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
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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.
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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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