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[FM08] American Calcio - 30 September 2007 - Padova v Citadella, Serie C1A


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#41 tenthreeleader

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 01:40 PM

Sunday, September 23
Legnano v Padova – Serie C1A

 

Biancoscudati proved me right today, anyway.  The best poker player on the team appears to be Varricchio, and his composure and grace under pressure helped get us three points today.

 

We climbed into the playoff places with a very solid road victory and Massimiliano was key to it all, powering home a 40th minute header past man of the match Vincenzo Grillo to get us the win.

 

Statistically, the numbers did tell the story of the match. We had thirteen attempts to five and seven on target to three, with a possession edge.  We played a very, very good match on the road today and more than overcame Crovari’s absence through red card suspension.

 

They didn’t look much like scoring today and that was due in no small measure to the play of Anaclerio in the holding position.  Paz was very solid at right full back and that vindicated my judgment on both players in their positions.  I still think Pablo would make a great holding midfielder for us, but right now my primary concern is to start turning out four defenders who can play every week.  We appear to be doing that.

 

Grillo was man of the match for a good reason, making a string of fine second half saves as we countered Legnano hard.  I was really hoping for a second goal to make us feel a little more comfortable, but we really didn’t have any trouble holding the lead in the second half in any event.  There’s a lot to smile about today and I made sure the players knew it.

 

Mario Donadoni also played today, as I rested Faísca, who has played in every match so far.  Vasco has done brilliantly so far but I don’t want to tire him out too early in the schedule.  He made the substitute’s bench, and thus the trip with us, and I made sure he knew how important I feel he is to the team as we arrived at the park today.

 

Every player, especially a regular in a winning side, likes to play.  That should come as no surprise to anyone.  But what happens to a player when he is left out of the XI can often affect his mood and form for many weeks to come.

 

It would be easy for me to say ‘I pick the team, if you aren’t in it, deal with it,’ and there are surely managers who do.  I won’t be one of them.  I do get to pick the team but I owe it to the players as a developmental tool to tell them why they are not playing if they wish to know.

 

Within reason, my door is open.  If a player wants to know what I think of their ideas on the pitch, fine.  I’ll be happy to listen and tell them what I like and what I don’t.  I stop listening if they want to talk to me to slag off a teammate – and there are plenty of players who wouldn’t give that a second thought.  I won’t listen to a player who talks like that and furthermore don’t want that kind of player around.  If a player isn’t pulling his weight I can surely see it.  I don’t need players fostering a negative spirit.

 

But talks like I had with Faísca today help prevent that negativity.  So they are important.

 

# # #

 

As a result, our ride home was pretty happy.  We have won three with one draw in our first five matches and are now fifth in the table thanks to C1’s ranking system.

 

In England, clubs are ranked on goal difference followed by goals scored.  In Italy the first tiebreak is a head to head result.  So our loss at Sassuolo means we have to beat them at Euganeo worse than they beat us to get the tiebreaker on them.  That will be no mean feat.

 

Today, though, we went out and took care of business.  It wasn’t the prettiest match I’ve ever seen in my life, but once we had the ball in their net the defense just sat on Legnano and stifled them right out of the match. 

 

At the end, we had the field spread out beautifully, had the ball in the corners with extended possession, and generally would not let them have it.  I’ve always found it’s much easier to hold a lead when the other team does not have the ball, and today the players learned the lesson first hand.

 

So as we met after the match, my words of “well done” were as businesslike as their effort. 

 

“We were missing players today and you got your points,” I said.  “This was a solid effort away from home and you should be proud of it.  You aren’t going to win every game with three or four goals, sometimes you have to grind them out.  You did that today and you should be pleased with yourselves.  We have a long coach trip home ahead of us so stretch out, rest, and enjoy yourselves.  Tomorrow off for winning today and I’ll see you all on the training ground on Tuesday morning.”

 

And with that, we headed home.  I then headed to Venice.

Legnano 0-1 Padova

 

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#42 tenthreeleader

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 02:20 AM

Monday, September 24

As a guy who doesn’t usually get a whole lot of time off, nights like last night and days like today are just what the doctor ordered.

 

I spend my days looking at video, watching training, or training myself to try to stay in condition.  There isn’t a lot of time for relaxing and doing things I like to do away from the pitch.

 

So today was frankly wonderful.  We got back to Padua at dinnertime last night and I jumped in my car for the drive to Venice and my first look at Patty’s apartment just in time for a late meal in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

 

What Italians consider dinnertime is different from what most Americans consider dinnertime.  Italians don’t mind eating late, and don’t mind doing so outside, partly because the summer afternoons are often so hot they stay indoors during the heat of the day.

 

So evening is quite a social time in most Italian cities.  And since Venice is one of the world’s most social cities, it shouldn’t be surprising that many people were out on the famous canals by the time I arrived.

 

Patty lives in the western part of the city in a studio apartment about fifteen minutes from the downtown area.  It’s a lovely little place, but by the time I arrived with flowers and a happy kiss for the sweetheart I hadn’t seen all week, neither of us were terribly interested in staying there right at that moment.

 

“I made reservations at the Westin Europa, where we went last time you were here,” she said.  “It’s so wonderful to see you!  You’ve been missed!”

 

We sat to a lovely dinner.  My presence in Venice was duly noted by people who walked by our table and while I wasn’t too pleased about some of the looks I got, my words to Patty were ones of warning.

 

“Get ready, honey,” I said, as I received about the twentieth odd look from a passer-by.  “We’re going public tomorrow.  There’s just no way we can stay a secret with this many people looking at me like I have two heads.  Someone has to tell the papers.”

 

“It’s none of their business,” she said simply, but I shook my heads.

 

“This is Italy,” I said.  “Everything here is the media’s business.  So get ready for it.  I don’t think you’re going to have much trouble but I sure will.”

 

“Why would you say that?  Nobody knows or cares who I am.”

 

“I know and I care,” I said.  “But the issue isn’t so much you as it is where you live.  The rivalries are so intense here that I’ll be criticized for going to Venice to meet you.  And if the team plays poorly this weekend they’ll accuse me of losing my focus because I want to be with you more than I want to win.”

 

She giggled.  “Well, you do want to be with me, don’t you?”

 

I blushed all the way to the center of my chest.  “The thought had crossed my mind,” I admitted, raising my wineglass to her.  “So here’s to success.  I think we can both use that.”

 

# # #

 

But this morning, it happened.  We are now “news”.

 

Today we hit the shops around the city and spent an idyllic day together walking the streets of the old city, enjoying what it is that makes Venice a special place for lovers the world over.

 

I stopped at a newsstand and pointed to one of the Venice papers.  Our picture was in the right-hand column, taken at last night’s dinner by some enterprising photographer who made a few Euros for his efforts.

 

Under the headline “Padova’s Romeo meets Venezia’s Juliet”, a short story mentioned that the Padova manager had been seen in Venice in the company of a woman believed to be an employee of the United States Department of State.

 

“I told you it would get out,” I said.  “When it gets back to Padua I’ll have some explaining to do.”

 

“You love me,” she said simply.  “Do you need to explain any more than that?”

 

“Certainly not,” I said.  “But be prepared.  I’m sure people will be looking for our picture pretty soon.”

 

We didn’t let that bother us today, though.  We spent the entire day ducking into and out of the sorts of delightful little shops that dot the Venice waterfront.

 

We also noted the demeanor of everyone present.  One of the things we’re going to have to watch for when we’re together is decorum.  In Italy, people are quite strict about it and I don’t intend to make additional trouble.

 

Really, though, that’s fine with me.  Not that it matters what’s fine with me, but we’ll be just fine not having to worry about moving things in and out of apartments.  We are falling for each other and that would be an unnecessary complication we don’t need right now.

 

The other thing I noticed was that even on a lovely early fall afternoon in Venice, no one had their shirt off.  Even the men who pole the famous boats around Venice’s canals were fully dressed.

 

There’s a public fine of €40 if you’re caught outside with your shirt off in Venice – and that applies to everyone.  The fine also applies to women who wear bikini bottoms that aren’t covered by shorts.

 

So there is an element of modesty in public life here.  We thought about going to one of the local beaches for the afternoon now that the summer season is over, but we decided to stay along the Grand Canal instead.

 

“We’ll hit the beach next time you’re here,” she said, squeezing my hand as we boarded a boat on the Grand Canal.  “Right now I just want to unwind with you.”

 

So, we did.

 

# # #

 

Before long, though, we had to part.  That hurt more than it did last time, and we’re already noticing it seems to be a little more painful each time it happens.

 

“Thank you for putting up with me,” I said to her.  “I won’t let you down.”

 

“It’s not ‘putting up’,” she reminded me.  “It’s waiting for what I want, and now I’ve got it.  Please remember that.”

 

“I will,” I promised.  “I just wish we were closer together.”

 

“Patience, honey,” she said, as we kissed goodbye.  “In time.”

 

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#43 tenthreeleader

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Posted 07 April 2015 - 03:17 PM

Tuesday, September 25
With the wonder of yesterday’s visit unfortunately concluded, it was back to the pitch today to prepare for Sunday’s home match against seventh-placed Citadella, a key match for us early in this season.

At least I thought it would be. I had a fair amount of gossipy media hanging around the training ground today wondering why I had gone to Venice.

That was pretty annoying to me, I had to admit. A quick call to Patty between training sessions gained her approval to tell media the basics about her, and not a darned thing she didn’t want anyone to know.

“If you must know, and the only reason I’m telling you is to get you off my back about my personal life, I am in a relationship with an American national who works at the State Department office in Venice,” I said. “The fact that I was there on our off-day indicates my desire to be with her. I request privacy for both us and thank you for your cooperation.”

“You were seen there as well before the Sassuolo match,” I was informed, and I figured that was coming. “Do you have a full commitment to the club?”

“First, I’m insulted by the question,” I replied, my hackles rising. “My personal life is set on a schedule that does not interfere with the football club, which is my job. The fact that we lost as Sassuolo is down to everyone, and I do place myself at the top of that list. Our preparation was not affected, but no one in our colors performed well at Sassuolo and we have to change that. Our recent play should show that we are making strides.”

“Will we be able to expect your full effort in preparation for Sunday’s match?”

“That’s even more insulting,” I answered, my voice terse and short. “I have been a professional in this game for half my life and I approach matches the same way each and every time. I should ask, I suppose, if I have the right to expect fair questioning from you after you go out on a date. How does that sound?”

“You are an authority figure at this club and the supporters have every right to expect your full involvement.”

“That is true,” I said. “Again, though, the best way to determine my success is through the table. We have goals we must meet and we have targets set for us by the board. We either meet those targets or you have someone else in my seat next season. Pretty simple. As for my involvement, I make scouting trips myself – again, at the expense of my personal life – because budgets do not permit a third scout. I have put more mileage on my car to personally view our competition this season than anyone on my staff and anyone in media here today, and there’s a reason for that. It’s because I’m committed to seeing this club win.”

With that, I went back to training.



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#44 tenthreeleader

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 03:06 AM

Wednesday, September 26

Music is really fired up to play on Sunday and I am certainly doing nothing to discourage him from feeling that way.

 

He’s getting his chance and he’s making the most of it.  He is in a very good run of form at the moment and I’m sure he hopes it will get him back into his national side. 

 

Players are motivated by a number of different things in this game – money, fame, women, you name it – but Vedin still wants to play at the highest level possible and I don’t blame him a scrap.

 

Even his training is good, and today’s session showed it.  He’s “locked in”, as I like to say, and he gave the right-sided midfielders a torrid time.

 

This includes Baú, who has also been playing quite well but who got schooled by the older Music throughout today’s session.  Finally, I had to tease Baú gently about it to get his confidence back up.

 

“Eder, just think how good you’ll be when you’re thirty-three,” I said, and thankfully my ever-professional loanee got the joke.

 

“If Vedin doesn’t kill me by then,” Baú smiled as he jogged back to his position for another drill.  I watched him go and saw the first signs of a real coming together in the senior squad.  That sometimes takes time in a transitory game like football.  With Italy being a more transitory country than most due to its loan rules, this is nowhere truer than in the lower leagues.

 

I’d actually like to change that, if I ever get enough money from the board.  I think players play better when they don’t have to focus on moving their whole lives at the end of another season.  That isn’t to say I want them soft – far from it, I want them the opposite in terms of fighting for their places – but I do believe players need a little sense of security so they can concentrate on their jobs.

 

However, when I ask for the same thing, the media attacks me for going to Venice.  Funny game, football.

 

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#45 tenthreeleader

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 12:56 AM

Thursday, September 27

I’m incandescent with anger today at our local paper, which has seen fit to publish personal details about Patty, including her picture, in today’s edition.

 

Evidently they staked out the State Department office in Venice, which has the authorities there both bemused and none too pleased at the same time.  That’s a difficult combination to achieve, but it seems Padua’s football media have realized it with aplomb.

 

I did warn Patty that it was probably coming, and as a result she wasn’t as upset as she might otherwise have been, but it still didn’t help my disposition to see the front page of the morning paper.

 

Usually I could give a damn about what they write about me, but when they wrote about her, they crossed the line.  She has nothing to do with the club and to bring her into some sort of debate is beyond the pale.

 

I placed a personal call to the Head of Station at the Venice office today to apologize for the trouble this has all caused and worried myself into a state before I did.  That wasn’t so good, but thankfully he understood our plight.

 

“Americans do come under scrutiny in some places,” he said.  “I have talked with Patty this morning and she’s as contrite as you are.  Really, we don’t place restrictions on what our employees can and can’t do while off duty, provided they don’t wind up in jail, of course.  But I have to admit, this is the first time I’ve heard of the soccer media going after a private individual.”

 

“It’s the first time for me too,” I said angrily.  “And I’ve been in the business eighteen years now.”

 

“Well, my advice to you is to let it blow over,” he said.  “Patty is a wonderful employee and she’s doing a tremendous job.  If you can find it within yourselves to keep things discreet for a time, I think you’ll be just fine.”

 

“We’re trying to do that now,” I said.  “I don’t think we’ve done that would disgrace anyone.”

 

“That’s good, because I probably would have heard of it by now if you had,” he explained, and I knew he was right.  “Perhaps you two should lay low for a bit.”

 

“I’ll consider it,” I said.  “I have to consider it, unfortunately, because some people will not allow adults to be adults in this country.  But thank you for your time.”

 

With that, I went outside and ran an angry training session.  I didn’t blame my players, obviously, but I did assert myself more vigorously when I saw items not meeting with my approval.

 

It was stormy enough that Crovari approached Stefano Emiliani after the training session.  And even though I’ve had my share of differences with my captain, he said what needed to be said.

 

“You people have really pissed off the boss,” he said on his way to the showers.  “That makes it hard on the players.  You want dedication from him and that is fine, but when you write what you write it is difficult for the players who have to get results.  And I do not blame the manager for that.”

 

# # #

 

Purely because I had to, I faced off with the local reporters after the session and the look on my face showed that if the wrong question got asked there was going to be fireworks.

 

Emiliani actually approached me with his hands up in a gesture of surrender.  “Rob, you know I didn’t write that story,” he protested, but I would have none of it.

 

“Leave her out of it, you hear?” I demanded.  “You people are pathetic.  She’s a private citizen and even if you think I’m this great public figure, she sure isn’t.  Leave her alone!”

 

No one tried to defend the story.  I appreciated that, but I think it was probably because the newsies wanted their stories for the day and they figured I’d tie someone’s parts in a knot if they defended that kind of journalism.

 

They would have been right, I think.  I was ready to grab and twist by the time the interview was over and thank goodness the newsies stayed with football questioning. 

 

I made it quite clear that I expect the questions to stick to football and if they didn’t there was going to be trouble.

 

Then, after it was all over, I went home and called Patty, hoping she still wanted to see me.

 

What I found was a surprisingly sanguine lady who was thrilled that I had defended her so stoutly. 

 

“I think you are the sweetest thing on two legs,” she said, after I had apologized again for my role in dragging her into the public spotlight.

 

“You’re wonderful to say so,” I said.  “I’m so angry I can hardly see, and here you are telling me I’m sweet after what I did to you.”

 

“You didn’t do that, the papers did,” she said.

 

“I’m glad to hear you’re okay,” I said.  “I just tore a strip off the entire Padova press group.”

 

“You can defend me any time you like,” she said.  “I’ll let you.  But I’m just telling you that you don’t have to worry about losing me over something like this.  The emotional investment we’ve both made means too much to me.  I won’t let that happen.”
 

This was a completely different Patty from the one I met, and even from the one I first fell in love with.  She is healing right before my eyes, and who knows – she may well be far stronger than I am very soon.  I won’t say I mind that.

 

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#46 tenthreeleader

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 12:51 PM

Friday, September 28

I met with my chairman today, who doesn’t spend a lot of time around the practice pitch.

 

Marcello Sestaro is a 42-year old businessman who is very much a self-made man.  As is the case with men of wealth, his primary concern is for his club’s bottom line and avoiding having to sink any more of his own money into the club than is absolutely necessary.

 

He has said he will listen to offers for the club but I pay little attention to such stories.  If the club is sold, it’s sold, and we move on from there.  It happens in business all the time and football is most definitely a business.

 

I have a cursory meeting each month with the full board to go over the accounts, get their feedback on performance, and it’s very much for business.  But Marcello wasn’t in my office to talk about business.

 

I was pleasantly surprised that he wasn’t in my office to tell me to stay away from Venice, either.  He wanted to know if I needed any assistance with media.

 

“That is generous of you,” I said.  “I think I have the situation under control but my concern is that everything I do reflects positively on this club.”

 

“I appreciate that,” he said.  “Right now we are concerned with the club’s performance and of course the wage bill, but you have done quite well on both fronts and you need have no concern.  We are encouraged.  But as you are unfortunately aware after the events of yesterday, our paparazzi can be quite annoying at times.”

 

Sestaro, as a successful man, has a well-known face in addition to a well-known name.  Football is a dalliance for him, along the same lines as say, Roman Abramovich without the billions.  But Marcello’s goal is to get there someday and frankly I wouldn’t bet against him.

 

Media saw the two of us meeting in my office, and naturally my chairman had to dispel rumors of a “crisis confrontation” the media always seems to see when it’s inventing controversy.  For him it was second nature to slap down a reporter.  For me, on the other hand, it is quite different.  I expect I’ll get used to it in time, though.  More is the pity. 

 

Patty is doing a little better today after getting over the shock yesterday’s unwanted foray into Andy Warhol’s ’15 minutes of fame’ brought.  But if this keeps up, her words to me may well be tested.  She doesn’t need the scrutiny, she doesn’t deserve the scrutiny and it’s just not fair.

 

# # #

 

I think I’m settling into the preferred XI I will utilize for most of our league matches.  I obviously don’t have the luxury of a huge squad, but I do have choices and I’m making them as I go.

 

Muzzi and Varricchio are my first-choice strike pairing with Paponi and Di Nardo their understudies.  Music has earned the left side of midfield by default and also by the quality of his play.  The right side belongs to Baú and the holding position is Crovari’s, again by default.

 

The back four of choice is Gotti, Vasco Faísca, Sacchetti and Paz.  My choice between he and Pablo Cotroneo was difficult and eventually Paz may slot into the holding role as often as not.

 

The area where I still have trouble is in the attacking midfielder role.  Andrea Gentile has superb skills but is erratic in the finish, and that’s vitally important to making the 4-1-3-2 go.  Rabito has the finishing skils but lacks in positional play and consistency, so each of these players has a potentially fatal flaw.

 

That means I haven’t yet seen my chosen formation played to the level I’d like to see it, and means the acquisition of a proven attacking central midfielder is top on my list of things to do in the close season.  Good players who answer that description don’t tend to go anywhere in January as a rule, so it will likely be a thing I have to address after this season is over.

 

What the lack of that predator means is twofold: first, we aren’t going to score as many goals this season as I had hoped we would.  Second, we have to be very good at the back because of it.  That’s doubly important because my preference with this group of players is to play a direct, counter-attacking style.

 

Since we counter a lot, we don’t tend to hold possession for long periods of time.  Obviously you must be strong at the back if you’re going to play that style and get away with it.  I am seriously considering trying to play more of a possession game because it’s all about percentages.

 

We don’t, as a rule, take our chances to the extent I want.  When my philosophy involves letting the other fellows have the ball, taking advantages of the chances we do get is absolutely vital.  The balance for me is to find the right level of possession to take optimal advantage of our passing skills while at the same time generating enough chances to win.

 

We don’t, as a second rule, pass the ball particularly well either.  We are very good at running with it and crossing it, but a short game doesn’t suit the players we have, even though that doesn’t matter to the purists.  We won’t play long ball, though, of that I am certain.

 

So the early season has been all about finding balance.  When we pass the ball accurately and take a reasonable percentage of our chances, we won’t lose often.  When we don’t, we will be ordinary at best.

 

My current line of thinking has been to let teams beat their heads against our back four and Orlandoni, before countering them.  It has worked fairly well every place except Sassuolo, who found the way to break through.  That’s why we’re fifth instead of higher in the playoff places.

 

Gentile will get the nod in the center of midfield on Sunday.  We’re at home and I think he will be able to utilize the energy whatever crowd we get will give us.  Some players are more comfortable in front of the home fans and I think he is one of those players.  I guess there is only one way to find out.

 

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#47 tenthreeleader

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 03:01 PM

Saturday, September 29

A light day today.  I spent my afternoon watching the English Premier League, which was a nice deviation from the norm.

 

And ironically enough, I watched Reading play Fulham and watched my old club score a 2-1 win that has them now in sixth place in the league.  Steve Coppell has done a great job with the Royals and I saw the Madejski Stadium full to the rafters with happy supporters.

 

That’s something the town frankly deserves.  Reading had never reached the top flight in forty years of existence until Coppell got them there last season through a record-setting season in the second division, the Coca-Cola Championship. 

 

That they stayed up was a pleasant surprise to Royals supporters, but missing Europe by a single point last year was both a disappointment and a pleasant shock.  Sixth place in the early going of course challenges for the European places this year too.

 

It is not a bad club to play for at all.  The stadium is usually full, the supporters are loyal and Coppell is a very good manager.  The ex-Manchester United player was even mentioned as an England candidate back when Steve McClaren was struggling in the job.

 

So the Royals have a lot going for them and I enjoyed watching them win today.  Our match is of course tomorrow and Serie A’s big match day is traditionally Sunday as well, so we have a big weekend of football ahead.

 

It has been a long and trying week and after a quick walkthrough with the squad this morning I dismissed them to stay fresh for tomorrow’s match.  There is no need for me to use a heavy hand with the players since the club is winning and I’m happy with their general play to this point.

 

So I let them go to enjoy their Saturday.  Hopefully that will help the long-term outlook.

 

I’m concerned about that during a couple of different points on the schedule – we have an international break coming up soon where we don’t play for two weeks and another over Christmas, where the whole league shuts down for three weeks.  We’re going to be taking some time off then, and I want the players to know that it isn’t all football at those times of the year.

 

The players know that if they perform I will reward them.  I have no problem giving a complete day off after a win unless we’re also playing at midweek, and they show me how badly they want that day off by how well they play on the weekend.

 

Unfortunately for that philosophy, we’re playing a midweek match on Wednesday against a Pro Sesto side we should handle.  They have won only one of their first six matches and are 15th in the 18-team table.  We are traveling to Sesto San Giovanni, but really we ought to be fancied to win.

 

So after the match was over, I reviewed scouting reports on Pro Sesto.  I spent my evening at the computer, writing out my notes to give to the players after tomorrow’s match.  It was quiet, which I love, and the only thing I love more finally broke that solitude.

 

Patty’s voice on my speakerphone lifted me when I needed it most, and her constancy through the troubles of this week has been very helpful.

 

“Ready for tomorrow?” she asked. 

 

“Ready as we’re gonna get,” I said.  “I think we’re settling down nicely.”

 

“I thought I’d come to the match if that’s okay,” she said.

 

“It is,” I replied, starting an e-mail to the club secretary as she spoke.  “But I’m e-mailing ahead to the club.  I would like you out of view and out of the stands.  I don’t want anyone approaching you or giving you a hard time.  Ultras can be no fun to be around if you’re on the wrong side of them.”

 

“I’m sure it’ll be fine….” she started to speak but for once I didn’t let her finish.

 

“Sure, nothing,” I said.  “I insist.  I want you out of the stands.  I don’t want to have to worry for you at the same time I worry about the team.  Let me be nice to you, and let yourself enjoy the match.”

 

“You’re the boss,” she said.

 

“At the ground, yes.  I am the boss.  Everywhere else, feel free to be as bossy as you like.”  There was just enough lilt in my voice, even as I made my point, for Patty to understand that I meant what I said.

 

“Okay, honey,” she said.  “Tell me what to do in the morning and I’ll be happy to do it as long as I can see you after the match.”

 

# # #

 


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#48 tenthreeleader

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 09:00 PM

Sunday, September 30
Padova v Citadella – Serie C1A

 

September is ending on a positive note, and my hope is that Bosnia and Herzegovina manager Fuad Muruzovic was watching today.

 

Music had a tremendous match, scoring his first goal for the club, and we played very well after being reduced to ten men for the second time this season.  That didn’t make me so happy, but the way we handled adversity in response was quite good.

 

We also had a decent crowd – our gathering of 4,149 at Euganeo was the largest of the season and we put on a highly competent display for them ahead of our visit to Pro Sesto at midweek.

 

But Music stole the show for us.  We battled through a technical and scoreless first half until Vedin caught lightning in a bottle with one minute of regular time to play.

 

We had moved the ball to the top of Citadella’s penalty area and as sometimes happens at this level of football, things had degenerated into the kind of mad scrum you see in some youth league games.  Players from both teams were battling for possession and we were in the process of losing our shape before the ball squirted to Music at the right edge of the box as keeper Giuliano DeSimone saw it.

 

Vedin brought the spinning ball to ground with a very good first touch and then did one of the hardest things to do in football – he scored with an outswinging shot using the outside of his off-foot.  Vedin is left-footed and he struck the ball with the outside of his right boot, hitting a swerving shot that had about a ball’s width of room to sneak between DeSImone’s outstretched arm and his left post.

 

It was just a marvelous goal and as Music tore off toward the corner flag I gave him a round of applause, hands over head.  That was perhaps the most appropriate way to honor a simply exquisite piece of skill.  I was thrilled for Vedin and how his hard work had paid off.

 

He made sure to shake my hand as he headed back up the touchline – it was his first goal for the club and he was frankly thrilled about it – and we headed to the changing room at halftime on a real and deserved high.

 

I told the squad to maintain their focus above all.  What I want is a club that will turn the screws on an opponent when they have them on the mat and to a large extent, that is what I saw in the second half.

 

Citadella had a hard time making headway against the center of our midfield, as Crovari and Gentile had their best game together in tandem.  That was a real eye-opener for me and frankly I wish it happened more often so my choice in central midfield would be a little more clear.

 

Gentile also had a key role to play in the buildup to our second goal just after the hour mark.  Paz made a terrific play to read the game at right back, intercepting an attempt to clear the Citadella lines.  He headed the ball directly into the path of Gentile, who had also read the game well, and Andrea’s ball forward found Varrichio with his back to goal at the top of the 18.

 

Massimiliano moved outside, cut back inside and wrongfooted defender Geraldo Spirio immediately.  He then gleefully fired home past DeSimone to make it 2-nil and really put us in the catbird seat.

 

It was his fifth goal, tying him with Baú for the club lead.  Three of Eder’s goals have come from the penalty spot, so to have Varricchio’s five all coming from open play is a real boost.

 

Unfortunately, as well as things were going we were due for a reverse, and it came through a silly challenge by Gentile.  Having already been carded for an equally silly challenge in the first half, he was already on thin ice.  Luca Foti had no problem pulling the second yellow card out of his pocket, and I really had no complaints as the player trudged to the changing room with 23 minutes to play.

 

That gave us a chance to work on our counter game, and I am being kind in this assessment.  I’d have preferred to stay active on Citadella, and to do it with eleven men on the pitch.  Having learned about my attitude toward red cards after Crovari’s sending off, Gentile walked gingerly past me toward the showers.

 

I had to switch to one striker, taking off Muzzi in favor of Varricchio due to his having the hot streak, and we proceeded to counter Citadella right out of the match.  Despite having to play with ten, we never really let them into a good scoring position, which provided a measure of consolation.

 

No manager likes to play with ten, but it is an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes it happens.  You have to be ready for it, and we passed that test quite nicely.  Foti finally blew for full time and we headed to the changing room a wining team for the fourth time in six starts.

 

Statistically, Citadella had the better of the match, with 12 attempts to seven for us and four on goal to three for us.  But much of that came when we were playing with ten and they were also chasing the game, so it was to be expected.  They also had a big possession edge, at 55-45, and again much of that came when they had an extra player.

 

So there’s reason to smile.  There’s also room for improvement, and I mentioned that to Gentile when I took him aside after the match.

 

“I can’t play you now,” I said.  “You had a nice match until you lost your cool.”

 

“I know,” he said.  He knows he is locked in a battle with Rabito for playing time and he knows it’s important that he stays on the pitch.  Crovari looked on and I made sure my captain saw I was giving Gentile the same treatment I had given him for getting sent off at Cavese.  I want a culture of on-pitch discipline established here and people who keep getting sent off aren’t going to figure into my plans.

 

But otherwise, I wasn’t even terribly perturbed to speak to the media after the match, which was a bit of a surprise given how things had gone this week.

 

“I’m pleased,” I said.  “We played well and even though we made some mistakes which cost us the chance to really put up a big score today, we played well and have a lot to take into the midweek match at Pro Sesto.”

 

I was asked about Varricchio and that was a more pleasant topic of conversation.  “He didn’t figure in at the beginning of the season but he and Di Nardo have really stepped up when I have asked them to,” I said.  “That is the kind of commitment I want to see and Massimiliano has really done a nice job for us.  Five goals from open play in his first six matches is a very nice return and he’s doing a great job for us. “

 

And then about Music: “I really hope Fuad Muruzovic was watching today because if he wasn’t I’ll be happy to tell him about how well Vedin is playing.  I thought his goal was wonderful and he has given us a great deal of energy, enthusiasm and just plain hard work on the left side of our midfield.  It has taken me some time to sort things out at the beginning of my time here but we do have quality players who are able to step up and give us help at key positions on the pitch.  I’m quite pleased with how things have gone and frankly I am delighted for Vedin Music.”

 

And with that, I turned to see Patty around the corner, out of sight of the media.  I nodded very slightly to her so as not to draw attention and was quite pleased at her choice of attire.  Our night together already promised quite a bit.

Padova 2-0 Citadella

 

# # #

 

The gathering of media broke up, I went into the changing room one more time to address the players, and left my girlfriend in the charge of the chief steward before returning back into the hallway leading to the car park.

 

It was then, and only then, that we were able to acknowledge each other’s presence.

 

“How’d you like the match?” I asked, hugging her and knowing I’d like the answer.

 

“Just fine,” she said, looking up at me with that wonderful little smile.

 

“That’s what I like to hear,” I answered, slipping my arm protectively around her waist.  I noticed she was getting appreciative glances from media, who were now alerted to her presence, and from whose presence I wanted to remove her as soon as possible.

 

She noticed it too, and flashed a devastating smile to a local reporter who walked past in the opposite direction, turning his head as he did.

 

I found it more than a little ironic that those people who were so willing to compromise her personal life in print were also willing to flirt with her so outrageously, and in my presence, no less.  But Patty handled it beautifully and I knew what she was up to.  She was killing them with kindness.

 

She then proceeded to smite them by walking out with her arm very protectively and quite publicly around my waist in return, as we departed Euganeo for our evening together.

 

# # #

 

I opened the door to my apartment and we stepped inside.  She smiled up at me.  “I don’t like this being away from you,” she sighed.  “It’s not fun and I miss you.”

 

“I missed you too,” I said, closing the door behind us.  “I’m glad we can have these nights but leaving afterwards is hard knowing I won’t see you for a week.  I wish we were closer together.”

 

“Can’t do much about it now,” she said.  “I’d love to, but it’s a horrible commute and we aren’t married or anything like that.”

 

I felt a rush of blood to my brain when she said that and I replied in kind.  “More is the pity,” I teased, and she playfully slapped my arm.

 

“I love you, but we’ve got a long way to go before that,” she said with just the right amount of realism.  That brought me back down to earth and I guess I took it surprisingly hard.

 

She noticed the look on my face, though, and came to my arms.  “But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love every minute of it,” she said, lifting my spirits to a point.

 

I smiled down at her.  “And I do love you, Rob,” she reminded me.  “Please, don’t forget that.”

 

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#49 danielyl1

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#50 danielyl1

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