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The Alfa Romeo Metaphor

  1. Superb mate. Really enjoying it. Well done.
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  2. Quote Originally Posted by Streaky25 View Post
    Superb mate. Really enjoying it. Well done.
    Thanks!

  3. Absolutely excellent writing - it's got me hooked. Really looking forward to reading more updates, very nice story.
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  4. "**** *** *******-*****, Esteban," I said as I slumped into his barber chair. I'd just received the email as I was walking up to Esteban's barbershop. "The big boss nixed the free transfer fullback. We all get to continue to suffer Dalmau's panicked defending."

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-15-06.28.07-am.png

    "This kind of stress will cause premature baldness," he replied as he wrapped me up.

    "It's like Cadiz CF are a metaphor for Spain or something," I moaned.

    "On the verge of insolvency and no end to the austerity measures in sight," he added. "I'm not sure how much further we can take this metaphor of your's ..."

    "Yeah, I know," I said. "The squad is just really thin."

    "And how is Ana Maria?" Esteban asked.

    "Good," I replied. "Dinner, a stroll along the water and drinks on Saturday night." I sighed.

    Esteban shook his head and began shaving.
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  5. Quote Originally Posted by ZeCarlos View Post
    Absolutely excellent writing - it's got me hooked. Really looking forward to reading more updates, very nice story.
    Mucho Gracias, Senor!

  6. And September becomes October

    "How's work?" Ana Maria asked as sat down in the Alfa Romeo.

    "I'm not exactly sure," I replied. "I mean we're at the top of the table, but I think we're in a bit of a rut. I going to try to break out of it with the friendly tomorrow night."

    "Where to tonight?" I asked.

    "Have you been to Jerez?" she asked. I shook my head indicating I hadn't. "Well, it's a pretty place. Much of the old part of the city is painted all white. Everything. It's quite spectacular."

    "Top down?" I asked as we began to crawl through Cadiz.

    "Yes, it would be nice," she replied. And away we crawled the breeze fluttering through her hair. Well, at least until the road started to open up. Then she put on a head scarf.

    Jerez de la Frontera is one of many towns in Andalusia (the southernmost province of Spain) that is formally named of the frontier. This is because it was one of the early towns the Reconquistas took back from the Moors and held. The Alcazar, Moorish fortress, is still intact as is much of the Moorish architecture. Jerez is known for their horses, flamenco and sherry.

    "There's a beautiful lane in the old part where they trained the trees as they grew so that they cover over the street," she explained with both words and gestures. Of course, she took me there. It's so photogenic that even I can take a decent picture of it.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-6.jpg

    The Alcazar and the gardens surrounding it are marvelous.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-alcazar_jerez_t1100142.jpg_1306973099.jpg

    I've got no eye for photography, but sometimes, like these pics, I can't help myself and take a decent picture.

    Jerez has actually grown larger than Cadiz both size-wise (Cadiz can't grow larger) and economically. For southern Spain in the 21st century, the economy doesn't completely suck which is saying something. At least that's what I gathered from Ana Maria.

    We watched the sun go up the cathedral as it set and then had a lovely dinner with a flamenco guitarist playing his heart out in a corner of the restaurant. We talked about her growing up in Cadiz. She had lots of questions about growing up in Washington, DC. She had had a serious boyfriend when she was living in Madrid, but they had a falling out when the economy collapsed. The economic stress of both of them losing their jobs doomed their relationship. I related how my wife wasn't interested in me once I couldn't afford to keep her in cocaine and the latest fashions from Milan.

    After dinner we strolled through Jerez vaguely heading toward where I'd parked the Alfa.

    "I'm glad I lost everything except that god-damned car," I blurted out. I don't know why I did. I mean, it wasn't strategic. It wasn't apropos to the conversation we'd been having before it had subsided into a lull. It was kind of like a tremendous gas bubble in my stomach. Eventually it just pops up and out of you in a head-turning belch. It was also like the urge to grab her hand, raise it up and shout "I LOVE THIS WOMAN!" Ana Maria stopped and turned to look at me. She raised an eyebrow. She tilted her head sideways a bit as if to encourage me to go on. I blushed. Thankfully, it was rather dark.

    "I'm ah um really um what I meant um was um that uh I wouldn't have met you otherwise," I stammer-mumbled. There. I'd said it. Whatever it was. I looked at my shoes.

    "That wasn't in Spanish," she said stepping close. "I don't understand the words, but I think I understand what you meant."

    We got a hotel in Jerez that night.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 19/12/2013 at 03:01 AM.

  7. Thursday morning and then the evening friendly against CD Alcala

    I roared into the training ground the next morning. I'd got her back in time for work and to get me to the training ground. I walked up to the coaches as they sat in the cafeteria drinking their espressos. I wasn't late or anything, just the last to arrive that morning. I sat down.

    Silence.

    "Were you all talking about me or something?" I asked.

    They looked at each other cluelessly. Or at least pretended to.

    "It's just that your always here first," Alejo said.

    "And your not moaning or swearing about something," added Javi Garcia. "Are you feeling alright?"

    Suddenly Paco busted out laughing. Everyone looked at him. Between snorts and wheezes he managed to explain that I'd had a date last night.

    I blushed.

    "So it went well?" JVP asked.

    "**** off you ******* *****s," I replied laughing. I toasted them, drained my espresso, told them to **** off again and said I'd see them on the training ground.

    The players could have shown up in tutus or all with new tattoos and piercings and I couldn't have given the least ****. Thankfully, I've got a good staff who put them through their paces.

    We didn't train all that hard as we had a friendly that night. As I told the players on Sunday, I arranged the friendly so they could get their scoring touch back against a lesser side.

    We beat CD Alcala 4-2. Their goals came after I'd subbed in the second string. Souda and Airam (twice) both scored as well as Josete. I'm not sure that we looked as smooth nor as confident as I'd hoped. Our back-up keeper, Angel Bernabe, didn't do himself many favors with his performance. I said several prayer during that match asking God to see fit to keep Alejandro healthy this season.
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  8. Round 7: Cadiz CF v. La Hoya Lorca CF

    I had barely sat down and we were down 0-1. Sheesh.

    I'd sent out a defense of Dalmau, Chara, Martins (C) and gave Moises his first full start. They attacked down the kid, Moises, side. Their forward Pablo Pallares brought the ball at Moises and as Martins was about to shut him down, kicked it out to their right winger Alvaro Rosa. Rosa saw the late run from Jose Pineira and chipped the ball into his path. Pineira unleashed a thunderous volley that Alejandro flung himself in front of. The problem was it fell to Pallares who roofed a shot past the sprawled Alejandro.

    And I was hoping Martins and Moises might be my answer to shoring up the left side of the defense. Oh well.

    The midfield of Kike Lopez, Bruninho, Luque and Tomas had done nothing, yet, except let La Hoya stroll past them. I had played Tomas as the left-sided midfielder as he played pretty well there in the mid-week friendly. As a player who can play both fullback and winger, I'd have thought he'd be more defensively responsible. Oh well.

    My forwards Airam and Souda watched all of this from the middle of the park.

    While I can fault my team, it was a well-crafted attack. La Hoya looked like a much tougher side than my Chief Scout had predicted.

    We really did nothing significant in the first half. A couple of long-range shots. Luque and Chara got booked.

    I was disturbed.

    "I'm not happy with what I saw out there," I told them at halftime. "You were listless, unorganized and it looked like you'd never played together before. What's going on? I have faith that we can defend better than we did. I have faith that we can control dictate the tempo and control the midfield. I believe that if we do those first two things and get the ball to Airam and Souda, they'll score for us. Well?"

    They looked pretty motivated. They also began to play better. It took a bit. Tomas just didn't have the endurance, yet. I replaced him at 55 minutes with Kike Marques who'd been horrible last week and did nothing against the amateur side in the mid-week friendly. Kike Lopez looked like a shadow of his former self so I replaced him with 30 minutes left with Villar. Bruninho was gassed, too, so I replaced him with Josete.

    The chances started to come, but a combination of La Hoya parking the bus and no luck when we needed it kept it scoreless.

    We had two scrums in the goalmouth from corners; but no goal. Airam smashed a close range volley whiskers wide of the post. Souda was hopelessly wayward with his three chances. La Hoya defenders charged down Luque anytime he got the ball anywhere near the penalty area.

    We were going to need some luck and it finally came in the 82nd minute. Dalmau, of all people, had the ball in the upper right of the penalty area. Where you'd expect our right back to have it. He was trying to slip the ball to Villar and was dribbling the ball away from goal. But the defender decided he could win the ball off him.

    You know how this goes. The defender only got Dalmau's standing leg, the ball continued trickling toward the corner flag. The ref blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. We. Were. Saved. Providing, of course, we converted the penalty.

    Airam stood over the ball adjusting it for an eternity. He took five really, really, really, really slow steps back. He waited for another eternity for the ref to blow his whistle so he could proceed. Finally, the ref obliged and Airam slotted it past the La Hoya keeper who'd guessed correctly but couldn't stop the shot.

    1-1

    I urged the players to keep the momentum up, but they didn't have the legs. A lucky draw. I told them we'd been unlucky. We had. The coaches and I were going to need a rethink and the players were going to need some rest.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-17-06.47.55-pm.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-17-06.48.21-pm.png
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  9. Brilliant been reading this all day has made me look at the game in more detail. By doing so my glasgow rangers team is flurishing. Thanks and keep it coming :-)

    Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk

  10. Quote Originally Posted by Gavinmitch11 View Post
    Brilliant been reading this all day has made me look at the game in more detail. By doing so my glasgow rangers team is flurishing. Thanks and keep it coming :-)
    Thanks and I'm glad my li'l story helped.

  11. Monday Morning Blues

    "What the **** was that last night?" I asked once all the coaches had gathered in the cafeteria.

    "Do we just overlook it and be thankful the ref granted us a penalty?" JVP said. "Focus on La Roda next Sunday and the derby with San Fernando?"

    "I think they all know we were lucky," Paco said. "I'm with JVP."

    "I don't think we should use our training ground this week," Javi Garcia said. "It's in enemy territory."

    "Literally," interjected Llorente.

    We rent San Fernando CD's stadium and sports facility from the city of San Fernando. The team San Fernando CD was only formed in 2009. Up until this season, Los Submarino Amarillas were leagues above Los Islenos. But as fate would have it, we were both in El Segundo B4. Since we rub shoulders with their players occasionally, the game in a week and a half would be a really big one for them.

    "It'll just unnecessarily wind the players up," Javi continued. "Let's train in the Roman de Carranza."

    "I've noticed their manager, Juanma, giving me the evil eye," I added. "I can't argue with you."

    "We can get the players on a bus as soon as they arrive and then drive in to the stadium all week.," Paco said. "I'll go and get that arranged now."

    "Don't forget that Aymen Souda heads out tomorrow for Tunisia duty," JVP said.

    "****, I forgot," I said. "This means I can't give Luque a game off and move Villar into the midfield. He really needs a rest."
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 20/12/2013 at 03:33 AM.
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  12. Round 8: Cadiz CF v. La Roda CF

    Training in what seemed like the cavernous Roman de Carranza took some getting used to. I hoped it would have some effect on the players. Maybe remind them that Cadiz is a far bigger club than La Roda and San Fernando and encourage them to really kick the **** out of an opponent for a change. No more weak-assed defending or laziness.

    It was a quiet week for me personally. Ana Maria and I had our mid-week date but didn't do anything exciting. Well ... exciting as site-seeing or swimming on the beach or etc. We ate at a nearby restaurant and took a walk along the bayside. I could tell that she wanted to sleep over at my apartment as she came down from her parent's apartment with a duffel bag sized purse. See? We men can be quite perceptive on occasion. Same thing on Saturday except we went dancing after dinner.

    So I was in a quite pleasant frame of mind as I rolled into the Roman de Carranza at 3pm to prepare for the 7pm kick-off.

    GK: Alejandro
    D: Dalmau, Chara, Martins, Tomas
    M: Kike Lopez, Bruninho, Luque, Andres
    F: Airam and Villar

    I was hoping Andres would help Tomas shut down our left flank.

    It was a cagey start. Both sides unwilling to try anything adventurous. Our defense gifted them the opener the first time when they brought the ball into our half with any malacious intent. Their right winger Jordi Pablo played a ball into their lone striker Matias Saad.

    Normally, when everyone does their job, this isn't a problem.

    Unfortunately, Tomas got caught ball-watching. He followed Pablo's pass rather than kept track of Pablo himself. Pablo took off for the goal. Once Tomas realized what he'd just done, he stopped and watched. Saad one-touched the ball into his path and Pablo snuck a roller under the onrushing Alejandro.

    0-1

    Alejo Indias turned purple.

    At least the goal woke us up from our slumber. La Roda didn't get the ball back for any length of time, but we weren't finding that killer pass or inspired move.

    Finally, in the 27th minute we got our first chance. Kike Lopez took off down the right flank. He cut inside and played a ball into the path of Airam. Airam took off. He was going to try and beat their central defender around the corner. It wasn't going to work. So Airam back-heeled the ball to Kike who toe-poked it into the path of Dalmau who'd come storming up the field.

    Dalmau rung the crossbar with a pile driver.

    From the ensuing goal kick, Chara won the header at midfield and Bruninho picked up the scraps. He fed it out to Kike Lopez and the Keekster was off to the races. His cross from the byline was cleared but only to the top of the box. Dalmau had raced forward and corralled their clearance. He dribbled along the top of the box, but couldn't find an opening. He did spot Andres who'd come inside from his left wing.

    Andres side-footed it into the left side netting with his weaker right foot.

    1-1

    The match returned to a cagey affair. We only had long-range chances and they didn't really do much at all. The only excitement before halftime was Luque's freekick from 25m grazed the outside of the right post.

    At the break, I told them to continue work hard and the result would come.

    It didn't.

    In the 50th minute, Airam met Tomas' left wing cross with a flick on that was destined for the top corner until the La Roda back-up keeper who was only playing because their Numero Uno was hurt, Pedro Berrocal, clawed the ball away.

    Luques' corner was headed right back at him. Same thing with his second cross. Only this time he'd moved several steps in. He dribbled in a little further then smashed a shot near post. Berrocal got a finger tip to it, it glanced off the crossbar and we'd just missed another.

    Berrocal was proving himself a decent keeper, **** the little ***** ***** ********.

    They cleared the corner out to midfield. We regrouped and built the pressure back up. Martins won the header from the goal kick directing it out to the left wing where Andres got to the ball first. He tapped it to Tomas who one-touched it to Luque. Luque spun around the midfielder that came over to close him down, spotted Villar ahead of him and put the ball on his toe. Airam then made a run between their central defenders. Villar saw this and fed the ball into the space.

    Airam's shot trickled just past the left post.

    We kept the pressure up on La Roda with wave after wave of attacks.

    In the 64th minute, Bruninho timed it perfectly and intercepted a La Roda break-out pass. Villar was open betwen the central defenders. Airam was open between the right fullback and central defender. Bruninho played it to Airam. Instead of turning to face the defender who was late in arriving, he played a one-touch pass straight to a La Roda midfielder. I have no idea what was going through his head.

    I got a sudden lump in my throat. Our shape was horrible. Both wingers were far upfield. Luque was, too. They had acres of space in which to attack.

    And their first attack of the second half in the 65th minute was direct and deadly. The midfielder fed the ball to their lone striker Saad. Saad half-turned and just simply dumped the ball behind Tomas. Tomas, as you can probably guess had no idea where the La Roda right winger, Jordi Pablo was. Pablo was storming into the space behind Tomas.

    As the ball bulged our net, I spun, pointed at Moises and mouthed "get ready." I immediately replaced Tomas with Moises. That's the last time Tomas will play left back for Cadiz.

    1-2

    I know what Alejo said into Moises ear just before he crossed himself, hopped across the touchline and sprinted over to his position. Do you?

    We suddenly lost our attacking flair. Suddenly we couldn't put a string of two passes together.

    In the 70th minute I replaced Bruninho and Andres. Both were spent. My only option was that Josete and Kike Marques would somehow spark the team to life.

    Surprisingly, they did. Not they they were involved, but, hey, I'll take credit for inspiring the team with my brilliant substitutions.

    From the resulting throw in, Moises threw it to Luque who beat his challenger and jogged forward with the ball. Luque doesn't look particularly nibble nor particularly speedy. But he's deceptive. I know. I know what his 20m, 40m and 100m sprint times are. By jogging forward he drew in a center back, the other midfielder and their right fullback. The brilliance of Luque is he'll let them get in close then somehow get a pass, and usually a killer one, to someone in a dangerous position. He was fairly quickly about 40m out when he slipped a pass through the on-rushing defenders.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-18-10.33.31-pm.png

    In this case it was Villar who received the pass and stormed forward into the empty space with the ball. His laser beam of a shot destined for the far right corner smashed into the back of the retreating fullback who was keeping an eye on Airam. The ball caromed across the penalty box, bobbling and hopping because of the resulting spin from the direction.

    This is what I mean by deceptively fast when I refer to Luque. Luque beat everyone to the spinning, bobbling ball and smashed it into the open net.

    2-2

    I could finally breathe and the players looked pumped up rather than relieved.

    They continued to press for the winner. But that gave La Roda their third attack of the game. We got caught with our pants down again. Only Josete, Chara, Martins and Moises were back. They had four attackers sprinting forward.

    "Don't get caught out, Moises," I mumbled under my breathe. "Don't get caught out, son."

    I nearly crapped my pants. Okay, I didn't. But I certainly was nervous.

    I knew what La Roda were going to do. They were going to play the ball behind Moises.

    "Don't get caught out, Moises," I mumbled under my breathe again.

    They played the ball up to Saad who predictably just dumped the ball into the empty space behind Moises.

    "Don't get caught out, Moises," I mumbled under my breathe again.

    Pablo got the jump on Moises, but the kid is pretty fast. He overtook Pablo as Pablo was trying to get his feet set to shoot. Pablo then tried a shoulder feint on Moises. It didn't really work and Pablo squeezed off a shot just as Martins was about to close him down.

    It wasn't much of a shot and Alejandro grabbed hold of it and smothered it as the whole stadium breathed a gigantic sigh of relief. I realized that I'd held my breathe for the entire counter attack.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-18-10.34.13-pm.png

    We continued to press, but I knew we wouldn't do it. We didn't.

    'The real difference maker, the player who could snatch points for us in games like this,' I mumbled to myself as the ref blew the final three blasts on whistle. 'Is Michael. And Michael sits forlornly in the stands unable to play any ****ing football until ****ing February of *****-****ing 2015. ***-**** but that ****s the ****ing ****** *** ******* *******!'

    I told the players they were unlucky. I didn't have to say anything to Tomas. He looked shattered. It was going to take a while, maybe not this season, for him to regain his confidence. He really was that bad out there and looked that distraught in the changing room.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-18-10.31.49-pm.png

    We were third in the league behind the Sevilla teenager wash-outs, Sevilla Atletico, in 2nd and Albacete who were top after their 7 game unbeaten streak.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 19/12/2013 at 05:39 AM.
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  13. Don't get me wrong. I love Spanish cuisine. Patatas Bravas, Jamon Iberico, Paella, Chorizo, Tortillas ... the list of great things to eat is endless. The hotel the club put me in when I first arrived has the best breakfast. I go there on mornings I don't need to be at the training ground early. But I'd been in Italy for half my life now. Bologna sits in the heart of Emilia Romagna, the indisputed capitol of Italian cuisine. I've been spoiled. I had physical craving for it. I was jonesing bad.

    "I'm dieing Margarita, dieing," I said as I walked up to her desk.

    "You look fine, what's the problem?"

    "I need Italian food and I need it now," I exclaimed slumping into the chair across the desk from her. "Dieing. Please help me?"

    "You're homesick, that's so adorable," she cooed. Then the walls were sprayed with her machine gun laugh. "I think I can help you. You have several option. But it will cost you."

    "Oooh," I cringed. "How badly will it hurt?"

    "Word is you've been dating Ana Maria," she said. "Tell me everything."

    "Um..."

    "Tell me everything or else I will resort to harsher methods."

    "Okay, okay, anything for some Tagliatelle ala Bolognese or Pizza Napolitano or Spaghetti ala Carbonara or Lasagna Al Forno ..."

    "You haven't told me ****, yet," she said giving a stern look. "I'm not telling you **** about any Italian restaurants until you confess to everything."

    "I did it, I shot JFK," I faux-sobbed.

    "In Spanish, please, you little ****."

    "Okay, alright, don't get out the Iron Maiden quite, yet. I've been seeing her twice a week. It's great. She's perfect. What else can I say?"

    "Is she sleeping over, yet?"

    "Oh ****ing **** *****! Come one!"

    "Well? You want to eat your beloved Italian food?"

    "Yes, I do. Yes, she is."

    "I knew it. I knew it."

    "I'm not telling you anymore."

    "You'll bring her in soon, won't you?"

    "I'll consider."

    "Bolognese..."

    "Fine, yes, I'll bring her into the office to meet you."

    "Okay then. See? That didn't hurt that much did it?"

    "Only my pride."

    "Here's the three places you want to go for Italian in Cadiz ..."
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  14. The allure of taking down the big kid on the block ...

    San Fernando is the town you cross into when you leave Cadiz by the southeast. It's a town of just under 100,000 souls. It's unremarkable. Islenos would vehemently tell you otherwise. It's a pleasant community, I'll give them that, but Cadiz is the Capitol of the province of Cadiz in the region of Andalusia. In American terms, it's a bit surburban while Cadiz is dense and urban.

    Cadiz CF S.A.D. rent their municipal athletic facility as property values in Cadiz are prohibitively high. Ciudad Deportivo Bahia Sur only became San Fernando CD's stadium in 2009 when they formed. It had been Cadiz's training ground for a while.

    What I'm trying to say is that this match was huge for the Islenos, but not for the Cadistas. I'd prefer to keep it that way. That's why I agreed to move our trainings into the Ramon de Carranza. Avoid any drama.

    San Fernando manager Juanma Carrillo wanted to ramp up the drama. In the both the San Fernando weekly paper and the Dario de Cadiz, Juanma talked about the intense rivalry and how important a match it was in their season. He even mentioned the history between the two teams. Funny. The only history is that Cadiz were tenants in your stadium before you were formed. Tenants as in your home stadium is our training ground.

    Bogdan Laba from the Diaro de Cadiz called me about Juanma's comments and about Wednesday's match.

    "Listen, I take his comments with a pinch of salt," I replied. "I get it that this match is huge for San Fernando. We're a big club. Their stadium is our training facility. We're just going to focus on preparing for the match and me, my staff and my players won't be letting anyone from their camp's comments get under our skins."

    "I've watched San Fernando play, they play a quick passing game, what do you have to say about the way that Juanma has them playing?" Laba asked.

    "It try to focus on the way my team plays than the opposition," I replied. "We'll concentrate on our own game. We've had some isolated problems that our opponents have exploited. We hope to have them addressed by Wednesday night in San Fernando."

    "Your response suggests that you don't adapt to your opposition," Laba suggested. "Are you unwilling to adapt to the tactics of the opposition? Is there a danger your stubbornness could see you come unstuck?"

    "Really, Bogdan? That's all you've got?" I responded. "We're undefeated on our travels. 15 scored, 4 conceded. I need to figure out what's going on when we're in Estadio Ramon de Carranza."

    "It's not an unwillingness to adapt," I continued. "It's that I have a limited squad of players. At this point we play very well when we pressure high and move the ball around quickly. I'd love to spring tactical surprises on our opponents, but with the small squad, I've worked out a manner of playing that suits them best. We are in a play-off position."

    "Moving on," Laba said. "Kike Lopez has played nearly every minute of every match. He must be getting tired. Do you plan to rest him against the Islenos?"

    "I'm not sure," I replied. "We established baselines at the beginning of the season. He's still within them. I do need to rotate some players and give them a rest. I haven't decided anything yet for Wednesday."

    "Would you agree that you have to overcome the considerable talents of their center back Paco Borrega to get a positive result?" Laba asked.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-19-10.11.50-pm.png

    "He's the heart and soul of their defense, isn't he?" I replied. "But we have our plan. We play our way. I have confidence they can't stop us."

    "How do you plan to beat Borrega and San Fernando?"

    "Seriously, Bogdan? It woudn't be very sensible to reveal my plans to you so you can publish them and Juanma can read them, would it?"

    "What do you think about the Albacete hosting Atletico Sevillas?" he asked. "This is the table topper match of the week in the Secundo B4. Both teams will want to show their promotion play-off hopes are real. Do you think Albacete will win this one?"

    I actually think that Sevillas might be able to knock them off, but I know Albacete will probably get word of my comments. So I played the tactical choice; heap pressure on Albacete.

    "I'd be surprised if they didn't," I replied. "Anything else, Bogdan?"

    "No, thanks for you time as always, Enrico."

    "Ciao."

    "Ola."
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 20/12/2013 at 05:31 AM.
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  15. Round 9: San Fernando CD v. Cadiz CF

    The stadium was nearly full. The Cadistas had crossed the isthmus to San Fernando and outnumbered the Islenos. We could hear them singing the Cadiz anthem from inside the changing room:

    "Alcohol alcohol alcohol, we came here to get drunk and the result doesn't matter!"

    I'd posted the line-up on Tuesday once I'd evaluated the regular's fitness. This was my strongest squad. Aymen Souda wasn't back from Tunisia duty so Villar got the start up front.

    GK: Alejandro
    D: Dalmau, Chara, Martins, Moises
    M: Kike Lopez, Bruninho, Luque, Andres
    F: Airam, Souda

    I had decided that this one-sided derby, i.e., it was a big match for San Fernando, needed some passion. We hadn't been playing the way I wanted. It was time to jolt them out of it.

    "Here we go," I said. "This is a big, big match for them. They are playing the illustrious Cadiz. The former La Liga team. The Islenos probably rooted for Los Submarino Amarillas back when San Fernando CD didn't exist and we were a top club."

    "They are going to be pumped," I continued. "Are we going to let our neighbors humiliate us? Are we going to let them dictate the play tonight? Think about it. Beating us would be the highlight of their season. The Islenos would taunt the Cadistas for years if they could pull off a win tonight. We can't let that happen."

    "Go out there tonight and take it to them! Keep it tight at the back and no ball-watching. Keep the pressure high up the pitch. Don't give them any time to breathe. Let's shove it down their throats the whole match!"

    "I WANT YOU TO GO OUT THERE AND SHOW THE CADISTAS THAT WE CAME HERE TO FIGHT FOR THEM. I HAVE FAITH THAT YOU CAN GO OUT THERE AND TAKE THE GAME TO THEM! LET'S KICK THEIR ASSES INTO THE BAY AND LEAVE THEM THERE!"

    That seemed to work. They all looked pretty pumped. It's good I don't do that often. It'll have more of an effect this way.

    San Fernando were pumped up and it's good I'd given the team talk I did. We weren't exactly flat, but Juanma had wound up his players to a fever pitch.

    Alejandro made two fantastic saves in the first 10 minutes. Alejandro was pumped at least.

    For a change, we scored on our first meaningful possession in their half. Kike Lopez won a corner down the right flank. Luque's corner was cleared straight up the pitch. Martins controlled it and thumped it over to Luque. Chara, Bruninho and Airam were still standing in the goalmouth. Villar was making an unmarked near post run. Luque spotted it and dropped his cross right on top of Villar's head for a flick header that their keeper couldn't really deal with because of the six bodies jostling him.

    0-1

    The Cadistas sang:

    "Villar is our hero. We'll buy a beer for you because you're going to lose."

    We kept the pressure up and the ball in their half. After 24 minutes. Andres drove up the left wing, passed it inside the penalty box to Villar. Villar drew three defenders then slid a pass to Luque. Luque blasted over from 15m.

    Two minutes later, Borrega clipped Airam's ankles and we had a free kick from 22 or so meters out. Luque free kick was well high and wide. He wasn't looking sharp. I definitely needed to rest him in the next match.

    Villar on the other hand was dancing with the ball at his feet and nearly taunting the Islenos.

    On 35 minutes, Moises started a move up the left flank with a ball to Andres. Andres raced toward the byline but was shut down about 20 meters from the it. He passed the ball to Luque. Luque just hadn't worn his shooting boots today. He played a slide-rule pass into Villar's path. Villar's shot grazed the bar.

    At halftime I calmly told them they were playing fine, but could do much better. Bruninho looked completely gassed. He just sat with his elbows on his knees like he was still trying to catch his breathe. I replaced him with Josete.

    We continued our waves of attacks. Juanma was screaming himself hoarse with directions and encouragement. His effort up and down his coaching area was epic. His players tried to respond and worked their butts off to keep us at bay.

    They finally broke on the counter attack in the 54th minute. Their central midfielder Jose Luis Vergara beat Josete on the dribble and fed the ball to their right winger. He played it into the path of their hard-charging striker Pedro Carrion. He smashed a shot high near post that Alejandro palmed around the post.

    Yet another fabulous save by the Cadiz keeper!

    In the 61st minute, Andres and Villar had worked the ball into the box and were playing a cheeky little game of keep-away. Both were trying to create an opening or find someone open. Juanma's face was bright red from screaming and you could see the veins in his neck sticking out from anywhere in the stadium. I worried that he was going to have a coronary right then and there.

    Villar finally saw an outlet and stabbed the ball over to Luque who smashed a low shot (for a change) from 15 meters but right at the keeper. Their keeper deflected the ball rather than really saved it. The ball squibbed away along the far right side goal line. Kike Lopez beat everyone else to the ball and one-timed a shot from a nearly impossible angle into the net for his first goal of the season.

    0-2

    The players mobbed him in the corner in front of the Cadiz fans. They responded by chanting:

    "Kike! Kike! Kick them in the balls! Kike! Kike! Ooh it hurts so good!"

    As the team made their way back to their side of halfway for the restart, I got Martins and Luque's attention. I told them to calm things down, slow things down and keep this lead.

    Alejandro made sure of it immediately after the restart. It was Carrion again. The Islenos striker smashed another shot, this time from the top of the box that Alejandro leapt across the goalmouth and tipped past the post. Another spectacular save.

    I replaced my wingers Kike Lopez and Andres with Ceballos on the right and Kike Marques on the left. I gave them both instructions to stay back and help our fullbacks protect our shutout. Alejandro deserved one after how well he played.

    I gave them instructions, too. Josete was to drop into a defensive midfielder position and Villar was to drop into a central midfield role. I was going to leave Airam alone up top. We had enough goals, I wanted the shutout.

    In the 85th minute, Villar put on a show with a little help from Ceballanos and Airam. He got a pass from Josete about 35 meters out. He beat two San Fernando players, but couldn't get past their main man, Borrego. Now Borrego couldn't stop him or take the ball all he could do was slow him and keep him in front of him. When Villar reached the 5m box, he spun and played the ball out Ceballanos.

    Ceballanos whipped in a cross for Airam who'd posted up about 7 meters from the goal. It wasn't high enough to try a flick header. It was about stomach high, quite an awkward height. Rather than try and control it with two defenders on his back, he smacked it with his chest toward Villar who'd dropped to about 10-12 meters from goal.

    Villar cemented our victory with a smashed half-volley that the keeper didn't really see because of the traffic in front of him.

    0-3

    I checked my iPhone. Albacete were losing 1-2 to Atletico Sevilla. That was good news for us.


    The Cadistas sang:

    "We're so sorry. Come visit us, we'll buy the beer. Alcohol will wash away your tears."

    While we'd been happy and jovial after previous victories so far this season, the changing room atmosphere was pumped after this performance.

    Despite Villar's stylish dancing on the ball and brace, Alejandro was definitely man of the match. But what a team performance!

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-19-11.44.09-pm.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-19-11.50.36-pm.png

    Bogdan Laba caught me on the way back into the changing room:

    "Congratulations!" he said into my ear as the singing Cadistas who were slowly filing out of the stadium. "I've already spoken with Juanma. He said that you're mind games in the run up to this inaugural Derby de Cadiz contributed to the result. Is it fair to say that you got under his skin?"

    "I don't think so," I said into his digital micro-recorder. This has got to look weird. Bogdan yelling in my ear and then me speaking into Bogdan's hand. He had headphones plugged into the recorder. "Juanma is a good manager and while that's kind of him to say that, I don't think that anything you, Bogdan, tried to drum up in the run up had that much affect. This is no Pep-Mourinho mind games. It was a fun atmosphere here tonight, though."

    "A quite incredible victory for you here tonight, how pleased are you?"

    "We were excellent and I'm really proud of my players."

    "You've managed to extend your unbeaten run to eight games," Bogdan said. "Cadiz seem invincible. Can you keep this form going?"

    "These runs can't last forever and I don't want any Cadistas to overreact when the run does end."

    "Kike Lopez finally got on the scorers list, how important is that for him?"

    "Vital," I replied. "He's playing great and it will just add to his confidence."

    "Last one. We all hear how managers and Chairmen don't get along, but what can you tell me about your relationship with Florentino Manzano."

    "I knew full well coming in that finances were tight because the the lovely new Estadio Ramon de Carranza. I've brought in a complete staff of my choosing. I've added the players I needed. We were both shocked about the Michael suspension. We talk often. Director of Football Alessandro Gaucci and I talk all the time. Between the three of us, we work out any problems that confront Cadiz Club de Futbol.

    On the bus ride back to the Ramon de Carranza, I got a text from Ana Maria:

    "Fun match. My brothers took me. They can drop me at Mina's. See you there?"

    I texted back "Si!"
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 20/12/2013 at 07:16 AM.

  16. This is a cracking little story, really, definitely going to be keeping a keen eye out for each update, very good work sir! keep it up!
    Nurquidi98 likes this.

  17. Quote Originally Posted by TheWriter View Post
    This is a cracking little story, really, definitely going to be keeping a keen eye out for each update, very good work sir! keep it up!
    Thank you very much!

  18. dariodecadiz.es
    Los Submarino Amarillas sink Islenos
    Bogdan Laba


    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-villar-scores.png
    Villar smashes his second as Airam, top, and Jorge Luque, left, watch.

    Cadiz smashed three past San Fernando in the inaugural Derby de Cadiz. Separated by a mere isthmus, Cadiz visited Cuidad Deportiva Bahia Sur to ignite a brand new rivalry.

    Villar led the line with a brace, but the man-of-the-match was Cadiz goalkeeper Alejandro. He made four spectacular saves to keep San Fernando at bay.

    "We were excellent and I'm really proud of my players," Cadiz Supremo Enrico Pucci said.

    Islenos manager Juanma Carrillo admitted that Pucci won the mind games battle.

    "I think that Enrico certainly did increase the pressure on us and ultimately his side came away with the result they wanted," Carrillo said. "Maybe I need to work on being less affected by occasions like this."

    Cadiz dominated possession, had double the shots taken and on goal. They also had the majority of the fans inside the Bahia Sur nearly making the match a home game for Los Submarino Amarillas.

    Kike Lopez finally got on the scorer's list with his first goal of the season after a rebound found him alone with the ball but at an impossible angle.

    Cadiz remain in the promotion play-off hunt while San Fernando are a credible 12th in their first season in El Segundo B4.
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  19. Another good update after a good result, and hopefully that'll be a sign of things to come for you against the rivals! Hanging onto the play-offs, hopefully a promotion in sight!

    All the best!
    Nurquidi98 likes this.

  20. Quote Originally Posted by TheWriter View Post
    Another good update after a good result, and hopefully that'll be a sign of things to come for you against the rivals! Hanging onto the play-offs, hopefully a promotion in sight!

    All the best!
    Thanks and thanks for reading.

  21. Potatoes eaten Monday morning on the couch

    "That was a fun one, eh?" I asked once everyone was gathered in the cafeteria on Monday morning. Everyone nodded and murmured their agreement. Everyone had a copy of the Diaro de Cadiz with the picture of Villar scoring the third goal. "The Cadistas will be gloating in the faces of their Islenos co-workers today, that's for sure."

    "I'm really pleased with Moises development," Alejo Indias added. He's in charge of the defense. "For once our left flank wasn't the obvious place to attack us."

    There were more murmurs of agreement and nodding heads. Alejo hadn't turned purple even once last night.

    "Our training focus for the week is team cohesion," I said. "As always we'll practice corner kicks on Saturday. We haven't been winning many nor have we looked dangerous in the last three matches. What can we do about that?"

    "Get Mehdi Nafti back," Paco said. "But seriously, maybe we need Airam drifting off the back of the crowd for a back post header?"

    "What about working on short corners?" Javi Garcia asked.

    We talked for a few minutes about corners.

    "Next up is a long bus ride to Cartagena," I said. "We'll leave on Saturday afternoon, get to our hotel late."

    "I want to talk about Cartagena's strengths and weaknesses right away this week and plan how we prepare," I continued. "Take it away, Jose."

    "Thanks, boss," my Chief Scout began. "Cartagena are fast. They've been rotating players and either striker is fast. Their wingers are fast. I think their weakness is their keeper. He's decent enough in the air, but nobody would ever describe him as cat-like. He gives up rebounds, we need to be on them."

    "They play a 4-4-1-1," he continued. "Their withdrawn striker or attacking midfielder is their key player. Everything flows through him."

    "I need to rest Bruninho and Jorge Luque," I said. "I want Martins in midfielder as ball-winner. His job will be to shut down Alvaro Gonzalez. Jose Villar will drop into the creative midfielder role. Souda is back so that gives us a pretty healthy attack."

    "Perico won't be ready by next weekend," Michel Roman my Head Physio interjected. "I know you were hoping. He'll be fit and ready for Almeria "B" in two weeks."

    "Okay, thanks for the update," I replied. "Kike Lopez also needs a rest so this is Kike Marques' chance to shine."

    "What are Cartagena's weaknesses?" I asked.

    "On paper, they should be challenging for the promotion play-offs," Jose replied. "But Luis Tevenet, their manager, tinkers so much they haven't built up a rhythm, yet. We need to make sure they don't build up any positives against us. They're a solid side."

    "We need to hit them hard early then hold on," Jose opined.

    As the players rolled in for some breakfast prior to yoga, I talked to Bruninho, Luque and Kike Lopez. I reminded them that they were key players and I need to give them a rest. I asked them to remember that the season was 38 matches long and I planned on getting us into the promotion play-offs. To win promotion, we'd need everyone fresh in May and June.

    A bunch of players were in the Physios room, but only Perico was there for his injury. Mehdi Nafti was still two months out with hip condition, he was in the gym riding the stationary bike very slowly as per the specialists orders.
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  22. Fantastic update, your conversational writing is insane and I just love these updates! Can't wait for the next one
    Nurquidi98 likes this.

  23. "Good afternoon," I said as I walked into a rather crowded barbershop for my Tuesday shave.

    I shook hands and back slapped with three of the four customers who were hanging out. The other was getting shaved by Esteban's partner in crime, Roberto.

    "Good afternoon to you, Enrico," Esteban said motioning to his empty chair. "What a win on Sunday, what a win, eh?"

    "It was nice, the boys kicked their ****ing *****, didn't they?"

    Everyone agreed. And loudly.

    "Alejandro was awesome," Esteban enthused. "And when did Villar buy those matador boots? The way he danced with the ball and teased those defenders just like a matador does with the bull? What a thing of beauty."

    "Why can't Los Submarinos Amarillas do that at home?" a customer named Marcos who I'd often seen there asked.

    I sighed.

    "When I figure that out, you'll instantly know that I've figured it out," I replied. "It's one of the big problems we face."

    "I think it's just your left back," Esteban intoned. "That kid Moises seems the only one of Andres, Tomas and him that can defend."

    "I agree that Moises is solid defensively," I said. "But our offense looks listless, too."

    "When Perico gets back, all will be well," Esteban predicted.

    "You've been right every time," I agreed.

    "I'm thinking of opening a Psychic, Tarot Card business," Esteban said.

    "Yeah, we'd have a use for that third chair finally," Roberto said. Everyone looked at the always empty third chair and nodded.

  24. Quote Originally Posted by TheWriter View Post
    Fantastic update, your conversational writing is insane and I just love these updates! Can't wait for the next one
    Muchas Gracias, Senor!

  25. So I checked out all three of the Italian restaurants Margarita recommended. The first two imported nearly everything from Italy, but were too touristy for my taste. I walked into the third option around 3pm. No hostess around, no waiters. It was a fairly small space and what looked like the chef was reading the newspaper at the bar.

    "Buon Giorno," I greeted him in Italian.

    "Eh, we're closed," he said in Italian without looking up. "But I can't place your accent."

    "You must save me," I begged. "I am dieing for lack of some home cooking."

    "Really," he said looking up. "Aren't you the Cadiz manager? The Italiano?"

    "The same," I replied.

    "You're from ... uh ... somewhere in Emilia Romagna, I remember that much," he said standing up.

    "Bologna," I replied. I was prepared to get on my knees and beg some more.

    "I have lasagna I could heat up," he suggested. I nodded approval vigorously. "Join me at the bar then."

    "You are my savior," I said buttering him up. "Tell me about your restaurant. I had one in Bologna, but it failed with the economy."

    "Yes," he said strolling into the kitchen. "That's why I'm here."

    "Do you import or get it locally?" I asked.

    "Locally," he replied from the back. "That's the beauty of food, no? Everything high quality, locally grown. I'm a member of the Slow Food movement."

    "I really like the local olive oils," he continued. "Do you know that Spain produces around 3 times the oil that Italy does? And the pigs are different than around Parma where I'm from, but they're good. Really good."

    We talked for a while about food. The lasagna was excellent. Guiseppe was the proprietor's name. I would be back here regularly.

  26. Give a man lasagne and he won't go wrong Great installment once again, loving this, always eager for the next!

    Buon lavoro! *Closes Google Translate*
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  27. Round 10: FC Cartagena v. Cadiz CF

    Cartagena is nearly 600 km away, a six hour bus ride across the entire length of the Costa Del Sol.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-20-08.26.38-pm.png

    Herc, Cadiz's chef, had packed a feast into several coolers so that made it bearable. We drove to Granada and then into the Sierra Nevada range. I'd never been to Granada, but I'd heard that the big Moorish palace, the Alhambra is pretty cool.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-view-sierra-nevada-mountains1.jpg

    We arrived a bit before 11pm at our hotel. Margarita had picked a pretty nice hotel and I got a decent night's sleep.

    Our match was at 7pm so we had all morning and afternoon to wander around Cartagena. We were going to have a pre-game meal at 3pm then head over to the stadium.

    Paco and I wandered around, saw the Roman amphitheater. Even an oaf like me can snap a pretty good picture with his iPhone of it. Cartagena has a deep, natural harbor and has been settled since around 400BC or thereabouts. I love the old, narrow streets especially.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-ct_teatro_romano_y_catedral.jpg The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-cartagenaspain3.jpg The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-dsc_8821.jpg

    After a pleasant morning and afternoon, we had our pre-game meal and headed over to Estadio Cartagonova.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-20-09.33.00-pm.png

    I didn't want to rest Bruninho and Jorge Luque. Luque made everything flow and Bruninho worked his ass off every match. But they both needed a rest. Martins would move up into the ball-winning midfield role, Villar would drop into the box-to-box midfielder role. Aymen Souda was back from international duty so he'd partner Airam up top.

    GK: Alejandro
    D: Dalmau, Chara, Belforti, Moises
    M: Kike Marques, Martins (C), Villar, Andres
    F: Airam, Souda

    The stadium was about a third full. A small pack of Cadistas looked lonely in a corner of the stadium with nobody around them. Cadistas are well-known across Spain for their pleasant dispositions and fun chants and songs. They never cause trouble. Even if someone would have wanted to, they'd have had a long walk to get there from where all of the other fans sat.

    We got off to a dream start.

    Dalmau got fouled by their left winger. He tapped the free kick to Martins who to a few touches with it and then passed it to Kike Marques. Marques controlled the ball and dribbled into the middle of the pitch. Souda came over and he fed him the ball. Souda one-touched it to Airam who in one fluid motion, controlled the ball into space and unleashed one of those dipping, wobbling Ronaldo-eque missiles. It was bound for just inside the near post. The keeper was diving for it but it one hopped right in front of him. The ball seemed to accelerate past their diving keeper.

    0-1

    The problem was that was our one and only foray into Cartagena territory that half. They pinned us back for the entire half.

    A strong right hand from Alejandro kept their lone striker Antonio Megias' near post rocket out in the 3rd minute.

    Moises had to make a desperation tackle after getting beat inside the box at 5 minutes. I gasped as I realized he was airborne, diving in to make a tackle from behind. But he took all ball, no man and Belforti thumped it to safety.

    Martins, my Captain, didn't help matters. When he got the ball he either held it too long or failed to control a pass or passed it directly to a Cartagena man. During a break, I got his attention and yelled at him to make the quick, short pass. He was so hopeless out there, I considered replacing him before 30 minutes were up.

    On 27 minutes, Martins had the ball yet again and telegraphed a simple pass back to Dalmau. Their right winger Miguel Angel Riau nipped in and stole the hospital ball pass and fed their withdrawn forward Alvaro Gonzalez. Gonzalez sprinted right at Chara who back-pedaled in a panic. Chara never stepped up to challenge and Gonzalez unleashed a cannon of a shot that Alejandro managed to parry. Unfortunately, the ball richoceted back in the direction where it came from and fell to Riau. Riadu smashed his volley in to tie the score.

    1-1

    Unfortunately, I had to replace Airam. He did his best to provide outlets to our beleaguered defense, but all he accomplished was to get beat up. It was pretty clear they were targeting him for some special sauce. He was trying to walk off yet another collision in the 29th minute when Paco, Michel and I had a quick conference. It wasn't worth risking an injury to our top scorer.

    I replaced him with Josete who slotted in between the midfielders and the defense. Souda would be alone up top, but if I didn't insert Josete into the breach Cartagena were threatening to turn this into a route.

    "Into the breach, Josete," I said into his ear just before he went on. "I have faith that you can stem the tide."

    While the ball stayed in our half and Martins continued to show me he was no longer a midfielder anymore, we weren't in imminent danger of being swept away by a tsunami of Cartagena attacks.

    They nearly took the lead just before the break. They'd won their 8th corner, Paco was keeping count, and their center back Javier Taranto rung a free header off the crossbar.

    We were lucky not to be trailing by a lot. I told them so at the break. I replaced Martins with Bruninho.

    We parked the bus and kept Cartagena at bay. It was hard, exhausting and boring work. But we kept at it.

    In the 58th minute, Andres chopped down their full back out on our left flank. Alejandro, Chara and Belforti got everyone to play a high line at the top of the box. Their captain, Mariano, dropped a beatiful free kick right into the middle of the goalmouth on the 5 meter box. We'd tried to play the off-side trap, but failed. Gonzalez lunged and toe-poked a ball goalward.

    Alejandro saved us by taking a step out, making himself large and blocking the point blank shot.

    Cartagena continued to press, but could only manage long-range efforts that sailed either high, wide or both.

    Dalmau was dragging the worst of the defenders from their herculean exertions so I sent on Caballos for the last ten minutes.

    I stood there with my hands in my pockets, desperately watching each minute pass, hoping we wouldn't break or tire.

    We did in the 87th minute. Chara cleared a cross out and Villar picked up the ball, he took one too many touches and gave the ball away. The defense had all relaxed for that moment hoping Villar would waste some time. Unfortunately, he gave the ball away and we were unprepared. Several diving blocks and two desperation tackles later and all they could manage was a tame long-range effort that Alejandro easily saved.

    I knew we weren't free and clear. They'd replaced their starting striker in the 70th minute when he began to tire. His replacement, Galan, had been terrorizing us since then. He managed to get himself free in the 90th minute and figured this is it, all that effort wasted for nothing as he teed up his shot.

    Thankfully, it grazed the crossbar. Alejandro was cleanly beaten.

    That was all the luck we needed. The match lasted 97 minutes (3 extra at end of 1st half, 4 at end of 2nd). Of those 97, 95 were torture to watch. I was drained.

    My post match speech was short and sweet.

    "What the **** happened out there? How could we not put any passes together. I'm not happy with how you played. Get showered, get on the bus, let's go get some dinner back at the hotel and let's get the **** out of Cartagena."

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-20-10.54.13-pm.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-20-10.54.43-pm.png

    Wait. What? They credited us with a 2nd shot? When did that happen? Our 37% possession was pretty much all in the 1st half.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 21/12/2013 at 06:03 AM.

  28. Cafeteria advice

    "I'm actually in a better mood about yesterday's result than I was last night," I said to start off our Monday morning staff meeting. "We actually held off an onslaught last night. Compare that to just a few weeks ago when our defense panicked every time they were called upon. All credit to Alejo."

    There were murmurs of agreement.

    "We found out how important Luque really is to our side," Javi Garcia said. More murmurs of agreement.

    "And Martins is now playing midfield like a center back," Alejo said to chuckles.

    "And don't forget we have two easier matches ahead of us," Paco added. "Almeria B and El Palo are relegation fodder."

    "Speaking of that, let's get straight to Jose and the report on Almeria B unless someone has something else," I said.

    "Perico is back next week," Michel said. "I think he'll be good for 60 minutes."

    "Almeria B stink," Jose summarized. "They're a bunch of cast-offs except for their left back and their right winger. They were embarrassing yesterday. They play a 4-2-3-1 and their attacking foursome, aside from that right winger, should be playing in an amateur league.Which is what they'll all be doing next season once they wash out of the Almeria system. I'm pretty sure they don't have a out-and-out striker. The kid who played there last week is harmless."

    "Tell us how you really feel, Jose," Llorente joked.

    "So we've got to guard against complacency and overconfidence," Paco warned. "Feel free to yell at them and make them do Killers if they start getting full of themselves."
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  29. Round 11: Cadiz CF v. Almeria "B"

    For the first time in a while, I had some choices. Perico gave us a legitimate threat and creativity down the left. Luque could pull the strings with a real range of options. I had to choose between Souda and Villar to accompany Airam up top.

    Bruninho is not playing confidently, but I think that these next two games should give him some confidence.

    GK: Alejandro (C)
    D: Dalmau, Chara, Belforti, Moises
    M: Kike Lopez, Bruninho, Luque, Perico
    F: Airam, Villar

    Subs: Andres, Martins, Josete, Kike Marquez, Souda

    It didn't start well for us. They brought the ball back from the kick off and swung it out right to their right winger, one of the two who could play Jose had warned, and he promptly beat Moises. Moises sprinted back and caught up with him before he could decide what to do with the ball. They danced a bit in the corner and eventually Moises nicked the ball off his toe for a corner.

    That was the only danger moment for us all game. Talk about a contrast from last week against Cartagena.

    We attacked rather nervously at first. But eventually we got in a groove and it resulted in a Jose Villar goal in the 22nd minute.

    Luque played in a low, two-hop free kick in from the left. He saw that Villar had broken free from his marker. Villar volleyed home.

    1-0

    We kept the ball in their end for the rest of the half. Jose was right. They were useless going forward. At one point we got caught out. They had five against four defenders yet couldn't figure out what to do. Eventually, their left winger tried to play a ball out to the right but only managed to hoof the ball out for a throw on the far side.

    We couldn't find that second goal before halftime.

    In the changing room, I told the players that they'd played well, but had plenty of room for improvement.

    It was just a matter of time before we scored again. It didn't take long.

    Kike Lopez brought the ball down the right flank, ran into trouble, lost the ball but won it back and passed it to Dalmau. Dalmau teed it up for Bruninho. Just like it was in training, he stepped into it and launched a knee high, near post drive. Keeper had no chance. 2 minutes into the second half and we could coast.

    2-0

    We coasted.

    Perico was tiring and should've gotten a second yellow card in the 59th minute for a stupid foul. Andres was just about finished warming up to replace Perico so I pulled the swap. He was back and would be back in form soon.

    A few minutes later I sent on Martins for Belforti. I wanted to give him some minutes to regain my confidence after his debacle in Cartagena.

    Villar wrapped up the scoring in the 69th minute. Martins controlled a long clearance and passed to Luque. Luque fed it to Villar who turned the defender one way then another before curling a shot into the far corner.

    3-0

    Josete replaced Bruninho with 10 minutes to go.

    That was it. Easy victory. Almeria B really do suck.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-20-11.44.03-pm.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-20-11.44.32-pm.png

    Alejandro only had to take 8 or so goal kicks, deal with a couple of back passes and one maybe two long balls. Albacete and Atletico Sevilla also won so everything remained the same at the top.
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  30. No soup for you

    I walked out to my Alfa Tuesday morning, got in, put the key fob in, pressed start and nothing. Not a click, not a huff, not a cough. Nothing.

    I sighed. I sat there. I tried again.

    Nothing.

    Had I left the headlights on? Dome light? Regardless, it was dead.

    I was standing there looking at it wondering if this was an omen of ill fortune when my phone jangled. It was Alessandro Gaucci, Cadiz's Director of Football.

    "Ciao, Alessandro."

    "Enrico, how's it going?"

    "For starters, the Alfa won't start. Totally dead. But I have a bad feeling and imagine you have bad news for me."

    "Sadly, I do. The players and staff aren't going to be paid on the 1st. We're having cash-flow issues. Florentino is working on the situation, but we don't know when this problem will be resolved."

    "****."

    "You need to inform the players and staff. Please tell them this morning."

    "Will do, Alessandro."

    "I'm sorry, Enrico."

    "I know, I know. I'll take care of it."
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  31. LOVE this career thread, a real credit to the writers that play Football Manager! More incredible updates and more meanders than a river. Love it! Great job, keep it coming!
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  32. Quote Originally Posted by TheWriter View Post
    LOVE this career thread, a real credit to the writers that play Football Manager! More incredible updates and more meanders than a river. Love it! Great job, keep it coming!
    Oh, now you've made me blush ...

  33. Please don't injure or otherwise kill the messenger, please?

    "Can I have everyone's attention?" I hollered. The locker room quieted down. "I have some bad news. The holding company that Florentino controls that owns Cadiz CF is having cash flow problems. The result of our holding companies problem is that we won't be getting paid on the first."

    Silence.

    "This means players, coaching staff and club staff," I continued. "Personally, this is really demoralizing news. I'll be honest. The crash of 2008 ruined me financially. I don't have the reserves to handle this."

    "Also, and I'm sure the coaching staff agrees with me, we've just started to play with some real confidence. We're all here on a contract for only this season. What would be really sad is if this affected our play. I am confident we have a real shot at getting promoted. You all know how hard it is to win the Segundo promotion. I'm not impressed with Albacete and Atletico Sevilla. They have weaknesses I think we can exploit if we meet either in the play-offs. But we have to hang together. We can do something special here, this season."

    "We can do something memorable. I know that a few of you have won something in your careers. When you've hung up your boots, years from now when your kids and grandkids sit on your kneed, you can tell the story of how penniless Cadiz defied the all the odds and gained promotion."

    "One more thing, if anyone from the media asks you about this, have them contact Alessandro Gaucci. Do not under any circumstances say anything. Whatever the question, your response must be "please contact Director of Football Alessandro Gaucci." I must emphasize that nobody speak to the press about this."

    "Any questions?"

    "Do they have any idea when this problem will be fixed?" Club Captin Mikel Martins asked.

    "I'm sorry, no," I replied. "I will keep you all posted about any news or updates. Anyone else?"

    Silence.

    "If anyone has any questions, concerns or anything you want to talk to me privately about, please seek me out. Okay?"

    Silence. A few players nodded recognizing my offer.

    "Then let's get out there and start today's training."
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  34. I got the Alfa towed to my mechanic. The battery was dead. I'd left the headlights on. I needed a new battery.
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  35. To make matters worse, during Wednesday's training Airam pulled up limping. Michel quickly confirmed that it was a groin strain. He estimated that our leading scorer would be out three weeks.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-21-10.53.47-pm.png

    What next?

  36. Round 12: CD El Palo v. Cadiz CF

    El Palo are a semi-professional team based in Malaga. It's 230 odd kilometers to Malaga, a two and a half hour drive. With our budget situation, we would not be spending the night in Malaga. It was a Sunday afternoon bus ride for a 7pm match.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-21-11.11.50-pm.png

    The stadium seats 1,000. It's tiny. We changed on the bus, they have no facilities.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-cdcfad3c50b12c14fe78e67196a8c12d.jpg The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-005-1024x682.jpg The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-img_3042-1024x682.jpg

    Several hundred fans watched from the adjacent apartment buildings that had better views than from inside the Nuevo San Ignacio.

    GK: Alejandro
    D: Dalmau, Chara, Belforti, Moises
    M: Kike Lopez, Bruninho, Luque, Perico
    F: Souda, Villar

    Subs: Andres, Ceballos, Martins, Josete, Kike Marques

    Chief Scout Jose Manuel Barla had told us to expect El Palo to play a 4-1-3-1-1. Their lone threat was Antonio Moreno.

    My team talk was simple:
    1. Give their lone forward Moreno the special sauce. Clamp down on him.
    2. Keep the momentum going from last week's victory.

    Several hundred Cadistas made the trip and were singing about getting drunk in Malaga.

    We started brightly. Kike Lopez stormed down the right flank and whipped in a cross. Villar leapt, but couldn't get above the ball and his header sailed harmlessly over.

    In the 5th minute, Belforti intercepted a pass and played the ball to Villar. Villar might have well as sat down, ordered a beer and some tapas for all the effort he made to get to the pass. He literally stood there and waited for the ball to arrive. An enterprising El Palo player nipped in and intercepted the pass. He fed the ball to Duran, their withdrawn forward, who played a soft chip over Belforti's head. Moreno ran onto the ball and slipped it under the advancing Alejandro.

    0-1

    Villar, Villar, Villar, Villar. WTF?

    The Cadistas are known for their sporting, fair play mentality. They'll applaud a nice play or a spectular effort regardless of which team did it. They applauded Duran's pass and Moreno's goal.

    No problem, right? We'll come back and take the points.

    We certainly tried.

    We immediately brought the ball into the El Paso half and moved it around but couldn't penetrate. Bruninho eventually tried a shot from 25 meters. Easy save as it was directly at their keeper.

    Luque drew a foul challenging for a header in the 16th minute. He was rubbing his neck, but seemed fine. I smashed the free kick right at their keeper.

    In the 18th minute, Luque won a tackle in our half and played it back to Moises. Moises sent a ball up the left to Perico. Perico took a few steps forward, saw Villar making a run toward the top left corner of the penalty box and threaded the ball into his path. Villar beat his defender, advances on goal and tries to beat the keeper at his near post.

    Their keeper made a nice save to preserve their lead.

    In the 25th minute, Luque played a ball into the corner for Villar to chase. Villar laid a pass into the path of Perico who was heading into the box. Perico beats his man and advances along the end line toward the goal.

    His shot mystifyingly trickles along the goal line and eventually goes out on the far side of the goal for a goal kick.

    Then they started doubting themselves and over-passing. This made defending easier as all El Palo had to do is park the bus. Furthermore, Villar and Souda are both short. Well, I should say that Souda is short, but Villar is not all that interested in challenging for high balls into the box. In other words, Villar plays like a short guy.

    We kept the ball in their half for almost all of the 1st half, but went into the shed that sufficed as our changing room down one goal to nil.

    "Bad luck out there, boys," I said. "I have faith that you'll come back. Just stick to it. We'll find the equalizer and move on from there."

    Luque's neck had stiffened up while we sat in the shed. I replaced him with Martins. I didn't want to risk the injury becoming worse.

    I was late returning to the bench as I had to take a whiz. Since our changing room as literally a shed, I had to go into the stadium and wait in line with everyone else to use the restroom.

    All I saw as I walked in was Alejandro making a fantastic, scrambling, point-blank save on Moreno.

    "What'd I miss?" I asked Paco.

    "Duran played another ball over Belforti's head," Paco explained shaking his head. "Belforti was ball watching and Moreno was in alone again."

    Alejo was in the Cadiz technical area screaming himself purple.

    Our confidence was like a balloon that had been filled, but hadn't been tied shut. Instead of being motivated by Alejandro's great save, it was like all the air went out of the Cadiz balloon.

    We kept the ball in their half, but didn't really threaten the El Palo goal.

    Perico was worn out at 60 minutes, so on went Kike Marques to replace him. Kike Lopez was starting to look tired so I replaced him with Andres around 69 minutes.

    I should have put on Andres earlier. He was determined to salvage something even if he had to do it himself.

    Coming in off the right flank in the 80th minute, he took a shot from the top corner of the box. It was an easy save for the keeper, but it was the first save he'd had to make in a while.

    "At least he took a shot," Paco said to the nobody in particular.

    Things were looking grim for Los Submarino Amarillos. Dalmau looked uninterested. Martins wasn't looking very convincing in the center of the park. Villar and Souda were waiting around from someone in midfield to do something. Or only hope was attacks from the flanks and Kike Marques was proving to be as useless as ever.

    Essentially, it all came down to Andres.

    In the 85th minute, Chara controlled a long clearance. He had plenty of time and picked out Andres out wide right. Andres stormed past their left back and headed straight for goal. From 15 meters he hit a grass burner for the far post. It hit the far post and a grateful El Paso defender kicked it high above the netting that surrounds the stadium and off one of the adjacent buildings.

    In the 90th minute, Kike Marques and Villar were trying to find an opening in the defense. All they could manage to do was set up Moises with a shot from 20 meters. Moises? Seriously? How about taking on a defender? Moises hit a tame effort directly at the keeper.

    The fourth official indicated 5 minutes of extra time. We kept the ball in their half, but couldn't find an opening.

    95 minutes passed. The ref had only glanced at his watch. The El Paso manager is yelling at the ref. The El Palo fans are whistling.

    96 minutes passed. The ref was definitely giving us a chance here. I wish we'd take it. The El Paso manager is shrieking at the ref. The El Palo fans are still whistling, some are booing.

    97 minutes were about to pass. Moises had the ball in his hands for a throw in about 25 meters from the end line. I figured the ref was about to blow his whistle, but he's going to let Moises take the throw.

    Moises heaves it into the penalty box. I had no idea the kid could throw it that far. Villar making a rare effort to win a header leaps and sends his header into the danger area. Unfortunately, a defender heads it out.

    The ref still hasn't looked at his watch. One last chance! The ball falls to Martins. Our captain tees up a shot and launches it for the far top corner. The goalie leaps and snares the ball.

    The ref looks at his watch.

    The ref blows three blasts on his whistle.

    We've lost to a ****** ****ing semi-pro team.

    I tell the team that they were just unlucky. Which is kind of correct. We were unlucky to lose Michael to a drug suspension we weren't told was hanging over his head. We were unlucky to lose our top scorer Airam in training during the week. We were unlucky to lose Jorge Luque to a neck strain at halftime.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-22-12.50.10-am.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-22-12.50.45-am.png

    Albacete and Atletico Sevilla both won. Now we lead Cartagena and Lucena on mere goal difference.

    Since there was no showers at Neuvo San Ignacios the air in the bus was putrified by the time we arrived back in San Fernando at our training facility.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 22/12/2013 at 08:00 AM.

  37. Unlucky with the loss mate, still lots of time to close the gap! Fantastic read by the way. Keep it going.

  38. Damn, real shame about the defeat but I'm sure you can bounce back! Great read once again!

  39. Quote Originally Posted by Streaky25 View Post
    Unlucky with the loss mate, still lots of time to close the gap! Fantastic read by the way. Keep it going.
    Quote Originally Posted by TheWriter View Post
    Damn, real shame about the defeat but I'm sure you can bounce back! Great read once again
    Thanks for they sympathy. My priority is to just get into the Promotion Play-offs.

    Becoming the champion doesn't entitle you to much of an advantage except for playing the 4th place finisher in your group of the El Segundo Promotion Playoffs. It's really tough, because if you get past the first round then you play the winner of the other play-off from your sub-group. If you win the second round then the winners of the 4 groups play off.

    Here's where it gets a bit easier. The two losers of the inter-group rounds face off over 2 legs. The winner gets promoted so that in the end 3 teams get promoted out of El Segundo.
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  40. dariodecadiz.es 3 November 2013
    Los Submarino Amarillas finally lose
    Bogdan Laba


    Cadiz CF's ten match unbeaten run finally came to an end against the unlikeliest of opponents. The semi-professionals of El Palo, a Malaga side, bestedLos Submarino Amarillas with an early goal by Antonion Moreno.

    Cadiz were unlucky as numerous chances were just wide and substitute Andres hit the post in the dieing minutes as they pushed for an equalizer.

    The defeat could have been worse except for the spectacular save to start the second half by Cadiz goalkeeper Alejandro. The defense were caught out and Moreno was in alone. Alejandro's scrambling, top class save kept Cadiz in the match.

    Cadiz sorely missed leading scorer Airam. Aymen Souda replaced him, but he and the white hot Jose Villar, four goals in last two matches, couldn't find the magic necessary to right the ship.

    Cadiz's chances were also hurt when Jorge Luque was withdrawn by manager Enrico Pucci because of a stiff neck. Luque had come off worse for an aerial challenge in the first half. Club Captain Mikel Martins, who normally plays as a central defender, could not fill the playmaker's boots.

    Cadiz remain third despite the loss. They travel to Arroyo next Sunday.
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  41. After Sunday's match, Monday's staff meeting and Monday's training, I was feeling pretty down. My staff was trying to put a brave face on it, but I could tell that everyone was worried. The Spanish Federation had rules about clubs that couldn't pay their players and staff. Nobody knew exactly what the rules were, but they exchanged stories they'd heard about or remembered of clubs with financial troubles. The effect was like kids telling bogeyman stories around the campfire; the result was we pretty much scared the **** out of each other.

    I just felt that something was off in training. Maybe it was just me.

    I decided that I wanted to see Ana Maria. Cadiz's training finished long before she got off work, so I wandered into the old town and to the Alameda Alpodeca. It's a public garden that I find really peaceful. I sat there, tried to relax but really only wound myself up even more.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-alameda-de-apodaca-02.jpg The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-7013232.jpg

    Around her quitting time, I texted her that I'd had a bad day and asked if I could see her. She said yes. I replied that I'd be waiting outside her office.

    "Hi," I greeted her and hugged her.

    "I saw the result in the paper," she said. "What's going on?"

    "I'm worried," I replied. "On one hand, I'm broke. I don't have any savings. On the other hand, I'm worried about the club getting deducted points. Furthermore, I'm worried that morale will slip and we'll have more results like from last night."

    "Let's not talk here," she said. "Let's walk. I've sat all day."

    "Don't you have a manager's union?" she asked.

    "I hadn't thought of them," I replied. "But, yes, I've got a handbook. I guess it's time I read through it."

    "Here's a nice place," she said. "Let's have a glass of wine. On me."

    She was right. Later back at my place I read the manager's handbook. All my staff paid dues and were entitled to help.

    Of courese, there was also the additional bonus that she also improved my morale.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 23/12/2013 at 03:48 PM.
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  42. dariodecadiz.es 7 November 2013
    Cadiz players go without pay
    Bogdan Laba

    Cadiz CF S.A.D. financial situation has worsened in recent weeks according to anonymous sources at the club. Florentino Manzano's holding company that controls the club has been unable to pay the wages of players, coaching staff and club staff.

    Renovations to Estadio Ramon de Carranza is the main culprit. The club is estimated to owe over EU10 million, yet.

    Cadiz joins much larger clubs like Valencia, Deportiva La Coruna, Racing Santander and Betis who have faced or are still facing financial crisis. Fellow El Segundo B4 competitors Albacete are also in financial straits.

    Federal tax authorities confirmed that Cadiz are up-to-date on their taxes.

    The club did not reply to requests for more information and would not comment on the situation.
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  43. Round 13: CP Arroyo v. Cadiz CF

    Another away match, another Sunday bus ride. Arroyo de la Luz is in western Spain, west-southwest of Madrid by the Portugal border. The current cost-cutting measures at the club means we can't stay overnight on Saturday.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-23-10.44.47-am.png

    And yet another trip to a tiny ground. Estadio Municipal seats 3,000. No worries about breaking the window on somebody's apartment, though, unlike at El Palo. Thankfully, there's a proper changing room with modern toilets and working showers inside the athletic gym adjacent to the field. A 400km, 4 hour stinkfest all the way back home would've been too much.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-arroyo070512b.jpg The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-arroyo070512d.jpg

    Airam and Jorge Luque were both out. I decided that while Bruninho and Josete wouldn't be the most creative midfielders I could put out there, they'd at least be defensively solid.

    GK: Alejandro
    D: Dalmau, Chara, Martins, Moises
    M: Kike Lopez, Josete, Bruninho, Perico
    F: Souda, Villar

    Subs: Andres (D/M), Ceballos, (D), Belforti (D), Tomas (D/M), Kike Marques (M/F)

    The two hundred or so dedicated Cadistas who'd made the long trip sang our song:

    "Alcohol alcohol alcohol, we came here to get drunk and the result doesn't matter!"

    and chanted:

    "We can see Portugal from here."

    We started off the match by giving away yet another early goal. Alejo had been talking about concentrating harder early in matches so we don't give away the early goal. Yet again, he was not happy. He actually looked rather purple.

    They were passing the ball around in our half, nothing serious. They passed the ball into their striker Iban Espadas. Central defender Mikel Martins gave him the space so he turned. We weren't in any danger, yet as he was 30 meters from goal.

    I knew we were in trouble as soon as their other forward, Gorka Pintado, made a run directly in front of Ricardo Chara, the other Cadiz central defender. Chara reacted late. Espadas played the ball into the path of Pintado, Pintado touched it once then smashed a 16 meter drive past Alejandro.

    0-1

    Was Chara just not watching? Had a pretty woman in the stands caught his eye?

    It's like the boy for the Bologna youth side during my first season. He was never going to play professionally. But somebody had signed him to a youth contract for reasons beyond me. The sad part is there were boys in that system worse than him. Anyway, it was a morning match. He was standing at the far post on a corner. The corner came curling in, beat our defense, beat our keeper and bounced right past him into the goal. At halftime I asked him why he didn't put a foot out and stop the ball from going in. "The sun was in my eyes, Enrico," he said. "But but but the sun was behind you!" I spluttered. I'll never forget that incident.

    At least the boys had a fighting spirit. They took the ball straight down from the ensuing kick-off and Kike Lopez won a corner.

    Perico played a ball to the far post. Aymen Souda came storming in from a deep position, leapt and thundered a header past their flailing keeper.

    1-1

    I looked at Paco. He shrugged.

    "I ****ing hate basketball," I said. He shrugged again.

    We played well the rest of the half but couldn't conjure up another goal.

    In the 18th minute, Perico who'd wandered inside fed the ball to Souza at the top of the box. Souza spun on his defender and zipped a shot just past the left post.

    In the 22nd minute, Bruninho had the ball in our center cirlce and was facing our goal. Nobody yelled any instructions so he played it safe and hoofed it back to our keeper, Alejandro. Alejandro played it out to Moises on the left flank. Moises sent Perico running down the left wing with the ball. Then he picked out Villar's run into the box, passed the ball into his path, but Villar skied his shot high and wide from 10 meters.

    We won another corner inthe 34th minute. Perico swung his corner right into the danger zone. After a mad scramble, the ball lands right in front of Bruninho. His shot is deflected but comes right back to him, he whiffs on his second attempt and sort of kind of shanks his third attempt. The ball wobbled through the air, over the Arroyo goalies head and bounces of the top of the crossbar.

    We were creating the better chances and dominating possession so I told them at halftime that I thought we could win if we kept playing the way we had been. Alejo was crouched down talking with Chara and Martins. I presume about tracking runners.

    We continued pressing in the second half.

    In the 60th minute, Pintado had dropped back deep into the Arroyo end. He controlled a clearance out of the box, played the ball to a nearby midfielder. Pintado took off running at his full sprint. He's my age. He's not that fast, but nobody tracked his run. The midfielder with the ball played the ball up to the halfline where Pintado's attacking partner, Espadas was standing.

    Espadas saw Pintado's run. Josete was watching the ball as Pintado sprinted past him. The Arroyo fans saw Pintado's run and stood up en masse. Chara backpedaled but didn't move over to cover Pintado's run. The Cadistas saw the run and stood up shouting and pointing.

    But nobody in the Cadiz defense did.

    Martins stepped up to challenge Espadas, but he gave Espada's time to turn and play the ball into the path of the hard-charging Pintado. Dalmau and Chara came charging over to stop him, but they weren't going to catch him. But 22 meters out Pintado slowed and chipped a high lob over the advancing Alejandro.

    Everyone stood there and watched the ball float high in the air like a balloon. It slowly descended, bounced once and up into the top netting.

    2-1

    The Cadistas even stood and applauded. It was an audicious chip.

    "Chara's gassed, yank him," Paco said into my ear. I nodded. Paco pointed at Belforti and he started warming up. The swap happened a few minutes later.

    I checked my iPhone. Atletico Sevilla and Albacete were both leading their opponents.

    Perico wasn't doing much useful in the second half, so I replaced him with Andres a few minutes later.

    Villar wasn't doing much useful, either. So i got Kike Marques warming up.

    On 68 minutes, there was another mad scramble in the goalmouth after a corner. Villar toe poked the ball goalwards. It hit the post.

    That was Villar's last action of the match.

    I checked my iPhone again. Now Lucena and Cartagena were both leading their opponents. If results stood we'd be in 5th place.

    In the 78th minute, I thought we had it. Moises won a tackle to stop their counter and fed the ball to Bruninho. Bruninho spotted Souda open and played the ball in to his feet. He spun and beat his defender. His shot was blocked by a desperation tackle from the other central defender. The ball richoceted off his partner and fell to Souda.

    The keeper was still diving to where the ball would have been. Souda had the whole net. Rather than simply pass it into the open net, Souda smashed the ball over the crossbar.

    My face met my palm in an all too common gesture I've adopted since becoming manager of Cadiz.

    I checked my iPhone again. Linense was now winning. We'd be tied with them with 22 points, but would still be in 5th on goal difference.

    All credit to the players, they kept pressing for the equalizer.

    In the 86th minute, Martins controlled a long clearance just on our side of the center circle. He jogged forward with the ball looking for options. Bruninho was still inside the penalty area. Josete was standing right next to an Arroyo midfielder and looked content to remain there. Martins spotted Souda coming toward him into the huge gap between the center circle and the top of the box. He lasered a 30 meter pass to Souda's feet. Souda spun and went round his defender. From 25 meters he unleashed a ankle-high tomahawk missile. The Arroyo keeper couldn't get down fast enough nor over fast enough to touch the shot. It bulged the side netting.

    2-2

    Alejo nearly knocked me over with a hug. Paco followed up, made it a group hug and the three of us tumbled to the turf shrieking like little school girls.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-23-11.56.51-am.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-23-11.59.47-am.png

    This is the kind of point that can matter later in the season.

    Paco, Javi Garcia, Llorente, JVP, Alejo and I got to talking on the busride home.

    "They must learned from their scouting reports that Moises is solid," Paco whispered. "Now they're trying to create gaps between our center backs and exploit those gaps."

    Everyone nodded.

    "We need to play more narrowly defensively," Alejo whispered. "It's the only way."

    "I agree," Javi Garcia added. "Plus, I think Dalmau and Moises can get out to cover winger fast enough even if they are pulled in tighter."

    We all nodded.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-23-12.09.23-pm.png
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 24/12/2013 at 05:13 AM.

  44. Alessandro Gaucci, Director of Football, strode out onto the training pitch. I was working with Javi Garcia on midfield tactics on the far end. Javi nudged me to indicate Alessandro was heading over straight to me. Everyone stopped and watched.

    About 20 meters away, Alessandro winked. I waved everyone over. This was probably going to be good news.

    "Good news, everyone," Alessandro began. "Our immediate financial problems have been resolved. We have deposited your pay into your accounts. Florentino sent me out here, first, to tell you this news, but also to tell you that he has taken measures so that this won't happen again. He wants me to tell you that he apologizes from the bottom of his heart as he bleeds yellow. He wanted to be here himself to tell you this and apologize, but he's in Madrid working out the final parts of a slight realigment of his assets so that won't happen again."

    "Again, I want to emphasize that if anyone from the media contacts you, refer them to me or to Enrico," he concluded. "Thanks for your patience and understanding."

    He pulled me aside as the players resumed their training.

    "I've emailed talking points to you if Bodgan or anyone else wants you to talk about this," he said. I nodded and returned to working on midfield tactics with Javi.

  45. I was eating lunch in the cafeteria when Zo sat down with me. Zosimo San Roman was my fitness trainer. He didn't look happy.

    "Really sorry to disturb you, boss," he said. "Chara was lifting weights and hurt himself."

    "Aw ****," I cursed. "How'd it happen?"

    "He was doing flies."

    In other words, he was lying on a bench using dumbbells. Sort like this:

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-flatflye2_inarticle.gif

    "He said he felt something pop," Zo continued. "Michel has got his right pectoral muscle iced. He says that injuries like this usually heal in two or three weeks."

    "Thanks for telling me immediately, Zo," I said.

    A few minutes later, Michel emailed me.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-23-02.20.02-pm.png
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  46. hey man great story love reading it

  47. Quote Originally Posted by bigwill1xx View Post
    hey man great story love reading it
    Thank you very much.

  48. This did not just descend into a Spanish version of Major League

    "This is completely unreasonable!" I exclaimed as I barged into Alessandro's office. "I will not drive six hours and then play. Do you want to make the promotion play-offs? Is saving a few euros here and there worth sacrificing playing in Lega Adelante next season."

    We played Albacete Sunday. This was one of our longest trips. Albacete are also leading El Segundo B4. This map will give you an idea:

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-23-11.09.06-pm.png

    "You think I have a choice in the matter?" he answered.

    "You're killing our season, Alessandro!" I exclaimed. "Killing it. What?"

    "Florentino and the board want save EU30,000 from the operation of the club over the rest of the season," he explained.

    "Let me guess, you let Herc go and you're not paying for hot water for the showers?" I asked.

    "You get the idea," he replied. "Herc will only be serving lunches. We changed bus companies."

    "Let me guess, the buses won't have a working bathroom or air conditioning."

    "You get the idea."

    "Seriously? You're ****ing killing me. This is going to ****ing kill this season. Did you ever see the American baseball movie Major League? Charlie Sheen was in it. Owner wants the Cleveland Indians to finish last. They fly on a rickety airplane and take old buses and ****. This season is descending into farce. You might want to watch that movie so you know how I'm going to motivate my players."

    "Are you done?" he asked.

    "Why? Is there more?"

    "Read your email," he stated firmly. "All the details are in the email."

    Here's the list:
    • Wash your own training gear, no more laundry service at training ground
    • Cheaper bus company
    • Only lunch service at training ground
    • No more overnight hotel stays
    • Christmas party canceled
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 24/12/2013 at 06:22 AM.

  49. Round 14: Albacete Balompie v. Cadiz CF

    It's November and cool so we didn't find out today if our bus's air conditioning was insufficient. It was a crappier, louder, older bus. And, yes, the bathroom didn't work.

    We left at 9am for Albacete. Took 7 hours with the three bathroom breaks. We still had 4 hours until match time, but now we had nothing to do but play cards, wander the stadium or surf the internet on our phones.

    The television people wanted an interview while the team was warming up.

    Reporter: "Is the club's financial crisis affecting the players?"

    Me: "No, we're a pretty tight group."

    Reporter: "Have you been paid?"

    Me: "Yes."

    Reporter: "What's the significance of two clubs who've both spent time in La Liga, battling it out in El Segundo."

    Me: "Well, both clubs have fallen on hard times. Andres Iniesta bailed out Albacete and Florentino Marzano took over Cadiz with the intent of returning us to La Liga. Obviously, I was still playing in Italy when these teams were last in La Liga so I can't really comment."

    Reporter: "How do you see your chances today?"

    Me: "We have to shut down Alex Sanchez."

    Reporter: "Cadiz have played better away from home. Why and do you see that continuing today?"

    Me: "Maybe we get nervous at home because we want to impress our fans. It's only a hunch. And I certainly hope we can play well today. It's a top of the table clash."

    Reporter: "Any line-up tips you can give me?"

    Me: "Yes, Jorge Luque is starting. He's recovered from his neck strain. Ricardo Chara is hurt, Jose Maria Belforti will replace him."

    Reporter: "How big of a lose is Chara?"

    Me: "I'm sure Jose will do well in his place."

    Reporter: "That's Cadiz Supremo Enrico Pucci. Back you the studio."
    With all the injuries (Mehdia Nafti, Ricardo Chara, Airam) and Aymen Souda on international duty with Tunisia, I had a limited selection.

    GK: Alejandro
    D: Dalmau, Belforti, Martins (C), Moises
    M: Andres, Bruninho, Luque, Perico
    F: Kike Lopez, Villar

    Subs: Angel Bernabe (GK), Ceballos (RB), Tomas (LB/LM), Josete (D/M), Kike Marques (M/F)

    Not only had we driven all day, we'd then sat around getting bored. This was not a good combination.

    It showed on how we started. They ran and passed circles around us.

    In the 4th minute, their left winger Coco ran past Dalmau and passed to their striker Alex Sanchez (unrelated to the famous one who plays for Barca, but ...) who turned past Belforti and whizzed in a shot for the low, left corner. Alejandro did a great job to get down and block it, but the rebound popped out and sat their looking delicious. At least for Sanchez. Neither Dalmau or Belforti reacted. Alejandro manage to get up to his knees, but only managed to parry Sanchez's piledriver shot into the net.

    0-1

    And they continued to overrun us.

    In the 24th minute, Alejandro made a great save from Sanchez again tipping the ball round the post. Mario Ortiz hit a low, near post corner. Coco tried to flick it in, but it was blocked. Sanchez pounced on the rebound and hammered it in to increase their lead.

    0-2

    I think we were still asleep on the bus.

    We finally managed a shot in the 33rd minute.

    Then Andres got hurt. I just wanted to get to half-time when I could replace Andres and yell at them to wake them up.

    Then my Captain, Mikel Martins, tackled their other forward Antonio Calle from behind up near the center circle. WTF was he thinking. It was a brutal, vicious tackle. The ref had no choice but to red card Martins.

    Yet again, my face met my palm.

    Down a man, down by two goals. We were ****ed.

    Josete replaced the injured Andres. Josete moved into the central defender spot Martins was in. Kike Lopez moved from forward to right wing.

    As calmly as I could manage, I told them to show me something else in the second half. "At least win this half, eh?" I also told them to sit back, absorb the pressure and hit Albacete on the counter.

    We soaked up pressure and occasionally counter-attacked. We'd finally woken up.

    In the 50th minute, Perico took an outlet pass in our half, dribbled the entire length of the field with only a quick, little give-n-go with Luque and stormed into the penalty box. He saw Villar charging down for a far post header. He never got a chance to cross the ball. To my amazement, their fullback chopped his leg's out from under him.

    Jorge Luque coolly dispatched the penalty.

    2-1

    We had hope. We'd also need some luck.

    We got our luck in the 72nd minute. Moises relieved the pressure with a soft lob into space on the left side. Perico raced over and controlled the ball. With Albacete players closing, he played a ball up the left wing into the empty space their fullback had vacated to challenge Perico. Villar ran onto the ball and took off. He beat their central defender and glided into the penalty box.

    His finish was sweeter than the sweetest Andalusian sherry: a blast into the far corner.

    2-2

    Paco and I just stood their mouth's agape. Missing so many key players, a man down, we'd just come back from two goals. The 200 or so Cadistas in the corner went ape****. Otherwise, the stadium was dead silent.

    Jorge Luque was tiring. He was just back from a neck strain. However, he was the fulcrum of everything. I wanted to keep him out their as long as possible so we'd be able to get the ball out of our end occasionally, but I needed him the rest of the season as well.

    Eventually I pulled him off in the 75th minute. I put Kike Marquez on, told him to play lone striker and have Villar move back into the Luque's spot.

    What surprised me is how resolute our defending was for the last 15 minutes plus extra time. While the first have nearly gave Alejo a coronary, the way the match ended must give him hope.

    Suddenly, the match is over and a reporter has shoved a mike in my face and I'm on TV again.

    Reporter: "Enrico, Enrico. Would you comment on that comeback?"

    Me: "Wow. What team spirit. Two down and down a man. What a great second half performance."

    Reporter: "Did you think you'd pull it out after Connochioli cut down Perico?"

    Me: "I would never count Los Submarino Amarillas out."
    And they were gone, chasing after Jose Villar.

    I told the players I was really pleased with their permformance in the 2nd half.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-24-12.12.05-pm.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2013-12-24-12.12.43-pm.png

    We were still fifth, but that's because nobody else had played. Tomorrow would be a nerve-wracking time watching the results roll in on my iPhone.
    AndySams10 and Amanado like this.

  50. Up the Guadalquivir to Sevilla

    Once we were on the bus, Ana Maria texted me asking if I'd like to take a boat ride up the Guadilquivir tomorrow (Sunday). She said the weatherman promised warm weather.

    I looked around the bus. The team was happy, but exhausted. I thought about the luxury of having a whole day away from football. Well, not that far away as I'd be checking my phone for score updates.

    "Listen up!" I yelled as I stood up at the front of the bus. "The girlfriend wants me to take a boat ride up the Guadilquivir. And I think I want a day away from your ugly faces." I waited for the laughter and retorts to die down. "So, sleep well you need the beauty sleep tonight so you can enjoy your day off."

    The nice part about riding in a dilapidated bus is that it generates a lot of white noise which drowned out the card games going on in the back of the bus. Plus, my noise canceling headphones took care of the rest. I slept nearly the whole trip back.

    And the Guadilvuivir is a gorgeous river. Dinner in Sevilla was splendid. Sevilla is beautiful and romantic at night. The bonus was Ana Maria dozing on my shoulder on the bus ride back to Cadiz -- now that's romantic.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-guadalquivir_flamingos.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-sevilla-guadalquivir-river.jpg The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-15092644-vista-del-ra-o-guadalquivir-en-sevilla-espaa-con-golden-tower-torre-del-oro-y-el-puen.jpg The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-plaza_virgen_de_los_reyes-_seville-_spain_-_sep_2009.jpg

    And I had a day away from those ******* *******s. Ha.

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