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A failed player lands a dream gig!
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  1. A failed player lands a dream gig!

    The following is a fictional account of my life as a Football Manager in Germany. Enjoy!

    Life as a Diplomat's son is anything but stable. By the time I turned 18, we had lived in 10 different places across 7 countries. Only a little over a year of my life was spent within the continental borders of my "home" nation: the USA.

    I should like to think that these experiences in my youth have left me a more well-rounded person: exposure to different cultures and different environments is something that far too many people lack, but not me. The constant change, however, left me feeling like no place was ever really "home", merely a stop on the way to some other destination. Friendships were few and short-lived, romantic interests in my teenage years were limited - the vast world that I was a part of was a lonely place, indeed.

    In the solitude of my youth, I turned to the one thing that was constant to everywhere I lived (other than my family, of course): football. With each new move, I sought out a new opportunity to play football. I think that my many homes made me a more well-rounded football player, too: I learned the defensive-minded Italian game, the possession-oriented Spanish game, the fast and physical English game, and - above all else - the disciplined and efficient German game. Aside from my versatility, I also benefited from moving around so much: as a newcomer to Leagues, I was a bit of a wildcard for most players, and by the time they had me figured out, we were off again to a new adventure.

    I never really stuck around in one place long enough to enter a youth system for a top flight European club, but when I enrolled at the University of Munich, the first thing I did was seek out the football team. As luck would have it, they needed a Striker: and the rest is history. My game flourished at the University, and by the time I was through, I was a much sought-after asset bringing interest from clubs all over Europe.

    Ultimately, I signed with Wolfsburg. As a five-star recruit with a top-notch pedigree, I was to be the future of that squad: a can't miss star. Nothing could possibly go wrong: and then of course, it did.

    Looking back, I suppose my heart was never really into it. Growing up, I had used football as a coping mechanism - I loved the game, sure: but I was really only actually playing the game as an escape from the stresses of an unstable childhood. Once that was over, I found that I was more of a student of the game than an active participant in it. By the time that the 2003-2004 campaign was gearing up, my stock had fallen drastically. As the squad arrived for training, Juergen Roeber pulled me into his office to let me know that I was no longer needed at the club. Having failed to record a single first team appearance, I was just another busted prospect.

    However, I didn't abandon the game that I loved. I found a new calling, as a coach. First, for my Sunday League team, then on a staff role for some unimpressive regional sides. Finally, I broke through as a first-team coach for Union Berlin under Manager Uwe Neuhaus. I was there for the promotion into the 2. Bundesliga, and really enjoyed my time there. After four campaigns in the 2. Bundesliga, I was convinced that I'd be at Berlin forever. It wasn't top notch football, to be sure, but it was a talented team with an enthusiastic fan base. Plus, I loved the city.

    That all changed this past May. As we were winding down the 2012-2013 campaign, 1860 Chairman Gerhard Mayrhofe approached me:

    Gerhard: "David! Greetings, I hope you are well. Looks like we'll both finish up in the top half of the table, do you think that Union Berlin will finish ahead of us?"

    Me: "Mr. Mayrhofe, pleasure as always. Indeed, it looks like we'll both be back in the League next season. I'd put you as slight favorites due to your advantage in goal differential, especially after beating us 3-0 today."

    Gerhard: "Indeed. Listen, David - I was hoping we could talk in confidence."

    Me: "Sure......what's up?"

    Gerhard: "I know we spoke two years ago, and last year for that matter - I was wondering if I could finally convince you to join Die Lowen?"

    Me: "Sir, I'm flattered, really I am. Though I'd say my thoughts haven't changed in that regard. I love Munich: I had some great years there at the University - and spent several weekends watching 1860 play. I'm just not looking for a staff role anywhere else at the moment, I rather like Berlin and believe in what..."

    Gerhard: "David, I'm so sorry to interrupt, but here's the thing: I'm not looking to add a coach."

    Me, confused: "I'm sorry, sir - it's just that just now I thought you said that you'd like me to join as a staff role?"

    Gerhard: "David, I need a new Manager - yet again, I'm afraid..."

    Me: "Sir?"

    Gerhard: "Yes, David - a Manager. We of course have other targets in mind, but I was hoping to add you to the short list - would you be interested?"

    Me: "Of course, sir - it's just - if you don't mind me asking: why me?"

    Gerhard: "First, we need someone who knows this country and this League. We also need someone who has been around a side that's enjoyed some recent consistency at the Manager helm. Further, we'd like someone who has been around a promotion battle. I think, though, that we're most impressed with what you've done with some of the players here - and I know your upbringing has allowed you to know the versatility of this game."

    Me: "Sir? I was never really a headline kind of guy until my University days...."

    Gerhard: "We have researchers, David. In any event - we need to proceed with some caution and avoid meeting here in Munich - can you arrange to get to the Berlin airport after your match next week? Myself and the Board will be in Paderborn following our match there. We'll have a jet waiting for you in Berlin to take you to Paderborn, and will arrange to meet in a non-descript office building quite near Benteler Arena."

    Me: "Absolutely, sir!"

    Gerhard: "David, I must caution you not to get your hopes up - we are looking at several candidates at this time. I do think, though, that even going through the process for a Manager position would be beneficial to your career."

    Me: "Of course, I'm honored to even be considered. I'll look forward to our meeting next week."

    Gerhard: "As will I - take care!"
    Last edited by fmzor; 22/04/2014 at 05:07 AM.
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  2. Gerhard's assistant rang the next morning, instructing me to keep absolutely silent about the discussion next week: Alexander Schmidt knew he was on his way out, and the board was allowing him the dignity of stepping down, but the team didn't want the media coverage to distract from the end of the season.

    I was to proceed to Berlin Tegel Airport after our match on Saturday and catch the flight to Paderborn. My discussion would be one of several that 1860's Board will have over the following two days, but they did want to move quickly: an end-of-season press conference was scheduled at Allianz Arena following 1860's 19.5 finale. At that conference, Schmidt would announce his resignation, and the 1860 Board would promptly introduce his successor: the Germans certainly don't like to mess around.

    In the week that followed my encounter, I worked for Union Berlin by day: helping prepare for the end of the season, attending meetings to discuss the offseason, and getting ready for my end of year review. I didn't expect much of a raise, but felt my immediate future was secure should things not work out with 1860. By night, however, I learned everything that I could about the 1860 squad. I wasn't an advanced scout, but I couldn't succeed as a coach without learning the opposition, so I had a pretty good feel for their First Team squad. What I needed was to learn their second team and their youth system.

    Both, as it turns out, looked quite promising: 1860 II was storming towards a League Championship and a playoff for a possible promotion to 3. Liga. The youth squad at 1860 was always strong, as they were able to piggy back off of their Continental Giant landlords for facility use.

    I'd expect to have a limited transfer budget as a 2. Bundesliga side, but promotion seemed like a reachable goal. The challenge, as always - but especially with this squad - was in staying in the top flight. As we found with Berlin, the poachers tend to take the talent that got you there, and the budgets take some time to catch up to the squad's new status, limiting the ability to sign the type of talent that can keep you there.

    The week flew by, and before I knew it, it was game day. At this stage of the season, the boss would give Sunday and Monday off, so I had time to pop out after the match and attend the meeting. As we wrapped up a fairly straightforward 2-1 victory against Duisburg, I snuck off the sidelines and out of the locker room: certain that I wouldn't be missed.

    The cab to the airport took about 45 minutes as we needed to circumvent the city. I arrived at the charter terminal as the crew was finishing up preparations for the ~320km flight southwest. I climbed aboard and found the bar. Pouring myself a stiff drink and sitting down to contemplate the meeting that I was to have the next morning.

    What 1860 really needed, I'd concluded, wasn't a manager that could get them promoted; rather, they needed one that could keep them there. How did I end up on their shortlist? As Gerhard said, I suppose that you learn from a promotion fight - and only those that had been through one, as I had with Union, could understand those stresses. Further, unlike so many, we were able to keep Berlin in the 2. Bundesliga and avoided a relegation - even finishing comfortably mid-table this season! I suppose I owed Uwe a ton of thanks, too - he's always been one to spread the praise around, and he'd mentioned my name to the press on more than one occasion, crediting me with helping to transform our attack. Still, I thought: many staff coaches had been through a promotion fight. A lower-league Manager, even, seemed like a better fit, as I had no real managerial experience. I concluded that they saw value, as did I, in my youthful exposure to different styles of this beautiful game. Any 2. Bundesliga chump can throw a few tactics out there and survive a relegation: to thrive in the big leagues, you had to be able to switch tactics and mentalities at a moment's notice. That, I could do.

    The pilot let me know that we'd been taking off soon, and I long since decided that I'd use the flight to try to catch some sleep - what good was last-minute preparation if I couldn't think straight during the interview?

    I drifted off to sleep and dreamt, oddly, of skiing in the Alps - or perhaps it was a premonition.
    Last edited by fmzor; 23/04/2014 at 10:30 PM.

  3. It felt like my sleep lasted only 10 minutes - though in reality it was much longer - before the pilot announced our initial descent into Paderborn-Lippstadt Airport. Paderborn wasn't much to see by ground - much less by air at night - but somewhere down there awaited an opportunity that could change my life: I was enthralled.

    We touched down at the tiny airport, and the crew let me deplane before they did. I grabbed my luggage - an overnight bag and a suit bag, really - from the cargo hold and found my driver.

    "Greetings, Mr. Williams," the driver greeted me " congrats on the win today!"

    "Thanks," I replied "we needed that one for sure. How did Die Lowen fare here in Paderborn?"

    "Lost two - nil" he sighed "Volz was sent off in the second half, and Kachunga put them up by 2 some 10 minutes later. We were probably already out of it by then, though."

    I winced - "Tough break - looks like we're tied on points then - though if I've done my math right you're still ahead on goal differential by 5 goals - a win in Munich next week and Die Lowen could wrap up the sixth spot in the table - not bad at all."

    "Somehow," he replied, "I don't think the focus next week will be on our League position."

    I did not reply.

    "This way, please" he said as he took my baggage and lead me to the car.

    It was about 15km from the airport to the hotel, but I wasn't very talkative - the sleepless week had caught up with me, and I was nervous about the interview tomorrow. We arrived at the hotel, and the driver said goodbye, noting he'd be back for me at 8AM sharp for the 5 minute drive to the meeting place.

    A lovely clerk greeted me as I checked into the hotel. I'm pretty sure she was flirting with me, but I was in no mood to notice - I was in the zone and thinking about nothing but football. I entered the room and hung up my suit - after a quick shower and brushing my teeth, I laid down on the bed and fell asleep instantly.

    That night I dreamt that I was 1860's Manager and at a press conference after my first League game, a nil-nil draw. They kept firing questions at me and, as much as I tried, I simply couldn't audibly verbalize the answers. I woke up panicked and in a sweat, but with still 2 hours to go.

    Deciding I couldn't get back to sleep, I got ready and threw on some casual clothes to go and find a coffee shop before the meeting. Finding a suitable location just two blocks from the hotel, I ordered a coffee - black, always black - and sat down at a table with a newspaper. The crowd was sparse, but the gentlemen at the table across from me were talking about yesterday's match - Paderborn fans to be sure.

    "Yes, the lads were simply faultless yesterday - that's 42 points for us now, clear of the Relegation Playoff spot at last - thankfully we'll be back in the 2. Bundesliga next season!"

    And there it was, the dichotomy of middle-league football: I was brought to this town by a board that couldn't stay with a Manager after a sixth place finish, and here right next to me were fans of a team in the very same League - thrilled beyond belief that their squad could finish 12th. There was a lesson in there somewhere, I concluded.

    A quick glance at my watch showed me it was time to leave, I stepped out of the shop and walked back to the hotel, changing into my suit in my room before meeting the driver in the lobby, 5 minutes early.

    "Hello, again! Looks like a fine morning today - how'd you sleep?"

    "Quite well, thank you - nice hotel here."

    "If you say so - I obviously prefer Munich myself, but in any event - let's get rolling."

    "Sure thing"

    "Just a 5 minute drive for us, so we won't have time for pleasantries. Good luck to you: you could be my boss in a week - they could do a lot worse, I think."

    "Thanks," I replied, "but I bet you say that to all the candidates."

    "Of course," he quipped, "I have to hedge my bets afterall."

    "Fair enough - let's get going!"

    It was indeed a short drive: a left turn, two blocks, a right turn, 3 blocks - suddenly we were in the parking lot. The driver stopped at the entrance and said "Good luck again - the receptionist will take you upstairs - I'll be here afterwards."

    "Thanks," I said, "and see you soon."

    Walking inside, I was unimpressed by the building - but I suppose this is how you keep the press off of your heels.

    I smiled at the receptionist "Hello! David Williams for Gerhard Mayrhofe."

    "Of course, Mr. Williams," she smiled, "Mr. Mayrhofe and the board are waiting for you in room 313. Take the elevator up and turn right - third door on your left. Welcome to Paderborn, sir - and good luck to you."

    "Thank you" I said, and got on the elevator.

    A few quick moments later, and I was standing in front of room 313. A slight twinge of nervousness came over me: my future was in this room. I took a deep breath and opened the door.
    Last edited by fmzor; 23/04/2014 at 10:34 PM.

  4. "David!" Gerhard exclaimed as I walked into the room, "good to see you again. How was the flight?"

    "It was fine, thank you, great to see you again, too!" I replied.

    "Nice win against Duisburg - that brings you level with us on points."

    "Shame about Volz, but you still finish above us if you win next week." I offered.

    "Yes, an unfortunate lack of discipline - a symptom of poor coaching, I say. Please, let me introduce you around."

    I shook hands with the rest of the panel: Managing Director Markus Rejek, and Directors Stefan Eckl and Alfons Stahl.

    "Please, David, take a seat" said Gerhard as he motioned to a chair: the interview had begun.

    Stefan got things started with an ice-breaking question "So, tell us about Union Berlin"

    I spoke about the team, the friendships with the players, the cohesiveness of the staff, and the dedicated fan base. Also, I mentioned my time in Berlin and how I had spent time there as a youth, and how different the city was today.

    "What was the promotion season like?" asked Markus.

    "It was amazing! Simultaneously exhilarating and excruciating. When you enter the season as promotion favorites, as we did, every week is critical and every team is gunning for you. We had to constantly keep our players focused, even when we were playing supposedly inferior competition. We lost our opener that year, and limped to a week 3 draw against relegation fodder Stuttgarter who in fact finished in last place, 10 points away from the next slot. After week 3, the fans and the press were nervous - but we refocused the players, ramped up the training, and had some closed-door meetings. After that, we rattled off a stretch of 29 matches with only one loss. We secured promotion with 2 games to spare, when we beat Erzgebirge Aue and Paderborn fell to Werder Bremen's reserve squad. Interestingly, Paderborn were promoted with us through the playoff slot. There was a great party that night! The final two games we dipped in form a bit, but nobody cared - we were prepping for life in the 2. Bundesliga."

    "What lessons from that year do you think you could apply to 1860 next season?" Gerhard asked.

    I spoke about the importance of focusing on the single goal of promotion on the pitch, but working in the background off the pitch to focus on life after promotion. It's a difficult balancing acct to keep your current players happy while simultaneously trying to improve your squad for a larger league. Similarly, it's tough to keep your core intact when other teams are throwing deals at them based on their success in the current season. I assured them that I would have a 3-year plan: secure promotion, keep the core intact while bringing in some short-term talent, and then letting the kids come up once we were established as a First League side. Balance was the key - understand that today's squad will look very little like tomorrow's squad, but don't let the actual players know that.

    "As you know," started Alfons, "1860 plays something of a second fiddle in Munich to Bayern - how do you think you'd do in such an environment?"

    "Union Berlin," I started, "has throughout its history been second-most loved in Berlin. In the GDR days, we had BFC Dynamo - the Stasi side that won by doping its players and bribing the refs. Post unification, Hertha became the city's favorites. It's interesting that our fans, in the GDR days, were anti-government, yet today take pride in referring to themselves as 'East Berliners'. They of course don't mean politically, but more culturally - taking pride in their roots despite its difficulties. In sort, we're a different kind of club with a different kind of fan base, much like 1860 I believe. Not only do I think I'd thrive in that environment, I submit that I already have."

    "That's all well and good," injected Gerhard, "but how do we survive long-term as second-favorites?"

    "In recent years," I replied, "things have changed. Before maybe 5 or 6 years ago, it seemed a truism that Muenchners support 1860 while folks from other areas support Bayern. I think it was unfortunate that the club had to enter ground sharing agreements with Bayern, it took the identity away from the fan base of 1860 as the 'alternate' team - a designation that Union has embraced but 1860 has lost. You get the base back by recreating that atmosphere - winning will bring the casuals back""

    The interview continued for nearly two hours - we talked tactics, mentalities, press relations, and staffing decisions. I was mentally drained at the end, but satisfied that I had done well."

    "Thank you for coming in," Gerhard said at the end, "we're not all entirely sure of our schedules this evening, but won't you please meet the driver in the hotel lobby at 7:00 and join some of us for dinner in town?"

    "Of course, I'll look forward to it! Thank you for having me!."

    10 short minutes later and I was back in my hotel room, with over 8 hours to go until dinner, I needed something to occupy some time. Glancing out my window to catch a view of the city, I instead saw Duisburg Assistant Iliya Gruev getting in to the same car that I had just left: wonder when he flew out of Paderborn-Lippstadt Airport!

    I silently wished him luck.

  5. I changed into more casual clothes, and headed out to look around town.

    I was impressed by Paderborn - it is not the kind of place that I would visit on my own, but I was happy to be here. After visiting the town hall and Paderborn Cathedral, I stopped for lunch at a spot along the Pader river, which gives the town its name. Then I found a bench next to the river and looked out, contemplating life. I can think of no more peaceful way to spend an afternoon, and I sat there a good three hours before it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

    At the hotel, I took a quick nap and put some formal clothes on, heading down to the lobby 10 minutes early. I kept looking for my driver from yesterday and this morning, but he didn't show up. Instead, another gentleman entered the lobby:

    "Mr. Williams?"

    "Yes..."

    "Nice to meet you, I'll be driving you to dinner - are you all set?"

    "I am, yes, let's go!"

    The driver took me to what appeared to be a steakhouse, set in one of those ancient buildings that are common all over Europe. I got out of the car to find Gerhard waiting for me.

    "David - good to see you - shall we?"

    "Sure thing, will anyone else be joining us?"

    "Nope, just you and I tonight"

    I wondered if that was a good sign or a bad sign.

    We entered the restaurant and got a table where Gerhard filled me in about the process so far. They had interviewed 6 candidates, and had 6 more in store for tomorrow (Monday, I think?). After that, they'd meet and make a final decision, letting all candidates know sometime on Wednesday.

    "David," began Gerhard seriously, "at the moment, we are not negotiating. In fact, no matter what happens, we will not negotiate - our offer will be a 1 year contract - I'm sure you've seen that's how we operate until we can find someone who can lead this team. We will offer somewhere in the neighborhood of 425k Euro/year, for one year. We are informing all candidates since we'll need to know if people do not intend to accept the offer. Again - we are not negotiating and we are not extending an offer at this time, but we do ask that you withdraw your name from consideration, by Tuesday evening, if you cannot live with our terms."

    "I'll give it some thought," I lied. That kind of money was peanuts compared to first division Managers, and about average for 1860's second division status. Still, it was more than I'd ever dreamed of making. The message, though, was clear: 1860 gets promoted, or the board repeats this process next year. And the year after that, and the year after that.

    I continued "If I may ask, do I even stand a chance?"

    "Twelve candidates, David, and I'll be frank - we've slated what we initially thought to be our stronger candidates for tomorrow. None the less, the board were impressed with you today. We certainly haven't ruled you out at this stage."

    I thought for a moment, then frowned. "I was the first one in the door on the second-tier day - does this mean I was the last one on the shortlist?"

    He brushed off the question with a waive of his hand "Six candidates today, David, four interviewers. Two of those candidates are on their way home - your driver mentioned that you saw Iliya this morning - he's headed back to Duisburg as we speak. Four candidates remain in Paderborn and, I assure you, you'd rather be here with me right now than having dinner with Markus, Stefan, or Alfons. Again, though - tomorrow is another day."

    So I had won the day, it seemed. Still, the odds seemed bleak. I backed off of the work questions: I had been on enough of these dinners to understand that I was no longer interviewing - Gerhard was trying to figure out if I was the kind of person with whom he could stand to repeat this dinner with 17 times a season, whether he could put me in front of his fans, in front of the media. I stuck to small talk and focused on my University days, about which he seemed interested.

    After dinner he saw me back to the car "Remember to call on Tuesday if you need to." he said. Fat chance, I thought.

    The driver took me back to the hotel, and I got my first good night's sleep in over a week. The next morning, I was shuttled back to the airport and flown back to Berlin. I wasn't due back for Union until the following day, but I decided to stop by Stadion An der Alten Foersterei (Germans!) to check on things. Unsurprisingly, Uwe was in his office. He was, however, surprised to see me.

    "David - we gave everyone the day off - had you been in the locker room after the match, you'd have known that! What are you doing here?"

    I blushed, busted. "Sorry about leaving, sir."

    "No worries, David - did you need to meet with me, or were you just coming by to pick something up?"

    "Sir," I offered, "we should talk."

    He hesitated, then asked "Is everything alright? You know you can come to me with anything."

    And so I did: I told him about the past two days, about Paderborn and the interview with 1860. He was taken aback, but encouraging. He let me know that he had faith in my abilities, and that he figured I'd become a Manager someday. He repeated the caution that I'd heard so often - it'd be rare to get an offer on the first attempt, but there would be more interviews and more teams and, eventually, one would pay off.

    I thanked him and left for the day.

    The next two days flew by, and all day Wednesday I was hanging by my phone. We had practice, but I had let Uwe know the situation and he gave me permission to bring my cell phone on the pitch with me - but not make it obvious. The phone didn't ring during practice, which finished up at about 3PM.

    "Any news?" Uwe asked as we walked into the locker room.

    "None," I said.

    I turned to head into the training room, and felt a buzz from my pocket. My phone was ringing - and it was a Munich number!
    Last edited by fmzor; 25/04/2014 at 03:34 AM.
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  6. Loving this story! Great writing!
    I'll save the latest update until I get home from work

    Keep it up!
    AndySams10 likes this.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by Disclaimer89 View Post
    Loving this story! Great writing!
    I'll save the latest update until I get home from work

    Keep it up!
    Thank you!
    Disclaimer89 likes this.

  8. "Hello?", I answered clumsily.

    "David Williams?" answered a female voice.

    "Speaking," I replied.

    "Please hold for Gerhard Mayrhofer."

    My heart pumped fast and the world seemed to slow down: this was the moment! I looked up and caught Uwe's eye, looking at me from down the hall. He made a motion as if to leave, but I signaled that it was OK.

    A buzz... a click.. then a voice:

    "David! How are you?"

    "I'm doing well, Mr. Mayrhofer - we're just finishing up practice, how are you?"

    "Quite fine, thank you. David: I'm calling to offer you a job as the next Manager of 1860 Munich..."

    My jaw dropped - I couldn't believe my ears. I glanced up at Uwe, he had seen what he needed to see. He gave me a quick thumbs up and motioned for me to join him in his office when I was done.

    "Sir, thank you so much - it's an honor," I blurted out.

    "David, call me Gerhard. We're offering you a 1 year deal at 425k Euro/year. The offer is valid for 24 hours."

    "Gerhard, there's no need - I accept the offer, and look forward to the challenge."

    "Brilliant," he said. "Please plan to join me at Allianz Arena on Sunday. We'll watch the match from the Owner's Box, then introduce you to the media after the match. I expect you to maintain good relations with the media, so please prepare for this encounter."

    "Certainly, Gerhard. I work with the press here in Berlin. You have nothing to worry about."

    "Great! David, as a practical matter, we don't expect to have much of a transfer budget this season. You can choose to retain or terminate staff members as you see fit. Handle that as you feel appropriate, but this would be a good time to start searching for any vacancies you plan to create. I'll see you on Sunday. We'll arrange for the jet to leave Berlin at 5PM on Saturday."

    "Outstanding, Gerhard, see you then.".

    I hung up, still in disbelief!

    I looked around at the locker room that was no longer my home, then went to find Uwe.

    "Uwe, that was Gerhard Mayrhofer."

    "I figured." He said. "Good news I assume, from the reaction?"

    "They offered me the job!"

    "Outstanding! I must say, though - we're now competitors. Shall we drink to a long and spirited rivalry?" he asked as he produced a bottle of scotch.

    "Absolutely!"

    He poured two glasses, offered me one, then raised his glass "Prost!", he said.

    "Prost!", I replied. "Uwe, don't let the Wessis keep you down!"

    "Eisern Union!" he responded.

    I left his office, and the home locker room, for the final time and headed home.
    Last edited by fmzor; 26/04/2014 at 01:25 AM.
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  9. Hello, Munich!

    Match day at Allianz Arena - 1860 v. Aalen. It was a comfortable win for Die Lowen: Stahl put them ahead in the 35th minute, and they never really were threatened, ultimately winning 3-0. I was able to enjoy the time with Gerhard and the rest of the board.

    Near the end of the match, we headed down to the field level. As the match ended, I watched from the Trainers Room as Alexander Schmidt announced his resignation, flanked by the board. There weren't many questions for him, and I saw him stepping away from the podium as the team's press officer gathered me for my introduction.

    "Ladies and Gentlemen," began Gerhard as I stepped in the room, "it brings me great pleasure to introduce our next Manager: David Williams. David made quite a name for himself at the University of Munich as a striker, and most recently has served as a coach for the outstanding Union Berlin side. We have every confidence in David, and know that he will bring us a promotion next season."

    I approached the podium as a blinding array of flashbulbs burst in front of me, but the questions were slow to come: clearly the press hadn't expected the transition to be quite so efficient.

    "David," asked a voice, "Benjamin Otto, The German Football Review: do you feel that your ambitions for the club are matched by the board?"

    "Absolutely: the board is convinced, as am I, that the proper place for Die Lowen is in the Bundesliga. I will work tirelessly to see that we get there, and I am confident in the full support of the board. I don't believe that I'd be here otherwise."

    "Mathias Muller, German Football Post: You are the 13th 1860 Manager since Lorant's sacking in 2001 following a dreadful Derby Day - what makes you different?"

    "Mathias," I started, "I was actually in attendance that day, wearing 1860 blue. I was just as disappointed at the 5-1 loss, worst of all to our nemeses in Bayern. I have since lost touch with the day-to-day of the club, so I can't speak for my predecessors, but I can tell you this: this squad has underperformed in recent years. With the talent on the roster, we should have been promoted two years ago, and most certainly this year. I will figure out the cause for the underperformance, and I will correct it: I am different because I will not settle for the status quo - our fans deserve better, and I intend to make good on the promotion promise."

    "Kevin Scholz, The Munich Football Express: your answer seems to hint at a major overhaul to the staff - what staffing changes will you be making?"

    "I have made no decisions about staffing issues. I will meet with each member of the staff, and make changes as I see fit. I expect these details to be sorted out fairly quickly."

    "What tactics will you employ next season?", asked Benjamin.

    "In my view, you build a tactic around a squad, and not vice-versa. I will take a full assessment of the squad, and utilize the tactics and mentalities that are the best fit for the players that we have."

    "Julian Brenner, The German Football Messenger: do you have transfer targets in mind?"

    "As I said, I believe this squad to be talented enough as-is. We may identify some areas of excess and shuffle players out, bringing in options for areas of weakness in exchange. We may not do much with the summer transfer window - I'm just not sure yet. I wouldn't expect wholesale changes, though - I believe the core of this team is strong and needs to remain in tact."

    Gerhard again took the microphone, "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen - that is all the time we have today. No worries, you will all have plenty of time with David in the future. Thank you for coming."

    Gerhard whispered to me "A group of fans remain in the stands. They caught wind of the news, probably from their cell phones, and are chanting your name. Up to you if you want to make an appearance, but I'm sure they'd enjoy it."

    "Show me the way," I nodded.

    Gerhard lead me out to the pitch, and several hundred fans cheered as I stepped in front of the section where the crowd had congregated.

    "Welcome to Munich, David! What do you have to say to us long-suffering fans?"

    I pondered, wondering if I should. Why not, I thought: embrace the base.
    "Nicht Springt, Roter!", I bellowed (roughly translated: If you aren't jumping up and down, you're a no good Bayern fan!)

    The crowd went crazy and started jumping up and down.

    I strode off the pitch, certain that I wouldn't be missed when the insanity ended.
    Last edited by fmzor; 26/04/2014 at 07:25 AM.
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  10. The Overhaul

    The players were officially free after the match until July, but most stuck around to meet me. I didn't have anything formal planned, and they didn't have to be there anyway, so I just reminded everyone that we'd start back up in July and let them know that I was here for any questions or conversations that they needed. Mostly, I just shook hands and learned names of the backup squad (I was already familiar with our starters).

    Dealing with the staff, however, was a different story. I arranged to meet each of them individually the next day, and would advise them of their futures the following day: though in reality, my decisions were largely already made.

    I sought out Markus von Ahlen, Assistant Manager, and asked him to join me in my office before he left for the day. This made him nervous, but in reality I let him know that I would be keeping him around, offered a third year on top of his remaining two year contract, gave him the next two days off, and asked him to e-mail me any thoughts he had on the staff that he thought I should know.

    The next day was spent on talking with each staff member individually - it was a long and rather repetitive day, but I needed to act quickly and decisively: this team was hindered by a failure of coaching, and changes were needed.

    Ultimately, in addition to Markus, I kept Goalkeeping Coach Kurt Kowarz, Denis Bushev and Harald Huber (Assistant Manager and Goalkeeping coach of the 1860 Reservists, respectively), and General Manager Florian Hinterberg. The remaining coaching staff were let go - my entire scouting corps, all physios, and the remaining staff coaching roles. In my view, this team had underperformed due to failures of the training regiment, and a failure to hold players accountable for their daily work.

    The search for replacement staff began immediately, and the resumes began flowing in.

    My first official hire was a Physio out of Salzburg's system: Sigrid Pichler. The media would try to make more out of it than it was. In a slow news cycle, the football press tried to frame the hire as a message: bringing in a female as my first official hire was a message on the need to improve gender equality in professional football. It would have been an admirable message to send, but in reality I simply hired the best candidate for the job, and just so happened to fill that job first.

    Sigrid would go on to perform admirably for the club, offering invaluable counsel and care, and living up to every bit of her potential.

    As it happens, though, her hiring would ultimately prove to be a mistake...
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  11. I had approximately 6 weeks before the players arrived for the new season.

    First, I needed a place to live - a rental: a man on a 1 year deal couldn't buy a house, that could come later. I ultimately settled on a residential community quite near the Allianz Arena: called Auensiedlung, and featuring large lots and a pond, my new neighborhood was about a 30 minute walk to the Arena.

    I also filled up the rest of my staff - bringing in a new Head of Youth Development, a Head Physio to complement Sigrid, hiring six Scouts, a Fitness Coach, and two staff Coaches - one to focus on offense, and one on defense. It was a fairly strong staff apart from the staff coaches: they were given only one year deals - it would no longer be my problem if we weren't promoted, and if we were, I could hire more suitable replacements based on our new status.

    With two weeks to spare before the players returned, we were finally able to hold our first staff meeting.

    "Greetings, everyone," I began, "great to finally have everyone here together. I thought we'd start with a squad analysis. Kurt, how do we look for keepers?"

    Kurt Kowarz, Goalkeeper Coach:
    We have 3 on the first team - Gabor Kiraly, 38, here since 2009. When he's on, he's a fan favorite. He's getting a bit long in the tooth, even for a keeper, but we have him for two more seasons. He'll need to be our starter this season, and should likely be a backup next season in the Bundesliga.

    Second, we have Vitus Eicher, 22 years old, he has Gabor's potential, but is probably 3 or 4 seasons off. It may be a bit of a challenge to keep him on the squad and happy for the next two years, especially when other teams recognize his potential.

    Finally, Michael Netolitzky - we should try to loan him out as he'll struggle to find playing time this season. Similar ceiling as Eicher, so we have talent in the pipeline - it's just a few years off.

    All in all, we have OK coverage for this season, but we'll want to look towards a short-term replacement for Gabor starting next year, at least until either Vitus or Michael can step up.

    David Williams, Manager: Excellent, thanks Coach. Florian, please put Netolitzky on the loan list.

    Florian Hinterberger, General Manager:
    Sure thing.

    David Williams, Manager: Christian, our defenders?

    Christian Kritzer, Coach (Defending):We have 8 possibilities for the back line. Our best bet is Markus Steinhofer - he'll play best on the right side. 27 years old, could be serviceable in the First Division.

    Guillermo Vallori, 31, can play in the middle. Fitness is a concern, so will need to rest. Signed for us for 2 more seasons.

    Kai Bulow, 27, can play a defensive midfield role in a pinch, but belongs on the back line in the center. Solid choice for this year and beyond.

    Chris Schindler, 23, can play on the right or left. Best potential in the defense, possibly on the team. Should be a star w/ Steinhofer this season, but isn't signed beyond this season and may prove difficult to sign.

    Moritz Volz, 30, serviceable as a backup in the event of injury.

    Sebastian Hertner, 22, can play on the left side. Above average Second Division talent, low ceiling which he's probably already hit.

    Necat Aygun, 33, use for emergencies only.

    Finally, Grzegorz Wojtkowiak - 29 years old, I'd suggest trying to sell him.

    All in all, I'm satisfied with the back line, though I'd love to have another option on the left.

    David Williams, Manager: May not be in the cards, but thank you. Right then, shall we break for lunch? We'll come back in an hour to discuss midfield and attack.
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  12. "Okay, let's get started back up," I opened the meeting after the break. "Markus, lets review the midfield, please."

    Markus von Ahlen, Assistant Manager:
    Sure, just a quick note that Steinhofer, Bulow, Schindler, Voltz, and Hertner can play defensive midfielder in a pinch, but they are better off as defenders.
    We have seven pure midfielders on the squad.

    Moritz Stoppelkamp leads the pack, he's 26 years old and just an amazing choice on the attack. Should be in the First Division, really, but we have him for two more years.

    Yannick Stark isn't far off, a central midfielder at heart. 22 years of age and likewise signed for two seasons.

    Dominik Stahl is next, also a central midfielder. He's 25. 3 seasons left. Not quite the talent that Moritz and Yannick have, but he'll do for sure.

    Then there's Marin Tomasov, another option for an attacking midfielder - 26 and signed for 2 more seasons. Just a little bit behind Stoppelkamp.

    Daniel Adlung can play anywhere in the midfield, though I wouldn't put him in a defensive role. 25 and signed for 3 seasons.

    Daniel Bierofka comes next - he's 34 and not signed past this season. He can do well as a backup in the Second Division, but probably isn't someone we should renew.

    Finally there's youngster Ivan Knezevic - he's only 20 years old but doesn't have the skill to play for us this season, and may not have the potential for the future.
    We look quite promising, and quite young, at midfield right now.

    David Williams, Manager: Thank you, Markus. Finally, our strikers - Matthias?

    Matthias Scherz, Coach (Attacking): Right. We'll have Yuya Osako from Okayama FC at the start of the window - that one was planned before you got here. We expect great things from him. A natural striker, and 23 years of age - signed for 4 seasons - if it goes as planned, he's the future of our attack - the present, too.

    He was of course brought in to replace Benjamin Lauth, the aging fan favorite with a long history with our club. We have him for just one more season. He'll do well for us in the coming campaign, but he should regress over the next few years.

    Bobby Shou Wood, the American, is next: 20 years of age and signed for 3 years. Another solid choice in the future, and he should contribute this season as well.

    Stephan Hain is next, 24 and signed for 3 years. Another solid choice, though probably a backup on current ability in the Second Division, and a backup on potential ability in the First Division.

    Last but not least is 18 year old Mike Ott. Only signed with us through this season. Has the largest potential of our attackers - he'll be topping the charts in the First Division when he hits his prime. I'm not sure he'll stick with us though, and he could be a sale target for us.


    David Williams, Manager: OK then. Given this squad, I think we should train on a 4-1-2-1-2 primarily, and have the 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 at our disposal as well.

    Thank you, everyone, that will be all for today.
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  13. The Preseason

    Not much to report from the preseason, at least nothing worth mentioning here, but the matches went well (though quite inferior competition).

    A failed player lands a dream gig!-preseason.jpg

  14. When is the next update? !! Tonight?..Now?!! haha Really enjoying this story.

  15. Quote Originally Posted by Disclaimer89 View Post
    When is the next update? !! Tonight?..Now?!! haha Really enjoying this story.


    Should be a match report or two over the next couple of hours!
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  16. Week 1: 1860 @ Dresden

    In recent years, Dynamo Dresden has been thought of as more of a 3.Liga side, though a promotion brought them to 2. Bundesliga in 2011-12, and this was now their third consecutive campaign in the League - they had escaped the dreaded 2 year window without being relegated - perhaps they were here to stay.

    Historically, Dynamo Dresden has a bit of a dubious past, albeit one known quite a bit more by my former Union Berlin fans than by those in Munich. Union's largest rival in the East German days was BFC Dynamo. Even still today, though the current version of the team teeters around in the Regional Leagues, in the East German days it was a club owned and supported by the hated Stasi.

    That squad, however, began as nothing more than a transplant of the more talented Dynamo Dresden players, who in 1954 were moved from Dresden to Berlin to transplant a successful side into East Berlin. The remaining players in Dresden were largely reservists and youth players, and that side struggled for some time.

    We arrived at Gluckgas Stadion in good spirits, anxious to start the campaign. I was of course nervous, it was my professional debut as Manager, but I felt we had a solid game plan. We went out with a 4-1-2-1-2 and I instructed the squad to retain possession and be patient - the chances would come.

    We played a back and forth game for the first 12 minutes: we were clear winners on possession, but had failed to generate any real chances.

    At 11:47, Steinhofer attempted a cross which was denied by defender Dedic, but we won a corner. Tomasov lined up for the corner and crossed it in - the Dresden defense headed it out of danger, but Tomasov found it outside the penalty area and went for a cross: this time Fiel knocked it out for another 1860 corner. Tomasov again lined up for the corner, launching a beautiful cross toward the far post - Schindler found the ball, and headed it toward the center of the box - where 5 players wearing blue were clustered all alone. Schindler's header was turned goalward by a header from Osako, which found the mark! GOAL! 1-0 1860!

    Dresden played a fairly chippy game after that, and we failed to get much pressure, but so did they. We entered half time with the 1-0 lead.

    I'm sure I raised a few eyebrows back home by replacing our lone goal scorer with Bobby Shou Wood at the half, but he was not yet fully fit, and looked rather tired.

    The second half was rather uneventful until injury time. As full time was approaching, Stoppelkamp won a free kick on the right side about 5 yards out from the back line. Tomasov took the free kick, and chipped it into the 6 yard box. Schindler jumped, surrounded by 5 opposition players, and found it first - heading it in for a score at the final whistle! Perhaps it would come to be useful on a tiebreak?

    Final score: 1860 2-0 Dresden

    A failed player lands a dream gig!-dresden.jpg
    Last edited by fmzor; 27/04/2014 at 04:46 AM.
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  17. I stormed into the locker room to meet my players.

    "Brilliant," I exclaimed, "great start! We possessed the ball at our midfield for nearly 40% of the game - that's one way to limit an opponent's chances. I'm proud of this team for this result in week 1 on the road, but let's not get complacent - the opposition to come will be a better quality, and it's a long haul. For now, though, enjoy yourselves!"

    I strode off to meet the media.

    Sebastian Gutzeit, The German Football Express:
    David, how important is it to your season to secure this win today?

    David Williams:
    It's critical - a road win in week 1 is a huge advantage, it brings confidence in the season ahead and in the ability to win away from home. A loss would have put both into question - this match puts us on the right track, for sure. That said, it's a long haul and we can't put too much stock in one result.

    Julian Brehmer, The German Football Messenger:
    Yuya Osako got his first League goal for the club today. How important was that?

    David Williams:
    Osako was amazing - Tomasov made a good kick in, Schindler did well to clear it toward friendly faces, and Osako was there to hammer it home. A great goal all around, and important in getting Yuya on form.

    Sebastian Gutzeit, The German Football Express:
    Christopher Schindler was the player of the match today. What do you think of his performance?

    David Williams:
    He was outstanding today, playing a role in both goals and playing solid defense.

    I wrapped up the conference and headed to the team bus. My cell phone buzzed in my pocket, it was a text from Gerhard:

    <Gerhard, 1860>
    Congrats on the win, well done - never had a doubt! I wanted to remind you of Friday night's Die Lowen Befurworter dinner, on the eve of next week's home opener. You'll be at a table with me. We'll meet our fans, mostly long-time season ticket holders who also donate to the team. Black tie, David. See you there.
    Last edited by fmzor; 27/04/2014 at 04:06 PM.
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  18. I gave the team a day off after our Monday match in Dresden - we were due to play St. Pauli at Allianz Arena on Saturday, so it'd only offer 3 days of training before the match, but I felt it important to reward the team. Our staff, however, were to report for an afternoon session.

    David Williams, Manager: Great job to all in the prep work for Dresden, but we need to string a few of those early results together. At some point, if you can do that, teams stop targeting you and start fearing you. Klaus, what can you tell me about St. Pauli?

    Klaus Fischer, Chief Scout: They're predicted to be a top-half side, but they could make a promotion push if things go well: the media has them finishing 7th to our 4th, but what the hell do they know?

    They won at home against Aalen, 2-1. Strikers Noethe and Verhoek scored for them. Aalen actually edged them out in the possession battle, but only had 1 shot on target - which they made count. Their vulnerability in the back line is on their left side: Stark and Stoppelkamp can probably exploit that and just feed crosses in all day long. They played a 4-1-2-1-2, and I expect that they'll do so again. They'll probably try to shut us down and play for a road draw, so we should come at them and spoil that plan early.

    David Williams, Manager: Great. Markus, let's plan to exploit that flank, set the training accordingly. I want Stark feeding Stoppelkamp on our right side, and Moritz just firing crosses for our strikers. Train accordingly this week.

    Uwe, you'll run them this week?

    Uwe Speidel, Fitness Coach: That's not in my plans for the entire squad: my program starts off light then ramps up as the season progresses. We won't be the fittest squad early on, but we aim to be at the end of the year when everyone else is worn out. Still, I'll ramp it up for those two this week.

    David Williams, Head Coach: Great. Stefan, I know we didn't carry anyone off on a stretcher yesterday, but are there any injury concerns to report?

    Stefan Wolters, Head Physio: None that I saw after the match. Sigrid, were there any concerns from the players you examined?

    Sigrid Pichler, Physio: No, just the normal dents and dings. Not many complaints, but there usually aren't when a team wins.

    David Williams, Manager: Thank you. OK folks, let's train well this week, I expect a win at home this week. Looks like it's about time for the German Cup draw, let's see what the football gods have in store for us.


    I flicked on the monitors in our conference room. 64 teams, drawn out 1-by-1.

    Aalen was the first name out of the pot, and they were paired with some lower league team named Wilhelmshaven. St. Pauli, our upcoming opponents, were matched up with Trier. Dusseldorf got Lippstadt.

    We watched as Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga sides alike were drawn against 3. Liga and Lower League teams, wondering which of these mismatches would result in the monumental upsets that always seem to happen early.

    Furth and Sandhausen were the first 2. Bundesliga sides to be paired together: unlucky.

    Bielefeld, our league mates, probably had some choice expletives flying around their conference room as they were paired with Hambuger SV of the Bundesliga.

    We kept watching as our name, stubbornly, stayed in the pot.

    10 teams left in the pot, and we still had not been drawn:
    Onasbruck..... annnnnnnnnnd.... Koln

    drat....

    Neckarsulmer....... FSV Frankfurt!

    6 teams left....

    Neumuenster..... Freiburg

    I sighed.... only 4 teams remained: us, 2. Bundesliga side Aue, Regional side Magdeburg, and Bundesliga squad Braunschweig.

    Magdeburg's name came out of the pot...

    "Come on!", I pleaded....

    ...Braunschweig would play Magdeburg

    "@#$#," I screamed.

    We'd play Aue.

    "Unlucky for a first round draw," sighed Markus.

    "It's OK - it could be worse," I offered, "and in any event our main goal is in the League this season. Make sure the players focus on St. Pauli. I'll see everyone tomorrow."

    I found my office, slammed the door, and fumed. Gerhard and I agreed that the Cup needed to be a bit of a sideshow this season, but still it brought in some much needed funds: the budgets had all assumed a second-round appearance. I guess if we couldn't handle Aue in the Cup, maybe we didn't belong in the promotion discussion. Still, I had hoped for an easier pairing.

    I checked my e-mail, 10 messages but only 1 relevant one:

    To: [email protected]
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: Mike Ott negotiations

    David:

    Negotiatons with Mike are not progressing. In fact, Tobias Mueller, his agent, won't even join us at the table. He should bring a hefty sum in a transfer, so I'd advise you to list him. Wish I had better news.

    Regards,
    Florian

    Well hell, I thought. I listed Ott for transfer, asking for 3M euro. I'd settle for 1.5.
    Last edited by fmzor; 27/04/2014 at 05:43 PM.
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  19. Wednesday morning saw the players come back.

    "Boss," Mike Ott said as he poked his head in my office, "a word?"

    "Certainly," I said. I had expected this.

    Mike shut the door behind him and offered "This can stay in the room for now, but I'm wondering why I've been transfer listed."

    "Is Tobias willing to sit down with us?"

    "Not at the wages you've offered - it's not even close, frankly."

    "That's fine," I replied, "but we have a lot of strikers and have to move one: and only one of you has both an expiring contract and is drawing interest from the League."

    "I still have a role to play with this team," he interjected.

    "I agree," I offered, "and I respect your business decision to test the market. You have to understand that the transfer listing is a business decision on our end as well."

    "You're making a mistake - I'm not happy with this." he continued.

    "Prove that you belong, and that you're worth the premium, and I'll bring it to the board. Until then, we have to look to sell you."

    "I guess I can understand that," he conceded, "I'll prove my worth."

    He left the room.

    Great, I thought: one match played and already an unhappy player.
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  20. The Gala: An evening to remember!

    Friday brought some final match preparations for our opener at Allianz. I was pleased with the week, but a bit nervous about St. Pauli: they looked to be a pesky side that could steal a goal on a counter, and our attack mentality could play right into their hands.

    I left early to prepare for that evening's dinner, leaving Markus to wind down the day.

    Die Lowen Befurworter dinner was an annual tradition for 1860. On the eve of the home opener, VIP ticket holders were invited to Allianz to wine and dine with team officials. I had prepped some of the squad to make an appearance: Gabor, Schindler, Stoppelkamp, and Osako would show up after dinner, but were spared having to put on formal wear - the supporters preferred to see their players in match gear.

    I understood the importance of the event - these are the folks, after all, that ultimately paid my salary. I knew it was important to maintain outstanding relations with our fans, so I relished the opportunity. Still, I thought, 1860 is something of a working man's side, and I had reservations that mainly VIPs would be in attendance. It's a start, though.

    I arrived at Allianz and found Gerhard at our table, with seating for 8. Gerhard and I were joined by two executives from BMW, a marketing manager from our arena's sponsor Allianz, a famous tennis player, an Olympic gold medalist, and Jens Kroger, a mid-level representative from the DFB, Germany's football association.

    The last thing I wanted to talk about was football, but our guests were eager to pick our brains.

    "Any news on the transfer front?" asked Kevin Hertz of BMW.

    "We're actively trying to sell some players, hopefully a striker, to supplement our back row where we have some risks on the left side. I haven't gotten the offers that I want, so I'm holding firm for now. If we do anything, it will be right at the deadline, or even in the winter. I don't want to bring in a stopgap, I want someone who can make a difference next season as well."

    "Confident in the promotion?" asked the tennis player, who actually serves on Bayern's board but supports us as well, so long as we're playing another side.

    "It's always difficult, but we can certainly get there. I'd have been a lot more aggressive if I didn't think we could manage with our current squad. I'm aware that you all won't invite me to next year's dinner as a 2. Bundesliga Manager."

    Dinner, thankfully, began - a great 5 course meal. Thankfully, conversation was more casual and not football-focused. After dessert, Jens strode to the podium at the front of the room, and addressed our crowd.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, I am Jens Kroger of the DFB," he began, "and I'm honored to be here at Allianz Arena with you all here tonight. Admittedly, I think the Arena looks better in blue," he said as cheers filled the room.

    "I'd like to thank David and Gerhard for their hospitality at our table tonight. I am here to announce a new DFB initiative, and one that I'm sure you all will support. It's called Diversify the Pitch, DtP for short, and its goal is to identify outstanding female candidates among the ranks of German sides, and provide them the training, opportunity, and tools needed to advance into Assistant Manager and Manager roles with 2. Bundesliga and Bundesliga sides. This is an important initiative for the future of our sport."

    "About bloody time," I whispered to Gerhard.

    "We're asking German sides to identify qualified candidates," continued Jens, "who will join our training program. During the winter break, we'll have a week-long seminar in Berlin, and we expect all Managers and candidates to attend. More details can be found on our website, and I'll brief Gerhard and David offline. Thank you, and please enjoy the rest of the evening."

    "Sigrid," whispered Gerhard.

    "I'll speak with her," I assured him.

    I was part of the mad rush to the bar, but it took me a full 45 minutes to find the line. Supporters kept shaking my hand and offering advice on tomorrow's match. I couldn't complain, but desperately needed a drink. Finally, mercifully, I got in line and approached the bartender.

    "Scotch - double, neat", I ordered. Always scotch. Always neat. Always double.

    "Here you are, sir, good luck tomorrow." he replied.

    "Thanks," I blurted out.

    I turned to rejoin the crowd, took a step away from the bar, and she caught my eye with a waive and a smile. I couldn't believe my eyes: it was an old friend.

    "David Williams!" she exclaimed as I approached - she offered a hug.

    "Aimee Neuman! How are you?" we hugged briefly.

    We broke the hug, "Aimee Thomas," she corrected me.

    "Right, you and Mark?"

    "Yes, married 12 years now. Two boys, 7 and 9!"

    "Outstanding!" I offered.

    Aimee and I were close at the University. She played football as well, and the men's and women's teams would often train together. We never dated - at the time, it seemed like we could never really get the timing right. Looking back, however, I suppose ours was more of a brother-sister type of relationship. We each tolerated, if barely, each others' dates, double dating whenever we were each involved. Several late nights at the bars were spent complaining about one relationship or the other, or both.

    She was, and is, a beautiful woman, though not everyone would agree. Quite tall for her gender, pushing 1,75 meters. Bright red hair, ultra curly, extending a full foot beneath her shoulders. Freckly face, though not too pale. Classic girl-next-door kind of look, and she pulled it off well.

    I remembered distinctly disliking Mark when we met. He struck me as arrogant, quite inappropriate for his limited understanding of the world, and a bit controlling. I had raised my objections to Aimee at the time, but she remarked that I found fault with all her dates. True, I thought, but not without cause.

    The interceding years found us losing touch, and I hadn't seen her since I started working for Union Berlin.

    "How are things?"

    "Quite good. I'm working with Siemans in the Finance group, and Mark was named last year as the VP of Sales at The Linde Group." she responded.

    Sales, I thought: I knew the man was no good! "That's great," I offered instead, "sounds like the years have been kind to you. Tell me about your boys!"

    "Hans is the oldest at 9. Dieter is 7. Both love football, Hans doesn't quite have the makings of a future footballer but he certainly tries - he plays midfield, Dieter is young but loves to play keeper. We have 4 tickets for Die Lowen and attend every match. One or two road games each season too, depending on our schedules."

    "Well thank you for the support," I said, "I can arrange to get Mark and the boys down on the sidelines sometime this season if you think that's OK."

    "Diversify the Pitch, David", she retorted.

    "And you, of course."

    "We'd love that," she said, "here's my card. Keep in touch, I'd love to catch up if you have some time."

    "Absolutely - great to see you again! Take care."

    The evening wound down and I headed home, looking forward to tomorrow but fearing a bad result.

    From home, I rattled off an e-mail to our Director of Ticket Sales:

    To: [email protected]tsv1860.de
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: VIP Supporters

    Joseph:

    Please search our season ticket list for Mark and Aimee Thomas, and find out where they sit. Tomorrow at half time, please join me in the locker room. I'll have Gabor and Moritz each sign a jersey. If you could deliver those jerseys in the second half to Mark and Aimee's children, that'd be great. The younger boy is the keeper.

    Thanks,
    David


    To his credit, he was still awake and answered me 10 minutes later:

    To: [email protected]
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: RE: VIP Supporters

    4 seats in Section 207, 5 rows up: midfield seats in our luxury area. I'm on it, I'll see you at halftime.

    Best,
    Joseph


    I shut off the computer and went to sleep.
    Last edited by fmzor; 27/04/2014 at 09:18 PM.
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  21. 2. Bundesliga, Week 2: St. Pauli @ 1860

    Match day had arrived, and the players were set.

    "OK, boys - our home opener! Let's give the fans something to remember," I started. "St. Pauli are going to try to play keep away today - run it down their [email protected]%!ing throats, boys."

    GK: Kiraly
    DL: Herner, DC: Bulow, DC: Schindler, DR: Steinhofer
    DM: Wannenwetsch, MC: Stahl, MC: Stark, AM: Stoppelkamp
    ST: Osako, ST: Lauth

    We strolled out to the pitch, and the fans greeted us with thunderous applause. I didn't have a feel for Allianz crowds just yet, but I estimated 20k fans in attendance, most wearing blue. Some 500 or so sorry saps wearing a rather ugly shade of brown.

    The ref got the match underway, and we began our home opener.

    After back-and-forth football for 15 minutes, we won a corner. Stoppelkamp put the ball down, stepped back, paused, then sprinted forward and launched the ball toward the mass of players. Slowly, it tracked to the near post. Bulow judged it best and ran toward it, managing to get a foot on it, but it was a weak shot, and easily blocked and cleared by St. Pauli's defense.

    A fairly boring half followed - we had them dominated on the stat sheet, except for the one that mattered, the score stood 0-0 at halftime. We had our chances, but couldn't convert, preferring instead to weakly knock the ball directly into their keeper, Tschauner.

    In the locker room at half time, I encouraged the team to keep going. They looked motivated. St. Pauli started off the action in the second half, and 3 minutes later we generated our first chance of the half. Hertner had the ball at midfield, and spotted Osako clear of his defender and with a lane to the goal. He lofted a pass, which was too short. Osako had to run back to meet it. St. Pauli midfielder Trybull also had a read on it, running toward Osako. The two found the ball at the same time and collided into each other. Osako took the worst of it, falling to the ground - the chance was lost.

    "David," I heard Markus say, pointing to Osako: our new striker was writhing on the ground, in severe pain. The crowd went silent, and we cleared the ball across the touch line. I could hear Osako's screams from the sideline. I'm certain that the fans on the far end of the arena could hear them, too. Our physios rushed out to him. Several minutes later, they called for a stetcher, and carried him off. I glanced at Stefan Wolters, my Head Physio, before they took him off: he ran his hand across his chest, then made a snapping motion like he was breaking a stick. Ugh. Broken rib.

    "Hain, get in there for Osako. Bobby, releive Lauth. Get a goal, gentlemen."

    After that, the only real highlight came in the 56th minute, when a Tschauner free kick was intercepted by Schindler. He passed over to Steinhofer, who started the advance. Over to Wannerwetsch, then Stark - we were sticking to our game plan of short passes and possession. Stark fed it to Stoppelkamp, who passed backwards to Steinhofer. To Stoppelkamp....Stark...Stoppelkamp...Steinhofer... Stark...Stahl.... Stahl at last played the ball forward to our strikers, pushing a 15 yard pass to Hain which settled right at his feet. Hain pivoted, still 30 yards out with two defenders closing down, and pushed the ball to Wood. 25 yards out. Bobby collected the ball and sensed Steinhofer tearing down the right side. He made the pass, and Steinhofer had a clear shot from 18 yards, but he thought better of it. He crossed it, passed it, really, to the far left side of the field where Stahl caught up to it. Their defenders were scrambling now - could we take advantage?

    Stahl's pass found Hernter on the left side, now 25 yards out again. Hertner found Stark unmarked. I braced myself - somehow Steinhofer had lost the St. Pauli defenders. With all eyes on Stark, a quck pass would leave another clear shot for Steinhofer. Stark sensed it, too, and made the pass. Steinhofer collected the ball, dribbled 4 yards to the 18 yard line and unleashed a shot. It zinged past Halstenberg, and every one in the stadium thought that Tschauner had a read on it. As Tschauner stepped forward to cut the shot off, though, Steinhoer's curl set it, the ball arched quickly left, and Tschauner was beaten he jumped up and back in desparation, but he had misplayed it - a brilliant shot found the top left corner and settled in the net! The arena exploded. 1-0!

    We had 3 more great chances to find the scoreboard again, inlcluding a Stahl shot from 10 yards directly in front of the left post. Nobody between him and the keeper - yet he somehow managed to push it wide to the right. No matter - full time came, and we were the victors.

    I checked the stats on my iPad as I walked into the locker room - domination!

    "Defenders," I said, "they had 1 shot all night, and 0 on target. Absolutely amazing performance. Gabor - I'm sure you'd have risen to the occasion had they let one through."

    "Midfield," I continued, "we had 62% possession on the day, 40% of it at midfield. Our pass completion rate was amazing - good job grinding them down today."

    "Strikers," I said, glancing at the stats (18 shots, 12 on target), "your shots were remarkably precise tonight..."

    The injured Osako looked up, confused. Lauth, Hain, and Wood (who all saw time), though, knew what was coming.

    "... unfortunately, I don't remember teaching you to kick the ball directly into the keeper's chest! THESE GUYS CAN'T CARRY YOU EVERY GAME! GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, GENTLEMEN."

    I found Coach Scherz, who was presumably responsible for this, and thrusted a finger in his direction: "FIX IT!", I bellowed.

    I stormed out of the locker room into my office, and slammed the door for effect.

    A failed player lands a dream gig!-stp.jpg
    Last edited by fmzor; 28/04/2014 at 03:19 AM.

  22. 30 minutes later, and the locker room was like a ghost town. The players must have left the roundabout way, since none of them strode past my office on the way out. I was digging through the transfer list, hoping against hope that I could find a left defender that was available for a measly 200k transfer fee, who would sign for under 100k/year, and who could play second-division football. It still seemed hopeless: Ott still had to move first.

    I was interrupted by a knock at my door. "Sir?" a female voice called out.

    "Come in, please," I replied.

    Sigrid opened the door "Is this a good time, sir?" she asked.

    "Certainly, Sigrid - and call me David."

    "OK David," she said, sitting down. "About Yuya..."

    "Ribs?" I winced.

    "Unfortunately, yes. We've given him some pain killers. Under no circumstance can he do anything even resembling training."

    "Understood...how long?"

    "Four weeks, I think, maybe five."

    "Thank you, Sigrid. Anything else from today?" I asked.

    "No other injuries that stick out. Bumps and bruises, really. Thank you, David, I'll leave you to your work.", she stood up as if to leave.

    "Actually, do you have a few minutes?"

    "Sure," she said, sitting back down.

    "I don't know if you know this," I started, "but you were my first hire here. I signed you even before Stefan came on board."

    She did not reply.

    I continued "Stefan tells me you've done a great job with the physio duties for our youth team. I wanted to let you know that I appreciate that. He says that you put the kids at ease. That's a trait that I need in anyone working with our youth team, and one that can't be taught."

    She smiled, "Thank you, David, that's nice to hear. I try to let them know I'm here to help.."

    I continued "How long were you at Salzburg?"

    "Just two years."

    "And before that?"

    "Not in the business, Salzburg was my first job in football...."

    "Have you ever considered other roles in football?" I asked.

    She looked puzzled, "Not really. I graduated med school at the age of 35, and had my first job in the sport at 37. That type of background lends itself to little else in the game, I'm afraid."

    "I disagree," I said, "you're a natural with the kids, like I said - from what I can tell, much more so than our previous Head of Youth Development. I think you'd make a good coach some day, but it has to be something that you're interested in enough to work hard for it."

    "I do love the game," she responded, "but obviously I've never played it at any sort of competitive level - that's sort of a prerequisite for coaching, no?"

    I shook my head, "I burned out before playing a single first team minute in Europe - but you're right, I am more of the exception in that regard. More to the point, the times are changing. The DFB, in fact, is launching a new initiative just this season: they want women on the sidelines, and they want clubs to advance names of candidates that could join a pilot training program. Five years from now, hopefully - ten at most - our sidelines are going to look refreshingly different than they do today: wouldn't it be nice to be on the forefront of that movement?"

    She hesitated, "Sounds like a pipe dream.."

    "Perhaps, we've certainly heard that before. Here's the thing: I think they're serious this time."

    "It does sound intriguing," she admitted.

    "Think it over, and let me know - soon if you can: they'll be starting up the program in September. We'd need to travel to Berlin for a week over winter break."

    "We?"

    "All the candidates, and all their sponsor Managers. Think of the networking potential from that alone..."

    "I'll do it!" she said.

    "Sigrid, coaching trees in this sport are critical - I wouldn't advance a coach's name for a Manager position if I didn't think they could do it. Similarly, I won't put your name forward for this program unless you're genuinely interested and willing to work hard - Gerhard says the training commitment alone would be 10-15 hours a week, on top of your responsibilities here, which I expect to not suffer."

    "David, I am interested - and I made it through medical school for goodness sake, nothing they can throw at me can top that. I won't disappoint."

    "Great!" I said, "I'll let Gerhard know."

    "Thank you. Anything else?" she asked.

    "No, that's all. I'll see you tomorrow."

    She stood up and glanced at her watch "Dinner plans?"

    I wasn't sure what that offer meant, but in any event I was inclined to side step it "Watching game film and eating leftovers. The life of a Manager..."

    "Suit yourself," she said as she left, "see you tomorrow."

    I e-mailed Gerhard

    To: [email protected]
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: Diversify the Pitch

    Gerhard,

    Spoke with Sigrid, she's in. Please let the DFB know, and ask them to send her the details.

    Thanks,
    David

  23. Before I left for the day, I got one last incoming e-mail.

    To: [email protected]
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: Loan offer

    David,

    Is Bobby Shou Wood available for loan? We want him through the end of the season. We will pay 100% of his wages, but can not send money your way. He'll be a valuable first team member, and can be recalled. We'll rest him against 1860.

    Let me know,
    Olaf

    The #$^# is this, I thought. I replied:

    To: [email protected]
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: Loan offer

    Olaf:

    I'm not sure if this is a joke, but Bobby is already an important first-team member, or do you not remember last week?

    Listen, Olaf, I respect you, but here's the thing: send me another nonsense offer like that, and we'll never do business in this League.

    Confused,
    David

  24. German Cup Round 1, week preparation

    I convened the Monday morning meeting as soon as all of the staff were there.

    David Williams, Manager: OK, let's get started. Good effort against St. Pauli , and we got the result. We can't rely on the defense to bail us out every time, though - we need to work on our shot discipline this week.

    Next up is Aue in the German Cup - what can you tell me, Markus?

    Markus von Ahlen, Assistant Manger: Predicted to be relegation fodder this season, though I think they're underrated. They were shut out at home in the opener, 0-2, against Cottbus, squeaked by Sandhausen away last week, 2-1. Zlato Janjic and Ronny Koenig - not to be confused with Frank Loening - scored the goals.

    Their two biggest threats are Janjic and Loening, and we should try to shut them down.

    I'm confident that Moritz and our strikers can break their back line. Their keeper, Maennel, is a bit of a liability for them.

    David Williams, Manager: Right then. Let's run out Bobby in Osako's place. Shut down Janjic and Loening with some tight marking and friendly treatment, and play our game plan: be patient, possess the ball, manufacture the chances.

    Also, I'll be clear: I want to win this game - we could use the money for the Round 2 match - but no League game this week and that remains our primary focus. I don't want injuries in training this week, so dial back the intensity to perhaps 80% of normal. Uwe, your fitness program remains unchanged. Everyone else, take it easy.

    I think we can get on with it, unless anyone has anything else?

    Klaus Fischer, Chief Scout: David, if I may: we've thrown a ton of reports at you, and we're still the same squad we were when we all started in preseason. We'll keep digging, but I have to ask if you want us to switch our assignments around.

    David Williams, Manager: The reports have been great, Klaus - I have some targets in mind for next season already. Our budgets are limited, and until we move a player, I can't act on much just yet for this season - maybe not until the winter window. I'm quite satisfied with the assignments, at least given the Board's limitations. Keep it up.

    Well then if there's nothing else, let's get out there and prepare for Aue.

  25. Wednesday morning, 2 e-mails:

    ---------------

    To: [email protected]
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: Thank you!

    David,

    Thank you so much for the jerseys! The boys love them! We won't let them run around in them due to the autographs, but we've gotten them matching t-shirts and they love it!

    In his match last week, Dieter stood still on the sidelines - hands behind his back - and didn't move until the referee started the match: just like Gabor! It was a riot.

    Give me a buzz next week - I'd love to plan to get lunch and catch up - it's been too long!

    Thanks again,
    Aimee

    -----------

    To: [email protected]
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: Diversify the Pitch

    David -

    The DFB sent me the info yesterday on DtP. Looks great! One of the first assignments is to interview our sponsor Manager: can we do lunch next week?

    Let me know,
    Sigrid

    --------------

    A married mother of two, and a subordinate: I wished that datable women were asking me to lunch.

    I look back at that thought now, and laugh.

  26. Really well written mate and very interesting! Keep up the good work!

  27. Quote Originally Posted by AndySams10 View Post
    Really well written mate and very interesting! Keep up the good work!
    Thank you so much .

  28. Aue: the aftermath

    I sat in my office, discouraged.

    Before the game, I had instructed my players to shut down Janjic and Loening to basically neutralize Aue's threat. They responded well - at halftime, Gabor's clean sheet was still in play. I encouraged them to press on, and they did - another full 45 minutes, and Aue couldn't find the back of the net.

    Unfortunately, neither could we. For that matter, neither team scored in the ensuing 30 minutes of extra time.

    Penalties are always a coin toss, unless of course you're England in the World Cup: that's rather like a kick in the groin. Still, Aue was perfect and we missed our 4th try. Bouncing out of the Cup in Round 1 - on penalties, no less, would hurt our budgets. I could survive the talk with Gerhard, but it was one I'd rather not have had.

    I wasn't too tough on the players after the match - for the most part, we played well. Even the staff was fearing some anger after my antics last week, but I couldn't blame them, either. In the end, I could only blame myself. No team's going to win when only training at 80%.

    I could curse the difficult draw, and rationalize the Cup as a sideshow, but in the end I had failed: we were a Second Division squad that needed all the funds we could get, and I hadn't done my job.

    On my way out, I found Sigrid in the training room.

    "No worries?" I asked.

    "None - we're keeping an eye on Osako, and will know more in a few hours. We'll let you know tomorrow."

    "Lunch on Wednesday?"

    "Sure thing, boss: see you tomorrow."

  29. Staff Meeting

    I called the meeting to order 30 minutes late: we were getting some interest in Ott, but so far the offers were insulting. I spent some time renegotiating and sending counter offers back.

    David Williams, Manager: Well, not the result that we were looking for, but you guys delivered on our game plan. Good work. I probably shouldn't have backed off of the training, so that's on me. Now, we have to move on. Huge challenge this week, team: Kaiserslautern on the road.

    Markus, what have you found out?

    Markus von Ahlen, Assistant Manager: Predicted to place 5th. A bit pessimistic considering they made noise in the Bundesliga two seasons ago. Teed off on SC Victoria in the Cup yesterday, 6-0. A lot of pent up anger after getting 0 points in the first two League matches: a 0-1 home loss against Dusseldorf, and a 2-4 loss on the road against Aalen.

    They can really spread the scoring around, but I suppose their single biggest threat is Mohammadou Idrissou. I'd be hesitant to mark him too closely, though, and free up someone else.

    Their defense isn't great - if we can withstand the pressure, we should find some success.

    Play a counter attack on the road, then?

    David Williams, Manager: You're probably right, but I don't want to send that message to the team just yet. It's important that they believe that we can beat anyone if we stick to our plan. We'll adjust things if we concede first.

    Sigrid, you mentioned an update on Osako?

    Sigrid Pilcher, Physio: We had thought 4 or 5 weeks before he could train at full speed. It's looking a bit better than we first thought. We're thinking he can be match fit 4 weeks from now, 5 weeks total: and back for the Dusseldorf game if you need him. Before that, we were targeting Union Berlin or even Inglostadt.

    David Williams, Manager: Great to hear, thank you. Back to the regular training regiments this week, folks - let's focus a bit more on finishing for our strikers, though. We've had too many chances in the past two games to only have found the net once.

    Let me know if you have questions, and thanks.

  30. Lunch with Sigrid

    I arranged to meet Sigrid at Seehaus Beergarden, just a short drive from the Arena. I arrived first and found a table outside by the lake. I ordered a beer and an appetizer, and waited for Sigrid.

    I spotted her a few minutes later. She waived when she saw me, then joined me at the table. As she sat down, I looked across at her.

    I guess I'd never really noticed her until just then: this was our first encounter outside of work. She had light blonde hair, flecked ever so slightly with hints of brown. It looked positively radiant in the sunlight. Her blue eyes bore a striking resemblance to 1860 light blue. Moreover, she was just a strikingly pretty woman, and a little bit shorter than average, but with a build that might suggest a fitness coach. I was momentarily stunned.

    "So, how are you? What have you found out about DtP?" I offered.

    "Just a bunch of introductory reading right now, but it looks really interesting: a remarkable blend of psychology, football history, tactics, leadership, negotiation, and - of all things - acting. Not what I expected."

    "Sounds about right," I replied.

    We sat there for two hours talking about our lives, our families, our youth, our careers - with a little bit of football mixed in.

    I learned that she had lived in Austria her whole life: Vienna and then Salzburg. After college, she had pursued a career in marketing, and had done well enough: but at some point, she realized she hated it. She quit, and enrolled in medical school. She'd made that decision a little bit later in life than most, so the traditional career path would have found her in her early forties before settling down into a stable and well-paying job. She had found her role at FC Red Bull Salzburg quite by accident: through a friend of a friend and some half-hearted follow-through, and the next thing she knew she was just kind of there. Through it all, she had never married, and had no kids of her own.

    I shared my youthful journey across the globe, my University soccer days, failing as a player and finding out that I wanted to coach instead - and how I was more likely to be found on Saturday watching game film than at a beer hall.

    It was a nice afternoon, and I kept wondering when the interview would begin. It wasn't until halfway through that I realized that was weaving her questions in to our casual conversation, another mark of a good coach.

    We parted ways, and I returned to the Arena to handle the afternoon training and watch the transfer list: still no news.

  31. 2. Bundesliga, Week 3: 1860 @ Kaiserslautern

    A failed player lands a dream gig!-fws.jpg

    Markus and I sat together in the tiny Manager's office within the visiting dressing room at Fritz-Walter Stadion.

    "Amazing to think they played World Cup matches here," Markus observed.

    "Yes, the U.S. got their only point of the tournament here, somehow finding a way to draw Italy 1-1. The Italians of course won every other match that year."

    "That was a great tournament."

    "Yes, it was. Markus - do you think we stand a chance today?"

    "I don't know, David - it's a good side at home. It's going to be tough. You're sure you don't want to open on the counter-attack?"

    "No, but my gut tells me not to. Like I said, we'll switch it up if we concede a goal."

    "Let's go talk to the team."

    We opened the door and walked into the locker room. Nervousness clung to the air. My players looked up at me expectantly.

    "I won't lie, boys - this is a good team we're playing here today, and on the road to top it off. They're going to be fast: be faster. They're going to be strong: be stronger. They'll close on the ball in no time: get there first. This is the kind of team that we need to beat - in their own backyard - if we want to play with the big boys this season. Gerhard phoned me today to let me know we'd have 3,000 traveling fans here today - you play this match for them. I have faith in you, boys, let's go!"

    The nerves showed on the pitch. For the first 20 minutes, we were out-possessed, out-hussled, and Kaiserslautern seemed to be biding their time, just waiting for the moment to strike. They got their first chance in the 28th minute when Bugera lofted a corner kick goalward: a beautiful high-arching kick that dropped nearly straight down, right into the 6 yard box. Karl and Torrejon were both there, and our defenders were flat-footed. The ball dropped down, and a blue shirt somehow found it - Schindler headed it away, but right at Oliver Occean (on loan, for some silly reason, from Frankfurt). My heart skipped a beat as Occean lept and headed the ball toward our net, but Gabor saw it and was in perfect position, easily making the save.

    At halftime, it was still 0-0. We had done a bit better on possession, but were still losing. Another half like that, and we'd be done.

    "Alright, gentlemen: we've proven that we can play with them. Let's get back to our game in this half, shall we? Settle down with the ball, find your teammates, be patient.

    In the 50th minute, it was our turn for a near-miss. Stahl and Wood worked the ball from midfield into the box, and Stahl saw Stoppelkamp on a run: the ball started forward in the nick of time - the flag was still down. Moritz collected the ball, basically from penalty shot range, and had an unobstructed shot on goal. His left foot made the strike, and the ball beat their Keeper Sippel. My eyes widened and the crowd gasped - but Stoppelkamp had hit the post!

    Minute 64 saw Bulow make an interception and play the ball forward to Bobby Shou Wood. Marc Torrejon tripped him from behind at midfield, and he landed awkwardly. The ref blew the whistle for a foul, but Bobby was not getting up.

    "Hain! Get over here. Get ready," I said as our physios were tending to Bobby. He walked off under his own power, but was clearly done for the day.

    Before Hain went in, I pulled him aside "You've been wanting some first team football and here's your chance - they don't come much bigger than this: on the road against fellow promotion favorites, in a scoreless match with 25 minutes left. Make me a believer!"

    He did.

    Minute 78 saw Stahl with the ball from 25 yards out. His diagonal pass threaded two defenders to find Stoppelkamp in the penalty area. Moritz passed it sideways to move it away from the defenders - he found Lauth in perfect position. Lauth wound up and launched a rocket at the keeper, but Sippel blocked it with a diving save. The shot was too hard to hold on to, though, and it bounced off of his arms and slowly rolled to the right. Hain saw it, put on a burst of speed, and met the ball at the left hand corner of the 6 yard box. With Sippel still on the ground, Hain tapped it in for the score! 1-0 1860!

    Our fans went wild.

    Kaiserslautern were deflated, and defeated. They wouldn't threaten again. Determined to leave no doubt, though, Hain found the net again in stoppage time - this time, Stahl fed him a pass which found him standing 10 yards out. With the keeper on his feet this time, Hain fired a wicked shot that slid past the outstretched fingers and into the net. 2-0 1860, another goal for Hain, right at the final minute.

    From a 0-0 draw to a 2-0 win in 15 minutes: how tremendous was that?

    After the whistle blew, I caught up to Hain walking off the pitch.

    "Message received. Outstanding job today, Stephan."

    A failed player lands a dream gig!-kais.jpg

  32. Post Match Press Conference, Week 3: 1860 @ Kaiserslautern

    Benjamin Otto, The German Football Review: Stephan Hain picked up the Man of the Match award with his two goals as a late substitute, what did you say to him as he came on?

    David Williams: Actually, I was asking him if he'd seen my cell phone. I can't seem to find it at the moment.

    Sebastian Gutzeit, The German Football Express:
    Gabor Kiraly has gone 390 minutes of competitive football with a clean sheet, what do you make of his performances?

    .... I paused - I guess I hadn't realized it until just then.... 4 games played, no goals conceded except on penalties against Aue.

    David Williams: Gabor's been brilliant, and the team have followed his lead. That said, this is a team effort. In four games we've allowed only 10 shots on target - our offense today had 9 on target. The defense has been solid, and everyone from the keeper to the strikers have contributed in keeping our opponents off the board.

    Benjamin Otto, The German Football Review: How big is this win for you today?

    David Williams: Any time you win on the road it's huge - but today was especially great because it came against such a strong side. I think this is a critical confidence boost for us.

    Thank you, gentlemen.


    I walked out and found the trainers' room.

    "How's Bobby?"

    "We'll know more when we're back in Munich," replied Sigrid, "but we're hopeful that it's just a sprained wrist. If so, with the offweek, he should be OK to go against Aalen."
    Last edited by fmzor; 01/05/2014 at 05:02 AM.

  33. The Offweek

    Our match against Bochum wasn't until Monday, so I gave the players the weekend and then Monday and Tuesday.

    On Sunday afternoon, I rang Aimee:

    "Hello?"

    "Aimee? It's David, how are you?"

    "David! I'm great - we were all so thrilled with the match this week. 2-0 against Kaiserslautern, who would have thought it? The team is coming together nicely."

    "It's early", I said.

    "You'll see this squad promoted, David, I know you will."

    "Let's hope so," I replied. "Listen, we're off next weekend before the Monday match - how would you, Mark, and the boys like to come to the Arena on Sunday for an insider's tour of the venue? I can make sure Gabor and Moritz are there."

    "Don't upset your players on our account, David. Mark's out of town on business, but I'd love to stop by, and the boys will be delighted!"

    "Great - let's say noon? Give me a call if things change."

    "Noon is great, David. We'll see you then."
    Last edited by fmzor; 02/05/2014 at 03:04 AM.

  34. This is brilliant. Awesome story. Keep it up!

  35. Great story, can't wait for the next lot

  36. Quote Originally Posted by Aracnyd View Post
    This is brilliant. Awesome story. Keep it up!
    Thanks!

  37. Quote Originally Posted by AinsleyLee View Post
    Great story, can't wait for the next lot
    Thanks!

  38. The Tour

    I was pleased with our training during the week - I had asked the staff to focus a bit more on playing attacking football. Our possession game had worked thus far, but it didn't lend itself well to playing from behind - we needed to show another face to keep from becoming too predictable.

    I had arranged for Gabor and Mortiz to meet me at Allianz on Sunday, and a few minutes before noon, Aimee arrived with her children. With Gabor and Moritz safely hidden in our locker room, I gave the group the VIP tour - the luxury seating area (that they already knew), the press box, the trainers room, the visiting locker room. I relayed the brief history of the Arena, and the much longer history of 1860 and football in Munich. We strode out to the pitch, and the boys were delighted to see the scoreboard, which read "Welcome to Allianz Arena, Hans and Dieter."

    While we were standing on the sideline, as I had arranged, Head of Youth Development Volker Piekarski strode out to meet us.

    "David! Are these the prospects you were telling me about?"

    "Yes, Volker - Hans is an attacking midfielder, and Dieter is a keeper."

    "Outstanding! Let's get them geared up for their tryout!"

    The boys were ecstatic!

    We strode in to the locker room where Gabor and Moritz were ready.

    "Gabor! Moritz! We have some prospects visiting. You two go stretch while they gear up - we need you to play a scrimmage so Volker can get a proper look at them!"

    The kids hurriedly threw on t-shirts and shin guards, and ran out after the players.

    "Volker - report back to me in an hour!"

    "You got it, boss," he replied, and left Aimee and I alone in the locker room.

    "David," she gushed, "that's amazing, thank you so very much. They'll be so happy. How did you get them to come in on a Sunday?"

    "The benefits of being Manager. But really, the squad has training this afternoon - Aalen tomorrow as you know. Shall we head to my office?"

    "Lead the way," she said.

    I led her in to my office and I poured drinks as we sat down.

    "It's been too long, David," she sighed.

    "It has, yes. How have you been?"

    For the next hour, it was like old times: we talked about the past decade of our lives - her career, her kids, my days struggling as a coach in the Regional leagues, my time with Union Berlin, my unexpected interview with 1860. We reminisced about our college days - the matches, the training sessions, the late night parties, the friends with whom we've parted ways. Two old friends, reunited - it was the first meaningful connection I had made since returning to Munich.

    Volker strode in "They're all done, Aimee" he said.

    "Well, David, thank you again! I should be going," she said as she stood up. "It was great to see you," she continued, "call me when you have some time - we should get dinner!"

    "Will do. I'll look forward to it.", I replied.
    Last edited by fmzor; 02/05/2014 at 03:23 AM.

  39. 2. Bundesliga, Week 4: Aalen @ 1860

    "OK, boys, we're facing a lower-half team this time out, but they'll be gunning for us. Don't take it easy on them. We've been working on attacking all week, and I want you to go out and bring it to them. I still want you to watch your passes, but pass forward instead of sideways - keep the pressure on and get an early goal - they'll buckle."

    If only it were that simple...

    I watched from the sidelines, fuming, as my team played an uninspired first half. Another opening half, another 0-0 score at halftime. I exploded in the locker room

    "What the hell is going on out there, guys? We've generated zero offense - if this team had any class at all, we'd be down 0-3. Whatever it was that you did that half, show me something ELSE next half. You're making me regret giving days off after a win, gentlemen: get it together!"

    They did.

    3 minutes in to the half, Lauth maintained possession from 24 yards out on the right side. With his back turned the other way, he sensed Bobby Shou Wood tearing down the other side of the pitch. Lauth lofted a beauty toward him that was perfectly placed: far enough to beat the defense, but not too far that the keeper could play it. Wood darted forward at just the right time - the result was a textbook goal. The ball and Wood seemed like they were thinking as one, and he met it with a header from 7 yards out - the keeper was frozen as the perfect play put us up 1-0.

    Aalen battled back to win a corner a mere two minutes later. Our defenders must have still been dreaming about Bobby's goal, because they certainly weren't playing defense: Jonas Acquistapace made a sloppy play on the ball, but it took an odd bounce and Gabor was beaten, his scoreless streak snapped at 440 minutes.

    "#@%@!" I screamed from the sideline. "You come out like that, then fall asleep and give them an equalizer? GET TO WORK!"

    They did.

    Wood scored again in the 62nd minute, after Stahl's pass hit him perfectly: Bobby had no one between him and the keeper, with 40 yards to run at him. He dribbled quickly to outpace the defense, and let the shot rip at the 18 yard line - the poor keeper never had a chance.

    Bobby would add an assist in the 83rd minute, when he found transfer-listed Ott alone in the penalty area for an easy goal.

    Final score, 3-1 1860!

    "Great reaction in the second half, boys," I assured them at half time, "we can be happy with that result. 4 matches in the League - 4 wins. Keep it up."

  40. "Markus, tell us about Dusseldorf," I opened the meeting.

    "12 points in 4 games, just like us. The media has them slotted for the promotion playoff spot. As you know, they were promoted two seasons ago, but finished 17th in the Bundesliga last season. To try to get back up, they've loaned a striker named Charlison Benscho from Stade Brestois 29 in the French Lige 2. As Benscho goes, so goes Dusseldorf. Take care of him, and the rest of their squad isn't much of a threat to us."

    "Okay, Christian, prep the back line this week - Charlison is only 24, but he'll be better than anything we've seen to date. Stefan, how are we on injuries?"

    "Clean list, Bobby's back again, so we should be good to go."

    "Does anyone have anything else?" I asked.

    "David," said Uwe, my fitness coach, "our recent success has seen our first team stay pretty much in tact. Our backups haven't seen the match time either in the starting lineup or as reservists. I know you don't want to mess with things, but we should probably schedule a midweek friendly against our reserve team to get our backups their game legs."

    "Great idea, Uwe," I said. "Markus, please set it up. That's all, everyone, let's get it done this week."

  41. After several weeks of trying, I finally got a nibble on Ott:

    To: [email protected]
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: Mike Ott transfer

    David:

    Congrats on your string of success! I look forward to seeing you in the Bundesliga next season. So much so, that I want to help you get there.

    I know that Ott isn't a part of your plans yet, and you could help your cause this season by moving him elsewhere. I'm offering 500k Euro. Think it over and let me know.

    Good luck,
    Sami


    Well, then. I certainly couldn't accept 500k. I'd tell him that later. If we could come to terms, Ott would surely be gone: Leverkusen are an ECC side, and Ott could find a massive profile there in a few seasons.

  42. 2. Bundesliga, Week 5: Dusseldorf @ 1860

    Name:  fduss.jpg
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    Another big test for my squad early in the season - and yet another scoreless half!

    We had played pretty much even. Dusseldorf was a talented side, but were somewhat helpless up front if they couldn't find Charlison, and we had done well to shut him down.

    Physically, though, they dominated the game. This came out on the stat sheet: 12 fouls to our 3. Hopefully, the team wasn't getting too hesitant.

    The second half was pretty much a bust, too: but Dusseldorf's aggression got the better of them - twice we were tackled in the penalty area, and the ref saw it both times. Steinhofer knocked home the first goal from the penalty mark in the 75th minute, and Bobby Shou Wood scored on a penalty kick in the 86th.

    We ground out a 2-0 victory, both goals on penalties. Still struggling to find our attacking form, but we had won the points on the day.

    2-0 1860!


  43. Before the season, I completed an analysis of how many points we'd need to snag an automatic promotion spot. A lot depended on the relative balance of the League, of course, but in digging back 10 years of 2. Bundesliga history, I found that 66 points would always win at least 2nd place.


    I rounded up to 68 to make the math easier, then broke down the season into (nearly) equal parts:
    34 matches: 19 before the winter break, 15 after
    Pace: 2 points per game

    I broke the first part of the season into 4 groups: 3 groups of 5 games, then the final group of 4 games. The last part of the season easily broke down into 3 groups of 5 games.

    For the 6 groups of 5 games, I'd need 3 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss out of each; for the single group of 4 games, 2 wins and 2 draws would suffice.

    Through the first set of games, we had 15 points - a perfect 5 wins! That meant that heading into the second block of games, we had 1 draw and 1 loss in the bank. Obviously, I was thrilled with the start to the season.

  44. Monday morning at Allianz Arena, and a letter had arrived for me. I opened the envelope to find a card:

    A failed player lands a dream gig!-union.jpg

    (Once a Unioner, always a Unioner)

    Inside, I instantly noticed Uwe's (my former boss, not my current fitness coach!) handwriting:

    "David -

    I look forward to your homecoming on Sunday, but it's a shame that your winning streak will have to come to an end. I'm sure the fans will offer you a spirited welcome back.

    Meet me on Saturday at noon at the Memorial to the German Resistance. See you then.

    Best,
    Uwe"
    Last edited by fmzor; 03/05/2014 at 04:51 AM.

  45. Been busy working the past few days. Looking forward to being able to catch up with this story later tonight

    Keep up the awesome work! Loving how much work you have put into it, it isn't just about you simming the game and putting up the results...you are telling a proper story with a background and history! Fantastic!

  46. Back in Berlin: the day before the match



    The sixth game of our season found us traveling to Berlin, and I arranged to arrive two days earlier than the rest of the squad. I was quite nostalgic walking around the city that I used to call home. I'd have plenty of time to see my old grounds on gameday, but on Saturday, it was time to meet Uwe.

    I arrived at the courtyard of the memorial, and he arrived only a few minutes later.

    "David!", he greeted me "wonderful start for 1860 - wonderful start for Union! If it continues like this, David, we could be repeating this meeting next year, only as Bundesliga managers."

    "That would be amazing. Uwe, it's so great to see you."

    "You as well, David."

    We sat in the courtyard and talked about the young season, about Berlin, about Munich - and mostly about the joys and stresses of being a Manager.

    "All my time in Berlin," I observed, "and I don't think I've ever been here."

    "You're of course familiar with the 20. July plot, and this courtyard where the executions took place. The museum, though, recognizes and remembers all aspects of German resistance to the government during WW II. I try to come here every year - it's important historically. Besides, these movements - and the ones during the GDR days, are of especial importance to our fans.. excuse me: to Union's fans."

    "Not just to them," I reminded him.

    "True enough, but we were the anti-Stasi side, as you know. Ours is a club that has always had that designation."

    "Fair enough," I noted.

    "David, I wanted to meet away from the pitch to offer my congrats on a great start. I've been watching 1860 with even greater interest. A difficult draw in the Cup and you didn't have your best game that day - but you have your fans believing again, and that's crucial. Some advice - things change quickly in football, especially in the lower divisions and especially with fan bases that have suffered for so long. When the tough times come, stay the course and don't think too much of it. You're never as good as your fans think you are in happy times, and never as bad as they think in tough times."

    "Uwe - I want to thank you for everything you've done for me. This has been a bit of a whirlwind, but I wouldn't have had this opportunity if not for you."

    "Nonsense," he replied, "you earned it yourself. Good luck tomorrow, David." He stood up and left the courtyard.

  47. Well I will tell you one thing, after i ve read the opening post I didnt know is this a real life story or not (despite the very first line in there). So you made me check the 1860 website just to make sure . Good writing
    Disclaimer89 likes this.

  48. 2. Bundesliga, Week 5: 1860 @ Union Berlin

    "Gentlemen," I opened, "obviously, I know this team well - I know this Manager well. They're at home, and will want to show their fans a good time. They're going to try to turn this into a goalfest and simply outscore us. This leaves them vulnerable on the back line. Weather the storm and trust in Gabor, then strike them back on counter attacks. This is a game between two promotion contenders, and we only have 2 chances to directly gain points on them. Make this count."

    The match started with us kicking off. We worked the ball into their zone, but a Hertner pass was blocked by Union defender Marc Pfertzel, who fed a cross-field pass to midfielder Parensen, 35 yards from Union's back line. My defense - my entire team, really, promptly fell asleep. I watched in horror as my squad simply let Parensen dribble the entire length of the field - completely unchallenged - until he found himself 10 yards out near the left touch line. We had 5 defenders in the penalty area to mark two Union players as Parensen lofted his cross goalward. Somehow, it wasn't enough: Adam Nemec found the ball first, knocking a header towards our goal. Gabor blocked it, but couldn't hold it. The rebound lofted up dangerously, and Nemec was still on it - without missing a beat, he found it with his head again. Gabor, this time, was on the ground after diving for the first attempt. The ball floated in our net effortlessly, and the crowd exploded. I looked up at the clock: 0:55 had passed, and we were already down 0-1.

    A failed player lands a dream gig!-unionv1860.jpeg
    We never recovered.

    Union dominated the match - we ended up only getting a shot on target once every half hour, and Torsten Mattuschka added a goal in the 54th minute to remove all doubt.

    1860 0 - 2 Union Berlin

    I had suffered my first League loss of my professional career.

    A failed player lands a dream gig!-unionloss.jpg

  49. Quote Originally Posted by Disclaimer89 View Post
    Been busy working the past few days. Looking forward to being able to catch up with this story later tonight

    Keep up the awesome work! Loving how much work you have put into it, it isn't just about you simming the game and putting up the results...you are telling a proper story with a background and history! Fantastic!
    Thanks so much! Glad you're enjoying it. I've actually played ahead a bit, so the story thread is catching up to where the save is. It's oddly tough to go back and write about what happened, so I'll get caught up (4 more matches), then post as the save progresses.

  50. Quote Originally Posted by bonebuster View Post
    Well I will tell you one thing, after i ve read the opening post I didnt know is this a real life story or not (despite the very first line in there). So you made me check the 1860 website just to make sure . Good writing
    Thanks, man

    My interaction with the club is of course fictional, but I've tried to keep the names of the other principles - and the backstories - as close to reality as possible.

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