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Rescuing the Rojiblancos

Started on 24 February 2016 by Casey
Latest Reply on 2 April 2016 by InvertedWingbacks
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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

I'm looking out the window as the plane begins to descend through the clouds. Miserable rain and strong winds wasn't the entrance I had expected to be making but my positivity was not to be deterred.

A quick check of my mobile before landing indicated rumours of my impending appointment were rife online while I also had several messages from friends querying an update. After flying to Spain last week for preliminary talks, I had returned to London to consider the opportunity and discuss it with my boss. I had first met Pochettino while working as a coach at Southampton and soon followed the Argentine to North London with Tottenham. Personal progresson has accelerated hugely under Mauricio and he highly recommended I accept such an opportunity.

I'll miss working with such a positive character on a day-to-day basis but I'm confident I can have the same impact on the squad I inherit that he has had on me. Lying just one place and three points above the relegation zone has caused the club to react, with the fear of relegation in their first season back in the top division costing Abelardo Fernandez his job.

Security and baggage claim were passed relatively stress-free in the quiet airport. I was greeted as I passed through arrivals.

"Mr Harries," said a voice I had become familiar with throughout negotiations, "welcome to Asturias!"



Note: I have used an in-game editor for the sole purpose of updating the league table so it is as realistic as possible as of todays date (24/02/2016). This will become clearer in the next couple of updates. :)

Also, the OP is realtively short but I intended on this being just a short introduction.
Casey's avatar Group Casey
5 yearsEdited
Thursday, 25 February 2016

Real Sporting de Gijón is a club that has often been an odds with itself throughout its 111 year history. Liga Adelante, Spains second division, has been won by Sporting five times - though this is the clubs only honour. The 1978-1979 season was the closest the side have ever came to winning the Liga BBVA title, finishing second behind Real Madrid.

In recent years Sporting have performed consistently average, prompting the club to change managers fairly often in the hope of stumbling across somebody worthy of the fanbase. I'm the 7th manager to be appointed in the last five seasons alone.

Despite the recent uncertainty, I believe there's a lot of potential within the squad. Youngsters Jorge Meré and Carlos Castro have both risen through Sportings academy and will have a great career ahead of them if they're eager enough. Alen Halilovic and Tony Sanabria are excellent young talents, ableit only being on loan until the end of the season. Iván Cuéllar is an experiened head in between the sticks and should prove vital in our survival push.

Several first team players have their contracts expire in the summer and the majority are in talks with other clubs to sign a pre-contract agreement. Jony, possibly the star man in the team, is in talks with Stoke City and I'm told has his heart set on leaving. Having watched recordings of Sportings performances this season, he is probably the only one we would miss.

Espanyol will be the first opponents of my tenure and are in a situation almost as desperate as our own, lying just one point ahead. On paper their squad is marginally better but I firmly believe that if we can get a bumper crowd at El Molinón, three points are very achievable.

I'm about to take the first training session since being appointed. Wish me luck.
Good stuff, I hope you have plenty of success!
Casey's avatar Group Casey
5 yearsEdited
Sunday, 28 February 2016

Much of my pre-match press conference was conducted via a translator. My Spanish isn't terrible, per se, but it is very limited and for the time being I feel having a translator by my side is the most efficient way to project my thoughts to the media. I was questioned a lot about how I plan to set my team up which was to be expected. As I have no prior experience, the press have very little information to predict from. I only had one answer.

"Para la victoria. (To win.)" My translator replied, causing chuckles from those gathered before us.

I faced further questions regarding the poor form of our opponents, who have lost their last five away games. The vultures circled around my feelings towards my opposite number, Constantin Galca. I refused to cause a scene - the Romanian, I said, is more than capable of handling a relegation battle.

Personally, I used the press conference as a method to attract the attention of the people of Gijón. We needed them way more than they needed us, I proclaimed, and we could only survive with their support.

And I have to give them credit, they have responded in their numbers. I walk out from the tunnel, just seconds ahead of the team, to a deafening applause. I salute the crowd in appreciation as I head to take a seat in the dugout.

The announcer begins listing the teams, with the crowd applauding louder after each Sporting player is announced. The team looked something like this:


Both teams started the game at an electric pace. El Molinón was in fine voice and Espanyol knew they would have to be at 110% to get anything from the game. The first meaningful piece of play came for us came on the counter. Marco Asensio, Espanyols tricky little winger, initially got the better of Meré and the stadium fell silent as he appeared to be through on goal. The young centre back didn't stop at his mistake, hassling the Real Madrid loanee out of possession to a rapturous cheer from the home supporters. His long ball forward found Sanabria on the edge of the Espanyol area, encircled by three opposing defenders. After somehow sliding between two of those, he squared the ball to his striker partner, Guerrero, who cannoned the ball onto the crossbar and into the goalkeepers hands.

The intensity of the match, despite the lack of clear cut chances, blinded my awareness of time as the fourth official put the board up to indicate a minimum of three minutes' injury time. And with that, the visitors broke away. Asensio was again causing problems down our left side - this time skipping way too easily beyond Hernández. The Spaniard appeared to take the ball away from goal with his right foot, before hitting a surprise effort with his weaker left foot. Cuéllar wasn't expecting such a fierce effort and could only watch in despair as it claimed the post and went behind for a goal kick.

Half time was sounded for by the referee and both teams temporarily returned to the dressing room. I talked to the team about calming down when we were in possession of the ball. They had impressed me with the intensity of closing Espanyol down high up the pitch, but once we had won the ball everything seemed a little rushed. Guerrero, aside from hitting the woodwork, had been poor and was snatching at most of his chances.

I made the decision to withdraw him from play, to be replaced by Carlos Castro. It was a big move, meaning our front two of Sanabria and Castro were 19 and 20 years old respectively - but I hoped their inexperience meant they could act without pressure in front of goal.

The referee signalled for the start of the second half and it was immediately evident Espanyol were out to shut us down and hold out for a single point. We were winning the ball back high up the field, but we were completely nullified by Espanyol always having more numbers ahead of us.

We were having a lot more possesion in the second half, but much of it was wasted in our back line.

As full time approached in an increasingly frustarting second period, we finally gave the Rojiblancos something to celebrate. A throw in close to Espanyols corner flag was taken quickly by López to Sanabria who had dropped short. The Paraguyan took the pace from the ball in one touch, swivelled, and precisely delivered a ball onto the head of half time substitute Carlos Castro.

While the Espanyol goalkeeper was picking the ball from the back of the net, Castro collapsed to his knees in the corner of the pitch - looking up at a red sea of thousands of celebrating supporters.

Espanyol hadn't long since restarted play when the referee signalled for full time, and El Molinón erupted with joy following an important victory.

Full time: Sporting Gijón 1-0 RCD Espanyol
2016-02-26 12:54#226711 Griffo : Good stuff, I hope you have plenty of success!

Thank you :)
Monday, 29 February 2016

Training this morning was very much a recovery session. Typically I would allow the squad to have the morning after a late kick off away from the training ground, though that wasn't an option this week as we play away to Granada on Wednesday evening. We spent time running fitness tests on the players and focusing predominantly on how we can control games when the opposition defend deep against us. Much of the morning was used for analysis - we watched back clips from the Espanyol game and highlighted the positives and the things that need improvement. Clips of Granada in their previous matches were also shown to the entire squad - they hadn't won for seven competitve games now and we needed to make sure we fully understood their weaknesses.

By around 2pm, the squad had went their seperate ways. We planned to hold another light session tomorrow morning and then fly down to Granada in the evening. It should only take around an hour and forty five minutes to travel, and it means we can spend all of Wednesday preparing for the 9pm kick off.

For the rest of this afternoon, however, my attention would be turned away from football. Since I initially arived in Gijón, I've spent my nights in a hotel room in the centre of town. I'm beginning to lose my mind - staring at the same four walls. I'm heading out with an estate agent and assistant coach Jon Goikoetxea to view a couple of properties up for rental.

The first property we arrive at is a complete write off. It's an old farmhouse, which I initially didn't have a problem with, but the building is extremely run down. Something from upstairs has been leaking and left stains on the kitchen roof, while the bathroom smelt like an old sewage unit. I'm sure some time in the past it was a beautiful home, but I'm not even certain renovating the property would do it justice nowadays.

We're shown several more properties but nothing ticks the correct boxes for me. For whatever reason, nothing fits my criteria and the search soon becomes frustrating. We're about to bring things to an end for today when the estate agent receives a call about a property a bit further away from town. It's in the process of being added to the rental market but the paperwork hasn't been finalised yet.

I decide to make it the last property viewing of the day - after all, I'm not going to get much more time to view properties so I have to make any time spent worthwhile. We drive East of Gijón - around half an hour from the centre of town and approximately twenty minutes from the stadium. The scenery is stunning and we soon come to a stop at a property overlooking the Bay of Biscay. As the sun begins to set, the view from the house is magnificent. The property itself is probably the smallest we've viewed but that's not important as I'll be living alone. Everything within is designed brilliantly. Downstairs, there is an open plan kitchen and living area and upstairs there is one bedroom with a balcony overlooking the ocean. There is an underground garage for two vehicles.

It's exactly what I'm looking for. I've attached a picture of the property from the road outside as well as a picture of the ocean from the front gate. I only have one question.

"Where do I sign?"



Really good start and enjoying it so far :)
1
That house will increase in size as your career advances, do not stress ha
Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The players appeared to be recovering well in training this morning. Myself and the coaching staff ran over more analysis of Granada, highlighting to the players the importance of pressing our opponents at the right time.

We travelled West for approximately half an hour along the A-8 to Asturias Airport in anticipation of moving on to Granada soon after. While waiting to board, I fired up my laptop and checked my emails. I had been in preliminary talks with Jake Garner last week regarding one of this clients. His email reply, which Tottenham midfielder Tom Carroll was the subject of, informed me the pair were unsure of the move as my contract only ran until the summer with Sporting. Carroll, I was told, wanted reassurances over what would be happening after the summer.

Due to my time as a coach at Spurs, I had Carrolls personal number. I hit call. We exchanged pleasantaries and then I got down to the important matter.

"I understand from Mr. Garner you have a couple of reservations," I began, "and being completely honest with you, it didn't come as a surprise."

"Yes," Tom replied, "I'm just not sure I want to sign my name when I don't know who I'll be playing under next season. It'd be great to work with you again but the uncertainty of your future puts me off a little."

"I've spoken to Poch to try and resolve the matter. He's agreed that next week, when you travel to Bilbao for the Europa League, you can stay behind for a couple of days, have a look around the club and think things over. Bilbao is only a couple of hours drive East of Gijón, I'll come along and get you after the match." I said.

Tom agreed to consider it and I asked him to simply keep me in the loop if anythings happens. We arranged a time to call next week to discuss arrangements if he was happy to take a look around.
2016-02-28 01:14#226814 AliciaWAFC : Really good start and enjoying it so far :)

2016-02-28 05:36#226817 Griffo : That house will increase in size as your career advances, do not stress ha

Many thanks - hope I can keep you interested!

For now, the house is fine for 1! :)
Loving the detail in this story, your writing style is great, keep it up :)
Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Despite his goal against Espanyol, I decided to keep youngster Carlos Castro on the bench for now. The more experienced Guerrero would get another chance for now but I made it clear to the Spaniard he needed to perform better this time out.

News broke not long before kick off that Guerrero had signed a pre-contract agreement with Romanian side Dinamo Bucharest, joining Jony (who eventually agreed to sign with Stoke City) on the list of those leaving in the summer. I know my decision to play the pair might cause disruption in the team, and I'm certain I felt several heated glances from those left on the bench when I named the team in the dressing room at Nuevo Los Cármenes. Everything, for now, remained unchanged.


Both teams started the game poorly - Granada, in honesty, lacked any ability to cause problems for our defence due to the intense pressure we put them under whenever they advanced over the half way line. Aside from our impressive hassling, we weren't showing any signs of brilliance.

We had a lot of possession but often the team looked unsure of what the next step should be. Sanabria was running around with intent up front but lacked support from his striking partner.

Eventually something had to give way.

Carmona, a graduate of Barcelonas La Masia academy, broke down the right and was swiftly closed down by Granadas left back with the ball rebounding out for a throw in. Meré advanced from the back to take the throw and hammered it long into the box. Defensive partner Bernardo got on the end of it, flicking the ball across goal and into the path of the unrushing, and unmarked, Jony to tap in.

It wasn't a pretty goal by any means, but it counts just as much as any. The team celebrated together in front of the thousand or so Sporting fans that had made the midweek trip.

At half time we made a double substitution. Guerrero was replaced yet again - this time by Alen Halilovic, the young Croat on loan from Barcelona. Sanabria was also withdrawn after a relatively quiet first half. I wouldn't be drawn on criticising him, though, as maybe the lack of effort from his strike partner impacted the youngster. Castro was again to make an appearance from the bench.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first. Many of the Granada fans had left by around the 70th minute and, honestly, I couldn't blame them. Their players looked like they had given up and were utterly devoid of confidence. We slowed the game in the second half which didn't come as a surprise as we looked to conserve our energy levels ahead of our next game against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

As the game wore on, I decided to withdraw Pablo Perez and replace him with Rachid - a young and versatile Algerian midfielder. Perez had picked up a booking and was tiring so it was more of a precautionery measure than anything else - he saluted the away crowd as he left the field of play.

When the referee blew for full time, I shook hands with recently appointed Granada manager José González. He stayed on the pitch as the players headed down the tunnel, facing the crowd. It takes a tough man to do that and I'm happy it's not me in that situation.

All in all, we pick up another important three points. There were a couple of worrying moments I had picked up on and I would be sure to mention these to the team to ensure they don't turn into trends.

Full time: Granada CF 0-1 Sporting Gijón
2016-02-28 16:20#226840 MeanGreenKillingMachine : Loving the detail in this story, your writing style is great, keep it up :)

Thank you, it's great to know that the detail is an important part of the story for more than just myself! :)
As said previously, the detail in this is impeccable!
the detail in this is amazing man, keep it up! good to pick up 3 points every time!

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