Part 7: Rookie Mistakes
It was the Irish summer transfer deadline day. The fans might expect Alan to pull a rabbit out of the hat. He had no help from Tony Knight as he had said that he wouldn’t be dealing with anything towards the football side of the business. However transfer deadline day was not a day that Alan was considering spending as much time on as others. He had his squad and it seemed perfectly balanced. He had the old guard of Pat Jennings, Damien Rushe and Mark Sherlock whom all had broken the 30 year mark. Alan had promised Tony when he started that he’d be focusing on the young players and getting them on to the team.
It was 8 PM, Alan was sitting watching Sky Sports news looking for news about Spurs. No news what - so - ever. Transfer deadline day was a dull affair as always. Alan went into the kitchen to see if he could find some microwave dish to cook for dinner. He put his Red Curry Thai Nudles in the microwave punched in 8 minutes at maximum heat and set it going. In the same moment his phone rang.
“Hello?” Alan answered
“Hey Gaff, it’s Damien” the voice at the other end said.
“Ah mr. Rushe, what can I do for you?”
“Well, you see...” Rushe sounded like he had a hard time phrasing what he wanted to say, a problem which seemed to be a general thing for footballers. “You know how I’ve always wanted to play in the premier division?” he asked rhetorically.
“Yes you mentioned it last week” Alan answered
“Well, you see...” Rushe said, starting a pattern of how to start each sentence in a phone call. “I’ve gotten an offer from Derry they want me in their team”
“What!?” Alan exclaimed “You can’t just say that, wouldn’t they have to, like, make an offer or something?”
“Well, you see....” This was starting to get on Alan’s nerves “I’m on an amateur contract so I’m kinda like a free agent in the transfer windows”
Alan had gone silent
“So you see...” He was changing his pattern and tried to sound more optimistic “I just want to take this chance. I really want to play in the Premier Division”
“Oh sod off you ungrateful little...” Alan swore and hung up.
“How on earth do I find a replacement this late?” Alan thought to himself.
Part 8: Do you speak Bulgarian?
It was Alan’s day off. He had only gotten 1 point from the first three games and was getting more and more worried about his job. He had ended up signing a right back as replacement for Damien Rushe in central midfield which had resulted in some pretty scornful letters to the editor of the local newspaper. Alan was getting more and more certain that he would get sacked soon. Last night had been a terrible game a 4-1 thrashing away to SD Galway. Mark McGoldrick had once again been they guy who could put it in the net, however it had taken him 15 attempts to get there.
Alan sat down in his sofa and looked through the window as his phone rang.
“Hello?” Alan answered
“Hi Alan, it’s Tony Knight” Tony didn’t really have to say his full name, but he always did when he was on the phone”
“Hi!” Alan answered and started to fear for the worst.
“Listen Alan” Tony sounded a bit ominous “I think the way I’ve seen your practices and the way you handle games, it seems to me there’s something missing”
“I’m sorry Tony” Alan said trying to come to terms with the fact that his football managing career had lasted about a month. “I just don’t know what I can do”.
“What you need to do is learn” Tony answered surprisingly light hearted “but you need some help with that”.
“So you’re not firing me?” Alan asked surprised
“No, no, no! We’ve only just hired you as long as we don’t get relegated this season you’ll be fine” Tony replied laughing “I’m calling you to tell you that I’ve found you someone who can help improve both our young players and our young manager.”
“Bloody hell” Alan was perplexed “I didn’t see that coming.”
“Yeah, sorry I haven’t been straight forward with you on this one” Tony said “I had to search far and wide to find someone who was qualified enough and wanted to come here”
“OK?” Alan said
“His name is Slavcho Stoilov and he’s a Bulgarian, he’s a former Levski Sofia U18’s coach” Tony explained
“Bulgarian?” Alan had a hard time trying not to sound surprised, “does he even speak English?”
“Well my Bulgarian is pretty much non existent, yet I’ve conducted an interview with this man, so what do you think?” Tony replied sarcastically.
I love this story been reading it from the start so thought i would comment, Alan Thompson is a frigging legend and I think this is a awesome story different and that is why i like it
Can't wait for The Romanian Influence. Brilliant story Andreas.
Intresting start mate
Good story, nice to see a foreign import at a small club.
Great start! Fuck Rushe and Derry!
Part 9: Stoilov’s list
Alan met Slavcho Stoilov the next day. Alan was sitting in his little office when Tony Knight knocked on the door and walked in.
“Are you ready to meet the new guy?” Tony chirped looking like a kid who had just gotten a summer holiday and a huge bag of sweets.
“Yes, I suppose” Alan didn’t look up from his scouting report of
Through the door walked a man who looked like he had no place to do with football. Even though he walked like a former football with a straight back leaning a bit forward, but whether it was because of his age, the fact that he was about 5 stone overweight or the huge slug of a moustache. He looked like the dad of every Bulgarin Bad-guy to come out of Hollywood in the 50’ies and 60’ies.
“Hrello!” he said. He had an accent that was so stereotypical only a Hollywood actor could get away with. “My name ish Slavcho Stoilov”. He said it so quickly that Alan didn’t catch the name and he had to keep back a laugh.
“I’m Alan - Alan Thompson” he managed to turn his laugh into a good smile. “Please sit down.”
They talked for about half an hour about each other’s merits. Mostly about Stoilov’s as Alan didn’t have many of his own. Stoilov was a former forward for Levski Sofia, which he ended up coaching at a youth level slowly getting into under 18s.
“I have list” he said “Of many young men who play football”.
“Okay?” Alan looked at him puzzled “Is it just a random list or is it something we could use?”
“No, no, not random. Is a list of many players who will be better in future, but can not get playing time”. He answered and produced four sheets of paper from his rather worn leather bag. He gave them to Alan.
“So this is a list of youth players from Bulgaria?” Alan said as he looked at the list.
“No, no, from Europe” Stoilov said “Germany, Spain, Poland and so on”.
“Do you think any of these would come to Ireland?” Alan asked as he got more and more excited about holding a collection of several of Europe’s finest youth footballers.
“Yes!” Stoilov said “and I think many can improve your first team.”
“Great, when can you get them here?” Alan’s head was about to explode with excitement.
“Tomorrow” Stoilov replied and smiled for the first time since he had been there.
Three days later Alan had assembled six new players from Stoilov’s list, who had all been free agent and could be signed at any time. He introduced every player to the squad.
“First up, Winger Kamil Zanievski he’s 17 and from Poland. Next up, Striker Ron Hensel he’s 15 and from Germany. Defender Niels Hagmann, he’s also 15 and from Germany. Next to him another 15 year old German, defender Andreas Oheneiser. Here’s Robert Grzyb...” Alan choked as he tried to say the name, he had practiced it for ages. “Robert Grzybowski, he’s 15 and a Goal Keeper, I hope you will help him Pat” Alan looked at Pat Jennings, who nodded and smiled “and last the latino lover of the bunch winger Anotno Álvarez who’s 15 and from Spain. I hope you will all receive them well and learn them as much as you can” Alan finished off by clapping his hands. Noone joined him.
This thread has just hit is 3000 view mark, thank you all for reading.
Part 10: The Longford Rivalry
Alan was meeting Tony Knight to speak about the current state of affairs at the club. Alan had just suffered his 3rd defeat in 4 games last night when Athlone lost 2-4 to Waterford United. He was standing in front of the clubhouse as a young man rushed across the street in a very aggressive fashion and started shouting at Alan. Alan looked nervously towards Tony, who was getting out of his car 30 yards away. The young man had short messy black hair, that looked like it hadn’t been washed for weeks. He was short and wore a dirty orange t-shirt.
“What on earth could this guy do to me” Alan thought worried.
“Alan” The young man barked aggressively. He used his first name as most fans seemed to do, as if they knew him on a personal level. Alan took a step back as the young man got within a few feet of him. “You’d better win against those bloody Longford. I fucking hate those bastards!” He spoke with a heavy accent Alan couldn’t place. He smelled of alcohol as if he had been marinated in hard liquor for the past month. He hit the Alan’s upper arm with a flat hand, which was probably intended to be a friendly pat, but ended up causing Alan to lose his balance. The young man wandered off looking at the sky.
“Who the hell was that?” Alan asked Tony who had reached him.
“Oh, you haven’t met him before?” Tony asked, looking amused “That’s Paul O’Toole, he’s a big fan of the team, a bit of a simpleton. I guess all teams have someone like him.”
“So he’s the village idiot?” Alan asked
“I wouldn’t put it like that, he’s just not very bright.” Tony argued “He couldn’t hurt a fly even if he wanted to.”
“He said something about Longford, what’s that all about?” Alan asked
“Longford is 30 miles north of us” Tony said “You know football fans, if they haven’t got a rivalry they’ll make one”
“Much like West Ham fans thinking Spurs is their rivals, just because they haven’t played Millwall for a long time?” Alan reasoned.
“Exactly” Tony said and lit a cigar.
“I wouldn’t put it like that, he’s just not very bright.”
That's what I tell people about you, Andreas.
2013-04-03 07:58#89477 Akash :
“I wouldn’t put it like that, he’s just not very bright.”
That's what I tell people about you, Andreas.
That's very kind of you!
Part 11: Revenge
Alan felt he had been improving in training lately, partly because of his own development through reading a lot of articles on coaching and partly because he now had a few coaches he could work with to make a better training schedule. Alan had been in charge for a little over two months now and Athlone had played 6 games and had still only gotten a single point. The point they got against Wexford was the only point in 11 games in which Athlone had played. Last week they had lost 2-1 away at Limerick, a game that had been televised which further added to the humiliation. Today was Alan’s second home game, the first one was the disastrous result against Waterford. Alan sat by himself looking over the scouting report of Mervue United, the first team Athlone had played against when Alan took over. He was given the opportunity to get revenge for his miserable and inactive game he had in Galway.
It was friday night and the game would be played at 7.30, so at six the first players entered the dressing room chatting lively to one another. Because most of these men had day jobs Alan had instructed the to meet an hour and fifteen minutes before kick off. That would leave 20 minutes to get changed, 25 minutes to talk tactics and 30 minutes warm up. Not all of the players were pleased with this and ended up getting in 5 minutes before the team talk, Alan chose to ignore it as they were all dressed when he stood by his whiteboard with the football pitch outlined on it. He used the magnets to line up a simple 4-4-2, he pointed at the goalie.
“As you can see we’re playing 4-4-2 again today” Alan said “Jennings I want you in goal”
“Aw, gaff. I was hoping to play up front” Pat said and got a few laughs from the dressing room. Alan smiled.
“Noctor - right back” Alan said pointing at the magnet at the right back position and continued.
“Casserly, McCarthy, Williamson, Zaniewski, Keely, Relihan, Álvarez, Crawley and McGoldrick” Alan pointed at each magnet as he said the names.
“If the game is going the way we want I plan on bringing Ohneiser and Feeney in later in the game, so you lot should be warming up from the start.”
The two young players looked up and smiled widely.
“Keely I want you to push up a little bit and Relihan to back down a bit, we’re not playing a full out diamond shape in midfield, but keep it a little askew. Guys we want to dominate this midfield so make sure that all your passes are short and safe.” Alan looked around most of the players nodded and smiled.
“Right I know we lost last time we met these barstools and that it was completely my fault. I’m not going to let that happen again tonight. If you fight the same way you did in Galway and give me your absolute best I know we can beat these guys!” Alan was close to shouting this and it seemed to work the players cheered and whooped. They seemed pretty fired up and Alan let them to the stadium.
30 minutes later it was time for the kick off. Referee Superczynski blew the whistle and the game was underway. Athlone quickly lost the ball after kick off and 35 seconds the ball rolled out for a goal kick for Athlone. Alan started to fear the worst as the loss of possession reminded him of the past 6 games he had been in charge. The clock showed 1 minute and 15 seconds as Pat Jennings was lining up to take the first goal kick of the game. Naturally, Alan thought, it hit an opponent who headed it back to Casserly, who booted it up the pitch with a first timer.
“So much for the easy passes along the ground” Alan thought nervously.
The ball continued up the pitch and went over the head of Mark McGoldrick who quickly closed down on the ball. A Mervue defender pushed up and completely missed the trapping of the ball, leaving McGoldrick with a lot of space between him and the goal. Alan stood up. McGoldrick continued his raid forward. Alan had all kind of thoughts rushing through his head as he walked into the technical area. Would he score, would he miss, had they practiced these situations enough? They had. The game had been going for 1 minute and 30 seconds when Mark McGoldrick slotted the ball past the Mervue goalkeeper. Alan leapt into the air and punched an imaginary punching bag which was 2 feet above him. As he was running back towards his own half McGoldrick pointed at his manager and Alan responded with a nod and a little clap.
40 minutes into the game Crawley split the defence with a pass as sharp as one of those razorblade ads claim to be. Once again McGoldrick found that the only person to stand in his way of a goal was the goalkeeper and once again McGoldrick put it just past the goalies reach and into the back of the net. Alan almost rushed onto the pitch to kiss McGoldrick, but got a stern look from the referee kept him in the technical area. Half time went by in a blur and Alan urged the players to continue what they were doing. In the second half it seemed that Mervue was content with cutting their losses and stood further back on the pitch so there were no more goals at either end. Oheneiser and Feeney both got a few minutes as promised and when the referee blew the whistle Alan fell to his knees with his hands above his head. Outsiders would have said it looked a lot like a reenactment of a scene from Platoon. Alan didn’t care, he had gotten the first win as a football manager.
Tell those guys to quit their day jobs. They don't need it. With Alan Thompson incharge, they'll be famous and more money than they can fit into their pockets.
No excuse for being late. Stupid amateurs.
Part 12: The fall of Athlone Town
Having taken over in July, Alan had been hired for 1½ years. He had only had the autumn part of the season to improve, but when the whistle blew for the last time in the season at home to the rivals of Longford, having lost 2-1 it showed that Alan hadn’t turned much around. He had been in charge for 12 games and had gotten 9 points, two victories and three draws. He average less than a point per game, which was less than the point per game which got his predecessor fired, who had gotten 16 points in as many games. Alan feared that this might be the end of his career, he hadn’t produced the results he had wished for. He was meeting Tony later today to review the season. Alan sat staring at the wall as his tea grew colder on the sofa table. He flicked on Sky Sports News and learned that Spurs had just fired Andre Villas Boas. “Maybe I should apply” Alan thought to himself and the thought of being named Spurs manager made him forget his troubles.
In the afternoon Alan drove into town to meet Tony at small café. Tony was already there when Alan arrived.
“Hi Tony, good to see you” Alan stretched out at hand for a greeting and Tony shook it.
“Right Alan, you know that we need to talk about the half season you’ve been here.” Tony looked down and spoke with a solemn voice “and we both know that it hasn’t been up to the standard that we both had hoped”.
“I know, I’m stilling learning all of this and I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I just need more time” Alan said expecting to hear the words that every contestant of the Apprentice feared.
“I know you do. I’m gonna let you have the winter transfer window and some part of next season to prove to me that you have learned, but if you keep up this kind of game I would have no other alternative than to find a replacement. I took a big gamble on you, so I hope you will learn”.
As Tony spoke Alan breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m looking forward to having a lot of time to train the things that crop up during a match. The way I see it is that playing football is much like driving a car. When you start off for the first time you’re very aware of everything; gear changes, pedals, how to steer, looking out for other traffic, but as you get accustomed to all of this you don’t think you just do and that leaves you room to think about something else, talk to your passenger, or listen to Terry Wogan on the radio. It’s the same with football, if you know a situation that will happen during a game before it even happens, you will be able to think about loads of other things as well. This leaves you time to think about your next move.” Alan eyes flamed with delight as he finally was able to express what he was trying to do in training. “But we haven’t had much time to perfect that when we only practice 3 nights a week.”
Tony nodded and his faced changed as he listened. He smiled and said “Now I’m sure I’ve made the right decision to keep you on.”
You are reading "The Alan Thompson Chronicles".