What Does Kevin Do? (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Ep16)

Midweek games: A chance to build momentum? Or a surefire way to obliterate your team’s fitness?

Start from the start with episode 1

< Episode 15

Midweek games: A chance to build momentum? Or a surefire way to obliterate your team’s fitness? I think largely it depends on your perspective, which is going to be determined by whether you win or lose. If you win, you’ll feel like any fatigue caused is negligible: a necessary byproduct on the road to victory. Whereas if you lose you’ll feel like the match was an unnecessary obstacle scheduled only to annoy you and destroy your squad.

So let’s find out what this match is to us shall we?

Tonight we travel to the municipality of Torres Vedras, just North of Lisbon, and Campos Manuel Marques, home of Torreense. They sit at 5th place in the PT Championship, having started on 6 points like us, but having lost 2-0 to Sporting Ideal in their first match. We’re 2nd on 9 points, however I am well aware that we started with a good points advantage and possibly the easiest game of our season, so we won’t be getting ahead of ourselves.

It occurs to me during the flight over to mainland Portugal that we may see a major discrepancy between our home and away form at this club. Whoever is travelling for our matches is in for a long, long journey over the Atlantic. I think we’d better do everything we can to make Estádio Municipal de Angra do Heroismo a fortress.

16 pre game

We stay pretty much unchanged from the first match, except that Magina is out (Mercifully only for a couple of days) so Arruda makes his full debut up front.

16 torreense formations

Nearly quarter of an hour into the match, Medeiros picks the ball up on the half way line, plays a one-two with Kevin just to his left, then dribbles forward and around a defender and shoots from the edge of the area, just putting the ball wide to the right. I’m torn on whether I should tell him and Magina (When fit) to stop being so ambitious with their shooting, or whether I should just leave them to it, it seems to be their natural game. It’s how they want to play. Watching those 2 is like watching a 16 year old Wayne Rooney, before the English public and media did what they do so well: Ruined him.

After half an hour with the match still deadlocked, I decide to make that decision properly another time. There is no Magina in the squad today so Medeiros can step in line. We will control play and we will work the ball into the box as a team.

Half time comes and goes without incident. In all honestly this isn’t a very exciting match.

7 minutes after the break, Vitor Miranda picks out Aurélio on the right wing, but Torreense’s left back Burguette slides in to knock the ball away. It bounces down the line for us though and Medeiros picks it up on the right wing. He chips it in towards the runner in the area, IT’S ARRUDA! ARRUDA SCORES! I’m on my feet and punching the air, a full debut goal for our new striker: a nice volley with his instep.

“A nice signing”, I think to myself, “and well worked by Medeiros”. I smile smugly. Roger sees me and gives me that frown-with-a-raised-eyebrow look that smart-arses often do. But Roger’s cynicism can’t hurt me now. Not while I’m swaddled in this warm, soft blanket of vindication.

5 minutes later a decent Torreense passing move ends with Esgaio hitting a looping shot from the edge of the area which hits the angle and bounces away. It takes less than a minute more however for Burguette to hoof the ball forward from the half way line. Over our striker it goes, over the midfield, and crucially over 6’4″ centre back Ivan Santos. Bonifácio takes the ball down unopposed and places it into the bottom corner. Goodbye vindication blanket. Hello again Roger. Put your eyebrow down you dick.

With 18 minutes to go Valadão stands over the ball 25 yards out. We have a direct free kick in a central position. Surely this is the moment. “VAMOS CAPITÃO”, I shout, making full use of the teachings of my brand new Portuguese phrase book. Valadão smashes it over the wall, and off the bar. I groan as the ball bounces away and is cleared.

The 90 minutes are up and the referee signals for 2 minutes of injury time. I’ve not made a substitution or even a tactical change since the first half. The game is on a knife edge and I don’t want to rock the boat.

With 40 seconds to go in injury time, Torreense come forward. My heart is in my mouth. They work the ball around well, and Pereira picks it up 25 yards out. He hits a hopeful shot, but Azevedo catches it easily. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Azevedo drops the ball and looks up for options, before hoofing it forward towards Kevin. Kevin nods it on but a Torreense defender boots it away again. Now Valadão gets the ball and hoofs it forward again. There are 15 seconds to go. Arruda with his back to goal nods it down to Kevin, who shimmies around a defender, avoiding his challenge.

He looks up and time seems to stand still. What does Kevin do? He’s about 25 yards out from goal but defenders would surely block any attempt at a shot. He’s got Arruda right in front of him with 2 Torreense players marking him out. He’s got Aurélio in the centre, again marked out. And he’s got the runner on the far side, Benjamim. He isn’t marked as he’s only just arriving and I don’t think Torreense have spotted him, but it would require a truly needle-threading pass to find him through the tiny gap in the wall of Torreense players. So what does Kevin do?

Kevin threads the fucking needle.

Benjamim shoots…AND SCORES! He wellies it from the edge of the area into the left hand side of the net! I do a Klopp-esque run onto the pitch to join in the celebrations, my vindication blanket attached to my shoulders and flying proudly behind me like a cape! “VAMOS HERÓIS!” I cry, before the players echo my words.

It’s a weird atmosphere to be honest. Pretty much dead silence. By the looks of it, our supporters don’t really travel, and I can’t blame them don’t get me wrong, but there are 2 supporters of ours cheering and screaming amongst a sea of over 500 home fans. I did notice that Carapinheirense had brought a single lonely fan to our game on Saturday, where nearly 300 of ours turned out, so maybe no fans travel to Volcano Island either.

Nevertheless what an incredible ending to a so-so match. Benjamim, the unlikely hero with the goal. But I’ll learn from this match. We were not good value for the win. It could’ve easily been Torreense celebrating the 3 points.

16 torreense post game

Negatives? Our centre backs with a combined height of nearly 12 and a half foot were done by a hoofed ball over the top, and in general we looked sluggish and static off the ball, letting Torreense play around us.

Positives? The team showed a never say die attitude and didn’t stop fighting. A good goal from Benjamim, great assists from Medeiros and Kevin, and a full debut goal for Arruda. Plus, even though he hit he bar today, O Capitão is excellent at taking free kicks and that’s a big plus.

So there you are, midweek games are fine. Sure, they knacker your squad, especially if you make the questionable decision not to bring on any substitutes at all. But they build momentum, and we’ve now got momentum in abundance.

Episode 17 >

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The Magina Vonologues (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Ep15)

This is more like it! This is proper football!

Start from the start with episode 1

< Mini-sode 14.5

“I just want to see your natural games today” I announce assertively in front of the dressing room full of players. Roger is translating for me as I speak. “Conditions are awful out there. It’s windy and it’s chucking it down with rain, so just show me what you can do”. I pause to give Roger a chance to catch up, and then smile widely, looking around at them all. “Don’t overthink it” I wink.

I stride out of the tunnel and towards the dugout, using my trusty grey coat to shield me from the sideways rain. There must be a couple of hundred fans here at least. It’s time to make a good impression.

I pass by 2 fans stood together in the front row. “VAMOS HERÓIS!” They cry, upon seeing me.*  I turn to them and smile. I like it. I have noticed in my first couple of weeks that the club doesn’t really have a nickname. We’re just referred to as Angrense. But yes, we are The Heroes of Hero Creek. “VAMOS HERÓIS!” I echo back to them, raising a triumphant fist into the air. The crowd in earshot cheer and begin to sing the phrase in unison.

15 formations

We start quickly: in the 4th minute Carapinheirense’s midfield seems to disintegrate in the rain and Kevin takes advantage, making an easy 15 yard pass forwards towards Magina. The striker jinks around a defender and hits a shot towards the near top corner, but their keeper Igor is on his toes and catches the ball with relative ease.

In the 17th minute Vitor Miranda hoofs a ball forward on the volley and Magina brings it down on his chest. He shimmies once again around a defender on the right wing and drills a low cross in to Medeiros 10 yards out. Medeiros takes a touch and then hammers it past the keeper into the far top corner. I leap to my feet, beaming from ear to ear. This is more like it! This is proper football! A fantastic start and it looks like there’s more to come.

I’ve not even sat back down before the ball comes forward again. Seidi passes to Kevin, who’s 20 yards out. He plays a fantastic ball through the left hand channel and Medeiros has got the beating of his marker Soro for pace, so much so that Soro trips him and gives away a blatant penalty.

Now I don’t want to brag, but back in Vellinge we had an excellent penalty scoring record, so naturally I’m practically celebrating our 2-0 lead already. Aurelio steps up, picks his spot, puts it straight down the middle, and Igor parries it away. 1-0 it stays.

With 10 minutes to go before half time, the game has died down significantly. I tell the team to control the game, to push slightly further forward and to get in Carapinheirense’s faces. I don’t want to full on attack this weaker side and leave us open to the counter attack, but control should make us start theatening them again at least.

4 minutes from the break we win a free kick 20 yards out in a very slightly left-of-central position. Valadão the skipper steps up. He curls the ball over the wall and as far into the top corner as it is possible to go. 2-0! It’s a superb effort and that’s surely enough to kill the game.

Half time comes around and I gather the team in the dressing room before showering praise onto them. But for the grace of Igor it would be 3-0! They were electric at times this half and if we play like that every match we are in for an extremely comfortable few months.

Just over 10 minutes after half time Carapinheirense push forward on the counter attack. A Namora through ball catches Oliveira flat footed and Bacurim squeezes into the area behind him. He shoots low to the right but Azevedo gets down brilliantly to push it behind. The corner comes to nothing.

Just 2 minutes later Cristiano Magina, who I am starting to think the absolute world of, picks the ball up 40 yards out, dribbles expertly past 2 defenders and lets fly from 25 yards. His shot goes wide to the right, but he gets a standing ovation from me nevertheless. “GOOD EFFORT MY SON” I bellow into the wind and rain. “MORE OF THAT”.

With half an hour to go I decide to make a defensive change: Benjamim, our central midfielder, is replaced by Rúben Miranda, who drops back alongside Seidi in a defensive midfield partnership.

15 minutes later Magina goes down and stays down after a heavy challenge. My heart sinks. Please no. Please, please no. He looks like he might be able to play on but I bring him off as a precaution. Arruda comes on for his debut, but the last 15 minutes goes by in the blink of an eye.

We were dominant today. Utterly, utterly dominant. But I’m not happy. I enjoyed Magina’s jinking run and long shot combo but we need to be making more quality chances like we did for the first goal. This could have been more comfortable and I’ll be tinkering to try to make amends in future, but for now we’ve picked up an opening day win, and I suppose that’ll do.

15 post game

*”Vamos Heróis” translates to “Come on Heroes”, which was suggested by u/TooMuchChaos2 and u/Haevollgutoder on reddit, cheers guys! VAMOS HERÓIS!

Episode 16 >

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Nuno (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Mini-sode 14.5)

The truly great Managers know their clubs inside and out. They know the groundsmen, the tea ladies, everybody. That’s how you build a team beyond a team.

Start from the start with episode 1

< Episode 14

Here’s a fun thought: I’d better not fuck this job up. If I manage to take Angrense down I may find that even the tiny English clubs don’t want me. I may have to turn to…the Scottish Premier League. I shudder involuntarily, then shake it off. There can be no room for that kind of thinking today. Today is the day we put down a marker: Franjo has arrived in the Portugese Championship. I’ve come here to sign FC Höllviken players and win football matches. And I’m all out of willing Höllviken players.

Our Relegation stage saga kicks off against Carapinheirense, who finished dead last in their First Phase group and will start on 3 points, which puts them 7th, but joint last, in our group. We are 3rd with 6 points so we really should be starting with a win here.

I head down to Estádio Municipal de Angra do Heroismo early and sit high in the main stand. The Carapinheirense match won’t kick off for a good 6 hours. I imagine the players, in formation ready for kick off. I imagine the fans, filling the stands and singing their hearts out. I imagine myself, stood on the touchline: watching, waiting, studying.

The smell of freshly cut grass cuts through the fantasy. I look down to see that the groundsman has started to give the grass a final trim before the match. He spots me looking down at him. I smile and nod. “It’s looking good” I call out. Without really acknowledging me he turns back around and continues cutting the grass. He must not have heard me, I’m quite far away up here.

I go down to the pitch to properly introduce myself. I want to be a Manager of the people. The truly great Managers know their clubs inside and out. They know the groundsmen, the tea ladies, everybody. That’s how you build a team beyond a team.

“Olá” I say enthusiastically once I’m in earshot. He looks up from his mower to stare blankly at me. He’s an odd looking man up close, with thin grey hair only covering parts of his head. He has an incredibly elongated, droopy face, like all of his features are struggling under twice as much gravity as everyone else, and his skin has the look of bad fake leather. I get the feeling he’s either very very old or he’s spent his entire life baking in the hot Terceira sun. Or both I suppose. He lowers his head and continues to mow.

“O-Olá?” I stammer, far less confidently than before. His head stays down but I get a grunt for my trouble. “FRAN-JO” I say loudly and slowly, in that incredibly disrespectful way that we English talk to the rest of the World. “NAME… OF… YOU?” I catch myself that time and feel a pang of shame, I sound like Steve bloody McClaren. He looks up at me cautiously wearing a grimace, as if he doesn’t like my smell.

“Nuno” he grunts in a low, gravelly voice. I smile and nod. Manager of the people. “Manager?” He enquires.

“Yes” I mumble, suddenly doubly ashamed now that I know he speaks at least some English. He begins to laugh as he looks back down to his mower.

“Um gerente Inglês!” He cries. “Eles contratou um gerente Inglês!” His laugh builds momentum as he and the mower trundle away across the pitch and their sound fades.

What a strange bloke. I really could do with a phrase book. I’ve picked up “Olá” but after that I’m pretty stuck for Portugese. And I can’t keeping talking in brolly-wally, I’ll be laughed out of every job I get.

I can feel that it’s starting to rain. I turn up the collar on my trusty grey coat and head back down the tunnel. It’s time to get ready for our first match.

Episode 15 >

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The Mid-Season Break (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Ep14)

As I said to my new assistant Roger upon meeting him: “Let’s face it Roger, you’re no Joakim”. He looked very confused.

Start from the start with episode 1

< Episode 13

I haggle with Alex for a while over the prices of several of my former players. I have around £8k to spend on transfers which is a nice little luxury. I’m instantly put off by his valuation of Left Back Tobias Malm, as he wants close to £15k.

14 malm

In all honesty Malm never lived up to my expectations in Sweden so I’m not too gutted. We agree that £1k will be enough to prise away both my former roommate Joakim:

14 joakim

And the man with the funkiest name in all of Sweden, Mo Dizzle:

14 dizzle

But after speaking to them both they seem unwilling to relocate from Sweden to Volcano Island. I’m disappointed but to be fair Mo would’ve only been a squad player and I just wanted Joakim to rejoin me as my assistant. As I said to my new assistant Roger upon meeting him: “Let’s face it Roger, you’re no Joakim”. He looked very confused.

I do however offer a contract to young Centre Back Stefan Andersson, who I signed for Höllviken and who is on a youth contract so can move for free. He accepts and I fly him out immediately.

14 andersson

My coaches don’t think much of Stefan but I’ve seen a lot of potential in him. He came into our Höllviken side and helped steady the ship towards the end with solid performances at the tender age of 16. He’ll go into our Under 19’s for now and I’m interested to see how he develops.

I decide to take my eyes away from Höllviken. It’s a shame that Joakim and Mo won’t be joining me but it’s time to look at other targets. I look over the Stats from the first stage of our division, the PT Championship, to see who’s impressed at this level so far this season. Enter Gonçalo Reyes:

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 20.15.39

He’s been playing very well so far this year for Operário Lagoa, who are through to the Relegation stage, so I splash out £1.5k to bring him in. He’s a very rounded midfielder and can make things happen in the final third. He’ll be a good option for Benjamim’s position or I may bring him in for “easier” home games as a more attacking alternative to Jaime Seidi. I also name him “Hurley” for short after Hugo Reyes, as I’m one of the minority that still likes the TV show Lost even after seeing the ending.

Over the first few days as I run around completing the Andersson and Hurley deals I notice that there is significant interest (and quite a lot of it from larger Portugese clubs) in one of our young players whose contract is up in the Summer:

14 miranda

Rúben Miranda is a solid defensive midfield prospect and will definitely have a part to play in my team so I quickly tie him down with a £200 per week deal. It’s probably more than I should pay a player who I don’t see being in the first team right now but I am very excited about how good he can become. I also offer new contracts to my preliminary starting 11 as they will all have a part to play and all of their contracts seem to be up in 5 months time too.

February 1st rolls around and brings with it our first friendly of the mid-season break. We travel to Vitória do Pico, an amateur side not that much smaller than us, and start with the preliminary lineup I selected when I first arrived. We hammer them with shots and we play some good football, eventually taking a 3-1 win. Miguel Oliveira, our starting centre back, opened the scoring with a good header before a 20 yard thunderbolt from substitute and resident utility man João Borges, who I saw in my research shares his name with SCA’s first captain, who scored in our very first match in 1929:

14 borges

And then a penalty won and tucked away by back up Striker Wilson Dias:

14 dias

And finally, Vitória’s Macedo ruined our clean sheet by scoring a nice volley from just inside the area.

14 friendly 1

Our next and final friendly is a home game against Lyngby, a Danish Superliga club, and we start with the players who came on as subs in the first friendly. It’s a risky decision to play the B team as Lyngby are a much bigger side but I want to see everyone before our first competitive match next week, so I also include the other players that I haven’t seen yet on the bench, including Stefan Andersson.

We lose 3-0 to an Ojo header, a Danilo close range shot and a well worked goal finished by Kjaer in the dying seconds. On the plus side it was a very even game and we actually made the best chances, but finishing them was a problem. I have doubts that Dias, the back up striker who came on to score in the first friendly, is capable of leading the line on his own against decent opposition as he’s best suited to being a pest in the defensive forward role and probably isn’t technical enough to be a lone striker.

14 friendly 2

I regret nothing though. The whole squad’s fitness takes a boost and I get an idea of who’s ready and who’s not. I definitely need another striker, but also another left back as Reis was disappointing and doesn’t look very good in general.

14 reis

Sadly Stefan Andersson puts in a slightly below average performance after coming on but he still needs time.

And so with only a week to go before our first competitive match I start putting out feelers for our back up left back and striker. It doesn’t take long to identify 2 men who fit the bill: Hélder Arruda, a striker who’s scored 9 goals in 21 games for fellow PT Championship side Praiense, who have made it into the Promotion Stage:

14 arruda

And Chileno, a solid looking left back from Hurley’s former side Operário Lagoa, who are on our level in the relegation stage.

chileno

I agree fees with Praiense and Lagoa of £1k and £500 respectively, and enter talks with both players. I offer Arruda a decent contract that should tempt him away, and then go to talk to Chileno. It’s at this point that my chickens come home to roost: it seems that in offering my first team new contracts and offering Arruda a decent deal, I’ve used all of the money available to me and Miguel Borba will only allow me £45 per week to offer to Chileno. I apologise to him and his agent, and then withdraw our bid. I’m slightly annoyed, but never mind. We’ll go back for him later.

Arruda’s transfer goes through the following day, so I think I’m done transfer-wise for the time being. There’s just the small matter of winning matches to attend to now.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 20.20.41

Mini-sode 14.5 >

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A New Day in Hero Creek (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Ep13)

I’ve been watching football being played in slow motion for the last few months. These players are fantastic.

Start from the start with Episode 1

< Mini-sode 12.5

I feel like I’m being microwaved. I’ve moved from snowy Southern Sweden to Volcano Island, which is a molten stone’s throw away from the equator. The temperature difference is staggering. It’s so hot that my whole flat is spinning, which only adds weight to my microwave simile.

Nevertheless nothing will get me down today. I’m back in a job, and without wanting to sound bitter about my Höllviken experience, I feel like I’ve got a fair shot at this one. For starters I’ve got a squad. I’ve not met them yet, i’ve only seen a list of names, but I did note that there was more than 11 of them. For another thing I’m taking over a club that’s in a pretty good position and I get to handle every single Relegation Stage match.

Put simply, ain’t nothing gonna break my stride. It’s a new day here in Hero Creek and a chance to start over for everyone. I leave Meatloaf and Burnie sleeping at the foot of the bed and head out to meet the players and staff at Andrense’s training base.

I decide to walk there and the sun blazes against the back of my neck the entire way. Despite only living about a mile away I’m exhausted by the time I arrive. This is going to take some getting used to.

I make my way inside, find my way to the dressing room and push open the door. A roar of celebration greets me, and I stand in the doorway stunned for a second, looking around at 20-odd beaming faces. Some of them stand and come over to shake my hand or pat me on the back, others just cheer and applaud. I’m so confused.

One of them, a short, weathered looking gentleman, pushes a phone into my hands as he ruffles my hair. ESPNFC.com is loaded on the phone’s browser and the headline on the page reads “Franjo takes charge at Angrense”. The article seems to be all about how SC Angrense have bagged the mastermind behind a tiny Swedish Club’s triumph over a titanic top division club.

13 angrense hire franjo

I laugh, both confused and relieved. This is who I am to Angrense. I’m not “Franjo: who took FC Höllviken down”, I’m “Franjo: Giant Slayer”. I’m “Franjo: Hero of the Little Man, Vanquisher of Top Tier Bullies”. I’m not sure how much they know about the rest of my Höllviken stint but I’m certainly not going to bring it up.

We head out for the first training session under my regime. I’m joined by Miguel Borba, club Chairman, and Roger Mendes, my new assistant manager. Maybe I just miss Joakim but Roger doesn’t exactly scream “Brilliant Assistant”. He may be handy but I don’t think I’d trust him to help me make the big decisions.

13 mendes

Training goes brilliantly. I feel like I’ve been watching football being played in slow motion for the last few months. These players are fantastic. I put together a preliminary plan for our first match against Carapinheirense on the 12th of February:

Délcio Azevedo looks like my best goalkeeper. At only 5’9″ he’s a little short for a stormtrooper but he has decent communication, handling, reflexes and there’s barely any quality that lets him down apart from perhaps his eccentricity. Also I suspect his name translates as “Delicious Avocado”, but I’m still waiting on confirmation.

13 gk

Vitor Miranda will be our defensive right back. He’s very well rounded (And you must know by now how much I love rounded players) and apart from being a little slow there aren’t any parts of his game that I’m worried about.

13 rb

Miguel Oliveira looks like he’ll be a solid centre back with the added benefit that he looks quite comfortable on the ball. I’ll keep that in mind if I ever want us to play out from the back.

13 cb 1

Ivan Santos is a very nice upgrade on Simon Henningsson. He’s a mountain of a man who’s not actually any slower than the rest of my defence, so that’s good. Again, he’s also fairly comfortable on the ball.

13 cb 2

Oh Captain my Captain. Our skipper Gonçalo Valadão as it turns out is the short, weathered looking gentleman who handed me the phone when I arrived. In contrast to the rest of the players you’ve seen so far Valadão has an achilles heel: he’s pretty slow and not a great athlete. At 35 however I’m willing to look past that. I won’t be looking for fireworks, just for him to tidy up on the left hand side and lead by example with his mouth-watering mental attributes. He’s also right footed and a natural right back, but I have faith that he’ll do a job on the left.

13 lb

Jaime Seidi will be our holding man. It was a toss up between him and Oliveira, but as the more technically gifted of the pair he gets the nod. He does look excellent. Determination, Team Work and Work Rate are the first things I look at and he’s got no problems in that area. Or any area really.

13 cdm

Next to him will be Benjamim, who I think would have a good shot at winning the “Most Average Player in the World” award. And I mean that in a good way, look at all those 10’s. He’s fairly physically imposing and will be on box to box duty because of his unbelievable roundedness.

13 cm

Marco Aurélio looks like a good player on the right wing. Chances are he’ll swap between the right and left because he’d do a decent job cutting in on his right and having a shot as well as being an out and out winger.

13 rw

Jordanes Medeiros is a skilful player. He’s OK mentally and physically but technically he’s one of our best. He’ll do a good job as an advanced playmaker, making things happen and carving out chances with his good dribbling and passing. He’s already agreed to join Waasland-Beveren at the end of the season which is a shame, but we’ve still got him for 5 months.

13 cam

Pedro Aguiar is my vice captain. Like Aurélio he’s adept on the left and right and so will most likely be swapped between them, and what he lacks in pace he makes up for in his excellent mentals and his unexpectedly good aerial presence. He’s our very own Kevin Kilbane. In fact I’m calling him Kevin.

13 lw

Finally in this preliminary lineup is Cristiano Magina, unsurprisingly the club’s top scorer this season. He’s a very very smart player, pretty solid physically and for what strikers need he’s good technically too.

13 st

Our tactical plan will start out as a very simple and slightly asymmetrical 4-2-3-1 and we’ll tweak it as we go.

13 tactics

As pleased as I am with the squad, I do identify a couple of weaknesses. Valadão, our captain, should do a fine job at left back but he is still 35, right footed and first and foremost a right back, so I wouldn’t mind having a good natural left back to understudy.

Our goalkeeper Azevedo and central midfielder Benjamim are good, but not great. It would be nice to bring in replacements but they won’t be priorities. We could also do with a third striker to give us a bit of depth up there. The long-term priority will probably be finding a suitable replacement for the outgoing Medeiros. Lastly the team in general lacks a bit of pace, so that’s something to keep in mind when deciding who to sign.

With all that in mind, I get straight on the phone:

“Alex! It’s Franjo… Franjo… I was your… penalties… nevermind. I’d like to find out how attached you are to some of your players”.

Episode 14 >

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Our New League 101 (Franjo: A Journeyman Story – Mini-sode 12.5)

Let me give a quick overview for those who, like myself, had never looked at the Portugese third tier before I took this job.

Start from the start with episode 1

< Episode 12

Listen, I thought I’d just take a breather from this epic and relentlessly thrilling story to explain that the Portugese Championship is a confusing, confusing league for someone like myself who’s used to very basic set ups such as the Premier League or EFL.

So with that in mind let me give a quick overview for those who, like myself, had never looked at the Portugese third tier before I took this job. Let this be your reference sheet if things get confusing.

The League initially works with 8 groups of 10 teams playing round-robins between themselves. The top 2 and bottom 8 sides of each group then proceed to the Promotion stage and Relegation stage respectively.

For Clarity, WE ARE HERE. The First Stage has ended and we are into the Relegation Stage.

During the Relegation stage, teams are mixed up and put into 8 groups of 8, and they start with 25% of the points that they accrued during the First Stage. The bottom 2 teams in each group are relegated and the 6th placed teams all go into the Relegation Playoffs.

During the playoffs the 8 teams pair off and play sort of a 2 legged quarter final, with the losing 4 teams getting relegated. The winners then go through to the second round of the playoffs where they pair off again and play sort of a 2 legged semi final, with the 2 losers getting relegated and the 2 winners staying up. Overall 22 out of 64 teams are relegated during the relegation stage.

And this bit doesn’t apply to us, not yet at least, but just because I’m a thorough guy, in the Promotion stage you have 2 groups of 8 teams but they start on 0 points and the top team from each group gets promoted and qualifies for the Champions Playoff to determine the winner of the Championship. The 2nd place team in each group qualifies for the Promotion Playoffs, where they play against the 2 sides who occupy the Liga Pro (Portuguese 2nd tier) Relegation Play Off spots.

Does that make sense? Cool, it doesn’t to me really either, but you know, “Learn by doing” and all that.

Actually I feel quite bad that this “mini-sode” doesn’t have any impact on the story I’m telling, so here you go: I travel to Hero Creek on Volcano Island, rent a studio flat and adopt 2 cats, who I dub Meatloaf and Burnie (Not to be confused with Burrnie, the holding midfielder from Höllviken). Meatloaf because when he lies down he tucks his legs under his body and looks like a little brown meaty loaf of bread, and Burnie because as a darker cat he also looks like a meaty loaf of bread, but a burnt one.

There we go, I hope that quenches your thirst for story. I hope it sates your hunger for Narrative.

See you tomorrow for the start of our Angrense Adventure.

Ps, Angrense don’t have a nickname and I’d like to give them one!

Go here for more info and to give me any ideas you might have:

My Angrense-Nicknaming Reddit Post

Episode 13 >
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