Belmondo September 2017

Resident guest author Matt Langdon is back with the latest chapter of his adventures.

TUESDAY September 5th, 2017
 
Caolan Lavery just played in his first senior international match for Northern Ireland. With this kind of success rate from my coaching, I imagine we’ll be able to recruit lots more young talent very soon.
 
In related news, an ex Sheffield United player has been talking to the press about how well the Fleckster is playing since I took the reins. He didn’t actually mention me, but it was implied. Or inferred. I can never remember which is which.
 
This weekend, we’re playing at Sunderland who is sitting in second place and playing well. We’ll need Fleck and about ten others to play their best to get something out of it.
 
FRIDAY September 8th, 2017
 
Game Day.
Sunderland v Sheffield United. Championship.
 
Friday night football! Reminds me of home. We got off to an exciting start with a shot generated from the kickoff possession. Stevens took it down the byline and crossed it to the near side only for Carruthers to slice his shot across the face of goal.
 
Seven minutes later, Carruthers made no mistake after a through ball from Diamanti put him one on one with the keeper.
 
Another seven minutes and we were two goals up. Enda Stevens lobbed a long ball over the Sunderland defenders into the path of a probably offside Brooks. Garth finished coolly and reinforced his inevitable price tag at the end of the season.
 
Just before the end of the second half, Sunderland finally got lucky with a long shot from outside the box. Lewis Grabban should be credited for testing his luck because the rest of the team had been useless.
 
It was about the 50th minute that I realised that Diamanti is too slow to be playing a counter-attacking system. A ball from Fleck had the Italian on a break, but every single Sunderland player caught him within twelve steps. Luckily Carruthers is still working hard because he got onto another over-the-heads ball to shoot past the keeper.
 
Carruthers and Brooks each should have completed hat tricks between the 75th and 85th minutes but shot poorly. The team was all over Sunderland with our rampaging counter attacks. It was like organised chaos with our guys running everywhere. Enda Stevens even got in on the act in the 94th minute slamming home a goal after a cross-field pass from his opposing fullback. Four to one at a major contender for promotion! I’ll take it.
 
The Sunderland manager made some comments to the media this evening after our press conferences. He said he was truly appreciative of my gracious words after the game and how refreshing it was in a world when most managers would gloat after such a result. I obviously didn’t get my message across.
 
TUESDAY September 12th, 2017
 
Game Day.
Bolton v Sheffield United. Championship.
 
I started Harry Wilson up front with Garth Brooks for the Killer Wales combo. Wilson was put on the right so his left foot would be an advantage for shooting. That’s how deep I get in my tactical preparation. I’m basically playing three-dimensional chess.
 
We got the scoring off to a quick start when the Fleckster converted a penalty. Bolton got into it two minutes later with what was technically an own goal when a cleared ball bounced off O’Connell’s back.
 
Harry Wilson scored on his debut with his left foot, as planned. Lundstram drew attention outside the box and quickly passed the ball out to Wilson who just sent in a screamer. Naturally three minutes later Bolton was given a penalty. Blackman made a standout save though, so we kept our lead going into the half.
 
The second half started with Wilson using his right foot to score his second goal. Baldock sent a cross in and Harry twinkle-toed it in. My fullbacks were getting plenty of space all through the game, which certainly makes things enjoyable.
 
On the 74th minute, we were given a penalty by the referee who was standing at the halfway line. No idea how he saw it, but I’m always happy to get a penalty. The boys decided to give it to Harry Wilson so he could get his hat-trick. He rewarded them by hitting it straight at the keeper who caught it with both hands.
 
Another comfortable win away from home. This season is finally shaping up and we’re in third place.
 
FRIDAY September 15th, 2017
 
Jamal Blackman has been injured in training. I’m told it’s only a niggle and he should be able to play tomorrow, but we’ll see. It’s a bit of a worry as I have basically no backup.
 
SATURDAY September 16th, 2017
 
Game Day.
Sheffield United v Norwich. Championship.
 
Blackman was fine for the day. A breath of relaxing air that one. Norwich wore bright yellow jerseys onto the pitch today that made them look like canaries. Weird choice.
 
Hotlips Hoolahan provided hope for Norwich in the 25th minute with an admittedly good goal. Thankfully a corner routine put us back level. Fleck took the ball and one-timed it into the net. No-one in the world could have saved that and most people wouldn’t have even had time to move.
 
A few minutes into the second half we went ahead courtesy of a deflected shot from the Fleckster. We kept the lead up until the game should have been finished, but in the third minute of extra cheating time, Cameron Jerome found space during a corner and tapped the ball in. I obviously need a seven defender tactic to use during injury time.
 
To add insult to injury, Lundstram was injured and will be out for a month. Our injury total is starting to look troubling.
 
After the game, Paul Coutts was said to be making complaints about his game time. I asked captain Sharp to have a few words and Coutts immediately dropped his concern. Handy. I’ll have to keep Sharp around.
 
My assistant manager said our next game is Wednesday, but I’m pretty sure our next game is on Saturday. I need to check with my secretary, but it would be annoying to have another midweek 
game.
 
WEDNESDAY September 20th, 2017
 
I knew we didn’t have a game today.
 
FRIDAY September 22nd, 2017
 
It turns out our game is tomorrow and it’s against a team called Wednesday. Sheffield Wednesday, to be more specific. It’s clearly a rivalry game. I had no idea there was enough room for another team in this town.
 
SATURDAY September 23rd, 2017
 
Game day.
Sheffield Wednesday v Sheffield United. Championship.
 
Wednesday are sitting in 22nd position, so that had me pretty confident before the game. That didn’t last long. Hooper put Wednesday up in the fifth minute and we couldn’t reply. At the end of the half, a lot of my players came off in seriously bad moods. I yelled at them that I expected much more. They went back out suitably fired up.
 
And fired up did sweet F.A. The boys came back in forty-five minutes later with the same score and the same frustration. My frustration was much higher, however. We’re not going to win the division by losing to our crap crosstown rivals. In the Cutlery Cup, we were the sporks, while Wednesday was the knives.
 
TUESDAY September 26th, 2017
 
Game Day.
Sheffield United v Wolverhampton. Championship.
 
Carruthers was injured yesterday in training. That’s six weeks without yet another midfielder. This is getting ridiculous.
 
This Wolves team has a few suspiciously good players in it. Kind of like ring-ins at our old indoor soccer league. All of a sudden a team in our division would have some ex-pros in it at finals time. Neves and Jota look way ahead of the division in the preview tape I saw. And naturally Neves set up a goal in the first twenty minutes. At halftime, they were 2-0 ahead with one shot on target. Blackman contributed their second goal with a nonsensical own goal.
 
In the second half, post-screaming-session, Enda Stevens finally managed to concoct a goal. He sent a sublime cross along the ground in front of three flailing defenders and into the path of Harry Wilson who somehow squeezed the ball into the net.
 
Unfortunately, that was all she wrote and we lost a second game in a row. Unprecedented in the history of my coaching career. And now we’re down to seventh.
 
SATURDAY September 30th, 2017
 
Game Day.
Nottingham Forest v Sheffield United.
 
We’re playing in Robin Hood land. And Nottingham is in 22nd place. Considering the location and our previous match against someone in 22nd, we’re bound to lose.
 
It was one of our players doing the stealing though. Garth picked the pocket of a defender and streaked towards goal. No-one could catch him and he slotted the ball under the diving keeper! Great start.
 
Brooks did it again ten minutes later, stealing the ball from a dawdling defender. His shot was saved this time, but we got a corner out of it. No goal, but it was all positive. Seven minutes later, Brooks sent a ball over the top and Wilson ran onto it to put another one-on-one past the keeper. I much prefer this type of game where my attackers just get to go against the opposing keeper. We can just keep the rest of the players in the locker rooms.
 
From the second half kickoff, Brooks got one-on-one again! Missed again. But five minutes later, Harry Wilson scored from a free kick and I felt the life finally coming back into the team after those two losses.
 
Three-nil away from home was a great way to end the month. The Killer Wales were the two best players on the pitch and all is well with the world. The three central defenders are really gelling well too. We’re in sixth, but only four points off first. Hope is alive.

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