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The Alfa Romeo Metaphor

  1. "Hey, you on your way over?"

    "Hi. Look out the window."

    "Huh? Okay. What's up."

    "Just look out the window."

    "Okay okay I'm walking over. Not much to ... wait ... is that? Seriously? Did you just go out and buy a Volvo SUV?"

    "Well, I'm an utterly **** driver and when I wreck I figure I'll have the best chance of living in a Volvo."

    "Sweet Mary Mother of God."

    "Ooh I love it when you swear in Italian. So sexy. Please bring that American-Italian butt down here and let's go get some dinner. I can't see any parking anywhere on the block."

    "Wow, nice interior," I said as I opened the door to the luminescent sky blue Volvo SUV. "And it's got that new car smell. Nice leather. ****ing everything in here is leather?"

    "So you approve?" she asked.

    "Who cares what I think," I replied. "I'm guessing your check for your work in southern France cleared. Where are we off to?"

    "You'll see," she said.

    We were doted upon at one of greater London's finer establishments. The kind of place I ate at all the time when I was playing. I felt kind of weird the whole time. Kind of guilty or something. I'd gotten so used to frequenting places like this then experienced destitution when I ate the cheapest box items out of the grocery store freezer section.

    "Is something wrong? Gwen asked after the plates were cleared from our final course.

    "No, I mean yes ... um," I stuttered. "It's just ... I don't know ... let me put it this way. Um, so you know about my life when I was playing. This was dinner three or four times a week."

    "This," I said gesturing to the whole of the restaurant. "This got normal. Maid. Everything laundered. Limos. Pampered in every possible way. Blowing twenty five grand over the course of a week's vacation was no big deal. Then when everything fell apart ... well ... um ... walking past places like this because my Alfa was in the shop and I had no money for the repairs ... I probably spent twenty grand over the two years when things were at their worst."

    "Was, was this, this a mistake?" Gwen asked quietly. She was both concerned and confused.

    "No no no no no," I said. I put my hand out across the table and put it on hers. "This is a party in celebration of you being awesome. No, I'm just weirded out, freaked out because, um, because well let's just gaze into a possible future..."

    "Really?" she said and smiled her devious grin. The problem is this grin is probably what will make her modeling career. I nearly melted. I always nearly do.

    "Yeah, so let's imagine your modeling career takes off," I said once I pulled myself together. "As it sure looks like it is. I'm not doing too shabby, currently with Wimbledon. But I'll either get sacked and get a job with a bigger club or a bigger club will come in for me. Thirty six is really quite young for a manager, by the way. Imagine that the money is flowing. We could be in Spain or Italy."

    "I would love to live in either," she added.

    "My point is to not get I don't know too used to being utterly spoiled. I don't even know how to say this. Or say it right. I mean, there's comfortable and then there's flaunting it because you can. I don't even know if this makes any sense."

    "It does," Gwen replied. "My Mum and Dad's place doesn't look like much, but they've got several hundred thousand pounds worth of art hanging on the walls. Art that I smeared Nutella on and Mum cleaned it up. My Dad holds two patents. Mum's made a quite healthy salary at Royal Academy. I imagine that the house was paid for long, long ago. I think I know what you're getting at."

    "Okay, yeah," I said. "Maybe it's more like this ... don't let it go to our head's. You know, let it get out of control or something."

    "That seems wise," she said. "So let me pose this to you: what do you think about us moving in together? Officially. I've absolutely GOT to get the **** out of my parents house and I'm over most nights anyway."
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 02/05/2014 at 05:18 AM.

  2. absolutely entertaining
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  3. Quote Originally Posted by AinsleyLee View Post
    absolutely entertaining
    Thank you so much!
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  4. Yeeaaah if this story could jusr go on forever, that'd be great.
    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-screenshot_2014-05-03-02-48-08.png
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  5. Sunday, January 18, 2015 noon

    "As soon as we started hitting the woodwork, I was sure it wasn't going to be our day," I said to start off our coach's meeting.

    "They just never did much with all the time they had on the ball," Assistant Manager Sean Hankin said.

    "And you were loving the weather," Coach Matt Woolley added.

    "Look, the one side of my face is still red," I replied. "I've never been in a hurricane but there were a couple of minutes in the first half there ..."

    Everyone nodded.

    "You going to stay with Danny Lincoln in net?" Goalkeeping Coach Paul Rachubka asked.

    "Probably," I replied. "I made the switch just because we played like **** in front of Dunn against Morecambe and Danny hasn't given me a reason to take him out. It's not Dunn's fault."

    "I want to emphasize that we did a lot right yesterday and on any other day, we would have won by more," I continue. "With that in mind, what do we have to look forward to against Torquay next week?"

    "Torquay are the lowest scoring team in the promotion race," Chief Scout Lil Fuccillo said. "They also give up quite a lot of goals but only on the road. They've only given up 11 goals at home in 14 matches. We're the only team stingier at home. They're just great at home. We should be happy to come away with a point."

    "They play 442 at home," Lil continued. "left midfielder Jason Twum is a Blackpool prospect. He's pretty quick and should keep Dummigan's hands full. Their forwards Tom Hitchcock, a QPR prospect, and Kieffer Moore combine well at home. Moore is built rather like Peter Crouch so it's unfortunate that Thackray is out as we could use a tall defender against him."

    "Haz and Framps will have to do," I interjected. "Anything else?" Lil shook his head. "Well, you all know what we're focusing on this week."

    Everyone nodded.
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  6. Quote Originally Posted by mking1992 View Post
    Yeeaaah if this story could jusr go on forever, that'd be great.
    Attachment 570278
    LOL. I love that movie.

    I'm having a good time writing this so you may get your wish.
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  7. Rog: Now on the Men in Blazers podcast we want to change the focus ...

    Davo: Not that anyone could ever tire of us discussing the money boys ...

    Rog: The money list ...

    Davo: But here at Men in Blazers we occasionally like the story the pulls the heart strings ...

    Rog: And redemption, too ...

    Davo: Yes, redemption, too. So let's get into the Men in Blazers time machine and go back to the early eighties ...

    Rog: To the diaper years ...

    Davo: maybe for you but to a time when a plucky bunch of violent but talented players rose from non-League to Division One.

    Rog: We are of course talking about Wimbledon FC. The Crazy Gang.

    Davo: You will know us by the trail of blood.

    Rog: That's a band you know.

    Davo: I do.

    Rog: They won the FA Cup in 1988 over Liverpool. THE Liverpool. Not just anybody's Liverpool. The all-conquering Reds that won everything all the time. Wimbledon became one of the founding clubs of the Premier League.

    Davo: John Fashanu, Vinnie Jones twice, Davey Bassett, Dave Beasant, Bobby Gould, Joe Kinnear ...

    Rog: Before he lost his mind.

    Davo: There were so many names.

    Rog: So many.

    Davo: But then a foreign owner got sick of their horrible ...

    Rog: Awful

    Davo: stadium situation and moved the team to Milton Keynes.

    Rog: This is the tear jerker part. The fans had their team ripped away from them. There were protests, tears ...

    Davo: Gnashing of teeth ...

    Rog: And the fans did the only thing they could think of, they formed a new club. They even forced the newly-moved team to change their name.

    Davo: And so AFC Wimbledon was formed. The field good story of the century.

    Rog: Isn't it weird to say that? This century ...

    Davo: They held try-outs that were open to the public on Wimbledon Commons. They joined the lowest division and like their spiritual forefathers climbed up the divisions. Five divisions in nine years.

    Rog: Which is incredible.

    Davo: Incredible.

    Rog: They survived their first season back in the professional leagues, League Two, just barely. So what did they do, Davo?

    Davo: Sacked their manager.

    Rog: But not just any old manager, they sacked one of the names. They sacked Neal Ardley, the former Dons player.

    Davo: Now any other club, this would be the death knell. They'd be dropping back into the Skrill.

    Rog: You've never had the chance to say that, have you. Say it again ...

    Davo: Skrill? No, I haven't. But we always try to break new ground here at the Men in Blazers podcast. But you see this club is Wimbledon. They just don't operate like any other club

    Rog: Well, for one, they are owned by the fans. One of the few teams in this world who are financially sound. They even bought the stadium they were renting to help out their landlord, Kingstonian, who were in financial trouble.

    Davo: So what do they do? They hire a Yank to manage their team.

    Rog: But not just any Yank. This particular Yank is Italian-American and played in the midfield for Bologna in Italy. And his name?

    Davo: Enrico Pucci.

    Rog: And what does this upstart do? This upstart who's lone managing job was in the south of Spain at Cadiz in the Spanish equivalent of League Two, El Segundo?

    Davo: He guts the squad and rebuilds it from scratch nearly. Now this is Wimbledon who hold a raffle to raise money for a new player. This is a team without any money.

    Rog: All his new signings are Bosman transfers. And he promotes a few teenagers from the youth squad. His midfield tandem are both teens.

    Davo: Their top scorer, a young man named Michael Smith, had been loaned out by Ardley and he was intending to let him go. Their other top scorer is twenty.

    Rog: From his contacts in Italy he's brought in a winger and a back-up midfielder.

    Davo: Both on frees.

    Rog: Of course, this is Wimbledon after all.

    Davo: And this bunch are leading League Two.

    Rog: It's such a feel good story.

    Davo: How can you hate them. How?

    Rog: You can't. It's the fan's team, financially sound. They even hold on-line fundraisers to help the team and people who are lifelong supporters of other clubs help. It's fabulous.

    Davo: So they'll very likely be up in League One next season. Six divisions in ten years.

    Rog: And the irony of it, well maybe not irony ...

    Davo: schadenfreude maybe ...

    Rog: Yes. And this would be better far better than let's say Sunderland finishing higher than Newcastle ...

    Davo: Or Everton above Liverpool ...

    Rog: Well maybe Newcastle getting relegated while Sunderland stay up. Which just happened a few years ago.

    Davo: True.

    Rog: The ultimate schadenfreude-irony of it all is that MK Dons are very, very likely to be relegated from League One this season.

    Davo: The Dons or Wombles as they are also called may never face their mortal enemy.

    Rog: In the league at least. They faced each other last year in the FA Cup.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 03/05/2014 at 05:07 AM.

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    So then there was Torquay


    Don E. Brook, 23 Jan 2015 17:03

    I have always enjoyed the drive along the south coast. Last season we kicked off our campaign on a beautiful August day. Played our first professional match in Torquay and drew 1-1. We won 3-0 last September. A satisfying early season victory on a pleasant autumn day.

    Tomorrow will not be pleasant, I've seen the forecast. The wind will howl. If it rains, and this is England after all, we will be blasted. The stormtroopers that pose as stewards will strictly enforce all the inane regulations. Apparently, smiling, singing, chanting and smoking are all illegal in Torquay. At least one of the four is true. Is it too hard to allow a fan a fag now and again?

    As for the match, Don Pucci (as he's been nicknamed by his charges) will play cautiously. I expect Smith to be foraging alone, bereft of my assistance. Pucci is most likely to fill the midfield focusing on our proud Womble agricultural traditions of violence and shirt-pulling.

    One thing is certain, there will be few goals. Torquay don't score much. I fear both side will park their buses (curse Mourinho) on the top of their respective boxes and wait for the rain to fall. Nonetheless, Duff, Trash and I are on one of the chartered buses bound for the south coast tomorrow.

    As always, hope for the best expect poor ref'ing.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 08/05/2014 at 12:39 AM.
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  9. League Two: Torquay United FC v. AFC Wimbledon

    Attachment 574359It's January and we're heading down to the south coast. The wind is howling off the channel from the south. Plainmoor stadium is small and does nothing to slow down the wind. It's a fairly new stadium and has recently been revamped and the visiting changing room is small but has working amenities.

    But let's face it. The wind chill is what makes standing outside today miserable. On top of that it was raining lightly. But near gale force winds turns raindrops into something similar to a BB gun pellet. As you can well imagine, I'm completely bundled up.

    With the injuries to Daniel Barlaser (fit enough to come on late) and Leandro Depetris plus Mark Tomlinson's 2 match ban for 10 yellows, I decided to experiment a tad.

    Brad Smith starts at right midfield because George Francomb needs a rest. So that's pretty weird foursome across the midfield. I'm hoping James Loveridge will attack from the left wing. The combination of Matteo Nole and Lovers makes our left side pretty fast.

    "Keep the ball on the ground and I want the wind at our back in the second half, right Andy?" I said to begin my team talk. Captain Andy Frampton nodded.

    "We've started a nice run, we're playing the kind of football we're capable of, let's keep the run going," I continued. "We've worked hard all week on denying the space on defense. I have faith we can do it for real against Torquay today. I have faith that when we keep the ball moving, we create lots of chances. Work hard for each other, okay?"

    We lost the coin toss and would face into the wind for the second half. That's the luck.

    Brad was so excited to play right mid that he nearly scored after 13 seconds. Great diving save by the Torquay keeper Michael Poke.

    In the 11th minute, Torquay's left midfielder Jason Twum beat Cam Dummigan and whipped in a cross. The wind bent the cross about 10 feet and their striker Kieffer Moore must be accustomed to this wind because he smashed a volley that forced Daniel Lincoln to dive to save.

    The early exchanges were decent chances for us and long-range, wind-aided shots from them.

    On 24 minutes, Michael Smith received a pass about 40 yards out and all alone. I expected him to dish it off, but he spun the midfielder who was marking him and ran at the two central defenders. They kept backing off and backing off and backing off and he created himself some space with a shoulder fake and zipped a low drive under the keeper from 10 yards.

    0-1

    He ran over to the away fans behind that goal to celebrate. The Torquay manager Alan Knill was beside himself as well he should be. That was some seriously **** defending. Reminded me of how Cadiz would defend at home last year.

    Torquay got a great chance a half an hour in but squandered it. Twum beat Cam again and dribbled into the box. He didn't shoot at 15 yards even though he had a clear opportunity but kept dribbling. Cam is faster than him and caught up with him at the 6 yard box and forced him toward the end line. He passed back to the top of the box where midfielder Jordan Stewart was standing all alone.

    Jim Fenlon cleared his shot off the line.

    Then it got dull until just before half time. We gifted Courtney Cameron a double opportunity to score. Reuben Hazell blocked the first attempt and Lincoln saved the second. Then we squandered several chances in quick succession before Torquay's Lee Mansell blazed wide after a rugby-style scrum near the penalty spot.

    The second half started rather dull. The action began in the 49th when Twum beat Cam again. Lincoln snared his cross. He drop-kicked the ball into the wind and managed to get it over the half line. Smith challenged but they won the header. Lovers got to the ball first and raced goalward.

    The mob of Torquay defenders that had accumulated by the time Lovers got to the edge of the penalty box managed to knick the ball off him. One of them chipped it down the right flank. The wind turned the chip into a long ball and right at their striker Kieffer Moore who had drifted out onto our left flank.

    Moore ran for the end line but noticed that he was all alone. So he played a ball back to the trailing Mansell. Mansell saw that Cam had forgotten about Twum and had drifted inside. Mansell crossed to the wide open Twum.

    Twum shot right into Lincoln's stomach.
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    But if you give a footballer enough high quality chances he's eventually going to score. That's precisely what happened in the 61st minute. Cam got caught upfield on a Torquay counter. Mansell lobbed the ball in front of Twum. Twum controlled the cross, jogged goalward and smashed a shot past Lincoln.

    1-1

    My face met my palm. Cam stood there 25 yards from goal performing the double-face palm of shame.

    There wasn't much left in this match. 30 more minutes of Torquay hoofing the ball forward and us repelling their attack.

    I replaced Adam Pepper with Danny Boy at 70 minutes. Smith started limping around the 80th minute so I replaced him with Jack Midson in the 84th. And Ben Harrison went on for Fenlon for the last three or four minutes.

    Cheltenham, who are in 2nd, lost so we gained a point on them. Southend and York both won, though. I'll take a point against the 7th place team, away and in these conditions.

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  10. Mate, I have to tell you, I have been captivated for hours.... this is the best FM story I have ever read & I'm only half way. Awesome job!
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  11. I have read the whole story from the beginning till the now in last weeks and just feeling like... wow! This is the best I ever saw/read about FM and I hope this never ends and I'll always wait for a new part, this is just undescribely fascinating and enthralling! Gonna support this thread till the end, honestly...

  12. Quote Originally Posted by jumpintriples View Post
    Mate, I have to tell you, I have been captivated for hours.... this is the best FM story I have ever read & I'm only half way. Awesome job!
    jimintriples, First off, thank you. This must mean you're still in beautiful Cadiz. Ah, Cadiz. Well, you're in for a few surprises.

    Quote Originally Posted by dainis View Post
    I have read the whole story from the beginning till the now in last weeks and just feeling like... wow! This is the best I ever saw/read about FM and I hope this never ends and I'll always wait for a new part, this is just undescribely fascinating and enthralling! Gonna support this thread till the end, honestly...
    Thanks so much, dainis.

    Since I typically buy a new FM every two years, I think you'll be quite pleased to know that this might continue for a while. It seems that I can get through a season each quarter so if everything works out this story arc might continue past the game year of 2020.
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  13. I think it's fantastic too.

    My only gripe is that the games seem to be one every 3 or 4 updates.. i know this is to build story and everything (which i completely understand why you'd do that btw) but i fear you might not get as far as you want to achieve as you aren't getting the games in the locker.. Enrico said Anna and Gwen about maybe moving to a bigger club but i definitely fear that may not happen due to the amount of story builders..

    don't get me wrong i do believe this is the best story going on FM currently (i would say ever but stonecold's Aberdeen save last year beats it because i am an Aberdeen supporter)

  14. Quote Originally Posted by MatthewElphinstone View Post
    I think it's fantastic too.

    My only gripe is that the games seem to be one every 3 or 4 updates.. i know this is to build story and everything (which i completely understand why you'd do that btw) but i fear you might not get as far as you want to achieve as you aren't getting the games in the locker.. Enrico said Anna and Gwen about maybe moving to a bigger club but i definitely fear that may not happen due to the amount of story builders..

    don't get me wrong i do believe this is the best story going on FM currently (i would say ever but stonecold's Aberdeen save last year beats it because i am an Aberdeen supporter)
    Point noted. This story is EPICALLY slow maybe even glacial. If I was a painter I would be a realist, maybe a pointilist or maybe like the landscape painter Canaletto. Too much detail but pleasant (I by no means intend to compare myself the the master, Canaletto, btw).

    I hope to emulate some of my favorite authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Umberto Eco and Neal Stephenson. Once you're hooked, it's like meth ... you're not about to stop. This is the effect I hope to create.
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  15. Sunday, 25 January 2015 noonish

    "Smith is probably out for a week tops, it's just a stubbed toe," Physio Jon Whitney said stepping out of the treatment room at New Malden, Wimbledon's training ground. "So relax. You all hovering out here like a bunch of expectant first-time fathers is pathetic. Pathetic."

    "So he misses Barnet and Northampton," I said.

    "Yes, you understand proper English, your parents will be so proud to hear this now quit chewing your nails to the bone don't you have anything better to do?" Whitney continued. "You know they can all see you don't you?"

    "Wee bit tetchy this morning?" Assistant Manager Sean Hankin said.

    "It's afternoon and, yes, I'm a wee bit to busy can't you see?" Whitney retorted.

    The treatment room was overflowing. To be honest, this is typical. Long-term injury Pat Baldwin sat patiently to the side. He'd get his hip massaged once training started. Michael Smith sat in chair with his foot in a bucket of ice. Daniel Barlaser was getting his hamstring massaged when Whitney stepped out to talk to us. Leandro Depetris was waiting for his compulsory concussion after-effects tests which Whitney would run. Kris Thackray was taking an ice pack off his groin and was about to put a hot water bottle in his crotch to make sure it got all the way loosened up. George Francomb was doing some stretches to make sure the muscles around the ribs he'd bruised loosened up all the way. Stephen Gregory, Andy Frampton, Reuben Hazell and Daniel Lincoln were all icing bruises.

    In other words, Whitney didn't really need us bothering him just then. We all slunk away to get the training drills prepared.
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  16. League Two: AFC Wimbledon v. Barnet FC

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ID:	576441It's a cold Tuesday night in London. 2 ****ing degrees Celsius (37F). You all know me by this point; I'm bundled up in nearly everything I own. Thankfully, no rain and no wind.

    Though it's cold, we are hoping to have a hot night against Barnet. They are not having a good season. They probably won't be relegated but that might be more due to Exeter and Morecambe sucking that bad. Everyone in the lower reaches are grateful for that.

    Barnet have scraped themselves off the bottom, they'd been dead last for September and October and were now in relative safety.

    Chief Scout Lil Fuccillo predicted they'd play a conservative 4411, defend with more hope than skill and further hope to hit us on the counter.

    We're playing well in front of Daniel Lincoln so I'll stick with him between the sticks. Jim Fenlon needs night off so Brad Smith starts at left back. Mark Tomlinson serves his 2nd match suspended for accumulating 10 yellow cards so Stephen Gregory starts at defensive midfield. James Loveridge gets the start up top. Neither Jack, Midson or Redshaw, have done much to convince me they'll be better. So there's my line-up.

    As I gave my pre-match talk that I wanted us to relax, focus and play our game, I watched Stephen Gregory get that bored look. You know the look. The ****-I've-never-heard-this-line-of-drivel-from-the-boss look. How is a seasoned veteran who needs to win his place back from a teenager, a guy who knows he needs prove to me he can get stuck in and control a game not motivate himself to win his place back and lead his team to a league triumph?

    I think I'm steadily becoming a better judge of a room, of how what I'm saying goes over. How would Gregs play? From his body language pre-match, it looks like I'm right to trust Mark Tomlinson over him.

    Barnet showed why they're near the bottom quite quickly. In the 7th minute, their goalkeeper mishit a goal kick. This happens at all levels. Better players exert themselves to clean up after their brother, so to speak. Not Barnet. Daniel Barlaser headed it up to James Loveridge. Lovers gathered in the ball, spun and ran at the defenders.

    Lovers had gone 11 hours without scoring. That's since November of last year. So I was as shocked as everyone when he slowed, looked down and tried to chip the keeper. He floated the ball toward the right post. It looked like it would go high.

    Then it started to drop.

    Then it's as if he pulled a string and the tug nestled the ball softly into the side netting after nicking the crossbar.

    1-0

    Lovers threw a couple of gut punches into an imaginary opponent then kissed his badge as his teammates mobbed him. The fans serenaded him with Joy Division's Love, Love will tear Barnet apart, again to celebrate. They'd been waiting a while to sing that.

    We continued to dominate.

    In the 10th, Cameron Dummigan lasered a pass down the touchline for George Francomb to race onto. Geo saw Lovers making a near post run and curled in a cross. Lovers tried a back-heel flick as he'd mistimed his run slightly. His redirection hit the keeper and went out for a corner.

    During the melee in the penalty box during the ensuing corner, Matteo Nole fell down as Geo whipped in his cross. The ref blew his whistle.

    PENALTY!

    What? The ref was running upfield.

    "What did he call?" I politely asked the fourth official.

    "Nole pushed Feely," the fourth offiical replied.

    "So let me get this straight as I've never heard about this part of the official FIFA rule book," I replied. "A player has his shirt untucked and nearly ripped from his body as the defender throws him to the ground and the foul is on him?"

    "I don't like your attitude Pucci, go sit down," was the only reply I got.

    In the 27th minute. Geo whipped in yet another corner. It got headed right back to him. Everyone stayed put expecting another cross. Geo saw Danny Boy standing about 25 yards out. I have Danny Boy out their because he has the best long-range shot on the team. Geo hit a grass burner to Danny Boy.

    And Danny Boy absolutely unloaded. He hit a shot about 2 feet off the ground that nearly ripped the netting before anyone could blink.

    2-0

    Then he just stood there waiting for his teammates to engulf him. Damn glad to have you back, Danny Boy, damn glad.

    In the 33rd minute, Adam Pepper mis-timed a tackler and tripped Barnet's Craig Tanner. Tanner is the attacking midfielder sitting in the hole behind the striker. He hadn't seen much of the ball so far and the few times he had, he'd been given the special sauce much like what Pepper had just done.

    Daniel Lincolns lined up his wall to protect the near post as Barnet's Anton Rodgers placed the ball and stood over it. Then Lincoln slid over to the far post confident his wall would stop all but the most perfect shot. Rodgers was about 25 yards out, well left of center.

    Lincoln shouldn't have been so confident of his wall.

    2-1

    Geo was the right-most guy in the wall, the guy guarding the post. The problem is he's only 5'11". Normally, Michael Smith (6'4") stands here. Next over was Adam Pepper, he's 5'6". Next was Nole who's only 5'10". The tall man in the wall was Lovers (6 ft). Obviously, he was not in the correct position. Rodgers blazed the ball just over Pep's head. While it was a truly well-taken free kick, Peps isn't supposed to be in walls for obvious reasons. He's supposed to be marking another midfielder, preferably a short one. Furthermore, Daniel Barlaser is 6 feet and he wasn't in the wall.

    I turned and looked at Goalkeeping Coach Paul Rachubka. Paul was busy contemplating the palm of his hand from very close up. We were going to give everyone a refresher course on defending free kicks before the next match.

    The remainder of the first half was dull and cold.

    "Alright boys, well played," I said to begin my half time talk. "That was some cheeky ****, Lovers, well taken goal there. Nicely done. Now we can finally all relax that wait is over. Next, Barlaser, we've got to work on the celee. Seriously? Just standing there after unleashing a Stephen Gerrard Special is not appropriate. Kiss the badge, run to the fans, punch the corner flag, we'll have to work on that in training tomorrow."

    Loveridge who was sitting next to Danny Boy gave him a push. This actually helped as the towel that Francomb threw missed because he'd tipped over a bit.

    "But as for that free kick goal," I continued. The room got silent. "That **** just can't stand. Tall guys in the wall. Seriously. We'll work on this tomorrow, too."

    "Now when we get back out there, continue harassing them," I said.

    "Foot on the throat boys," Captain Andy interjected as he sometimes did. "Foot on the throat. Don't let up. Don't let up."

    "Ball on ground boys," Matteo Nole said. Everyone looked over in shock. He never said anything. His English was getting better. "Keep ball and win."

    "Now get out there," I said as I gave them the double thumb's up of approval.

    We didn't start out that well. We were cold and the night seemed to have gotten colder.

    In the 49th minute, Reuben Hazell got in tight on Barnet's striker Tom Hopper. I only mention this because, first, Haz had been carded in the 9th minute and, second, because he looked like he was about to foul him right in front of the ref.

    "Don't foul Haz, don't foul Haz," I muttered under my breath. He didn't and Hopper played a slide rule pass into the path of Tanner. We quickly converged on Tanner and his only option was to shoot right at Lincoln. Which he did. And which Lincoln deflected out for a corner.

    "COME ONE! COME ON!" Matteo Nole screamed at his teammates. Matteo never says anything. They all noticed.

    Somebody in blue won the header in the melee at the top of the six yard box and the ball floated clear. Nole was first to it and raced upfield. he ran a full 60 yards then fed a pass to Lovers. Lovers tried an Around-The-World fake then stepped on the ball and fell over.

    In the 55th minute, Peps played a pass up to Lovers. Lovers redirected the pass into the corner behind the left back for Nole to run onto. Matteo first timed a cross in for Lovers who was making a near post run.

    His flick hit the goalkeeper from point blank range and Barnet cleared it for a throw.

    We promptly lost the ball and Barnet rushed upfield on the counter. Gregs ended the counter by fouling Tanner about 40 yards out on our left flank. Very smart foul, cynical, too. Got away without a card as well. Nicely done, Gregs.

    Rodgers mis-kicked his free kick and Nole controlled the one-skip cross and set out on another run upfield. Nobody could challenge him until he cross midfield. Then they didn't challenge him. It was 2 on 3. He and Lovers. Lovers just kept running next to the defender. He should have cut across Nole. I could see that Matteo was tiring. He looked up again, saw that Lovers was not doing anything and tried to chip the keeper.

    The only problem was he was 30 yards out and this was his third lung-busting sprint inside 3 minutes. He waffled a shot well high and well wide then put his hands on his hips and tipped his head back to try and get oxygen into his lungs quicker.

    I was watching Danny Boy as I knew he shouldn't play more than 60 minutes. I yanked him for Leandro in the 68th.

    Then Barnet put the ball in the back of our net twice in quick succession. Luckily, both were ruled out for offside.

    I told the boys to play narrower and settle down.

    Peps was looking tired so I replaced him with Simon Johnson in the 73rd minute. Hopefully, fresh legs in the middle of the park would shut them down.

    It did.

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ID:	576445The only other excitement was Haz chopped down Graham Cummins, Barnet's replacement striker, in the 78th minute. The ref called him over. If I could have gotten my jacket unzipped and my scarf undone, I would have clutched my cross on it's chain and said a few Hail Mary's. But thankfully, the ref only lectured Haz.

    I immediately replaced Haz with Kris Thackray who needed a few minutes to regain his fitness now that his groin strain had healed.

    The Nole-Lovers connection finally paid off in the 86th minute. Lovers had time to control the cross and smashed a near post shot past the Barnet keeper.

    3-1

    Ice ice, baby. Both literally and figuratively. The temperature was plummeting.

    Cheltenham (2nd) and Hartlepool (3rd) both won tonight as well. But also as importantly, we gained some more cushion. 4th place Southend lost away 22nd place Bristol Rovers. Crucial points for Rovers as they are now 4 points above Exeter and relegation. York were the 1-0 victims of Cheltenham's good form. We now have an 8 point cushion in our quest for automatic promotion.

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  17. Ive read this story through 3 times so far. Its brilliant! Just wish you'd update it more but I understand it is difficult to!

    Keep it going!

  18. Quote Originally Posted by brooksey84 View Post
    Ive read this story through 3 times so far. Its brilliant! Just wish you'd update it more but I understand it is difficult to!

    Keep it going!
    Thanks so much. My actual paying job is keeping me extremely busy, but the project will end and my workload should return to normal and so should my posting.
    Dean Wilkes likes this.

  19. Your fans are behind you Enrico ! Keep up this wonderful story ! Such a good material worths the wait !

  20. Quote Originally Posted by Enrico Pucci View Post
    I hope to emulate some of my favorite authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Umberto Eco and Neal Stephenson.
    I await the inevitable breakfast scene with monologue on how to eat Cap'n Crunch with interest.
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  21. Quote Originally Posted by kolas79 View Post
    Your fans are behind you Enrico ! Keep up this wonderful story ! Such a good material worths the wait !
    Thank you so much.

    Quote Originally Posted by kewlwarez View Post
    I await the inevitable breakfast scene with monologue on how to eat Cap'n Crunch with interest.
    LOL ... I'd completely forgotten that from Cryptonomicon. Also, how the **** could I top that. For anyone who doesn't know what kewlwarez is talking about, read this excerpt: Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon
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  22. As I entered the backroom at the restaurant, Daniel Barlaser was precariously balanced on top of a chair doing a Anglo-Turkish mangling of a Brasilian samba to a Daft Punk song. His teammates were encouraging this by tossing money at him. Apparently, they weren't going to wait until tomorrow for the celee lessons. He wasn't doing all that well as a quick survey of the floor and the bills on it or floating downward toward it indicated they'd thrown less than fifty pounds at him. Also keep in mind that this lot wasn't on Premier League wages and needed to be fairly careful with their discretionary spending.

    "Barlaser," I hollered. The room quieted down some.

    "Get down from there," I ordered. He complied. He stood there looking sheepish. The room got quiet.

    "That's the worst ****ing samba I've seen in ... well ... let's put it this way, I'll never be able to unsee that," I continued with a straight face. "Now someone get me a ****ing pint and I'll show you club-footed fools how to samba."

    I climbed up on the chair. The veterans like Captain Andy, Haz, Dunn and Leandro snickered quietly. Everyone else except for Matteo Nole just stood their awkwardly. Nole stood there awkwardly because he'd likely understood nothing of what I'd said.

    I stood atop the chair with my arms crossed looking around the room.

    "Well?" I asked. A few awkward glances were exchanged. "When the boss demands beer and climbs up on a chair, you ****ing get him one. What the ****?"

    Mark Tomlinson raced over and handed me his. The veterans showered me with around twenty to twenty-five pound's worth of notes. The party resumed.
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  24. League Two: Northampton Town FC v. AFC Wimbledon

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ID:	58129311 degrees Celsius (51F) feels practically springlike. Add to that a short bus ride up the M1 and a Tuesday evening match doesn't seem rough at all.

    Sixfields Stadium is relatively new, opened in 1994, so we have a reasonably sized changing room with all the amenities.

    The big news is that Michael Smith is still unavailable due to his stubbed toe. Consequently, James Loveridge is starting alone up top. I also decided to give Chris Dunn a start in goal. Also Kris Thackray is ready to go after nearly a month out because of a groin strain. Reuben Hazell drops to the bench.

    I told them to keep the run going and that I had faith they'd be able to do the business against Northampton.

    Daniel Barlaser got in two shots that forced Town's Matt Duke to make diving saves inside three minutes.

    Matteo Nole's cross in the 8th minute took a bad, late hop and hit George Francomb in the face. George was wide open at the back post and poised to open the scoring.

    Then the game got dull.

    Northampton got their first chance in the 35th minute when they launched a long ball over the top from deep inside their own half. Personally, I think it was a lucky clearance. Their lone striker Danny North reacted quickest and was in alone on Dunn. Thankfully he shot wide.

    "ANDY! KRIS! HOW DID HE GET BEHIND YOU?" I yelled as Dunn fetched the ball for the goal kick. Captain Andy raised his hand to acknowledge the mistake.

    We then brought the ball up the right side and they cleared George's near post cross a split second before Lovers arrived. Town raced upfield and North shot right into Dunn's stomach.

    And that was it for the 1st half.

    "We can still win this," I said at half time. "They had the free kick and hit the wall then shot wide. They had the lucky chance with the ball over the top. They haven't created anything. Look at Dunn -- not even a smudgee on him. If we keep playing our game, they won't create much more in the second."

    "Just keep the ball on the ground and stay patient, we'll get our chances," I said. "We always do."

    "Leandro can't continue," Whitney said. "Sore shin and ankle. Probably nothing, but ..."

    "Peps, get loose," I said.

    While we were defensively sound, we didn't create many chances. A few long-range shots. When Matteo Nole is the most dangerous player in the box, our chances of scoring aren't good. He let a corner bounce right past him and had a shot blocked.

    At the hour mark, I sent Brad Smith on for Jim Fenlon. Fenlon was gassed. At 70 minutes I sent Simon Johnson on for Barlaser. Now we had fresh legs in the middle of the park.

    The game to a crucial turn in the 79th minute. Mark Tomlinson had followed North out onto our right flank. When North got the ball, he dove in for a tackle and missed. North tumbled over him and the ref blew for the foul.

    But Mark lay on the ground clutching his knee.

    Whitney sprinted over to him and started to signal to swap him out then remembered that I'd already used my three subs. Mark hobbled off with Whitney's assistance.

    "ANDY, PEPS! FOUR FOUR ONE," I yelled. "NO DEFENSIVE MID. FOUR FOUR ONE!"

    Both players acknowledged me and Town hoofed their free kick to safety.

    Despite being a man down, we still kept the ball just like before. But I expected my players to be smart and make sure we left Northampton with a point. I checked my iPhone. 2nd place Cheltenham were leading 6th place Southend 3-2 and 3rd place York were giving Cambridge United the business 3-1. 4th place Burton were beating Scunthorpe.

    This all meant that we'd be in 2nd place because we're tied on goal difference and we lost away to Cheltenham. Our cushion would only be 7 points over Burton.

    Then something amazing happened.

    In the 87th minute, George Francomb had the ball in the right corner. He passed back upfield to Cameron Dummigan. Cam fed a pass up to Peps at the upper right corner of the box and kept on running. Peps gave the ball to George who one-touched a pass back to Cam at the top of the box.

    Cam one-touched a pass over to Matteo Nole inside the box on the left side. Matteo shot but hit a defender. The ball fell directly to the feet of Lovers. I involuntarily kicked an imaginary ball as I yanked my hands out of my pockets. The traveling Wombles behind the goal all rose to their feet screaming.

    But Loveridge didn't shoot. He played the ball square to a wide open Simon Johnson who tapped in from 6 yards.

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    Simon ran over to the fans, kissed the badge on his shirt then turned around and pointed at his number twelve on the back of his shirt. The stewards all rushed over and prevented a pitch invasion by happy Wombles.

    Soon after the restart, the fourth official signaled there would be standard 4 minutes of extra time.

    I checked my phone. Southend had scored to tie the match with Cheltenham at 3. We'd lead them by 4 and our cushion would now be 9.

    Providing we could hold the lead.

    We not only held the lead but Northampton's defensive midfielder Ibrahim Farah handled in the box and Simon converted for his second goal of the game.

    This was our first late, late show of the season. We usually didn't score that all important late goal. The players were jubilant in the locker room. It was good to see that our patience had paid off.

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  25. Heart in Mouth stuff here!
    Thought you were going to blow your chance for breathing space!

  26. Awesome story, signed up just so I could tell you how much fun I've had reading this. Just gutted that I'm going to have to wait for updates now after reading the lot in 3 days!

    Looks like you're doing really well this season as well. I was actually genuinely annoyed about the situation last season!

  27. Quote Originally Posted by MatthewElphinstone View Post
    Heart in Mouth stuff here!
    Thought you were going to blow your chance for breathing space!
    Back in the good old days, ManU would do this all the time. Score two in the last 10 minutes. But we ain't no Red Devils and I'm not knighted. Well ... at least not yet ... LOLz ...

    Quote Originally Posted by nkicik View Post
    Awesome story, signed up just so I could tell you how much fun I've had reading this. Just gutted that I'm going to have to wait for updates now after reading the lot in 3 days!

    Looks like you're doing really well this season as well. I was actually genuinely annoyed about the situation last season!
    Thank you so much.

    Cadiz was a cluster. I knew it was going to be tough when I saw that the D stunk and all of them had low determination and my job depended upon staying in the promotion race. The rub was I was always so close to promotion. I knew that FM14 was going to fire me after that loss, but it was nonetheless quite a shock!
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  28. How are Cadiz doing anyway? hope they don't get promoted cause they sacked a manager that's taken Wimbledon to the top of League 2
    Nurquidi98 likes this.

  29. Quote Originally Posted by MatthewElphinstone View Post
    How are Cadiz doing anyway? hope they don't get promoted cause they sacked a manager that's taken Wimbledon to the top of League 2
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    "My friend, how are you?" I asked.

    "Very good, very good," he replied. "Business is good, the gossip is good and the Yellow Submarine is still top. by four points now. Hold on, I have the paper right here. One moment ... We got the best offense by far and the third best defense. 47 scored and 21 conceded."

    "That's great to hear," I replied.

    "We're still not the best home side," Esteban continued. "We lost to San Fernando at Ramon de Carrenza again. Nobody was sick this time, though. But I go to all the away matches now. Only 6 conceded. One loss, one draw. Simply sensational away form. I can hardly believe it."

    "Some things never change, eh?"

    "No," he replied. "I see that Wimbledon are still top as well."

    "We are doing rather well, thank you very much," I replied. I then told him of the latest goings on with the club.

    "You know that Ana Maria stopped by the other day," Esteban said. "She said to tell you hello."

    "Thanks, I should email her," I replied. "Say hello and all that. Is everything well with her and her family?"

    "Seemed so," he said.

    "When this season ends, I'm definitely coming down to visit," I said. "This English weather is literally and not figuratively trying to kill me."

    "I don't know how you survive," Esteban replied. "All those years in Italy and now a year in Cadiz and you are a pansy, no offense to my gay friends."

    "Hah!"

    "I have a customer, must go," Esteban said.

    "Great to talk to you, Ciao."
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  30. so good/bad news i see with Cadiz.. they're top.. just not with you!

    you should try and arrange a pre-season friendly with them next season!
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  31. Quote Originally Posted by MatthewElphinstone View Post
    so good/bad news i see with Cadiz.. they're top.. just not with you!

    you should try and arrange a pre-season friendly with them next season!
    That's a great idea.

  32. Sunday, 1 Feb 2015 11ish

    My phone jangles in my pocket.

    "Ciao, Enrico."

    "Enrico, this is Colin Massey from the BBC. How are you?"

    "I'm good," I replied. "What lies are you cooking up, what misquote may I provide?"

    "I'm just checking in to see if you are planning any deadline day acquisitions, any last minute deals."

    "You are, huh," I replied. "Sorry to disappoint, but I'm satisfied with my squad."

    "Your blogs, the Wimbledon blogs are all clamoring for another striker," Colin continued. "So you have no plans in the works? You don't think you need another striker?"

    "Colin seriously," I said. "You don't have a source inside the club to leak you anything. If you did you wouldn't be calling me because you'd know the scoop. Furthermore, there's a tremendous amount of transparency at this club because we're owned by the fans. You know that we often hold a fundraiser to raise the money to buy a new player and we haven't held one. Also, you know that every time I've signed someone the first you hear about it is when we all a press conference."

    "Alright, fine," Colin said conceding defeat. "I'll call if I hear any rumors."

    "Ciao."

    "Bye."

    Click.
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  33. I'm watching players doing a ball-control drill when I phone jangles in my pocket.

    "Ciao, Enrico."

    "It's Robbie Williams from Sky Sports, how are you?"

    "I'm good. And I can't imagine why you would call little old me."

    "Recent reports link you with a move for Reading's left winger Tariq Fosu," Robbie said. "Are you prepared to go on the record with your thoughts on this story?"

    "I'm sorry we're in the middle of training," I replied. "It's rather loud. Did you say your metatarsal hurts?"

    "Enrico."

    "I'm sorry Robbie, I just love ****ing with you guys. Seriously, grow a sense of humor. Terry Rossoo? Repeat the name, please? Maybe spell it?"

    He spelt it out and pronounced it several times.

    "No, never heard of him. Is he any good? Should I sign him?"

    "He's a great dribbler and can play with either foot," Robbie replied. "Really, you've never heard of him. He's nineteen."

    "I'll have my scouts check him over," I said. "I might need an extra winger next season."

    "But what about a deadline day deal for him. I have a credible source."

    "You know I tell everyone here to **** with you guys when you call trying to create a story, don't you?"

    "You've said that on numerous occasions, Enrico. But my source says you're going to pry him away from Reading. How do you think Reading manager Lee Clark might react to the news you are coveting one of his players?"

    "I don't really think it means anything at all," I replied. "I haven't talked to Lee. Every actually. And since the Dons Trust leaves all things football to me, I know nobody else has talked to him on the club's behalf. But thanks for the tip, I'll have my scouts look Tariq over."

    "Thanks Enrico. Cheers."

    "Ciao."

    Click.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 17/05/2014 at 01:23 PM.
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  34. You know Robbie Williams should work as a scout for you - he's basically doing it for free!

    I'm going to read this story from the beginning again - I missed a few parts in between but it's amazing!
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  35. Quote Originally Posted by wr1097 View Post
    You know Robbie Williams should work as a scout for you - he's basically doing it for free!

    I'm going to read this story from the beginning again - I missed a few parts in between but it's amazing!
    I know. Tariq would be a free transfer this summer. I've told my scouts to check him over. He's playing for Reading's U21 side.

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  36. Transfer Window Roundup

    I wasn't going to do any business and nobody else at the top did, either ... at least in League Two.

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    Plenty of activity in the Prem, though, where it's a 4 horse race. Manchester United lead Arsenal by a point and Manchester City and Tottenham by two.

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    And, of course, the standard for insane spending, La Liga, was rather calm. Especially when compared to England. Real Madrid lead Getafe (yeah, really) by four and Barcelona (in 4th, yeah right) by 8.

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  37. Great story mate, really enjoyed it!

  38. Quote Originally Posted by COYB20 View Post
    Great story mate, really enjoyed it!
    Thank you so much!

  39. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. AFC Hayes

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ID:	586539 This Tuesday, I scheduled a friendly with local side Hayes for my second stringers. It's England so the weather varied between misting, raining and biblical downpour. It was more water polo than football.

    I wanted Kris Thackray to get 45 minutes so he can build up his fitness.

    Both Jacks bagged braces which is excellent.

    1500 or so fans huddled together in the back of the main stand to stay as warm and dry as they could. The fans of this club are amazing. I sure as hell wouldn't want to come out and watch football on a night like tonight, but they did.
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  40. Wednesday 4 February, 2015 9AM

    Chief Scout Lil Fuccillo and scouts Paul Lowe and Andrew Walker were already in the back room of my favorite restaurant for breakfast as I walked in.

    "Morning, guys," I greeted them. "Thanks for coming into London from deepest darkest Wales and Ireland."

    We shook hands and we all sat down.

    "As I wrote in my email, we need to start looking for players for next season when we're in League One," I continued. "While I'm being slightly presumptuous as we are not even close to clinching or anything, I want to be prepared with a long list of players for the positions we need to fill. And I want a long list of players with the exact skillset for the position."

    "It's easier to start with what we don't need," I said. "That'd be a goalkeeper. Dunn and Lincoln are more than enough."

    "We don't need fullbacks," I said. "Fenlon, Dummigan and Brad Smith are more than adequate."

    "We need centerbacks," I said. "I want big, determined men who read the game really well. Foot speed isn't essential but let's avoid guys my age who are Grandma-slow. If you find a kid who is going to be a summer cast-off from a top club, character and footballing intelligence are the key. Just be sure they aren't being dumped because they have a **** worth ethic and are spoiled brats."

    They nodded. The waiter entered and we ordered breakfast.

    "Now I realize that you may already have players in mind for next year's squad," I said. "Well, have ... make sure the others give him the once over, too. 'Kay?"

    More nodding.

    "Mark Tomlinson will need a backup. I want another gamer like Mark. Young thugs are fine, I can teach them how to do the dark arts correctly. If they're a veteran, they better be a battler."

    "We'll need another couple wingers," I continued. "I'm pretty sure George will do well at the next level, but I wonder if Matteo Nole will. Matteo's downfall may well be his inability to finish. If the player is a striker who can play wide, that's good, too. Then finishing isn't the issue, it's the playing wide part."

    "Now as you all know with strikers, you can never ****ing tell how they're going to play for you. I was sure that Redshaw would blossom given the opportunity, but he can barely even score in friendlies against amateur opponents. Well, sometimes semi-pros. But you get my point. Bottom line is I want speed first, personality second, intelligence third and skills last. We can teach them to play if they are smart lads and work hard. But I can't teach speed."

    "Now if they don't have speed it's the reverse," I added. "They better have a badass skillset, high determination and a killer's instinct."

    "Oh yeah, one other thing," I said as the waiter delivered our food. "Playmaker role. Always stay on the lookout for a playmaker. That goes without saying, doesn't it? If we don't find the perfect winger but find a playmaker, Danny can play there. And we especially need someone who can take free kicks. If he's young, he doesn't have to be the finished product, but he at least needs to be decent."
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  42. Hands down the best story ever. Congrats m8
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  43. League Two: AFC Wimbledon v. Rochdale AFC

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ID:	588053First off, while the wind gusted and swirled and while the rain had been an on-and-off drizzle all day, it seemed warmer. 10C (50F) seems so much nicer than 4C (40F). Now don't get me wrong, I was still pretty bundled up, but I left off the long johns.

    Subs: Chris Dunn (GK), Reuben Hazell (D), Brad Smith (D), Stephen Gregory (M), Adam Pepper (M), Simon Johnson (M), Jack Redshaw (F)

    I told Jim Fenlon to keep a close eye on Coulibaly and Cameron Dummigan to stay close to Done. I told Mark Tomlinson and Danny Boy to keep a close on on Mousinho and Tutte. I wanted to starve their forward Carlton Morris.

    Fens started off the match by applying a crunching tackle to Coulibaly. Thirteen seconds in and the ref was giving his first lecture.

    Unfortunately, that was the only attention he paid to him. Dummigan wasn't much better. Matty Done had a wide open chance in the 7th minute, but blazed high. Coulibaly forced great saves from Lincoln in the 13th and 17th minutes. In the 15th minute, Dummigan gave Done plenty of space to whip in a cross for Morris. We were bailed out each time by Lincoln.

    "MICHAEL! MICHAEL!" I yelled at around the 18th or 19th minute. Throughout the beginning of the match, Michael Smith was playing at a strolling through the park with the GF speed. "DON'T WAIT FOR THE PASSES TO ARRIVE. GO GET THEM! C'MON!"

    For the third and last time, Fens let Coulibaly run in behind him just before the half hour mark. The Dales passed the ball up to their striker Morris, he held up the ball then saw Coulibaly holding back his run. Morris played a ball into the space for Coulibaly to run onto. He rounded Lincoln and rolled the ball into the net.

    0-1

    What pissed me off the most is when Coulibaly held up his run, Fens didn't accelerate from his jogging pace to get back and cover. As Coulibaly rounded Lincoln, Fens jogged up but didn't even try a sliding tackle to prevent the goal.

    'What the ****, didn't want to break a sweat or get your shorts dirty?' I grumbled to myself as I walked back toward the bench.

    "Brad, get loose, you're on," I grunted toward the bench.

    Brad replaced Fens by the time we kicked off. Fens kept his eyes on the ground as he jogged off. By the way, at the same pace that he'd chased Coulibaly. He kept looking at the ground as he jogged past me and sat his ass down on the bench. It's good he didn't look up, he'd have seen how furious I was.

    This was Cadiz-style defending. I wasn't going to tolerate it.

    We didn't respond. We promptly gave the ball away and Rochdale came at us swiftly. Brad wasn't doing much better against Coulibaly, but Lincoln prevented two goals inside two minutes from Rochdale's man-on-fire.

    We were undone again inside five minutes. The only consolation is it wasn't Coulibaly.

    My players had the sense to park the bus and wait for halftime. Rochdale's defensive midfielder Jamie Allen lobbed a high ball straight upfield into the teeth of the defense. He was trying the Hollywood pass. He intended to drop it down for Morris behind the defense but not too close to the keeper. Any other day and Captain Andy or Thackray would have intervened or at least challenged Morris for the ball. But not today. They both stood and watched Morris flick the high ball past the charging Lincoln.

    0-2

    ****ing pathetic.

    Daniel Barlaser finally set up our first chance in the 38th minute by dishing off to Mark Tomlinson who hammered a shot just wide from around 30 yards.

    ****ing pathetic.

    I made sure I was the last one in the locker room. The first thing I did when I entered was to pick up the dirty laundry bucket we keep next to the entry. The second thing I did is I hurled it through the locker room into the toilet and sink area and bouncing it into showers.

    Then I waited.

    While I waited I glared at my players. The veterans looked at the floor. Jim Fenlon looked at his feet. Danny Barlaser watched the rubber bucket still bouncing around in the showers. The guys who hadn't played looked at me. They knew that was safe as they hadn't participated in the **** show that had infuriated me.

    "WHAT THE **** WAS THAT?" I yelled. I let that sink in a moment.

    "IF IT WASN'T FOR LINCOLN WE'D BE DOWN BY ****ING FIVE BY NOW!"

    "ANY OF YOU ASIDE FROM HIM WANT TO ****ING WIN THIS GAME!?! WHO THE **** ABDUCTED MY TEAM AND REPLACED THEM WITH YOU? YOU LOOK JUST ****ING LIKE THE LEAGUE LEADING WIMBLEDON EXCEPT YOUR PLAYING LIKE IT'S A ****ING SATURDAY KICKABOUT IN THE PARK."

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ID:	588156Then I reopened the door and stepped out into the tunnel. I walked further up the tunnel. I figured I'd stand at the end until the players went back out. The ref's changing room door opened as I was passing.

    "That was a first," Mark Clattenburg said poking his head out of the doorway. "Who abducted my team? That was a good one. These walls aren't particularly thick, nice halftime talk."

    "Thanks, Mark," I replied.

    The players must have talked amongst themselves. They came out in what looked to be the 451 formation with Mark sitting in front of the defense. Nole moved into the center and Lovers played out on the left. We played better. We dominated the play but couldn't create many chances.

    Plus, Rochdale knew they had to park the bus and man the breaches.

    In the 78th minute, 61st minute substitute Simon Johnson (on for George Francomb) took a free kick from 30 yards out dead center. He hammered it into the wall. It bounced right back to him. He took off running towards the right corner flag looking for options. He didn't have any so he kept dribbling. Eventually he snuck a cross past the two defenders in front of him. Michael Smith got there first at the near post and flicked a header past the Rochdale goalkeeper.

    1-2

    Smith grabbed the ball and ran back toward the center circle. The crowd roared to life. Finally something to cheer about!

    Sadly, our only other chance was a flick header by Captain Andy from a corner in the 84th minute. I give Rochdale credit for defending well in the second half once we pulled our head's out.

    Once again I made sure I was the last man into the locker room.

    "Be ready for killers at nine tomorrow morning," I said. Then I walked out and sat in my office. I pulled out my cell and looked up the other League Two results. Cheltenham and York, 2nd and 3rd respectively, both won and gained ground. Most importantly and fortunately for us, 4th place Burton drew nil-nil and only gained a point.

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  44. Quote Originally Posted by guidito5 View Post
    Hands down the best story ever. Congrats m8
    Thank you very much!

  45. "Hey boss," Paul Rachubka said sticking his head into my office. "Thought you were still here. You alright."

    "Me? Yea, I'm fine. Just trying to calm down. Surfing the internet."

    "That was bad tonight, really bad," Paul said. "I'll go get the others, let's do our coaches meeting now."

    "Great idea."

    "My question for you all," I said once everyone was crammed into my office. "Was this a one off or a trend?"

    "I wish I had a clue about Fens and Cam," Assistant Manager Sean Hankin said. "We've been talking about ball-watching since Day One. What do they do? Give us demonstrations of it, of everything not to do."

    "And that was the laziest I've ever seen Lovers and Michael," Coach Matt Woolley said. "We're in first place, I'm going to wait for the pass to roll all the way to me. We're in first place."

    "I know," I replied. "You heard me shouting at them. Like that made a difference."

    "Lincoln's shot stopping was sensational," Rachubka added. "But he could have been talking to his defense and organizing them better. He's got to talk more."

    "And Danny Boy, I don't even know," Wools said. "His pass completion ratio was 73%. He's usually in the 80s."

    "Lovers and Smith weren't coming back to make the passes short," I said. "He generally had to make longer passes. He and Mark tried too many Hollywood balls. I'm fine with one or two per game, but a dozen ..."

    "We're starting to get some crosses in," Hanks added. We all nodded. "Well, in the second half anyways. But I will say that Matteo and George ran into every dead end and cul de sac in the first half. Or they passed it off when they should have attacked the defender."

    "Again, I ask you, one off or trouble?" I repeated.

    There was a pause.

    "One off," Hanks said. "We were much better in the second half."

    Wools and Rachubka nodded.

    "Let's watch the horror show, the vids first, rile 'em up then run it off," Wools said.

    "Sounds good," I said. "See you all at eight."
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  46. Click image for larger version

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ID:	588862My players have come to expect that if they don't play well, I will arrange a mid-week friendly so that they can work out their problems, aggressions and/or angst by banging some goals past a semi-pro or amateur team. At this point we are 32 games into a 46 game season and I know that these mid-week friendlies aren't particularly popular. However, they also understand that there is a way to avoid playing in these matches. When we are playing well, the players know that the second string players get the full 90 or at least a large percentage.

    Today, everyone got some minutes.

    I am not all that pleased with the result. Michael Smith bagged a pair early and, instead of working hard for more, we seemed to sit back. Also, we created the majority of our chances in the first half.

    I have the distinct feeling that we are actually in a rut and that I need to be careful so that we stay in a automatic play-off position until whenever we bust out of it and start thrashing opponents again.
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  47. Wednesday 11 February 2015 6AM or so ...

    I'm sick again. My poor constitution which had become accustomed to the damp of Italian winters then spoiled by a season in Cadiz simply cannot cope with the damp of England. After all I could do was moan after the alarm went off then groan when Gwen urged me to push though it with a stiff upper lip, she took my temperature. 39.0C (102.2F). Her maternal instincts kicked in and she got me into the bath which she'd filled with cool water. I'd stocked up on a wide variety of over-the-counter medicines and she made me take several different pills. Then she made me drink some tea and put me back to bed.

    I texted Hanks, Wools and Rachubka about my condition then turned my phone off.

    I slept fitfully through the day. Around dusk, Gwen guided me into my favorite reading/napping chair and made me eat some soup. I was feeling marginally better and attempted some lame-ass jokes about her mothering me to which she told me to shut it. She fed me another pile of pills which knocked me out.
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  48. Thursday 12 February 2015

    I'm not better and have added a cough to my low-grade fever, headache, runny nose and lack of interest in anything. Let me rephrase. I definitely do not want to hork up a lung or break any ribs hacking. I am most definitely interested in not injuring myself coughing. Gwen force feeds me more soup and plies me with tea. I start watching Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes. I intend to watch all of it.
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  49. Friday 13 February 2015

    ****ing ****biscuits of agony but this virus isn't done with me yet. I've now got antibiotics for what has become bronchitis. I hack up pieces of yellow, white and green things. Gwen has a friend who is a masseuse or massage therapist who comes over and makes me squeal like a stuck pig. My back and shoulder and neck are all knotted up, sore and fragile from coughing. If feel like one really bad coughing fit might permanently separate several if not all of my ribs from my spine.

    Whitney texts me to inform me that George Francomb has been instructed to stay at home with the flu as well. At least I'm not alone in my suffering.

    I'm starting to feel better by the evening and eat my first meal since Tuesday: Indian curried lentils with basmati rice.
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  50. League Two: Exeter City FC v. AFC Wimbledon

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ID:	590232First of all, I've lost my voice. But I'm feeling better and not horking up nearly as much lung cheese as before. The other added factor why Gwen has even let me out of the flat is it's warm in Exeter today. As in almost 14C (57F). Yes, it's going to rain but it always rains in England.

    An express train gets us down to Exeter in a little over two hours. Bus gets us to St. James Park with plenty of time in which to get ready.

    I hadn't realized it, but Exeter are also a fan-owned club. Unfortunately for them, they currently occupy 22nd spot and it will probably be a battle to the wire with Bristol Rovers over who drops out of professional football.

    I field a pretty strong team. We're only missing Francomb who is back in London sweating out his flu.

    Hanks tells the team we expect a win and then gives my I Have Faith In You speech. Hanks tells them it's simple: just get the ball on the ground and keep it moving around.

    Barlaser and Depetris are tasked with marking their midfielders and Tomlinson with marking their striker.

    We started like we were still on the bus. Nothing of note happened until the 13th minute when a defender thumped a clearance upfield. Exeter striker Rory Boulding outran Andy Frampton and Reuben Hazell. What was probably just intended as a clearance turned into a fabulous chance thanks to my defenders misreading of the punt and lack of pace.

    Boulding caught up with the ball in our penalty area and hammered a low shot toward the far post. From my perspective sitting on the bench I could see it rolling directly at the post. Would we get a friendly bounce? We did. It bounced right back across the goalmouth. Haz cleared it.

    We took our first shot in anger in the 21st minute. Simon Johnson curled in a far post cross that Matteo Nole headed goalward. He really got a lot of power into his header but, sadly, it was right at the keeper.

    In the 33rd minute, Daniel Barlaser played a ball into the space behind their right back for Nole to run onto. Nole's cross was cleared but right to Danny Boy. Danny set up Leandro Depetris, but his shot was blocked.

    I was starting to see a trend. Michael Smith is just standing amongst the Exeter defenders, easy as pie to mark. I text Hanks to yell at Smith to come back for the ball.

    A minute later Nole makes diagonal run into the middle and right up the gut. He plays in Simon, but the linesman flags Simon for offside.

    After a half of standing around amongst the Exeter defenders for the first , Michael Smith listens to Hanks and comes back to get a pass. Unfortunately, all he does is hit a weak two-hop shot from 25 yards.

    As the fourth official signals 3 minutes of extra time, Exeter right back Nathan Doyle executes a perfectly timed sliding tackle to dispossess Nole. I brace myself for a counter attack but Leandro, of all people, comes lunging in with his own sliding tackle. He pokes the ball past the prone Doyle and Nole is in on goal.

    Nole bounced it off the keeper's chest from 6 yards. Someone cleared it.

    Jim Fenlon controlled the clearance, saw the other fullback Brad Smith standing all alone in the middle of the park and chipped a pass to him. Fens took off running to join the fun. Brad's slide-rule pass met Fens in-stride just as he entered the penalty area. Fens unleashed a fearsome blast destined to the near post and looked certain to break Grecian hearts on this day of love.

    Richard O'Donnell, the Exeter keeper, dove and pushed it round the post.

    Like everyone else on the bench, I'm up off my feet ready to pump my fists but can only clench them in anguish.

    At halftime Hanks conveys my message that I want more of the same and that we can win this game.

    in the 52nd minute, Smith is a fraction of a second off in the timing of his run and a defender's toe deflects Nole's cross.

    A few minutes later and I notice that Leandro is hobbling. With his tendency to get injuried, I replace him with James Loveridge. I put Loveridge on the left wing and move Nole inside. I'm hoping that Lovers might have better luck as Nole has been getting chances out there.

    In the 64th minute, Exeter get one of their few chances. Another Smith, Exeter's Jimmy, gets free and meets a corner kick with a thundering header that whiffles the outside of the side netting. We got lucky.

    I resign myself to the fact that we are unlikely to score and then began hoping that Exeter would remain impotent in front of our goal. But just as I'm getting used to this way of thinking, Simon is running down the right flank and Smith has faked going back post and is making a near post run. Simon curls in a perfect cross, Smith meets with a strong volley and hits a defender.

    Curse you hope for making me think for a split second that we were about break the deadliock.

    Our only other chance came in the 75th minute, but it fell to Nole. You know what happened.

    We almost gave our precious point away twice in the final moments. First, right winger Danny Mayor nimbly avoided Fens tackle just seconds before we went into extra time. Our goalkeeper Chris Dunn comes charging out, blocks the shot and there is no rebound.

    Rather than throw it to an open teammate, Dunn punts it upfield to nobody. Exeter promptly ram it back down our throat. They play a ball into the space behind Fens. Mayor runs into the space and Fens is caught ball-watching. Like a child, I watch this unfold through my fingers. I'm nearly too scared to watch.

    Mayor connects with his shot so purely that i'm sure Dunn didn't even have time to blink. If it would have hit him, it would've left a mark.

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    I put my face in my hands and my elbows on my knees. I'd swear a blue streak if I could speak and since I can't I'll just hide.

    But my ears tell me several incongruous things. First, the Wombles in the away end are cheering like we'd scored. And I hear groans from the fans behind me. As I spread my fingers to look through them, I see the linesman with his flag up and Exeter players sprinting over to plead with him. The rest are surrounding referee Keith Stroud.

    Hanks enthusiastically slaps me on the back. Something green leaps out of my mouth and splats on the ground in front of the dugout. We both look at it in shock. It's just lung cheese. Then we both start laughing. My laughing ends when I start coughing.

    0-0

    We're so ****ing lucky and yet so ****ing unlucky to only come away from this match with a point.

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