I get to the stadium early, grab a coffee and pastry from the café and head over to my office. There’s no player in sight yet, the game is not until 15:30. So, I take a look at the squad paper work that was provided to me yesterday in detail for the first time.
The first thing that catches my eye is that a player’s grandad has been mistakenly added to the list, okay maybe that’s a bit harsh, but a 41-year-old outfield player is not something that you see every day. The youngest player is 21, and the U21 and U19 squads are completely empty. Getting a few young players to build for the future is a must.
The man I hired last night for the Chief Scout job arrives at the club just before lunch. He’s eager which is always nice to see, I ask him to recommend some players as a first assignment.
Feeling positive that I have someone on board so quickly, I head over to the Chairman’s office and request a coaching course to increase my managerial knowledge. He wastes no time, and accepts it straight away to my absolute delight!
Considering I only arrived yesterday, the trust shown in me is already pretty amazing, I feel like this was definitely the right place to come. For a 20-year-old in his first job in football, the chairman has been very supportive already.
The transfer and wage budget are both incredible, and will allow me to do plenty of work. But given the age of our squad, and lack of youth players at the club, I feel like spending most of that money on scouting young talent would be quite beneficial. But we’ll see what the squad really needs after the first few games.
Now the fun part! I look at the Media predictions, current standings, previous results and everything in between to get a better understanding of the Indonesian Divisi Utama (2nd Division to you and me).
I think looking at those in detail it would be dumb of me to change too much straight away. So I decide to run with the same team as their last game. A 2-0 away victory against a team sitting in 7th place is a very good result, so they should be good enough against the team in 8th in our own patch. They played a 4-4-2. And so I decide to do the same. Not sure the exact instructions they were given before, but I try and keep it aggressive and on the front foot.
Choosing the first 11 for the first time begins to show some cracks in the team. The most noticeable is the lack of natural left midfielders/wingers. I have a choice between playing a striker or a left defender instead, I chose striker. Time will tell if that needs changing, hopefully the newly arrived Chief Scout recommends a M(L)
in his first report. The 41 year old player made the cut, not that I know how good he is, but he started the last game… I’ll be playing him as a target man, he’s just over 180cm tall, so that should be enough, hopefully he can still jump at his age without breaking anything in the process.
First 3 games
One at home followed by an away game to 2nd placed Sriwijaya FC
, can it get any tougher for my first away game?! And then It’ll be the first round of the Indonesian Cup, which I’m very excited to take part in, I always find cup games to be special.
I give my first team talk, the players don’t react much, or at all. But the language barrier is still a big issue. I need to find a translator!
As we leave the changing rooms to head for the pitch, I get stopped by the media for some pre-match questions. I dispatch some quick answers and join the rest of the players on the bench.
Before I know it, the whistle is blown and the game begins!
Pretty sure the echo of the referee’s whistle was still ringing around the stadium when a Persekat
player has gone in for a tackle from behind on Nugroho
(my Box to Box Midfielder) and takes him out. The ref shows him a straight red, and rightly so! Only 7 minutes gone and my chances of a positive result have gone up tenfold!
Even with the extra man, the first half ends 0-0. We didn’t create much. 9 shots in total, and only 4 on target. Our defensive work has been positive though. So I try and fire up the team to go in for the kill in the second half!
Must be the language barrier again, as the game delivers another uneventful half and ends 0-0. It felt like a defeat to be honest, playing against 10 men for 80 minutes at home, although an attendance of 240 in a 30.000 capacity stadium isn’t exactly going to get anyone’s blood flowing. But we should have definitely have won the game. Plenty of shots, but 0 clear cut chances…
Goalkeeper coach and a general coach arrive before the second game. I ask them to recommend some signings like I did with the Chief Scout. It seems another team managed to capture the man I had offered the assistant manager role, so I spend my time at home that day looking for another hopeful.
My center back made it to the team of the week. I played against 10 men for most of the game and a defender wins man of the match and gets in the team of the week… says it all!
The cup draw was also done before the 2nd game, we got the team sitting in 2nd place in the Indonesian Super League, Persib Bandung. We’re playing at home, we won’t win, but hopefully we’ll have more than 200 people show up for the game.
The newly found assistant manager arrives the day before the game. I’m feeling much better now, the first game is in the past, I’m hoping to get a result against the team that’s sitting second in the league just a point behind us.
This time around I let my assistant choose the starting eleven, he’s able to communicate with the players a lot better than I am. And his knowledge of Indonesian football is far superior to mine.
It’s my first ever away game, and what a great place to do it. The stadium is an impressive 40.000 capacity. And it looks to be at least a quarter full.
It’s a much better match in terms of entertainment. It’s as even as it gets, possession, chances created, shots. It’s all very evenly matched and the score is unsurprisingly 0-0 at half-time. Difference this time is that I am happy to finish the game this way!
10minutes into the second half, our right winger makes an inside run that is spotted by our midfield, he’s 1v1 with the goalkeeper but strikes it against the post! Best chance of the game so far.
We have 2 other good chances after that, both coming in the way of a header from our strikers. But again, the game ends 0-0. Our second half deserved much more than what the scoreline shows. But we remain top of the league, and I see a lot of positives from the game.
Our 1 supporter seemed happy at the end of the game anyway. I get the team to sign his t-shirt as a gesture of gratitude for making the 8-hour car journey to see us play.
4 day break and off we go again! We are back playing at home, for our biggest test so far. Persib Bandung
are only a point behind the top spot of the top division in Indonesia. I certainly feel like there will be goals in this one, I just don’t think it will be us scoring them.
My dream of playing in front of a big crowd is crushed before kick-off as it’s announced that only around 130 tickets have been sold. I have to admit, the lack of supporters did not cross my mind when taking over a newly founded team, but it makes perfect sense. If I ever get this 30.000 capacity stadium filled they will probably name a stand after me!
I keep the line up and tactic the same as the previous game, only changing the role of both strikers to a more familiar one to them. Why not, I still haven’t seen them score a goal so this should help.
start the much stronger side, their first good chance happens at the 15minute mark as they have a shot in the box blocked by Ardinsyah
(my center back).
15 minutes later though, we get a corner, it’s cleared by the defence but only as far as Sukmara
, our left back, he plays short to Nugroho
who himself dispatches the ball quickly back to Al Ma’ruf
, the right winger who just took the corner moments before. He’s in acres of space and delivers a low cross into the box, and who’s there to meet it ? Yes, you guessed it, the 41-year-old Dzumafo
, he slides to meet the ball and it goes into the back of the net. The first goal of my managerial career is scored by a player who is double my age! But I am not complaining!
They dominate the rest of the half, but we go into the break 1-0 up. I head back to the changing rooms with a smile. I could get used to this! I praised the team and tell them to keep their concentration.
10 minutes into the 2nd half and they score a worldie! The bend on the shot from outside the box was too much for my keeper. A fabulous strike, and the game was levelled once again.
The game is a boring one after that, so boring I almost forget to make subs! Then as the clock hits the 90minute mark, and I am about to find out whether extra time is a thing in the cup or whether it goes straight to penalties. They float a cross to the back post, and their striker wins the header to put the ball in the back of the net. Heart breaking!
Even though we lost in the very first round we still get £2.5k. Very generous I thought. Will definitely hope for an easier tie next year!
Despite the result that was probably the most positive game of the 3 so far in terms of performance. I head back to my guest house with plenty of food for thought.
Next game is in 3 days, away from home, but not too far, we’ll be travelling to Serang, a city just 1 hour drive away to play Perserang Serang
who are currently 5th in the league. Bring it on!