Chapter 2- The Start of an Era
I stand by the touchline, waiting for my first match as Real Sociedad manager. I wished that my debut had come under tens and thousands of fans, all cheering my name in the brilliant Anoeta stadium. But now, it was in this dump of a stadium in Italy. We're playing Croceta or Crotene or something like that.
The team I picked is extremely strong, including most first teamers. I'm going to have the team play the whole game, and play the reserves next match, simply because I want to test the players stamina and determination. I want to see if they lag at the end of the game.
Then the announcer begins to read the squad for today.
In goal for Sociedad, Caludio Bravo. At Right back, Dani Estrada. At Center Back, Inigo Martinez and Mikel Gonzalez. At Left back, Jose Angel.
Yes that's right, no Sanchez Mino at Left back. No new signings in the team. Why? Well, we had agreed on a contract and a fee. The papers were sent to UEFA and they were accepted. He was a Real Sociedad player. But Mino had one last training session with Boca. And while he was there, he pulled his groin! I nearly through my iPad at the wall when I heard the news! The trainers say he may be available for the preseason friendly against Arsenal, which will be on TV. Anyway, the announcer has started with the midfield
At Center Defensive Midfield, Javi Ros. At Center midfield, Ruben Pardo and Esteban Ganero. At Left wing, Antoine Griezmann. And at Right wing, Xabi Prieto.
Griezmann smirks at me from all the way across the pitch. I would bench him, but he's too vital to the team to play on the bench. So, I've been trying to work on his attitude and work ethic. Maybe that will pay off.
And at striker, Carlos Vela!
So that's the team
I'm going to be using.
The game starts out slow, but it's obvious that we're the better team. We're moving the ball around in the midfield, and making Crotene chase the ball. Finally, we have a corner. And the first GOAL of my tenure has been scored. Oh wait, no! The ball has hit the crossbar. Javi Ros, are CDM for the game has hit a corner of the underside of the post, and it bounces back into play.
It's the 12th minute and Griezmann carrying the ball down the wing with blistering pace. I wonder why I don't see that kind of speed in training. Anyway, he rushes past one defender and spots Javi Ros in the box. Ros shoots to the near post, but no! Saved by the keeper. But Carlos Vela is there to tuck the rebound home. We've taken the lead.
Once again, in the 13th minute Griezmann is pulling all the strings. He's run into the middle and spotted Ruben Pardo, who has a real chance here! But he's put the ball into the side netting. A poor effort from the 27 year old who may be on his way out of San Sebastian.
It's half time now, and the boys have stalled a little since the first 10 minutes of the game, where lots of chances were being created. The best chance of the game since the Ruben Pardo chance actually fell to them. In the 15th minute Stefano Beltrame found some space in the 6 yard box and headed a cross off the bar and over the goal. Now it's time for the half time pep talk.
Ok lads, that's good football. Keep up the good work in their third of the pitch. Make dangerous runs and space will open up. And in the back, make sure that we don't panic. No players should be getting behind us like in the 15 the minute. Overall though, that's a half Let's see if we can double our lead before the end of the match. Oh, and Griezmann, that's good football. I wish I could see some of that in training. Now, get out onto the pitch and keep playing good football!
He tried to hide it, but I saw a tiny little smile on Antoine's face before he got back onto the pitch.
It's the 76th minute now, and the team have definitely slowed down. They don't look as threatening as they did early on. Crotone has had some good chances, They've gotten behind our defense, but Claudio Bravo has saved us multiple times. Now Jose Angel has the ball. The team is playing some quick passes, and now Ruben Pardo has the ball at the top of the box, he's threaded the ball towards Griezmann, who hits a one timer right into the top right hand corner. It's 2-0 to us off a wonder strike by Griezmann.
It's the 90th minute now, Crotone have the ball in the midfield. Christopher Blanco played an excellent through ball to Di Giorgione, who's played Pettinari though. He has plenty of time and oh, he clangs the bar. Still 2-0 to us, but as I expected, we were out played in the final 15 minutes of the game. I walk down the steps towards the locker room, where I address the players.
Ok guys, I expected more this half. I really did, we got out goal, but it could have easily been 2-2. The defense couldn't keep it together. We'll work on it all in training. For now, though, just enjoy your first victory under me. But, defense, we really need to improve. A Serie B side just had 16 shots on us. That's not good. Now, get out of here. Our plane leaves in 5 hours.