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[FM08] American Calcio

Started on 23 June 2015 by tenthreeleader / First Post
Latest Reply on 8 August 2016 by tenthreeleader / Last Post
Kate is, shall we say, 'conflicted'. :)
___
Wednesday, September 19
The media is out snooping regarding Crovari.

By and large, they are huffing and puffing but the storm appears to have blown over. They are trying to blow the storm clouds back over us and I’m determined not to let that happen.

I am more determined, however, to stamp out trouble in my squad and I called the reserve player into my office after training.

It was Andrea Bovo.

I explained the situation to him and gave him the chance to deny it. He didn’t, to his credit, presumably figuring I would find out anyway. That was a wise decision.

He used the opportunity to tell me he wanted to play.

“That’s a poor way to go about telling me,” I said. “Everyone at this club had better want to play or I’ll get rid of him. I do expect professional behavior as a condition of playing, though, and that means if you aren’t playing, you get your head down in training and change my mind for me. It doesn’t mean going to the media with information that’s supposed to stay in the changing room. Do I make myself clear?”

He nodded. There was really nothing else he could do.

“Get back to training,” I said. “You’re with the reserves for breaking team rules. I’ll revisit this next week and if I see what I need to see out of you I’ll restore your training privileges. That’s all.”

And he left. The reputation I am starting to get is one of a taskmaster, but who isn’t afraid to praise players when it’s warranted. That is what I want.

# # #

Tonight I talked with Patty at length about Kate’s e-mail of yesterday and what it might mean.

“I think she wants you back,” she teased, and I sighed heavily.

“No,” I said. “I’m happy now, I’m delighted to be with you, and frankly that is an aggravation I do not need. Now or ever.”

“Did she call you ‘honey’?” Patty teased again, and I laughed out loud.

“Touché,” I said, and my sweetheart giggled. “I deserved that.”

“Can you come to Venice on Monday?”

“Maybe Sunday, if we win,” I said. “I give the club the day after a match off if we’ve won.”

“Then I’m rooting for you for more than one reason,” she said.

# # #
Fkin Bovo. Well done regarding and handling the situation, btw :P
Thursday, September 20
We will travel overnight to the Legnano match and hopefully this trip will go better for us than our trip to Salerno last week.

I’m not thrilled about the idea of dropping points, obviously. The top clubs in C1 are going to be difficult to catch but I already think the key to this league will be how the top six or seven clubs fare against each other.

There is a gulf of class in the league this year, with seven teams positioned in my eyes to chase for promotion.

Then there’s a significant drop off to the second tier, and the third tier of clubs is frankly pretty poor. I don’t see the first tier dropping many points to them, so it’s all about getting points against the top seven, especially on the road.

That’s why the Cavese match was annoying for me. They held us, but really they’re in the second tier of teams and we ought to have done better but for finishing with ten. That’s not an indictment of Federico. We should have had the match in our hip pockets by that time and we didn’t. That isn’t solely his fault.

With the offensive fluency we showed in the friendly schedule at times, I’m surprised we aren’t scoring more goals at the start of this season. With the exception of the Manfredonia rout, we haven’t done a lot offensively and we haven’t shown an ability to put a team away. Those are concerns for me and we need to get them addressed. We don’t have that killer touch in front of goal and really, we’ve been fortunate to receive as many penalties as we have to help our scoring totals along.

Some of that, fluency, I hope, will come through greater understanding of the 4-1-3-2. Against lower opposition in the friendlies, we looked good. Against opposition at or above our own level in C1, though, we have struggled at times. We have to get it right and start doing it quickly.

Today’s training drills were all about quickness and agility. Muzzi, for example, is a prodigious talent but if he took even a third of the chances he gets in front of goal he’d have five by now. He has two, which is two more than zero but not where everyone thinks he should be.

So right now it’s a case of waiting for the shots to start going in while making ourselves extremely hard to score on. That’s the key to the whole thing. If we win 1-0, we win 1-0. I’ll take the points. But they have to come somehow.

If that means winning ugly, it means winning ugly. That’s not how I want to play but it may well be what I have to accept in the short term.

I’m not helped by the truth of this axiom: what some supporters don’t understand is that it’s quite possible to be the better side in a match where you don’t win the statistics. Depending on my formation, I am looking for certain things out of a match. Obviously, the first item is the scoreline, but sometimes I’m looking for possession and sometimes I’m looking for an effective counter while holding an opponent trying to chase the game.

I usually don’t care much if a team gets a dozen thirty-yard shots, provided I don’t see a wonder strike or two mixed in there to wreck my day. Most of the time, restricting an opponent in such a fashion will mean they don’t score. If I get three on target and two go in, I win and the statistics look like I got walked on.

But to take those chances requires work and training and right now that is my emphasis. We have to get better at striking the ball both for power and placement, to get us to where we want to go. It will be hard work but we must meet the challenge if we want to succeed – and if I want to keep my job.

So today, I kept the training upbeat and ran drills that didn’t end until the ball was in the back of the net. The defense took a fierce pride in keeping the offense and midfielders out, and when the midfielders switched positions from offense to defense they felt the same way.

In short, it was an excellent team training session and one I think we can build upon to make ourselves better. I’m not saying we are fixed by a long shot but I am saying I think we can eventually get there. The end of the season is going to be the acid test for us. So we’ll be ready.

# # #
Friday, September 21
We leave in the morning for Legnano after a lighter day of training. With all the matches we’re played of late, the club’s physical conditioning is somewhat better and that means I can give a little bit lighter load as we approach match day.

In some sports it’s called ‘tapering’. In my lexicon it’s ‘taking it easy on the players so we don’t do something stupid training right before a match so someone gets hurt’. Perhaps I should use the other lexicon.

The pre-match reports are out and the speculation is already beginning as to how Padova will continue its strong start without its suspended captain. So as a result, I met with Giuseppi Anaclerio, who is going to take over the midfield role in Crovari’s absence.

I’ve decided, for the time being, to leave Paz at right back, leaving Cotroneo on the bench. Pablo has settled in quite well back there and I don’t want to disrupt his process of adaptation if I can possibly help it.

So I am standing pat and giving the very important role in my midfield to Anaclerio, who is understandably a bit nervous about it.

Unlike Federico, Anaclerio is a natural holding midfielder. His preference is to lay back, but Federico performs many of the tasks I consider essential to the position better than Anaclerio does. So he plays the position as first choice.

One thing Crovari does not do well, in my opinion, is play in transition. That’s a key element to this formation – as the link between the defenders and attackers, he often has to move the ball quickly when I want a counterattacking style as I often do.

Federico is a more deliberate player. What I want to see in transition is direct play to the strikers, especially when I have someone with Muzzi’s pace up front. I want the ball into space, over his head if necessary, so he can run onto it and create chances. But Crovari will sometimes put his foot on the ball in transition.

He wants to see the field in front of him, I guess, and read the play. But the whole secret of transition football is not letting the defense get back in an organized fashion. I want quick play in transition and Federico butts heads with me in that style. That is unfortunate.

However, he is a fine man-marker, a very good distributor of the ball and has very good positional sense, which outweigh the benefits of a quick breakout in general. He’s good on the ball. I just wish he were faster.

But Gustavo needs my support, especially when we are on the road, and he has it. Despite not featuring in the regular first XI, he regularly makes the first team squad as a midfield substitute. And he does get into the lion’s share of matches, even if he is not the first choice. He has a role to play with us and he plays it very well.

“You’re going to be fine, provided you stick with the plan and lead the back line,” I said to him after we trained. I had his undivided attention. “This is not an easy formation for the holding midfielder to play and I understand that. I am asking a lot from you and I think you can deliver. If you play how you can play, you’ll have nothing to worry about.”

I also spoke with Paz, in Spanish, about why he wasn’t moving in front of the back four. He may be our best holding midfielder of all, but he’s also the best right full back I have and so I have to make a judgment based on what is best for the club.

He’s also vice-captain, an honor he has earned based on where he has been and his attitude toward his new teammates and club when he came here. He will go where he is sent, but part of my management philosophy is to do my best to make sure each player knows why he’s being sent.

“I just need you at right back, Pablo,” I said. “You’ve done great work there and you’re playing a strong position for us. I may need to move you to the holding position if Gustavo has difficulty, but if he doesn’t, you need to stay where you are.”

This also involved having a talk with Cotroneo, who needs to be told I haven’t forgotten about him. Frankly, I’d like to see him able to learn a midfield role so I can bring him in to lock down a left-sided hotshot when that needs to be done. I like versatile players and I like the idea of being able to plug them in to more than one place on the pitch.

Other than those instances, I plan to put out most of the same eleven that faced Cavese. When we get back into Serie C Cup play, we’ll see some newer faces in the XI but for now, I’m sticking with what I know, especially on the road. Whether that kind of pragmatism pays off, only time will tell.

# # #

Patty called this evening too, and she also had a warning for me. If I weren’t falling for her, I’d consider it downright strange.

The relationships between McGuire, Patty and Kate (and frankly, goodness knows who else) are ones I don’t want to know about but which may eventually concern me. Patty’s concern tonight was that I might dump her over the contact she didn’t want with McGuire.

“The receptionist took a call from Reading today,” she said. “I’m worried. It was from Peter and I haven’t returned the call.”

“So don’t,” I said. “I won’t mind. And I don’t care what he thinks.”

“Well, that wasn’t the reason he called,” Patty said. “One of their clients is displaying at Biennale and that means they are both coming to Venice next month.”

I used a rude word in reply, in an unguarded moment. “Well, just know this,” I promised. “No matter what happens, I have no interest in Kate and I sure as hell don’t want to spend one moment around Peter McGuire. All I want is to be around you. Period.”

“I appreciate that.”

“I should hope so,” I teased. “When does biennale end?”

“Mid-November,” she answered.

“And what happens to you? Will you get a new posting and get to go home?” I was starting to think out loud, and I didn’t like my own thoughts, which didn’t help.

“Unfortunately, that is a possibility,” she said. “And if that day ever comes I promise you this much; we’ll talk about it as a couple. There will be none of this running off stuff that happened to you last time, I promise. Okay?”

That assuaged me a little bit and I let her know I appreciated her honesty.

“You know perfectly well where I’ve been and if I ever had to go back there I don’t know what I’d do,” I said. “And that is the simple, honest truth.”

“That’s all you’ve ever given me, Rob,” she said. “Unlike what I was told by certain people. So you have nothing to fear.”

# # #
McGuire sounds like a cunt
You may just find that this tale is full of people just like him. :(
___

Saturday, September 22

Legnano is only about a hundred miles from Padova but I want the players comfortable overnight before playing the match tomorrow and the board agreed to fund the trip. It’s an important match for us and I don’t want to take the chance of tight legs after a two-hour coach ride.

Legnano is barely three miles from Busto Arsizio and Legnano’s archrivals Pro Patria, so the trip will be nearly identical when we come back here later in the year to play. There are several such rivalries in Serie C1 this season, that will make things extra interesting.

Monza, for example, is less than ten miles from Milan and that city’s smallest club, Pro Sesto. Foligno and Ternana are only about twenty miles apart, Manfredonia and Foggia are closer than that, and I’ve already mentioned Salerno’s derby between Cavese and Paganese. And then there is, of course, our own set-to with Venezia.

I suppose it’s unusual to find that many derby–type matches in a league with such small-sized clubs. It’s doubly unusual due to Italy’s size. It’s obviously not a small country.

Derby matches are much more common in smaller leagues in England and especially in Scotland, which is much smaller and where the population is much more concentrated. About 75 percent of the SPL in any given year is either in or around Glasgow or in Edinburgh.

MLS was different for me, since Chicago, where I played, has no natural rivals in soccer but is acquiring one through play in the New England Revolution. The city’s natural rivals in other sports, which are St. Louis, Milwaukee, Green Bay and to a lesser extent Minneapolis-St. Paul, do not have large soccer clubs. The closest geographical rival for the Fire is Kansas City or Columbus, so those are the clubs we would claim as regional rivals back in the day.

So to travel to Legnano is a fairly big thing. The rivalries in Italy are provincial as much as anything else – local derbies aside, northerners hate southerners and just about everyone seems to hate Naples.

Football, like so many other sports, has rivalries based on geography but here in Europe they are also based on many years of history. That makes both for fascinating studies in sociology as well as occasionally dangerous public events.

I’ll be spending some future entries talking about these things. It’s safe to say, though, that the presence of an American manager complicates some of these rivalries in a profound way.

Legnano, though, is not one of our traditional rivals here so I had no worries along those lines as the coach chugged off across central Italy. The card game we started on the way to Salerno was soon in full swing once again and I think it may wind up being a permanent part of our travel.

It’s a good way to loosen up the players, the stakes aren’t so high that anyone’s going to get into a rage over losing money, and I even get a hidden benefit out of it.

I learn about composure and flair. There is no card game better than poker to see if people can hold their nerve, and as a study of people poker can reveal quite a bit about competitiveness, ambition, and personal style.

Of course, I haven’t told anyone this, but I have a definite reason for starting this game. I want to see how people handle it. That isn’t to say I’d make a decision on my XI due to winning or losing at Texas Hold-Em, but I would say that when I have a difficult tie on the road in a Cup match, I want to know who has the steady hand. That might affect a decision I make, somewhere down the road.

My job is to get to know my players. The book doesn’t say how I have to do it. So I think this is a good, fun way to get the players to bond with each other and for me to watch them socially. We’ll see if theory translated into application proves me right.

# # #
Sunday, September 23
Legnano v Padova – Serie C1A

Biancoscudati
proved me right today, anyway. The best poker player on the team appears to be Varricchio, and his composure and grace under pressure helped get us three points today.

We climbed into the playoff places with a very solid road victory and Massimiliano was key to it all, powering home a 40th minute header past man of the match Vincenzo Grillo to get us the win.

Statistically, the numbers did tell the story of the match. We had thirteen attempts to five and seven on target to three, with a possession edge. We played a very, very good match on the road today and more than overcame Crovari’s absence through red card suspension.

They didn’t look much like scoring today and that was due in no small measure to the play of Anaclerio in the holding position. Paz was very solid at right full back and that vindicated my judgment on both players in their positions. I still think Pablo would make a great holding midfielder for us, but right now my primary concern is to start turning out four defenders who can play every week. We appear to be doing that.

Grillo was man of the match for a good reason, making a string of fine second half saves as we countered Legnano hard. I was really hoping for a second goal to make us feel a little more comfortable, but we really didn’t have any trouble holding the lead in the second half in any event. There’s a lot to smile about today and I made sure the players knew it.

Mario Donadoni also played today, as I rested Faísca, who has played in every match so far. Vasco has done brilliantly so far but I don’t want to tire him out too early in the schedule. He made the substitute’s bench, and thus the trip with us, and I made sure he knew how important I feel he is to the team as we arrived at the park today.

Every player, especially a regular in a winning side, likes to play. That should come as no surprise to anyone. But what happens to a player when he is left out of the XI can often affect his mood and form for many weeks to come.

It would be easy for me to say ‘I pick the team, if you aren’t in it, deal with it,’ and there are surely managers who do. I won’t be one of them. I do get to pick the team but I owe it to the players as a developmental tool to tell them why they are not playing if they wish to know.

Within reason, my door is open. If a player wants to know what I think of their ideas on the pitch, fine. I’ll be happy to listen and tell them what I like and what I don’t. I stop listening if they want to talk to me to slag off a teammate – and there are plenty of players who wouldn’t give that a second thought. I won’t listen to a player who talks like that and furthermore don’t want that kind of player around. If a player isn’t pulling his weight I can surely see it. I don’t need players fostering a negative spirit.

But talks like I had with Faísca today help prevent that negativity. So they are important.

# # #

As a result, our ride home was pretty happy. We have won three with one draw in our first five matches and are now fifth in the table thanks to C1’s ranking system.

In England, clubs are ranked on goal difference followed by goals scored. In Italy the first tiebreak is a head to head result. So our loss at Sassuolo means we have to beat them at Euganeo worse than they beat us to get the tiebreaker on them. That will be no mean feat.

Today, though, we went out and took care of business. It wasn’t the prettiest match I’ve ever seen in my life, but once we had the ball in their net the defense just sat on Legnano and stifled them right out of the match.

At the end, we had the field spread out beautifully, had the ball in the corners with extended possession, and generally would not let them have it. I’ve always found it’s much easier to hold a lead when the other team does not have the ball, and today the players learned the lesson first hand.

So as we met after the match, my words of “well done” were as businesslike as their effort.

“We were missing players today and you got your points,” I said. “This was a solid effort away from home and you should be proud of it. You aren’t going to win every game with three or four goals, sometimes you have to grind them out. You did that today and you should be pleased with yourselves. We have a long coach trip home ahead of us so stretch out, rest, and enjoy yourselves. Tomorrow off for winning today and I’ll see you all on the training ground on Tuesday morning.”

And with that, we headed home. I then headed to Venice.
Legnano 0-1 Padova
# # #
Monday, September 24
As a guy who doesn’t usually get a whole lot of time off, nights like last night and days like today are just what the doctor ordered.

I spend my days looking at video, watching training, or training myself to try to stay in condition. There isn’t a lot of time for relaxing and doing things I like to do away from the pitch.

So today was frankly wonderful. We got back to Padua at dinnertime last night and I jumped in my car for the drive to Venice and my first look at Patty’s apartment just in time for a late meal in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

What Italians consider dinnertime is different from what most Americans consider dinnertime. Italians don’t mind eating late, and don’t mind doing so outside, partly because the summer afternoons are often so hot they stay indoors during the heat of the day.

So evening is quite a social time in most Italian cities. And since Venice is one of the world’s most social cities, it shouldn’t be surprising that many people were out on the famous canals by the time I arrived.

Patty lives in the western part of the city in a studio apartment about fifteen minutes from the downtown area. It’s a lovely little place, but by the time I arrived with flowers and a happy kiss for the sweetheart I hadn’t seen all week, neither of us were terribly interested in staying there right at that moment.

“I made reservations at the Westin Europa, where we went last time you were here,” she said. “It’s so wonderful to see you! You’ve been missed!”

We sat to a lovely dinner. My presence in Venice was duly noted by people who walked by our table and while I wasn’t too pleased about some of the looks I got, my words to Patty were ones of warning.

“Get ready, honey,” I said, as I received about the twentieth odd look from a passer-by. “We’re going public tomorrow. There’s just no way we can stay a secret with this many people looking at me like I have two heads. Someone has to tell the papers.”

“It’s none of their business,” she said simply, but I shook my heads.

“This is Italy,” I said. “Everything here is the media’s business. So get ready for it. I don’t think you’re going to have much trouble but I sure will.”

“Why would you say that? Nobody knows or cares who I am.”

“I know and I care,” I said. “But the issue isn’t so much you as it is where you live. The rivalries are so intense here that I’ll be criticized for going to Venice to meet you. And if the team plays poorly this weekend they’ll accuse me of losing my focus because I want to be with you more than I want to win.”

She giggled. “Well, you do want to be with me, don’t you?”

I blushed all the way to the center of my chest. “The thought had crossed my mind,” I admitted, raising my wineglass to her. “So here’s to success. I think we can both use that.”

# # #

But this morning, it happened. We are now “news”.

Today we hit the shops around the city and spent an idyllic day together walking the streets of the old city, enjoying what it is that makes Venice a special place for lovers the world over.

I stopped at a newsstand and pointed to one of the Venice papers. Our picture was in the right-hand column, taken at last night’s dinner by some enterprising photographer who made a few Euros for his efforts.

Under the headline “Padova’s Romeo meets Venezia’s Juliet”, a short story mentioned that the Padova manager had been seen in Venice in the company of a woman believed to be an employee of the United States Department of State.

“I told you it would get out,” I said. “When it gets back to Padua I’ll have some explaining to do.”

“You love me,” she said simply. “Do you need to explain any more than that?”

“Certainly not,” I said. “But be prepared. I’m sure people will be looking for our picture pretty soon.”

We didn’t let that bother us today, though. We spent the entire day ducking into and out of the sorts of delightful little shops that dot the Venice waterfront.

We also noted the demeanor of everyone present. One of the things we’re going to have to watch for when we’re together is decorum. In Italy, people are quite strict about it and I don’t intend to make additional trouble.

Really, though, that’s fine with me. Not that it matters what’s fine with me, but we’ll be just fine not having to worry about moving things in and out of apartments. We are falling for each other and that would be an unnecessary complication we don’t need right now.

The other thing I noticed was that even on a lovely early fall afternoon in Venice, no one had their shirt off. Even the men who pole the famous boats around Venice’s canals were fully dressed.

There’s a public fine of €40 if you’re caught outside with your shirt off in Venice – and that applies to everyone. The fine also applies to women who wear bikini bottoms that aren’t covered by shorts.

So there is an element of modesty in public life here. We thought about going to one of the local beaches for the afternoon now that the summer season is over, but we decided to stay along the Grand Canal instead.

“We’ll hit the beach next time you’re here,” she said, squeezing my hand as we boarded a boat on the Grand Canal. “Right now I just want to unwind with you.”

So, we did.

# # #

Before long, though, we had to part. That hurt more than it did last time, and we’re already noticing it seems to be a little more painful each time it happens.

“Thank you for putting up with me,” I said to her. “I won’t let you down.”

“It’s not ‘putting up’,” she reminded me. “It’s waiting for what I want, and now I’ve got it. Please remember that.”

“I will,” I promised. “I just wish we were closer together.”

“Patience, honey,” she said, as we kissed goodbye. “In time.”
# # #
Jesus, the press can't seem to leave you alone!
Rob Ridgway is a trailblazer, an American far from home. The press is on him like a cheap suit for the time being.
__

Tuesday, September 25
With the wonder of yesterday’s visit unfortunately concluded, it was back to the pitch today to prepare for Sunday’s home match against seventh-placed Citadella, a key match for us early in this season.

At least I thought it would be. I had a fair amount of gossipy media hanging around the training ground today wondering why I had gone to Venice.

That was pretty annoying to me, I had to admit. A quick call to Patty between training sessions gained her approval to tell media the basics about her, and not a darned thing she didn’t want anyone to know.

“If you must know, and the only reason I’m telling you is to get you off my back about my personal life, I am in a relationship with an American national who works at the State Department office in Venice,” I said. “The fact that I was there on our off-day indicates my desire to be with her. I request privacy for both us and thank you for your cooperation.”

“You were seen there as well before the Sassuolo match,” I was informed, and I figured that was coming. “Do you have a full commitment to the club?”

“First, I’m insulted by the question,” I replied, my hackles rising. “My personal life is set on a schedule that does not interfere with the football club, which is my job. The fact that we lost as Sassuolo is down to everyone, and I do place myself at the top of that list. Our preparation was not affected, but no one in our colors performed well at Sassuolo and we have to change that. Our recent play should show that we are making strides.”

“Will we be able to expect your full effort in preparation for Sunday’s match?”

“That’s even more insulting,” I answered, my voice terse and short. “I have been a professional in this game for half my life and I approach matches the same way each and every time. I should ask, I suppose, if I have the right to expect fair questioning from you after you go out on a date. How does that sound?”

“You are an authority figure at this club and the supporters have every right to expect your full involvement.”

“That is true,” I said. “Again, though, the best way to determine my success is through the table. We have goals we must meet and we have targets set for us by the board. We either meet those targets or you have someone else in my seat next season. Pretty simple. As for my involvement, I make scouting trips myself – again, at the expense of my personal life – because budgets do not permit a third scout. I have put more mileage on my car to personally view our competition this season than anyone on my staff and anyone in media here today, and there’s a reason for that. It’s because I’m committed to seeing this club win.”

With that, I went back to training.
# # #
Interesting as Sassuolo are a Serie A side at the moment :P
Funnier still when you note that at the moment, Calcio Padova are out of business.
___

Wednesday, September 26

Music is really fired up to play on Sunday and I am certainly doing nothing to discourage him from feeling that way.

He’s getting his chance and he’s making the most of it. He is in a very good run of form at the moment and I’m sure he hopes it will get him back into his national side.

Players are motivated by a number of different things in this game – money, fame, women, you name it – but Vedin still wants to play at the highest level possible and I don’t blame him a scrap.

Even his training is good, and today’s session showed it. He’s “locked in”, as I like to say, and he gave the right-sided midfielders a torrid time.

This includes Baú, who has also been playing quite well but who got schooled by the older Music throughout today’s session. Finally, I had to tease Baú gently about it to get his confidence back up.

“Eder, just think how good you’ll be when you’re thirty-three,” I said, and thankfully my ever-professional loanee got the joke.

“If Vedin doesn’t kill me by then,” Baú smiled as he jogged back to his position for another drill. I watched him go and saw the first signs of a real coming together in the senior squad. That sometimes takes time in a transitory game like football. With Italy being a more transitory country than most due to its loan rules, this is nowhere truer than in the lower leagues.

I’d actually like to change that, if I ever get enough money from the board. I think players play better when they don’t have to focus on moving their whole lives at the end of another season. That isn’t to say I want them soft – far from it, I want them the opposite in terms of fighting for their places – but I do believe players need a little sense of security so they can concentrate on their jobs.

However, when I ask for the same thing, the media attacks me for going to Venice. Funny game, football.
# # #
Last sentence is so true. Nice to see how the players train in the best of moods.
Thursday, September 27
I’m incandescent with anger today at our local paper, which has seen fit to publish personal details about Patty, including her picture, in today’s edition.

Evidently they staked out the State Department office in Venice, which has the authorities there both bemused and none too pleased at the same time. That’s a difficult combination to achieve, but it seems Padua’s football media have realized it with aplomb.

I did warn Patty that it was probably coming, and as a result she wasn’t as upset as she might otherwise have been, but it still didn’t help my disposition to see the front page of the morning paper.

Usually I could give a damn about what they write about me, but when they wrote about her, they crossed the line. She has nothing to do with the club and to bring her into some sort of debate is beyond the pale.

I placed a personal call to the Head of Station at the Venice office today to apologize for the trouble this has all caused and worried myself into a state before I did. That wasn’t so good, but thankfully he understood our plight.

“Americans do come under scrutiny in some places,” he said. “I have talked with Patty this morning and she’s as contrite as you are. Really, we don’t place restrictions on what our employees can and can’t do while off duty, provided they don’t wind up in jail, of course. But I have to admit, this is the first time I’ve heard of the soccer media going after a private individual.”

“It’s the first time for me too,” I said angrily. “And I’ve been in the business eighteen years now.”

“Well, my advice to you is to let it blow over,” he said. “Patty is a wonderful employee and she’s doing a tremendous job. If you can find it within yourselves to keep things discreet for a time, I think you’ll be just fine.”

“We’re trying to do that now,” I said. “I don’t think we’ve done that would disgrace anyone.”

“That’s good, because I probably would have heard of it by now if you had,” he explained, and I knew he was right. “Perhaps you two should lay low for a bit.”

“I’ll consider it,” I said. “I have to consider it, unfortunately, because some people will not allow adults to be adults in this country. But thank you for your time.”

With that, I went outside and ran an angry training session. I didn’t blame my players, obviously, but I did assert myself more vigorously when I saw items not meeting with my approval.

It was stormy enough that Crovari approached Stefano Emiliani after the training session. And even though I’ve had my share of differences with my captain, he said what needed to be said.

“You people have really pissed off the boss,” he said on his way to the showers. “That makes it hard on the players. You want dedication from him and that is fine, but when you write what you write it is difficult for the players who have to get results. And I do not blame the manager for that.”

# # #

Purely because I had to, I faced off with the local reporters after the session and the look on my face showed that if the wrong question got asked there was going to be fireworks.

Emiliani actually approached me with his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “Rob, you know I didn’t write that story,” he protested, but I would have none of it.

“Leave her out of it, you hear?” I demanded. “You people are pathetic. She’s a private citizen and even if you think I’m this great public figure, she sure isn’t. Leave her alone!”

No one tried to defend the story. I appreciated that, but I think it was probably because the newsies wanted their stories for the day and they figured I’d tie someone’s parts in a knot if they defended that kind of journalism.

They would have been right, I think. I was ready to grab and twist by the time the interview was over and thank goodness the newsies stayed with football questioning.

I made it quite clear that I expect the questions to stick to football and if they didn’t there was going to be trouble.

Then, after it was all over, I went home and called Patty, hoping she still wanted to see me.

What I found was a surprisingly sanguine lady who was thrilled that I had defended her so stoutly.

“I think you are the sweetest thing on two legs,” she said, after I had apologized again for my role in dragging her into the public spotlight.

“You’re wonderful to say so,” I said. “I’m so angry I can hardly see, and here you are telling me I’m sweet after what I did to you.”

“You didn’t do that, the papers did,” she said.

“I’m glad to hear you’re okay,” I said. “I just tore a strip off the entire Padova press group.”

“You can defend me any time you like,” she said. “I’ll let you. But I’m just telling you that you don’t have to worry about losing me over something like this. The emotional investment we’ve both made means too much to me. I won’t let that happen.”

This was a completely different Patty from the one I met, and even from the one I first fell in love with. She is healing right before my eyes, and who knows – she may well be far stronger than I am very soon. I won’t say I mind that.
# # #
Finally the press can bugger off!

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