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Thread: The Journey Manager - A side story by ZanSnake

  1. #101

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    Chapter Four
    - Past to the Present, Present to the Future -




    After the perfect ending of 2004 in football and my personal life, I couldn’t want anything more as the foundation for 2005. But, the note left on my door has haunted my every movement. I watch the corners, the shadows and even the light; whoever it is knows something that could ruin my life.

    After the discovery, I got Maria over and she helped calm me. But the paranoia will be the subject of my life until I can get past this. Though she knew, she doesn’t know everything. No point starting a relationship with the admittance that I am a murderer. But a secret behind our lips for only ourselves have brought us closer together.



    Despite my frail attempts to object against, I was forced to do a press conference at the behest of the Board of Directors. Only wanting to cash in on the form we have found so far this season, the scene only increased my panicking finger pointing.

    Could it be Ham Roll, his once-estranged brother? Or Rollin Roll, his drug-addict scene? Or even Glenn, a man whose shown nothing but discontent at his job with me….

    The man was sat next to me, ready to translate in his typical uncaring demeanour..



    As I look out to the sea of sharks, I see nothing but myself as bait. Nervousness wasn’t what I was feeling, it was fear. One by one is how I have to approach this:

    Glenn: What do you have to say about the club’s turnaround form this season?

    Zan: The best wins, and we win. There’s nothing else to say but to fight where we are, and where we want to be.

    Glenn: Is promotion really a realistic target? Surely, you will fall down the table at some point…

    Zan: We went close last season when people wrote us off. Now, we have strengthened, and fighting to improve this season in all aspects. I have defied the odds in Wales, whose to say I can’t do ti again?

    Glenn: How can you be confident of the club’s future after what you’ve done?

    The wording struck me.

    Zan: What.. What do you mean?

    Glenn: You speak of success, while killing this club! You’re bleeding it dry and leaving it for scraps! Over £1 million debt already!

    I start to shake as my vision grew narrow and blurred. All the faces, all the people crammed within this room, whose to say that the person who left me that note wasn’t here right now. They wait with baited breath, ready to take apart each word I say, to analyse who I really am.

    The vultures to tear off my skin for their own enjoyment! I grab a glass of water to try and calm me, to wet my ever-dry mouth. But nonetheless it remained the same.

    In the silence there stares grew tighter, they could pierce right through me it seemed. So I had to leave, I rushed out of the conference room, my water spilling over the table. Unfortunately, the water dripped into the microphones and short-circuited to start flames to emerge.

    Within a second, the wooden table was engulfed and the vultures started to riot, but within all the chaos of the stampede, an angry Glenn grabbed a member of the crazed journalists, one from AMC television news, and set him flying through the flaming table.



    “¡Oh Dios mío! ¡Mató a AMC!”
    “¡Ese bastardo!”

    I snuck out of the room as the chaos pursued, just wanting to get away from it all.

    * * *** * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * *** * * * ** ** ** * * * * * ***



    Going back to business, as the only way my mind wouldn’t to question every person I see as the possible person responsible for my terrors. The first result of the New Year was the thriving 4-0 result against Rayo. The team that once rejected me, had now faced three defeat against us including the 4-0 away win earlier in the season!

    Though it was Kühne who took the plaudits last time around with a hat-trick, it was a team effort this time! Two goals in each half, with four different scorers – Marky Mark getting his 10th of the season for yet another double-digit season – it was just all too easy!

    And with the three points, we had done the imaginable!



    In our first game of the year we had clinched the top spot after chasing since the start of the season. The turnaround from the three defeats in October has seen us improve on form to include an unbelievable 10 match winning streak!



    Stepping us massive was both the contribution of goals and the defence capabilities. Top scoring team in the league with the best defence clearly shows how we came to be on top, and that’s despite the absence of our top goalscorer and number one striker!



    On the side note of the league, is the Second Round of the Spanish Cup. Against a fellow Second Division side, and one we defeated in a historic 6-1 thrashing once already this season, Éibar is a team I hope to easily pass through to match how far we came last season.

    Though we know higher teams might await us – like last season with Barcelona – it was a chance to face someone with me in charge that I wouldn’t face again.

    For the Cup game I decided to make some small changes, with Henri Timmer between the sticks, João Pedro coming in at left back, Maldonado coming into the central midfeild, Oelkuch replacing Marky Mark and Alberto given his second start of the season.



    The game started with few chances as both teams were vying each other for space and trying different movements. Míchel tried to wander forward a few times, but never really clicked. It wasn’t too bad however as it was just a warm up for the Defensive Midfielder, on the 19th minute he then executed his plan perfectly.

    Collecting the ball up-field, he looked forward and spotted Alberto with space. A perfectly timed and lofted ball forward was perfect for the veteran who headed the ball on point and scored!

    With Alberto on the score sheet, Míchel attempted to do the same for Gustavsson nearly instantly afterwards, but who unfortunately went wide. The miss came back to huant us as Arrieta crafted a chance nothing which was parried away by Timmer to only fall handsomely for César to tap in the equaliser.

    1-1 at half-time was disappointing though, and I left the lads know, expecting more in the second half. And one man took that to heart.



    Within ten minutes into the second half, the score was 3-1, all thanks to two men. One being Míchel who continued his fine passing, and the other being Alberto who finished both chances Míchel crafted to sublime detail and earning a tremendous hat-trick!

    To say I cried a little would be an understatement.

    With an additional goal late on by sub Mark Mark with a nice driven shot, after making Emery look like a fool, and we won 4-1. Four goals scored in back to back games!



    Euphoria running through our veins, all the attention is on us as we make oppositions our bitch! The limelight has been shining onto our mighty warriors, one man in particular was taking the form in his stride: Marky Mark.



    Of course I chimed in to agree with every word as the media sprung the new even further, which got a very positive reaction from the fans which demonstrated the strong connection that the star-man has.



    With a dominant win in both of our games so far this year, the momentum is on our side so far. But, I have learnt to be wary that it can slip at any time. With eyes on us, and on me, we have to continue on for further success. The next day we got the draw for the 3rd Round of the Spanish Cup:




    In the 3rd Round we have Racing Club de Santander, a First Division side who won the Spanish Cup in 2003 themselves. This season they are chasing a European spot and are sitting in 5th position.



    After reaching the Semi-Final last season, they would be looking to progress as far again this season. With Congo ready and raring we would look to set a full strength side as we try and go the level ourselves.

    Feeling motivated, I retire back to my house to try and cool down, but as soon as I open my door another letter on the floor. Panicking, I left the house, charging away unlocked to the only safe space I could think of.



    Charging in, I grabbed a random pint off the bar as the Blonde, chained skinny local kept harking at me in a language that I couldn’t be arsed to try and translate in my hurried state. I look around to see a random sight before me.



    I looked at the typed up midget while down another glass of what tasted like vomit as I awaited my love. Before I know it, Maria came out with a switchblade in hand.



    “Right you small little freak, if you ain’t going to tell me where the Pot of Gold is then-,” she cut off her sentence by noticing me as she came out of the office. “Zanny, darling! What’s up? Won’t drink those glasses, as it’s the Local’s urnine.”

    Splatting the last contents of my mouth all over the floor, I went over and hugged her as tight as possible.

    Zan: I got another one…

    I said as she knew straight away what I meant, helping me calm down after the fire ‘incident’ at the press conference.

    “It’s alright, it’s fine. We will work this out, like how your dad got that role as ‘Sumo Uno’ after he was blacklisted! We can all find our Spanish Sumo wrestling movie, right?,” she said, dropping the switchblade onto the floor. “We’ve got a connection right? Me and you, we will get through this together! Maria and Zan against the world!”

    A few more casual hours of discussing my father’s movies, and torturing a midget, I finally calmed down. At her behest, we went back to mine where I finally read the letter that had been left. Luckily no-one had noticided the unlocked door..

    “YOU MAY WIN FOOTBALL GAMES, BUT YOU’LL LOSE THE LIFE YOU HOLD DEAR.

    BE-FOUR YOU KNOW IT, THE VITAL MOMENTS WILL BECOME TREASURES.

    SO, HOLD CLOSE WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU, BE-FOUR IT’S GONE!

    CUZ ONE DAY, IT MIGHT ALL JUST GO AWAY.”

    Sinister words, with blatant references to our recent 4 goal wins. The tone scared me; whoever this was, isn’t joking around. He speaks with intent, so maybe I should do as he said and hold dear what is closest to me. She luckily was beside me, before she could say anything I spoke the four words that I could think of:

    Zan: Will. You. Marry. Me.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



    Back into the action of football, it was straight into the deep-end with recently promoted side Novelda C.F. Wallowing in the relegation zone and with no real potent threat, it would be the perfect warm up for the home leg of the Racing Santander.

    The result?



    A nice result, with Congo being saved for the Cup games, it was Marky Mark’s chance to become our top goalscorer which he did with an impressive display. A goal in each half and an assist for Gustavsson header from the corner earned him the Man of the Match award. Kühne added a 4th to continued our trend of 4 goals in each game so far this month!

    But to score 4 in 4 consecutive games would be ludacris?

    * * * * * ** * * * * *



    It was dry day for the setting of our First Leg against Racing Santander, a dry day with a tense breeze within the stadium. Just under 2000 fans came to see if we could be triumphant against the team they had narrow lost 2-3 against Sevilla in the build-up.

    But they wouldn’t be disappointed...



    Edwin Congo was back – after a three week absence thanks to injury – the Colombian was raring to go and start impressing everyone once more. A sentiment that was shown straight away from kick-off, as he not only earned a corner with the first minute but nearly set up Evans for a goal.

    No heartache for much longer however, as it Van Damme setting Congo free just seconds later. The former Real Madrid-youth didn’t need a second invite and scored with an excellent volley to welcome his return in an instant.

    Santander was shocked, it took them a while to find their composure within the game. More chances came calling as Marky Mark clipped the top bar and Congo nearly added a second if it wasn’t for last minute heroics from Ceballos.

    Bodipo – their main threat – grew frustrated with the lack of support, even collecting the ball himself and having a 30 yard shot on goal which came close, again touching the crossbar. The more the game went on, the frustration infected more and more of the away side.

    López thought he had gifted a goal for Munitis, but the winger audaciously tempted a lob that was easily dealt with by the ever-present Gennady.

    In the end, by Half-time we held onto the lead.



    Ecstatic with the result so far, I could only see one fault from the first half performance. Iván Campos, playing in the heart of the Midfield Trio, wasn’t having a particular control in the centre as usual so a quick change with Cláudio as a replacement soon made the difference.



    Within 3 minutes of his introduction – enough to have a little run to warm up – Cláudio made no waste to charge onto Ceballos’ mistake and thrash in a second. The Portuguese has been playing second fiddle since he complained after I rejected an offer for him over the holidays and the establishment of Gustavsson in the midfield.

    A second stab through their heart, Santander decided it was best to go defensive for the rest of the game and hold off for the reverse fixture – a wise decision as we continued to flurry. But, to go defensive meant every player being sensible and sticking to the plan.

    This wasn’t the case after Russian veteran Onopko shoved over Cláudio for no reason other than being made a fool of. But unfortunately, the rest of the 10 players was listening with the occasionally counter chance.

    López had a few chances but nothing that really changed the course of the game. Though I thought it was put to bed with a 2-0 lead, come the final ten minutes, it all changed. With 10 men and going slightly forward for a final hurrah, a nice breakdown from their counter meant there was plenty of space. In the 81st minute Kühne exploited this with a deep cross in the box.

    Congo rose like an elegant, pissed off Swan and headed the ball into the back of the net. 3-0 and a brace for the returning hero. But it wasn’t over yet. An injury to defensive option Carreras forced the manager to bring on an attacking replacement, but once more it was an unwise decision.

    In the final minutes, Van Damme connected with Kühne which ended with a lovely Evans ball towards Kühne who headed in a fourth.



    A brilliant performance, but we couldn’t drop any chance to progress further, so when our next game in the league came up against relegation fighter Ourense, it was one eye on the league and the other on the Second Leg.

    João Pedro, Fernando, Fernandez Pérez, Maldonado, Cláudio, Oelkuch and Pablo Zulu coming into the starting eleven changes from the team that started the First Leg. The changes didn’t really change the result, but did mean we ended our streak.



    A 3-1 win was a source of comfort, but not something we could indulge at the low level of the opposition. Pedro scoring his first goal and Zulu getting another brace is a good sign of the back-ups performing when needed too.

    * * * * *** * * * * ** * * ** **



    After a long 3 hour drive to the coastline of Santander, we had arrived to El Sardinero with a game plan. With Gorges injured alongside Arens, it meant it would be Fröchlich and Gustavsson played at the centre-back pairing with Fernando watching from the bench.

    With Van Damme, Evans, Kühne, Marky Mark and Congo rejoining the startling eleven from their weekend break, I would be hoping to a cool, calm, collective performance which we would stride into the Quarter Finals of the cup.

    And it relatively was. A ‘normal’ football game in which both sides had chances, with Marky Mark going over the crossbar and Cláudio forcing the keeper to stretch into the far right corner. It was a routine.

    Which also meant a routine goal for our star striker Congo!

    A flicked ball forward from Marky Mark gave Congo the time and space to float the ball over the end of Ceballos to score his 15th goal of the season on the 36th Minute.

    And into the second half, Marky Mark got one for himself!

    A nice ball forward from Míchel – a play whose been exceptional whenever on the field – found the perfect set-up for a simple header from the Englishman to place it into the goal. 6-0 aggregate, and a confirmation we were into the Quarter Finals.



    A terrific showing from the lads and ultimate domination of another top side. We were one stage further then last season, and with the draw done only a few days later, brought us an ‘easier’ team.



    Oviedo.

    A team in our division who we drew against earlier in the season, though won and drew against least season. The team are a mid-table team as we continue to flourish in the top spot. Surely, just a rest match?



    ** *** ** ** * * * * * * **



    In the triumphant atmosphere as we ready ourselves for the next round of the cup, we were brought back down to the earth with a tight loss against Mallorca. Gaining the lead intially with Marky Mark’s 15th of the season, the away side got one back with a header from defender Ojeda from a routine corner routine.

    We crafted chances, but Mallorca’s captain goalkeeper Leo Franco was on a fine display to keep it all even. That was until the introduction of striker Darío Silva, whose renewed energy got behind the backbone of the defence, headed in the winner on the 79th minute.



    Hoping for an instant bounce back against under-performing Osasuna, we hoped to put misery on the underpressure manager as we hope for a win in both fixtures for this season – after our narrow 1-0 home win. Travelling there, I told the team we needed to maximise each chance created and get back on track as fast as possible as Valloadolid took first place the day before with their 2-3 win over Rayo.



    Instead of a comfortable win to set us back on track, we dissappoited with only a draw. A goal on the 10th minute by Marky Mark was seemingly the only chance to break down the frustrating defences of the home side, who scored an equaliser 8 minutes later but played negative for the rest of the game.

    The drew meant that the manager kept his job, but was, accordingly, given a hard fight to keep his job!



    But the draw meant that instead of leading the pack, like we did at the start of the month, we were now chasing:



    One point behind leader Valladolid, it was a wake up call for us to make sure, if we wanted the title, to make each game count!

    Points to point will be important, but not for next week, as we have the Quarter Finals within the first week of February. With three days with our draw and our first leg, it was going to be touch and go for some players fitness, but hopefully the lower level of team would suffice to make sure we could get the result we should get.

    * * * * * * **



    Spending the last days of the month in the same pub, it has become like a second home for me. With everything going on, coming here makes is feel less choatic…

    Spoiler!


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  3. #102

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    Chapter Four
    - Fighting for Redemption -




    After our impressive run and us dropping into second place, I was getting worried as the Cup game came closer. I was confident that we would get a result against Osasuna but instead we drew, whose to say that a surprise wasn’t on the cards once more?

    * * * * *



    With around six changes in personnel from the last game, just about 3 days ago, the changes didn’t spark the greatest affect on the performance. Going in at half-time a goal down, I made one change as Congo came onto the pitch.

    Anger flew out of me when they added a second only 13 minutes in, though it was the league top goalscorer and a striker I have admired for a long time as the scorer in Roberto Losada, the response from the team was disappointing. Eventually we started to flow into the game, first was Congo stamping his mark five minutes later with a header from Joáo Pedro’s corner.

    A 19 minute break of virtually nothing before Oelkuch got an equaliser from a rebound save with 6 minutes left and it went as a dull draw.



    Another 6 changes, with the second leg only four days away, and it wasn’t another positive performance. An injury to star striker Congo was the only thing we got from the first half – a bruised thigh out for around 10 days – and it wasn’t till top goalscorer Marky Mark smacked a hard and high shot in the 87th minute that we got the three points!



    Just two changes made this time around, with Zulu coming in and Fernández Pérez in for the tired Evans. 3 minutes in and Losada strikes again. A simple header past Gennady and he scores his 20th of the season.

    After a lot of huff and puff, we finally put away a chance as Fernández Pérez put in a driven low cross which was found by the slight touch of Campos, bumbling into the back of the net.

    One change during the break as Kühne comes on for Maldonado, adding more of an attacking threat. 12 minutes into the second half and Zulu got us a second goal to take the lead on aggregate, to which he added another one just 3 minutes later to make 3-5 on aggregate.

    A brace and the Man of the Match reward for a terrific performance from the 34 year-old.



    Zulu added another goal to his collection as he scored the only goal against Elche, which applied more pressure on leader Valladolid. But, that could call come away from the forefront as we once again faced the deadly Roberto Losada!



    Losada was a man in fine form and has already scored twice this season against us, even though his side had failed to take anything away from it. But that didn’t stop him take the limelight once more!



    A hard fought draw as we dropped vital points.

    We got first blood as Marky Mark was clattered on the final minute of the first half, right back Evans nestled the ball comfortably into the back of the net. The second half turned to the Losada show as he scored an equaliser and then the lead for the away side.

    Luckily, Marky Mark was able to frustrate with an equaliser for ourselves, but despite our chances, we couldn't add another one for the winner. But luckily, neither could Losada!

    After the game I gave a warning to about his poor performance, one of two players whose heads have been turned by failed attempts to coerce them away from us. No teams seemed willing to offer the price I wanted, but the warning seemed to be something he disagreed with.

    Twice he requested to be transfer listed, twice I denied him.



    But, adjusting the price to his release clause I put on the list and soon one team gave us the price we wanted.



    £1.5 million for a player who doesn’t want to be here, 33 year-old, and only came in for £275k, Sevilla can have him. But not till the end of the season, where he will now be 3rd choice after Timmer and Kolinko.

    * * * *** * *** * * * * ** ** * * * ** * ***




    Amid all the drama with Gennady, we got our Quarter Final draw in the Spanish Cup and this time it was a team in the First Division: Levante.



    A team who got promoted from the Second Division two seasons ago and has been going steadily in the mid-table since, Levante shows the blueprints to what we hope to do. After finishing 14th last season, they are currently looking at finishing around 10th this season, but haven’t won in the league so far this month!



    Though it won’t happen till April, the lack of form is something we can use as motivation! Something I certainly wasn’t lacking in my personal life, thanks to my new fiancee…

    (Though Levante does have a secret gem player within their ranks….)



    * * * * * * ** * * * * * ** * *



    Like sunhine on a rainy day, Maria gives me hope when I am down. Despite all the notes, all the media attention and all the backstabbing from my our players, Maria makes it all fade away into the ether.

    And as my attention has gone away, she’s been planning our wedding. A nice May wedding to make sure we get married before we travel out of Spain, she’s been making it a secret for all our plans. A nice surprise would be a change for me..



    “Zan! I know it maybe a bit hard, but is there any chance I could meet your father before the wedding? It would nice to meet the family that I will be marrying into,” she says as we sit in a booth in her pub. “To be married under the eye of the mighty Big Daddy, to receive his blessing, would be so lovely!”

    Zan: I guess it wouldn’t be a problem, darling. I just need to speak through a few channels to get to him…

    “Oh my! I’ve dreamed of this for so long! I am going to meet the famous, Mac Snake!” She giggled with excitement, “I now cannot wait to get married!”

    She screamed running off to a room I wasn’t allowed in, smiling that she was so overjoyed at marrying me, I finished off my pint and continued to relax. That was until a seemingly drunken patreon of the bar stumbled into the pub and callopsed onto the floor.



    But as the back of the drunk came into vision, the horrifying image allured to me. Again, it was there, this stabbed into his back.



    Another note…

    “YOU CAN’T HIDE.

    JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED, ‘ZAN SNAKE’, AND TRUTH REVEALED.

    YOUR SWEET SOMETHING HAS A SECRET. ONE THAT I KNOW.

    ‘LOU’ WILL BE AVENGED. ‘MARIA’ WILL BE UNVEILED.

    AND YOU. WILL. BE. PAID. BACK.”

    Reading the note, I knew that he wasn’t hinting at my generiosity to the homeless that was being paidback. Someone was sending a message, but I can’t think who and why. What secret does Maria supposed have?

    A sweet, caring woman whose opened her heart to people. Me and the fellow drinkers would be nobodies without her generiosity.

    I decided that I too will now have a secret, deciding that this note isn’t one that she needs to know of.

    ** * ***** ** * ** * * * ******* * * * *


    I forgot Congo was back so hence not in line-up

    As I had done so many times this season, I decided to divulge my personal agony into the footbal aspect of my life – I still can’t say my ‘professional profession’. In doing so, I decided to drop the two bitching players for Timmer and Oelkuch. It is Timmer’s 3rd start of the season and Oelkuch’s 5th.



    A two minute double salvo got us the three points, though it could’ve been more if not for the terrific saves of Ángel Roa who kept it to two goals. The major event was losing Míchel who has been a brilliant play-maker in the DMC role with 9 assists in 11 games so far this season.

    Out for only two weeks, I can only hope we don’t miss his wizardly balls forward.



    Another end of the month comes with the same sight, us chasing first place. Now three points difference with the same goals conceded, we had to hope that the leaders would make a mistake and us take advantage.

    Let hopes so….
    Last edited by ZanSnake; 08-10-19 at 09:52 AM.

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  5. #103

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    The return of the AMC death scenes. I've not seen one of them for a while.
    Not convinced that Maria is the marrying type, or the type to marry
    Would there by a psych team in the delivery room for any resulting offspring ?
    4 goals in each of 4 games. As Kammy would say .... "Unbelievable Zan"
    Thank god Oviedo ended the run
    Run well and truely broken with a defeat and a draw.
    Still in a great position 6 points clear of 4th place
    Disappointing to surrender top spot, but in with a great chance of a quarter final

    1 update to go !
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  6. #104

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    Worry against Oviedo in the first cup game, but won the second leg in style
    1st division opponents, should be a good test
    Good deal for Gennady, especially at his age.
    Back on the winning trail, except for god-dammed Oviedo again !
    Sodding Valladolid have forgotten how to lose.
    Two horse race for the title, but 11 points clear, surely promotion is in the bag.
    I have a hunch that this Maria is perhaps not all sweetness and light.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

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