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[FM15] - Malone Again, Naturally

Started on 22 June 2015 by tenthreeleader
Latest Reply on 25 January 2016 by tenthreeleader
Well done Bobby!
This guy stands up for himself. Will he stand up for his players?

“My wife made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday.” – Rodney Dangerfield

“Football widows” is a term more commonly used in America than anywhere else about a different game, but I could understand why some women feel like they have taken second place to the national game of virtually every other country in the world.

Not so Amanda, it seems. We had a nice enough time together before the Brentford match but with me having a football club to run that was ostensibly trying to win a few matches, there wasn’t a lot of time for relationship building. Yet she said she didn’t mind.

For those who demand unflinching loyalty and commitment to club from the manager – which is to say, every single fan I’ve ever been aware of – that’s okay. For me, though, being married to my job is now the way I roll.

The game is hard on relationships. And, relationships can be hard on the game.

I saw Amanda again, quietly, the evening before we hit the road again. This time, it was for dinner, and she’s quite easy to look at.

She’s a model and also a trained nurse before she went into her other career and as such, I could understand people wanting to stay an extra night in hospital just to look at her even if they aren’t sick. I think I’ve mentioned that she’s an eyeful.

I could get used to her, in fact. That would not be a difficult decision at all.

That said, the furor from the newspaper picture died down a bit and that was a good thing because after the Cup tie I had some pretty disappointed board members. Gartside sent me a commiserating “rough luck” message after the match but we both knew the club wanted to spin a few extra pounds by reaching the later rounds if at all possible.

Early in my tenure, bad results like the Brentford match are embarrassing and not good for job security. It was a match we really needed to win, as strange as that might seem, because too many more results like it will mean I’ll have all the time I want for spending around Amanda Caldwell.

I tried to avoid Kim Pickering, as well. That was a bit odd, given the little sparks that seemed to fly from her in my direction only a few days previously. But I thought it was for the best. She seemed easily offended, to be fair, and that was not an ideal circumstance for me to be around especially with a fellow club employee.

As a result, it was a good thing to be able to concentrate on a trip to Yorkshire to face Leeds. The expectation of focus from the players at training was a given after the nature of the Brentford loss and thankfully for the players, they gave it to me.

Spooner does most of the nuts and bolts work with training, but the more I get to know the squad the more likely I am to take on certain parts of that training myself.

I already handle the strikers personally and so far that has been a good thing. Right now I’m just staying out of Mason’s way because he’s in form, and that’s also a good thing.

But the message I really want to send to these players is that a high level of play and concentration is the minimum expectation. We’re going to lose matches from time to time and that’s a given. But if there are breakdowns and capitulations like we saw against Brentford, that’s something I have to nip in the bud.

The loss itself isn’t the issue. How the loss came about is something that can’t be repeated.

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Brilliant statement at the end.. "How the loss came about is something that can’t be repeated." Shame about Ms.Pickering though :/
Thanks, Jer :) I'm very glad to have you reading each day. As for the loss, Bobby is a quick study. Kim Pickering, on the other hand, is not.

30 August 2014 – Leeds United (2-0-2, 12th place) v Bolton Wanderers (3-1-0, 2nd place)
Championship Match Day #5 – Elland Road, Leeds

From the moment we got off the coach, we were on a business trip.

I made that abundantly clear to the players at the team breakfast and again as we pulled into the lot. Had the battle been purely one of history and logos, our stylized Red Rose of Lancaster would have been at full odds with Leeds’ White Rose of York.

Thankfully, it wasn’t that bad – the “War of the Roses” is generally our neighbours Manchester United against Leeds – but the 50-mile trip east on the M62 was still plenty time enough to think about the task at hand.

I wanted a better performance, and I wanted us to take out some frustration on the club from the other side of the Pennines.

I hardly needed to remind them of what they were likely to face. But I did anyway. We managers are funny like that.

“Clubs have been bunching the midfield on us the last couple of games to try to slow the direct game down. When you see that, and I’ll probably see it before you do, we’ll get wide. Play with width and let Chung-Yong and Rob get the ball into the box. Be patient. It will come for you if you just stick to your plan. Watch how they focus their defence. If they collapse on the ball, we’ll make them wish they hadn’t. If they play us wide across the middle of the park, we’ll use our pace and make them wish they hadn’t. Play our game. Now, hands in and let’s go.”

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-3-2): Bogdán, McNaughton, Wheater, Ream, Moxey, Medo, M. Davies, Chung-Yong, Hall, Mason, Beckford. Subs: Lonergan, Mills, Feeney, Vela, Danns, C. Davies, Clough.

It was a full-blooded game. It took only two minutes for referee Keith Hill to make a stamp on the match, booking Wheater for a challenge on Mirko Antenucci that looked fair to me.

I was upset about my central defender potentially having to play 88 minutes on a yellow card, but was somewhat mollified just three minutes later when McNaughton beat his man to the inside and was heavily bundled off the ball by Alex Mowatt. Hill put us on the spot, and Moxey rifled a perfectly-taken penalty past Marco Silvestri to get us off to a flyer on the road.

United had had something of an apathetic start, splitting their first four matches, and we were loaded for bear. Manager Darko Milanic stacked the middle, playing his group in a 4-1-2-1-2 that, like Boro, ceded the wide areas of the field to us.

Chung-Yong, seeing it too on his first foray up the park, looked at me. I merely nodded. He did the rest.

Playing from behind, Leeds used their compact setup to try to bore a hole through the centre of our back line, without success. We held them off for the first half hour and virtually everything they had was from distance.

As the first half wound down, we got a set piece about forty yards from goal on the right and Medo hooked it toward a group of players massed in the middle of the Leeds penalty area.

Chung-Yong headed the ball down and to his left, with his back to goal. He spun, picked up his own header and beat keeper Silvestri to his right post from a sharp angle to the keeper’s left. It was a very bad goal to concede – virtually any keeper playing a correct angle could have stopped the shot. But Silvestri didn’t and you could see Leeds sag.

Five minutes later, we had the ball in their net again. Moxey, who is a real weapon on long throws, found Chung-Yong in the left side of the Leeds area. He hooked the ball toward goal where Mason headed on to his right – and there was the Yankee Doodle himself, Ream, to reverse the ball with a looping header over the despairing reach of Silvestri for 3-0 to in in 40 minutes.

We were flying, smelled blood, all that sort of thing – and we still were not done.

Wheater found Mark Davies, who found Chung-Yong, who found Beckford’s forehead, and the Jamaican buried the ball as the clock shifted over into first half stoppage time.

Four-nil to us at halftime. There was really no better way to respond except with a fifth, and we hadn’t time for that. The ovation the squad got at halftime was raucous, along with a sharp admonishment that their levels of performance had better not drop in the second half.

And they didn’t. Leeds started fouling in frustration because they couldn’t stop us, and Hall handed four cards to them in fifteen minutes in the second half. We were getting a rise out of them, the crowd was very restless, and even on-loan Paraguyan substitute Brian Montenegro’s goal nineteen minutes from time did little to lift the home team’s spirits.

Liam Feeney, who I brought on as a replacement for the nicked Chung-Yong just after the hour, closed us out for the day by finding Mason up the middle, only to see the striker return the ball to him with a lovely little chip timed perfectly for his charging run.

Again, SIlvestri did not play the angle well, and Feeney beat him with a rising shot to the far side, again from a sharp angle, in 82 minutes. Of course, those kinds of shots don’t go in if you don’t take them, and Feeney celebrated a great breakaway goal with the kind of celebration usually reserved for much closer matches.

Then, with the match in injury time, veteran Stephen Warnock did something really silly. He capped an afternoon of frustration for Leeds by scything down Feeney as he was trying to make a back pass to McNaughton. Four goals down, in injury time, that’s something you just don’t do, and referee Hall showed him a second yellow card.

In the grander scheme of things, it meant nothing. The match was already won. But Milanic had words with his player as he headed up the tunnel. Presumably something had been said on the bench when Leeds started accumulating cards, but the player shot back at his manager while still on the park.

The fans whistled loudly, the argument went on for a few highly tense moments, and then the match was over.

This one was never close. We left Elland Road on top of the Championship thanks to three points that were very richly deserved.

Leeds United 1 (Brian Montenegro 71; Stephen Warnock s/o 90+2)
Bolton Wanderers 5 (Moxey pen 5; Chung-Yong 35; Ream 40; Beckford 45; Feeney 82)
H/T – 0-4
A – 27,191, Elland Road, Leeds
Man of the Match – Lee Chung-Yong, Bolton (MR 9.3)

# # #
your going to win the league if you keep this up! But please don't beat Brighton next time
Fantastic result. Leed's formation could've hit you hard, but it seems that their full-backs are not capable of both defending and attacking (duties). Seems like everyone had a good day for you, even the substitutes.
One of the best away results I've had in 14 years playing the game. Yes, Leeds could have done more but we let them have almost none of the ball and we were good value from beginning to end.

After all the talk about possibly losing Mark Davies to Fulham, in the end, there were no bids for any of my players as the August window closed.

That was fine with me – the squad I have is plenty big enough for the job I have to do. In fact, as Gartside reminded me as part of the September board meeting, it’s probably too big, and may well have to be culled.

I’m sure that player sales will probably be on offer for January, especially the club’s position is such that they become even more necessary than they probably already are.

However, the story from Leeds may just be getting started, where some reporter asked Warnock what he thought about being sent off. Instead, he went off on his manager in print, and today’s news was that he had been fined and transfer-listed.

Darko Milanic evidently won’t take that from any player, and neither will any manager worth his salt.

Even me. I have my first want-away player, and after his performance on Saturday, it’s really too bad.

Chung-Yong asked to see me the Monday after the Leeds match and said his agent told him the club was about to receive an offer for his services from Leicester City and they both wanted me to take it. Of course, the transfer window being closed made the whole conversation moot, but try telling that to a player who wants to leave.

“In the first place, I’m not happy you are here for several reasons,” I said. “First, because I do not care to be told, by any player, which bids I must or must not accept. You aren’t in charge here. I am. Now, that said, if a bid that matches your valuation comes in, I will take it and I will tell you why.”

He looked at me blankly.

“If people want to play at a higher level, I really oughtn’t stand in their way if they get the chance,” I said. “That’s fair to you. But second, and more importantly, nobody walks into this room and tells me they don’t want to play for this club and then just leaves. We are top of our league at the moment, on a good run of form of which you have been a key part, and what seems to matter to you this morning instead is you. My responsibility is to your teammates and to this club and I intend to honor it.”

He looked at me, an expression of surprise on his face.

“There are players behind you on the depth chart who want to play. They will now get that chance. That will be all.”

He got up and left, closing the door softly behind him. Shaking my head, I returned to reading my scouting reports.

It was a huge risk for me to take. For crying out loud, the man had been brilliant against Leeds and when he’s out there playing well, we are a much, much better team. But he approached me the wrong way. But now, if he wants to go, I’ll accommodate him. It’s not fair to his teammates otherwise.

So, he’ll have to go. It’s just a question of when. And as for testing my patience? Well, let’s just say it’s not a good idea.

However, I did take notes for the “Handling Professional Players” segment of my licence training. This would evidently not include “Tying Disgruntled Players’ Parts In Knots” as far as I can tell. It may not be the UEFA-prescribed way to handle ‘player power’, but I have 25 senior squad members and probably fifty professionals to think about in addition to Lee Chung-Yong.

Meeting with the board on September 1 was another fun experience. At least this time, Kim Pickering looked at me without looking like she’d slit my throat if I turned my back. A violent place, emotionally speaking.

She was cordial and polite, and that was a step in the right direction. Gartside’s message, though, was that we had to find £2 million just to stay in line with Financial Fair Play rules. If we don’t start drawing a few more fans to the Macron, there’s only one place to get the savings.

Lee Chung-Yong, please pick up the courtesy phone.

# # #
Great update. Love it how you handled it, especially as you had issues with giving players chances (for the variety of options) and you will now drop Chung Yong.
The inmates can't run the asylum. Lee is the best player I've got by a wide margin but his morale is suffering from wanting to leave and Bobby has a balancing act to perform.

For all King’s bluster about our performance in the Cup, the Bolton News then had to come back out to the ground to cover the story of yours truly receiving the Manager of the Month award for August.

Edging out former England manager Steve McClaren of Derby and Tony Mowbray of Wolves, our unbeaten start to the Championship slate had grabbed some attention in the form of a personal award for me.

Individually, Mason was third in the Player of the Month voting, despite leading the league in goal scoring. Fulham’s Cauley Woodrow was the winner there, and Hall was just edged out by Brentford’s James Tarnowski for the young player gong. Tarnowski had had an entirely nondescript game against us in the Cup but had gotten off to a decent enough start in the league calendar.

When the photographers arrived I held the trophy in one arm, smiled pretty for them and then handed the bauble to Dell to take back to my office, where I would then have to find a place for it. Those things were even farther from my mind when I looked at the assembled group in front of me as the photographers took their snaps.

Kim Pickering stood behind the photographers in all her glory and was evidently wanting a word.

“Never rains, but it pours,
” I said to myself. “Let’s see. Holly’s angry that I was in the newspaper with Amanda, who I didn’t know was either a Star Babe or a Villa supporter, Kim’s mad that I was in the newspaper with Amanda, and if anyone gives me any stick about any of this I’m liable to start throat-punching. There. That about covers it.”

Before I headed off to training, I gave the young lady the time she was evidently seeking.

“Bobby, I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t treat you well, and I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”

I looked down at her, blond hair swaying ever so gently in the light early afternoon breeze, and couldn’t help myself. She seemed contrite, and being the idiot that I am, I let her off the hook.

“Of course,” I said. “I really don’t want you upset with me. I think you’re a nice person and I want a good relationship.”

“Thank you,” she said, and then smiled.

“I’d like to take you up on that coffee, if you don’t mind.”

I thought about a meme I had seen on the internet that morning. It read: “The person responsible for stopping me doing stupid s**t has been sacked.”

# # #
Wow, interesting twist. Nice to see you getting recognized for the Manager of the Month!
Always nice to have things go well for a change :)

It was a good time for a break. Thankfully, the schedule gave us one.

With international weekends to deal with, a number of players headed out for a week with their national teams.

Ream, unfortunately, went with the USA, which got its heads handed to them 6-2 by Argentina thanks to a Leo Messi hat trick. Beckford went with Jamaica and scored twice in a 3-1 win at home against something called the Turks and Caicos Islands. Medo and Sierra Leone beat Botswana 3-0 and Davies scored Wales’ goal in its 1-1 stalemate with Armenia. It was his first goal for country and he was described as being pretty well chuffed about it.

And want-away Chung-Yong played the full ninety as South Korea drew Kuwait 1-1. I didn’t have the heart to tell him South Korea is much further east than Leicester.

Young midfielder Tom Walker left for a month’s loan at Hednesford Town which he could use for his development. Coppell keeps trying to lighten the wage load too by loaning some of our other prospects but so far can’t shift some of the bigger earners who aren’t ready for the first team as yet.

Bogdán and Danns played for Hungary and Guyana respectively, as Bolton’s squad made a good showing in the second part of the international sequence. For Danns, it was his first-ever cap so he and Davies really both had things to celebrate.

There was also quite the internationally significant match played on the 8th September as the United States sent its u-20 team to Shiroudi. That’s in Iran. So were their hosts, and the Yanks emerged 3-0 winners thanks in part to two late goals. Would have been quite the match to watch, and last I heard no one had been taken hostage.

The board also took a suggestion from Vaughan to make the Rotherham match, our second one back after the break, as a ‘fan day’. I was the type of player who thought every day should be fan day, but evidently it took real thinking for our guys to come up with that.

Anyhow, half price for kids. Such a deal! With two matches at home right after the international break, the schedule favours us and with a number of key players finally getting to rest a little bit, I’m optimistic about our chances to keep winning.

Oh, and that coffee with Kim Pickering went well. Very well, in fact.

She apologized again, which is something women never do to me. Between Kim and Amanda, it had now happened twice within a single week. I was wondering if I smelled good or something.

But then she opened up a little bit to me. She had followed my career closely and wanted to get to know me better if it was appropriate. She felt very badly when Amanda had put her arm around me in the picture and reacted badly.

And she, in her way, was every bit as nice as my new friend Miss Caldwell. That was both good and bad.

It was good in that I need friends, especially as attractive as those two are. It was bad in that it was probably not wise to have them both at the same time.

What a problem to have to have.
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What a story! :D
Thanks so much! Glad you are enjoying and following along!

13 September 2014 – Bolton Wanderers (4-1-0, 2nd place) v Sheffield Wednesday (1-1-3, 20th place)
Championship Match Day #6 – Macron Stadium, Bolton

Our status at the top of the Championship lasted until Fulham’s match at Reading, which the Cottagers won by a 2-1 score. They vaulted us into the top spot with 18 points, but with our match in hand, we could overtake them with a win against the Championship’s worst defensive club.

This fact wasn’t lost on us when we gathered at the Whites Hotel for the pre-match session on the Friday. This match was important enough for us to gather the team – even at home – to stay together the night before the match.

There are some clubs who take this approach almost as a religion. Last season, Southampton even went so far as to bring mattresses tailored to each player with them on the road, to replace the mattresses in the club’s away hotels.

Club staff would arrive a day early to make sure each room was perfectly cleaned, the club chef would arrive a day early to make sure the food was perfect, and even the pillow cases and sheets were washed and ironed by club staff in exactly the same manner.

If we could afford that, I’d do it in a second. But since we can’t, having the players stay in the team hotel at home is the next best thing.

Hopefully, it will lead to a closer-knit squad, which is the reason I’m doing it. But the extra time with the team allowed me to re-emphasize a few home truths before the match.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-3-2): Bogdán, McNaughton, Wheater (captain), Mills, Tierney, Trotter, Hall, M. Davies, Moxey, Mason, Beckford. Subs: Lonergan, Vermijl, Ream, Vela, Dervite, C Davies, Clough.

One of those truths was that I wanted a fast start. At home, we haven’t been nearly as sharp in attack as we have been on the road, and that has frankly been a mystery to me.

Evidently, it’s going to take a better Sherlock than I am to figure it out, because the Owls stacked the midfield against us and tried to stop us high up the park. They got great support from their full backs as well and we had the devil’s own time trying to find space for the vast majority of the first half.

In fact, they were even able to counter us, which was pretty annoying. The book on how to play us is starting to make its way around the league – play five wide or make us go the long way round.

They chose the former, and with people we could have used out of the eleven (koff koff … Chung-Yong … koff koff) we had a hard time finding our way through.

The official line on Lee was that he was still recovering from international exertions, and to an extent he was, but he and I both knew why he had been held not only out of the eleven but out of the eighteen. You don’t want to play here, you don’t have to play here.

Moving Hall from the left to the right with Lee out of the lineup was an adjustment for him, but I liked our shape better because Lee’s preferred method of individual play is to cut inside. He’s a natural inside forward, and our heat maps showed that, but the way I want my wingers to play is like wingers, and Hall’s better at that. That’s why they’re called “wingers”.

Anyhow, the Owls’ leaky defence had little trouble holding us back, and it seemed like some of the players needed a little rust knocked off of them.

At halftime, the rust got knocked off.

“There’s a football team in this room somewhere, and I’m looking for it,” I said, as the players were seated for their halftime breaks and sustenance. Really, gentlemen, this isn’t good enough. We aren’t getting the ball wide, we aren’t getting the ball into space, we aren’t moving off the ball. You’ve had two weeks off, would you prefer running in training since we aren’t doing it here?”

The looks I received in return were a bit disconcerting – not because the players were angry but because deep down they knew I was right.

But to be fair to them, Wednesday were doing what they set out to do. As José Mourinho might have said, they “were not playing to win the game”, which is what someone often says about the opponent they should be thrashing but aren’t.

That said, we had to find a breakthrough and in front of a home crowd which had seen us lose in gut-wrenching fashion the last time we had played in front of them, it was good to do that sooner rather than later.

We started better at least, and Beckford rattled the crossbar six minutes after the restart with a rasping drive from about twenty yards that had the keeper well beaten but not the keeper’s best friend.

The chances started to come a little more frequently after that and finally on the hour, we found one that found the net. Moxey, who has already meant so much to us this season, was the provider down the left, putting in a perfect cross from the boundary of the byline and the eighteen that found an unmarked Hall at the back post, with a finish he almost literally could not miss. He didn’t, and we had the goal we needed.

Forced to come out of their shell a bit, our visitors were a little more active, but as the match ticked past 75 minutes I wondered how well we would protect this lead.

I held a substitution back this time, perhaps a bit gunshy from the Brentford Cup tie, but Mark Davies solved all our problems for us eleven minutes from time.

We broke out with numbers from a Wednesday foray and it was one of the substitutes, Vela, who found him cruising outside the penalty area. After holding up the ball to wait for help, Vela found him with a very intelligent square ball, timing his teammate’s run to perfection. With a terrific first-time touch, Mark threaded the needle from range, somehow finding the lower left corner of the goal to secure the points and finish what had been a markedly better second half performance.

It wasn’t a goal glut by any stretch of the imagination, but it was certainly a solid performance – which put us back on top of the table.

Bolton Wanderers 2 (Hall 60; M. Davies 79)
Sheffield Wednesday 0
H/T – 0-0
A – 22,490, Macron Stadium, Bolton
Man of the Match – Mark Davies, Bolton (MR 8.3)

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Great start to the season, go easy on my fragile little Leeds next time though ;)
Love reading a Bolton story. Best of luck to ya for the rest of the season. Great squad.

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