My Vibonese career somewhat petered out in my farewell tour; with Alessandro Mallafronte injured, our goal of the month competition made selecting the best 3 of the month quite easy (3 goals in our final 6 games, with 2 of those in victory over Campobasso). The highlight was easily against table-topping (and eventual Serie C2/C champions) Nocerina, who required a stoppage time equaliser (courtesy of a defensive error or two – fumble from the Murriero in goal, left back Scognammino ball-watching) to claim a draw. Whilst not at a world-class performance, we played well, something that couldn’t be said for our final five games of the season.
With goals being at a premium, defending well was vital. Thankfully, this was achieved for the most part as a couple of draws were claimed along with the Campobasso victory and a couple of narrow losses. When not conceding penalties (feeding the defenders raw meat before kick off seems to have backfired spectacularly, as anything above grass level was scythed down in the area!), we fell into our favourite method of conceding; left winger gets past Cremaschi, crosses to the far post and the ball is tucked into an empty net as our left back (pretty much anyone left footed who could tackle played there) watched on with the best view in the house.
May 31st 2012 is unlikely to be the worst day in Vibonese’s history, but it is the day I left the club and took over at TNS. TNS finished the season in 4th place, 10 points off the title. There is a definite positive as TNS conceded the fewest goals (32 in 32 games) in the league, so I’m working with a defence that might need a tweak, but no major overhaul. As title campaigns are built on strong defences, this looks positive. However, whilst good at keeping the ball out of the net, it looks as though putting it in the opposing net is just as tricky for us as it has been for opposing strikers, as TNS finished with a goal difference of +7.
On my first day, I discover that there is an interesting selection of backroom staff; I inherit 2 physios (I’m hoping this isn’t an omen that the dressing room is likely to resemble a scene from Casualty and release one of them) and no assistant manager – enter 30 year old former centre back Luca Cacioli, who must have been on the same flight as me from Italy. It’s his first job in football in a non-playing role, so lets see how things go! I place adverts for a couple of coaches and ask my scout to find me talent in Wales.
I’m introduced to the media (all three of them) and declare that I want to play good, attacking football. Might be time to bring in some creative, attacking players, especially as our creativity is currently amongst the lowest in the league (although our passing is amongst the best). My appointment coincides with players in Scotland at the end of their contracts leaving their clubs, so plenty of trial requests are sent out. Who will I find who makes the grade and turns us into the tiki-taka masters of the Welsh Premier Principality League?