I am happy to report that for the time being, Stefano Emiliani is letting me keep my job.
Even he could find no fault in our performance yesterday and when we wheeled into the Euganeo car park at midnight after the match we had about 200 fans there to greet us.
I had Muzzi get off the coach first and he enjoyed the adulation of the support for his hat trick. Then we filed off the coach one by one and I got off in the middle of the group.
Somewhat surprisingly, I also received an ovation, which was as heartening as it was anything else. Patty was there to meet me as well and each time she goes out in public it is a sign of her growing confidence.
This time, though, she had a message for me.
“There’s going to be a verdict on Friday,” she said. “They’re reading at 3:00. Can you come with me to Venice after training?”
“I wouldn’t miss it,” I said. “Regardless of what they decide, I’ll want to be with you.”
“Good, because I’d like to have you there,” she said, a soft twinkle in her eye. I’m ready to move on with my life. You’re part of it.”
She snuggled close to me and as I picked up my overnight case and clothes from the coach, we walked very slowly to her waiting car.
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For his part, Emiliani knows there’s no room for him on whatever bandwagon Padova might have at present. He’s smart enough to realize that. Today, though, his angle was on his own role in helping the club succeed. He wrote:
“Every club needs a reason to unite. Sometimes it’s a need for results, or sometimes it can be the simple need for professional pride. This column has taken great pains to point out the deficiencies in the current setup and squad, and the players may well have chosen to unite against it. If that is the case, then we can be pleased for the result. Despite apperances, we all want Calcio Padova to succeed.”
It would have been funny if it weren’t so comical, so to speak. For him to take any sort of credit for the success of this club is laughable – a backhanded attempt to get on our bandwagon without getting on our bandwagon.
It’s the oldest trick in the sportswriter’s book – if we lose, he can say we didn’t listen to him. If we win, he thinks he’s done something to help and has said so in print.
He stood there at the edge of our training ground, looking like the cat that had eaten the canary, as we filed past for our regular session. Saturday’s travel again compresses our time to prepare, and after we watched some video of our 2-0 win over them from December 17, it was straight onto the pitch to get the work done.
The players took it well. After a big win, they ought to have. Yet I wonder how long all that good feeling will last once tired muscles and sore joints start to complain about all the travel. It isn’t far away, and I can feel that mood coming. We are in a race against time.
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I’ve been thinking along these lines all week. Yesterday, in fact, I asked Sestaro to let us stay in Milan for the rest of the week.
The away match Sunday at Monza means yet another coach trip there for the weekend, so we could stay in reasonable comfort and avoid another lost travel day for a return trip back to the west.
However, I lost that argument on the reasoning that the club has lost enough money that it can’t afford to keep senior squad players, coaches, physios and the manager in Milan for four days. It’s cheaper to simply coach back and forth. So we will coach for six hours, nearly 400 miles, to wind up in exactly the same place we started – Milan – with 72 hours between visits.
The players grumble about that and I don’t blame them. I grumbled about it too, and my voice is louder than theirs by comparison.
There is also this to consider; Monza absolutely, positively has to win to have any chance at the playoffs. They come into the match in eighth place, with a record of 14-7-11 good for 49 points. They need to beat us and get help. A dog-tired opposing team needing to push itself across the finish line needs all the help it can get.
Meanwhile, I’ve mentioned Novara plays Pro Sesto at home and they’ll be expected to win. The pressure is on both of us but we know three points on Sunday will make us champions.
I’d have loved to stay here and train. But had I stayed in Milan this week I’d have missed Patty’s big day tomorrow and when I add it all up, from a purely personal standpoint I can’t grumble too loudly.
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