Matelica — Am I Savage? (7)

Another day, another boneheaded move. Turns out my captain and star central defender Cason has three months left on his contract. I’ve left it so late that he’s not interested in a new one. Now a Serie A team (Verona) is sniffing around. Moron.

Anyway, we’re away to Pergolettese today and as we’re here again a week from now (with a match at Fiorenzuola in between), we’ve settled in for a nine day stay at the Glam Hotel in Soncino.

Pergolettese is our next Cup opponent next Wednesday as well as our League opponent today and when we hosted them earlier, we “earned” all three points. We were outshot, outtackled, outheadered, outeverythinged except goals. I implore my players to actually earn this one.

It’s a far better performance than last time. They’ve got their fair share of shots, but none are on target. We’re five for five with two goals. Currarino and then Karuru.

I kinda wish we’d saved that one for a Cup leg. Kim and Okwi (on at half) score before their star striker Scardina saves a bit of face for the home team. Currarino then scores our fifth to top off the humiliation.

Cue Queen.

We’re going up! And to celebrate that fact, Benevento and Salernitana bid for Cason. That’s super not nice, guys. Especially as no one new is on my interested list despite the fact that we’ll be playing in the heady heights of C1 next season.

And now that Magic Numbers aren’t an issue, we can focus on the Cup.

Speaking of the Cup, we’re rocking a full reserve side for this League match, as we DGAF prior to Wednesday’s match.

That was drab. Not worth mentioning.

Same with the next 45, only they score to win it in the 91st. And deservedly so.

As AMarco and I discuss our Serie C Cup semi-final lineup, I’m a little sad that Williams, Guima and Karuru are unavailable for various injury/fitness reasons. This team really should be capable of holding their own in the away leg anyway.

We play well, but can’t buy a goal. They play less well and get one in the 26th. Obviously their 6.8 average keeper is having a 9 so far today.

More of the same in the second half, unfortunately. We pepper their net with shots and their keeper does backflips and cartwheels to keep us out. Not an ideal first leg.

At least we have a couple of weeks til the second leg, time enough for at least a couple of my players to get back to health…and possibly lose others.

This was avoidable and inevitable. Poop.

We whizz through the next two league matches with reckless abandon. Another keeper (Legnano this time) throws down another 9 against us in a nil-nil draw.

At Arzignano Chiampo, we chuck in all the bench mob and they thoroughly disappoint as three first half goals do us in.

That wasn’t the best way to get us ready for the home Cup leg, but at least everyone is healthy. Turns out that Pergolettese are pretty healthy too. Mid-table obscurity means they haven’t played for a promotion spot or avoid a relegation spot either.

It turns out that a few hum-drum matches are all it took to snap back into form. And maybe we used up all the opposing keepers’ 9s?

Our DMC Guidileye with two goals and an assist to Kim in the first 23 minutes. We’re up 3–1 on aggregate and despite having to make all three subs at the break (Ilyasov, Juuko and Kim all with slight knocks) we should have already done enough. Let’s avoid red cards and giving away penalties though.

The get within a goal of winning on away goals in the 50th (with their only shot on target), making things a bit nervy for a while before Okwi settles it in the 66th.

We’re in the Serie C Cup Final!

A pair more league matches to go with the first leg of the Final at home a few days after our final league match. So all the best XI will be rested in the last match of the season and we’ll field a weakened and easy-tackling team against Pro Sesto. Yet another guard of honour, but I’m not complaining.

We play well but not tackling them seems to be a bit of an issue.

Our final League match is unimportant and it shows. We do OK with our bench players, but I think the lustre of winning the league may have worn off and our minds are a little too focused on the Cup Final. Lwanga with his first ever goal for us on the final day.

Before the Cup, there’s a little business to attend to. My scout finds this fella who’s out of contract this summer. He’s bid for and wants to come. He’ll be a good replacement for the outbound Cason, AND he’ll earning about a third of some other CBs on the squad that I’ll flog.

We’ve got Cesena in the Cup Final and we’re at home first. SMarco gives me some great info.

Their star striker has 30 and 5 in 45 matches. He’ll be man-marked by Cason. Their star player is a midfielder who’s got 11 and 16 in 45 matches. Guidileye will pick him up.

Okwi isn’t back from injury yet, so Loussoukou comes in to partner Kim up front. Status quo everywhere else.

It’s a horrendous first half for us as we don’t get anything going. Zecca scores to give the visitors the lead in the 10th. I make some changes at half to go a bit more offensive and we equalise in the 60th but it’s chalked off for offside.

It’s not a mountain, but it’s certainly a quite steep hill that we’ll have to climb next week at their place.

SMarco brings me an identical scouting report as last week. I don’t change too much, but Okwi is back and healthy so he replaces Loussoukou in the XI.

It’s our last match of the season and there’s a Cup at stake. I don’t think anyone in the Matelica organisation would have seem this coming eight and half months ago.

Come on lads, show me what you can do!

Well, we’re not lighting the world on fire, but we’ve done enough to be level. Okwi (I’m so glad he’s back) scores in the 15th, and he follows that up with a post later on in the half.

We’ve got too many 6s to make changes based on performance, but Williams has a shin issue, so N’Diaye replaces him.

We’re allowing them too many chances, but if we manage to score another away goal, they’ll be the ones with the mountain to climb.

That was tremendously unfortunate. They equalise (and go ahead on aggregate) in the 78th. Knowing we need to chase the game, we go three up top and switch things around. Only THEN do I see that they’ve moved their star striker back to CB for some reason, so Cason had been marking him tightly on the halfway line, perhaps creating the space that Capellini needed to score.

We have a few chances before the final whistle, but nothing comes of it. We were certainly the better team in this second half, just couldn’t find the finish.

As we drive the two hours home, I’m already thinking about summer plans and how this will be or final memories of this completely unexpected and overachieving season. Many of these gentlemen won’t be back next season. Some will be sold, some will leave on Bosmans and if they thought I was ruthless last summer, there will have to be even more changes to stay up in Serie C1.

Juve win Serie A and the Italian Cup.

Atalanta win the Europa.

Liverpool win the UCL.

We’ll join you there sometime, big teams.

I have fourteen Bosman agreements lines up and I’m really excited about a few of them. I basically list the entire team to raise some funds and assume that I’ll be able to grab some more players in the summer. Yes another mistake by me? Quite possibly.

Within a week, we’ve confirmed selling Okwi for 275k, Diarra for 275k, Calcagni in a swap with a Pescara forward while Currarino and Guima are talking contracts.

Before anyone departs, this is how we performed. No outstanding performers, but lots of consistently good guys.

By the 1st of June, Guima has departed for 250k to Penafiel and Okwi’s move has fallen through.

Currarino has agreed to leave for 500k while contract negotiations are going on to take Diaw to Almagro for 325k.

Como (C2/A), Cesena (C2/B) and Olbia (C2/C) all join the promotion party through the playoffs, meaning we may well come across our Cup Champions next season.

The major awards don’t go our way but we dominate the TOTY with four starters and a sub.

Shadi Shaban also wins our Matelica POTY award.

Moving on, we start to get our next season into focus. Board expectations:

Serie C Cup Group, consisting of only C2 teams and us:

Our C1/A League:

Poor Italian national team. When we get some youth facilities and stuff, I’m also going to have to help with this. Maybe we’ll have a player or two on the squad in four years’ time???

Bosman Arrivals:

Departures:

Cason — Bosman, Currarino — 500k, N’Diaye — 500k, Calcagni — Swap, Benedettini — Free, Seminara — Free (Broken knee guy that never played for us), Buadry — 100k, Akoy 120k, Diarra — 275k, Brighenti — 50k, Diaw — 325k.

All three of my player coaches, Holloway, Joachim and Cureton, retire from playing but stay on the staff as coaches. For now. Cureton is replaced, but theother two stay on. Especially as Joachim’s wage dropped from 1.3k to 60/week. That’s a bargain, even though he’s awful.

Still no interested scouts on the staff list, so I’ll have to keep checking. I have room for three more and I rely on them heavily.

No more mixing up my Marcos either. My new Assistant just arrived, and the fact that he’s a massive upgrade is telling:

Huh. England are WC winners. Good for them.

As of today, we’re a year in to our tenure at Matelica gaffer. Since this time last year, we’ve won promotion, made the Final of the Cup, bought and sold numerous players, earned 2M more than we spent, improved our stadium from “-” to 5k (nothing to do with me on that one), had five players in the TOTY and overachieved in every way.

There’s more summer business to do but I doubt the same free agent pool exists as last year, so this will be tricky. Board wants to battle against relegation, so let’s do just that.

The Serie C Cup starts in twelve days. Magic number is 13 for the Cup Group and 103 to win the league, 103 to make the promotion playoffs, 103 to avoid the relegation playouts and 103 to avoid automatic relegation.