On the verge of greatness

‘So Vince, here you are, taking your unfancied ARC Oleiros team into the Champions Play off game against Freamunde. Just how do you feel knowing you could win the league in this game?’ The reporter asks as I make my way into the estadio do fontelo, home of Viseu

‘Hard work and committed players really. I always told the team to believe that we can win any game and this season there’s been no pressure. I’m happy with where we’re at, we’ve got promotion in the bag, winning this game and the trophy that comes with would be the icing on the cake, but as I say, we’re happy with what we’ve done so far’

‘Can you win the game? Freamunde come into this off the back of winning the last 2 games and are the overwhelming favourites’

‘All season long we’ve been the underdogs, nothing in that regard is going to change. The pressure is all on Freamunde to win the game. We can play our natural game and with confidence. Thanks for your time’

I make my way into the dressing rooms, the players are all there getting ready for the game and Ruben Parraga is explaining something to Dentinho and Nilson, our 2 starting forwards

‘Just don’t do it, leave the space where it is, they’ll have to commit men forward, oh hi Vince, I’m just telling the boys how to exploit the gap in defence we scouted last week’ he says

‘Great stuff, their center halves don’t like pace coming at them, like Ruben says they’re going to have to commit men forward, we’ll exploit that with both of your pace’.

After naming the starters and giving a small team talk basically saying go out there and have fun, the pressure is all on Freamunde, if we win the game great stuff, it’s not going to define our season. Call me unprofessional, but I’m treating this game as a pre-season friendly. All the hard work has gone into securing promotion, Freamunde should be winning this game, so with that in mind I’m not nervous or worried. Whatever will be, will be.

Everything that has happened this season led to this moment, this one moment that made me realise, despite by my own admissions this game was a hiding to nothing, that I’ve achieved something incredible here this season.

To say we didn’t deserve this would be an understatement. We went 2 goals up in the first half and never looked back. Freamunde just didn’t look like getting into the game at all. Were they complacent? Who knows but what I do know is we are the champions!

With that the season comes to a close. I set out to bring silverware to this club and I’ve done just that. We won the division despite being favourites to get relegated. End of season awards sees Farinha grabbing player of the season, Edivandio gets goal and signing of the season too.

Just as I head off for my own break, the chairman calls me into his office

‘Firstly Vince, absolutely fantastic season for us, you’ve done something incredible this year’

‘Thanks, it’s just…’

He cuts me off ‘Keep it up, as next season it’s going to be even harder, I just want you to know the only thing I’m asking of you is that you give it a go, try not to be outclassed, and fight bravely against the drop’

‘We will I can assure you of that, and that we’ll take nothing for granted’

As we’re now in the division above, we’ve taken a loan out to enable us to turn the club fully professional’

‘That’s fantastic news, believe me I’ll do everything I can to keep this club in the league next season!’

‘That’s good to hear, we’ve also started work on expanding the stadium as well. There’s regulations in the division so we’ve got that being completed to look forward to as well’

‘Great news’

‘One last thing before you leave, here is the offer of a new contract. As we’re now full time your’s, as well as the staff and players contracts have all been changed to reflect the extra days you’ll be here’

‘Of course I’ll sign. Thanks for the support’

Things are certainly looking good for the future. I know I won’t have the funds to attract top level quality players, but if I can get a couple of players in to complement the team already here, we may have a good chance of staying up next season.

I came into Oleiros with an idea of getting my foot in the door in the management game, and now after 2 short seasons the people of this small town call me O rei de Oleiros, the king of Oleiros.

Previous episode – Is an unlikely promotion on the cards?

Is an unlikely promotion on the cards?

‘First of all Vince, I’d like to say how delighted the board are with your running of the team’ Miguel Martins, the club’s chairman says

‘Thank you for that Mr. Chairman’ I reply

‘No I mean it, you’re doing a fantastic job. I also wanted to say, that no matter what happens in the next stage of the league, this season has gone down as a fantastic one’

‘Well I’m trying my best to make sure we finish as strongly as possible. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect us to be where we are right now’

‘That’s the spirit, now the only thing I will say to you, and don’t take this the wrong way, but you can go out there and continue on this season without any pressure on your shoulders. We’re not getting relegated and no matter where we finish, it will be the highest league finish in Oleiros history’

I’m pleased the chairman is backing me, and why shouldn’t he? We’re overachieving, long may that continue, and if I left today I can leave knowing that I’m the reason behind ARC Oleiros having their best ever season.

As the good feedback from the chairman comes, so does some disappointing news, with confirmation that father time has caught up with Philip Chidi as he announces his retirement. The decision was obviously based on his season ending injury sustained a couple of months ago, but when you know it’s time to call it a day, then you can’t really argue with that. His 12 goals in 17 league games really propelled us not only this season but his goals helped keep us up last season. He will be missed.

As for the clubs form, we certainly continued showing we’re a force to be reckoned with this season. Of the 12 games out of the remaining 14 we played, we lost 2, drew 4 and won 6, not only cementing our place at the top of Group B, but leaving us only 1 more win to secure an unlikely promotion.

Pre game team talk

‘You’ve all done magnificently to get this far, as you know we need 1 more win to guarantee promotion to Ledman Liga Pro. If we don’t get it today there’s no need to panic, no matter what we’ve given this club it’s best ever finish to a league season, not only that but there’s 1 more game to play, and there’s a very high chance we’ll get in the play offs anyway. But be professional, don’t get complacent, we’ve already beaten Mafra 3-1 away this season, let’s do the job at home yeah!’

The team go out to the corridor and wait for the ref and linesmen. As they do I walk out to the pitch alone, the Oleiros fans either side of the tunnel are cheering and clapping, I can sense the excitement in the air already. As I make my way to the dugout, I look around, and as usual this small stadium isn’t full, it hardly ever is, maybe when we get promoted we’ll actually see a sell out? Who knows, all I know is I want to win this game.

I’ve got to guide this team to a win here, or if not here we must win our final game and hope Uniao Sintrense, and their manager, West Ham reject Luis Boa Morte don’t win their final 2 games. We finish in the top 2 and we’re promoted, but if we finish top we get to play in the Champions Play off game, and if we win that then we’ll officially have won this division.

We really took the initiative in this game. The first half whilst you could say was even all round we had a higher number of shots and overall more possession, it’s just we couldn’t make the breakthrough and went in at the half still drawing nil nil.

Half time

As the team are sat in the dressing room, I stand outside with Ruben Parraga ‘ Do you think we should even change anything at all?’

‘No, we should keep plugging away as we have they’ll crack eventually’ he replies

‘I’m wary of counter attacks though’

‘I’m not, we should keep at it, we’re the stronger team here, they won’t want to get beat 3-1 again’

The second half was much like the first, we dominated for long spells of the game before grabbing a well deserved goal in the 75th minute

‘What now Vince? Do we keep attacking or sit back? Ruben asks

‘Drop 1 of the forwards, get Miguel on the pitch in the water carrier role’

‘The what?!’

‘The water, hang on you’ve never heard it called that before?’

‘No, what is it?’

‘I’ll explain why it’s called that some time, but it’s the defensive midfield role in front of the defenders, the anchor man’

‘Ahh right got ya’ and with that tells Miguel to get on the pitch.

Since the goal Mafra get back into the game, and have a couple of half decent chances that go wide. The players are nervous, I can tell.

I’m screaming tighten up & concentrate constantly to the players. We’ve not got long left, we can hold on for this.

In the 88th minute we nearly fell apart. The ball was played long, one of those awful hanging balls that defenders hate. We half clear it but it falls out wide, then get swung in and unbelievably they had a man wide open just a yard or so away from the penalty spot.

He jumped and heads the ball, when really he could’ve controlled it and took a shot, but he heads it towards goal and Carlos Espinoza pulls out an absolute worldie of a save to his left hand side to keep the score at 1-0.

The ref blows for full time, we’ve done it. We’ve done it! We’ve only gone and got promoted to the Ledman Liga Pro!

‘Carlos, absolutely incredible save there, you’ve won the game for us with that’

‘Thanks boss’

‘We won’t address the fact they had a man wide open near the end, just enjoy today, you’ve absolutely earned this don’t let anything take that away, what we’ve done is unbelievable! Go and enjoy yourselves tonight’ I say to the rest of the team.

Unbelievable. Unreal. Amazing. These are just some of the things going through my mind now. I am not getting ahead of myself, but there’s a chance we could end up playing in the Champions play off game, and we could win the whole league. But no, not yet, I’m going to enjoy this promotion, and whatever happens will happen.

Next episode – On the verge of greatness

Previous episode – It’s within reach

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It’s within reach

We’re within touching distance of a place in the promotion stage of the league, I can almost taste it, we had 3 great results in December, even without our leading scorer we managed to grab 7 points from 9 to keep us in first place of Group E on 35 points. A couple more wins and we should qualify for the Promotion stage

‘Juan Mata, really? He won the Ballon d’Or’ I ask Ruben Parraga

‘Yes, not sure how he won it though, Messi and Sanchez both scored more, but Mata got loads more assists.  I think his assists are what won him it’ Ruben replies

‘No Ronaldo in the top 3 either?’

‘Nope. He won’t be bothered though’

Half time team talk. Caldas SC away 7th January

‘Don’t you dare let up, they’re down to 10 men and we’ve been all over them so far, get the goal and they’ll crumble. No excuses’ I relay a message to the team. We’ve been the better team against Caldas, they’re down to 10 men, no way we’re losing this.

90th minute of the game

‘I actually can’t believe this. Is this their first corner of the game?’ I ask Dentinho, who is sat on the bench after I subbed him off in the 75th minute

He just nods back. I can tell he’s not happy at being brought off, he hadn’t played well. Anyway they’re corner is about to be taken

It’s whipped in towards the far post, I would’ve thought they’d have kept possession at the flag.

We’ve cleared it, well it looks like we’ll take a point from this

They’re keeping possession, they’re definitely happy with the point

Hang on, why is Augusto calling for the ball?

He gets played in edge of the area

He’s not going to…?

He’s hit it low

It’s hit Tiago Gomes on the knee, Espinoza is wrong footed…..

‘NOOOOOOOOOO for fuck sake, how the fucking hell have you let that go in?!?’ I yell at no one in particular ‘This is an absolute disgrace!’

The players and staff on the Caldas bench are running around as if they’ve just won the World Cup

‘You got lucky you bastards, next time we’ll have you, piss off’ I tell their manager I don’t even have a full time team talk, that was an absolute disgrace we lost that today, no way we should’ve not even taken a point in that one.

3 weeks later

‘Maybe the Caldas game was a reality check Vince, I mean we were poor against them, Fatima and Alcanenese, but at least we’ve made the Promotion stage’ Ruben says

‘I would’ve liked to go into the next stage in a bit of good form though. I guess one way to look at it would be this is a new start in a way, we set out in this stage as we mean to go on’.

Well we qualified for the promotion stage, despite losing 3 of our next 4 games. I intend to start this part of the competition as we mean to go on, no messing around we go into each game with the intention of winning.

We’ve been drawn in Promotion group B and I think our biggest threat is going to be CD Mafra also finished top of their group.

This is our time, MY time. I do not want to let this slip away

Next episode – Is an unlikely promotion on the cards?

Previous episode – Set the tempo

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Set the tempo

Our next 2 months of football saw us go on a great run, picking up 6 wins, a draw and a loss, with the loss knocking us out of the Taca de Portugal Placard, the Portuguese FA cup.

We kick November off at the top of the league and continue our good form with wins coming over SC Torreence & Benfica e Castelo.

Before the SC Pombal game I take Philip Chidi to one side to praise him for his recent form

‘Great work so far Phil, you’re our leading scorer with 9, this is exactly why we signed you, keep it up’

‘Thanks for the praise boss I appreciate it’ he replies

We go into our next game against SC Pombal looking to continue this form and really cement our place at the top of the league

12 minutes into the game

‘Fantastic finish Phil. Ruben, get the back 4 staying back, no pressing let them come to us’ I relay a message to goalscorer Philip Chidi and Ruben Parraga

The game continued on, and we found ourselves 2 goals to the good after Marco Farinha buried a chance from a corner

‘Marco, keep wide, don’t cut in, keep there on the right, they’re weak out there’

‘Noted boss’ Marco Farinha replies.

SC Pombal press forward straight from the kick off.

A long ball over the top

Gomes clears, but it goes straight to Landim not far out from the area

Get in, great tackle from Chidi there, he’s lost the ball though and it’s loose. Hold up, he’s pulled up from his sprint forward and he’s down holding his leg

‘Ruben, find out what’s up with him’

‘He’s probably pulled a muscle boss. I’ll get the medic out there’ Ruben Parraga replies

‘Waste some time, there’s only 3 minutes to go until half time’

Ruben nods back.

As the medics rush on the filed a few of the players gather round the dugout for a drink

‘Keep it up boys, plenty of pressing, no letting up, we cannot let them get back into this game’ I say to Farinha and Dentinho who are stood with me

A couple of minutes pass when Ruben says ‘They’ve been a while on the pitch boss, I’ll go check it out’

‘No don’t, the physio is speaking to the ref’ just as I say that, the linesman walks over to me

‘Vince, sub needed, Chidi can’t carry on’

‘Are you sure? It didn’t look like much’ I reply

‘Your guy out there says he’s done more than pull a muscle, you’re going to need the strestcher’

‘You’re kidding?’



As 2 more medical professionals rush on to the pitch, there’s an ominous silence all around the stadium. The fans from both teams are all in silence, they can tell this isn’t good.

A few more minutes pass before anything happens. The medics manage to get Philip onto the stretcher, as they do it seems as though every fan in the stadium is stood up and clapping

‘Ruben, stay with him’

‘Yes of course’ he replies as he walks down the tunnel with the medics and the stretcher carrying Philip Chidi. I hope it’s not as bad as it looks.

As the game restarts, there’s a nervous atmosphere around, it’s a bit surreal in a way. We manage to get to half time still 2 goals up

‘Okay guys, we all know Philip’s got injured but don’t let that dwell on your minds, we’re winning this game and we need to keep it that way, understood?’ I say to the team. A hushed silence is in the air, only Carlos Espinoza responds by saying yes boss. ‘Don’t throw this away, we’re in a good position here, keep playing as you have been and we’ll see this through’

Straight from the kick off SC Pombal were at us, closing down at every opportunity and pulled a goal back 8 minutes in. The ball was crossed from the right wing, and somehow Landim got on the end of it with a decent header, we should’ve cleared it but there’s nothing changing it, we’re now only 1 goal up. Maybe they can tell the teams head isn’t in this after that injury in the first half.

66 minute of the game

‘Carlos, get the center halves splitting up, stretch the width, make them work for the space’ I yell at Carlos Espinoza in goal. He nods back and gestures to Gomes at center half to move wider.

Gomes receives the ball outside the area from Carlos in goal and looks up, there’s nothing on, no one is moving in front of him. Nelson Torres at left full back drops deeper and calls for the ball, he receives it, takes a touch to steady himself, and he’s now waiting for movement in front.

Again there’s nothing on, no one is creating any space at all, frustrated Nelson throws both arms up and I can hear him shout ‘give me a clue then!’ but nothing happens. He turns back towards goal and plays the ball back to Espinoza.

As he hits it, their goal scorer Landim breaks through and intercepts the ball, how the hell did Nelson not see him, he’s at least 6 foot 2?!? He’s got the ball and Carlos in goal rushes out, as he does Landim traps the ball with his left, does a fake shot with his right which makes Carlos attempt to save the shot that isn’t coming leaving the right hand side of his net wide open, and Landim places the ball into the far corner. 2 all now, and it was all our own doing.

‘Ruben, get Dentinho off, I want Edivandio up top, get Cordoba playing in the hole, I want long balls up over the top, break the offside trap’ I yell at my assistant. He makes the changes and the shape of the team has changed.

We start to look a bit more threatening now we’ve got Edivandio’s pace up front, he’s running the defenders ragged and in the 81st minute Amorim clips his heels as he breaks free of the defence. As he goes down Amorim knows what’s coming and doesn’t hang around for the ref to actually tell him he’s got his second yellow. As the card comes out he’s already on his way down the tunnel.

‘Tiago, TIAGO, fuck sake TIAGOOOOOOOO’ I yell towards Tiago Gomes, our tallest center half, he finally looks my way before the ball is played from the free kick we’ve just won

‘Me boss?’

‘Yes you there’s only 1 Tiago, get up top now, you’re playing as a striker’

‘Got ya’

We need some height here, they’re down to 10 men and we need to crowd the box with bodies.

Nothing comes of that free kick, however Tiago manages to win a corner as Farinha whipped a long ball into the box, Tiago got his head on it but it took a deflection on it’s way to goal.

‘Whoa whoa whoa no Carlos get back ya daft twat, you’re not going up for this corner, stay in your net’ I’m yelling at Espinoza in goal, it’s not a game where we want to put all 11 men in the box. We’ve got all 10 out field players in the area for the corner.

The ball comes in, it misses everyone and is cleared out of the box.

Edivandio gets the ball and drives back in the box, whip it, get it towards the center halves I’m saying to myself. He does neither and drives to the byline. When he gets there he doesn’t have time to get the ball into the box as their other full back Rodrigo Chana trips him and the refs given the penalty!

‘Marco, you’re up. Pick your spot, don’t change your mind’ I tell Marco Farinha who steps up, takes 3 steps back and buries the ball into the net. Game, set and match, just.

After the match we’re on the coach back to Oleiros when I get a call from our head physio Helder Jacinto

‘Vince, bad news, his cruciate ligaments have gone, he’s looking at the very least 9 months out, that’s best case’

‘Shit, okay thanks. Tell him I’ll call him later’ I reply. Well that’s our top scorers season over with, I’m absolutely gutted for him, he’s been playing well and is a big part of our form this season.

The day after the game, Philip Chidi has spoken to a reporter about his injury and confirmed he’s considering calling time on his career. I do speak to him in person at the hospital, but he’s not sure what to do just yet. I tell him he’s got my support as well as the support from the club during this period. I don’t want to smother him at the minute, I want him to think about his recovery first and foremost. My concern, other than obviously our main striker and leading scorer being ruled out for the rest of the season is when he went down the team sort of caved in. We gave a 2 goal lead away, but the response and to push on to win the game was incredible.

We end November with 3 wins from 3, and sitting first in the league with 28 points. The next 2 months are going to be interesting

Next episode- It’s within reach

Previous episode – Can we hit the ground running?

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Can we hit the ground running?

We’re playing Benfica e Castelo Branco in the season opener, and hopefully we can replicate the 4-2 over this team from last season it will give us a good platform for the rest of the season

Team meeting

‘Okay guys, this is the start of a new season, and I firmly believe we’re in for a good year if we all stick the game plan, stay committed and always play to win’. The team nod in agreement. ‘This is the season Oleiros announce that we’re not here just to make up the numbers, and that we’re going to give it a right old go this year!

The game itself saw us take a 1-0 lead into half time. The goal came when we had a pot shot just outside the area which took a wicked deflection off defender Ruben Pacheco and wrong footed the goalie. Apart from that it was an even first half.

As the second half went on we got another lucky break with another own goal. This time new signing Nelson Torres cut inside on his right, then back onto his left and pinged the ball across from the byline. As it travelled towards goal it hit Nelson Carlos and went into the net, 2-0 to us. We rounded out an almost perfect game as Torres himself got on the score sheet as he placed the ball home from close range to give us a great win to start the season off.

We followed that win up with another win 2-0 at home to SC Pombal, and really 2-0 flattered them as right from the off we took it to them and they were lucky to still be in at half time drawing. It took until the 64th minute for us to break them down but when we did we thoroughly deserved it. We added a second to kill the game off 10 minutes later to give us 2 wins from 2 to start the new season.

As for building on those results, we couldn’t make it 3 from 3 however as went down 1-0 away to Lourinhanense in a game we were probably the better side, but we just couldn’t make that breakthrough.

We finish August off with 2 wins and a loss, that sees us finish in 5th place in Group E.

If we can keep up the winning ways then I don’t see why we can’t have a strong season. The players are all on board with me now, I speak very good Portuguese and my ideas are getting across to the team without the need of translating through my assistant Ruben Parraga. I think if we can build some points early on then we can try and set the bar, I’d rather be leading the chase than playing catch up.

Next episode – Set the tempo

Previous episode – Season number 2, here we come

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Season number 2, here we come

July 1st 2017

‘After various meetings with the scouting team, as well as my newly appointed assistant manager Ruben Parraga, I am very delighted to welcome these 4 players to the club. I feel all 4 will come in and contribute to a great season for ARC Oleiros’

‘Vince, as you’re aware you’re a little light in numbers overall, with no fewer than 9 players leaving as their contracts expired at the end of the season, will there be more signings coming in? the reporter from the Oleiros Football post asks, and he speaks in English

‘Yes you can be sure of that, I have already spoken to a contact at Vitoris de Setubal about getting 1 of their players in on loan, as well as a full back who is having his medical here today as well, also…’

I’m cut off by another reporter ‘You’ve not got a recognised first choice goalkeeper, surely that is a priority? He says in a rude manner

‘Thank you captain obvious. If you had let me finish, I was going to address that. Gomes made it clear he didn’t want to extend his loan deal, and wanted to try get in the Academica first team, good luck to him, but I have spoken to a contact of mine and I’ve got a meeting with a goalkeeper who I think can come in and do a job for us’

‘Can you shed any light on who he is, or where he currently plays?

‘No afraid not, I don’t want any other teams possibly catching wind of the deal, it’s 1 I’m very keen to get done. Thank you for your questions, that’s it for today’

With the 4 players we’ve got confirmed, we get confirmation that Rui Mauricio has also singed a 1 year deal. He’ll most likely rotate between left full back and left midfield.

As I make my way into the training room we get confirmation that Bruno Miranda has agreed a loan deal from Vitoria de Setubal, this is a great signing for us as not only is he a quality player he’ll only improve. I’m very happy with this signing.

With the players we’ve got, I’m confident of a good season. Whilst we’ve managed to get in 6 players to replace the ones that left, we’re still short in goal. I’ve had a meeting with the player recommended to me by an old friend back in Australia, and he seemed keen but I’ve not heard anything from him.

3 weeks later, less than 1 week before the start of the new season

As the weeks go by we have a couple of pre season friendlies and play well enough, but I’m still anxious about the goalkeeper situation. As we finish our final run out in pre season, I’m sat in the dugout in our stadium just looking around, taking it all in. It’s actually really nice, despite it being small and barely ever sees more than 300 fans, it’s a good looking little stadium. I’m thinking we need to turn this place into a fortress, a place where opposition teams won’t want to come and play, but I’m getting ahead of myself here, and as my thoughts trail off I hear a voice to my left.

‘Hey Vince, sorry I’m late, those annoying visa issues. I’m here now, when’s our first game?’ the voice said. It’s a voice I recognised from our telephone conversation a few weeks ago

‘Oh hi Carlos, better late then never! It’s good to see you again. I take it you’ve signed for us then?’ I reply

‘Yes of course, I signed 3 weeks ago, I told the HR lady, she said she’s waiting for international clearance to get me here, I thought you would’ve known?’ Carlos Espinoza, our new number 1 goalkeeper replies

‘No, I’d not heard anything, I was starting to worry, our first game of the new season is in 3 days and we’ve only got 1 goalkeeper training in the first team, however we do have 5 in the youth team, but none of those have had any first team action’

‘Ahh right, well I’m here and raring to go’

‘Great stuff, I’ll catch up with you shortly’. I can rest easy now, we’ve got the players in I wanted and whilst it was cutting it fine we managed to confirm our new goalkeeper.

The start of the new season is almost upon us, and once again we’re in Group E. Luckily for us we’ve not been drawn against any of the relegated teams from the second division, the Ledman Liga Pro, so if there was any more of an incentive to go out and take this season seriously, that was it!

We’re playing Benfica e Castelo Branco in the season opener, and hopefully we can replicate the 4-2 win over this team from last season.

Sometimes, it’s not always about the destination, but the journey, and my journey has already seen me overachieve last season. I intend to build on that this season and see where it takes us.

Next episode – Can we hit the ground running?

Previous episode – End of the season mini-sode 2

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End of the season – mini-sode 2

‘See look, Braun Strowman is at least 6 foot 7, and has just choke slammed Roman into the mat, you can’t tell me that wouldn’t hurt not even a little bit?’

‘But they know how to land. There’s no way they’d let someone else actually hurt them for real’ Ruben replies

‘But even you can see that getting slammed onto a hard surface is going to hurt isn’t it!’

‘Well the ring is padded, no way it’s made of wood or anything’

‘Really, you really just said that. Look at the size of the wrestlers, both at least 6 foot 5, even the refs not small, you’re telling me the ring is padded and can hold all that weight?’


‘You’re an idiot’

‘You watch wrestling’

‘Do you want to find yourself a new job?’

‘Okay you win’

‘No, I mean it, do you want a new job?’ I say in a downbeat sort of way

‘Not really, I like it here with you we can do some good things’ Ruben replies

‘Well I haven’t told anyone but Rafael has left as my assistant manager, so I need a new one, and I can’t think of anyone better than you’


‘Yes really. The coward didn’t even have the balls to tell me to my face he was leaving, I had a reporter approach me on the way out yesterday, I gave him some dross about respecting Rafael and that we got on really well, but we never got on well at all’. Just as I say that Braun Strowman gave Roman Reigns a second power slam to beat him in the main event of the Payback pay-per-view. ‘Look, now Braun’s hitting him with steel steps, and before you say something stupid like they’re plastic, these are the same steps these wrestlers used to walk into the ring’

‘Yeah well there’s something in them that stops it from hurting when they get hit’ Ruben replies

‘You really are something you know that’

‘It’s fake Vince, anyway look I’ve got to go somewhere, if you’re serious about me being the new assistant sort the details out, I’ll happily stay’

‘Cheers Ruben’ As he leaves I get confirmation of the team of the year as voted by the fans, and Santos gets player of the year, Drogunov is both signing and young player of the year, which is disappointing as he is on his way out of the club

With that I’m heading back to the training ground to address the squad and hopefully improve where we can.

Next episode – Season number 2, here we come

Previous episode – The run in, can we stay up?

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The run in, can we stay up?

‘Not 1, not 2, not even 3, but 4 goals!! Outstanding play today Philip, you were incredible’

‘Sim amigo, obrigado’ Philip Chidi replies, who scored 4 goals in this must win game. I don’t think he understands English, he must’ve assumed by my reaction I was happy. We absolutely dominated that game, the players really showed up in this one.

From then on we went on a run of 2 wins and 3 losses to see us finish 4th in the relegation stage of Group E, and avoiding relegation.

At our end of season team talk I tell the players 2 words, and only 2 words – mission complete! We set out to get 1 thing done and that was survive, and we did by a good 9 point margin too. It turned out to be a good season all things considered, and I am confident we can better this season’s finish and dare I say, push on for a top 2 finish, enabling us to play in the promotion stage?

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, but I think with the right mentality, we might just do something good next season. We do need address the wobbly form though, we seem to win a game, lose a game, win a couple lose a couple. If I’m really serious about our chances of a really good season we need to get some consistency in. I need to get the mentality that we’re too good for the drop in this team, and I need to get players in that fit the bill, and are first team ready.

Just as I’m leaving for my own end of season break, Vlad Drogunov has once again rejected my offer of a new contract. I’m a little disappointed as he’s been good for us this season, but we’ll go in again and if he says no then so be it.

Season one of the journey is in the bag, and all things considered, it’s been a good season for us. Expected to finish at the bottom of the league to survive quite comfortably really is definitely a positive. We’re going to look at everything in the off season, players leaving, who to target to bring in, tactics, training the lot. I want to go all out next season and see where that takes us.

For now though, I’m going on holiday.

Next episode – End of the season Mini-sode 2

Previous episode – Relegation group stage

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Relegation group stage

There’s no 2 ways about it, we could go down. The media had us down to be relegated in the clubs first season in this division, but we did well enough to only miss out on a place in the top 2 by a few points, but there’s been times when we hadn’t looked like winning. The best chance we have of staying up, I think, is to go on the attack from the off. We’ve got 12 games to play, and even though we’ve had some half decent results up to now, they all count for nothing as a few bad showings from now could see us drop into the bottom 3 of this division.

‘Comece como pretendemos continuar’ I say to Ruben Parraga, in Portuguese no less

‘Sim amigo, devemos procurer obter algo bom desde cedo’ he replies

‘Sorry Ruben, I’m not that good at Portuguese yet, I heard we should look to get, but that’s as far as I got, I’m still learning’ I reply with a smile

‘At least you’re picking it up boss. I said we should look to get some good form early on’

‘I think after our last 2 games and the way we played, a good result against Lusitania isn’t out of the question’

‘Sim chefe, vou preparer a equipe’ he replies and heads off toward the training room

I head yes boss but other than that I don’t know what he said. My Portuguese is basic at best, but I’m learning and if I can carry on picking it up, I feel my effectiveness will improve.

Half time team talk

‘Nos fomos o melhor time aqui’ I say to the team, however I ask Ruben to tell them we need to press on and continue being the better team as we’ve had the better of the chances in the first half.

Ruben relays my message. The team seem confident in their demeanour. I tell Ruben to instruct the lads to get out on the pitch 5 minutes early and carry on warming up. If Lusitania see us out there early hopefully it will have a psychological effect on them, and give us a slight advantage going into the second half.

As the second half went on we found ourselves in front when Nilson buried a snap shot just inside the area. It was no less than we deserved as we’ve been the better team. Shortly after we got another, this time Dentinho buried a close range shot. I turned to Ruben and told him I knew these 2 would work well playing together. Dentinho grabbed his second and our third when he connected with a header from a cross. We did allow them a consolation goal not long before full time, however we even managed to get a 4th goal, and completing his hat trick was Dentinho. After the game I pull Dentinho to 1 side and say in broken Portuguese ‘parabens pelo hat trick, estou muito satisfeito’

‘Obrigada Vince, apenas fazendo minha coisa’ he replied.

No idea what he said, I got Vince, but that was it. He seemed happy enough though and we as a team definitely are with this win.

We won our next game 2-0 at home to Operario dos Acores, then went on a bit of a bad run which saw us get 2 points from 4 games which saw us slip down to 5th in Group E.

Pre game team talk Atletico Alcanenense

‘Nao se enganem sobre isso, est um jogo deve ganhar’ I say in a very slow way. I hope my broken Portuguese is understandable

‘Sim amigos, Vince esta certo, devemos vencer este jogo’ Dentinho responds

‘I’m Sorry, Ruben please tell Dentinho I only understood Vince is right, but thank him for agreeing with me’

Ruben speaks to Dentinho, who smiles and nods back. I get the feeling he appreciates my trying to speak in Portuguese

‘We must win this game, we cannot afford to slip up now, Lusitania & Gafetense are only 3 points behind us, we really can’t rely on them slipping up to keep us in the league’.

Once my message was relayed to the team, they head off towards the pitch. I’m starting Dentonho & Chidi up front in this one, both have good pace and positional sense, we need to win this game to better our chances of staying up.

Next episode – The run in, can we stay up?

Previous episode – Mini-sode 1

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Mini-sode 1

‘I don’t know why I like it, I just always have’

‘It’s fake you know’ Ruben Parraga replies

Sigh, that statement again. ‘It’s not fake’

‘It is’

‘It really isn’t’ I say through gritted teeth

‘It really is though, they know what the other person’s going to do’

‘Ruben, if it’s so fake, let me powerbomb you through that coffee table over there’

‘WHAT?! Are you mad, that’ll hurt like hell!

‘So it can’t be fake then can it!’

‘But it is, they know what to do and when to do it’

‘Ruben, soap operas aren’t real either, but you still sit and watch them don’t you!’

‘Yeah but…’

‘But nothing! Wrestling is scripted, as in they know the outcome of the match, but to say the moves they perform are fake is just wrong. See look, Kevin Owens has just done a frog splash from the top rope, onto Roman Reigns on the outside of the ring, through a fucking table! Tell me how the guy getting jumped on, by another 6 foot something and about 16 stone fully grown man doesn’t feel that, as it’s fake?’

‘Well they know how to land don’t they’ Ruben remarks. The smug twat.

‘Right, I’ll ask you again, let me jump off this sofa, onto you through that table over just like you’ve seen on the telly’.

He shakes his head.

‘Don’t wind me up. It’s not fake, they really are throwing each other about. Now piss off will you I’m trying to watch the rest of the Royal Rumble’

With that he leaves my flat. I can now watch the Rumble from the other night in peace and quiet. Even at my age I’m still very much entertained by wrestling. Just as the Kevin Owens versus Roman Reigns match ends, my phone vibrates. It’s a text from the clubs owner:

Vince, Philip Chidi signing confirmed, he’ll be at the training ground tomorrow. Bye for now.

So we’ve managed to sign Philip Chidi, winger / forward who is experienced at this level, and has scored 8 in 34 games for Brito. I think with his experience and decent all round stats for this level, he can come in and contribute to our staying in the league. With this signing, along with the good performances we’ve had already I am quietly confident of staying in the league. Right enough of work, I want to watch the end of this Royal Rumble.

Next episode – Relegation group stage

Previous episode – It happened after 10

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