We looked pretty good, all things considered. But I want more work done on defensive positioning so that’s how the squad is now going to be trained until I’m happier with what I see.
Simply put, some of the Championship opposition we will face is going to abuse us if we don’t get it right at the back. Too, right now we’re so good going forward, sometimes we’ll leave gaps which will leave us open to disorganization and counterattack.
We can dominate lesser clubs and the more I see of 4-1-3-2 the more I like it, but in all honesty there are some holes to patch up.
And I am starting to think I need to do something about Mills. In each of the last three friendlies, he’s looked like he’s mailing it in. And as he’s vice-captain, I can’t abide that from him.
I’ve gone to the touchline to encourage him, challenge him, you name it. Nothing seems to work. He’s coasting at a time no one at the club can afford to coast.
Spooner has his issues with Mills too, which makes me wonder if a change is needed. He’s popular with his teammates, though, and I need the dressing room under control especially in the early portion of my tenure.
Ah, the decisions I have to make.
With eight days separating the Yeovil match from our final friendly against Hamilton Accies, one of those decisions, alas, was not whether to attend the club’s annual sponsors’ dinner. It’s very much a requirement, especially for the rookie manager.
Attending the event meant trying to understand some Italian, as the club’s new sponsor is an Italian-based company. It was held in the complex’s Platinum Suite, part of the Bolton Whites Hotel attached to the stadium.
Macron Sportswear is making modest inroads into the English football market, as the supplier for Crystal Palace and Aston Villa in the Premiership as well as, of course, ourselves in the Championship. They also outfit about three dozen other smaller clubs in England as well as Motherwell in Scotland, a few Serie A clubs, most premier clubs in Wales and the Republic of Ireland, and Mallorca and Betis in Spain among others.
With the season about to start, the company higher-ups were in attendance, making a more or less whirlwind tour of the clubs they handle. Since Bolton is the only English club where the company has naming rights, our party at the Macron Stadium was really their show.
Company president Francesco Bormioli and CEO Gianluca Pavanello were Gartside’s special guests, and why not? They were giving the club a fair sum in exchange for naming rights as well as the chance to put their logo on our shirts for two seasons.
When we met, Bormioli’s first question was how often I was going to be able to get his logo on television. I think he was joking. To a point.
Obviously, he wants us to be successful and after having missed out on the playoffs last season by a single point, he’s banking on us getting promoted so we can give him more exposure in the Premier League. We must be a good bet to some people.
“As often as we can, Mr. Bormioli,” I finally answered, before taking my leave to schmooze other sponsors.
I’m not what you’d call a social butterfly. Holly would tell you that. She’d tell you some other things, too, some of which are true and others of which are bull patties.
Still, I did my part for the club, shaking hands, listening to stories about past Sunday league glories, of how their neighbour’s kid was a trainee at Bury, that sort of thing. At events like these, where optimism is high, everyone wants to find something in common with the manager.
But in December, when the club has gone six without a win and the topic of conversation is shifted from finding something in common to “you’re getting sacked in the morning”, managers tend to remember days like these with a little disdain.
But, the sponsors pay some of the bills, so I owed them a bit of my time. That’s what they got – a bit – until I headed off to a quiet corner to listen to music and greet people as they approached me.
While I was at it, I took out my phone and started to make some notes on players. I guess I just can’t help myself.
As I wrote, Gartside approached and sat a couple of seats over at my table. I looked up and we began to speak. I turned to my right and looked at Pickering, who wore a rather attractive outfit.
“Keep your eyes high,
” I reminded myself, and then realized that wasn’t such a great idea either, because she was standing and I was seated.
,” I thought, but that would have been worse yet.
It seemed odd, but Gartside was the better option.
“What can I do for you?” I asked.
“Just getting off my feet for awhile,” the chairman said. “Hope you don’t mind.”
“Just taking some notes. No trouble at all.”
“What do you do with them once you’re done?” she asked,
“Well, I e-mail the important ones to Dell, my PA, and she is kind enough to keep electronic and paper files for me. I’ll refer to them as I need to.”
She nodded her head. Her blonde hair bobbled just so as she did, and I had to make some mental reminders to myself.
I myself never had that hair problem. I always wore it short, and when, like my dad, I started to lose it at an early age, I cut it shorter. I’ve been told it looks good cropped, and I wear it like the actor Neal McDonough. Only he’s much better looking.
Kim, on the other hand, well, she looked like she stepped out of an Abercrombie and Fitch ad. That was starting to cause problems for me.
“Well, it sounds like a good system,” she said. She smiled, and I found it very difficult not to smile back.
Actually, it’s not a very good system at all, so perhaps she was just being polite. Gartside got up to resume his circuits of the suite and I followed his lead. No sense sitting around when the boss was working.
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