Episode 2 – A Pep lookalike with a mouthful of chicken

At the end of my last entry, I was between club jobs, with nothing but the Holland national team to keep me company. Keeping an eye on the jobcentre page, I started looking for somewhere suitable to earn my bread. Sao Paulo came up first, crushed by relegation from Brazil’s top flight, they put me through a basic interview before offering me the job. Wanting to manage in a top flight, I stalled to see if anything better came up. Palmeiras were another Brazilian side that offered me an interview, and I’d always been partial to Palmeiras, purely because one year they had a cracking dark green kit with some fluorescent lime bits on. After demanding that I sign young first teamers, they rejected me on the basis that I also wanted to bring through my own players from the youth set up. Bastards. Dundee Utd offered me £2000 of their hard earned cash to use as a transfer budget to save them from Scottish obscurity, I didn’t even give them the courtesy of a call back to accept the job offer. I had thought about the Ajax job, surely they’d let me give youth a chance! No. They appointed Fred Rutten of PSV, so in a rage that most people would term “a hissy fit” I immediately took his old job just to spite him!

To cut a dull second half to the season short, PSV are stuck in midtable, stuck between tactics, stuck with one striker who prefers to be a “raumdeuter” out wide, and stuck with a manager who really doesnt want to stick to the board’s philosophies. Defensive football??? You’re having a laugh. Playing it direct??? Good luck mate, we’re going to own the football like the little fat boy in the playground who threatens to take his ball home if someone doesn’t pass to him.

One plus point to managing PSV, we’re in the Dutch Cup Final. I only had to win the semi against Heerenveen, easiest cup run I’ve ever had on FM. So we could technically still qualify for Europe, which was the board’s main objective. I’m coming up against Vitesse Arnhem, the bookies have them Evens to win, they are top 4 in the league and looking good. After fighting and fighting with my average clog-wearing squad to teach them to pass the ball about, I decide to finally bite the bullet, and play football “the PSV way”. We go 4-2-3-1, with our reluctant raumdeuter Joel Tagueu up top on his lonesome. 2 holding midfielders in Danny Bakker and Felipe Gutierrez, and I mean HOLDING midfielders. These two should not, according to my instructions, get anywhere near the opposition penalty area where we could get caught on the counter. Other than my Colombian drug baron Santiago Arias at RB, the team looks pretty average. Luke Shaw’s nemesis Hector Moreno (As a United fan, I wanted to drop him, but we don’t really have anyone else) is going to lead us out as our inspirational CB and captain.

Traditionally suited and booted for the final, I settled down for a full 90 min broadcast. I must say, it really does add some excitement to the game! I found myself pacing the touchline, gesturing excitedly at little computer generated players, and waving imaginary yellow cards in the air. We went 1-0 up inside 2 minutes, Joel surprising me with a quick start. (I’d been slagging him off in my head since I took the job). Vitesse hit back within 5 minutes, which made me question the defensive mentality we were using. My other centre back, Jeffrey Bruma, took advantage of a mass brawl in their six yard box to give us a 2-1 lead at the break.

At this point, I was celebrating wildly while taking in some half time refreshments. From a distance, it must have looked like Pep Guardiola had just come out of KFC in his very best matchday attire. With greasy chicken juice all over my fingers, I gave the most important team talk so far in my PSV career. “Keep it tight, stay defensive. You dull bastards wanted to play like this, so don’t make me regret letting you.”

We had more possession, more shots, more tackles, everything was looking good. Then Renato Ibarra, Vitesse’s wide dangerman, started making a habit of falling over in our penalty area. Every time he did, my eyes went straight to the little man in yellow, the referee. Of course, Vitesse were wearing yellow too, so I could only guess where the ref’s allegiance lay!

Nothing. The ref didn’t give a sausage. This was made all the sweeter when Joel had a funny 5 minutes and banged in another 2 goals to complete his hat trick! To be honest, I popped open the champagne there and then! (I say “popped open”, it was already open in the fridge, and I say “champagne”, it’s cheap Prosecco type stuff).

With a mouth full of chicken and champagne, I watched as we held on to win my first silverware of FM2016.

Maybe there’s something to this defensive mentality after all???

Final bit of news before the season ends, I’ve picked up a couple of notable Bosman transfers to strengthen the side, Tom Carroll is leaving London to come to picturesque Eindhoven from Spurs, while Porto benchwarmer Kelvin is going to provide some competition on the right wing. I’m going to be looking at the transfer lists to find a new striker and maybe a defender or two as well, come back next time to find out all the comings and goings!