 39th minute, Leandro crouched down then sat down and waved. When Nole put the ball out, Physio Whitney ran out and nearly immediately signaled that his day was done. Once Adam Pepper was warmed up, I sent him on.

    At half time I told them to change into dry kits. It's no fun to sit around in clothes for 15 minutes. Once they were all changed, I told them to keep it up. They were doing everything I wanted except for the woodwork bits, after all. Scunthorpe hadn't really threatened us at all.

    The first fifteen minutes of the second were relatively nice weather-wise. Both teams took advantage of the 'nice' weather and took it easy.

    The action finally picked up in the 58th when Lovers sent Smith in alone on goal. Smith's goal trickled an inch wide.

    From the long goal kick, Scunthorpe gained control and brought the ball into our half. Suddenly, the Iron were passing like we usually do and eventually set up their striker Jayden Stockley. Daniel Lincoln parried Stockley's heavy shot and the ball fell to their other striker Kwame Thomas.

    From his butt, Lincoln swatted Thomas' shot right back at him. Thomas helped us out by blasting the subsequent shot wide.

    From this point on, Scunthorpe kept the ball in our half except for rare forays by us. On one of those rare forays, Lovers hit the post from 5 yards out. Our third post of the day.

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    That was Loveridge's last action of the game. I sent on Steven Gregory and switched to a 451 with Gregs patroling in front of our central defenders. It was time to park the bus and see this baby out.

    With 15 minutes left, I pulled off Francombe. I sent on Cameron Dummigan and moved Brad Smith up to right midfield. Everything was going great until the 87th minute when I saw Brad laying on the ground clutching his knee. I hadn't seen what happened but this meant that we'd have to play the remainder of the game with ten men.

    The only tense moment was one minute into the four minutes of extra time when Reuben Hazell made a brilliant sliding tackle but only managed to poke the ball into Yohann Lasimante's path. But Lincoln was up to the challenge and saved the points with a diving save.

    Nole cleared and Scunthorpe couldn't manage another chance.

    We survived hitting 3 posts and the crossbar.

    All play-off teams except for 7th place Rochdale won. We have a 7 point cushion over 4th place Southend and this means a 7 point cushion for an automatic promotion spot.

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    AndySams10, hu, dainis and 1 others like this.

  49. I hate league 2. No matter how many games you win, there's always some AI jerk who is a point behind you!
    kewlwarez and dainis like this.

  50. Quote Originally Posted by mking1992 View Post
    I hate league 2. No matter how many games you win, there's always some AI jerk who is a point behind you!
    "AI jerk" ... I love it. It has been remarkably strange that if I lose, everyone drops points. If I win, everyone wins. The bottom line is the 7 points cushion I have for automatic promotion.
    dainis and Nurquidi98 like this.

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