Chapter 2 - It's getting warmer
Part 1: Winter is Coming
Alan woke up, it was New Years day and the clock beside his bed showed that it was 11 am. That would make it 12 hours since he blacked out. The team had staged a huge New Years party and Alan had been invited and it was quite a while since he had been out on a proper binge drinking session. The whole team was there, except for the few who had chosen to leave in the off season, either because their ambitions took them to bigger clubs or because they felt they didn’t get enough playing time. The team had lost a few regulars, Kevin Williamson had gone to Cork City and Stephen Relihan chose to join Limerick. Mark McGoldrick had returned to Sligo Rovers as his loan deal ended when the season did, however he showed up for the party. Despite the outgoings the squad had been deepened and strengthened with players from both Slavcho Stoilov and the new Director of Football Mick Dolan.
Alan got up and put on a pair of trousers and flicked on Sky Sports news. The first thing he saw was that England had lost a cricket test match against New Zealand. Afterwards Jim White came on the screen and started shouting.
“We have some breaking news for you from Tottenham’s training ground in Enfield” the news anchor roared as pictures were shown of cars more expensive than most houses drove through the big iron gates and the Spurs training ground in Enfield. The cameraman zoomed in close on the tinted windows trying to get a shot of who was driving.
“It would seem that Christian Eriksen has arrived in Enfield to undergo a medical and meet with Daniel Levy and the new Spurs boss José Mourinho.” Jim White blasted as he was trying to set a record of the person who ousted the most decibel on live television.”They have announced a press conference for 12pm, stay tuned!”
It seemed that his home team had been working a lot harder on New Years day than he had. He hadn’t really lined up any players to come in for the new season. Mark McGoldrick had let slip last night that Sligo wouldn’t be extending his contract and the fact that he still lived in Athlone would make him a prime candidate to sign up for the team. Alan went into the kitchen where he found his table plastered in his notes. He had been spending the time between Christmas and New Years trying to devise a new tactic and a new training scheme and he felt he was getting somewhere. Training didn’t start for another 5 weeks, but Alan wanted to be well prepared. He was devising a tactic that would help his team play to their strengths and how the could train to be even better at it. He picked up his book on how to build a team culture and contemplated the season ahead.
great story so far mate!!!
The Starks would be proud:D
Part 2: The Romanian influence
It was late february and Alan Thompson had just seen his team draw Bohemians 0-0 in a friendly. It was a good result as they dominated the game and in the light that the two other preseason friendlies were lost 3-0 each, it was nice to get a bit of confidence back in the team. It had been a nightmare preseason, none of the plans that Alan had devised had worked. Also Patrick Jennings, Niall Scullion, Brian McCarthy and Noel McGee had chosen to leave the club along with a lot of minor players. Eight players had joined since december so it was hard to get any kind of consistency in the squad. Alan now had to consider if he wanted to keep af 16 year old in goal. He had given the young man a chance and in his third game he had shown his worth. It was a tough call and he didn’t know if he could even get a keeper that was better than this young German.
Slavcho caught up with Alan as he walked from the pitch.
“It was good game, no?” Slavcho asked in his newly found hybrid dialect of Eastern European and Irish.
“Yes it was” Alan said with a bit of a frown “but it just doesn’t seem like we can create any chance or dictate the pace of the game. I’ve tried everything I could think off and it hasn’t helped us much.”
“I may know a guy” Slavcho said “He’s very good with tactics and team talks and training. He can help perhaps.”
“Perhaps” Alan said noncommittally “who is he and what does he do?”
“He’s a guy I know, he’s from Romania he’s very good.” Slavcho said.
“Yees. You’ve said that” Alan said reluctantly “How can I contact him?”
“I will give him you number and he will call you” Slavcho said.
Later that evening Alan was busy trying to rearrange all of his notes and put in into an old fashioned notepad, when his phone rang.
“Hello?” Alan answered as he saw the number was blocked.
“Hello! I’m looking for Alan Thompson” the voice at the other end said without a hint of dialect or accent, but somehow exuded intelligence.
“Ah, hello Alan, my name Stanila Cosmin, a common friend asked me to give you a call” he said, still not giving away any accent.
“Yes!” Alan said “Slavcho Stoilov claims you can help me? I’m not sure how”.
“I will do my best to help you, but it is only your own thoughts that really matter, I will simply try and help you reach the right conclusion. First tell me what is the problems in your team?”
Alan told Stanila about how he wanted to control the passing game and create a lot of opportunities from passing. Stanila picked up on it and they chatted for 3 hours until Alan’s notebook was full and his head longing for a break. Alan had received so much insight into the psychology of the game and the small nuances of most aspects of the game. Alan looked down on the final piece of paper which had a lineup written on it.
“No strikers” Alan thought to himself “it seems odd, but if Stanila is right in his theories it might just work.”
Brilliant post Andreas. Thanks for including me. Great job mate.
I would just like to say that the ATC will be going on a small hiatus again. It will come back if the demand is high enough.
Part 3: Getting on Track
It was about 2 months since Alan had talked to Stanila Cosmin about the structure and philosophy of tactics and the psychology of players. Alan had implemented the ideas straight away and was pleased to see that it worked. Alan was walking from the Lissywollen pitch with yet another victory in the bag. Athlone had played 8 league games and a single cup game since the start of the season. Athlone Town had secured 7 wins, 1 draw and a loss in the EA Sports Cup. Athlone was top of the league with 22 points having only lost two away to Rockmount in the second game of the season.
Today it was SD Galway who had taken a beating of 4-2, even though they had been in front at the 11th minute. Today’s hero was Jan Svec, a kid that had only turned 16 two months ago. Svec at slotted 2 past Galway and had assisted for a 3 goal. This brought the tally up to 13 goals in 8 games for Athlone, seven of these were from players Slavcho Stoilov had recommended. The 16 year olds, Kamil Zaniewski and, of course, Jan Svec. Whilst Andreas Ohneiser had gotten hold of a starting position in the defense and Robert Grzybowski had taken over for Pat Jennings Jr. as if nothing had happened.
It was a very nice couple of months and Alan was starting to feel confident in himself and it had showed progressively during the first matches. Even when the cup game home to Waterford had resulted in a 2-5 loss, Alan didn’t lose his fervor, as Athlone had created most of the chances and had retained possession well against a much stronger opponent on the day. Alan was now been able to spot weaknesses and fatigue in the team in a way he hadn’t before. He was starting to look forward to next week where Athlone was squaring up against Waterford again.
That night Alan was sitting in his living room eating another curry in front of the telly, the match had started at 7.30pm. Alan had been at Lissywollen since lunch and had been audibly starving during the second half. He was just about to go throw the rest of the rice in the bin, when his phone rang. It was Tony Knight.
“Hi Alan, you weren’t sleeping were you?” Tony said as a greeting. Alan looked at his watch, it was 11pm, which is about 2 hours before he usually went to bed as most of his work was in the afternoon and evening.
“No not all, Tony” Alan said and tried to stifle a yawn.
“I just wanted to congratulate you on another good win” Tony sounded elated and a bit drunk “I have no idea what you’ve done to these lads, but it’s working.”
“Thanks, sir” Alan said as he was cut off by Tony
“And the fact that you’re playing such young talent as you are is just wonderful.” Tony did seem to slur his words Alan thought. Was he really getting a drunk dial from his boss?
“Don’t think this has gone unnoticed” Tony said
“What do you mean?” Alan said curiously, was he about to get an extended contract?
“We can talk about that another time. Goodbye!” Tony hung up before Alan could respond.
Alan went straight to bed pondering why his work hadn’t gone unnoticed.
Brilliant work. Congrats Andreas.
Great work with Athlone! Will you stay there and get them to the top or will they just be a stepping stone for you?
btw Svec seems like a helluva player
Interesting to see where you'll go with this one.
2013-04-30 09:17#96469 Arvind :
Great work with Athlone! Will you stay there and get them to the top or will they just be a stepping stone for you?
btw Svec seems like a helluva player
For the amusement of the crowd here is a screenshot of Jan Svec a few months later.
There's also a hint to your other question in that picture
2 passing is hilarious
Looking forward to seeing where you've moved to
Part 4: Comparing to the Big League
It had been two tough weeks since the Waterford game. Athlone lost 2-0 away and the weekend after they drew 0-0 at Mervue. They did not let go of their number one spot, but the two last games wasn’t promising for Alan. He was now sitting in his office studying the pre game report on University College Dublin. UCD had been relegated before this season and was going to be a tough challenge. It was the first chance Alan had of comparing his team to the one’s of the Premier League, even if it meant comparing to a team not good enough for the Premier League. It was also a test before the important cup match against Sligo Rovers, where Athlone could really compare to the Premier League. It was a Friday night game which could mean a big crowd, which was around the 200 mark. That would give Athlone the backing they needed for this game. Alan was tensing up and looked at the clock in his office, an hour and a half before game time and the first player had walked in.
4 hours later Alan was sitting his office, writing up his own match report. He had held a teamtalk after the game where he had praised the team for playing well in hard fought match. He noted that the game had been extremely defensive and had resulted in 26 fouls equally split between the two teams and 7 bookings. The game had finished 1-1. The goals were the only shots on target in that game, which Alan pointed out to be even more of a tribute to the defence. Despite the fact that Athlone had scored both goals. The first goal came in the 66th minute when Thomas Crawley received a pass behind the UCD defense and out dribbled the goalkeeper and put it in the net for 1-0. Twelve minutes later Robert Grzybowski got a hand on a cross which made the ball run for the goal, Andreas Ohneiser tried to clear the ball but ended up knocking it into his own net. Despite the own goal the team played great.
Alan looked up at the clock in his office it was 10pm, he finished up his report, printed it, and shut down the computer. He took the finished report and put it in the 2013 season ringbinder. He found the scouting reports on Cherry Orchard and Sligo Rovers. Alan went home, had a sandwich for dinner and fell asleep on the couch.
Great result, even I know UCD are a big side in Ireland
Part 5: Vindaloo
It had been 10 days since the game against UCD and Athlone had finally been able to get a bit of rest as they had 9 days off. Yesterday was the third of four matches against Cherry Orchard, which thankfully ended in a 2-0 victory. This ironically gave Alan three victories over Cherry Orchard, which is more victories than he got in the first season in charge. The next game was just 4 days away, Athlone was meeting Sligo Rovers, one of the top teams in the country. Alan was in the middle of noting down Sligo’s patterns of passing when his phone rang. Alan looked at the display and found an indecipherable phone number, with a foreign country code.
“Hello?” Alan replied expecting this to be some sort of scam
“Hi this is Alex Alvares from SC Goa, I’m looking for Alan Thompson?” The man on the other end sounded very much like his local curry guy, Akash, whom he had discussed football with at great length. Alan quickly dismissed the idea of a prank call as Akash wasn’t familiar enough with him to do that.
“Speaking” Alan said getting more intrigued, he had never heard of SC Goa.
“Ah, hello!” The man replied with friendly voice “I’m director of football for SC Goa and I’ve been allowed to contact you and enquire whether you would be interested in a job with us?”
The whole thing was said so quickly that Alan considered whether this was a speech he had made before or if this guy had some sort of history in Telemarketing.
“I’m sorry? What kind of a job?” Alan rubbed his forehead to get to terms with the idea that a man from SC Goa was calling him about a job.
“Manager of course.” The man replied “We’ve been on the look out for the past few months and by chance we came across you name. We were there when you beat Newbridge and Wexford. The week after you got your Manager of the Month award”
“Right” Alan was clearing up, he hadn’t made a big deal out of the award as it was a newspaper handing out these awards. Alan continued, “But I kinda like it here and India is a bit far away for my liking.”
“Of course you like it there, you have the potential to win the league and get Athlone.” the man said, Alan thought it sounded a lot like a sales pitch. “However we will offer you the chance to manage in a professional league, a squad of full time professionals and a bit of transfer money to spend to strengthen the squad.”
“That does sound good” Alan said and went quiet as he thought things over.
“Oh did I mention the salary?” Alan’s train of thoughts were interupted “How much do you make each week at Athlone?”
“Err” Alan tried to recall “I think it’s €75”
“Well we would be willing to offer you 135,000 rupees each week, which is equivalent to €1,900 or £1,700”
Alan’s jaw did it’s absolute best to hit the floor. He did some quick maths and found out that it amounted to a monthly salary of approximately £7,400.
“That does sound very tempting, but I’m afraid that India might be too far away for me. So for the time being it has to be no” Alan said
“I understand that” the man replied “I will give you a day to reconsider, call me when you’ve reached your final decision.” The man left his contact information and hung up with a promise of emailing the proposed contract to Alan.
Alan sat at his desk feeling like he had been hit by a lorry. He had just been offered a job in India, but the salary was more than Alan had ever dreamed off. £7,400 each month was incredible, if you lived in North London. Alan phoned up Tony Knight to hear what he had to say on the matter. They discussed the offer shortly, when Tony interrupted.
“Listen Alan, I would be very sorry to lose you. I took a gamble with you and it has paid off. My heart says that I want you to be the one to take us to the Premier League. On the other hand, these Indian fellows don’t mess around. They have offered €25,000 to buy you free of your contract. It would be foolish of us not to say no to that kind of money. If I must be honest with you, I think you should take it. You would be helping the club a lot. The team is strong enough to get promoted as they are now and a new manager should be able to get them there.”
After he had hung up Alan let it all sink in. He was sitting at his home desk, took a sip of his tea, which had gone cold over the past half hour.
15 minutes later Alan phoned up Alex Alvarez of SC Goa, India to tell him that he had found a new manager.