It had been an excruciating week for Alan the wait for the final combined with Alan’s stomach still refusing to process Indian cuisine properly had made him lose two stone since he arrived in India. Alan was now seated in his small, hot and extremely humid office. He glanced at the thermometer which showed that it was 33 degrees outside. The heat made it difficult for Alan to focus on the task at hand and he was sure that he had read the same passage of the scouting report for the Churchill Bros at least 4 times. Alan decided to take a walk, hopefully he could get some reading done on the flight tomorrow.
Three days and 1500 miles later Alan was in Siliguri and getting ready for the final against Churchill Bros. Alan still couldn’t fathom that he had just traveled twice the distance between Land’s End and John O’Groats. The weather was a bit milder here a mere 27 degrees and breezy.
“Right lads we’ve got a very good chance of getting our hands on a trophy” Alan addressed the team “If you go out and play our style of football and play the way that I know you can we can get the result we want.”
Alan looked around and saw that most of the players weren’t paying much attention. He noted that Boubacar Keita was one of these players and looked at him.
“Keita!” Boubacar turned his head, “I expect to see a stunning performance from you. If you manage to command the back line the way we’ve practiced it will be an important foundation for us taking the win here tonight.”
Keita’s eyes fired up and he looked emboldened by the vote of confidence in him.
20 minutes later the players were lead on to the pitch by the referees and Alan felt awkwardly relaxed. One of the officials had told Alan that there might be about 25,000 people in the Stadium. That number seemed extreme as Alan had been used to just under 2,000 people at Athlone.
After just 2 minutes of play the Churchill Bros moved the ball up on the right wing and as the result of a bit of miscommunication Akram Moghrabi was all alone with the centered ball but headed it straight at Venkatesh Afonso. Alan quickly stood up and rushed to the edge of his technical area.
“Come on Boubacar get your shit together, that’s you fucking man!” Alan shouted and Boubacar Keita looked up “Get your agreements sorted for fucks sake!”
45 minutes and a lot of missed chances by both teams later the ref blew for half time.
“That’s very good guys, that’s the first 45 minutes done and you’ve been excellent defensively.” Alan said as they had reached the dressing room. “But you lot have to work out how to get some better shots in” Alan looked at the front four who had huddled together on the same bench. “You don’t want to let all that great defensive work go to waste?”
As the second half wore on it seemed like it was going to be the same as the first half Alan started to get nervous and thinking this might end in another penalty shoot out. Neither team seemed to be able to direct any shots at goal. At the 65th minute a mistimed trapping by Edmilson Pardal ended up as a stray ball in the middle of the penalty area. Right wing Anthony Pereira made a quick move around his man and first timed the ball in by the nearest post. Alan looked bewildered and quickly looked at the assistant referee, who was already rushing back towards the middle of the pitch. He then looked at the referee who was pointing towards the kick-off spot. Neither of them seemed to have seen an infraction. It was actually true SC Goa was 1-0 up in the Fed Cup Final. Alan shouted and tried to punch the air with his right fist in pure celebration.
The game went back to the monotonous play and it lasted for the next 25 minutes of the game. Alan had witnessed how Churchill Bros had gained more and more field possession and was putting the Goa defenders under immense pressure. However the Churchill strikers didn’t seem to have their day and had only 2 shots on target so far. Once again Adil Khan, the other centre back, booted the ball to the middle of the pitch and the defense could get another breather. As the ball was closing in on a Churchill defender the referee put his whistle to his lips and blew 3 times. The game was over. SC Goa had won the Fed Cup and Alan had won his first trophy only a few months after he had joined Goa.
Reality struck hard as Alan was writing his first match report of an I-League game. The first game of the season was away at East Bengal it was one of those losses where you think to yourself that you were lucky just losing with one goal in the end. Nothing worked for SC Goa in that game, yet they got away with a 2-1 loss. Alan reflected on the level of Indian football and it wasn't positive.
"I can't believe that so many people pay money to see this kind of football" he thought to himself "this is the kind of football they play in the Ryman leagues".
Alan wrapped up his match report on East Bengal and he drew out the little folder with the different reports on the Churchill Bros, this time a league game and it would seem that both teams had adjusted their cannons since the Fed Cup Final as the game ended 3-2 to SC Goa. Alan was pleased that his first home game yielded a win, albeit a narrow one. Alan looked through the stats sheet of the game and it looked great for Goa. 22 shots against 3 and a heavy overload of possession for Goa. It would seem that the players had adapted well to the short fast passing that Alan wanted to play. However the defenders still struggled and the only two shots the Churchill Bros had on target in the game ended up in the back of the net. Alan dotted down all of his thoughts on the defensive sides of the game and made notes for what they should be training in the upcoming week. Finally he packed up the little folder and stored it in his filing cabinet.
Alan looked at his watch and noted it was very late, he drew out the scouting report that had been lying in his inbox for a few days now and put it in his bag. He was going home and this was one of the things he was extremely excited about, he had a flat that looked out over the bay, he had British television and a butler named Arvind. His butler cooked, cleaned and did the dirty clothes for him. It was truly a life of luxury.
Alan turned on the television as he sat down in the sofa with his dinner and the scouting report for the next game. It was still midday in England and he managed to catch some of the headlines from the Premier League before switching over to the Indian Cricket Premier League as he ate and read the scouting report. He looked up as a wicket fell, as the player trotted of a little graphic told him that he had gotten one run from two balls faced. Alan laughed and reasoned that's his score right now, hopefully he didn't have to take the walk back to the pavilion just yet.
Alan hung up the phone. He had just notified the host of the New Years Eve party he was supposed to attend that he had come down with a flu. Alan was perfectly fine except that he started to miss living in England. He hadn’t made any friends whilst being in India and the few people whom he had met he didn’t have time to see due to work. Despite his homesickness he didn’t feel like being very sociable.
He had tried a lot of things to get rid of his homesickness, even watching Eastenders, but that had only made him sick as well as homesick. Nothing really seemed to work. Half of the season was gone and the league table was looking excellent, SC Goa was sitting firmly in 3rd place and had just beaten East Bengal 3-2 in Goa. In the 13 games SC Goa had managed to lose 4 times, draw a single time and win 8. Football life in itself was great, despite the poor training facilities the young players were really getting into their stride, Venkatesh Afonso was proving to be a vital signing despite having managed just 2 clean sheets in the league so far. The young striker Sabeeth who was part of the “diamond in the rough” batch of players whom Alan had been recommended to sign in his first few months at the club was getting a little less coarse around the edges. Sabeeth had contributed to one of the most memorable games in the season by securing his first hattrick, at the age of 19, away against Salgaocar. A 3-0 victory over an opponent who had stuffed SC Goa 4-0 in a preseason friendly.
Alan even had a sparkling new award to keep him company. Alan had been phoned up at the start of the month and been invited to the HQ of the AIFF (All India Football Federation) in Dwarka, New Delhi. That was 1250 miles away.
“We want you to take part in the manager of the month award ceremony” The guy on the phone had told him.
Alan had respectfully declined and the day after the ceremony a young man knocked on Alan’s door and delivered a small package which contained a little trophy with the inscription “November Manager of the Month”.
Alan was content as far as his life in football was concerned. In the end the football side of life was the reason he hadn’t quit and gone home. Alan did seem to know what he was doing and that meant he couldn’t give up yet. He turned on his computer and did the usual routine. Checking emails, replying to the two fans who had written to him on twitter, he checked the news from home and eventually he ended up on the page with the Irish football results. He looked up the Irish First Division and noted that Athlone Town had been promoted. He leaned back and thought to himself: “You might have some skill at this, you can’t possibly quit now.” Alan smiled and looked at the fireworks exploding over the bay.
With that amount of comments last time around, you deserved a boring update! :P