A new era…
Hi all and welcome back to the blog. Last update was the last in the Dusseldorf Diary, where after a turmoil season the board decided to give me the boot. Luckily I still had my job as the national coach of Italy to hang onto. My aim was to get back into club management swiftly and not have to wait until next season. Ideally I wanted to stay in Germany for two reasons:
- The long term goal is to take charge on the German national side. Ambitious as that sounds having a Brit as their manager, but I am hoping they will have no option but to appoint me.
- The second reason I want to stay in Germany is to gain revenge at Dusseldorf. I truly believe that I would have turned things around at Fortuna but the board showed a complete lack of respect and patience with the man that got them promotion, 4 consectutive campaigns in the Bundesliga and Champions League football. The club has never been in a better position, so what better way to stick two fingers up to the trigger happy chairman. Not that I’m bitter at all.
So unemployment is something very new to me, I like to stick around with jobs and have very rarely been unemployed in FM, I flew back home for a quick break to see what was available. The job centre back home in Swindon was filled with drunks, druggies and creatures that can only be described as ‘dog rough’. I turned straight back around not wanting to mix with the majority of Walcot and Penhill (my fellow Swindon readers will know exactly what i mean there), so decided I will fly back Germany and use that as my central ‘hub’ and wait for any potential job opportunities to arise. Plus I get to watch some entertaining Bundesliga football too. My luck was certainly in as quite a few clubs were taking action on their coaches within this period, so opportunities were quickly coming available. Metz (Ligue 1), Crystal Palace (Prem), Rayo (La Liga), Mainz (Bundesliga), Frieburg (2. Bundesliga), Parma (Serie A) and Koln (Bundesliga) all became available within a week of each other. I applied for all 3 jobs in Germany hoping that perhaps 1 would forget about my recent sacking and give me a chance. Koln straight out refused my application filling me with no confidence and that I may have to wait until people have forgotten about my failure earlier this season.
Mainz on the other hand offered me an interview within the next couple of days, filling me with confidence that someone could actually see past the slight negative and look at my achievements and potential to grow. The interview went swimmingly and within a day they offered me the job, a 3 year deal at the carnival club. I accepted their offer and was asked if I wanted to bring in any of my staff from Dusseldorf, I took them up on this offer and made some essential additions. Now my backroom is full of great staff that I am familiar working with and ones who I don’t but hold some great CV’s, I am looking forward to working with them all. The board have 2 philosophies that I must adhere to:
- Sign high profile players to the club
- Sign and develop youth players and bring into the first team.
Both philosophies I am happy to adhere to, although the first one might not be possible due to the financial and reputation of the club at this moment.
With only 9 games remaining of the season and us sitting in 12th place, the aim is to simply try and get this group of players working as a cohesive unit to avoid the drop and to finish as high as possible. All players will be given a chance to show me what they can do whilst I figure out what system we will play and who will feature in my long term plans. Initially looking at the squad I was pretty happy with what I could use, especially my 20 year old regen striker who looks like he could become a really decent goal scorer. This ultimately turned me to start playing with a striker with Mainz, as opposed to the strikerless system created at Dussledorf (sorry Guido).
I opted with a pressing flat 433 that moves the ball around quickly from the back working the ball into the box. After I have stabilised myself at the club and work towards next season, I will go through my system in a little more detail, for now its early days and a need to win matches. I will focus more on the tactical side of things in the next post.
As some of you may have seen on my twitter feed, as if it was fate, my first game in charge of Mainz was away to Dusseldorf, my old stomping ground. What better way of sticking 2 fingers up at them but by beating them in their own back yard in my first game in charge.
The remaining 8 fixtures went very well indeed, picking up 4 wins, 2 draws and only 1 defeat to 3 times in a row Bundesliga winners Leverkusen, the Bayern dominance is fading. The lads all showed me what they could do and were all willing to play for me and my system. Now the big test, improve the squad with little money and develop young talent to push for a starting place, ready to build on for next season.
Summer has arrived in 2020 and it is time for the European Championship. Italy who actually won it back in 2016 drew Turkey, Austria and Bulgaria in group D. I was strongly criticised by the Italian media for calling up 5 young unproven players over some of the older experienced ones. In my view a 35 year old Chiellini with only 5 pace and who has declined at top international level, will not give me any benefit except perhaps some leadership. Here are the 5 young unproven lads I opted to give a chance to.
We came out of the group stages top after a 1-1 draw with the Turks, a 1-0 win over Austria and a 4-0 win over Bulgaria. The second round sees us against Finland and we went in with confidence but not over confident and picked up a dominant 3-0 win. Now into the last 8 and against the Netherlands, who we beat a week before the tournament in a warm up game 1-0. After leading 1-0 for most of the game, Depay equalised and took the game to extra time. My young front man Lluca came off the bench to score the winner on 118 minutes to send the Dutch home and the Italians into the last 4. England, the current world champions, a real test of our ability and nerve. Well the lads did not disappoint in the slightest, we thumped them 5-0 and booked ourselves into the final against the Portuguese. The final itself was a very scrappy game, very much like the final just over a week ago, with nobody managing to score, taking the game to extra time. This time though Eder did not pop up with a late winner, instead it went to penalties. We held our nerve at never missed, Scuffet was the man of the moment and we lifted the trophy winning 6-5 in the shootout. Making this 2 consecutive European Championship wins for the Italians. Surely the DFB have to start taking me seriously as a potential replacement for Schmidt.
So after all the lows and becoming unemployed momentarily, we finish on a huge high with my most successful achievement in this career. A European Championship Winners medal and accolade to my CV. What a story in a very much up and down year.
Thank you again for reading and the continuous support for this blog. I hope you enjoy. Please like, subscribe and share. If you think of any improvements to the blog or any feedback at all please comment or send me a DM.