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The Alfa Romeo Metaphor

  1. As it got over 1000 comments - this have to get a continuation and begin a path to the 10000!

  2. Quote Originally Posted by dainis View Post
    As it got over 1000 comments - this have to get a continuation and begin a path to the 10000!
    Quote Originally Posted by brooksey84 View Post
    I hope this thread hasn't gone dead and you get your connection issues sorted!
    Have no fear, Gentlemen. I'm back. I'm rested from a vacation to Boston, MA and just finished configuring my new internet connection.

    Now ... where were we?
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  3. I'm going to spare you the details of the wins over Kidderminster in the FA Cup First Round. We went through the motions and beat them 2-0. Then we played like crap yet beat Wycombe Wanderers in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy quarterfinal. Loveridge scored a nicely taken goal after 86 minutes of boredom.

    Because as soon as the Paint Trophy match was over, it was all about AFC Wimbledon hosting MK Dons. We'd met three years prior in the FA Cup and gotten spanked. Of course, this was before my time. During my tenure, MK Dons had gone into free fall. The only reason we're meeting in the league is they strung together a couple of wins at the tail end of last season to escape the drop on goal difference.

    The BBC, Sky Sports, the Times, the Guardian, the Mirror, freaking everybody called for an interview. I called in to a bunch of radio shows. The TV channels filmed our training sessions. I told everybody to not grab their junk while the cameras were there. That's the last thing I need is Wimbledon players grabs junk trending on Twitter and Facebook.

    The downside is the media all realized that I'm dating Gwen.

    It doesn't help that her face is plastered all over the UK. There is a 25% chance that on any billboard or bus, in any train, taxi, tube station or bathroom you'll see her face. Any place where the latest ads get displayed, there she is. This time is a perfume ad instead of lingerie.

    The media attention was like it used to be for Bologna. I know how to handle it and I quickly got my players up to speed on how to handle it. Fortunately, nobody said anything stupid, insensitive or horrid.

    If your average football fanatic in the UK hadn't heard of AFC Wimbledon by Friday, he/she had either been in a coma or traveling in outer Mongolia. The top stories this week were us, Manchester United's resurgence (top of the EPL) and Arsenal's floundering near the relegation zone. Was Luciano Spalletti a genius for transforming the Red Devils? Would Wenger finally retire or would he be sacked? And li'l old Wimbledon.

    All of the old Crazy Gang were interviewed about the new Wimbledon and moving back to Plough Lane.

    But for our fans it must be delightful to see, hear and read all this coverage in the knowledge that we were challenging for promotion while the Club-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named looks certain for the drop and is manager-less.

    No pressure.
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  4. League One: AFC Wimbledon v. MK Dons

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ID:	686330I follow my players out onto the pitch and into the bright sunshine. I turn to applaud the fans in the main stand behind the dugout. All of the Crazy Gang is there. Even Vinnie Jones has flown in from Hollywood. Gwen and her family are all there. The old heroes are all laughing. I'm not sure why. Gwen is looking at me with her mouth covered. Her father is facepalming, her mother's eyes are averted.

    Whatever. The match must go on. The players shake hands, the coin gets tossed and the match gets underway. Finally. A week of constant media presence. The TV cameras are everywhere. Many of them are aimed at me. I'm not sure why. I'm determined to not cavort around like a mad ape today. I'm going to be dignified even if it kills me.

    MK Dons start the match off pinning us back in our own end. Wow. They sure aren't playing like the winless, relegation-certainties we expected. Within five minutes were down two.


    I'm up off the bench bellowing like a mad ape at my players to start defending. Wait. Why the **** is Jose Maria Belforti playing in the center of my defense. If you don't remember him, he was one of the hapless defenders I had at Cadiz. And why are we playing in our yellow away kit that suddenly looks remarkably like the Yellow Submarine kits?

    "YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING!" the Wombles start singing.

    **** them. I lead them to promotion and into a play-off position in League One and they have the gall to sing that?

    I thrust my hands into my pockets. Wait. WTF? I don't have any pockets. I look down, I'm not wearing pants.

    MK Dons score again.

    WTF is going on?

    "Ow, dammit," Gwen voice says into my right ear.

    "Stop thrashing about," her voice says again.

    I awaken in my bed. I'm sweating ****ing buckets. My pillow is wet from flop sweats. Gwen is pinning me down.

    "I do believe that you just had a nightmare," Gwen says. "God Almighty, you're covered in sweat. Get out of bed. Take a shower, I'll change the sheets.

    I can't get the horrid Don't-Know-What-You're-Doing song out of my head nor can I shake the horrid feeling of failure. But at least when I come back to bed after showering, I have clean sheets.

    ****ing nightmares again. ****.

  5. Thank the Lord you're back! We missed you Enrico
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  6. Still super glad you are with AFC Wimbledon. I have a campaign as them going right now and am having a blast. I find that the chairman gives me everything I want there, which is quite nice.
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  7. Quote Originally Posted by Smendyke116 View Post
    Thank the Lord you're back! We missed you Enrico
    Thank you. The encouragement is always appreciated.

  8. Quote Originally Posted by penquin11 View Post
    Still super glad you are with AFC Wimbledon. I have a campaign as them going right now and am having a blast. I find that the chairman gives me everything I want there, which is quite nice.
    Are you refusing to pay agent fees? The real life club really is something special and I agree that Mr. Samuelson is a willing collaborator. At least so far.
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  9. League One: AFC Wimbledon v. MK Dons

    “Grampa, you’re really excited,” said the grandson.

    “Yes. Yes, I am,” the grandfather said. “This is a big big match.”

    “You know how Grampa and I have told you about how Wimbledon FC moved, remember?” the father said. He saw his son nod in the rear view mirror. “Well, the owners moved the club into Buckinghamshire to a newly built town named Milton Keynes. Well, your Grampa and I didn’t like that. And so did a lot of us. So when we all got together and formed a new club, we started our club all over. Well, we’re playing that team that moved today.”

    “May they rot in ...” the grandfather stifled a curse.

    “An you an Grampa hate them!” exclaimed the grandson.

    The father glanced over at the grandfather.

    “Yes, son, we certainly do,” the father replied.

    Maybe it was just them but it seemed like they could hear the singing and chanting from a block further away than usual. Maybe it was just them but it seemed like everyone was just a wee bit more excited about the match than usual.

    “Now, you know that this is only the second time we’ve played them don’t you?” the grandfather said as they sat down in their seats. “Now run down and get the manager’s signature. Stand right by where everyone comes out. Be sure to shout his name extra loud.”

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ID:	686842“Can you believe it, Dad?” the father said as they watched their progeny weave his way down to Wimbledon bench. “Playing them in the league.”

    “And the ****ers are the basement team, too,” the grandfather said with a wicked grin spreading across his face. “We better not fecking lose to this lot. Better not give them their first victory of the season. Better not.”

    “I have a good feeling,” the father said.

    “Last time you had a good ... hey, look over there,” the grandfather said. “Isn’t that the gaffer’s model girlfriend? My my isn’t she dazzling.”

    “If Mom only knew,” the father said. “But I have good feeling.”

    The grandson eventually returned. He proudly displayed the manager’s signature.

    “That’ll be a prize when he’s managing a big club, mark my words,” the grandfather said. “Lad’s going places, knows his football that one.”

    A few minutes into the match everyone was up on their feet booing and whistling at the ref as he carded Andrea Sbraga.

    “Fecking ‘ell,” the grandfather swore. “Now he misses the next match.”

    “You recall we play Port Vale next,” the father reminded. “And they’re in the cellar, too. I say well-timed.”

    But soon after it was all forgotten as everyone leapt to their feet. Winger Jason Banton who was playing in the hole behind the striker James Loveridge. Banton got the ball in the MK Don’s half with acres of space. He saw George Francomb racing in from the right wing. The left back didn’t.

    Banton slid a pass into the gap which Francomb smashed past the MK Don’s keeper.

    It was absolute bedlam in the stands. The son jumped up and down on his seat screaming. The father pumped his fists in the air and looked skyward then grabbed his son and lifted him up. They screamed incoherently at each other. The grandfather hugged the man next to him whom he’d sat next to for the last dozen years.

    The fans were exultant. They were twenty places above their mortal enemies and were convinced the floodgates would now open and condemn their foe to an embarrassing defeat.

    The grandson, father and grandfather song the songs and chanted the chants as their Dons, the real Dons, controlled the match and kept the imposters pinned in their end.

    Generally, the attack worked their way over toward Francomb. Left winger Matteo Nole, Banton and Lovers all took a shot each, but it was Francomb who looked most dangerous.

    “Dammit, Dummigan,” the grandfather swore as MK Don’s left winger beat Cameron Dummigan a second time but shot high again. “Don’t let him free like that. C’mon Cam!”

    They all noticed their manager gesturing and shouting at Cam, too.

    “Oh God Almighty, George, Come On, Cam!” the father exclaimed when Banton had fed another perfect pass into Francomb’s path. Francomb’s first touch failed him and another golden opportunity fizzled as he passed the ball to the right back Dummigan who crossed directly into the keeper’s arms.

    “What a fecking waste,” the grandfather swore.

    Then the father and grandfather joined nearly everyone else in the stadium in screaming at Dummigan to tackle MK Don’s left winger. Dummigan wouldn’t listen to them and let the winger cross. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as their towering keeper Chris Dunn made a fabulous double save to keep the enemy at bay.

    “All that possession and we squander chance after chance!” exclaimed the grandfather at half time.

    “That and if it weren’t for Dunn, they’d be level,” the father agreed.

    “Pucci got to have a word with Dummigan, sort him out,” the grandfather said.

    “Do you think we’ll win, Grampa?” the grandson asked.

    “We’ve got a good chance,” he replied. “If only we had Smith today. Michael would finish those chances that Lovers can’t.”

    After the restart, manager Pucci was immediately up off the bench pointing, shouting and directing his players.

    “What’s he all up about?” the father asked.

    “MK Don’s have changed their formation,” the grandfather replied. “He’s got to realign the defense, they’re playing three up top now it looks like.”

    The match went fairly dull after Pucci was done yelling. MK Dons were stifled in the midfield and Wimbledon’s attacks never amounted to much. Until the 65th minute.

    Left winger Nole raced up toward the penalty box. As he dribbled into the box, he saw that he was double-teamed and fed the over-lapping fullback Brad Smith who one-timed a cross to the far corner of the penalty box into the path of George Francomb.

    Francomb caught the ball on the short-hop and smashed it in off the inside of the far post.

    After the bedlam subsided, They all started chanting ”REH LEH GAY SHUN” and then after a minute of that then sang “Na na na NAH, na na nah NAH, Wey hey hey, goodbye” followed by a minute of chanting ”LEAGUE TWO.”

    But five minutes later the grandfather was swearing.

    “Bloody fecking'ell, we’ve stopped playing,” he cursed.

    And he was right. They all watched in horror as manager Pucci waved his arms, shouted instructions and encouragement to his players but they were letting MK Dons back into the match.

    “They’re going to bloody fecking score at the rate we’re shoving our head’s up our ...” the grandfather grumbled.

    “Why don’t they just stop them?” the grandson asked.

    “Bloody fecking good question if you ask me,” the grandfather grumbled.

    But this was the hapless MK Dons who were bottom of the table and couldn’t take advantage of the gift Wimbledon were giving them.

    “Right, Go Gregory!” the father shouted as the fourth official held up his board to signal that central midfielder Matteo Ricci was coming off to be replaced by Steven Gregory. “He’s a calm head. He’ll settle the lads down.”

    “About time, too,” the grandfather groused. “That Ricci’s been awful since the break.”

    But not even the MK Dons were that inept to eventually accept the gifts that Wimbledon were offering. They drew within one.

    “Dummigan’s having a real stinker,” the grandfather said. “He didn’t even bother tClick image for larger version

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    “But Grampa, that MK Dons player nearly missed, it went in off the post,” the grandson said.

    “I love your optimism, lad,” the grandfather replied. “Wish I had some.”

    “Pucci will sort them out,” the father added. Pucci was at the touchline screaming at his players.

    “Ahh, that’ll be better,” the grandfather said once he figured out what Pucci had done. “Gregory’s moving into the spot just in front of the defense. He’s going to stay back. That should batten down the hatches. We’ll play a bit more cautiously now.”

    "Now that was satisfying," the grandfather said as the three generations walked back towards their car. "I do love schadenfreude."

    "It'll be even better next season when we're back at Plough Lane," the father said. "How far we've come since 2002."

    "What's shad froodee, Grampa?" the grandson asked.

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  10. Quote Originally Posted by Enrico Pucci View Post
    Are you refusing to pay agent fees? The real life club really is something special and I agree that Mr. Samuelson is a willing collaborator. At least so far.
    Yeah, I've been RPing pretty hard so far. In my first season I got lucky and only had one player up for a contract that had an agent.

    I also managed to make nearly 65 million for the club in my first season, though 37 million of that came from the sale of a mega-star regen I found. In total I sold 14 of 18 of my regulars, including 6 of my starters. Currently the only returning players from my team last year are Harry Pell (bench), Fahad Rwakarambwe, George Francomb, and Charlie Horton.

    While I have transfer funds and such I know that I really need to save money as to have something in the bank once I hit the Skybet Championship and BPL. Moreover, the club decided to take a chunk of the money and put it towards the construction of a new, 22,000 seat stadium that will finish around the time I am projected to hit the BPL. That will be a much needed upgrade given that over half of the seats in my current stadium are sold out on season tickets (3300 season ticket holders).

    For my Skybet 1 challenge I retooled my team through free transfers and a 500k total transfer fees for what it took me to acquire Joa Reis and Craig Moran (Moran is an Irish Regen striker with huge potential) fee for an Irish striker who I think could be as good as my $37 million find last year. Luckily, with the assistance of teams such as Manchester City, who released players such as Micah Richards, Luke Byrne, and Devante Cole; I should be set to make another run at the title. So far I am 3-1 in my league, so we will see how the season goes. I'm simply glad I was able to hang on to a couple of my young stars in Fahad Rwakarambwe and Charlie Horton.

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  12. This victory felt like an FA Cup win over someone like Arsenal or Chelsea. This was huge. Their club had been ripped right out of their hearts. I'm sure those first half dozen years of AFC Wimbledon felt like a pale comparison to what they'd lost. And it's not just the fact that we're above them in the league. We have a chance of going up and The-Club-That-Can't-Be-Named looks like they're going down. We couldn't just applaud the fans once as we trudged off the pitch. We all jogged from one end of Kingsmeadow to another applauding the fans. And they ALL stayed to give voice to their joy.

    It carried over to the restaurant we took over.

    I'm probably not the only one who lost sleep over this fixture. Everyone was partying like a huge accomplishment had just been achieved and a huge weight lifted from their shoulders.

    Maybe it's becoming a reality to the supporters that this is a young, talented and ambitious squad that could hold their own in the Championship.

    The players sang the songs that the supporters sing from the terraces.

    As the food arrived and things quieted down, I got everyone's attention and announced that there would be no training tomorrow.

    A piece of foccaccia bounced off the side of my head. I turned to see who'd thrown it. Whits was glaring at me.

    "Oh, sorry," I said. "Anyone who is sore or injured can come in so Whits can do his magic and make you whole again. Anything else you'd like to throw at me?"

    I glanced over at my physio, Jon Whitney. He was busting a gut laughing and pounding his fist on the table. I just shook my head as the room exploded with laughter.

    Honestly, it looked like Whits was drunk enough that he was going to need some medical attention tomorrow.
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  13. Friday, 21 November 2015 noonish

    I'm grumpy.

    I can sense that our winning streak is going to be coming to an end soon. They aren't working hard enough in training. Their concentration isn't what I want it to be during training. The team quit playing against MK Dons after we scored our second goal allowing MK Dons back into the match. We had those insane two minutes before the halftime whistle against Tranmere. We didn't play particularly well against Kidderminster and Wycombe in the Cup matches.

    Winning is a by-product of training well. There's a certain level of work I expect and I'm not seeing it. It's no use pointing this out to my players. It's only something that I can use to my advantage once we lose. Hopefully, they'll get what I'm talking about and we'll end these bad habits that I'm seeing.
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  14. League One: Port Vale FC v. AFC Wimbledon

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ID:	687077It’s a bee-oo-tee-ful afternoon on the northern end of Stoke-on-Trent. Threatening skies, on and off drizzle and cool greet us. It could be worse. It could be cold. It’s that tween temperature when I don’t know if I should just put on just my rain gear or wear the parka and hat. I went the wuss route and I’m wearing the parka and ski hat.

    The player’s banter echoes around an empty Vale Park. This stadium seats 20K and there’s about 500 Wombles and 500 Valiants inside the stadium. Port Vale are having a really painful season. They’re currently in the relegation zone and three points from safety. And their fans aren’t showing up to support them. It’s got to suck playing in front of an empty stadium.

    By kick-off the joint is only a quarter full. The Wombles have warmed up and are making way more noise than the 4,000 or so Vale supporters.

    The match starts damp and cool. Vale doesn’t want to screw up and we’re not off the bus, yet.

    Eventually we start playing like we should be. In the 20th minute, Leandro Depetris plays a pass up the right flank for George Francomb. George chips in a little pass to the near post for our striker, James Loveridge. Loveridge doesn’t like his angle so he volleys a chip towards the back post where Matteo Nole is arriving. A defender throws himself in front of Nole and blocks the shot. The keeper manages to dive upon the ball in the mad scramble that ensues.

    Cameron Dummigan, our right back, then got two successive chances. The keeper dove to save his shot and his header hit the side netting. I think Cam just doubled the chances he’s had this season.

    Port Vale respond to our burst of positive football by trying to play some football themselves. They encamp in our end and start moving the ball around. It’s all lateral movement. We’ve parked the bus and are working hard to prevent any real chances.

    Finally, in the 30th minute, they work the ball into the box and their left midfielder Ryan Lloyd tries a bad angle shot. Daniel Lincoln blocks it out for a corner.

    In the 38th minute, Leandro gets clipped about 45 to 50 yards out. He hops up and grabs the ball and begins positioning it until it’s just so. Meanwhile, our center backs are jogging forward. Leandro curls a ball towards the penalty spot. Steven Gregory controls the ball with his chest and before it hits the ground taps it over to Nole who has a clear shot.


    Nole smashed the volley past the flailing keeper to give us the lead. The Wombles cheering echoes around the empty stadium.

    Vale try to get back to even, but we nearly score several times on the counter before the half ends.

    The closest they came to scoring came when they hit us on the counter attack after we’d just raced upfield on our own counter. It was a case of getting too stretched -- our defenders were still jogging upfield when we lost the ball on the edge of their penalty box. We didn’t offer any resistance as they stormed forward, my back four just retreated. Their forwards exchanged passes and Nathan Eccleston found himself in the right edge of the penalty box. He lasered a pass towards the far side of the box. Cam forgot about the other forward, Leon Clarke, who suddenly found himself wide open and with an open net to shoot at.

    Luckily for us, he filled his pants as the ball arrived and hoofed it over the bar.

    The second half didn’t begin well. Vale midfielder Reece Hands positioned himself on the far side of the box for a corner and nearly scored. He unleashed a screamer of a volley that Lincoln did really well to tip over the bar.

    From the following corner, substitute striker Christian blasted over from 5 yards when it would have been easier to hit the net and likely score.

    In the 56th minute, Manny missed his tackle on Christian. No ball, no man, no nothing. Christian was in alone on Lincoln with plenty of time. Lincoln was out to cut down the angle and we got lucky: Christian shot wide.

    While Port Vale replace their other striker, I yell at Mark Tomlinson to mark Christian. He’s looking far too dangerous for my tastes.

    In the 59th, Jim Fenlon raced back to tap a long ball over the tap back to Lincoln. Unfortunately, Lincoln didn’t connect cleanly. He kicked it low and hard at Christian who was about 45 or so yards away from our goal. Christian spots his new striking partner, Muamer Tankovic sprinting goalward and plays a ball into the channel for him.

    Tankovic rounds Lincoln but rolls his shot wide of the far post from a bad angle.

    Lucky, yet again.

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ID:	687080I replaced Lovers with Michael Smith hoping Michael would bully and torment the Vale defense. It didn’t quite work out that way.

    If I any fingernails would have grown back from last weekend, I would have gnawed them all off. If I would have had any hair atop my melon, I would have pulled it all out. Any of it that would have been left would have been prematurely gray.

    What I’m trying to say is the remaining 30 minutes were torture. We stunk. Our defending was unorganized. Our counter attacks fizzled out too early and rarely provided our defenders with a moment to catch their breathe.

    AtI put on central defender Kris Thackeray for Fens in the 70th minute, because Vale were blowing right past Fens. Thacks can also play left back. It didn’t help. In the 84th minute, I sent Matteo Ricci on for Gregs in the hope that Ricci and Leandro would team up and play keep-away. It didn’t work out that way.

    Ricci’s poor passing led to several good Vale chances. Luckily, Port Vale suck right now and we escape with all the points.

    What a lucky Saturday. Sheffield United lost at home and Blackpool drew away at Crawley. Blackpool remain second on goal difference and we're only 4 points behind the leaders.

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    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 19/09/2014 at 10:07 PM.
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  16. Sunday, 22 November 2015

    Gwen's Mom recommended several art dealers and galleries to visit and, after an early afternoon training session, Gwen and I drove over to a gallery that had Sunday afternoon hours. I readily admit I don't know much of anything about art. But Gwen has me along regardless. Probably for my good looks. Or something.

    So we wander through the galleries three rooms. I provide some brilliant commentary such as "hmmmm", "that's dark", "interesting" and oh my."

    Eventually, she circles back to a gigantic, stripey painting. We stand silently in front of it. She's staring at it intently. I'm just standing there trying not to look like an uncultured loser.

    "I think this one would go well in the living room," she says.

    "Um, sure," I reply. The living room is white with soft tans. "Some color would be good."

    "It's decided then," she concludes.
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  17. "Esteban, how are you?"

    "Great, my friend, great!" Esteban replied. "It's so good to hear your voice."

    "I see that the Yellow Submarine are top of El Segundo B4," I said.

    "Yes, we drew away at Xerez, but we had a few points over our rivals," Esteban said. "So we continue at the top."

    "I see that you've got the best defense," I said.

    "Once again, we are defending very well," he agreed. "For reasons I do not understand, we are undefeated at home. You recall how our home form tormented you, don't you?"

    "I still have nightmares about it occasionally..."

    "Ha! Yes, well Jose Aurelio Gay brought in some defenders with some real steel..."

    "Unlike the ones I had..."

    "Exactly! The only defender remaining from your time is Moises. You remember the boy, don't you?"

    "I do."

    "He rarely plays nowadays. I'm not sure if Gay doesn't like him, doesn't like developing young players or what but the quality ahead of him is far better."

    "I'm glad to hear it. I had no choice but to give him a try. Who else is still there?"

    "Oh, Airam and Aymen Souda are still regulars," Esteban replied. "Mikel Martins just tore his calf badly. He'll be out a while. That's it. Nobody else is left. Well, except nearly all the coaches."

    "Yeah, there's a lot of turnover, isn't there."

    "Yes, but enough about Cadiz," Esteban said. "Your young keeper Lincoln is very good. He stole you some points yesterday."

    "You watched?" I asked.

    "The Cadiz branch of the Wimbledon Fan Club is now a dozen strong," Esteban replied. "We've all bought scarves. We watch in the barber shop."

    "Excellent!" I said. "That's really heart-warming."

    "You know that Cadiz have switched to the same formation you play?" Esteban asked. "Four-Two-Three-One. Airam is rather dangerous in the hole behind the striker. But how is London treating you?"

    "Not bad, not bad. Gwen and I just moved into a new flat. We just paid, or I should say Gwen just paid £8,000 for a painting for our living room."

    "Sweet Mary, Mother of God," Esteban exclaimed.

    "I know. But she's doing really well. I got a new contract, too. Nowhere nearly as large as what she's pulling in, but at least I'm not the lowest paid manager in the division. Now I'm second bottom..."

    "Hah!" he laughed. "What about testifying and the criminals who were threatening you?"

    "Uh, nothing. That's rather odd, honestly. I would have expected to hear something or talk to a prosecutor. But nothing."

    "Is there any chance that you'll come to visit over Christmas or New Year's?" Esteban asked.

    "It's unlikely," I replied. "We don't get a break. It's crazy, I know. But the holiday season is packed full of matches. But I think that if we have a break between matches or something, we'll fly in. It will be last minute, but I don't really get a break until May. Unless of course we're in the play-offs."

    "I'm telling you now, my friend," Esteban pronounced. "You'll be in second and qualify automatically."

    "That would be awesome," I replied. "I hope you're right. Ciao. Got to go."

    "Onward Wimbledon!"
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  19. League One: AFC Wimbledon v. Preston North End FC

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ID:	687418Normally, I describe the weather and how full the stadium was. Our loyal fans braved some horrid but not too cold weather. Then I describe my brilliant and highly motivating pre-match team talk. I’m not sure it had much effect. I’m not sure anything other than walking in naked or in a tutu would have gotten their attention.

    I’ve been expecting a defeat for a while now. Daniel Lincoln was brilliant against Port Vale, George Francomb was outstanding before a poor last half hour against MK Dons. Lincoln was awesome against Wycombe Wanderers in the Johnstone’s Paint Cup. It’s been coming.

    Maybe it was a mistake to play Dylan Griffiths up top. It’s not like James Loveridge has been much better.

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    And it’s not like Preston deserved their goal. It’s just that Manny Smith didn’t bother to even jump with substitute striker Stuart Beavon whom he was supposed to be marking. At this level, giving a striker a free header and he’ll score two out of three times. We didn’t get lucky today.

    When I replaced the unlucky Griff with Lovers, Lovers wasn’t much better.

    The important part of the match was afterward.

    “That was not good enough,” I began. “Your work ethic wasn’t good enough. There is only one thing that will piss me off enough to make you run killers early on a Sunday morning. And that’s not working hard.”

    “We’ve been lucky to get some spectacular performances in the last couple of matches that papered over our declining work ethic.”

    I’ll see you tomorrow at nine.”

    Then I walked out of the locker room. Let the players sort this one out.

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  20. Wednesday, 25 November 2015 8:30ish AM

    "I don't know about you guys," I said as I sat down at the conference room table at our New Malden training facility. "But I'm ****ing beat. Couldn't sleep. You guys?"

    There were snickers from around the table.


    "Yeah, we didn't lose any sleep," Assistant Manager Sean Hankin said.

    "No, sir," added Coach Alex Inglethorpe.

    "You missed all the fun," Coach Matt Woolley said.

    "But you kinda had too, didn't you," Goalkeeper Coach Paul Rachubka said.

    What I missed was the players having an honest talk amongst themselves. Unbeknownst to the players, the coaches listened while wedged into the manager's office. George Francomb and Martin Riley led the discussion. Leandro Depetris and Matteo Nole translated for Matteo Ricci and Andrea Sbraga. George started off by telling all the midfielders and forwards that everyone needed to work harder on our finishing. Martin said everyone needed to concentrate every second of every game.

    Sbraga then jumped in and said everyone needed to fight harder for every ball, every cross. I can imagine how this went over. He's a really intense guy and I'm sure the Italian sounded magnificent. And then there's the hand gestures to go with it. Then Leandro translated it. Daniel Lincoln added that the defense needed to talk more especially on fast breaks and that he and fellow keeper Chris Dunn needed to give more instructions as they can see the game developing better than anyone on the pitch. Then Mark Tomlinson chimed in that they all had a chance to get promoted in two successive seasons. He said that if that wasn't enough motivation, you were in the wrong profession.

    I liked that last line. Mark's the shiznit. For realz. Then the players started arriving.

  21. League One: Colchester United FC v. AFC Wimbledon

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ID:	688437We arrived in Colchester after a great three days of training. The joking was still there, but they worked harder and had fewer inappropriate moments of humor. Like when they should have been concentrating. That's all well and good, but will we rebound or is there something else that needs adjusting?

    Colchester are in 15th place, lost last weekend one-nil like we did and that loss ended a winning streak. The streak was only three league matches, but it was a streak nonetheless. They play a Barcelona-style 451 and their striker and two wingers have been in fine form lately. I'm going with the same formation as I need to rest Mark Tomlinson and don't trust Steven Gregory as the defensive midfielder in a 4231.

    We didn't start out very well. Daniel Lincoln couldn't hold a shot from Colchester left winger Andrea Christiano. Thankfully, Martin Riley cleared it. Matteo Nole gave the ball away on a promising fast break when it would have been easier to pass to a teammate. Foolish marking and we allowed Marino Defendi a gilt-edged chance. Lincoln made a spectular, diving, fingertip save to keep the match scoreless.

    So much for working harder and playing smarter. This was quite uncharacteristic. We'd trained hard all week but had immediately reverted to Tuesday's form.

    They made us pay in the 12th minute. Right winger Drey Wright sprinted right past Brad Smith and curled a cross into the path of the hard-charging David Moberg-Karlsson. The striker cushioned his header beneath the crossbar.


    We responded by continuing to play shockingly badly. Brad Smith gave the ball away at the start of a counter attack leaving us horribly exposed. Daniel Lincoln saved the day again tipping another shot round the post.

    After we cleared the second corner, they pumped the ball back into the box twice. On the second attempt the clearance came to Wright who hammered a shot goalwards. His shot was going wide, but right at center back Jack O'Connell who hadn't yet retreated from our penalty box. He was five yards out and had three-quarters of the net to shoot at.


    Oh, **** me.

    Finally, in the 27th minute we made it out of our end. George Francomb brought the ball down the right flank and got hauled down. Leandro Depetris jogged over to take the free kick deep down the right as Riley and Sbraga jogged forward. Leandro curled in a ball toward the near post and Sbraga met it with a glancing header.


    And we're back in it! Completely against the run of play. While his teammates celebrated, Sbraga ran into the net and grabbed the ball. On the way back he was screaming at his teammates. For those who don't understand Italian, it sounded like he was trying to motivate his teammates with occasional "Come Ons!" (one of the few phrases he knew) thrown in. For those of us who do speak Italian, he was calling his teammates a bunch of uncultured, lazy turd farmers who preferred sex with sheep to playing football correctly.

    I can hardly wait until he learns English.

    If only they'd understood what he really said to them. They hadn't and were were undone just a few minutes later when we failed to clear a corner and defend well when we couldn't. We let their other defender Magnus Okuonghae dribble around in our box then play a one-two with Moberg-Karlsson before taking a shot which was blocked then a second which he drilled past Lincoln.


    Seriously!?! Let a central defender stroll about our box with the ball then let him take two shots? What the **** were we doing back there? It's hard to play football when the entire team, aside from the keeper, has their heads up their bums.

    Then we got lucky. Any other day, I might say that it was the brilliance of Leandro, but we weren't having that kind of day. In the 35th minute, Jim Fenlon heaved a 25 yard throw-in towards James Loveridge. O'Connell stepped in front of Lovers and hammered a header back into our half. It was at this point that Leandro stuck his foot out and hammered the ball back upfield and into the gap O'Connell had left behind him.

    Lovers, who hadn't tried to get to the throw all that hard, was now perfectly positioned to race onto Leandro's ball and run into the Colchester penalty box. Their keeper wasn't on his angle correctly and Lovers had half of the net to shoot at.


    Holy ****! If we could start playing decently, we might have a chance. If we could only make it to half time without giving up any more goals.

    Then in the 38th minute, Defendi lost his mind. We were starting to play. We were playing one-touch passes and moving the ball slowly up the field when Defendi leapt in with a two-footed tackle. His victim was Lovers, who was in the center circle facing our goal, and the tackle was so late it was nearly in the second half.

    Straight. Red. Card.

    While we couldn't immediately take advantage of our numerical advantage, we at least got used to playing good pass-and-move football again.

    "Gentleman," I said once everyone was seated in the locker room. "That first half hour was embarrassing. If it wasn't for Lincoln, we could have been down by six. However, it's just a nightmare. I'm hear to wake you all up. Thanks to my fellow Italian Defendi, we're back in this game. We've been given a gift. I expect to see something different from you all in the second half. If we're going to be a team that reaches the play-offs, this is the kind of match we end up winning."

    I also replaced Nole with Mark Tomlinson. Steven Gregory moved up to play alongside Leandro with with Mark as the defensive midfielder.

    You know how after a bad nightmare it takes a bit to get it out of your system? We dominated possession, but just didn't quite have the cutting edge like the effects of that nightmare first half hour weren't quite gone, yet.

    The hour mark passed and we still hadn't created a decent chance. Colchester were showing great resolve.

    In the 69th minute, Alex Marrow and Leandro both went for the same ball and Leandro fell to the ground clutching his left ankle. Matteo Ricci was already prepared to come on. I was going to pull off Gregs. Instead he went on for Leandro.

    Colchester nearly caught us on the break. Only Wright and Moberg-Karlsson came forward, but they baffled the six players we had back. Lincoln once again bailed us out, tipping the grassburner round the post.

    Then Colchester began to tire.

    In the 80th minute, Sbraga rose high above the defenders on our 10th corner and bagged his second headed goal of the game.


    As I pumped my fists in glee, I was engulfed by all the coaches and players. Once everyone calms down enough, I get Dylan Griffiths warming up. I'm going to replace central defender Riley with Griff and play with two strikers up front.

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ID:	688440Then in the 84th minute, Cameron Dummigan controlled a clearance and jogged forward with the ball. He played a pass forward to Ricci and kept running. George Francomb was out wide and the left fullback was marking him. Lovers read the situation and ran towards our left wing.

    This left a huge gap that Cam was running into. Ricci fed him the pass. Cam controlled it. He looked at the keeper. He looked down at the ball. I realized I was surrounded by the bench and we were all holding our breathes.

    And Cam's foot came down.

    And the ball rocketed goalward.

    And the ball bulged the back of the old onion bag.


    We'd done it! We'd come back!

    Colchester were gassed and five minutes of extra time didn't matter. It just delayed our celebration.

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    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 25/09/2014 at 04:49 AM.
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  23. "Fkn A, I'm tired," I said as Gwen and I sat down at our favorite Italian restaurant for dinner.

    "The nap didn't help then?" she inquired.

    "Nope. The nightmare opening then a glimmer of hope then a dagger in hope's guts followed nearly immediately by Lovers goal and the red card. I was exhausted by half time. But then the carrot dangling in front of our noses for so long, I was trying to remain calm. Sweet Mary Mother of God why did we have to leave it so late? It was an emotional marathon. Seriously."

    "Any hair you hadn't pulled out would've been gray after today?" Gwen asked.

    "Exactly," I replied.

    "What are you hungry for?" she asked surveying her menu. "Lord Almighty that was an innocent question don't look at me like that. Fine. Look at me like that. I want lasagna. To eat. What food things do you want to shove down your pie hole?"

    "Tagliatella ala Bolognese," I said. I didn't even look at the menu any longer. "Wine?"

    "Something dry, you choose. You know better."

    "We need to find a few days to get away," I said. "Recharge. See some sunshine, sit on a beach."

    "I'm all for that," she said. "But when? How can you even take a day off?"

    "Yeah, that's what is so killer about English football. I've been looking at the schedule. There literally are zero breaks. We're still in the FA Cup, Johnstone's Paint Cup. We play Milwall on the 19th of December. Maybe I'll just give everyone, erm, tell everyone to reconvene on Wednesday. Yeah, that's what I'll do. Otherwise, there's no chance. Starting Christmas Day, we play five matches in fifteen days."

    "Pray for snow?" Gwen asked.

    I sighed and nodded.

    "So then after Milwall, let's fly to Cadiz?" she asked. "Or did you have somewhere else in mind."

    "No, Cadiz would be perfect," I said.
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  25. I wouldn't hate you if you were to take that Stoke job. It would be an interesting challenge and I've never seen someone carry out a Stoke game. That stated, I would feel heart-broken if you were to leave AFC Wimbledon mid-season as it nears it's best form.

    Currently in my AFC Wimbledon game it's hard to be motivated as I enter League 1, knowing that I have at least a year in L1 and a year in the Skybet Championship before I get to play in the Premier league. I'm not sure I could pass up an opportunity to coach at one of Europe's larger clubs. But at the same time I know the potential that my team has, and the AFC Wimbledon board has just been ridiculously supportive of me.

    Ugh, it's such a hard decision. I desperately want to coach in a top league (of a top country) but at the same time I want to get AFC Wimbledon to that level.
    Last edited by penquin11; 29/09/2014 at 07:54 AM.
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  26. Omg! It has taken me 3 weeks to read this from the start (i have a short attention span) but this is without a doubt the best story going. So in depth, so creative, whatever you do next i cant wait to read about it!

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  28. Gutted that this seems to have died!
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  29. No! This can't die! No!

  30. He'll be back I believe!

  31. If this is dead it is such a shame but I would just like to thank Enrico for the best and most detailed story in FM history I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and following this from the days at Cadiz to promotion with Wimbledon. Thank you again for a fantastic read!
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  32. If you are finished with this enrico i truly hope to see you back for fm15. Discovered your story late but once i started reading i couldnt stop!

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  34. It's not dead!!! Yay!!

  35. YAY!!! Welcome back Enrico, fair to say we have all missed you mate!

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