Part 7: Waterloo
Alan was only standing there because his assistant manager had asked him to. Alan hated team talks as he had never had a successful one, it always seemed as if the players lost interest when he started talking. Alan thought he would change his approach to this talk and try and make it as cheesy as he could, that way the players and the staff wouldn’t request another one in the future. Alan opened the meeting with his short speech.
“I’m standing here, in front of you, because we are in a situation which we would want was different. We have only won once in the league so far and some of the losses we’ve endured seem to be due to circumstances over which I have no control. Nor do you. The penalty kick the IFK got last sunday was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen, you simply cannot blame yourselves for that loss. Remember that we are fighting a war and even if we lose the first battles of the campaign we can still win the war. I’m standing as a representative of Great Britain who has previously teamed up with Sweden and sent the mightiest of emperors into hiding. We have to remember that we cannot let our heads drop because we have lost a battle, we still have an entire war to finish.”
As Alan spoke he looked at the team which seemed to take in every word he said and as his speech progressed the team was sitting there nodding along. Alan was puzzled, he had been sure that using such grandiose metaphors would have alienated the players. At this point the captain, Emil Skogh raised his hand.
“Yes Emil, you have the word” Alan said pointing him out.
“I think the gaffer is right. We’ve played badly in several of the games we’ve played so far. I’m sure we can play better than what we have done. We are a better team than this and we should go out there and prove it.” Emil lightened up as he spoke and the team seemed to follow suit.
“Yeah Emil is right” A voice came from the back, on further inspection Alan found out that it belonged to the young winger Erman Toraman. “We really are a better team, we are just now finding out feet with a new manager and a new and confusing tactic. We will be better in time!”
Toraman had really lifted his game after his penalty miss in the Cup semi final and had been vital in the 2-2 game against Elfsborg. Despite the 2-1 loss against IFK Götborg the team had gotten some good results since the semi final, the Elfsborg game was against last season number 3 and a 0-0 draw away to last year’s league winners Gefle.
Alan was looking around the room with a look on his face that seemed to say “Has anyone got anything else to say”. A hand went up in the middle of the room, Alan’s eyes followed the arm down to face and saw that it was the young Danish goalkeeper Johan Holt.
“Yes Johan, anything you’d like to share?” Alan said in his most understanding voice.
“It’s been a real eye opener for me this season” Holt started “I’ve gone from the bench in the Danish 1st Division to starting in the Swedish Premier League and I for one can feel the pressure. I really like what you’re doing with the team Gaffer, but I know I haven’t played to the best of my ability. I’m sure everyone here thinks we’ve been playing badly. I for one will work harder than I’ve ever done before to get us through this season and I hope the rest of the team will too.” As Johan said the last sentence his tone had changed from the somber acknowledgement to a proper battle cry. The team responded with a loud roar of approval.
The fact that the team seemed so motivated completely struck Alan by surprise, he had, for the first time, witnessed a team getting motivated by their problems getting out in the open. It was something Alan had never thought would be possible. As perplexed as Alan was the only thing he could get over his lips was: “That’s the kind of reaction I was hoping for.”