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2021, the Everest of the New Age

Started on 6 April 2012 by Kiwi
Latest Reply on 19 July 2012 by Kiwi
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Kiwi's avatar Group Kiwi
9 yearsEdited
15 May 21

It was nearly a week later, and I was still reeling from the shock. The meeting wasn’t at all what I had expected it to be. It wasn’t The Apprentice either, but make no mistake, I had been fired.

After assembling the best young talent that we could attract, slashing the costs AND gaining promotion, I felt numb. I hadn’t even had a chance to sample the talent from the academy where I had spent my own money.

Mr Parkinson had stated a number of factors, one of which was the lack of financial control I was showing. I thought I had done a fairly decent job of ensuring over the next four years, while we climbed to the Premiership, minimal buying and selling would occur. Within four years, the players in the team now – the likes of Simm, Holmes, Navarro, would be at the peak of their powers, ready for the fresh challenge of the EPL, and ready to help the next set of talented youngsters make the step up. I felt it was the lack of financial prudence and the salary levels prior to my tenure which has set the tone for the financial state of the club. My view of the club was to have a small first team of talented young players, and loan potential mentors for them, and the loaner’s club expense. That way, I am still getting the benefit of the older player’s experience, without having to pay for it.

I had a ten year plan which had very clear dates about when to buy and sell players and the qualities we should be looking for, but none of that mattered now.

So the finances were definitely a factor.

The other factor which made this decision for the Board fairly easy was the apparent lack of cohesion in the club. They pointed to the number of players I had bought in, the number of players I had sold, and the number of players that were leaving in the next window. I don’t think that they were impressed that I had effectively changed the entire roster in five months, save I think two players in the first team roster, Rios (who was the only descent player there) and Agnew (who was the best player I could hope for on the money I was paying him). Add to that, I had completely changed the back office staff, better staff for less money, but drastic change nonetheless. One might say in hindsight, too drastic for the Board to accept.

Before closing the meeting, they also mentioned the cases of Stevenson and Barton. I now believe that both these cases were distractions for them. In the case of Stevenson, they asked me why I didn’t just deal with him, as he is now hanging around, and causing problems for everyone. If I had offered compensation, sure it may had have been more of a burden on the club, but what cost would I attach to him now, having been sat in the Boardroom, taking questions? I take from that that the Board, and rightly so, expected me to “deal” with the Stevenson issue without the need for them to become involved. And now they were. FML.

With the case of Barton, the Board had a very different view to mine. They were adamant that because he was a fan favourite and drew the crowds, there was absolutely no way they were going to let me sell him. So overpaid or not, he is the lynchpin which they see the team being built around. There is no argument from me that he is a class act; I just feel that he doesn’t represent value for money, and that far better players could be recruited. I hear myself thinking “you should have accepted the 1.6M offer, you stupid idiot.” If I had sold him for 1.6M, Jackson (300K) Cross (100K) and Seddon (400K) would have all be funded from the sale proceed. I had three players who are younger,more talented and cheaper than Jimmy Barton coming to play for us, but the Board would not hear of it.

Guess that is why I am now unemployed.

I feel a great deal of personal satisfaction having developed a team of youngsters who I believe will challenge for the EPL title within seven years. I do believe I have been given a rough deal by the Board, and in some senses, as if I have been rammed up the……., which during World War II, was akin to being sent to the Russian Front. Now there is an idea……..
And to add to the pain, within the week, Sean Dyche has being appointed as the latest Derby manager.

I feel a degree of bitterness towards Derby now, to the extend where I would be willing to come back as manager, only once the Board have been completely swapped out. That, or I'll go and tout myself to Nottm Forest, Leicester, or Leeds.
I promised myself not to take another English manager role for at least five years, but I still felt as if Champions League football was the pinnacle, and that meant leaving England and traveling.

Reaching out to people I knew in Europe and Russia, I was confident I would find a new challenge.
Before I even have a chance to pack up, as the new leagues only begin recruitment in June and July, I've already been linked with:

Spanish side Osasuna, who finished poorly (16th) in La Liga this term. Nearly 20K stadium, average facilities and insecure finances (which would mean no transfer funds and slashing the the wage bill)

and;

Serie A contenders Roma, who like Osasuna finished 13th. Finances are "okay" but they, like Derby have major debt (54M) and don't own their own stadium!

Applications for both are in.
Inter, who have qualified for the Euro Cup next season, and whom finished sixth in Serie A, are now also looking for a manager.
Roma is off the table, having been filled by Davide Dionigi.
But, Inter and Osasuna have made offers:

Inter (4 year contract)
Transfer: 27.5M
Wage: 1.9M
Current wage: 1.65M

Osasuna (also 4 year)
Transfer: 675K
Wage: 325K
Current wage 295K

I’m torn, Inter have the better fan base and have qualified for a European competition, Osasuna feels as if they have far more potential.

What do the members think?
After careful consideration, I decided to turn down the managerial post with Inter, and to accept the Osasuna Head Coaching post.

My logic was this, if Derby had terminated me purely for a personality clash with one of the key members of the team, I didn't fancy managing Inter - not at this stage of my career at least - and being charged with keeping the egos at bay in a talented, albeit large squad.

The style I utilise won't please everyone, I assess players and staff on four key principles, talent, salary, age and length on contract, and I try and be impartial. My methods also mean I butt heads because I don't like to have an aging player on my books sucking valuable wage budget if he is not contributing week in, week out. In my opinion, the team would be better selling the aging player, and buying better, younger players with the proceeds. As a general rule, if the player (or agent) doesn't want to engage you, or reveal his clients demands until you put an offer on the table, it is my experience that you will end up paying over the odds to retain the player. And the question would need to be asked, do you really need to?
I’m back doing what I do best....changing things!

To enable the sourcing of decent players, I require great scouts.

Although the plan involved getting the back room to take mutual termination, I could employ more scouts without going to the Board. At a minimum, I need 15 attributes for PA and CA, and as luck would have it there were free agents available. These were quickly signed up, and gave a useful geographic spread; I was conscious of how it may look if I didn’t employ Spanish nationals.

After signing my free agents, I was quick to the previous scouts the door, and I quickly looked for Spaniards who has at least 18 attributes for both current and potential ability. I managed to employed two of the youngest and best quality scouts I could find; one was a 48 year old with 19PA/20CA scores for 35K comp from Valladolid, and another 34 year old from Elche for 70K with 20/20 scores.

Having strong scouts meant I could put them to work, given that I was disappointed with the back room staff and the squad – they would all be in work soon.

I think it has been said here before, the lack of a reserve squad does alter things slightly, but from a personal standpoint, if a player is in the reserves, it generally means he is for sale.
On to the staff now!
Kiwi's avatar Group Kiwi
9 yearsEdited
I've swooped to sign two physios with high physio ratings - on free transfers of course!

One English, joining from Weymouth at the expiry of his current contract. The other is Greek, who had been with AEK in the early 2000's, before becoming the Greek National physio.
Kiwi's avatar Group Kiwi
9 yearsEdited
The backroom changes are nearly complete, with only the youth coach contract details to be finalised.

The changes are severe, but streamlining the staff to feature Assistant Manager, First Team Coach, Youth Coach, Fitness Coach, Goalkeeping Coach, and three coaches to supplement gaps, has meant that the staff wage bill has been cut and we have managed to attract a younger and better calibre of applicant.

Add that to my physio (the second is arriving in July 21) and six scouts, I feel I have the beginnings of a great team to take Osasuna up the League ladder.

Key positions are held by Englishmen, former Norwich striker Grant Holt is now my Assistant Manager, however he was only appointed after it was apparent that Man U icon Paul Scholes interest lie with the First Team Coach position.

Try as I might, Scholes had no design on the Ass Man job!
Fantastic story kiwi! Unlucky with the derby job, although as a forest fan I wasn't too disappointed I fear you would have took them to the higher reaches of the EPL! Good luck with osasuna keep it up!
Kiwi's avatar Group Kiwi
9 yearsEdited
Thanks for the feeback ts93forest. I am glad you are enjoying the story, even though the first chapter was written about one of your teams fierce rivals.

I too, was disappointed with the way I left Derby but I do believe I was close to a successful formula so won't been changing terribly much with my style of management. But I will be looking to negotiate deals for outgoing players rather than reject them, and make a plan to deal with any enfants terribles before it escalates.

In that sense, there were positives to come out of the Derby experience; I discovered I was able to assemble a squad of quality players without breaking the bank, and at the same time I need to streamline operations so that the club is viable and solvent over the longer term.

I'm actually seeing similiarities between Derby and Osasuna - the clubs are poles apart financially, with Osasuna having a far stronger Balance Sheet. While both clubs own a stadium with comparable capacity, they could both benefit from a complete makeover staffwise. Osasuna has a smaller stadium, but is in better financial shape - the club is "valued" at roughly a third more than Derby and with far smaller (read appropriate) debt levels. Osasuna has approximately twenty one percent of it's "value" in borrowings, and Derby by constrast had a whopping one hundred and thirty five.

I haven't looked at the players with too much detail yet, but it again appears that aging "stars" are overpaid, and players who wouldn't make teams in Non-League football are sitting in Spain's top division of competition. Remuneration appears to be in line with the concept that La Liga is the Primera División, and not on basic fundaments, of say talent or work ethic.

In that sense, I am sure I can make a difference.

#49248 ts93forest : Fantastic story kiwi! Unlucky with the derby job, although as a forest fan I wasn't too disappointed I fear you would have took them to the higher reaches of the EPL! Good luck with osasuna keep it up!
Shame about the Derby project mate, it was looking to get meaty with you gaining promotion to the Championship.

I thought there would be a lot more comments on this story from other users as to be honest it's one of the best written and exciting manager stories I have read in a while, great effort on that front! I was on the edge of my seat when it came down to the last day of the season...really thought Luton had blown it with results but hey ho it was still a fantastic season.

Glad you turned down Inter, I am sure in a few years you will get the big club while at that time you will have more experience behind you.
i absolutely LOVE this story mate keep it up...

you did an amazing job at derby its just a pitty the board couldnt see the same ambitions as you had!
well done rejecting the inter job i can imagine it was a hard choice but being able to control your finances at a club that needs it will help you when you get to a big club :) keep going i look forward to reading about this season..

one question how did you manage to start it so far into the future?
Kiwi's avatar Group Kiwi
9 yearsEdited
After a quick glance at the tactic currently employed by the team, using my favoured 4-4-2 shouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, that will about the only aspect of the team where there won’t be changes.

Team reports suggest that the 31 year old club captain Jonathan dos Santos is currently the strongest player in the team, and depending whether he is playing defensive midfielder or midfielder, he is rated four and a half stars or four stars. This expert analysis is offset by the simple fact that he is worth 4.6M; and he is the biggest earner at the club at 30K per week. Quick calculations show that the average wage per week for the club is circa 11K – oh to have that level of resource available at Derby.

The finances show a troubling, yet not at all unexpected story. In the last financial year (2019/20), the club has annual turnover of 33M, but only a profit of 700K. The accounts for 20/21, tell a completely different story, the season to date show turnover of 32.5M, but yet a loss of nearly 6M. The last two months show month on month losses of 730K and 652K (thus far). Now I am thinking it is not so far removed from Derby after all! Our bank loan of 5.75M is only generating monthly interest installments of 23K, which considering the size of the financial problems, is merely a drop in the bucket. Calculations tell me that it is the monthly 1.2M wage commitment which is compounding our misery, and in order to put the finances in order, we will need to sell players and slash the wage bill by at least half.

It will certainly be a task for us to locate the necessary skilled players, but I remain optimistic that my scouts will be able to find bargains, and to that end I am quietly cursing the long term deals I placed with goalkeeper Arregi and defensive strong man Narravo whilst at Derby, as they don’t have interest in opening discussions with me….yet.

I will have to ascertain how the La Liga registration works, but another disappointing aspect is that we are utilising the full complement of 25 players, including our 3 non-EU slots, so I will have limited wiggle room .

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