Well, our first match was a bit of a downer, I won’t lie. But what better way is there to raise spirits back up than with a couple of brand new exciting loan signings from big clubs? I have taken roughly 100 wingers on trial this Summer (I’m not even kidding) as we did still need reinforcements there, and to be honest, aside from Whitfield who we missed out on, the quality of the available players hasn’t been great, but we’ve signed 2 pretty promising young Dutch lads to bolster our ranks.
First to arrive is Vitesse’s Aaron Kwarko. I signed him for a few reasons, but mainly because he’s a… I don’t know if there’s a term for what he is, so I’m going to call him an Anti-Winger. Wingers are traditionally small and nippy, and burst past defenders purely through pace. Anti-Wingers are tall and strong, but still quick. They bully defenders and surge past them with power, and will be useful in a physical league like the Lotto Ekstraklasa. Kwarko is an excellent example of an Anti-Winger as he’s 6’5″, has good acceleration, speed and strength, as well as technique and crossing ability. He’s only 19 but he can be a different option to what we already have, and he’s also perfectly comfortable on either wing.
Our other signing is Feyenoord’s Shurendo Janga. He’s also a big lad at 6’2″ but prefers to play through the middle as a striker or attacking midfielder, although he’s also comfortable on either wing. At 20 he’s another young man and he has a good touch, good technique, and he’s quick, agile, skilful and strong. He’s got the makings of a very good player there.
Our next match is a Polish FA Cup match away at our First Division neighbours Rozwój Katowice. Today is a very good chance for us to pick up our first win, and it’s also a good chance to see what the rest of my squad can do. I’ll try my second string with Project: Meatloaf and see how they do.
Azevedo makes his debut in net, with Geng, Pluta, Abramowicz and Franczak in defence. Silva and Fossy start as our midfield duo, and Janga and Kwarko make their debuts either side of Baran, with Tarnowski up front.
My new signings are almost vindicated in the 12th minute when Janga drills the ball into the box low from the right. Kwarko collects it in the centre but drags his shot just wide of the mark.
On the 20 minute mark, the ball’s up the other end. Sobotka blasts a free kick from just outside our box, and it flies over the wall, past Délcio Azevedo and into the net. Bollocks.
At half time, I pace up and down in front of my team as they stare blankly back at me. I don’t know what words to use. And even if I did, I don’t know how to say them in Polish. I feel like this Country, this League, and this club are showing early signs of rejecting me like a transplanted kidney. The most frustrating part is that I’ve brought this on myself, playing the kids and reserves instead of the first team was a mistake. I should’ve known that.
I stop my pacing and turn to face the poor rabble, glaring at each of them in turn. I decide that the best course of action is to just open my mouth and let words happen.
“Bollocks! I’m a fucking kidney…” I blurt out. I feel myself go bright red. Did they understand that? A couple are smirking. This is awful. I lower my head into my hands. “Just… Just don’t… Just win!” I sigh in desperation, before walking shamefully out of the door and away from the room full of confused and demotivated footballers.
Shockingly, those footballers come out swinging for the 2nd half. Less than 2 minutes after the restart, Tarnowski plays the ball into the box for Kwarko, who places it first time past Slowik and into the net. What’s not shocking though is that the linesman’s flag was already up and we’re still 1-0 down. And in deep trouble.
On the hour, I decide to just stick to the original plan. I may as well give a couple more kids some game time. Kamil Karwot, a 16 year old left winger, and Mariusz Stryjek, the 17 year old striker who scored for us in pre season, replace Baran and Tarnowski.
But to be honest not a lot happens in the remaining half hour. Azevedo makes a good save from Zak, I beg the team to attack and even bring on Wilk as a makeshift second striker in place of one of our centre backs, but to no avail.
Listen, I know I fucked up by not playing my first team. I know I fucked up again by trying to solve the problem by bringing more youth players into the equation. But these are the stupid decisions that get made when you’re panicking, and I am absolutely panicking. This is feeling more like Höllviken with each passing day. I feel like I’ve turned up to the battle of Minas Tirith on the back of a 3 legged Shetland pony equipped with a pea shooter I got free with a copy of the Beano. And no peas.
But no more. No more will I let fear rule my decisions. No longer will I listen to Nuno’s voice saying “You fail, Inglês! You fail, Inglês!” as I fall asleep at night. Katowice will not become another black mark on my CV next to Höllviken. We’ve had a bad start, but we’ve punched above our weight before in Portugal and we’ll bloody well do it again here. Starting…
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