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The Alfa Romeo Metaphor

  1. Braintree v. AFC Wimbledon

    Everyone was unsurprisingly pumped up to get out and play.

    The new boys Dunn, Thackray (who'd just signed today), Simon Johnson and Michael Smith all looked good. Steven Gregory's fitness wasn't good so I only gave him the last 30 minutes.

    Not much to report. Braintree are a Conference side and we thrashed them. No shocker there.

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  2. Finally caught up to the most recent update, fantastic writing mate! The Dons are so much more of a challenge than Gillingham would have been, good luck Don Pucci!
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  3. Quote Originally Posted by mking1992 View Post
    Finally caught up to the most recent update, fantastic writing mate! The Dons are so much more of a challenge than Gillingham would have been, good luck Don Pucci!
    Thanks so much!

  4. Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    Since we'd played the night before and gotten back to Kingston-Upon-Thames at 12:30AM, I decided that we'd train from noon to 2PM then break for the other semi-final.

    Several other players we'd been chasing signed today and I introduced them. Having had zero luck finding a left back and a rather hard time finding a right back, we (and by we I mean the scouting staff and I) finally settled on a young man named Cameron Dummigan. He's 18 so he's perfect to be a back-up to Fenlon and Thackray. The other is a back-up goalkeeper Daniel Lincoln. I also added another promising teenagers that other clubs had given up on; Fabian Rowe was a winger who can play with either foot. I'm hopeful he could also be a back-up this season, but I'll have to see how his development goes.

    Now both my keepers are top notch for League Two and both are improvements over my current keeper. I placed Ross Worner in the shop window, so to speak. I kept an eye out and caught Ross just as he was getting out of his car. I thanked him for his service and said we were going to offer him to clubs. He looked crestfallen but said he understood. Selling him would be a tidy business as he'd signed for free for Wimbledon. I told him I'd be reinvesting what I garnered from his sale. We shook hands and like a true professional, he didn't show any signs that he was done at Kingsmeadow.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2014-02-09-09.50.03-pm.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2014-02-09-09.49.29-pm.png The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2014-02-09-09.49.04-pm.png

    My phone jangled in my pocket as I walked out toward where everyone was warming up. It was Andy Walker, one of the scouts.

    "Hey Andy."

    "Hey, I think I found another forward for us," he said. "He's young and fast. He's a good finisher and a good dribbler. Even better he's free."

    "Heh," I chuckled. It sounded too good to be true. "C'mon, Andy. Your selling him too hard. Is he 5'1"? In a mental institution right now? What?"

    "He's got tendinitis in both knees," he replied. "Well, he is short. 5'5" but that's not too short."

    "Okay, when is he expecting to be able to train again?"

    "Mid August."

    "Alright," I replied. "Send me the links to some vids and then we'll get him in to evaluate his knee problems."

    "Will do. Later."


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  5. World Cup Semifinal Brazil-Germany

    This was the dream matchup. Two of the historically biggest teams facing off yet again in an important match. Since I am rooting for England, I was just hoping for penalties and loads of injuries for the winner.

    Neither team disappointed. They attacked each other back and forth the whole match. The Germans were confident that their defense would hold and the Brazilians had to be Brazilians in front of the home fans in Rio. Could you even imagine what Brazilians would do if the Selecao played conservatively in a big match at home? Well, we'll still have to wonder.

    The Germans opened the match up with a classic German goal in the 3rd minute. Athleticism combined with superior technique. The tall, athletic German central defender timed his run perfectly, out-muscled the Brazilian defender, out-jumped the aforementioned defender and thumped in a header.

    The Brazilians weren't worried and exchanged body blows with the Germans figuring sooner or later something good would happen.

    It did in the 58th minute, but in the most unlikely ways; Route One Futbol!

    Dani Alves received a throw from the keeper, turned, looked upfield and thumped a high, long ball towards Neymar. Now normally, you'd say something to the effect of "what a waste of a pass, why give the ball away so cheaply." Normally, you'd be right. Neymar is 5'9" up against a towering, athletic German central defender.

    However this time, luck was with the Brazilians. Or should I say the swirling wind. The wind changed the arc of the punt from Dani Alves and the German defender mistimed his interception. Instead Neymar pounced on the miss, took one touch and lobbed a ball into the path of a proto-typical German striker who just happens to play in Spain and recently decided he's play for Brazil instead of Spain.

    I speak of Diego Costa. Costa steered his header past the flailing German keeper and the game was knotted.

    Despite the sweltering heat or maybe because of it, the game opened up even more.

    In the 90th minute just after the fourth official had signaled for 4 minutes of extra time, Fred (who'd come on as a sub for Lucas Moura) braincramped and chopped down German captain Fabian Stephan when Stephan had his back to goal at the side of the penalty box.

    The Brazilians begged and pleaded but you know how much of a difference that makes.

    Stephan strode over to the penalty spot with the ball once the Brazilian histrionics had subsided. Fortunately for Brazil, he didn't hit his spot kick very well, the Brazilian keeper Diego Cavalieri guessed the right way and parried it away for a corner.

    Extra time came soon after.

    In the 101st minute, the Germans won a corner. The usual jostling and handbags ensued. As the ball swung in, subsitute Thorsten Stumpf went flying, pushed by Sandro.

    The ref immediately pointed to the spot. Surely the Germans would end it here.

    The Brazilians nearly lost their minds. Diego Costa received a yellow card for his remarks to the ref. More cards could have been given.

    Stumpf grabbed the ball and strode to the penalty spot just as confidently as Stephan before him.

    He blazed his spot kick over. The Soccer Gods had smiled on Brazil yet again!

    Both teams settled down and played it out hoping to win penalties. Bets were placed for undisclosed amounts of money inside Kingsmeadow's Middle Bar. Odds were with Brazil after the Germans had missed TWO spot kicks, right?

    Michael Willmann missed for Germany. Gee, what a shocker.

    Thiago Silva missed.

    Thorsten Stumpf redeemed himself and scored to make it 0-1.

    Diego Costa missed.

    Fabian Stephan also redeemed himself and scored for Germany. 0-2

    Fred missed for Brazil.

    Florian Reuter had the chance to win it for Germany.

    He did.

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    NOTE: I have no idea why the German team isn't made of actual German players? Sup w/ that?
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 10/02/2014 at 05:37 AM.

  6. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
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Size:  4.8 KBEnrico Pucci @enricopucci - 1 hr ago
    Accepted a bid for @AFCWimbledon keeper Ross Worner for 61K. Thank you
    Ross for your service. #Wimbledon
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  7. The German national side being made up of nobodies kills me every time!!!

  8. Quote Originally Posted by Riess View Post
    The German national side being made up of nobodies kills me every time!!!
    What's weird is they are pretty good generic players, but they don't have a superstar like Ozil or Neuer or Schweinsteiger in the side. And what's weirder is those superstars exist for the clubs. Did they not get the rights to the German nat'l team? I know they don't have the rights to the EPL, but c'mon ...

  9. Quote Originally Posted by Enrico Pucci View Post
    What's weird is they are pretty good generic players, but they don't have a superstar like Ozil or Neuer or Schweinsteiger in the side. And what's weirder is those superstars exist for the clubs. Did they not get the rights to the German nat'l team? I know they don't have the rights to the EPL, but c'mon ...
    I think it's something to do with licensing, sadly. There are other teams/leagues like that, too, in Asia. I think it's Japan but not 100%. I think a few years back the players had similar stats to their real life counterparts but just had their name changed - again, I could be wrong and I'm not sure if they still do so.

    Out of interest, are Braintree in the Prem Conference or North/South?
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  10. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. Blackburn Rovers

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    Birmingham, Blackburn and Bolton visit Kingsmeadow today for the Wimbledon Kickoff Challenge. We play Blackburn. I've scheduled three of these mini-tournaments to raise some cash for the club. Sky Sports will televise which means additional revenue.

    As the players got dressed, I got everyone's attention.

    "Alright, listen up," I began. "Blackburn are in the Championship. They seem to have stabilized despite the idiotic owners and should thrash us. We're doing this for two reasons. First, to make some money for the club. Secondly, to practice defending against a superior team. My plan is that by the time the season starts, League Two teams won't be a problem to defend against as we've practiced against some top teams."

    "So relax and don't worry about going forward," I continued. "Wools (U21 Manager Matt Woolley) has been working with you on that so just relax and have fun when we break forward. Concentrate on working hard for each other on defense. Pay attention to our shape defensively. Stay compact and don't let their fast strikers use their speed."

    "Bottom line," I said in conclusion. "The result isn't important, it's about playing the correct way and building up our fitness. Alright?"

    Everyone nodded.

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ID:	493785We defended admirably. Most of Rovers shots were from long-range and they only connected on a few headers.

    There were a good number of moments when Sean (Asst Mgr) and I looked at each other and nodded because they were definitely doing what we asked defensively.

    What a difference from last season at Cadiz! Lord Almighty...

    In the last ten minutes, I had to substitute some players as they were completely exhausted. Youngster Ryan Sweeney played a key role in our goal at the death to send the match to penalties. As an FYI, the rules were 90 minutes then penalties if tied.

    Left winger Simon Johnson received a pass out left and jogged forward with it. He drew the left fullback out and played a ball out to the overlapping Sweeney. Sweeney's not fast (AC 6, Pace 6) but he's fairly determined. Johnson played a pass so your average left back could run onto it. Unfortunately, this gave the Rover fullback time to get over.

    But Sweeney won the tackle and his cross found Harry Pell free at the 6 yard box.

    We lost the penalties but so what. We kept up with Blackburn mother****ing Rovers, man. That's so cool! I told the players as much in the dressing room afterwards.
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  11. Quote Originally Posted by ZeCarlos View Post
    Out of interest, are Braintree in the Prem Conference or North/South?
    Skrill Premier League. BTW, if you catch the Skrill, is that a painful condition?
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 11/02/2014 at 04:26 AM.
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  12. Since I had Saturday morning free, I decide to walk around the central downtowny bits of Kingston-Upon-Thames. I have this theory that if I walk around more, I'll get used to having traffic on the English side of the road. I keep having these nightmares about driving and at some point I've got to get used to it. Or I'll get kill myself in a crash.

    So I walked up Surbiton Road, the A240. It turns directly northward and becomes Penwyn Road and after a mere half mile of walking, I'm in the central part of K-U-T.

    I turned left toward the Thames at Hogsmill River and came upon the Coronation Stone. Ancient Anglo-Saxon kings were crowned here. Also found a Wagamama. I've been told that it's a pretty good chain of japanese noodle shops. Maybe that's what I needed for lunch. I also found several Italian Trattoria as I strolled. I'll have to check them out. I'll need my Italian fix at some point.

    I saw a bakery and thought an espresso sounded like just the right thing for a late July morning. So I wandered in. They had a great big espresso machine so I was in luck. While I waited behind the woman in front of me, I looked over the listed items. They did breakfast and lunch as well. The woman got her pastry and drink and moved out of my way. I stepped up and was face to face with a tall, pretty young thing in an apron and silly paper hat all the staff wore.

    She was smirking at me and her head was tilted sideways a bit. Then I recognized her. It was Gwen.

    "What're you ... wait ... you're a barista, too?" I spluttered. "And you have your hair up."

    "Gotta keep Mum and Dad off my back," she said. "What can I get you?"

    "An espresso."

    "One espresso coming right up," she announced. A young man arranging pastries straightened up and got right to making me an espresso. I handed her a ten pound note.

    "I keep running into you at all kinds of places," I said. She just raised a manicured eyebrow and handed me my change. "How are things?"

    "They are just swell my Italian friend," she replied. Swell? Who says swell? "That espresso done yet?" She asked her co-worker. The young man plunked down my espresso.

    "I'll stop by your table," she said under her breathe.

    I read my emails while I sipped. Suddenly Gwen was towering over me. She leaned in to see what I was reading.

    "Don't look now, please don't look when I point him out, but I need a huge favor," she said. "Bloke far side of the entrance. Don't look. He's ****ing stalking me. My shift is done in a couple. Would you walk out of here with me?"

    "Of course," I replied. "Not a problem at all. I've got plenty of emails to read."

    I was currently reading an email from Mark Robinson, my U18 Manager. He was pretty sure that new signing Fabian Rowe was furious to have been immediately sent to the U18s. He wanted me to talk to him.

    When the door opened, I glanced up at the couple who entered. First thing I noticed about the young man on the far side of the door was he was pretty scrawny. Good. I could take him if it came to it. He had the baggy pants, tattered tshirt and the retro-Beatles look or whatever the **** kids were calling the unkempt mop hairdo nowadays.

    Next I read through Lil's scouting report about Bolton Wanderers who we'd be playing later today. Then Gwen was hovering over me.

    "I'm done," she said. "Shall we. I owe you for this. Bigtime."

    "Gwen, seriously, not a problem," I said turning off my phone and standing up. I opened the door and we were off.

    She glanced over her shoulder several times as we walked.

    "****er is following us," she growled each time.

    "While I'm glad to be your knight in shining armor here to rescue you from the scoundrels and highwaymen," I said. "What's up with him? Jilted boyfriend or what?"

    "Don't you remember me saying the boys on this island are distressingly and depressingly boring?" She asked. "Some are psycho, too, plus on the rare occasion when I do fall for an English boy, it would never be him cuz he's not my type and he's been at this a month and this really really is starting to freak me out and he never ****ing says anything just sits there watching me and my brother doesn't believe me or I'd have him round to kick his arse or at least if I could convince that worthless friend of his Martin, then the two of them but ****, they say I'm mad the ****ers."

    Said all that in one breathe. She inhaled looked over her shoulder once again and exhaled a few profanities as he must still be following us.

    "Wait," I said stopping. "It is close enough to lunch. I saw a Wagamama back near the Coronation Stone thing. I want to try that. You game."

    "It's that way," she said pointing westward. "That sounds like a great idea."

    We had a nice chat over noodles. Apparently, and I didnt know it until now, I love japanese noodles. How had I survived without them? She's been to New York and LA, but not Milan. She grilled me about Italy. I enjoyed having my foodgasm across the table from a beautiful young woman.

    "Miss, I have a favor to ask," I said as our waitress returned with the bill. "We need to sneak out the back. My friend here has a wee bit of a stalker problem. Is there a way we could do that?"

    "Sure," she nodded. "I hate the bastards who do that. Happened to me, too, a few years back. Past the bathrooms and through the Employees Only door. You'll see the door to the alley. I'll tell the cooks to expect you."

    I called a taxi. It took some explaining, but eventually they figured out that I wanted a taxi at the back door which is around the corner from the front of the Kingston-Upon-Thames Wagamama. I asked that the driver call me when he was back there.

    A few minutes later, my phone vibrated and we were off. Past the bathrooms and through the Employees Only door, through the kitchen out the back and into the backseat of the taxi.

    The taxi dropped her at her house with a thousand thank yous and IOUs. The cabbie dropped me off at Kingsmeadow with plenty of time to get prepared for the upcoming match.

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  14. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. Bolton Wanderers

    The second tier players and a several teenagers get a chance to impress me against Bolton.

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ID:	495057Daniel Lincoln (GK), Mark Tomlinson (DM), Daniel Barlaser (RM), Jack Midson (ST), Michael Woods (ST), Chris Arthur (LM) and Michael Smith (ST) up top. Since I was out of central midfielders, Midson and Woods played there and I told them they had the liberty to get forward whenever they wanted.

    I'd played the same formation yesterday, so Smith gets his 90 minutes today. Sorry I didn't mention that yesterday, I just got so carried away with my pre-game motivational speech.

    The kids and the second string didn't play all that bad against Bolton's second string.

    We took 17 shots and got 10 on target. That's worth something.

    I told them they'd played well and not to worry about the result after the match.

  15. I think the Germany thing also happens to Australia. You can fix it with editor but then you need to start again. Pretty annoying. Especially for an Aussie with German background like me!

  16. I've read through this whole thread over the last week or so, a really interesting and absorbing read thanks a lot for sharing. I was gutted for you at Cadiz but am now intrigued to see what will happen in England. Good luck!
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  17. Quote Originally Posted by AshRolls View Post
    I've read through this whole thread over the last week or so, a really interesting and absorbing read thanks a lot for sharing. I was gutted for you at Cadiz but am now intrigued to see what will happen in England. Good luck!
    Thanks very much.

    And what a radical opposite Wimbledon are from Cadiz. From poorly run, financially screwed club owned by a foreign, invisible investor group to financially stable club run by a board whose bosses are the supporters. Night and freaking day.

  18. The next week was fairly simple. We learned what kind of condition our players were in based upon everyone more or less playing a full match. There would be plenty of drills involving a lot of running. Plus of course, lots of running.

    I talked to Fabian Rowe. He'd gone and strained his hamstring training on Saturday so it wasn't like he could jump into the first team for next weekends matches. I told him that I wanted him to play instead of sit on the bench. I told him that if he showed me he deserved a place, I'd bring him up when either Johnson or Francombe got injured. He decided he didn't want to make a fuss of it after all. I was completely prepared for him to make a stink.

    The truth of the matter is that I'm not particularly pleased with my backup for left midfield, Chris Arthur. He's got a year left and I can't see him making much of a difference. Maybe I should sell Arthur. I'm not sure yet.
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  19. Sunday, July 13, 2014

    This is it. England v. Germany for the World Cup.

    GK: Joe Hart
    D: Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole
    M: Steven Gerrard (C), Michael Carrick, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Ashley Young
    F: Wayne Rooney

    Early on Walcott received a pass out wide. He played a ball inside to Wilshere and took off. Wilshere hoofed a ball up to Rooney. Rooney hung in the air and flicked a ball into the path of the streaking Walcott. Walcott rounded the keeper and England had the dream start everyone wanted.


    England kept the pressure up. Germany only made it into the England half once.

    In the 27th minute after keeping the ball for quite a while, Young won a corner for England. Wilshere jogged over, grabbed the ball, positioned it and waited for everyone to get set.

    Wilshere whipped in a ball to the penalty spot. A German defender won the header. He connected really solidly with the ball but hit is straight at Michael Carrick. Carrick only had time to brace himself. The ball caromed off his head and into the back to the net!


    Germany finally created their first chance of the match in the 45th minute. In the end it was an easy save for Joe Hart.

    In a truly Roy Hodgson move, Frank Lampard replaced Walcott at halftime. One thing was for sure, the second half was going to be dull unless, of course, Germany were to score.

    Which they promptly did.

    Germany had worked the ball down into their right flank corner. They played it back and moved it across the top of the box. England had dropped really, really deep and the German midfielder waiting at the top of the box one-timed it. He absolutely crushed it and Joe Hart had no chance.

    The game then became torture to watch. Germany pressed and pressed and pressed. With the slow duo of Gerrard and Lampard in the middle, they were overrun. England would occasionally break through Young.

    Germany had taken a mere 3 shots in the first half. They took 12 in the second. Hart called upon to make 6 saves and two of them were Cup-savers.

    I spent the last 15 minutes of the game peering between my fingers, nearly too scared to watch. While I was rooting for my new country, I'm not England. I'd periodically peer at the people around me. Nailing biting, praying, fists clenching, teeth grinding, flop sweating, facial tics, rapid blinking, not blinking at all and all sorts of OCD behavior. I saw it all.

    But England were destined to win this. Danny Welbeck and Chris Smalling came on late so at least they can say they appeared.

    And then England went gloriously and undestandably mad.


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    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 13/02/2014 at 05:59 AM.
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  21. Tuesday, June 15, 2014

    "John, you got a minute?" I asked Wimbledon's marketing, website, social media guy.

    "Sure, boss, what can I do for you?"

    "I have a personal problem you might be able to help with," I began. "Well, technically, it's not exactly my problem but a friend of mine's."

    I told him Gwen's story of her stalker.

    "I've spoken to her and she's willing to set you up with some her friends or at least try," I concluded.

    "Okay, but what exactly to you want from me?" he asked.



    "Yes, photographs of him stalking her."

    "Aaaahhh, now I follow," John said. "You want me to use my long-range lenses and capture the bastard in the act."

    I nodded.

    "And in exchange your model friend will try to get me some dates with some of her model friends."

    I nodded.

    "I'm in."
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  22. < Messages . . Gwen . . Contact

    Wed, July 16, 10:02

    Just got invited to rooftop party on victory celebration
    route. Need date. You avai?

    Yes. When?

    4. Pick me up?

    K. C U then.
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ID:	497508Thankfully, she knew the way to the party. The subway was packed full and it was fortunate that the the South Wimbledon station on the Black Line is so far out as, first, we were able to get on the train and, second, that we got seats. At closer in stops, there were times when nobody got on the train.

    We got off at Monument. I did my best to push through the crowd with her behind me. We walked up King William Street then westward on Cheapside. Cheapside becomes Newgate as we passed St. Paul's Cathedral then I was shoving our way down Old Bailey. Then a right on Limeburner. I only had to shove my way to the second entrance on Fleet Street. But it was tough. There were a ****ton of people out to celebrate the World Cup win.

    The party turned out to be filled with models and the like. The food was great, the music was ear splitting and everyone was fabulously dressed. I hoped nobody would notice that my Italian suit was a decade old but I'm sure that somebody with a discerning eye would notice. Well, at least it was really expensive back in the day and thank God I still fit comfortably in it.

    Eventually, someone noticed that the buses carrying the players were passing below us. I managed to push through and take a couple of pictures. Sadly, I'm no good at taking pictures and the one to your right is the only one that isn't blurry.

    Later when I was much drunker than when I arrived we departed for a club. I was not leading the way which was a good thing. I danced with Gwen and a bunch of her friends until far too late into the night.

    What the hell, right? I did the same thing in 2006 when Italy won it all. Why not do the same in my newly adopted country.
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  24. I came to because something was vibrating. Where the **** was I? The thing was my phone. The alarm was buzzing and vibrating. Eventually, I was able to coordinate my arm, wrist and fingers and shut the piece of **** up.

    Then I realized that I had to throw up. I very, very carefully eased myself up to a sitting position. I managed not to vomit. Okay, I was in my own bedroom. That's good. Someone was lying face down on the bed next to me. That's not good. Holy. ****ing. ****. It was Gwen. How the **** did she end up here? What the **** happened last night?

    I very slowly and carefully eased myself to standing. As the room began to spin, I sprint-stumbled into the bathroom and hurled into the toilet.

    Been a while since I've done that.

    At this point I noticed that I was wearing my boxer briefs. Okay. I'm not naked. I'm not sure I know what that means. I peered back into the bedroom. She was still asleep. She was under the sheets and appeared to be wearing one of my tshirts. Okay. She's not naked. I'm still not certain of what that means but certain conclusions could be made. Or not.

    I shut the door to the bathroom and flushed. I examined myself in the mirror. Bloodshot eyes, stubble and the beginning of a throbbing headache. I popped some ibuprofen. If that water stayed down, I'd drink more. I splashed water on my face and brushed my teeth.

    Nope, no memories were coming back. I vaguely remember dancing and drinking at the club.

    Okay, I had to get the **** out of here and over to New Malden for training. Where the **** was my car? I walked out of the bathroom and into the living room. It wasn't on the street outside. It must still be near the South Wimbledon station where I'd parked it yesterday.

    I heard a groan from the bedroom. Time to find out what happened last night. I took a step towards the bedroom. Nope, not brave enough. Not yet anyways. Instead, I started brewing some coffee. I was going to need caffeine and lots of it.

    I heard shuffling and then Gwen appeared.

    "Hnnnphh, coffee?" she croaked. Her hair was a rat's nest mess. Her make-up wasn't smeared, though. I concluded that she'd washed her face last night. That said something. Maybe.

    "I need to confess that I don't remember much of last night after we got to the club," I blurted out. Apparently, I was going to be bluntly honest. "You're ... um ... here ... um ... uh ... what the **** happened?"

    "Really?" she croaked. Then she coughed. "Um. You were totally pissed. We poured you into a cab and brought you here."


    "You think I can carry you, you big oaf?" she snickered. "Laughing hurts. Oh **** my head hurts."

    "Bathroom, cabinet, ibuprofen," I replied.

    "Seriously, you don't remember a thing?" she asked when she returned to the kitchen. I nodded sheepishly and blushed. "Well, you're kind of a weepy drunk. You kept wanting to tell me how sad you were. Deep, deep down inside, you said. you kept repeating that deep deep down inside **** for like a half hour."

    Then she stared at me for a minute.

    "You ... heh ... you're not ... heh," she said then laughed. "Oh **** laughing hurts. You think ... we ... no, nothing happened my dear hung over American, Italian, Spanish-song-singing friend. When you weren't telling my about the sad, you were singing Spanish pop songs or something. Denise, who you probably won't remember, helped me get you in bed then she left. I tucked you in and you snored like a Canadian lumberjack. Cut down the rest of the few trees left on this island."

    "You look as pale as a ghost," she continued. "Wait. Wait one second here. You were seriously worried, weren't you."

    I nodded sheepishly.

    "Okay, why were you worried?"

    Now I was in trouble. I knew that my answer was going to be important. I really wished I could think clearly. What the **** was I supposed to say now.

    "I ... I dunno. I mean ... um ... I'm confused," I said. Apparently, I was going to be honest. "On the one hand, you're gorgeous. On the other hand, I'm thirty six and I don't know how old you are. And you're smart. And spectacular fun. And on this cold, dank English morning, I have no idea why you would be interested in me."

    My phone saved me. It was Sean, my Assistant Manager.

    "You up?"

    "Yeah," I said maintaining eye contact with Gwen.

    "Just checking cos you usually beat me in."

    "Yeah, bad hangover. I'll be in soon."

    "Okay, bye."


    She stared at me for a moment. An eternity, it seemed. She was obviously thinking. I was merely suffering under her gaze.

    "Listen, you're hung over, I'm hung over," she said. "This isn't the time to talk about this. You probably have to get to your job. I'm twenty two. You have a problem with that?"

    "Um, no," I said looking down at my feet. "I ... um ... I ... uh ... I should probably shut up."

    "Wise move, my Italian friend, wise move," she said. "We will talk later today. Now get going."

  25. Thursday, July 17, 2014

    The walk to New Malden was horrid, but it did wake me up and clear my head. I set aside thinking about Gwen until later. I was going to need the few functioning brain cells I had for training.

    "Everyone have a good time last night?" I asked as we coaches had a quick huddle before we started.

    "Apparently, not as good as you," Rachubka said.

    "I got invited to a party on Fleet Street to watch the parade," I said. "I stayed out way too late. So if any of you smell alcohol, you're just downwind from me."

    That got a few snickers.

    Then we trained. We trained well. The team is really coming together.

    Afterward I emailed my scouts. Since Kris Thackray was going to play fullback and fullbacks were so freaking hard to find, I asked them to find me another central defender. We're probably going to need the cover.

  26. "Hi."

    "Hello, my Italian friend," she said. "How are you feeling?"

    "Better. You?"

    She smiled.

    "The bastard followed me here," she said. "Sat there watching me for about the last two hours of my shift."

    "Good," I replied. She raised a manicured eyebrow. "John made it over and followed you two here."

    She nodded.

    "Have you eaten here before?" I asked.

    "No," she replied picking up the menu. "I don't know much about Italian food."

    "Hah, well, I can finally be useful. How about I order. That'll just make it easier. I want to get a variety of stuff. I need to see if this is the place I can get my Italian fix when I'm jonesing."

    "Do you still get homesick for the US?"

    "Not really anymore," I replied. "I've been in Europe, mostly Italy, for half my life now."

    I ordered some appetizers, several Primi and two Secundo. We made small talk about a variety of topics while we ate. I advised her to sample a little from each which is what I did. She liked it all. This place would satisfy my Jones when it hit.

    "This is the wrong place to talk," she said as the bus boy was clearing the table.

    I nodded and got the waiter to bring the bill.

    "So," I said as we walked out of the Ristorante. "Here we are."

    "You go first," she said. Oh, ****. Why me first?

    "I ... uh ... well ... um," I stuttered. "Oh **** I don't know what to say. My suave Italian side is failing me now. Tonight you get the bumbling American."

    "But well dressed American," she said. "I love this shirt. It's hand tailored, right?" I nodded. "Let's walk to the river."

    We walked in silence while I floundered around for the right thing to say. I lost that battle with myself.

    "Alright," I said. "I'm really at a loss for what to say or how to say it. But here's where I'm at." I explained that I'd lost everything but the Alfa and how taking the job with Cadiz was a first step toward building a career as a manager.

    "Obviously, that didn't end too well in Cadiz," I said. "I hope to prove myself at Wimbledon. Hopefully, someone notices me and offers me a better deal. Could be in England, Italy or Spain. I don't know."

    "You know I've not been to Italy and I've only been to Ibiza and the only thing I'm sure of with that is that it isn't representative of Spain," Gwen interjected. "And by the way, he's following us."

    "Oh, good. Because then John is following him."

    "Okay," she said. "Here's where I'm at. Odds are that I get married, pump out some offspring and live my whole life in southwest London. I don't have a degree and my hope is modeling. Modeling is a total roll of the dice. Few make it. I'd like my shot at it. I've done some and gotten paid nicely, but there's always a chance I never model again, you know, nobody calls ever again."

    "I'm serious when I said the I think English boys are boring," she continued. "Odds are I end up bored. I'd rather not be. It's sounds so depressing."

    "Hey, there's a question I've been meaning to ask," I said. "That night when you introduced yourself to me. Was stalker boy at the club?"

    She nodded.

    So what if I'm just going to be used to get rid of stalker boy? Am I okay with that? Yes, yes I am.

    "Okay, here's what I want to say," I said. "I think you're fascinating, unpredictably and dangerous. Yeah, dangerous. I never know what you're going to do or say next. I like that. I just want you to be happy. There is one thing that I wonder about; what if my next post is in the Midlands or way north or something? In other words, not Spain, not Italy or not London?"

    "If there are any bridges to burn," she replied. "I'd prefer to burn it after I cross it."

  27. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. Tottenham Hotspur

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ID:	497999This weekend was going to be the big money maker for the club. We played Spurs and Liverpool play Arsenal. Both matches were sold out.

    We played first.

    I fielded my strongest side and used a 451 to clog up the midfield and give us a chance defensively.

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Kris Thackray, Reuben Hazell, Andy Frampton, James Fenlon
    M: Steven Gregory, George Francombe, Harry Pell, Adam Pepper, Simon Johnson
    F: James Loveridge

    Shockingly, we scored in the 9th minute.

    Thackray (LB) threw the ball down the line to Loveridge. Loveridge leapt and headed the ball infield and into the path of Johnson. Johnson ran right at the Spurs defense who just let him advance without challenging him.

    He had the time to place the simplest of shots into the lower right corner of the net.

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ID:	498025I glanced over at AVB who was crouching in his technical area. No reaction.

    Of course, from then on Spurs dominated. 30 shots, 12 on net. Great practice for us. The fact that we remained tied until into the second half really pleased me.

    Liverpool thrashed Arsenal. Since they finished 6th and 5th respectively last season, I have no idea what significance this holds for the upcoming season. Arsenal only added Miralem Pjanic from Roma so far this summer. I have no idea 'Pool kept Reina after loaning him to Napoli last season.

    We'll see, but I'm hoping Wimbledon pull in 250K from this Cup competition.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 14/02/2014 at 08:32 PM.
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  28. The man climbed out of his car, walked up the step and rang the bell. He then turned and walked back down the step to wait. Soon a woman answered the door, smiled thinly at the man then turned to look back into the house. The focus of her attention soon could be heard careening down the stairs.

    The man flinched as a young boy erupted through the open door and launched himself with a war whoop from the top step missing him by a hair.

    "C'mon, Dad," he yelled as he bounced the few steps to the car. "By, Mum."

    The man waited a moment to give the woman a chance to say something. She didn't; she just turned and went into her house. He gave the slightest shake of his head then followed his on into the car.

    "Dad, Dad, I coont find my ball cap," the boy said. "Can i geth another, please?"

    "I don't see why not," he replied. "Did you lose another tooth?"

    "Mmm hmmm."

    "Which one?"

    "Ith one."

    "Okay, let's go get your grandfather."

    The boy explained his latest video game exploits, how his mother made him eat his vegetables despite his complaints that he was going to throw up, how his new friends supported Chelsea but one supported Fulham and how he loved the swimming lessons as they drove.

    The boy ran out of things to say and the father questions before they got to grandfather's house so they drove in silence.

    "Gwampa!" the boy exclaimed as his grandfather got into the car.

    "My sweet boy, you have fun at the match now," his grandmother said from the sidewalk.

    "Bye, Gwamma!" he yelled as they drove off. "Bye bye."

    The boy also regaled his grandfather with his stories but he didn't quite finish before they were parking the car. Two of them walked, one of them bounced to the stadium.

    "Who's your favorite Gooner?" the grandfather asked.

    "Wiwsheer," the boy replied.

    "Well there he is, go down and get yourself an autograph," the grandfather said. He handed the boy a pen and the boy bounced down the stairs then over to where Jack Wilshere was signing and chatting.

    "How you think we're going to do this year?" the man asked.

    "Depends upon if this new manager is good or not," the grandfather replied.

    "Smith and Loveridge sound like great additions, though."

    "We'll see," the grandfather replied. "But I do think that Dunn will be an upgrade over Worner in net. I didn't like that Worner. Made me nervous."

    "Wook! Wook!" the boy exclaimed holding up his Wilshire-autographed program for his father and grandfather to see. They both nodded and grunted their approval.

    "Awsenal are going to win, wight?" the boy asked. Both men nodded. "I fink theyw gonna score fifteen!"

    "Arg, lad! You're supposed to root for Wimbledon not Arsenal," the grandfather exclaimed reaching for his grandson's ear. The boy squealed and leapt away.

    "I know that Gwampa, I'm weawing my hat awnt I?"

    The grandfather reached out to grab the boy again and failed. More squealing.

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ID:	498062Eventually the match got underway.

    "They seem pretty organized, I must say," the grandfather said as Arsenal poked and prodded and toyed with Wimbledon.

    "Aw we evew gonna go to the offer end and score?" the boy asked.

    "Not against the Gunners, son," the father answered.

    "Aw no vey scowed!" the boy exclaimed after Santi Cazorla smashed a free kick past Dunn from 25 yards.

    "Why aw you clapping?" the boy asked as his father and grandfather stood and applauded the goal.

    "Because that was beautiful, son, beautiful," the father replied. "Sometimes when the other team makes a really great play, we applaud."

    "Okay," said the boy.

    They stood and applauded one more time before halftime although the Gunners scored twice.

    "Can I have a hoth dog, Dad?"

    The man nodded.

    "Dunn's the only reason we aren't losing by more," the grandfather said.

    Arsenal made wholesale changes in the second half. Wimbledon only introduced subs late on.

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ID:	498065 "That Dunn is going to be solid all season, you watch," the grandfather said as the three walked out of Kingsmeadow.

    "He's wewy taw," the boy added. The two men nodded. "Is he as taw as Mertesackew?"

    "I think so," his father answered.

    "Can we th-tay for Spuws and Wiverpool?"

    "No," both men replied.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 14/02/2014 at 09:16 PM.

  29. Sunday, July 20, 2014

    "Morning," I said once everyone was gathered in the conference room at New Malden. "What's cooking?"

    "Knock on wood, but we're injury free," said Physio Jon Whitney. "I'm going to meet with a doctor about that Radshaw lad's tendonitis tomorrow."
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    "Andrew Guy is officially a Wimbledon player," said U18 Manager Mark Robinson. "Trained with us yesterday. Nice lad. He'll fit in fine."

    "How's Fabian Rowe?" I asked.

    "Oh, he's fine now," he replied. "Thanks for straightening him out."

    "K, keep me posted if he causes any trouble," I said.

    "We're looking for center back cover," Lil said. "Should have a report by Wednesday."

    "Great," I said. "This week gets busier. As you all know we travel to Luton on Wednesday then have our final friendly tournament next weekend. We've got four weeks left until it all kicks off. How's everyone feeling? Any concerns?"

    "I'm concerned Loveridge and Smith haven't played together enough," Matt Woolley said. "They need chemistry."

    "We'll switch to a 442 for Luton and Dunstable which is next week," I replied. "I was going to play 451 in the tournament because we're up against Premier League sides."

    "Sorry, Wools, I'm thinking we shouldn't get slaughtered this weekend," my Assistant Manager said.

    "I'm not saying switch," Wools said. "I'm saying they're not ready, that's all. Hopefully the Don will help me out this week?"

    "The Don?" I replied. "You've been talking to Framps and Haz haven't you. Yeah, The Don will helps."

    "By the way, boss," Rachubka said. "Have you seen the video of your greatest hits, yet? It's on a blog."

    "What?" I said. "I had no idea there was such a thing."

    "Oh, you'll love it," Rachubka replied. "I'll get everyone the link."

    Oh, great.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 15/02/2014 at 05:31 AM.

  30. Gwen stayed over on Thursday night, too, but under significantly different circumstances. And Friday as well. I guess that means we're dating, girlfriend-boyfriend or whatever.

    On Friday night after the match, we went out to clubs. I didn't have any obligations relating to Wimbledon until the afternoon. I also wasn't in the mood to get drunk; this meant lots of dancing and I nursing my drinks.

    I'm kind of weirded out by one thing. The casualness of it all. I mean, I was rather giddy to start dating Ana Maria. With Gwen, she initiated it that night in the club and I've just been swept along.

    Whatever you think, don't think I'm complaining. It's just weird and new.
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  31. Friendly: Luton Town FC v. AFC Wimbledon

    Luton is an hour away if the traffic is good, I'm told. We left a bit early because the driver anticipated it wouldn't be good. He was right.

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ID:	498309Everyone was going to play a half. The starters were:

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Cameron Dummigan, Reuben Hazell, Andy Frampton, Jim Fenlon
    M: George Francombe, Steven Gregory, Adam Pepper, Simon Johnson
    F: James Loveridge, Michael Smith.

    I wanted to see how Dummigan would do at right back. He did fine. I couldn't play Thackray as a center back as I wanted to do as I don't have a left back to play the second half. Since Thacks can play there, that's where he's playing today.

    In the 13th minute, former Wimbledon keeper Seb Brown hoofed a goal kick over the half line. Hazell won it and directed his header to Francombe. Francombe took a touch and slid a pass past Luton's left-sided center back and into the path of Smith.

    Smith took a touch, crossed into the penalty area and mashed a low hard shot past Brown.


    In the 33rd minute, Reuben Hazell forgot about everything we'd been working on.

    Luton had been moving the ball harmlessly around the midfield out near the center circle. Then they played a pass up to their striker Kaine Sheppard. This was on Frampton's side. So Frampton scrambles over to shut down the danger. Hazell didn't move over to cover their other striker, Chris Holroyd.

    Holroyd shoots from 8 yards out and Dunn makes a great save to his right. Unfortunately, the ball fell to the Luton left mid Phil Chandler who grateful passed the ball into the open net.


    The ball glanced off of Hazell's head for an own goal in the 59th minute. Tough evening at the office for The Haz.

    If you look at the chances we created and how many shots on goal we took, I'm satisfied. Seb Brown wanted to show us we were wrong to let him go. While I'm standing by my decision, he certainly played well for his new team.
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    Pucci's greatest hits

    14 July 2014 23:44

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ID:	498360We don't know who made this, but we're glad someone told us about this video of our manager Enrico Pucci back in the days when he was plying his trade in Serie A. When you watch this highlight reel of bookings, sending offs, hand bags and assorted GBH behavior, you might ask yourself what kind of manager the FTB hired.

    An awesome one! The English game has lost it's violent side. I witnessed the exploits of the Crazy Gang epitomized by Vinnie Jones. His mentality as a player is exactly what Wimbledon needs.

    Seriously, In eleven seasons playing in Italy he amassed 10 red cards and 108 yellows. He was suspended for a sum total of 28 matches.

    So I'm just suggesting to our players when they scrimmage and Pucci's taking part, you might want to be careful around him. He's a wee bit psycho.

    I mean seriously, at the 0:45 mark of this epic vid when he tackles that Empoli player with a thigh high, studs up tackle, that's worthy of the death penalty any many countries. The fact that he only got carded is unfathomable in England. These days nearly all the tackles on this vid are red card violations.

    From what we know of Italian football, I can see why Bologna would want his services to protect their star players. Or at least the potent threat that we'll unleash Pucci and let him sink his teeth into your star players.
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  33. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
Views: 691
Size:  4.8 KBEnrico Pucci @enricopucci - 55 mins ago
    Hey @Thrash and @Duff, 6 of those 10 reds were for second
    bookings. Just saying. #Wimbledon
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  34. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. Everton FC

    One week to go before the season starts. Today, the first team plays Everton in the final preseason tournament. Since chances are we're going to lose, tomorrow we play the loser of the Wigan-Newcastle friendly.

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ID:	498781GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Dummigan, Hazell, Frampton, Fenlon
    M: Gregory, Francombe, Pell, Pepper, Johnson
    F: Loveridge

    I was quite pleased with how we played. Everton dominated the possession, but couldn't create the chances. We parked the bus, absorbed the pressure and occasionally counter attacked.

    But let's put this in perspective. Leighton Baines, the Toffee left back is worth six times more than Wimbledon. The fact that they couldn't score in the first half makes me happy.

    Pepper scored an own goal defending a corner. The ball was pinballing around in a goal mouth scramble. The ball popped up and I'm pretty sure he was trying to head it over the crossbar. Oops.

    And Naismith's goal was simply a powerful strike from a top division player.

    The players were clear about what I wanted out of them today and they did what I asked.

    We'll play Newcastle tomorrow. They lost on penalties to Wigan after a scoreless 90 minutes.Click image for larger version

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    I can't imagine that Alan Pardew will be all that pleased with his side. They might be itching to take that out on us.

    Mostly, I'm looking forward to seeing how much we profited from these three preseason Cup tournaments.
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  35. Stalker boy

    After the friendly on Saturday, Gwen and I and several of her friends went and saw the DJ Skrillex at Building Six. Throbbing lights, strobes nearly giving me a seizure, throbbing beats, it was great fun. Gwen explained that dub step purists hate Skrillex because he's not particularly original. I'm no judge of originality, but he does put on a good show.

    He played two sets and in between, I sought out the men's room. On my way over, I saw stalker boy standing with what appeared to be friends of his. I'm pretty sure he didn't see me.

    After taking care of business, I found a spot where I could watch him. I watched as he finished his drink then indicated to his friends that he was going to go and get another. I followed him.

    I wasn't sure what I wanted to say or do. Obviously, I didn't want to get in a fight or anything like that. I could just do something really bizarre. But what?

    I pushed my way through to get next to him at the bar. He jumped when he turned and saw it was me standing next to him looking at him.

    "Hello stalker boy," I said.

    He put a finger to his chest asking if I was talking to him.

    "I don't know how you know what Gwen's doing all the time," I continued. "But I'll find out."

    Then I leaned in really close making eye contact.

    "I've heard that you can get high licking a toad," I said to him. Then I licked his cheek. He jerked back with a look of shock.

    "I've always wanted to try. So next time I see you stalking Gwen, I'll let you know how the buzz is."

    "You're ****ing mad," he blurted out wiping at his wet cheek.

    "To quote Benedict Cumberbatch, 'no, I'm a high-functioning sociopath', have a great evening."

    And I walked off.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 16/02/2014 at 12:51 AM.

  36. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. Newcastle United

    Kingsmeadow was once again packed and the Everton-Wigan match was sold out. Wimbledon will have had a really profitable July, I can't wait to see the final numbers. Hopefully, Erik and I can talk King's College into letting us pay for some improvements to New Malden. We'll see.

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ID:	498992Here's the second-stringers I sent out. Obviously, a few aren't second string players (Hazell, Smith and Thackray), but I don't have enough numbers in defense and wanted to give Smith a full 90 up top.

    GK: Daniel Lincoln
    D: Thackray, Hazell, Ben Harrison (U18), Ryan Sweeney (U18)
    M: Mark Tomlinson, Daniel Barlaser, Michael Woods, Jack Midson, Drissa Dabre
    F: Michael Smith

    Since I also don't have that many midfielders, I played Woods and Midson in the middle with permission to get forward whenever they want.

    Dabre dribbled down the left, played a ball forward into the box for Midson to run onto and Midson crossed into the 6 yard box. Woods met the cross with a flick volley past Rob Elliot and we had a lead in the 4th minute.

    Unfortunately, my backup keeper Lincoln twisted his knee somehow. I didn't see when. Dunn replaced. him.

    Of course, Newcastle came back. The got the lead just before halftime. My second stringers held on valiantly. I was pleased. I swapped out Hazell with Frampton for the second half but generally kept the same 11 out there.
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    I only started swapping out the exhausted late on. Newcastle got a late goal to make the match look more lop-sided.

    Everton beat Wigan on penalties after a scoreless Cup Final.

  37. "Good morning, Enrico," Erik Samuelson said as I stepped into his office.

    "Yes, good morning," I replied. It was in fact a good morning. It'd also been a great month. I was at Kingsmeadow early to meet with the Chairman and review our finances. I knew we'd filled the stadium 13 times plus generated TV revenue for all but the Celtic match. We had to be sitting quite pretty.

    "Let me pull up the financials," he said concentrating on his laptop. Then he spun his laptop around and walked around his desk.

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    "As you can see," Erik said. "We pulled in some 333K in TV revenue. Those 13 high-profile friendlies only generated 76K in gate receipts. Because of the TV revenue, we are far ahead of last year at this point."

    "Ahhh," I exclaimed. "5,000 seats just aren't enough tickets, are they. And this is why you're working to move back into Plough Lane or develop the Greyhound track."

    "I don't want any of that for players, I think I'm set," I continued. "Can we spend that on improving New Malden? Or do we take this a put it toward building a new stadium or moving back into Plough Lane?"

    "Yes, that is the question isn't it," Erik murmured examining it more closely. "As you know this is up to the Supporters Trust. Your input is important, but there's other factors like getting approval to renovate the Wimbledon greyhound track."
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 16/02/2014 at 03:13 PM.

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  39. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. AFC Dunstable

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ID:	500749For our final tune-up, I'd arranged for the semi-pro side Dunstable to visit us at Kingsmeadow.

    The first team, except for Kris Thackray, played the first half. I wanted Thacks to get some time playing in central defense.

    Keeper Daniel Lincoln and Simon Johnson are both out for a couple weeks with twisted knees.

    I can't say I'm all that pleased with our performance. We kind of slept-walked through the match. At least Smith and Loveridge scored as well as Midson who will be a back-up this season.

    What's surprising is how many fans turned up. 1400 is not bad for a preseason friendly against a semi-pro team.
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  41. "Alrighty, let's talk about Mansfield," I said. "We've got two days to prepare."

    "Let's start at the back," Lil Fucillo began. "They've got young keepers and a slow back line. Smith and Loveridge should push them around. They should be vulnerable to crosses."

    "They've got fast wingers, but only one of them, the left mid Colin Daniels, seems particularly dangerous," he continued.

    "So put James Fenlon on his side?" I asked. Lil nodded.

    "They will probably play a 4411 and none of their strikers seem all that dangerous," Lil said. "Anything good that happens seems to go through their right mid Angelo, no, wait, Sergio Torres. He's Argentine. Or through Lamisha Musonda. He's a Chelsea Academy washout of Belgian extraction."

    "They seem most vulnerable at right back, in other words, our left flank. With Johnson out, we need someone to exploit that weakness."

    "Do we try to clog the midfield to prevent them from playing or do we try to exploit their defense?" I asked.

    "Exploit the D," Lil replied.
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  42. "Hey, Daniel, how are you," I asked. I'd pulled him from the drill he was doing to chat.

    "Fine, thank you," Daniel Barlaser replied.

    "I pulled you out for several reasons," I began. "First, because I want to compliment you on how hard you're working. I've noticed, keep it up. In the lower leagues, hard work and tireless running goes farther than occasional flashes of skill."

    "Second, I want you to know that you're the back-up right midfield," I continued. "If George gets hurt or loses form or needs a break, you're his replacement. Now, in the meantime, you'll be playing with the U18s. I want you playing every weekend not getting splinters in your butt riding the pine."

    "Riding the pine, sir?"

    "Heh, sorry, that's American. I mean sitting as a rarely used sub."

    "Oh, okay."

    "Third, I want to develop you into a central midfielder. You've got the ball control and long-range shot to play in the center and that's where I see you having a career. So Wools and Robs will start working with you on this."


    "Any questions?"

    "No sir. Thank you."
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  43. Mansfield Town FC v. AFC Wimbledon

    Well, here we go. My second season as a manager and my first real test with my new club. Mansfield is 3 hours away, just north of Nottingham in Nottinghamshire. Pretty much a straight shot up the M1, more or less.

    I haven't remarked on it, but it seems notable that the Wimbledon bus is quiet, rides smooth, has AC and a working toilet.

    Attachment 500928Field Mill is a nice enough stadium. Seats a little over 9K. It's going to be a nice day for footie, 77 degrees and overcast. No not-quite-game-fit players fainting in the heat today.

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: James Fenlon, Reuben Hazell, Andy Frampton, Kris Thackray
    M: George Francombe, Steven Gregory, Adam Pepper, Jack Midson
    F: James Loveridge, Michael Smith

    Subs: Billy Bishop (U18 GK), Pat Baldwin (D), Chris Arthur (LB/LM), Mark Tomlinson (M), Harry Pell (M), Daniel Barlaser (M), Charlie Strutton (F)

    Attachment 500929I'm sorry, I failed to mention that I signed the central defender I wanted. Pat Baldwin is an experienced campaigner with decent enough skills and willing to be a back-up defender. He can play in the center or at right back.

    "Here we are guys," I began my first official team talk. "It all starts today. I know you all saw what the BBC wrote about us. They say we're relegation fodder. I say **** them. Let's show them what we're made of. I have faith that you guys know what to do out there. Let's just go out and apply everything we've been working on."

    "Mansfield is slow on defense; we can exploit that," I continued. "Be sure that Musonda doesn't get any time on the ball and be sure that to give him and their forward Donnelly a nice, thick application of special sauce."


    "YEAH!" a chorus of shouts greeted me.

    Smith got things going straight away blazing just wide after Francombe played a ball into him.

    We kept the ball but couldn't generate much in the first 20 minutes. We certainly not giving them any room to play. Thackray and Francombe were warned just before the 30 minute mark for their exuberant tackling.

    In the 43rd minute, Mansfield broke on the counter attack. This is the first time in the whole match so far that I felt nervous. Their striker Donnelly ended up crossing far post to their left midfielder Colin Daniel. Thankfully, his volley went straight into Dunn's arms.

    At halftime I urged them to keep playing solid defensively. I told Pepper to get forward more and told Loveridge and Smith that I believed they'd get a goal if we all kept working hard.

    In the 50th minute, Francombe took a knock. Whitney signaled that he needed to be subbed. So I sent Daniel Barlaser on.

    In the 52nd minute, the Mansfield central midfielder Jay Harris unleashed a guided missile that thankfully was aimed at where the crossbar and post meet. Thackray cleared to safety.

    In the 60th minute, I pulled of Loveridge and Midson. Neither had done much of anything all match. I put on Arthur at left mid and Strutton at left forward.

    It paid dividends in the 65th minute. Arthur and Strutton worked the ball up the left then passed back to Thackray. Thackray sent the ball straight back up the field to Strutton who crossed into the middle. Smith just missed the header and the keeper only managed to get his fingertips to it.

    Unfortunately, the ball fell to a Mansfield defender who skied it clear.

    But Thackray won the header (a great thing about playing a central defender at fullback) and sent the ball into the left corner. Arthur controlled the header and crossed near post for Strutton. His glancing header hit the side netting.

    Mansfield's Daniel chopped down Barlaser in the 70th minute. Barlaser popped straight back up and jogged toward the box. Adam Pepper placed the ball and waited for Frampton and Hazell to get forward.

    Pepper's ball into the box was poorly hit but Arthur got to it first and played it straight out to the sideline for Pepper to run onto. His next ball into the box was much better. Barlaser met it with a sweet volley that the Mansfield keeper couldn't stop despite getting a hand to it.


    What an amazing debut for Barlaser!

    Mansfield responded by winning a foul just at the left edge of the box. A foot more and it would have been a penalty. They played a ball back and across the box. Musonda made his first contribution of the match by unleashing a 30 yard screamer. Fortunately, Dunn was there and held it comfortably.

    Mansfield soon began lobbing balls into the box. We defended well and only gave away a few corners which we cleared.

    In the 78th minute, I switched to a 451 so that Gregory would sit deeper and we could defend the lead easier. I asked Smith to move into the midfield and kept Strutton up front since he'd done more in 30 minutes than Smith had done all game.

    After holding them well, we did exactly what I didn't want them to do: lose track of their striker Donnelly. In the 87th minute, they played a succession of quick passes up the field and Frampton didn't react quickly at all to a ball into the channel.

    Dunn bailed us out again with a brilliant save to deny Donnelly the goal to draw Mansfield level.

    And Sergio Torres nicked the outside of the post with his header from the resulting corner. We'd dodged yet another bullet.

    I started hoping they had a six shooter and were running out of bullets. I could see we were tiring and I just had to stand there and hope we held.

    In the 89th minute Smith won a tackle in the midfield and passed up to Strutton. Strutton turned and started running at the 3 defenders he had in front of him. He eventually had the ball nicked off him at the edge of the Mansfield box.

    What I thought was a clearance upfield turned into a breakaway for Mansfield's star winger, Daniel. Fenlon completely misjudged the clearance and couldn't catch up with the speedy Daniel.

    Dunn bailed us out again by tipping the shot onto the post. The ball rebounded off and lay there invitingly. Thankfully, Frampton cleared it to safety.

    I kept my hands in my pants pockets. This was getting tense and we were starting to play stupidly.

    The fourth official raises his board and signals there would be 3 minutes of extra time. Would we hold?

    The ref issues his first yellow card of the match to a Mansfield player. This takes us past 91 minutes. Instead of playing a short pass and keeping the ball, Dunn thumps it up to the opposing keeper. This kind of **** isn't helping!

    Both teams are now playing kickball. They lump it forward, we win the header and lump it back. I've decided not to say anything. It can wait until we watch the video tomorrow.

    At 91:30 they get called offside. I'm shocked we got the call, the linesman was completely out of position.

    Finally, the stadium clock rolled past 93 minutes. The ref put me out of my misery and blew those three sweet blasts on his whistle. I'd won my first match in England. I think I was more relieved than pleased after our performance in the last 15 minutes.

    "Congrats to Dan!" I exclaimed in the changing room. "First match, second touch, first goal and the game winner. We should all also recognize Dunn for saving our butts out there. Great job between the posts."

    "We had some moments we played well today," I said. "We handled defending corners really well. We got those three points which is so vitally important away from home. We also have work to do on keeping possession. We could have made those last 15 minutes easier on ourselves."

    "The Don is right, lads," Captain Frampton chimed in. "If we bring the ball up in control, we keep our shape and they can't counter against us."

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    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 17/02/2014 at 04:46 AM.

  44. "Sweet Mary mother of God I'm exhausted," I said.

    "But they pulled it out, so that's good right?" Gwen asked.

    "Yeah but they'll make me bald and gray before my time if they keep playing like that."

    "So my bald, Italian friend," she replied. "I'm going to assume you're not up for dancing and clubbing into the wee hours?"

    I lowered my face into my menu and pretended to snore.

    "How about a movie then?" she asked.

    "Anything playing that's stupid and violent?"

    "Let me check. Since you're the Italian, I'll let you choose dinner," she said and picked up her phone.

    "Here's a Wimbledon connection," she said after a few minutes of searching. "Vinnie Jones is in a movie called Reaper that just came out. With Danny Trejo. It looks excessively violent. Probably meets your requirement of dumb."

    "Hey, I haven't asked all week, but how's stalker boy?"

    "Like a rash."

    "Hmmm, can I see your phone?" I asked. "John, Wimbledon's all things computer and internet guy suggested I check something."

    I went into the General Settings and scrolled down to the Bluetooth Settings. There was one one app named Facebook.Why would Facebook need bluetooth? I terminated the connection.

    Just below Bluetooth Sharing was Twitter and Facebook. When I selected Twitter there was an app named Twitterjack.

    "Do you know what Twitterjack is?" I asked. She shook her head. "Okay, I'm killing it."

    When I selected Facebook, Facebook was listed as well as ".Facebook" which was probably the hack stalker boy was using. I turned it off.

    "John did a little research and suggested I download an app for you," I said. "The app will prevent anyone from pairing with your phone. It's pretty obvious that stalker boy is also a phone hacker boy."

    We ordered our food then I installed the app.

    BTW, Reaper is must see for you Vinnie Jones fans out there.
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  45. Sunday, 3 August, 2014

    "Gentlemen, we pulled it out yesterday, but I must confess that it was so stressful that I've lost all my hair and gone bald," I said once everyone had sat down in the conference room at New Malden. We were meeting an hour before the players showed up at 1PM. The plan was to spend an hour watching video with the players then stretching and a jog followed by some tactical work.

    "Um, I texted George this AM," Whitney said. "He said he's fine."

    "Good to hear," I said.

    "I'm concerned about the lads picking up the system," Sean said. "It was obvious once they got tired they just started thumping it as far forward as they could."

    "I suggest we work on tactical 5-a-side games immediately after we do some hard sprint work," Dave Wilson, the fitness coach, suggested. "Make them try to think when they're gassed."

    "So talk tactics, running, small-side game situations in which to apply the tactics," I said. "That sounds like a plan. What else?"

    "I'll work with Dunn on his distribution," Rachubka said. "We don't need him punting it all the way to the opposing keeper."

    "It seems to me that aside from putting ourselves under pressure late in the game, all those matches defending against big clubs paid off," I said. "There was only that chance just before half time at 43 minutes when I got nervous. Aside, of course, from the last 15."

    I wasn't going to add that I spent entire matches on the Cadiz technical area frightened every time the opponents advanced on my defense.

    "What can do to beat Wolves on Tuesday?" I asked Lil Fuccillo, my chief scout.

    "If you stay in front of Kevin Doyle, we can stop him," Lil began. "They play a 442 but I'm not impressed with Doyle or their other strikers runs. If we defend deep and clog the midfield, we can stop them."

    "So how do we beat them?" I asked.

    "Well, it'll be tough and we'll need some luck," Lil admitted. "They are generally faster than us and their defenders read the game well. So our chances will come from set plays or on the counter when they are disorganized."

    "I'm concerned about Pepper," Wools said. "Adam didn't boss the game liked we'd all hoped. And Loveys looked lost."

    "Yeah, but how much of Loveridge's poor game was lack of service?" asked Sean (Asst Mgr).

    "Maybe the gamble of playing Midson at the left mid failed," I added. "I was hoping he'd attack their right back but it didn't work out that way."

    "Pepps can play as a left mid, too, why don't we try him there and bring in Harry Pell?" Sean suggested.

    "Let's play Pepper and Pell together in the middle and reward Arthur's hard work with a start at left mid," I said. "We've got to play a 451 and hope to clog the midfield against Wolves."

    Everyone nodded.

  46. Capital One Cup, First Round: Wolverhampton Wanderers v. AFC Wimbledon

    It's a 3 hour bus ride up the M40 past Birmingham to Wolverhampton. As Lil said, our only hope is to catch a rusty, off-their-game Wolves on the break or from a free kick. Considering I don't have a free kick specialist, it'll have to be on the break.

    Sean interrupts me watching the scenery rolling by to tell me that Wolves have posted their line-up and we won't face Kevin Doyle. It'll be the speedy Leigh Griffiths and the experienced but far less dangerous Jamie O'Hara.

    Thackray was too tired to start, so Pat Balwin get his debut.

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Pat Baldwin, Reuben Hazell, Andy Frampton, James Fenlon
    M: Steven Gregory, George Francomb, Harry Pell, Adam Pepper, Chris Arthur
    F: Michael Smith

    Subs: Billy Bishop (U18 GK), Kris Thackray (D), Cameron Dummigan (D), Mark Tomlinson (M), Daniel Barlaser (M), Charlie Strutton (F), James Loveridge (F)

    I don't know where Hanks got his information, but O'Hara is starting at left mid and Jake Cassidy is up top. He's quick and a decent player (at least for a Championship club, I'd love love love to have him).

    "Good luck tonight," I said. "I have faith that you guys are solid defensively. Let's create an opportunity or two. Now go out there and **** some **** up."

    Wolves had the ball but couldn't create any early chances. In the 12th minute, the linesman missed an obvious, glaring offside as Griffiths played in their right midfielder Zell Ischmael. His weak shot from 10 yards puttered wide left.

    In the 17th, Wolves switched fields and got the ball over to the left and got O'Hara isolated against Baldwin. Sadly for us, O'Hara went right past Baldwin and smashed a near post shot past Dunn.


    Not exactly the start I wanted. We hadn't even really gotten hold of the ball, yet.

    In the 28th minute, Wolves left back Stephen Ward hoofed a long ball over everyone's head from his own penalty box. Griffiths got their first which isn't surprising and raced goalwards. Hazell raced as fast as he could back and managed to cut him off at the pass.

    Unfortunately, when Griffiths tried to go around him, Haz missed the ball and got all ankle. The ref may have been 40 yards away, but it was a penalty from anywhere in the stadium.

    Griffiths sent Dunn the wrong way and the Wolves fans into a frenzy.


    This could get pretty one-sided.

    In the 32nd minute, Gregory intercepted a pass and quickly played it to Baldwin. Baldwin had time and options, but hoofed a long-ball over the top. Oops.

    But Wolves hoofed the ball back upfield and we regained possession. Pell played it out to Arthur who played a ball up to Michael Smith. Smith held up the ball and laid it off to Pell who had run upfield. Pell took a few more steps and cleared the ball to safety. But at least wayward shot was our first attempt at goal.

    After Francomb gave the ball away far to easily in the 38th minute, Ward advanced down the left flank and Baldwin never pressed him close enough. Cassidy volleyed the ball past Dunn.



    I told Thackray to be ready to start the second half.

    "Fenlon, switch to the right," I said once everyone was sitting shell-shocked in the dressing room. "Thackray is in at left back. Listen, that didn't go the way we wanted. This one is over. Let's move on. Instead, let's get set up for Saturday's home match against Walsall. Show me something different in the second half. Show me you won't have a hangover from this. Show me something else."

    We started out the half in the Wolves' end. Gregory blazed over from 30 yards. After some kickball, we eventually got the ball and worked it in to Smith who set up Pell for a shot from the top of the box. Unfortunately, it went just wide left.

    In the 50th minute, Arthur charged upfield and past several defenders before blazing a shot that Wayne Hennessy tipped around the post.

    This was more like it.

    In the 55th minute, Wolves got tired of us trying to play and upped their work rate. It only resulted in a longe-range shot blazed high over the bar.

    In the 56th minute Smith out-jumped Hennessy but his header grazed the top of the bar.

    In the 59th, Smith had his shot blocked and Pell's follow up shot was well wide.

    But we were playing now, at least.

    Fenlon and Smith were looking the most tired so I replaced them with Dummigan and Loveridge respectively.

    In the 73rd minute, Dummigan played a ball into the channel for Loveridge. He shot wide.

    Wolves had taken the pedal of the gas and Hennessy wasn't happy. His cursing echoed around the stadium.

    In the 78th, Arthur played a ball into the corner for Loveridge. Pell headed his cross directly at Hennessy.

    Francomb turned Ward in the 79th minute, raced into the penalty box and slipped a pass all the way across the 6 yard box for Arthur to blast into the net. We'd gotten our consolation goal and proved to ourselves that we weren't pushovers.


    Substitute Doyle scored a late on, but who cares.

    I told the players not to worry about the result. They looked like they were worried. I hope this loss doesn't have a hangover effect this coming Saturday.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor-2014-02-17-02.54.17-pm.png
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  47. AFC Wimbledon v. Wycombe Wanderers

    Kingsmeadow was packed for our home opener. Not much to report in the build-up to the match. Chris Arthur gets the start at left mid after his hard work against Wolves.

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: James Fenlon, Reuben Hazell, Andy Frampton (C), Kris Thackray
    M: Steven Gregory, George Francomb, Harry Pell, Adam Pepper, Chris Arthur
    F: Michael Smith

    Since Wycombe were going to playe a 451, I set us up playing our 451. There would be no way through the middle for them. Since their only option was the flanks, I told everyone to give their outside mids and extra helping of special sauce.

    "Alright, listen up," I said. "We have the chance to show that the first half against Wolves was an anomaly. Don't let Wycombe play their game. Kingsmeadow is our home, we play our way, everyone adapts to us."

    After playing keep-away for the majority of the first 5 minutes until Gregory played a ball up to Smith. Smith turned his defender, took a step and walloped a shot that the goalkeeper got a hand to but couldn't keep out.


    In the tenth minute, Haz headed Francomb's corner goalward only to have a defender clear it.

    Fenlon headed the clearance back upfield. Pell controlled it, passed it to Pepper. A defender dove in and took the ball and Peps but the ball rolled into Pell's path. Pell tried to curl it far side, but their keeper snared it.

    In the 27th minute, Fenlon got beat by Wanderer's left midfielder Myles Weston. But he didn't let him get past and was booked for his take-down.

    Pell was booked in the 30th minute for his 3rd foul.

    In the 35th, Gregory intercepted a pass, tapped it to Pepper who looked upfield and fed Smith. Instead of feeding the ball to an advancing teammate, he turned and tried a shot from over 30 yards. It went wide. He apologized as we reset for the goal kick.

    In the 40th, Frampton chopped down Hewitt from behind and was carded. From the restart, Gregory grabbed Hewitt's jersey and was carded. At least we weren't letting them play.

    At halftime I told them they were playing well, but could do better. Specifically, keeping the ball more. Wycombe had too much of the ball in the last 20 minutes of the half.

    In the 52nd minute, Francomb their left back chopped down Francomb rather than get beaten.

    As I screamed at the ref and berated the fourth official, Whitney ran out and soon signaled that George's day was done. Sean had read my mind and gotten Daniel Barlaser up to loosen up. Whitney propped up George and helped him off the field and Danny Boy was ready to come on by the time George was off the field.

    "Ankle," Whitney said as they hobbled by.

    Remarkably, the ref decided not to show a yellow card. I kept at the ref and fourth official until he told me I'd be sent off if I didn't calm down.

    They kept the ball around our box for about a while, but couldn't find a way through. In the 58th, Dunn tipped a goalbound header over the bar.

    In the 70th minute, Pell nipped the ball away from a Wycombe mid and played a ball into space for Smith to run onto. Smith kept easing rightward. Then as he crossed into the box, he cut back inside fooling the defender and had a clear shot on his preferred right foot.

    Unfortunately, he screwed the shot wide left.

    I realized several things. First, Pepper and Smith were tiring. Secondly, so were the Wycomb defense. So I replaced Smith with Loveridge. Here was an opportunity for Loverboy and his speed and his dribbling ability to shine. I replaced Pepper with Tomlinson. Tomlinson would provide some energy and tackling in the middle of the park.

    Smith was furious and stomped right past me and over to the bench. I'm not going to tolerate that kind of behavior.

    In the 76th minute, Mark Bloomfield (Wanderers central midfielder) blasted just high from 30 yards. We were holding them pretty well so far. Let's see how they do compared to Mansfield.

    In the 79th as we moved the ball methodically up the field JUST like we'd talked about, Pell was fouled.

    As I screamed at the ref, they broke. The ref actually looked over at me and pointed. I guess that was my warning.

    Hazell let their replacement striker Matt McClure dribble all the way to the penalty box them let him shoot.


    WTF, Haz?

    My palm met my face. This was Yellow Submarine defending.

    The question now was would we collapse. Gregory was tiring so I had him switch with Tomlinson who had plenty of energy to spend protecting the back four.

    McCoy tried to break down the Wycombe right, but Arthur fouled him in the 90th minute rather than let him past. Dunn and Frampton were screaming at their teammates to get organized for the upcoming free kick.

    We were well organized and the free kick sailed high over the crossbar.

    We'd played well, but one moment of indecisive defending from Hazell and we gave up two points.

    Click image for larger version

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ID:	502082On the way down the tunnel, I made sure to walk next to Smith.

    "Great play today," I said. "Nice shot on that goal."

    "Thanks, Don Pucci," he said.

    "You know we're going to have to talk about your reaction, right?"

    "Yeah, I know."

    "No worries, that's for tomorrow, great game," I said.

    I told the players that I thought the performance was good.

    "This early in the season it's about making sure we're generally doing things right," I said. "We'll fine tune things as the season progresses. Little details are what's critical and we only made a few errors. This is a very positive sign."

    I saw a lot of heads nodding in agreement. Apparently, my post-match talk had gone over well.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 18/02/2014 at 05:26 AM.
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  48. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
Views: 715
Size:  4.8 KBEnrico Pucci @enricopucci - 40 mins ago
    I hope nobody gets alarmed about Michael Smith's anger at getting
    subbed. Passion is alway good. He & I are good. #Wimbledon
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  49. "I could get used to not having my shadow around," Gwen said late Saturday night when we'd walked to a quieter part of the club to rest from some over exuberant dancing.

    "I haven't seen him either," I said. "Cheers."

    "To no more stalker boy," she toasted. We polished off our drinks.

    "John wants to renegotiate his reward," I said. "By the way."

    "Well it would all depend upon what kind of rewards he wants."

    "He wants a photo shoot with you and two friends."

    "What kind of photo shoot?" she over enunciated while raising a manicured eyebrow and gratuitously adjusting her bra.

    I started giggling then couldn't stop.

    "What kind?" she demanded.

    "Not that [snort] kind, Lord Almighty," I finally replied. "You know ... one with ... you know ... clothes ... on."

    "What? Like he's serious?"

    "He's got a vast collection of cameras."

    "Don't see why not then."
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  50. Sunday, August 10, 2014 just minutes past noon.

    "Alright, what we got going?" I asked.

    "Well, I've got the specialist's analysis of that Jack Redshaw's knee tendonitis," Physio Jon Whitney said. "Should be cleared up inside three weeks. His last club kept giving him shots, told him to get on with it. He's had 'em scoped. The specialist suggested acupuncture."

    "His fitness is crocked," Dave Wilson, the fitness coach, added. "It would be a bit before he'd be available."

    "Define a bit?" I asked.

    "Second week of September," Dave said after looking at his phone's calendar for a moment.

    "So no long-term worries?" I asked. "No red flags why we shouldn't sign him?"

    "He should be fine," Whitney replied. "He's only had one other injury six seasons as a pro."

    "Thanks for following through on this, I appreciate it," I said.

    "Right, um, Johnson, Simon Johnson should be ready to train Wednesday," Whitney continued. "Might be able to give a few minutes Saturday off the bench. Same for Daniel Lincoln though he may not be all that ready for Saturday."

    "And you won't see Drissa Dabre, I told him to stay home with his cold," he concluded.

    "Thanks," we chorused. There's nothing like a bug racing through a squad to really screw things up.

    "I placed Michael Woods on the loan list," I said. "He's not in my plans, why not loan him out. If we get Redshaw, I'll do the same with Jack Midson."

    "So you all know I've scheduled a friendly for Wednesday," I said. "A chance to get our offense firing on all cylinders. We are away at Morecambe this Saturday could use some offense, right?"

    "I spoke briefly with Smith after he stormed off the field," I said. "We'll talk more today. Lil?"

    "Right," Lil Fuccillo, Chief Scout said. "Morecambe are bottom after shipping 6 in 2 matches."

    "It's hard to pinpoint their weaknesses and they were absolute rubbish yesterday," he continued. "Their defense is slow. The only decent player appears to be their right back, Andy Parrish. Their midfield isn't playing together. Their wingers are slow. The play a lone striker who gets no service."

    "Their morale is low and they gave up early goals in both their league matches," he added. "They were taken apart by Middlesborough, but that's to be expected. We need to hit them hard early. The match is still two days away and they are on the ropes already."

    "Thanks, Lil," I said. "Who else has stuff?"

    "What about our central defense pairing?" Sean asked. "Haz had a bad match. What about putting Baldwin in?"

    "He looked hopeless against Wolves," Rachubka said. "I'm not sure his confidence is very good right now."

    "I want to give Baldwin time in our midweek friendly," I said. "Let's see how he does."

    "And then there's Pepper in the middle," Sean added. "Hasn't been running the midfield, I think we all agree."

    "Part of it is his lousy footwork," Wilson interjected. "It's pretty apparent nobody's worked with him on it. He'll get quicker, I just need time."

    "Here's the deal with the middle," I said. "I want to try Pell out as the pivot in the first half on Wednesday. He's shown flashes, let's see what he does. I am going to try Danny Barlaser in the second half. I think eventually he'll make a great pivot. He's got potential, let's see how they do on Wednesday."

    "Anything else?" I asked.

    "Yeah, I think we should start training Pell on switching fields more," Matt Woolley said.

    "You go," I replied. "Sounds good." I waited for anything else. "That's it? Well they'll be here soon. Let's get ready. Agenda for today is watch the video then 20 minutes of stretching. Then 30 minute jog followed by tactics work. Clear?"

    Everyone was on board.
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