My immediate urge once I left Angrense’s training ground was to jump on a plane. I’m livid. After initially backing down in January, The Chairman has followed through in selling one of our brightest young talents behind my back. I very nearly resigned, but I’m going to take our week off as an opportunity to think. I’ll make a decision on my future before the Promotion stage starts.
In the meantime, I give Pedro the reigns so that I can sort my head out. He’ll take control of training this week, and of the friendly I’ve set up against Norwegian Premier League side Fredrikstad on Sunday. The only thing that I need to do this week is sign a replacement for Antunes in case I decide to stay. I’ve also told Hélder Arruda he can leave in search of first team football, but I’m not answering the bloody phone. Borba can sort that for him seeing as he’s so keen on shipping my players out.
I spend most of the week before our friendly wandering around Hero Creek, doing nothing in particular. I arrange a few trials for different players, which probably means that I’ll need to show up at training at some point to assess them, but that can wait.
I decide to watch our friendly against Fredrikstad. It’s a home tie so I may as well. I don’t want Pedro or the team to know, so I get Nuno to sneak me into Estádio Municipal de Angra do Heroismo without anybody seeing. I want to watch the team not as a Manager, but as a fan. I want a sign. Something to tell me what I should do.
When the stands are partially filled and the teams come out onto the pitch, I look through them one by one. This is the first time I’ve given Pedro control over team selection and I’m interested to see how he’ll line up.
Serginho in net, fair enough. Miranda, Oliveira, Olivier, Coelho across the back. Bit of a weird choice playing the man who’s already agreed a move, but OK, I’m onboard otherwise. I’m then surprised to see that Pedro has opted for a midfield entirely made up of trialists. Starting in the double pivot are the short but ferocious box to box midfielder António Gonçalves, whose parent club Sheffield Wednesday have allowed him to join up with us for a few weeks, and Nicolas Garmendia, a skilful playmaker on trial from Udinese. In front of them from right to left are Al Hassan Lamin, a big powerful winger from Lazio, Domingos Quina, a quick and tricky playmaker from West Ham United, and Asumah Abubakar, a similarly quick and tricky striker or winger from Willem II. Hélder Arruda leads the line. This should be interesting.
It’s a good match from an Angrense point of view. We dominate entirely. I expected us to struggle against a side from the top tier in Norway, but we play well, especially the trialists.
Al Hassan Lamin scores an excellent goal to break the deadlock in the 2nd half, dribbling round a couple of defenders before placing the ball into the far corner from outside the box. Abubakar doubles our lead after he runs behind the Fredrikstad defence, latches onto a Garmendia pass and slots the ball home. Armstrong pulls one back with a superb volley, but we hold on for the win.
I’m impressed, but more importantly the match excites me. I find myself still jumping up when we score, still pumping my fist and singing Vamos Heróis with the fans. I still love this place. I just don’t know whether I can carry on at the helm. This has given me a lot to think about.
For now though, I want to bring in a few of these trialists. They’re all at comparatively huge clubs and we’ve got no chance of signing them permanently, so I make loan bids for Al Hassan Lamin, Domingos Quina and Asumah Abubakar. I consider bidding for António Gonçalves, but to be fair we’ve already got Rúby in the same mould and his game time is limited as it is. All 3 bids are accepted but in the end, Hassan Lamin and Abubakar reject the opportunity to join us, leaving Domingos as our lone loan signing. He’s the important one to be fair. We needed an attacking midfielder most of all.
As we move towards the first match of the Promotion Stage, and with my decision looming, I get a phone call. It’s Pedro. He’s heard from one of the board members that Borba has sold Fernando Batista. I sigh. I’m not at all surprised, but he may have just made my decision for me.
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