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The Alfa Romeo Metaphor

  1. 300 s. Thanks everybody.

  2. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. Abingdon Town

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ID:	504296Semi-pros Abingdon Town visited Kingsmeadow this Wednesday to give us a chance to implement some of the things we've been working on in training.

    I wanted to accomplish several things:
    1. Give Loveridge and Smith easy opposition so they'll start to get into some good habits.
    2. Try Harry Pell as the advanced playmaker.
    3. Try Adam Pepper as left midfield.
    4. Play Barlaser in the middle.
    5. Give Dummigan, Baldwin, Tomlinson and Barlaser some minutes.
    Here's the starters:

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Cameron Dummigan, Pat Baldwin, Andy Frampton (C), Kris Thackray
    M: George Francomb, Steven Gregory, Harry Pell, Adam Pepper
    F: James Loveridge, Michael Smith

    They played like ****. Baldwin was a nervous nelly, Pell jogged around calling for the ball but never did anything useful when he got it and Pepper played as if he'd no idea what to do. And don't get me started on Loveridge and Smith. Fkn A. At least put in the effort. Sheesh.

    Abingdon Town were trying their best and as you can see by the number of cards, it got a little chippy. My players were definitely frustrated, but unable/unwilling to work harder and beat these guys.

    At halftime I told the starters that what I'd just seen wasn't good enough and that I wanted to see something different in the second half.

    I did.

    Barlaser ran the midfield pretty well considering he's 17 and has only been working on it for two weeks. Tomlinson worked hard and always got in the right place at the right time.

    Jack Midson worked hard created chances for Charlie Strutton and himself and his goal was deserved.

    Afterward, I told them they would need to do better than this against Morecambe.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 20/02/2014 at 05:01 AM.
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  3. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
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Size:  4.8 KBEnrico Pucci @enricopucci Aug 16
    GK Daniel Lincoln and winger Simon Johnson are both fit again. Fit
    enuf 4 @MorecambeFC? We'll see. #Wimbledon
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  4. My phone jangled. I picked it up. It was Paco.

    "How are you?" I asked in Spanish.

    "Very good," he replied. "How is London treating you? Have you lost your tan, yet?"

    "Hah, nearly. How's the Yellow Submarine looking this season?"

    "Everyone is saying we're going to finish first," Paco replied. "Did you hear we signed Martin Petrov?"

    "Mother Mary of God," I exclaimed. "He's my age. I had no idea he's still playing? How the **** can you afford his wages?"

    "Apparently, we got a cut rate because of our glorious weather."

    "I really am going to miss the weather," I replied. "I've been here maybe, I don't know, two months and it's rained all day 20 days. Like a third of all days."

    "The wife sends her best," he said.

    "Thanks, I've got to take a winter break down there if possible," I said. "How's the pressure now that it's not just promotion places but top spot?"

    "Gay is developing all kinds of facial tics," he replied. "And preseason is not even over. I think he's very uncomfortable. We're your staff. He was not allowed to fire us and hire new staff because of our desperate financial situation."

    "And that hasn't changed?"

    "No."

    We chatted for a while longer. I told him about my new staff, new squad, my flat, Gwen, stalker boy and etc. He explained how they more or less had a whole new defense and how everyone was wondering if they'd be able to deliver in the big games.

    I sure am glad I'm not in that pressure cooker anymore. Wimbledon are so calmly and well run by comparison. Night and day.
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  6. League Two: Morecambe FC v. AFC Wimbledon

    We hopped on the team bus at 9AM for the ride to Euston station where we had a car to ourselves on the Glasgow bound train that stopped in Lancaster. A whole bunch of supporters were on the train with us. We cheered each other on as some walked through our car. From Lancaster we had a bus contracted to take us to Morecambe's new Globe Arena. We arrived just after 1:30PM giving us plenty of time to stretch and warm up.

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ID:	504900The Globe was finished in 2010 and compared to places I visited in Spain last season is "quite posh" as a player remarked as we walked into the away changing room.

    Hanks, Wools and Rachubka all agreed that Barlaser should start as the pivot and Midson should partner Smith up top. First off, they'd played well in the friendly. Even if they play poorly, Adam Pepper and James Loveridge could always come off the bench. Regardless, it would send a message.

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Kris Thackray, Reuben Hazell, Andy Frampton (C), James Fenlon
    M: George Francomb, Steven Gregory, Daniel Barlaser, Chris Arthur
    F: Jack Midson, Michael Smith

    Subs: Daniel Lincon (GK), Pat Baldwin (D), Cameron Dummigan (D), Mark Tomlinson (M), Adam Pepper (M), Simon Johnson (M), James Loveridge (F)

    My team talk was simple: "Impress me. These guys are struggling. Let's kick them hard while their down, eh? I want to attack early and often. I have faith that we can dictate the pace and control this match."

    We opened quite positively sending Francombe down the right. From the touchline line deep in Shrimper territory, he passed inside to Thackray. Thacks dribbled into the box and looked confused about what he ought to do. He looked up and saw Barlaser standing all alone top of the box.

    Barlaser's one-timer hit Smith who was standing in an offside position.

    The Morecambe keeper hoofed the ball forward and Frampton won the header. Gregory got to the knockdown first and passed to Danny Boy. Danny played a slide rule pass into the path of Chris Arthur who made run between the right fullback and center back. He shot just wide.

    Morecambe played Route One from the goal kick resulting in a shot wide by their lone striker Padraig Amond.

    In the 5th minute another Route One knockdown set Amond free. Dunn dove left and blocked the shot out wide left. Shrimper right mid Mark Wright got their first and crossed. Thackray headed clear at the far post. The ball went to Morecambe's Andy Fleming who passed across the top of the box to Ryan Williams. He shot tamely wide from 25 yards.

    Both teams charged back and forth across the field creating chances and corners.

    We got our breakthrough in the 14th minute.

    We'd broken down our right flank, but Francomb got bottled up and passed back to Thacks. He hit a long pass across the top of the box to Fenlon. Barlaser had made a run into the box expecting a cross, but dropped back to recieve a pass from Fenlon. Danny Boy slid a pass to Francomb just inside the box. George dribbled around a defender then poked the ball into Smith's path.
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    Smith blasted the ball into the back of the net then ran over to the Wombles massed behind the goal.

    1-0

    Unfortunately, the Shrimpers answered with a goal of their own nearly immediately.

    Williams and Danny Boy tangled for ball in midfield. Williams won. He tapped the ball to their defensive midfielder who played a ball up to their right winger Wright who'd cut inside. Wright fed Amond who held up the ball.

    Frampton, Hazell and Gregory were all watching Amond and didn't notice Andy Fleming's late run. Amond played in Fleming who even up the score with a nicely placed shot past Dunn.

    1-1

    All three of them didn't need to defend Amond. Hanks and I looked at each other and shrugged.

    We nearly took the lead back instantaneously. Danny Boy lasered another seeing eye pass between defenders giving Midson a clear shot on goal from 15 yards. He hit the post.

    In the 24th minute, Smith's header from a Francomb corner hit the crossbar.

    In the 32nd minute, we worked the ball up the left flank and teed up Danny Boy but he got too excited and blasted over.

    It rained hard for the remainder of the half and neither team did much other than dirty their uniforms.

    "Listen, we're playing well," I said once everyone was inside the away locker room. "We're moving the ball really well and creating lots of chances. Keep it up."

    The rain continued to pour down for the start of the second half. Neither team was doing much. At 55 minutes, I had Simon Johnson, Loveridge and Adam Pepper warm up.

    At 60 minutes, replaced Arthur with Johnson and Midson with Loveridge. If we could just get the ball to Loverboy's feet and get him running at their D, we'd create plenty of chances.

    While my subs didn't contribute to the build up, Francombe got chopped down in the box from behind in one of those what the **** was he thinking tackles. The ref immediately pointed to the spot. Loverboy jogged over and picked up the ball and set it on the penalty spot.

    As Loveridge was placing the ball, it stopped raining.

    The ref blew his whistle, the keeper started diving to his right and Loveridge placed a shot to the keeper's left.

    1-2

    Morecambe thumped the ball forward toward Amond from the restart. We got control back and brought it back up the left flank through Arthur. He beat their right back Andy Parrish who fouled him. Francomb jogged across the pitch and teed up the ball from around 40 yards out.

    He hit a long curler to the back post which Reuben Hazell smashed home.

    1-3

    No he didn't. He did. Fkn A! Linesman raised his flag. Offside. ****, **** and double ****. I got Pepper up again to warm up. Danny Boy was tiring.

    1-2

    We continued to press. We set up Smith for a shot and header in the 67th and 68th minutes. Couldn't convert.

    After Smith's header in the 68th went over the bar, I replaced Daniel Barlaser with Adam Pepper.

    In the 73rd minute, we got a real scare. Gregory wasn't covering as much territory as earlier and they played through the middle and slid a pass into the right channel for Amond.

    His shot was destined for the upper right corner, but Dunn saved our bacon with a strong, cross-hand leaping save the redirected the laser-guided missile around the post. But just barely.

    I started hollering that I wanted them to switch to a 451. Smith was to drop back into the midfield and throw his weight around. Time to park the bus.

    After we cleared the corner, I got Gregory and Pepper's attention and told them to get not let anyone get past them.

    We began the process of fouling them whenever they'd done anything dangerous. We never had any trouble dealing with their high balls into the box.

    Their best chance came in the 88th minute. They'd worked the ball down the right flank and Fenlon had tackled the ball out for a throw. Parrish their right back threw it in to Wright. Fenlon and Johnson gave him nowhere to go so he played back up the line to their central midfielder Williams.

    Williams crossed fields to their left back, Grant Basey. As Francomb charge out, Basey had time to control, look up and then unleash a shot.

    It whistled just wide of the post.

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ID:	504907We kept them at bay for the remaining regular time and 3 minutes of extra time.

    We all jogged over to the travelling Wombles and thanked them for their support.

    "Good win, boys, well done!" I said once everyone was in the locker room. "We could have won by a lot more, but, bottom line, we created tons of chances and held the lead. Good job."

    "Seven points is a good return from our first three matches," I said. "Lemme check the other results."

    "Only York City are perfect," I continued. "Only Wycombe and Rotherham have 7 points. Let's get showered and go catch our train home."
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  8. Gwen texted me that she and some friends were going to be meeting at one of their favorite restaurants on Edgware in Marylebone. She gave me the address and I was to catch a cab at Euston.

    "Not getting on the bus?" Hanks asked as

    "Nope, going out to dinner," I replied.

    "Wait, what?" he asked. "You've been here less than three months, you claimed at some point to not know anyone."

    "What can i say," I shrugged.

    "What you can say Hanks," said Rachubka. "Is may I have lessons in the fine art of picking up women?"

    "I doubt Don Pucci could help Hanks," Captain Frampton added. "He's English, you know."

    "I'm just gonna go now," I said. "Let you paesanos gossip your little hearts out. See you tomorrow at 1."

    I left to a chorus of 'Evening, boss' and 'Buenasera, Don Pucci' and etc.

    I could get used to this lifestyle again. It certainly felt like the old Alfa was purring like a brand new car again. Dating a stylish, young woman. Going clubbing often. Except I didn't need to travel to Milan to get the cosmopolitan lifestyle.

    I'm not going to fool myself that I have endless money like before nor am I in my twenties anymore. But it's still fun.
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ID:	505398"Boys, I have some news," I said as Lil sat down to complete coach's cabal. "I've offered a contract to Matteo Nole."

    Blank stares. Rachubka looked at Lil for some help. Lil shrugged.

    "I know, I know, I'm not being fair," I continued. "I know of him from my days in Italy. He's a left-footed speedster. He's frightening when at full speed with the ball at his feet and his crossing is deadly. We aren't getting any crosses into Smith. Nole will do that."

    "Does he speak any English?" Hanks asked.

    "None whatsoever," I replied.

    "Who has he played for?" Wools asked.
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    "A bunch of Serie C teams," I replied.

    "There's two of them, right? Comparable to League One and League Two?" Lil asked.

    I nodded.
    "What about Simon Johnson and Chris Arthur," Hanks asked.

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ID:	505403"Well, with how good Barlaser is I was thinking of selling Harry Pell," I said. "I've not been impressed and he's pretty highly valued, right Lil?"

    Lil nodded.

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  10. Thursday 21 August, 2014

    "Alright, let' not pull a Bologna," I said. "Matteo lands in an hour."

    "I can drive," Captain Andy Frampton. "Coz you can't."

    "Will I fit in one of the car seats?" I teased. Andy had a mini van. He had three kids.

    "I think they are removable, Enrico," Chairman Erik Samuelson said as we walked out the door. "Can you even imagine forgetting to send someone to pick up your new signing?"

    I shook my head. I was still baffled despite the inquest and firings.

    We talked about football in Italy, children (though I couldn't contribute that much) and team dynamics while we drove to Heathrow. We parked and walked to the spot outside customs where Nole would appear.

    "His plane has landed," I said after consulting the airline's website on my phone. "Now he's just got to get through customs and get his bags."

    We people watched and occasionally chatted while we waited.

    And then there he was. Andy saw him first. He was pulling a cart with four large bags on it. We all waved like idiots to get his attention.

    "Good afternoon, Matteo, welcome to London," I said in Italian. He smiled and nodded. "I'd like you to meet Wimbledon Chairman Erik Samuelson and Club Captain Andy Frampton."

    We all shook hands. We chatted about his flight, his family and Erik told him about the process of getting him settled. I translated.

    We got him into his hotel and signed the paperwork at a nearby Greek restaurant that Erik recommended. The restaurant was Matteo's choice.
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  11. WOMBLEblog.co.uk
    Pucci signs Italian speed merchant Matteo Nole

    Thrash
    22 August 2014 12:49

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ID:	505818Matteo Nole is fast. He an dribble. He can cross. Manager Enrico Pucci was apparently not satisfied with Charles Arthur and Simon Johnson on the left flank.

    "I'm very pleased to welcome Matteo to the club," Pucci said. "We're very excited he wanted to join this project."

    Project is the latest trendy word managers use. Every manager uses it. I have no idea what it means.

    Pucci was asked if Nole would be thrown straight into the deep end this Saturday against Scumthroat.

    "Yes, I know he just got off the plane, but he'll be ready," Pucci responded.

    Nole doesn't speak any English. He smiles nicely, though. I'm not sure either matter. Hopefully he speaks the universal language of football. Except the Italians call it Calcio. We'll see how this works.

    Nole has bounced around the lower leagues:

    2013-14 Lucchese Libertas - Serie C2B 35m, 3g, 9a
    2012-13 Borgo a Buggiano - Serie C2B 30m, 3g, ?a
    2011-12 Pontedera - Serie D 33m, 8g
    2010-11 Tuttocuoio - Serie D 32m, 6g
    2009-10 Poggibonsi - Serie C2B 29m, 1g
    2008-09 Poggibonsi - Serie C2B 30m, 2g
    2007-08 Sansovino - Serie C2B 32m, 3g
    2006-07 Sansovino - Serie C2B 19m, 1g
    2005-06 Sansovino - Serie C2B 30m, 0g
    2004-05 Sansovino - Serie C2B 34m, 0g
    2003-04 Pisa - Serie C1B 2m, 0g
    2002-03 Fucecchio - Serie D 20m, 2g

    We'll see how he adapts. First test: Saturday against Scumthroat.
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  12. League Two: Scunthorpe United FC v. AFC Wimbledon

    Scunthorpe is more or less almost all the way up the A1 to Leeds except take a right and head towards the coast. It's not quite as far as Morecambe, but we're taking the train this time, too. It's much quicker. We hopped on the team bus at 10:45AM for the ride to King's Cross station. We too the Leeds-bound train to Doncaster then switched trains for the Scunthorpe-bound one. We had hired a bus to meet us at the station and take us to Glanford Park. We arrived an hour and a half before kickoff.

    Lil thinks The Iron's defense is weak. Their left back is slow as are their center back pairing. While their right back is quick, Lil doesn't think he offers much of anything else. I decided to take a risk and attack with a 442.

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Kris Thackray, Reuben Hazell, Andy Frampton (C), James Fenlon
    M: George Francomb, Steven Gregory, Daniel Barlaser, Matteo Nole
    F: James Loveridge, Michael Smith

    Subs: Daniel Lincoln (GK), Pat Baldwin (D), Cameron Dummigan (D), Mark Tomlinson (M), Adam Pepper (M), Simon Johnson (M), Charlie Strutton (F)

    "Make sure we don't give their strikers much room to breathe," I said to start off my pre-game talk. "Give Stockley and the Icelandic kid Larusson plenty of special sauce."

    "Get the balls out to the flanks so that George and Matteo can attack from out there," I continued. "That's where they're weakest. I want to see crosses in to Smith."

    Both teams moved the ball up and down the field, but neither did anything threatening.

    In the 9th minute, Gregory wins a tackle and plays the ball out to Fenlon. Fenlon taps it forward to Nole. Makes a couple of feints to see if his defender will bite. He doesn't. So he whips in a cross with no run up and minimal backswing. That was pretty cool to see.

    The defense cleared it but right to Danny Boy. Danny spots and gap and dribbles into it. He goes around a defender and then he's in the box. The defender he just beat stupidly reaches out and grabs a handful of shirt.

    Tweeeet!

    Penalty!

    0-1

    Loveridge converts.

    Now we've gotten into the habit of giving up goals soon after we score. I got Gregory and Frampton's attention and warned them to batten down the hatches and make sure we don't concede.

    We do.

    They'd won a corner (to our right side) in the 18th minute. Their left back Andy Dawson whips in the cross right into the meat grinder. I'm not sure who cleared it out, but we did. Unfortunately, Yohann Lasimant (RM) was standing at the top of the box. He headed the ball back toward our net and Jayden Stockley outjumped everyone for a flick header.

    Now, Chris Dunn is 6'5". If he was standing on the goal line, he could have easily reached up and caught the ball. But he'd taken a step out and was suddenly unable to jump. He flailed at it with his arms rather than moving his feet and the ball drifted over his head and into the net.

    1-1

    Okay, bad luck. Momentary lapse of concentration by Dunn.

    Danny Boy had a teachable moment in the 18th minute. He had possession inside the center circle in our half. He had options left, right and Smith was showing for a pass. Instead he tried to play the Hollywood ball over the top for Loverboy. The keeper jogged over, scooped up the ball on the second hop and thundered a punt deep into our half. Fenlon headed it but right to Stockley. Stockley took a couple of steps and unleashed a missile that nearly shattered the crossbar.

    "DANIEL!" I yelled. He looked over. "You had short options. Left and right. Smith was showing for a pass. Use them."

    He nodded.

    Disaster struck in the 35th minute. From a corner, Gregory headed powerfully past Dunn. He was tracking back with the Scunthorpe player he was covering, lost his balance midleap and the ball hit his head.

    2-1

    Both teams raced up and down the pitch creating chances but never connecting with that final pass or like in the 39th minute, waffling a weak shot wide. Both Fenlon and Gregory decided to step up and shut down Scunthorpe's Icelandic Sensation (I'm being facetious). He beat them both on the dribble and played a pass into the space Fenlon vacated at left back. Thankfully, Stockley filled his pants when he should have scored.

    Thackray managed to finally stop the Icelandic Sensation, but by chopping him down out on our right flank. We lined up at the edge of the box and everything looked good. But Dawson played the ball into the middle for Gray. He controlled the pace and jogged forward looking for options. This is when we completely fell apart.
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    Nobody went out to challenge him, but waited for him at the edge of our box. Just as he reached the edge of the box and the three Wimbledon defenders he flicked the ball into the middle where four of his teammates were waiting.

    Frampton bravely leapt into the breach with a desperate tackle. Unfortunately, The Icelandic Sensation was first to the loose ball. Thacks and Hazell watched as he zipped a shot under Dunn.

    3-1

    I barely had time to remove my palm from my face when Scunthorpe struck again.

    We lost the ball quickly after the restart, the Icelandic Sensation (we were making him look Cantona-esque) came back to receive a pass about 35 yards out from our goal. He turned and played a pass into the space behind Thackray. Thacks was ball-watching and didn't see his man, the left midfielder making a run behind him.

    4-1

    Nice shot by Gray, nice goal.

    I resisted the urge to facepalm as like with crossing your eyes, you might get stuck that way.

    "WHAT THE **** WAS THAT!" I hollered after I'd slammed the door shut. "I AM NOT HAPPY! THAT'S THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE MUTHERFKN CENTURY! THEY BEAT US TO EVERY LOOSE BALL. WE BALL-WATCHED. WE LET THAT ICELANDIC KID LOOK LIKE ERIC MUTHAFKN CANTONA! NOBODY IS MOVING THEIR FEET OUT THERE. THEY ARE OUTWORKING US."

    "I could care less about own goals," I said calming down slightly. "**** happens. That kind of **** evens out over the course of the year. And that first goal was a freak goal. I'm not angry because of either of those goals."

    "I'm furious because nobody outworks me," I continued. "I didn't make it in Serie A because of my sexy ball tricks, my fabulous hair and, yes, I had a curly mop back then or my muthafkn Alfa Romeo I drove to and from training. I made it because I outworked anyone who challenged me for my spot and anyone I faced on the field. I concentrated hard and never let any detail slip."

    "I just brought Matteo to London put him on a train for two plus hours for what? So he can touch the ball twice?" I continued. "George, how many times did you get the ball."

    "Three, four times?" he replied. He seemed uncertain.

    "Isn't that a problem that he can count his touches on one hand?" I asked rhetorically.

    "C'mon, lads," Captain Frampton interjected. "Let's pull our panties up and start playing. He's right they're first to everything. That has to end. Let's start by getting the ball out wide and seeing what George and Matteo can do."

    We started the second half brightly. Much like against Wolves. We got to those 50-50 balls first and passed intelligently. We were rewarded in the 50th minute.

    Smith came back and got a pass from Gregory. He spun, saw Danny Boy and Loverboy up ahead and left. He buzzed a pass along the grass that Danny Boy let slip between his legs. The dummy froze their defender and Loveridge was in alone.

    4-2

    Maybe we were back in it? I didn't get my hopes up but at least we were playing again.

    We pressed and pressed. Scunthorpe hit us on the counter, but we had to take the risks.

    It all became irrelevant on a corner we needed to defend in the 56th minute. The match as a competitive affair came to an end.

    Frampton let his man, Callum Howe, the opposing center back get free at the back post. Dawson whipped in a back post special. Howe had a standing free header from 3 yards out. He didn't miss. I doubt anyone will have an easier goal all season.

    5-2

    Frampton put both hands to his face as he realized he'd been ball-watching.

    I sent on Cameron Dummigan to replace Frampton.

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ID:	506285"I had to send a message," I said as Frampton trudged dejectedly past me.

    "I know, Don, I know," he replied.

    Both sides were playing out their hands, nobody taking any risks. You've seen this all countless times before. Then the red mist, as they like to say on this island, descended on Haz in the 88th minute.

    He chopped down Stockley from behind rather viciously and was deservedly carded. He had some words with the ref which I couldn't hear as they were face to face. It was pretty clear that the ref was unhappy with what he said and warned him.

    A minute later and another ball gets passed to Stockley, Haz reaches around to poke it away and stands on Stockley's foot as he reached in to get the ball. It really wasn't all that bad of a tackle.

    But then he had to say something. Just had to get the last word in. And that earned him a second yellow and an early shower.

    Dummigan got carded to give us 6 cards for the day. That'll get us a fine. Shee It.

    "Alright," I said once everyone was sitting down. "That second half was better. We showed spirit and worked hard. It's the little details that make or break you. Nearly all of you had a mental lapse out there. It's those little details of your jobs that are vitally important."

    "I'm very interested in how this squad responds to this defeat," I continued. "That is what is most important."

    "Killers tomorrow morning at 9AM," I concluded.

    It was a very quiet train ride home.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 22/02/2014 at 09:34 PM.
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  13. WOMBLEblog.co.uk
    Everything falls apart

    Thrash
    23 August 2014 12:49

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    Let me start by listing who sucked:
    • Goalkeeper Chris Dunn
    • the entire back four
    • Steven Gregory
    And since their supposed to be the ones keeping the ball out of our net, it's no surprise we gave up 5 to Scumthroat.

    If Dunn hadn't fallen down for no apparent reason, they wouldn't have scored their first. Gregory scored with a thundering header. Into our net for their second. Kris Thackray and Reuben Hazell stood and watched while their Iceland teenager scored their third. Thackray forgot the man he was marking who slipped behind him to score for their fourth. And Andy Frampton lost his marker for their fifth despite having nobody around him.

    On the other hand, teenager Daniel Barlaser doesn't look out of place running the midfield. He won the penalty and his dummy on a Michael Smith pass sent James Loveridge in alone for our second.

    Loveridge converted the penalty and bagged a brace in an altogether unpleasantly memorable afternoon.

    New signing Matteo Nole and last Saturday's Man-of-the-Match George Francomb might just as well stayed on the bus. Neither contributed whatsoever.

    Was manager Pucci just to naive today? Why did we play such an open game? Should he have played a lone striker and packed the midfield. It's what we did in our first two away matches.

    Pucci has a lot to sort out before next Saturday when Rottenham visit Kingsmeadow. Like the entire ****ing defense.
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  15. 24 August 2014 12:30PM

    "The Beeb declares us relegation candidates, Sky Sports says it was a sign, ESPN says we're in trouble and the bloggers say this is just the first of many losses to come," I said.

    The players had gone home after training. We'd run killers then worked on defending before watching selected lowlights from the match.

    "You read that ****?" Rachubka asked.

    "No, I'm paraphrasing my girlfriend," I replied.

    "Don't ever trust that Colin Massey from the BBC," Hanks said. "He's a rat****er. He's just got a bat in the cave that he has to cover the lower leagues and not the Prem."

    "I'm starting to get that feeling with him," I replied. "But I wanted to meet to talk about the lessons learned from yesterday's match."

    "Dunn's kept us in our first three games with some stellar saves," Rachubka said. "He just didn't yesterday."

    Everyone nodded.

    "I think Steven's own goal really demoralized us," Hanks said. "I think they'd switched off just before half time. Like phew, we survived that, right? Now let's drink some tea and go and get 'em."

    "Yeah, we certainly did," I agreed. "We've decided to defend deeply because Haz and Andy are slow. Judging by how far Gray was able to dribble at our defense on the third goal, I think we're parking the bus too deeply."

    "And what the **** is going on when you explicitly tell them to get the ball out wide and all we do is play through the middle?" Wools added.

    We all shook our heads.

    "Maybe too much instruction for how they ought to play?" Hanks wondered.

    "So we don't defend so deeply, no instructions about about playing wide, just let them figure it out?" I asked. "That it?"

    "I want Loveridge to come back to get the ball more," Wools added. "Keep Smith higher up cos he's great with his back to goal and Lover is better running at the defense with the ball at his feet."

    "I know this might sound daft," Rachubka said. "But what about Tomlinson? What about going with teenagers in the center of the park?"

    "I've schedule a friendly for Wednesday," I said. "Let's try the teenagers then. Let's adjust our D so they're a wee bit higher up the pitch and Wools I'll leave the offensive adjustments to you, eh?"

    "Oh, and one more thing," I added. "Almost forgot. Jack Redshaw. The speedy forward with the knee tendonitis. What're your thoughts on pursuing him?"

    We discussed the pros and cons of adding a 5th striker for a while then called it a day.
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  16. My phone jangled. I didn't recognize the number.

    "Hello?"

    "Hey boss, it's Charlie Strutton."

    "Hey Charlie, what's going on?"

    "I just wanted to talk about where I'm at cos I'm not playing and you've brought in Loveridge and Smith and all," he said. "I don't want to make a fuss about it so I decide to call."

    "Thanks for talking to me first," I said.

    "I want to be playing or I'll have to move on."

    "Well your contract is up next June," I began. "And you are a back-up. You can't expect to be a starter here, but I will say this. It's a long season. You'll get playing opportunities."

    "Do you really want an unhappy player disrupting the club?" Charlie asked.

    "I'll put you on the loan list, but I think you should hold off making any decisions and see how this goes," I said. "I'll need four strikers. I think we should see how much you've played in a little while."

    "I really feel I should be contributing," he said. "I'm not happy with how you've treated me."

    "Okay, but I have been clear about where you stand, right?"

    "Yeah, but I'm not happy about it."

    "See you tomorrow, Charlie."

    "Bye."

    Click.

    Well that decides it. I'll offer Redshaw a contract tomorrow.
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  17. Wimbledon's Capital One Cup tormentors Wolves got blasted 3-1 by Sunderland. Our next opponents Rotherham met an equally nasty end at the hands of Newcastle. I hope they're still licking their wounds this coming Saturday.

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  18. Nole! Nole! Nole! Nole! Nah Nah, Nah Nah, Nole! Nole! Nole! Nole!

  19. Quote Originally Posted by mking1992 View Post
    Nole! Nole! Nole! Nole! Nah Nah, Nah Nah, Nole! Nole! Nole! Nole!
    I hope the fans will chanting that. I'm confident Matteo is as dangerous as he appears on paper.
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 22/02/2014 at 06:22 PM.

  20. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. St. Albans City

    Semi-pro club St. Alban's visited Kingsmeadow for a friendly. I wanted to get the ugliness from the Scunthorpe match out of our system and try out my teenagers at the center of the park. Also, we had a number of minor tweaks to our system to work out.

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ID:	507158GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Cameron Dummigan, Kris Thackray, Andy Frampton, James Fenlon
    M: George Francomb, Mark Tomlinson, Daniel Barlaser, Matteo Nole
    F: James Loveridge, Michael Smith

    30 seconds in and I was already up off the bench.

    "CAM, CAM, WHAT WAS THAT?" I shouted after Dummigan launched a 60 yard pass from deep right that bounced over the far goal line. "USE YOUR OPTIONS, DON'T PLAY THE HOLLYWOOD BALL."

    Other than that, everyone, included Cam, played exactly how I wanted.

    The kids did well in the middle. My forwards scored. Fenlon even scored from inside the box.

    I switched everyone at halftime:

    GK: Daniel Lincoln
    D: Pat Baldwin, Ben Harrison (U18), Reuben Hazell, Patrick Reese (U18)
    M: Harry Pell, Steven Gregory, Adam Pepper, Simon Johnson
    F: Jack Midson, Charlie Strutton

    Haz scored with a nice volley from a corner. That should make him feel a little better as he has to sit out the Rotherham match this Saturday.

    Pell was indecisive and ineffective. He had LOADS of opportunities to create something out on the right flank. Strutton didn't do a thing to impress me. I've been negotiating with Aldershot who want Charlie on loan. Gregory, Pepper and Johnson should provide decent service.

    Johnson got clattered in the 65th minute and just to be safe, I replaced him soon after.
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  21. have you thought about making this an actual book... it would be very interesting and you seem like you have what it takes to be a writer
    Dean Wilkes likes this.

  22. Quote Originally Posted by sambolol View Post
    have you thought about making this an actual book... it would be very interesting and you seem like you have what it takes to be a writer
    Now I'm blushing. Thank you very much; quite a compliment.

    For the last 8 years I've blogged about politics. I had a considerable impact, but it was a side gig from my real job. I've quit blogging and decided to focus on writing fiction instead.

    The Alfa Romeo Metaphor is my dirty little secret that I do for fun. It combines my lifelong obsession with soccer (as we call it in the US) and my desire to become a better writer. I intend to use this project as a means to get into the habit of writing fiction daily.

    At some point, I'll cut back on writing this as frequently, but for now ... I'm having TOO much fun doing this.
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  23. Click image for larger version

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ID:	507359Thursday, 28 August 2014

    "Welcome to Kingsmeadow," Erik Samuelson said to Jack Redshaw as he climbed out of his car and they shook hands.

    "Yeah, welcome," I added as I shook his hand.

    "Pleasure to be here," he replied.

    "How are the knees?" I asked.

    "Good, good," he replied. "Just got to get my strength and wind back."

    "I've got you booked at a nearby hotel," Erik said as we walked into Wimbledon's business office. "And if you want an agent to help find you a flat, we have several supporters willing to help."

    "That would be fab," Jack replied. "I'd just like to say again, that I really appreciate the opportunity."
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  24. Friday, 29 August 2014

    "Matteo, when does your wife and kid arrive?" I asked in Italian as we walked toward the buildings at New Malden.

    "Sunday," he replied.

    "What does she think of the apartment?"

    "She gave final approval and there's a park one block away," Matteo said.

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ID:	507418"Go out to dinner Sunday night? Officially welcome you and the family to London?"

    "Yeah, that seems like a good idea."

    I saw Charlie emerge from the New Malden, cell phone to his ear, waving to me.

    "Excuse me, I need to speak to Charlie."

    "I've got Erik on the phone," Charlie said. "He's coming over, I'm going to agree to go out on loan to Aldershot, we have some paperwork to fill out."

    "Cool," I replied.
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  26. League Two: AFC Wimbledon v. Rotherham United FC

    Rotherham got relegated to League Two. They lost a lot of games last season probably for good reasons. When Bologna got relegated when I was there, the start to that season was horrid. It's extremely difficult to bounce straight back to whatever division you just left.

    Lil's analysis was their defense was slow. Their left-sided center back is a mere 5'11" so Smith at 6'4" would have fun against him. Nole should terrorize their right back and I expected Francomb to run wild.

    The risk was playing two teenagers in the middle. But Gregory didn't cut it last week so in goes Tomlinson. Roll the dice and be brave.

    Also, Thacks pairs with Andy in the middle and I'm going all in with my youth movement by giving Cam a start at right back.

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Cameron Dummigan, Kris Thackray, Andy Frampton, James Fenlon
    M: George Francomb, Mark Tomlinson, Daniel Barlaser, Matteo Nole
    F: James Loveridge, Michael Smith

    Subs: Daniel Lincoln (GK), Pat Baldwin (D), Ben Harrison (D), Steven Gregory (M), Adam Pepper (M), Simon Johnson (M), Jack Redshaw (F)

    Redshow hadn't been able to train until fairly recently, so he would only be able to give a fifteen minutes or so if needed.

    "I talked last Saturday our response to the loss was what was most important," I said to start my team talk. "We've tweaked our system as a result of what the coaches and I identified. You worked out the kinks in our updated system Wednesday. Now comes the test of our mental strength, our ability to concentrate."

    "Go out there and impress me," I continued. "I have faith in you guys that we won't make mistakes in defense. I have faith you guys that we'll control the midfield. I have faith that George and Matteo will terrorize their defense from the flanks. I have faith that James and Mike will be unstoppable."

    Then in Italian said: "Go out and terrorize them, Matteo."

    Matteo promptly did.

    In the 4th minute, he got a pass from Danny Boy and ran straight infield toward the goal. Nobody could handle the acceleration and his top end speed. As the Rotherham defense pulled inside and dropped back, he flicked a pass out to Fenlon who was overlapping.

    I'll give Fen that it wasn't the best of angles, but he did just hit his shot straight into the keepers stomach.

    In the 12th minute, Smith dribbled into the box and Pierce Sweeney, their height-challenged central defender, dove in with a desperate tackle. Smith went sprawling and the ball continued rolling in the same direction.

    "WHAT WAS THAT!?! I yelled at the ref as their other center back chopped it out to safety.

    "C'mon, seriously? Nothing?" I pleaded with the fourth official as Tomlinson raced over and got to the clearance first. he passed across to Danny Boy who cleared the ball to safety. Danny looked at the turf as if to accuse it of making him fluff the shot. Sure, Danny, sure.

    Neither the ref or fourth official were interested in talking to me about the foul on Smith.

    In the 17th minute, the Millers mounted their first real attack on our goal. From 35 yards out, their striker Jason Scotland played a ball out to the right flank. Gwen Edwards raced down the line with the ball, Fenlon right there with him. Fens fell for his feint and Edwards sent a cross in towards their other striker, Aaron McLean.

    Dummigan stepped in front of McLean and headed clear. Well played, kid.

    Matteo grabbed the clearance and ran the full length of the pitch, some 70 yards. It wasn't that he beat anyone on the dribble, it's more that he altered his flight path so as to avoid anyone. I could see he was tiring as he approached the box. And with Loveridge to his left and Smith to his right as options, he pretty much just ran up to Sweeney and gave him the ball. Then he fell over, exhausted.

    The crowd groaned. They'd seen the inevitable conclusion coming, too. Smith facepalmed. Loveridge yelled at him as they jogged back. Not that he'd understand the words, but he'd get the meaning.

    At the 25 minute mark, Fenlon won a header from a goal kick. His header turned out to be perfectly placed into the channel between the right back and right-sided central defender. Neither of them were as fast as Loveridge who pounced. He twisted their center back, Mike Edwards this way and that before slithering between him and the right back.

    The keeper got a hand to his shot, but not enough to keep it out.

    1-0

    How would we defend? One of our vulnerabilities is right after we scored. I paced my technical area nervously as the players re-assembled for the restart.

    The Millers passed the ball around a bit then eventually brought the ball into our half. Scotland and Edwards worked their way down the right flank (our left) and eventually Scotland crossed in towards McLean. Like the previous attack, McLean was the only one in the box. I didn't catch who headed it clear, but Tomlinson hoofed it forward to where he guessed Smith would be.

    He guessed correctly. Smith won the header and flicked into space where Loveridge could run onto it. Short, and also slow-footed, Sweeney ran over to cover. I'm not sure why Loverboy didn't just blast past him, but he let Sweeney sheperd him out to the right. Eventually, once everybody else had gotten upfield, he passed back to Cam.

    Cam saw Danny Boy free across the top of the box and whistled a pass over. Danny dribbled around an advancing defender but shot directly at the goalkeeper from 22 or so yards out.

    In the 31st minute I was screaming at the ref and berating the fourth official. Smith had turned Sweeney, was about to shoot when Sweeney took out his planting foot. He fell over backwards.

    I'm noticing a trend in English football. The ref doesn't see much and the fourth official couldn't care less about the rules of the game aside from those dealing with the technical areas from which the managers are not supposed to stray.

    In the 37th minute, Nole had the ball out near the corner flag. He feinted one way then another waiting for the defender to bit on feint. He didn't. So he poked it into the path of Fenlon. Fens stormed into the penalty box and drew to defenders. Somehow he managed to slip a little 5 yard pass to Danny Boy who blasted a shot past the keeper.

    2-0

    This is exactly what I wanted to see. We looked dangerous every time we attacked and were playing mistake free football at the back.

    But not for long.

    The Millers brought the ball into our half from the restart. Scotland was the creator again. He slid a pass into space behind Fenlon. Fens was ball-watching and Edwards was in on goal. Dunn came charging out and tipped the shot outside the post and into the side netting.

    Our first mistake of the match and, thankfully, Dunn had bailed Fens out.

    I'm not sure who won the corner, but Nole was first to the clearance with acres of space ahead of him. Rather than run the full 70 yards again, he took a couple of touches and passed up to Loveridge. Loverboy held up the play and fed a pass out to the left flank where Fenlon was streaking upfield. Fens played a pass back into Loverboy's path.

    Loveridge then tried a ball over the top for Smith to run onto. Yep. That's right another Hollywood pass. Straight to the goalie. Sweeney may be slow, but Smith isn't all that quick. We're working on his first step, but it's not quicker, yet.

    I went over to the ref after he blew halftime whistle.

    "I just want to say I'm not happy that Smith got fouled twice in the box but you didn't call either," I said calmly.

    "I saw both tackles," Referee Kevin Stroud said. "Sweeney got the ball both times."

    "But Smith fell over backwards on that second one," I said. "And the ball didn't change direction or speed up either time."

    "You're up two-nil," the fourth official replied. "Quit whingeing."

    What the **** does whinge mean? Complain?

    I told the players that I was pleased with how they were playing then sent them back out.

    When Mark Tomlinson has the ball and gets nervous, he hoofs it forward to a safe spot. For the most part, he'd made the simple pass in the first half which is exactly what I want him to do. But a couple minutes into the second he felt pressured and hoofed a ball for the right corner flag. I guess this is better than giving it away in our half.

    Smith lumbered after it. He beat the Rotherham defenders to it (which isn't saying much), saved the ball from going out, ran back onto the pitch and crossed for Loveridge. The ball sliced and looked like it might be going in. Instead it hit the crossbar and bounced out for a throw on the far side.

    Not long after that, Tomlinson played a ball up to Loverboy. Edwards came with him as he ran diagonally across the pitch toward the right corner. Smith was moving into the gap Edwards left and Francomb was lurking in the left back's blind spot. When the left back glanced to see where Francomb was, Loveridge played the pass into the space behind him right as he started turning his head back. Francomb was also watching the left back and pounced at that same instant.

    He shot low far side. The keeper did a great job getting down to get a hand to the shot, but George had hit it with enough power that he only managed to deflect it into the middle of the net.

    3-0

    Not the best goalkeeping, I must say.

    49 minutes into the match and the Millers were toast. They went through the motions, but we the match was over.

    Dummigan collided with McLean in the 55th minute and was trying to run it off. I decided he'd had enough. I sent on Pat Baldwin who needed some minutes anyway.

    "Great job out there," I said to him as he came off.

    "Thanks, boss," he said.

    Several players were looking tired as we passed 65 minutes, so I had Gregory, Pepper, Johnson and Redshaw all start warming up. Now I just needed a stoppage.

    I got one in the 68th minute. The best kind, too.

    Captain Andy won a header and straight to Danny. Danny spun and passed up to Loveridge. Smith was lurking on the outside shoulder of Sweeney so Loveridge had Edwards at his mercy. He turned him one way then another and raced past him.

    He curled his shot past the hapless goalkeeper from 15 yards.

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    I decided that Danny Boy and Nole looked the worst for wear. Smith was obviously tired, but he's a bit of a warhorse and Tomlinson was still bossing the midfield despite looking tired. Also, I needed Pepper and Johnson to get some minutes. Redshaw would have to wait for his debut.

    They got a consolation goal when we let down our guard and Loverboy whistled a shot past the left post in the 92nd minute. He was literally inches away from a well-deserved hat trick.

    "Well done, guys, well done," I said once we'd made our way back into our room. "We looked dangerous every time we went into their half. It could have been worse for them if the ref had called those two penalties when Smith got chopped down. Furthermore, our mistakes were minimal. I'm very pleased with how you played. You implemented all the things we coaches asked."

    "I'll see you all tomorrow at 3PM for a light jog and to work on a few tactical things," I continued. "Whitney will be in early for anyone who needs a massage. Once again, great response to last week's loss."
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ID:	507563Not a bad start to the season, if I say so myself.

    I'll take 2 points off the top after 5 matches.

    My players have already shown some resilience after getting destroyed by Scunthorpe.

    We play Torquay who are above us in the table on goal difference.

    The two after that are Barnet then Northampton. They aren't playing well right now.

    The Alfa Romeo is purring through the streets of southwest London.

    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 23/02/2014 at 05:27 AM.
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  28. Nice story, man! ^_^

    Btw, I'm curious, how do you get the text next to the image? I've been trying to do that, but not exactly successful..


    NVM, figured it out, but anyhow;; Nice story, man xD I like the slightly laid back, and sorta cynical way in which it is told;;
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  29. WOMBLEblog.co.uk
    That's more like it

    Duff
    30 August 2014 18:14

    What a response! The lads responded to last week's thrashing at Scunthorpe United by doing the same thing to Rotherham United. 4-1 flattered the Millers. Manager Pucci made several changes to the side after last week's horror show. Hazell was suspended and Steven Gregory was banished to the bench.

    I was shocked to read in the match programme that teenager Mark Tomlinson would partner teenager Daniel Barlaser. But all credit to Pucci for giving the lad's a chance. They completely controlled the middle all match long.

    And it was glorious to see our newest Italian running rampant down the left flank. Rotherham had no answer. Pucci's Italian connections have really delivered a gem to Kingsmeadow. No team in this division will be able to cope with his deadly mix of pace and skill.

    While some (I'm looking at you, Thrash) might chide me for not mentioning James Loveridge until the 4th paragraph, he did what was expected of him as the point of the sword. He benefited from hideous defending that provided him with his first chance, but he did well to bury it.

    Suddenly, our defense looks solid. Another teenager, Cameron Dummigan, made several important contributions.

    There are two more I must mention.

    Michael Smith should have won two penalties. How the ref didn't call them we'll never know. In addition, he won headers, held up the ball well and threw his weight around all afternoon. No, he didn't get on the scoresheet, but we didn't need him to.

    And Chris Dunn stood tall the few times he was called on in the first half before we'd put the match to bed.

    Whatever Pucci did between last week and this was magic as the team we saw today resembled the team from last week not one jot.

  30. Quote Originally Posted by Sherkey View Post
    Nice story, man! ^_^

    Btw, I'm curious, how do you get the text next to the image? I've been trying to do that, but not exactly successful..


    NVM, figured it out, but anyhow;; Nice story, man xD I like the slightly laid back, and sorta cynical way in which it is told;;
    Thanks very much. Glad you like the characters.

  31. "Alright, tomorrow is September 1st and it's the transfer deadline," I said to the players in the locker room at New Malden after training. "Now last February 1st, John our comm guy had some fun with the team's twitter account. Gained the club some nice press."

    "First off, I don't have any business to do tomorrow," I added. "Loaning Charlie and signing Jack was my last bit of business."

    "What I'm proposing is to have some fun with the media tomorrow," I continued. "They're all desperately looking for any signs of clubs doing business so they can be the ones who break the news. Let's turn Deadline Day into our own little version of April Fool's."
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  32. Attachment 508229Enrico Pucci @enricopucci - 1 Sep
    Wow. My 1st Deadline Day w/ @AFCWimbledon. So Excited.
    Will bring you all the #Wimbledon news live. #DD14
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  33. Attachment 508229Enrico Pucci @enricopucci - 1 Sep
    @WorcesterCFC want Daniel Barlaser on loan for 3 mths. Hello?
    He's been starting for me. No deal. #Wimbledon #DD14
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  34. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
Views: 525
Size:  4.8 KBEnrico Pucci @enricopucci - 1 Sep
    1st I've heard of it RT @GeorgeFrancomb ManCity told me they were
    going to buy me for 5M. #Wimbledon #DD14 #4realz
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  35. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
Views: 518
Size:  4.8 KBEnrico Pucci @enricopucci - 1 Sep
    Ouch RT @AndyFrampton Overpaying RT @GeorgeFrancomb ManCity told me they were
    going to buy me for 5M. #Wimbledon #DD14 #4realz
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  36. Name:  Reuben-Hazell-twitter.png
Views: 535
Size:  6.3 KBReuben Hazell @reubenhazell - 1 Sep
    I see a car approaching New Malden. New signing? #Wimbledon #DD14
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  37. Name:  AndyFrampton-twitter.png
Views: 528
Size:  7.4 KBAndy Frampton @andyframpton - 1 Sep
    It's ur Mum RT @reubenhazell I see a car approaching New Malden. New
    signing? #Wimbledon #DD14
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 23/02/2014 at 08:46 PM.
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  38. Name:  Michael-Smith-twitter.png
Views: 528
Size:  9.1 KBMichael Smith @michaelsmith11 - 1 Sep
    #facepalm neighbor lady back from shops RT @reubenhazell I see a car
    approaching New Malden. New signing? #Wimbledon #DD14
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  39. Attachment 508350Enrico Pucci @enricopucci - 1 Sep
    Loaned Chris Arthur to @AldershotTown for season. #Wimbledon #DD14
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  40. Seriously, why would I want to loan my starting midfield playmaker. Hello? Pay attention, Worcester.

    Attachment 508358
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  41. Name:  Colin-Massey-BBC-twitter.png
Views: 588
Size:  3.6 KBColin Massey @cmasseybbc - 1 Sep
    @AFCWimbledon manager @enricopucci cagey with media about Patrick Reece's
    future. bbc.in/8g3jmSx #BBCfootball #DD14
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  42. Attachment 508588Enrico Pucci @enricopucci - 1 Sep
    Hey @cmasseybbc why r u asking about a teenager in my U18s when Mancity
    offered 5M for @georgefrancomb? twi.tr/3jJK30Ka #Wimbledon #DD14
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 23/02/2014 at 11:32 PM.
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  43. Attachment 508588Enrico Pucci @enricopucci - 1 Sep
    Congrats to @JamesLoveridge. Won August's young player of month and
    3rd in League2's goal of month. #Wimbledon #DD14
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  44. Name:  AndyFrampton-twitter.png
Views: 594
Size:  7.4 KBAndy Frampton @andyframpton - 2 Sep
    Has sad RT @georgefrancomb Mancity never came thru w bid for me. Would
    have been glad to sit on bench for 100k/wk. #Wimbledon #DD14 #4realz
    dainis and Nurquidi98 like this.

  45. Name:  Michael-Smith-twitter.png
Views: 590
Size:  9.1 KBMichael Smith @michaelsmith11 - 2 Sep
    How mullered were u yesterday? MT @georgefrancomb Mancity never came
    thru w bid for me. #Wimbledon #DD14 #4realz
    Barraza, dainis and Nurquidi98 like this.

  46. Name:  Enrico-twitter.png
Views: 592
Size:  4.8 KBEnrico Pucci @enricopucci - 2 Sep
    Congrats! @danielbarlaser @kristhackray @jamesloveridge all in League2
    Team of the Week. #Wimbledon
    dainis and Nurquidi98 like this.

  47. Friendly: AFC Wimbledon v. Canvey Island

    Click image for larger version

Name:	2014-02-23 08.39.15 pm.png
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Size:	93.3 KB
ID:	508729Tuesday, 2 September 2014

    I scheduled a friendly for Tuesday so my second string players could play 90 minutes against the semi-pros from Canvey Island.

    GK: Daniel Lincoln
    D: Patrick Reese (U18), Reuben Hazell, Ben Harrison (U18), Kiel Goodwin (U18)
    M: Fabian Rowe (U18), Steven Gregory, Adam Pepper, Simon Johnson
    F: Jack Midson, Jack Redshaw

    Boy howdy it didn't go well. Redshaw had a handful of decent to good chances, but was rusty. Midson was a smidge better but not terribly convincing. While I admit that my backline was young and inexperienced, we should have been able to outgun the Islanders.

    Hazell, Gregory, Pepper, Johnson and Redshaw need to show me they are more than just backups. I'm particularly disappointed with Pepper as he's the only player I paid money for.
    AndySams10, dainis and Nurquidi98 like this.

  48. Friday, 5 Sep 2014

    "We did the shoot today," Gwen said as she sat down in the Alfa.

    "Shoot? What? Oh! Right. With John, how'd it go?" I fumbled.

    "Well, quite well," she replied. "I think he might be good. We did three different locations. In Hampton Court, next to an abandoned warehouse and in a studio. That warehouse was a decrepit old pile, filthy but might just produce some really, really interesting shots."

    "Wow, busy day then, eh? Wait, but what about the rain?"

    "We were shooting at the warehouse when it was clouding up and just as it was dripping a wee bit before it got all biblical."

    "Okay, I've got to say I have no idea what goes into a photo shoot," I said. "Don't you have lighting and stuff?"

    "Well, when it was sunny, we didn't," she replied. "At the warehouse as it got darker, we did on some but not on others. I'm really interested to see how they all turn out."

    "Don't you change clothes a lot?" I asked. "How'd you manage that?"

    "We had a pop tent in the park and a van at the warehouse," she replied.

    "Yeah, that would work I suppose," I asked. "Um, by the way, where are we going?"

    "Gillingham more or less," she said. "I have a friend there I haven't seen in ages and we've both got new boys. So head straight two blocks and take a left. It's a little over an hour."
    Last edited by Enrico Pucci; 26/02/2014 at 03:18 AM.

  49. League Two: AFC Wimbledon v. Torquay United FC

    I'll be honest. I'm worried about Torquay. They're having a good start to the season, too. They're a place above us because of goal difference. I'm relying on two teenagers to boss the midfield and my ace right back, the teenager Cameron Dummigan, is away on international duty with the Northern Ireland U19s. So Reuben Hazell is back in the side, but I'm playing him at right back.

    Lil is not impressed with the Gull's forwards. He assured me that their defense was slow. Regardless, I was feeling nervous about playing an attacking 442. But then I decided that it was either all in or go home. So here's my brave line-up:

    GK: Chris Dunn
    D: Reuben Hazell, Kris Thackray, Andy Frampton, James Fenlon
    M: George Francomb, Mark Tomlinson, Daniel Barlaser, Matteo Nole
    F: James Loveridge, Michael Smith

    Subs: Daniel Lincoln (GK), Steven Gregory (M), Adam Pepper (M), Harry Pell (M), Simon Johnson (M), Jack Midson (F), Jack Redshaw (F)

    Also, I don't have any of my U18 players available because they played last evening. In other words, I don't have Ben Harrison as a reserve defender.

    "Last week, we played our game," I said to begin my team talk. "We executed well, concentrated until the game was in the bag. If we play our game, we'll win today, too. I have faith that you defenders can concentrate for the whole ninety. I have faith that you midfielders will control the tempo and play the game our way. James and Mike, we're going to get you the ball, their defense is slow and you guys do the business. Right?"

    "Okay, they've pulled a surprise move," I continued. "Their team sheet only has one striker. And he's Tom Hitchcock. Lil's scouting report on him is he's really soft. So he's the only one who gets the special sauce, today. Got it?"

    The game started out cautiously. We traded possession in the midfield until Francomb played a pass to Smith who'd come back towards the midfield to get a touch. He one-touched it to Danny Boy. Danny played it right back into his path as he ran forward. Gulls' defender Aaron Downes stepped up to intercept the pass but Smith did a magic trick. The trick is called the extendo-leg. Somehow, Smith reached out and poked the ball between Downes legs just as Downes reached the ball.

    Smith now had time to line up his shot and beat the surprised keeper from 16 yards. Downes was in shock, too.

    1-0 I looked up at the clock. 7 minutes in. Nice. But would we revert to our earlier, bad ways and give up a goal right away?

    Nope.

    Now, Torquay brought the ball down into our end, but couldn't get past our double ranks of four. When they won a corner, we cleared easily.

    Their momentum didn't last long and we set into a period of exchanging the ball in the midfield. Quite boring football, I must say. But what the heck, they weren't getting near our goal and we had the lead. This pattern of play kept up for the remainder of the first half.

    In the locker room I told them they were playing well, but could do much better. I urged them to keep the ball moving with short, crisp passes. "Make them chase the ball," I urged them.

    It paid dividends soon after we kicked off. We camped in their half and moved the ball back and forth across the top of the box, exploring for opening on the flanks. Hazell (playing RB) played across to Danny Boy who one-timed a pass to Tomlinson. Tomlinson unleashed a tomahawk missile of a shot which the keeper just watched bulge the net. An absolute screamer from 25 yards. His first ever goal and what a memorable one.

    2-0

    No, wait! Referee Whitestone was giving the Gulls a free kick. The cheering turned to whistles and boos. Smith, Loveridge, Francomb and Hazell all gathered around the ref asking what the foul was for. The ref said something that I couldn't hear.

    1-0

    "What the hell was that for?" I yelled to the fourth official over the din.

    "A push," he replied.

    "What push and who did it?"

    "I couldn't catch who over your players' whingeing," he replied.

    I continued to try and get clarification on what the ref called when I glanced at the pitch and noticed the Francomb was writhing on the pitch.

    "What just happened?" I asked the bench. "I wasn't looking?"

    "Their left back pole-axed him," Hanks replied.

    "Let me guess," I said to the fourth official over the whistling and booing that had resumed. "That wasn't a foul."

    "You weren't watching."

    "But they were and so were the fans," I said pointing to my bench first and the crowd second.

    Surprisingly, he didn't reply. Typical. We kicked it out for a throw so Francomb could receive some magic sponge and freezy spray.

    "Simon, warm up," I said. George was trying to walk off the knock but he wasn't moving well.

    In the 50th minute, it was obvious Francombe needed to come off. I just needed a pause. I didn't get one until the 55th. Danny played a high ball up to Smith. He leapt and flicked it behind the defense and into the path of Loveridge. Loverboy raced onto the ball, lined up his shot and curled it just wide of the far right post.

    And then I got to swap Francomb for Johnson.

    64 minutes in and Torquay yanked the ineffectual Hitchcock and replaced him with the less talented Sam Williams. Lil had told me not to worry about him if they brought him on.

    In the 70th minute, James Fenlon tumbled over a rough challenge about 26-28 yards out to the left of goal. The ref blew for the foul. Normally, Francomb took our free kicks, but since he was out, Simon Johnson trotted over.

    Francomb, Loveridge, Smith and Thackeray all lined up for a far post special as Simon fiddled with the ball placement until he had it where he liked it.

    Johnson didn't deliver a far post curler. Instead he curled a looping, dipping shot that hit the inside of the left post and went in!

    2-0

    If the Gulls had been posing any threat, I would have considered pulling either striker for an extra midfielder, but they'd been unable to take advantage of their extra numbers in midfield all match.

    And the trend continued.

    In the 74th minute, Tomlinson nicked the ball off of Torquay and fed Barlaser. He played a ball up to Smith. Smith turned and began lumbered at his defender. Downes had been cautious since the extendo-leg trick and gave Michael plenty of space.

    Now Loveridge did something rather odd. Instead of running across to draw away the defender or running out left to pull his defender away. He ran up ahead as if he expected to receive the pass. In other words, you could have thrown a blanket over both our strikers.

    Click image for larger version

Name:	2014-02-24 10.49.23 pm.png
Views:	614
Size:	331.9 KB
ID:	510294Just as Smith crossed into the box, he feinted left then right. Downes bit on the feint right and froze. Smith simply tapped the ball over to Loverboy as if to say 'there you greedy little *****, you shoot then.' Loveridge did and smashed it past the keeper.

    3-0

    Vini. Vidi. Vici.

    Go home Torquay, you're toast.

    I made some substitutions. Pepper for Barlaser. Gregory in at left back as Fenlon looked gassed.

  50. I hope you continue this story as it is the best on FM Base by a country mile! Its a shame you do not get as much feedback as other story writers on this forum! But I love this story and long may it continue. Keep up the great work!
    AndySams10, Barraza and Nurquidi98 like this.

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