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O Menino do Brasil

  1. O Menino do Brasil

    9th of December, 2013.

    As the train came to a stop, I gathered my belongings and headed for the door. Stepping out onto the platform, I was immediately hit with a gust of wind; I'd been warned, quite firmly, by friends and colleagues that the weather was something I'd have to adjust to. Having looked at the team's league position, however, I doubt the weather was going to be my biggest challenge. The tannoy immediately sprung into action; barely audible: "The 10:41 East Midlands train service from London St Pancras has arrived at platform 2b." I glanced down at my watch - I suppose 6 minutes late isn't too bad.

    Whilst the other arrivals whizzed off to meet loved ones or carry on their journey, I took a moment to ponder. In my younger, less knowledgeable days, my grandfather had offered just 10 words of advice: "For eternal happiness, always choose your heart over your head." He was an intelligent man; a man that displayed a form of direction when the guidance I received from my parents was limited. The advice he offered was very reserved; precise, yet meaningful. I hadn't seen my grandfather in a number of years, but I was confident he'd understand my reasoning for what I was doing. I hoped that some time in the future, whether it be soon or far away, that I could tell him of the great things I've done - the great things he led me to do. Of course, for now, it was a mere ambition - a dream, if you like.

    My self reflection was soon cut short.

    "Excuse me, are you Mr T Ricci?" I turned to see a butch man, around the same height as me.

    "Yes, that's me," I replied, "how did you guess?"

    "Not many blokes around here wear suits," he said, "not nowadays, anyhow."

    "Is it always this cold?" I asked.

    "Aye," he chuckled, "you're in luck it's not raining. Give it a couple of minutes and that suit of yours will be ruined. I'm Ian, by the way."

    We took a short walk to his private taxi and I climbed into the back, checking my phone for a message I didn't have. After 15 or so minutes, the rain began and I smiled to myself in reference of his joke at the train station. He interrupted the silence.

    "So what you doing up here, then?" he asked, "we don't get many of these jobs any more."

    "What do you mean by 'these jobs'?" I quizzed.

    "You know, men in suits going to the stadium," he replied, "I'm a fan myself and even I'm surprised to see someone dressed as good as you coming up here. Unless you've come to bleed us of more cash." He sniggered.

    "My suit means nothing more than your uniform, Ian, and that isn't on my list of things to do."

    We arrived at the stadium; Ian opened my door before I climbed out and looked up at the great structure in front of me. Luckily, the rain had stopped - giving me time to take in my surroundings. I felt for my wallet.

    "Thanks for the ride, how much was it?" I smiled.

    "All expenses are covered by the club, Mr Ricci," he replied, "and I'll be picking you up once you're finished whatever business you have with my beloved. Treat her well." He smirked.

    We shook hands and shared a laugh; I went on my way into the main reception with a rise smile to sign away the next few months of my life.
    AndySams10, Hector89 and alokated like this.

  2. Great stuff mate. Nice OP, will be following with interest!
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  3. 9th of December, 2013

    In the entirety of my life, I've not once felt pressure. You may misunderstand and think that's because I'm an egoistic or self-centered man; believing I'm above all else. But to have such a mindset; you would be hugely mistaken. For, you see, one's younger years, one's more vulnerable years, can so often help shape a man - one way or another. Whether you agree is personal opinion - but I'm yet to find a man, or woman for that matter, than can disagree and proceed to diminish the value of a parent's stress; the perpetual concern that any mother or father is prone to.

    Take that comfort - luxury, for lack of a better word - away from a child, and you end up with a mysterious character; you see. A character with dreams and ambitions, just like that of the next man, but also a character with an altered thought process; an altered perspective leading to an altered lifestyle - continued so on, and so forth. Pressure is commonly felt under the weight of expectation; but where does expectation stem from: society? Family? Friends? A confused beginning leads to one struggling to form substantial relationships - therefore, then, expectation doesn't have a place to stem from; meaning pressure doesn't exist.

    Despite this, something was different. Something had changed. Today.

    I walked out into the room with a beaming smile. The place was packed; journalists were scrambling for space whilst public relations officials were having to force back over-eager journalists. The scratching of scribbling pens came to an abrupt stop as I took a seat - before any words were spoken I took a mouthful of water.

    A single bead of sweat drifted down my forehead. The public examination was about to begin.

    "At the age of just 29-years-old, surely you represent a huge gamble from the Sheffield Wednesday board?" Asked one of the gathered journalists.

    "Sure," I responded, "I can't disagree. Replacing an experienced manager like Dave Jones is going to be a huge task; but the club have decided to go down a different route and I offer something different from the other candidates."

    "By different, do you mean inexperienced? Candidates for the job included Ian Holloway, Paul Ince and Neil Warnock who all have experience at this level whereas this is your first managerial post," he continued, "during my research, in fact, I found you've done very little of substance in the footballing world."

    "You're obviously not all that good at your research, then, my friend," I replied, "coaching at top clubs like Fluminense and Tottenham isn't an easy job. I may have no first-team managerial experience, but I have lots of experience with top quality players. You seem to focus much of your criticism around the fact that these other experienced managers have been overlooked; but would they necessarily have been a success here?" I continued, "Obviously we don't know the answer to that, but many managers nowadays seem to get jobs through experience - regardless of whether they've been successful or not; so I think that's something you should consider."

    "From what we've been told, you're part Brazilian and part Italian; will this not hinder your attempts to make an edgeways into English football if you're not British?" Asked another.

    "Judging my managerial ability on my nationality is utter nonsense," I blasted back, "I've worked at Tottenham Hotspur for a number of years and I think your attempt at criticism is pathetic. Besides, are you so narrow minded to believe every good coach is English? There are more foreign managers in the Premier League than there are Englishman; so the mindset you've just portrayed is shameful," I said, "aside from the inevitable criticism which is going to be directed at me; are there any more questions related to football?"

    "Yes, gentleman, please keep your questions on topic." Interrupted the press officer.

    "To land your first managerial job at a club of such stature; you must have a good relationship with the Chairman - would you say that's correct?

    "Yes, myself and Mr Mandaric have shared a good understanding since the first time we spoke in London several months ago," I said, "when Dave Jones was relieved of his duties, Mr Mandaric contacted me and it didn't take long before we agreed on terms."

    "You've signed on an initial short-term contract until the end of the season; do you expect to stay at the club after that period?" Asked a tall, clean-shaven man.

    "It's not something I've discussed with the club yet - I've come in with the aim of improving the clubs league position as we currently languish in 20th place; flirting with relegation. Whether I stay beyond my contract," I continued, "is something we'll review in the summer, at the seasons end."

    The rest of the press conference went well. I knew on acceptance of the job that I'd be highly ridiculed so it's to be expected. For now, and the foreseeable future - until results pick up, at least. I meet the players tomorrow for the first time; attempting to discipline some of the lads 3 or 4 years my elder is certainly going to be interesting.

    I've contacted one of my old friends from Fluminense in hope he'll join me as assistant. He's a good man.
    AndySams10 and alokated like this.

  4. Another well detailed update mate. Have a feeling this will get a lot of interest. I definately can't wait for the next instalment.
    DTodd and ZeCarlos like this.

  5. Quote Originally Posted by Streaky25 View Post
    Another well detailed update mate. Have a feeling this will get a lot of interest. I definately can't wait for the next instalment.
    Thanks for your comment mate - it's appreciated. Hopefully can get some interest going over the next few days!

  6. Always loved your stories but am usually a silent reader don't really like eh flood the thread but keep up the good work:d should start writing a novel
    AndySams10 and ZeCarlos like this.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by DTodd View Post
    Always loved your stories but am usually a silent reader don't really like eh flood the thread but keep up the good work:d should start writing a novel
    Thank you! It means a lot to me knowing people are interested
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  8. Quote Originally Posted by ZeCarlos View Post
    Thank you! It means a lot to me knowing people are interested
    Knew people would be interested mate, keep up the fantastic work and looking forward to lots more updates.
    DTodd and ZeCarlos like this.

  9. 10th of December, 2013

    I was awoken by the pounding of rain on my window. 05:51.

    Ian wasn't due to pick me up until around half 7; however, after natures early wake up call, I decided I'd be best served to begin preparation. For today wasn't about making friends, nor enemies for that matter; today was about making an impression - a lasting one, at that. Milan Mandaric had paid for my nights stay in a hotel in the centre of Sheffield and had vowed to continue doing so until I found a permanent place of residence. Even then, he'd promised to pay rent. His attitude had impressed me; his desire to get the best for the club was applaudable.

    After my early awakening, I showered and dressed. Smart shoes and trousers were accompanied by a plain white shirt and black tie. Simplistic. I looked in the mirror; 5'11" of pure Brazilian style or of stinking failure, I wondered. The way I approached business over the new few years, months even, would quickly determine one or the other. I slid my hotel room key into my pocket as I headed for breakfast; picking up a newspaper, The Sheffield Telegraph, on my way. I wasn't particularly hungry; opting for a plethora of fruit and a small coffee over a full breakfast. I sat at a table for four, alone, and unfolded the newspaper; flipping to the back page: "UNKNOWN RICCI TAKES CHARGE." I smiled to myself as I came to the realisation I wouldn't get a minutes rest for the foreseeable future. Delving further into the article, it hit me that these critics had just two arguments: my nationality and my inexperience. Neither of those could be changed, for now, so it's best if I keep my head down and let the team do the talking on the pitch. The article read: "Inexperienced manager Thiago Ricci takes charge of Sheffield Wednesday with the club languishing in 20th place. With a game coming up against 3rd placed Watford, Ricci sure has a fight on his hands to improve the teams position. With little experience (just minor coaching roles at Fluminense and Tottenham), it's hard to see why Milan Mandaric appointed Ricci and in my honest opinion, the appointment stinks of desperation for the club. The fans should be completely outraged; Mandaric continues to disrespect them whilst dragging the club down the Championship table." The rest of the article continued to spiral into complete nonsense. I hope the fans are brave enough to see through this utter dross spouted by the media.

    After a relaxed morning, Ian arrived right on time. I'd waited in the reception for 5 or 10 minutes; eager to get to the training ground. The rain was still lashing down.

    "Morning," said Ian; he was dressed smarter than yesterday, "sleep well?"

    "Sure," I replied, "it's been okay. How are you?" I asked.

    "I'm fine, but we've got a lot to talk about in the car," he said, "you don't half spring a surprise." He smiled.

    I took a seat in the back of the car as he had a short conversation with the receptionist. Within a moment or two, he'd returned.

    "So," he started, "you're the gaffer. Could've told me that yesterday." He smiled again.

    "Don't blame me," I chuckled back, "I wasn't allowed - confidential and all that, you see? Bet you didn't expect to see me on your TV last night, though."

    "No," he pulled away from the hotel, "definitely not. You've got a lot of explaining to do." We both laughed.

    It took us about 20 minutes to get to the training ground; we chatted about the club - it's history, mainly. Ian told me a lot of fans were sceptical but way more positive than the media made out. He assured me that fans had a short memory; and if I could string a result or two together, my inexperience would soon be forgotten and I'd be the hero. When we arrived, he offered me a card with his number on; told me to call him if I ever needed anything, or even to catch a drink and talk. I gladly accepted - Ian was a reasonable guy.

    As I walked into the main reception, Milan Mandaric was waiting with a smile. We shook hands, the first hand shake of many to come today, and shared small talk for a couple of minutes. I was told training started at 10:00 today, so I had roughly two hours to become familiar with the place. Apparently all the staff, aside from the assistant manager, had stayed with the club from the previous regime and I was able to sack/hire at will (within reason, of course.) All of the staff seemed fairly helpful and, for now, would keep their jobs. First-team coach Stuart Gray was particularly helpful; showing me who's who. He also gave a little tour of the facilities and showed me to my office.

    As I took a seat, the phone rang.

    "Hi," I answered, "it's Thiago; who is this?"

    "Hi Mr Ricci, I'm Paul Smith," answered the voice, "Head Physio at the club."

    "Oh," I chuckled, "hi Paul, excuse my ignorance."

    "Not to worry," he replied with a laugh, "I have no doubts we'll catch up at some point today, but I wanted to call you first thing with a matter of urgency; first-team goalkeeper Chris Kirkland is out injured with around a month still left on his recovery time," he continued, "and whilst we do have two understudies; both are arguably not ready for the Championship. I thought I'd call and at least make you aware in case you wanted to try and get something sorted out immediately."

    "Oh, that's not great news at all," I replied, "but thanks for letting me know, Paul. I'll have a look at our options and then make a decision. No need to call me Mr Ricci, either," I continued, "just call me Thiago." I chuckled.

    "Not a problem Thiago," he said, "I'll catch you later."

    At around 09:30, I headed to the changing rooms in anticipation of the first-team. Sure enough, they began to filter in one by one; I had a small chat with each player before telling them to head to the cafeteria for a club meeting. After a matter of minutes, all staff and players were present.

    I stood up.

    "I'm not much of a public speaker," I said, "so I'll not go on for too long. I'm sure you all know who I am by now and you know why I'm here," I continued, "performances and results, especially, haven't been what's expected and for that the previous manager has gone. I wouldn't have taken the job had I not believed you lads could improve. The battle starts in four days time against Watford. I'm not going to set expectations for you and say 'reach this' or 'reach that'; we'll take each game at a time and if we manage to put some results together then that's great."

    I looked across the room; the majority of the lads had a smile on their face.

    "Myself and the staff will work you hard and push you to your limits - but it's not all pain. We're here to have fun and enjoy it, too," I said, "every single one of you will have a chance to prove yourself under me and I'm looking forward to working with you. Your attitude is key in this process - I'm looking for hard workers, leaders and motivators. If anybody in this team doesn't pull their weight, there will be consequences. I'll catch you all later for individual discussions but for now, is there any questions?" I asked.

    A sea of shaking heads responded.

    "Okay then, I take it you're all up for the challenge so get yourselves changed and meet me on the training pitch in 15." I said.

    As the players headed to the changing rooms, my mobile rang. It was my friend from Fluminense.

    "I'm at the airport now," he said, "I'm catching the next flight and I start tomorrow. Contracts agreed."

    "Great," I replied, "thanks a lot, Lio. Catch you soon."

    Helio Figueiredo, nickname Lio; my new assistant manager.
    AndySams10 likes this.

  10. Superb update mate and very good descriptive writing. Keep it up.
    ZeCarlos likes this.

  11. 14th of December, 2013

    My first game.

    Much of the day was a blur - just a vague memory. We had made the trip down to Watford, on the outskirts of London. Long queue's meant it took us almost 3 and a half hours to make the journey; I was far from impressed despite it being out of our control.

    Half of Vicarage Road looked more like a construction site; not a football stadium. Nevertheless, there was no doubting Watford's quality on the pitch. They were sitting in 3rd place - if they won today they could go 2nd and into the automatic promotion place whilst we struggled down in 20th with the possibility of dropping into the relegation zone. It's a scenario which had been on my mind over the past couple of days; it'd be a disaster in terms of the media circus we'd have surrounding the club. Myself, the staff and the players were all going to do our best to get out of this mess.

    In the four days I had with the players before the game, they trained well. Really well. I was actually surprised; a team of this quality shouldn't be in 20th position. Australian goalkeeper Matthew Ryan earned international clearance just hours before the game. He'd joined on a three month loan deal from Belgian side Club Brugge.

    It was a dry day. In fact, for the first time since joining Sheffield Wednesday, it hadn't rained all day. It was pretty cold; but it shouldn't be too much of a worry. We're used to worse. After arriving at the stadium, I gave the players initial freedom; they had an hour in which they could do what they wanted - go out onto the pitch or sit in the dressing room and further discuss tactics with the staff. After that hour, we had a half-hour period where I wanted every player out on the pitch; warming up, practising and going through the drills we'd worked on in the build up. To their credit, the players did well. They looked good in the warm-up; eager to get a place in my starting eleven (I hadn't told them any information beforehand.) We returned to the changing rooms with 15 minutes to go before kick-off.

    "Before I announce anything, I'd just like to praise you for your effort and commitment over the past few days," I started, "it's been a tough period for everybody at the club - a period of transition. Everybody, here, sitting in front of me, has been excellent. It's time to get serious, now though lads. We've had four days of hard work and it all culminates today. It's going to be a tough game, but I've got every confidence in you. Matthew Ryan will start in goal today; in front of him will be a back four of Liam, Reda, Anthony and Joe. Just in front of those four will be Kamil; we spoke of the importance of this role in training and you have a big task at hand today. A midfield four will consist of Michail, Rhys, Jose and Jeremy whilst Chris will start up front by himself. It's a massive game today, lads, but it comes down to you."

    Line-up (4-1-4-1):

    Matthew Ryan.
    Liam Palmer, Reda Johnson, Anthony Gardner, Joe Mattock.
    Kamil Zayatte.
    Michail Antonio, Rhys McCabe, Jose Semedo, Jeremy Helan.
    Chris Maguire.

    We walked down the tunnel alongside the Watford team; they had a huge foreign influence - the majority from their Udinese and Granada connections. They were good; very good.

    The match kicked off and we started well; we passed the ball quickly and precisely - pushing Watford high up the pitch.

    In the 25th minute, Reda played a misplaced pass out from the back. Michail, on the right wing, was his intended target but their left back intercepted and lofted it up to Troy Deeney. His looping header caught Anthony out of position as the ball dropped behind him; right into the path of their onrushing striker. Forestieri got into the box and hit it across goal; just out of Matthew's reach. Watford 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday.

    All of our hard work was immediately undone; one lapse of concentration in defence and we were behind. The players' character was certainly under testing now.

    In all fairness, we didn't respond too badly. We continued to dominate possession; passing the ball from left to right and vice versa. Everybody in the team was getting a touch of the ball and looked confident. However, after conceding, everybody looked too scared to take a chance going forward in case we got punished for it. Whilst we dominated the game, much of it was with Watford sitting behind the ball and soaking it up.

    Just minutes before half-time, Jeremy Helan got into a good position down the left hand side. He swung a decent ball into the box; unfortunately a Watford defender was first to react and hammered it down field. The ball flew over Anthony's head, once again, and Forestieri was through. He smashed the ball over the top of the onrushing keeper and doubled their lead. Watford 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday.

    The lads came in at half-time completely drained. We didn't deserve to be behind, yet found ourselves 2-0 down. Anth, particularly, was lacking confidence.

    "Come on lads, you've proved to me and yourselves you're better than this over the past few days. We've played really well and we're a little unfortunate to be 2 down but we still have a chance and I want you to go out and win this. Anth, unfortunately you've suffered twice from a lapse of concentration and been punished both times. You can't afford to be making such mistakes; however, I'm going to stick with you. Instead, when they're on the attack, I want Kamil to drop deeper and pick up Deeney. Reda, you'll mark Forestieri and Anth you're going to have to drop deeper and act as a sweeper. Going forward, we look very dangerous; keep it up and we'll certainly score."

    We immediately looked stronger; the team played with a lot more confidence and style. We still found it hard to break Watford down; but it was better.

    In the 76th minute, we earned a corner. Central midfielder Rhys took it; it was nodded away into the path of Liam (Palmer) and he lofted it back into a dangerous area. Left winger Jeremy Helan volleyed the ball across goal and it hit the back of the net; however, the linesman ruled that Jeremy was offside and we couldn't disagree. There was a clear yard or two.

    Two minutes later, we won a free kick just inside of the Watford half. Kamil took it quickly; laying it off to Semedo who sprayed the ball to our right back Liam. In the intensity of the moment, their left back sprinted out of position to close Palmer down. As he did so, Liam clipped the ball through his legs and into the path of Antonio who - from 9 yards out - slotted across goal and through the keepers legs. Watford 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday.

    In the remaining minutes, we piled on the pressure. Watford dropped deeper and deeper; ending up with 11 men behind the ball at all times. Unfortunately, we didn't quite have enough.

    The referee blew for full-time. Watford 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday.

    I shook the hand of the opposition manager and headed straight for the changing rooms. As the lads filtered in, I had them take a seat.

    "You were unlucky out there today lads," I said, once they'd all appeared, "really unlucky, actually. We deserved at least a point; if not all three. I have a feeling, however, that the club has gotten into a rhythm of always being unlucky. Whilst I can agree with you today, we write it off and move on; there's going to be no feeling sorry for ourselves. We came up against a good team and battled with them from the first whistle until the last; I think there's a lot of positives to take out of today. Unfortunately we didn't get the result but it's something we have to work on... get yourselves dressed and let's get home; we can analyse more from the training ground."

    Once I'd taken a seat on the coach, I checked for the latest league table. We had dropped into the relegation zone.

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  12. Unlucky mate, despite losing, sounds a promising start. I'm sure you'll start to turn it around soon. Good luck.
    ZeCarlos likes this.

  13. Quote Originally Posted by Streaky25 View Post
    Unlucky mate, despite losing, sounds a promising start. I'm sure you'll start to turn it around soon. Good luck.
    Thank you! It was a positive start for the team as they performed really well
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  14. Just want to post a message and apologise for having no update up today. I'll probably struggle to post one until Wednesday/Thursday because I have college exams and that takes priority for now - thank you to anybody that's read so far and hope you understand. I'm looking forward to posting more updates soon
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  15. 17th of December, 2013

    "How much do they want for him?" I asked Lio.

    "275 thousand," he replied, "no more, no less."

    "Get him in," I replied staunchly, "we could at least triple that in a year."

    "You sure?" he questioned, "that's going to be all of our budget for January unless you sell..."

    "I'm pretty sure, Lio. He'll be a class above," I said, "besides, we're not going to find many players for that price. Not improvements, anyhow. How's the search for a Director of Football going?" I quizzed.

    "It's okay at the moment, we have a few applicants; mostly Italians. I'll send over reports of those we have when I get a spare moment." He replied.

    "Thanks, Lio. You've been a big help."
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  16. Great little update mate. Glad to get you back writing again. Look forward to more!
    ZeCarlos likes this.

  17. Sorry to anyone with interest in this story, or my other, but I've got to stop both.

    This morning my drive crashed and with it I've lost everything I had - FM saves and vital college work among other things. I'm working to restore my drive but know that even if I manage to recover it, all of my files are gone. I'm very annoyed right now but wanted to offer an apology to anybody interested.

  18. Sorry to hear that mate, hope you can save your college work, as despite what we think, that is more important than FM.............................just!!
    ZeCarlos likes this.

  19. Quote Originally Posted by AndySams10 View Post
    Sorry to hear that mate, hope you can save your college work, as despite what we think, that is more important than FM.............................just!!
    Thanks mate - sadly I've lost everything. Managed to re-install windows but all of my files are gone! Not good!

  20. Quote Originally Posted by ZeCarlos View Post
    Thanks mate - sadly I've lost everything. Managed to re-install windows but all of my files are gone! Not good!
    Sorry to hear that buddy.

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