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Thread: [STORY] What Luís Olivera did next… a short story

  1. #101

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    Good win, but I think Spain in the next round may be a step too far... What bad luck to draw the favourites when so many other big names have been eliminated!

  2. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by kuy View Post
    Good win, but I think Spain in the next round may be a step too far... What bad luck to draw the favourites when so many other big names have been eliminated!
    I know! But then again, we were always going to have to play them at some point to win the thing...

  3. #103

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    Very professional, but that free scoring form from qualifying has vanished. Need to be at the absolute best to match Spain. Can't see them not scoring, so you probably will need atleast 2 to progress. I hope that the key players all find some fitness.
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  4. #104

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    Pep Guardiola, now 63, had won everything there was to win. Since taking over as Spain manager in 2020, they’d been victorious at two World Cups and two European Championships. His side were recognised as the single most dominant team in the history of international football. They played beautiful, possession-based stuff. And they had great, great players.

    They had players like Francisco Manuel Herrero, who was a four-time World Footballer of the Year. But as a youngster, Herrero had sat in the reserves at Olivera’s Real Madrid with barely a sniff of first team action. The manager had hardly ever talked to him. It was only when Brendan Rogers joined that there had been a change – the old guard (Avdijaj, Bazoer and the others) were forced out, Joan Imaz was brought back and Herrero became the focal point of their attack. He’d never looked back, becoming a prolific scorer and creator of goals for club and country. And yes, he’d like to put one over on the boss who hadn’t believed in him. He had said as much in an interview with Marca.

    And he was just one of Spain's weapons. The brilliant Barca midfielder Nacho Rey was a genius, Jose Maria Molina was a hugely skilled creator and Roberto Gallardo was the best in the business at protecting his back four.



    They were back at Wembley for this one and a couple of things became obvious as the stadium started to fill: there was a huge and boisterous Polish contingent; and Poland had the full support of the neutrals. They’d need that support.

    Spain, predictably, started the stronger. They were enjoying all the possession, but Poland were working hard and managing to restrict their chances. The Poles first threatened just after 10 minutes in with Pajak, Sidorczuk and Piatek combining nicely – the striker hitting the bar with his effort. They had their first big scare 10 minutes later when Lopez Gil's pass was inches away from meeting Herrero's run into the box. That chance aside, Poland were playing on equal terms. Wilk and Sidorczuk both had decent openings but failed to hit the target. It was tense, tight and 0-0 at the break.

    Spain cranked it up a notch. Five minutes into the second half Lopez Gil forced Czykier into a save at full stretch. They were beginning to go more direct and causing problems as a consequence. It was getting unbearably tense. Krol picked up a booking for dissent, angry with himself as much as anything for giving away a free kick in prime Rey territory. Ricardo Suarez hit the upright a few minutes later. Spain were getting closer and Poland's chances had dried up. But Kulawik and Pajak both stepped up, winning back control in midfield. They limited the Spanish to two final chances - one saved by Czykier and one missed by Gallardo. The match went to extra time.

    Olivera looked around at his players and considered how to use his two remaining substitutions. They’d done so much running that they were all exhausted. But his real stars – Piatek and Sidorczuk – looked the worst. If he took those two off and Poland lost, he’d be vilified. If they won, he’d be a genius. He absent-mindedly felt for the king of spades that was nestled in his pocket. Budka and Cielsa came on.

    This is how the match was decided: Budka latched onto a Kulawik pass, nutmegged Gallardo, surged past Pena and thumped an unstoppable shot over the diving Barroso. It was his 10th goal for Poland, it happened in the 102nd minute and it made him a folk hero. He'd never pay for a drink again in his homeland. It was the most golden of golden goals.



    Poland had done everything right. They’d defended as a team, starved Spain of chances, remained patient and taken their chance when it had finally come.



    Olivera, one of the great managers, had got one over on Guardiola, THE great manager. And in the process, his team had blown the whole tournament wide open. Whatever happened, it would be an outsider that lifted the trophy. Could it be Poland?



    The other quarter finals were all tight affairs. In Poland’s half of the draw it was Argentina who emerged, with Olivera’s homeland Portugal coming up against Belgium on the other side. There were all kinds of interesting possibilities. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
    Last edited by Fourfourtwo; 16-05-16 at 10:29 AM.

  5. #105

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    Wow!

    What a result!

    Just one more result till the final, come on Olivera!!

  6. #106

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    Inspired substitution, and an amazing result!

  7. #107
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    Portugal on the horizon.............

  8. #108

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    Olivera was a pragmatic man… in general. But he sat in his hotel room on the morning of the Argentina game and wrestled with a question that had nothing to do with practicality: how much luck was left in that king of spades?

    He’d taken it with him to three matches as Poland boss – the wins over England and Germany at Euro 2032, and the Spain match at this tournament. Its power was undimmed. And it had delivered consecutive wins before. But winning against Spain had taken a LOT of luck. And what if they reached the final? He’d never taken it to three matches in a row before. Could he risk it?

    He flipped the card over between his fingers. Felt its texture and weight. He thought of his father. The phone rang – the taxi was waiting for him. He looked at the card one last time, and gently placed in down on his bedside table. He got up and walked out the door.



    Argentina hadn’t won anything since the 2015 Copa America. They had dazzling attacking players though – like Madrid’s £19 million man Juan Jose Sandoval and Arsenal’s star player Adrian Ortiz. They had been seen as fluent but flaky in recent years, but at this tournament they had found some much-needed steel to add to their sparkle. They were marginal favourites to reach the final, though many people tipped the Poles to upset them.

    The match took place at Old Trafford. From the first minute, Poland found the Argentines’ movement hard to combat. Seville's Juan Manuel Cortizo in particular was proving a handful and escaped his marker on six minutes to give his side the lead. It took Poland a long time to get into the game, but they eventually started to threaten. Piatek finally found some space on 36 minutes and struck a powerful shot… which hit the bar and rebounded back into play. That piece of ill fate began a passage of play that ended with Cortizo slotting the ball past Czykier for his second. Argentina were in a commanding position at half time.

    Olivera took a chance at the break, bringing off Piatek for Budka. He hoped a different kind of threat up front might unsettle their opponents. But the more they tried to attack, the more comfortable Argentina looked. The men in blue had a good shout for a penalty turned down. Poland were getting nowhere. The manager made another change, introducing Kowalski on the left wing and sending with him an instruction to go more direct. It was the first thing that worked. The winger surged down the flank, pinged in a cross and Budka headed in. Game on… but not for long. Argentina restored their two goal lead through a brutally incisive move finished off by Pavone. And that was that.



    A chance – a good chance – had gone.
    Last edited by Fourfourtwo; 24-05-16 at 12:05 PM.

  9. #109

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    I thought you might have got them. If only you had listened to Motorhead before the game



    Sounds like it was just one game too far for tired legs. What next for Luis ? Take Poland to the next Euros ?
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  10. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingsley View Post
    I thought you might have got them. If only you had listened to Motorhead before the game
    "Everything Louder Than Everyone Else". Might've made the difference.

    Think Olivera might have something else in mind. And I did say I'd keep this short. But there's the 3rd place play-off to come before all that...

  11. #111
    ebfatz is offline Social Media Bod
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    Taking off Piatek??
    You'll get lynched when you get back to Poland.

  12. #112

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    "And that was that."

    Ouch.

    Truth is, you have done remarkably well. Grab that third place now!

  13. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebfatz View Post
    Taking off Piatek??
    The man just seemed to hit fitness issues when it mattered most. And Budka was in great form.
    But you're right, the armchair managers will be sharpening the knives...

  14. #114

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    Dang !

    Done amazingly well to get as far as you did. Now, claim that 3rd spot and that respect.

  15. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fourfourtwo View Post
    "Everything Louder Than Everyone Else". Might've made the difference.

    Think Olivera might have something else in mind. And I did say I'd keep this short. But there's the 3rd place play-off to come before all that...
    Captain Scott was beaten in the race to the South Pole but it still made him famous and admired by many generations after him. Then again, there's nothing the British like more than a dead hero. Perhaps they are more pragmatic in Poland and in Portugal?
    Last edited by samsami; 18-05-16 at 05:37 PM.

  16. #116

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    Quote Originally Posted by samsami View Post
    Then again, there's nothing the British like more than a dead hero.
    Good point! Heroic failure is way more interesting than success... worth having that one in your pocket if Southampton don't pick up any silverware in your last season

  17. #117

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    The defeat against Argentina had hurt. But there had been no injustice – the best team had won. Olivera had said as much in his post-match interviews. That didn’t stop it hurting – not as much as being battered by Barcelona in the Champions League final – but hurting nonetheless.

    There was a cruel twist: Poland, more familiar than most with the irrelevance that is the third place play-off (two disappointed teams displaying their mutual exhaustion and pointlessness) would have to play Portugal before going home. Belgium (who had been rank outsiders) had somehow made it to the final, which left Olivera to take on his homeland – the team he would have really liked to manage – for the most hollow of prizes. And by then, with the end of his contract looming, he was already beginning to know what his next step would be…

    Anyway, the Emirates Stadium played host to a dull affair. The first interesting thing that happened was Kulawik picking up a nasty injury on 22 minutes. That might’ve hurt Poland but it didn’t. They took hold of the game. Tarnowski went close. And Piatek finally scored mid-way through the second half – it was his 26th international goal. Portugal came back into it after that. Krol had to make a desperate saving tackle to prevent an equaliser and Czykier saved brilliantly from Mota. Time ran out. For what it was worth, Poland had won.



    Perhaps it was worth something. More than half a century ago, Poland had achieved their best ever finish in a World Cup. They’d equalled that. They’d finished third for the third time. Back in Poland, that position started to acquire a weight of superstition.

    After the game, Olivera gathered his players in the dressing room. Some would be heading back to their families immediately, while others were staying on to watch the final. The Polish FA had been trying to convince Olivera to bring the squad back for a parade, but for him parades happened when you won something. It wasn’t that he saw the World Cup as a failure – he wasn’t that hard on himself or the team. He told them as much. He told them they’d represented their countrymen with distinction. He told them they had played brave, entertaining football – not without fault, but full of merit. He told them they’d always have regrets about what had happened, but they could always take great pride too. That they’d equalled the very best achievements of their nation… and that very few of the living could say the same. He told them that he was sorry, but that the years of living out of a suitcase were taking their toll. That he needed the routine and stability of a club job again. That he’d be leaving them soon. One by one, the players lined up to embrace him. A few tears were hastily wiped away. These were men after all.
    Last edited by Fourfourtwo; 24-05-16 at 12:07 PM.

  18. #118
    ebfatz is offline Social Media Bod
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    A valiant effort and ultimately a successful reign.

    But where will you end up? Do you still have a high enough rep to attract offers from the biggest and best.

    Or will you have to do a Rafa and go somewhere to rebuild a club?

  19. #119

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    Well done!

    The Dutch lost a game for third place once because they were demotivated and the players said afterwards that they have always regretted it later!

    Be proud!

  20. #120

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    A great effort and some massive sclaps claimed on the way. I hope that L.O. gets the job he deserves
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  21. #121

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebfatz View Post
    But where will you end up? Do you still have a high enough rep to attract offers from the biggest and best. Or will you have to do a Rafa and go somewhere to rebuild a club?
    Somewhere closer to home for LO... a big club, with high expectations... not too many clubs matching that description...

  22. #122

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    Porto, Sporting or Benfica then
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  23. #123

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    Inspired by the brilliance of Steve Gevaert, Belgium won the World Cup on 9 July 2034. Not that many years ago, Olivera had rejected them as too poor a prospect for his talents. They’d started the tournament at longer odds than Poland. But the manager wasn’t jealous – he was glad for Pabel Vrba and his team. They were underdogs who’d defied expectations. Good for them.

    The ridiculous World Cup ‘dream team’ was named a few days after and included both Kulawik and Pajak – the two solid midfielders Olivera had built his team upon. On 14 July, the formal announcement went out that the manager would be moving on.



    Luís Olivera usually had a plan. After exiting the World Cup, Germany had recruited Fabio Ruben from Benfica as their new manager. The Portuguese champions were in a bit of a fix – their manager gone, star player (Fabio Mota) sold and expectations as high as ever. Who better to take over than the man who’d won five La Liga titles? He was announced as their new boss on 25 July.

    Club management was calling. Now in his mid-sixties, he planned on one final job before retirement. But his time in charge of Poland would always hold a special place in his heart. It was unlike anything else he’d experienced in management – a time of freedom, solidarity with his players, and almost – almost – some very special achievements. It had been so close. But people fail. And people succeed. They always do both – never just one.

    Olivera couldn’t help but bring a few members of the Poland squad over to Benfica with him. But could they find glory where the national team had found disappointment? That’s another story, for another day…

  24. #124

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    I'm currently playing Rio Ave in the "Can't win anything with Kids" challenge. Really enjoying it, except that there is no reserve team. You won't have that problem with Sport Lisboa e Benfica. 2 other big clubs in the domestic leagues so not that easy to dominate, but you do have the resource to challenge Europes big boys. Has the curse of Bela Gutman been broken yet ?
    The artist formally known as The Eejit

  25. #125

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingsley View Post
    Has the curse of Bela Gutman been broken yet ?
    Indeed it has! Benfica have their third European Cup by the time Olivera takes charge. They're the top team in Portugal without doubt, though Belenenses and Porto will challenge. Sporting are nowhere.

    I'm a little way ahead in the game and will post an update on the final 3 years of Olivera's career soon. That'll be my last update on this one.

    Always a pleasure to post a story here though - thanks for reading Kingsley - and everyone else!
    Last edited by Fourfourtwo; 22-05-16 at 10:18 PM.

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