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.
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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
“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.”
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