Nautico — The Week After The Night Before

Guest author Chris Johnson is back with his latest post. Chris can be found on Twitter here @randomfilming. You can also check out more about the film that Chris has just finished, by following this link

Carrying on from my last update I decided to stick with the newspaper article style. It has been a really good year on FM, had some ding-dong battles with the new President and I thought I would make it part of the story as well as just a normal update.

The week after the night before

It was on a quiet December morning at Clube Nautico’s training ground when the first real signs of unrest surfaced over Chris Johnson’s future as manager.

A scheduled post-season interview with both the Manager and President has revealed there to be a huge divide in not only their relationship but their individual vision for the football club.

President James Rodrigues Da Silva who won the seat just ten months ago has not held back with where he feels the club has failed to meet its targets. A man who campaigned for his presidential seat on the back of promises to create clear pathways between the academy and the first team, to stop the arrival of journeyman mercenaries and to make Nautico great again was steadfast in his beliefs.

When pushed on this matter Da Silva showed what can only be described as contempt for manager Chris Johnson’s decision to bring in 35-year-old striker Maxi Lopez. The Argentinian veteran signed a 5-month deal towards the end of the season on a club record £5,000 per week.

“He will point to his goals but I know some of our own would have done just as well, we didn’t need him,” Da Silva said.

Maxi Lopez scored 6 goals in 11 Appearances

On the pitch could the club have asked for anymore? No. Back to back promotions and a State title win have lifted Nautico back into the big time and given their diminishing fan base a real shot in the arm.

Off the pitch, it is all out war. Johnson, an unknown name barely 2 years ago has dragged his side through two league campaigns and come out the other side with a reputation that is turning heads.

He used the State and North East Regional competitions to blood some younger members of the squad and although failure to progress in the latter upset the apple cart, a defeat in the State Championship Final was a valiant effort to try to retain their title. Once again local Rivals Sport Recife proved too good and made it 5 wins from 5 since Johnson arrived in the city.

State Championship — Won 8/9 league games before progressing to the final and losing to Sport Recife

The league campaign was where the surprises really started though. Tipped to spend the season battling relegation, Nautico defied the odds and spent the majority of the campaign in the top seven.

Nautico hit the ground running winning 8 from their opening 11 games

“Our recruitment had been top draw, we knew that the squad needed strengthening and in players like Willian Maranhao, Jaminton Campaz and Diogo Vitor the team looked like a different animal from the very first game”.

Johnson then went on to explain in detail how hard he had worked to convince these players that Nautico was the right place for them. Maranhao, in particular, had been playing Copa Libertadores football at Vasco the previous season.

Maranhao became a fixture in the middle of Johnson’s midfield

Throughout the campaign rumours surfaced of arguments between the manager and President but nothing ever seemed to boil over Into the public domain. When Nautico struggled for form they always managed to grab a win or a point to stop things from unravelling.

Although rarely beaten Nautico struggled to maintain their early season form

As mentioned previously the arrival of Maxi Lopez does seem to be a key point in the season. The former River Plate, Barcelona and AC Milan star was out of favour at Vasco and facing a sad end to his illustrious career. When we spoke to him he couldn’t have been more glowing in his appraisal of the manager.

“I was out, retirement was on the horizon, playing an occasional game in the U23s was a disappointing end to my career. When I first heard of Nautico’s approach I wasn’t really interested but the fact the boss flew over and came to my home really made me sit up and think why not. We had maybe 13 games of the season left and I started eleven of them scoring six times. I owe him a lot for letting me end my career on a high”

As the story goes Nautico endured one of the most nail-biting ends to a season in living memory. A penultimate game of the season against Avai went right to the death when in the 88th minute young Colombian left back Jaminton Campaz, scored his ever goal for Nautico.

The left back Campaz scored a 25 yard screamer to secure the three points

The left-back Campaz scored a 25-yard screamer to secure the three points and all was set for a final week showdown.

‘Timbu’ would travel to Londrina in a winner takes all scenario. 
This time the game wasn’t drama filled, there were no late winners or red cards but that didn’t matter. The 0–0 was enough to secure Nautico the second division title and the incredible feat of back to back promotions.

The closest end to a Serie B season in 87 years

The first signs of unrest came roughly twenty minutes after the full-time whistle. What should have been an enjoyable and casual press conference turned a little strange when Johnson clearly ruffled, only answered questions on the game and anything looking towards next season was given the reply

“I’m not the man to answer that, please direct your questions to Mr Da Silva”.

Since that night Da Silva has stepped up his public undermining of Johnson with the arrival of new Director of Football Paulo Paixão. The former River Plate coach will now be in control of all transfer and staffing matters, leaving Johnson with the title of Head Coach. 
“Paulo is a vastly experienced coach whose reputation in the game will benefit Nautico for years to come.” Da Silva went then on “His last job at River Plate U23s showed his ability to identify up and coming players, something we hope he implements here.”

In reply to this the manager did nothing other this post a picture on his Instagram account with the comment, ‘Sometimes in life loyalty isn’t rewarded’.

Johnson rejected a move to Brazilian giants Sao Paulo

As we wait to see how the new setup will work, Johnson announced the pre-contract signings of Diego Poyet, Miguel Parrales and Luiz Otavo. He was clearly pleased to land these three targets before the structural changes to the club and made sure the media all knew that from here on in he wouldn’t talk about any transfer activity at all.
After an incredible season, it does seem a very sad way to go into what should be an exciting twelve months of football. 
There has been a huge social media outpouring from the fans for their manager with over 5500 making the trip to Vitoria for the first State game of 2020. To a man they chanted his name for 90 minutes and they were rewarded with a performance to be proud of, as the manager left the field he saluted his loyal bunch of fans and tapped to his heart.

First game of 2020 and club record victory

Having covered Nautico for 22 years I very much doubt the club can continue on its current course. The off-field problems are there for all to see and something will have to give. Johnson has already drawn the attention of some big clubs and my money would be on him leaving Aflitos before the year is out.

Until then it should be a roller coaster of a ride…

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