To MR WT FRANCO,
Thank you for your interest in the position of MANAGER at Ajax Cape Town.
We regret to inform you that on this occasion, your application has been unsuccessful, but we’ll keep your CV on file should any MANAGER positions become available in the future.
Ajax Cape Town Chairman
“Mr WT Franco”. I read the words over and over. “Mr WT Franco”. “Mr WT Franco”. “Mr WT Franco”.
Well I’ve made a sworn enemy today.
I crumple the letter in my hand and throw it roughly in the direction of the bin. It’s nice to know that I was seriously considered for the job. I mean, I had an interview for fucks sake. He called me Franjo in the interview! … Didn’t he? Maybe he called me Franco and I instantly shrugged it off and forgot about it, assuming that he misspoke or that I misheard.
Well in any case, I hope you’re pleased with yourself Ari, because you just made my list. You will know my name. You’ll curse my name as your empire crumbles around you.
I’ve got to get myself to South Africa.
Anyway, that’ll have to wait. For now, Grzegorz Goncerz has won a place in the team of the week for his 2 goals against Jagiellonia in our WIN!
That’s right, our fucking WIN last week! That monkey’s been on our back for 5 long and painful months, but against Jagiellonia we grabbed it by it’s stupid little primate face and threw it into the Baltic sea. Our fight to avoid relegation has officially begun.
Our victory also prompted Wojciech Cygan to offer me a new one-year contract, and here’s the thing… I signed it.
I do realise that I’m sending out mixed messages, but the long and short of it is that I don’t want to be unemployed. I do want to leave Poland this Summer, but if nobody wants me I’m willing to stay in Katowice rather than have another few months on the dole. Of course, there is still the chance that we’ll be relegated in 5 games time, in which case I’ll be chucked out on my arse anyway. Another upside to my new contract is that I demanded that the need to sign high profile players be removed as we just don’t have the resources or the pull, and Wojciech accepted.
A trip to Lechia awaits us today, a team that have already beaten us 3-0 and 1-0 this season. I really would like to kick on and get another win, so I’ve been doing extra homework this week. The thing about Lechia is that they play with that really annoying withdrawn 4-2-3-1 that is incredibly difficult to break down. Our usual wide 4-2-3-1 would be useless against it, as their block of 4 central defensive players would isolate our 2 central attacking players without breaking a sweat, and they aren’t particularly vulnerable on the wings either with their fullbacks supported by withdrawn wide midfielders.
So my solution is a new, bespoke system just for them. It closely resembles a narrow diamond formation but with the fullbacks pushed up as wingbacks. This way, we have 2 strikers (Tarnowski and Goncerz) and an attacking midfielder (Fossy), and 2 central midfielders (Bart and Gregurina) with specific instructions to push forward through the centre. We’ll outnumber their defensive block 5 to 4. The wingbacks (Scheffel and Garbacik) will provide width and support attacks, while we have our own defensive triangle (Olivier, Wilson and Silva) to keep us safe. We’ll play a fluid, counter attacking game and focus all our play through the centre where we have the numeric advantage. It’s a ballsy system, but I think it’s just ballsy enough to work.
I’m practically smacking my lips as I walk into the away dugout, but once the players come out onto the pitch and line up, my eyes widen with terror. They aren’t playing the annoying, withdrawn 4-2-3-1 after all. They’re playing a bog standard 4-1-2-3. All of my preparation for nothing. This side is delicately balanced to counter their usual system! The system they use every pissing game!
Captain Goncerz turns to me from his place on the centre spot, narrows his eyes and shrugs. He too has obviously spotted the 4-1-2-3. I give him a thumbs up and mouth “It’s fine”. This seems to reassure him and he turns back around, ready to kick off. We’re so fucked.
7 minutes in, Cermak swings a corner in for the hosts. Gregurina’s there at the near post to head the ball away, but only as far as Cermak again. He crosses a second time and this time Grozav gets his head to the ball, directing it into the net.
With a quarter of an hour gone though, Bart plays a great chipped pass over to Scheffel on the right wing. He turns inside and crosses for Goncerz, who volleys it sweetly past the keeper.
After another 10 minutes, a free kick right outside the box is smacked against the bar by Lechia’s set piece specialist, Cermak. It’s a narrow escape for us.
The first half ends with the scores tied, but to be honest our new system has worked quite well. It’s kept Lechia guessing and we’ve played some quite nice football. We head back out unchanged.
5 minutes later, Fossy drifts a free kick from the left wing into the box. Olivier rises above his marker and nods the ball over the stranded keeper, who had come to claim the ball. It loops over his head and bobbles slowly over the line, giving Olivier his first GieKSa goal.
Another 5 minutes pass before Wolski chips a cross in from the left, Kadlec lays the ball off and Grozav shoots for the bottom corner, but Nowak gets down to parry it behind. We change to Project: Burnie MK II to try to protect our lead. Amonike replaces Michal Tarnowski to balance the side.
With just over 15 minutes to play, Cermak chips the ball across for Remmer on the right, who volleys it brilliantly into the 6 yard box for Kadlec, who bundles it in to equalise for Lechia.
Each team has a decent chance in the final 10 minutes. First, Amonike drives down the right and shoots into Kuciak’s arms, and then Grozav runs through on goal but puts his shot over the bar. All in all, we’ll happily take a point from that game, but more pleasingly, I suspect that Lechia will too.
I’m especially happy for Olivier. He doesn’t threaten from set pieces too often, so it was great to see him on the scoresheet today. He even earns himself a place in the Team of the Week.
So a win and a draw in 2 matches. I honestly pity the fools that have to try and stop this runaway train now that it’s picking up speed. Step on up, Korona.
Korona visit us today as the team that are bottom of the league. That feels good. However, they’re only 4 points below us, which, if we take our eye off the ball, could easily turn into 1 point. Then we’d be right back in the thick of it.
We’ll line up in a counter attacking 4-2-3-1, with Hurley replacing Gregurina in midfield and Janga replacing Fossy in the hole. It’s make or break time.
It takes less than 10 minutes, and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Amonike runs down the right wing and swings a peach of a cross to the far post. Kevin leaps to meet the ball with his head and heads it straight against the bar. For a second, everything stops. The ball rebounds back into the 6 yard box. Who’ll reach it first? Kevin wants it. So does Goncerz. Unforunately it’s right back Mateusz Mozdzen who leaps in to ensure he gets to the ball first. Fortunately though, he knocks it straight into his own net.
It really is a horrible half of football. There are no more quality chances, just 22 men kicking 7 bells out of each other. The bookings flow like draft wodka. Silva comes on for Janga at half time to drop back in front of the defence, and we prepare for a scrap.
Just after the hour mark, a long Nowak free kick is aimed towards Amonike, but Tomasevic challenges him for the ball in the same way that a wrecking ball challenges the structural integrity of an old abandoned building. He flies through our winger and earns himself a second booking and an early bath.
With 10 minutes to go, we go all out defend, and I tell the lads to keep the ball in order to kill the game, but it doesn’t make the last 10 minutes any less vicious. We make it until the 2nd minute of injury time, but then Hurley collides with Zubrowski. Both players were already on a booking and to be honest I thought it was an old fashioned 50:50, with both players having just as much blame as the other. The referee disagrees though and shows Hurley his second yellow. He heads down the tunnel for an ever so slightly earlier bath than everyone else. In the moment though, I couldn’t care less. The final whistle blows. 1-0.
Now this is pod racing, my friends. My lads have finally come through. That’s 7 points from our last 3 matches, and if we keep up that kind of form for the final 3 games, we’ll be well clear of relegation.
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