The Football Fan

Oct 19, 2015
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My name is Hugo Letellier, I'm a football fan waiting for a job in the footballing world, and this is my story.

I was born in Paris in 1994, in the 15th district more specifically. For the first 6 years of my life, I lived there and enjoyed my childhood like any young kid would. Things are always easy when you're young, everything is given to you by your parents and it never takes more than crying once in a while to get what you want. The first time that football really came into my life was when I was on holiday with my family. I was 4 years old then. One night, as I was getting ready to sleep, I heard loud screams coming from the streets and the bars surrounding us. I couldn't remember the date, I didn't know what was happening. As my mom came and took me out of bed to join my dad in the living room, he was celebrating. His friends were there and everyone was so happy. France had won the World Cup. A 3-0 victory against Brazil, who was supposed to be the best team in the world. Zinedine Zidane the hero, Emmanuel Petit also a goalscorer. At the time, all I could do was just blindly celebrate with them, not knowing why. As I grew up, I got more and more interesting in football. We moved to Belgium when I was 6 and just 2 years later, I joined a sports club where I started playing football. The main reason why I got into it in the first place was because my friends were there. Learning how to play was the best part of my day. Even at 8 years old when school makes you so happy and interesting in things, football was still the best part of my day. Kicking the ball around, running freely on the field, wanting to score goals so all your friends would come and celebrate you as the best player they knew. It was always so easy. A year later, my coach told me: "Son, listen. I know you enjoy playing football and your friends are there but this group is not hard enough for you. You need to play with older boys and be challenged. This is just too easy for you". And there was my first life lesson. I was so used to getting everything I wanted and suddenly someone was telling me that it won't always be this way, that one day I'll have to work hard to get what I want. I moved up groups and played with the advanced group. For the first time in my life, football wasn't fun anymore. I just wanted to quit, to give up. My mom even had to talk to the coach about it and in the end he moved me back down. All I wanted at the time was to have fun with my friends.

Belgium was so far the only experience I'd had of football, but that was soon to change. At 10 years old, my dad announced me that we were moving again, this time to a country I didn't even know existed. We were going to the other side of the world, in South East Asia. Indonesia. Before I had the time to process anything, we were on the plane to Jakarta, the capital city. Life there was hard. The weather was unbearable, I didn't know anyone there and on the first day of school I cried. Like any kid would. It was too hard for me to take. I didn't know anyone and no one came to me, I was just all alone. With time, I realised that I was being too hard on myself and tried to make some friends, which I did. They all played football too and I just thought why not join my school team. In Belgium I used to play football in a sports club, at school, anywhere I could really. Started off as a goalie. Obviously. The new guy is always the goalie. When I joined the school team, I decided that I wanted to play outfield but my coach and teammates were having none of it. Goalie it was then. My first few practice games I felt good, I had played in that position for quite a while and it honestly wasn't too hard either. When our first friendly games came, that's when things got harder for me. Our team was good, I was just terrible in goal. Conceding every game, never playing well and with the coach always standing right behind our goal trying to motivate me so I could make some saves. I didn't know how to dive, sometimes I scored own goals. In practices we used to play with the under 16s and they all used to just blast shots from the penalty spot and either yelled or laughed at me if I didn't save them, which I never managed to. I just wanted to give up, just like in Belgium. This time I didn't have an excuse to go and tell my mom. I had asked to play football, my family had to pay for me to be able to do extracurricular activities and I couldn't get out of it. I tried to pick myself up but my morale was down. As a goalkeeper I just couldn't handle the pressure of being the last person the team counted on before the ball went in the back of the net. One day we had another friendly. An Indonesian school. They told us that they practiced every day for an hour and a half and already then I thought to myself: "Oh no, this is going to be one of those games again,we're going to get destroyed again"​ But then I told myself no. I believe in myself. I believe in my friends and the team. One of my friends' dad stayed behind the goal to encourage me. I was a bit off my line, as any keeper would at a kickoff because what's the point of staying right on your line when the ball is so far away. I got to know why. One of their strikers straight from kickoff decided to just go for it and the ball went right over my head, into the back of the net. We had no backup goalkeepers so the coach just had to keep me on. Every person on the team was yelling, was asking me what the **** I was doing off my line. At this point I just thought I was unlucky and I told myself to keep going. Fifteen minutes later, it was 5-0. I couldn't take it. I wanted to cry. My friends' dad behind me was telling me not to but I just did. In the middle of the game. On my goal line. By the end of the game, we had managed to 'only' lose 8-0. The whole team blamed it on me and as the shy, quiet person that I was and still am today, I just accepted it. I went home and cried. Football was just making me unhappy. I didn't want to be a football fan anymore, I didn't want to play it anymore. At that point I just told my coach I was quitting and for an entire year after that, I didn't play. Not a bit. I refused to play even at school during our lunch breaks. I was done with football. One day, I came to school and right before class I was with all my friends when they talked about how they were playing in an school league with all the other 'foreign schools' from Jakarta. The French School (which I was at), the Jakarta International School, the German School, the British School. There were many more. And suddenly it hit me. What am I doing? What am I waiting for? They're playing in a league! That's a great way to prove myself! I was now 12 years old and I decided to join the team again. Finally, we had a proper goalkeeper and I wasn't the new kid anymore. They played me centre-back. I was one of the quickest players on the team so that really helped me. For a year I played there and I became a key player for the team. At the end of the year, we came 4th in a group of 8 teams in the league, meaning we couldn't qualify for the playoffs. Devastating, but promising. The year after, I was still a centre-back. We went to Shanghai for a tournament with all the French schools around South East Asia and out of 8, we finished 6th. Not great. During training and mini-games that we played I proved myself and actually become one of the best long shot takers in the team. I wanted to take free-kicks, I wanted to shoot I wanted to score goals. The coach told me straight up no: "Look Hugo, you're a defender. As of right now your job is to defend and that's all I want you to do. You can't just expect to all of a sudden start shooting and get goals, you're not there yet." I was devastated obviously. I agreed to his demands and just decided to live with it and play at the centre of the defence. We had some fantastic performances and at the back I was really solid alongside one of my friends who was actually Argentinian. We did really well in the league and managed to come 2nd. We were so close. We knew we were almost there. One night, my dad came back and told us we were moving again. It just crushed me. It had been 4 years here and I was really enjoying football, school, my friends and everything in Jakarta. This was the most I had cried in my life. For my last year here, I wanted to do well. With the school team we did incredibly well and managed to win the league but once again before I knew it, we were on our way to Singapore.

The move had once again made me incredibly sad. I didn't know what to do. I had met a girl in Jakarta and she became my best friend. Leaving Jakarta, her and all my other friends and leaving a team who had just won the league was heartbreaking. A completely new city, school and at school, no football team. One day one of my friends just said: "Hey I heard you like football, we play for a team called Football Passion, do you wanna join?" I was back! Finally after about a month in Singapore I could play football again. When I got to practice, I had a look at the coach and already I looked worried. He seemed strict but he knew what he was doing. Since I was a kid, I had a dream. To become a football player, to be the captain of my team and to lead them to glory. For the first time in my life, I felt like that was believable. Throughout the year I was played as a centre midfielder and we went and played in Bangkok for an International Schools competition. For my entire life I had been waiting for an opportunity like this but unfortunately we got completely battered and didn't qualify for the next few rounds. That year in Singapore was also the first year where I finally scored goals. I scored around 10 and was so proud of myself. I thought that's it, this is when my life changes. As I grew up during that year I told my parents that I wanted to become a football player but they didn't believe me, they didn't support it. They said it was impossible, that I might be good but not good enough. Around 6 months after we had gotten to Singapore, my dad said he got a job offer in India and had accepted it and as I turned 15 years old, we moved to Bombay. There, I played with my school team where I also went and played tournaments in Oman, Nepal and Bangladesh against all the American Schools from the surrounding areas. We went all the way to the final in my second year in the football team but unfortunately we never went and won it. In India, I had problems with my friends and in my relationship, I had suicidal thoughts, I went into depression and my family was having health problems, my grandparents seemed like they didn't have long left and all of that made me want to work harder but all my life I was so used to getting everything I wanted so easily that I just couldn't. As I graduated from high school, I wanted to continue football, to continue playing it and being a fan of it. I had developed a passion for PSG, my hometown club and Tottenham where my favourite player Gareth Bale played for a while. I was so proud whenever he scored a goal and the next day I could go to school and show off about it.

Going into my college years, I studied football business in London and once again, tried my best to play the most games I could and see if one day maybe someone would scout me or scout the area where I was playing. It never happened and throughout my entire life I just wanted to become someone in the world of football. I wanted to step onto a field hearing the Champions League theme song. I wanted to hear the fans yelling my team's name or my name when we scored. All of this was a dream for me that I now knew I would never be able to accomplish. At now 21 years old, I've got no past playing experience apart from pretty much Sunday League football and I've got no coaching qualifications, but I'm hoping that my studies in college in football business will help me find a job. In one of the biggest decisions I've had to make in my entire life, I'm stepping into management as a 21 year old hoping to one day make a difference in the footballing world and maybe get the glory that comes with the sport. My dream of playing for a living might be over, but throughout all 21 years of my life until now, I've learned to never give up and managing has always also been part of that dream. I'm ready to make the big step forward, I am the Football Fan, one of many who want to make a difference in football, and finally I'm hoping to make one. Through the emotional rollercoaster that football has been for me since I was just 8 years old, this dream is about to become a reality and as I sign this contract to become a manager, I'm hoping for the best.

Today is the 8th of July 2014, and today is the day where I make myself available for any team out there who needs a manager. I'll do my best in the future to become the best manager I can be and finally be able to overcome my failures in my footballing life so far.
 
Oct 19, 2015
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I knew this was always going to be hard. No coaching qualifications or past experiences just a major in football business. What was I expecting? If I've learned one thing from my football experiences in the past it's that patience is the key to success. I've never been a patient person and today this hasn't changed. It's been a month since I put myself out there looking for a job, looking for a club. No one has gotten back to me yet. I've seen clubs from the Vanarama Conference and the German 3rd division being available, but nothing. Not a single email. The only emails I've gotten so far are the fan newsletters from PSG and Tottenham that I've been subscribed to since I was 14. Nothing has come in and I'm starting to wonder whether or not I should be waiting for this long or if I should be looking to get hired somewhere else. Life has been a tough journey so far but I'm realising that it was the easiest it will ever be. I'm starting to feel depressed again. My girlfriend went and studied in the United States and I'm still here in London switching between a pizza delivery man at Domino's and a barman at a random pub in some shady district in the English capital. Life is not turning out how I thought it would.

Today's the 10th of August 2014 and I just went to see my therapist. I explained everything to him. I've always been very possessive of my girlfriend which caused us to have quite a lot of issues in the past and as of late it's been getting worse. The pressure of stepping into management so young is starting to get to me and I'm still lost, trying to figure out what to do with my life. Was this the right decision? I can't give up after a month, I've done this in the past too much. A dream is a dream. I need to work for it, show that I'm capable. One day an offer will come, one day I'll see a club somewhere who needs someone like me. All of this is getting to me and the therapist didn't help that much, he said the exact same thing that he says at every session: "Stay calm, don't worry so much. The stress is getting to you and you just need to calm down."
The ******* just wants my money. And I keep giving it to him because I feel like he's helping me when he's not. I'm in a cycle I can't get out of. I try my hardest but whatever I do I go back to where I started. Every Saturday night or whenever PSG or Tottenham play I sit in my couch in my tiny apartment and just wait. I eat and don't exercise. Life is just not working for me. I'm doing my best to keep ahold of things. My family tries to support me but it doesn't help much, they've got their own problems. Since I graduated they've now moved and don't live in India anymore. Sometimes I even forget where they are. I've always been privileged but never took advantage of it and now that I realise what I should have done differently, it's too late. Time goes by and the same PSG and Tottenham newsletters come into my email everyday. The tab is always open and I always hear a notification sound from my computer thinking finally, an offer has come in. But it's never there. The offer I've been waiting for for the past month now is still not there.

Patience is the key to success I always told myself. I'm starting to think maybe I should look somewhere else, maybe there's a reason why football isn't keen to me. I've had fun with my friends playing with my school team but I needed more, I needed better. As we come into September now I've still not had a single approach. If I had gotten at least one approach and had failed the interview I would have some kind of hope, but nothing. As I keep waiting and waiting I feel like I'm becoming insane. This whole life that I thought I had figured out is turning inside out and now everything is falling apart. I don't know if I've even got enough energy to write this anymore. Soon I'll just get fired from whatever job I have because I'm tired, I sleep a lot and come late. I'm either not on time or I don't show up. The newsletters still come in. I'm still used to that little noise coming from my laptop as I watch Match of the Day but I don't get excited anymore. Sometimes I don't even bother to check but I'm scared I'll miss an offer or an email or something to give me hope. People I know and love are getting worried about me, it stresses me out because I hate disappointing people but nothing comes in. I've started applying to a few jobs knowing that no club will ever find me by themselves but still nothing. Rejections. Newsletters. Those are the only emails I've been getting.

Today is the 21st of September 2014, and I'm still looking for a job after having sent out most recently applications to Altrincham in the Conference and Arles-Avignon in the Championnat National in France. I'm hoping for the best but until then, depression feels like its nearing me.
 
Oct 19, 2015
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View attachment 219975Altrincham Football Club interview

A club has finally gotten back to me! On the 28th of September 2014, I finally got an invitation for an interview at Altrincham Football Club who are currently in the Vanarama Conference. I couldn't believe it. Almost 2 months and a half of complaining, being cranky, hating everything about life. My patience finally paid off and I'm about to go for the interview at the club's headquarters a bit South of Manchester. Obviously it's a big journey from London to there but I'm a manager now and I need to take my chances. This is finally the day where I could become a manager and I can't wait to tell the club what I can do!

On the flight to Manchester I was incredibly nervous. I was asking myself: "What if I say something wrong? What if we don't agree on certain philosophies? What if I sign a contract there but can't afford to move to Manchester?" As a 21 year old, my parents offer me some kind of financial support but said that they'd never fully pay for an apartment or my food for example. I'm on my own on this. It's crazy, but it's my dream. I've always wanted this and now's not the time to back down. I need to go all out and hope for the best. As the plane lands in Manchester, I get ready to hop in a cab to Altrincham, Cheshire where hopefully my future club is waiting for me. I never thought my application would get accepted and I'm absolutely ecstatic but also really nervous about meeting the board.

As I reached Altrincham around 35 minutes later, I was early. I used that time to kind of look around the city, trying to find any evidence of a football club existing here. There seems to be some kind of presence but as I expected, most of the flags and jerseys sold here are of Manchester United. Being only half an hour away from stadiums such as the Etihad and Old Trafford, it's no surprise that most people here support one of the Manchester clubs. At around 12pm, I decided to head to the Altrincham FC facilities. I'd rather get there a bit early to mentally prepare myself for the interview. The buildings were all big blocks of red bricks, typical of northern England. The stadium was actually right in the middle of those buildings which I found out while walking around trying to find the entrance. As I walked around this stadium that seemed endless, I finally turned left and saw a big sign which said "Altrincham Football Club - Moss Lane". I was there. I stepped into the building to find a completely empty 'reception room' where I waited for about 15 minutes. Later on, a blonde British lady came out of a door where there seemed to be some conversation going on. She started talking with a really heavy Manchester accent which I kind of had trouble understanding at first but I got used to it about a minute after. She asked me if my name was Hugo Letellier to which I happily answered yes that's me! with a big smile on my face. She told me to follow her into the room where I could hear talking earlier and as I stepped in, the entire board (which consisted of about 4 people) was there in the room and welcomed me whilst offering me to take a seat.

I was more nervous now than ever. As the chairman Grahame Rowley asked me questions about why I was applying to so many jobs and why they should hire me, I was trying my best to not show my nervousness and towards the end of the interview I felt like I was actually gonna pass out. They all seemed somewhat happy even though I couldn't read the expression of their faces and see if they were impressed or not. As I sat there almost shaking of fear for my hopefully future career as a manager, they told me they'd consider my application and they thanked me for making the trip all the way from London to meet them. I told them I was desperate to get a job at a good club in football and thanked me for even considering my application. I made my way out of the board room and the stadium and decided I'd stay here for a couple of days before they told me their decision. I hope I made a good impression out there, I honestly tried my very best.

As I checked into the Britannia Ashley Hotel which was an honest £40 a night, I laid in my bed in room and switched on my laptop with my email tab open, waiting for a notification. As I knew they wouldn't just give an answer the day of the interview, I decided to just go out for some lunch and come back to do some work.
As I was done with my work I checked my email to not find anything yet. It was 9pm so I decided to just sleep early.

This is the 28th of September 2014 and I just went for my very first interview with my first club, hoping to sign my first professional contract as a 21 year old manager.
 
Oct 19, 2015
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View attachment 219968Altrincham Football Club

Dear Mr. Letellier,

We are proud to announce that we've considered and accepted your application to become the next Altrincham Football Club manager. We are very excited about having such a young man in charge and completely believe in your abilities to reach the targets that we have set for you. We would just like to remind you of the terms of the contract as well as some of the expectations that we have for you for each competition that we are currently in.


Wage: £450 per week (£350 per week after tax)
Contract duration: 8 months (until June 2015)
Bonuses: None
Vanarama Conference: Reach a respectable league position
F.A. Cup: Reach the First Round
F.A. Trophy: Reach the Third Round

If you were to accept those terms, we'd be very happy to have you on board and be the next Altrincham Football Club manager. Please let us know if your decision as soon as possible. We hope to see you at the training ground soon.

Regards,
Grahame Rowley (Altrincham Football Club Chairman)


Date: 1st of October 2014


Signature (chairman): View attachment 219967


Signature of the applicant: View attachment 219966

[HR][/HR]
Finally! After months of wait and struggle, after months of almost going into depression, it's over. A club has approached me, I impressed them and now here they are appointing me as their new manager. I'm over the moon, I don't think anyone could ever understand how it feels to be signed by a club after well in reality 20 years of wait. 20 years I wanted a job in football, firstly as a player then as a manager, and I'm finally stepping in. It might be in the Vanarama Conference, I might not be signing for the best club in the world, but now I am officially a manager. For now, the club is only semi-professional but my goal is to take them to the next level. Above the Vanarama Conference is the Sky Bet League 2 and if I could somehow bring them there I would be ecstatic. I'm incredibly lucky that at the age of 21 years old, a club has signed me as a manager. A few months ago everyone would have said it was incredibly unrealistic and it still is, but it's happened. I'm the 21 year old manager, the Football Fan as I liked to call myself in the past. I printed out the contract and went back to Moss Lane, my new home, to sign the contract alongside the chairman. They all said that they were incredibly excited for the beginning of the season and I said I couldn't wait either and as a 21 year old manager, I'm going to bring a lot of attention on myself and the club. The press came around 15 minutes later just to have a small press conference following my appointment as manager of Altrincham. It makes me so happy to even say it. Some people might say that I'm ridiculous and I'm completely over exaggerating, in the end I only signed until June of next year for a Vanarama Conference club, but I was still incredibly happy.

After the press asked me some questions, they all left and obviously were going to go and publish it in the local newspaper or something like that, that was why they came in the first place. I now had to meet the team though. With my first game just 3 days away against 12th placed Welling United, we had to be ready. Standing currently in 20th place, we are over the relegation zone by just 2 points and I need to get us off to a flyer to hopefully get away from that stressful position. As I came into the dressing room, all the players stared at me and looked like they had seen a ghost. A lot of the players were older than me with only 2 or 3 a slightly younger so obviously they were confused as of to who I was. After shaking each of the players' hands and introducing myself, I stood in the middle of the room and despite always being incredibly shy for my entire life I said: "Hey guys, I know that every single one of you won't know me and that's normal as this is my first managerial job. I just wanted to introduce myself as your new coach and I'm hoping that we can do some great work together and hopefully get back on track following the latest results. You guys can come to me with anything and I'll make sure to keep that in mind in my future decisions. Thank you so much for the very nice welcome here at the club I already feel very comfortable here and I hope for a great future here at Altrincham. Thanks again guys I'll see you at training tomorrow!" I felt good. I think what I told the players was good enough of an introduction and if they need or want to know anything else then I'm sure they'll come to me. It might take a while to impose myself as I'm younger than most of the players but I'm sure it will go well. Until then I went back to the hotel after probably the best day of my life and sat in my room before making a couple of phone calls to try and organise my move here in Altrincham. Earlier I had found a nice cozy apartment which was a bit bigger than the one I had in London and was even cheaper too so I was very happy about that. When I announced the good news to my parents they were ecstatic and I was really happy to hear them be so excited for me. My girlfriend was also really happy and I just hope that this new job won't interfere too much with my personal life so I can still have some time with her when she comes to England once in a while. Until then, I was already trying to think tactics, strategies and watching clips of Welling United in preparation for our game against them on Saturday.

This is the 1st of October 2014 and I've just signed my first contract as a manager, hoping now to take my team as far as possible in the Vanarama Conference.


[HR][/HR]View attachment 219965
 
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Everything seems great now. My furniture's moved, I left the hotel and now have this great little apartment right next to Moss Lane and our first game is very fast approaching. I saw one of the main articles on the Messenger website. I featured in the most read article so I guess people are actually interested in a random 21 year old manager. Usually, managers have the pre-season to experience with formations and switch their team around but I don't, I have to get right into it against a team who have been doing much better than us for sure. For now, I'm focusing on a 4-4-2 formation which looks a bit like this:

View attachment 219964
Having both my wing backs on support should provide us with enough support up front but as of right now my biggest worry is fitness. Almost all the players are extremely tired following the past few games they've had and I'm worried about them. I talked to Shaun, the captain to see how the players felt about the upcoming game. At first he told me they were skeptical about their fitness levels and felt that a bit of a rest before the game would be welcome. As a new manager, I decided that my philosophy was to listen to my players and always take what they said into consideration. That's what I told them the first time I met them and it would be wrong of me to now ignore the captain. I decided to call a team meeting and allow them to have a day to rest before the game to recover and hopefully do something to get the pressure off their shoulders.
After having told the players they could rest, I decided to conduct a training session and give them tomorrow off. We'll still have a day to train after their rest before travelling to Welling United for my first game. For some reason I wasn't feeling nervous and I wasn't sure whether it was because I just felt like I was in a dream, which I definitely am in one or if it was because I just didn't really understand the stakes of my first game as a manager. The first game gives the players, the board, the fans, the press an idea of who I am as a manager, what my style is and what I'm capable of. For the training session I pretty much had to do everything as the club doesn't have any coaches. I knew that from the start but for some reason it was only hitting me now. Every single training session I had to be the one organising everything. It reminded me of my football practices back in Singapore where we were the ones kind of setting up all the exercises that we'd have to do during the practice and then during the practice the coach would basically show us how to do it once and make us do it over and over again. I don't want to be like that. I kind of want to be the approachable manager and the one who you can have a laugh with but still respect in serious situations. The training was almost as tiring for me as it was for the players, which gave quite a bad impression of me to the team. As a manager, a coach, I'm obviously not as fit as the players and sometimes I just really had to take a break and have a sip of water and I could just tell the older players, despite being more mature, were still kind of making fun of me. Once practice was over, I told the players they could go home and rest and decided to just go around and explore the city. Altrincham isn't exactly London in terms of population density. Around 55 000 people live here and it's not much of a touristic area either but I just thought I'd walk around and find places around the stadium where I could easily go and eat or watch a movie. Worst case scenario I could go and drive to Manchester but my little Vauxhall Corsa might take some time to get there. Anyways I found this restaurant called Sugo Pasta Kitchen which isn't too expensive but the reviews on TripAdvisor were really good so I went in there for lunch and ordered their Pasta E Faghole which was quite delicious but I didn't wanna stay there for long so I headed back to my apartment and decided I'd go and just relax for a little bit. The internet connection isn't exactly the best in Altrincham but I could still watch videos and reports from other team to kind of see how they played and get used to how things worked in the Vanarama Conference. The big day is in 3 days and I don't exactly feel ready. The players don't always pay attention in practice and well so far it's been hard. Altrincham is a very small city with not much to do, the club doesn't have the best facilities and staff but for now I'll work with what I have. Our schedule for the next month after that isn't too bad although we do face some pretty tough teams that are up there in top 10.

View attachment 219961
Lincoln, Chester and Southport are the fixtures I'm most worried about and I really hope that we can take some points against Welling and Boreham. Those are winnable fixtures and with only 2 wins this season, I really want to turn things around for the club and get them in the top half of the table.
...

We're now just a day away from the first game of my career. I'm feeling tense, I'm just lying in bed staring at the ceiling. In October in the North of England it's very cold and my blanket is all the way to my chin. I'm sweating under there but I don't know if it's because I feel warm or if it's because I'm nervous about the game. The fans and the players might not be expecting much but it's my very first game and I want to get off to a good start. As I close my eyes to sleep, I think about the contract that the board gave me on the 1st of October which is a day that will now be marked in my memory as my first official day as a manager. I fell asleep and dreamt about the game, we went 1-0 up but Welling came back and after that I couldn't remember anything.
I woke up suddenly and looked at my phone. 2:03am. I must've had a nightmare, which worries me considering that the only thing I remember about before falling sleep was the game and if I had a nightmare about that, then I'm not feeling confident. In about 6 hours, I have to get up and go and organise the train to go to Welling United's stadium in northern London. It's ridiculous that we've got to take a 3 and a half hour train before a football game. Thankfully the club is paying for all the tickets and we'll all be comfortable in one of those red Virgin Trains at around 9am which means we should get there at around 12:30 or 1pm. That'll leave us about 2 hours to talk about the game, get ready physically and mentally and then go to the stadium and warm-up. I went back to sleep soon afterwards in the hopes of not waking up again later in the night.

This is the 3rd of October 2014 and I'm about to manage Altrincham Football Club to hopefully their first win under my management.
 
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As we got off the train and reached Welling, the players didn't seem too nervous. Why would they be? They travelled quite a few times this season already and things seemed to have worked well in the past for them. My first game was just hours away now. We walked around Welling for a little bit and found a park where I told the players to just sit and relax for a little bit maybe stretch so they could already warm up a bit. We went to Danson Park as I'd heard it was the best and most quiet one in town. There were lots of trees with shade where we could sit and talk. As the boys hadn't heard the lineup yet, I decided to tell them now so they could all get mentally prepared to get on the field. Leaving this last minute would just disturb them and won't help them focus.

"Alright boys, first game with me in charge today. I hope you're all excited because I am! But listen, on a more serious note. Some fans have travelled just like us all the way from Altrincham to see this game so let's give them some respect and try our best out there. I know Welling United have been doing a bit better in the league but I'm here to change that now. I want this game to be a good game. Even if it ends as a draw, I want it to be deserved. If we concede, get back on your feet and don't just give up! I've already got a lineup for today so if I call out your name mentally prepare yourself already alright? In goal, Dunbavin. Left back, Williams. The two centre backs, Waterfall and Havern. Right back I want Leather. Left mid, Clee. Right mid, Hall. The two centre mids will be Densmore and Butterwick and finally up front Reeves and Gillespie. Got it? I want you guys to give your best out there. Whoever doesn't perform will come out either at half time or during the second half. It's up to you and you only whether you wanna play or not so I expect a solid performance. The formation for now stays a 4-4-2 but if it doesn't work out I'll take your feedback and we'll change it up. Now just stretch for a while, talk and relax. In an hour we're going to the stadium to warm up and get ready."

I think that team talk went well. Usually I'm always nervous during public speaking and I was afraid that once again some of the players would make fun of me but they all nodded throughout my speech and I think they're motivated. For me, this was a huge moment. I've said it in the past, I'll say it again. 20 years of my life I've wanted to be on a pitch professionally or on the sideline. It never happened and after I waited two and a half months for a job, I got it and today is the day where I find out whether or not I'm good enough for this or not. Hopefully the answers to those questions are what I want them to be and we win today.

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As the lineups got announced and I looked at their squad, I was still feeling confident. They were playing a 4-2-3-1 with one defensive midfielder. A solid attacking formation but I think our 4-4-2 will counter it effectively. As I was analysing footage of Welling United play I realised that they were quite weak against teams that played in a 4-4-2 and I thought that maybe we can take advantage of that. 4-4-2s are solid offensively and defensively however because both my centre midfielders were asked to be on support duty I'm worried they might not come back and help the defence enough. It was too late to change anything now. My muscles all tensed up, I walked out of the tunnel after both teams stepped onto the field and shook Welling United's manager's hand. Loui Fazakerley was a good man and he talked to me before the game and encouraged me. The first manager I'll face. As the referee was getting ready to blow his whistle for kick-off, I felt something in my throat. The stress was getting to me and I just felt the need to yell something, to say something to the team and out of the blue I just did it: "COME ON LADS LET'S GO WE CAN WIN THIS!!" At this point pretty much everyone in the stadium was looking at me strangely thinking well then, he seems ambitious. I didn't care to be honest. I just wanted my team to do well. 3pm sharp, most of the games today were also kicking off at that time and as the referee looked at his watch he blew the whistle for kick off. That was it. My first game as a manager!

KICK OFF

Welling kicked off the game and were already looking like they were dominating. I was still as nervous as earlier and as Waterfall fouled an opponent around 25 yards away from the goal to gift them a free kick. Gorman stepped up to take it and my heart stopped for a second, hoping that Dunbavin would save it; and he didn't. 9 minutes into the game and we went 1-0 down after the ball pretty much went through the wall. Very disappointing start. I kept my cool and told the players to stay focused, that there was still time. I couldn't tell if they were already giving up or not.

Welling United 1-0 Altrincham (Gorman, 9')

20 minutes in now and we still haven't had much of the possession. A cross comes in from a free kick, again, this time from about 40 yards out. We managed to clear it but Fyfield got it back from the defence and tried to work his way to the edge of our box. A couple of good tackles here and there but we're still not getting a hold of the ball as Broadway attemps from outside the box but Dunbavin saves before Malachi Hudson gets the rebound in the 21st minute and volleys it home. It's 2-0. I'm really starting to fume inside at this point but try my best to not show the players. They've not been good enough at all and aren't showing any sign of resistance.

Welling United 2-0 Altrincham (Hudson, 21')


We get our first opportunity of the game in the 34th minute as we intercept the ball in midfield and someone plays a lobbed through ball to Hall on the right wing who runs down before crossing it in to one of our strikers who just blindly blasts it at the keeper and Welling's defence clears without getting too worried. This is not good enough! I said to the players. I needed a reaction from them, at least so we could score a goal before half time!

I decided to switch to an attacking 4-2-3-1 to see if it would disrupt Welling's defence. The 4-4-2 which I thought was such a smart idea before the game just isn't paying off at all and we're getting dominated. Straight as I assigned the new positions we get a throw in on the right side of the pitch and Leather puts a cross in to Clee who volleys it home!! but as I look at the assistant referee he raises his flag and it's offside. DAMNIT! COME ON GUYS SHOW A BIT MORE PASSION! I couldn't contain my emotions anymore. This was my first game and I wanted a win or at least a draw from this to please the fans who were just so used to losses lately. Still no goals for us approaching half time.

HALF TIME

"Boys, what exactly is going on right now? I told you to go out there and play your best! I've seen you in training and this was ****** awful! You need to be doing way more than that if you want to get a win lads! I'm not happy with this at all. Honestly Nicky you could have scored from that, you could have easily scored without being offside. Shaun you're supposed to be the captain and you were one of the worst players out there. I need a reaction from you guys this is unacceptable. Seriously. Some fans actually paid for their train ticket or bus ticket to come here. You didn't pay for anything at all and you just come and play football and take things for granted. You need to outplay them completely in the second half got it? Come on I believe in you I know you're all capable so let's get out there and get a win shall we?"

I felt bad after that team talk I mean Welling had been playing pretty well but I needed to get my message across. Ben Glasgow and Simon Richman both came on for Gialnuca Havern and Shaun Densmore respectively. I hope my subs pay off and we get the win today or at least perform better. Honestly. As things stand I had a look at the other results and we've just slipped in the relegation zone. This is not good, not good at all. This is basically the nightmare that I've been having for the past 3 nights. We need to play better

It's the 73rd minute and there's been a couple of bookings but they got their main player Gorman injured. Brilliant. The ball is played on the wing to Leather who runs down the right wing hoping to get a cross in as we reverted back to the attacking 4-4-2; he ends up passing it in to Gillespie who gives it to Hall then to Reeves who hits in and OMG how did he miss that again! This is getting ridiculous they clear the ball once again and this is another change we should scored! I'm losing patience now, I really am.

James Lawrie comes on for Clee who's been awful today and in the 82nd minute I've got almost 4 of my players complaining and saying they're injured. Welling have played very physically for the second half and I don't understand how it's being allowed by the referee. We have another opportunity here on the left wing this time as Williams throws the ball in to Richman who gives it back to Williams for the first time cross and it falls to LAWRIE WHO STRAIGHT AFTER COMING ON GETS A GOAL AND PUTS US RIGHT BACK IN THE GAME IN THE 85TH MINUTE!!! I'm ecstatic inside and am showing some kind of excitement on the sideline but I still want to encourage my players and get at least a draw today, we deserve it!

Welling United 2-1 Altrincham (Lawrie, 85')

It's the 87th minute now and I've never been this stressed in my life. Dunbavin kicks it long from the goalkick as Gillespie and Reeves head the ball to each other a couple of times before Reeves brings it down and gives it Gillespie and YES OMG YES WE'VE DONE IT AGAIN!!! THE LONGSHOT FROM ABOUT 30 YARDS AND GILLESPIE SCORES AN ABSOLUTE SCREAMER TO MAKE IT 2-2!!!! I'm on the sidelines not actually believing this goal and jumping around as we get such a late equaliser in a game which we clearly looked like we were going to lose! What a first game. It's not over yet and maybe we can get another one, it would be absolutely incredible!

Welling United 2-2 Altrincham (Gillespie, 87')

It's the 93rd minute now the referee has called for 4 minutes added time and Welling were dangerously passing the ball around on our side of the pitch but somehow we got it back and Leather kicked it forward to Reeves who runs fast enough to get to it! Can he provide with a bit of magic??? He hits it!! and it's completely off target. I thought that was to win it. Reeves didn't score and my hopes of a win for my first game are gone. A draw will be an amazing results considering the first half that we had and we played excellently well in the last 10 minutes of the game which gifted us 2 goals and a well deserved draw.

FT: Welling United 2-2 Altrincham

As I go onto the pitch to shake the referee's hand he looks at me weirdly also thinking to himself what on Earth is such a young lad doing managing a team?? The referee had a good game today and I definitely feel like he was never biased towards anyone. A great result today as I go and shake Loui's hand and congratulate him for a great game. I then went and hugged every single one of my players before going into the tunnel and into the dressing room for the final talk of the day.

"See lads? How incredible was that? How close did we come to actually winning this game? I'm extremely proud of you. Every single one of you. I might have been harsh at half-time but you all listened to me and got a draw in an amazing comeback. I've had a dream first game as a manager and it's all thanks to you. I can't thank you enough, seriously. You all deserve a good break after this game, they were really dirty out there I've had a word with their manager about it. Take tomorrow off lads, you really deserve it. After that, we'll train even harder before our next game alright? Congratulations boys, you did really well today! Don't worry about the table for now, I checked and all I can say is that we're still safe. Now let's go hurry up or we'll miss the train back home!"

As the boys got out of the changing rooms one by one, I once again improvised a handshake with every single one of them before they got on the bus to go to the train station. On the bus they were all chanting or listening to music and being happy. It made me proud. What a debut. I couldn't have even dreamed of that to be honest. A great way to start my career here at Altrincham and a great way to get the players all together before our next game.
As we got on the train back home, I called my family and girlfriend and told them about the match and they were all really happy for me. I was really proud of what we managed to achieve today and it gives me a lot of confidence before our next game. Honestly even by looking at the match statistics you can see that we did extremely well.

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As we were all coming off the train at the Altrincham train station, I told all the players they could go home now and just relax. It was 7pm and they had the right to get the evening to themselves. The walk from the train station to my apartment wasn't too long so I decided to make my way there by myself. There was a cold breeze and you could hear the jazz bands playing in the bars in the proximity. At this moment I thought to myself: "Not bad for a first game, and not bad of a first club either". That just made me smile. Once again football had made me go nuts, sad and extremely happy, all in the spam of an hour and a half. I remembered about all the people who said I couldn't make it as the Football Fan, the one who would go on and get a job later in life in football. That was my nickname throughout high school actually. I used to play so much Football Manager and used to be so interested that they just ended up calling me The Football Fan. It was a bit chilly here at night and as I was making my way back home I just decided to call my girlfriend and just talk to her to make my heart a bit warmer. After around 15 minutes which actually seemed like forever, I got home, hung up the phone and just laid in bed with my laptop. Watching football highlights and the usual gaming YouTubers I'm used to watching since I was 13; I looked at the time and realised it was now 8:30pm so I ordered food from the Sugo Pasta Kitchen which came at around 8:50pm and by the time I was done eating, I just wanted to go to sleep. It was a big day for me today and I managed to go through it without any major crisis, better yet with a draw against a team who were in the middle of the table and who were expecting to crush us. We made a superb comeback and I'm extremely proud of the team. Until our next game in about a week, we'll have to train even harder and harder to ensure a victory against Boreham Wood.

Today is the 4th of October 2014 and I've just had my first game as a manager of Altrincham Football Club. The Football Fan, the one who dreamed of glory in the footballing world, is finally living the life he always wanted to live and I hope I'll continue to live that life with Altrincham in what should be a long and successful career at the club.
 
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Every day has been good so far, the players seem comfortable and happy and to be honest I'm starting to actually enjoy conducting every single training session. I get to play around a bit and overall get to know my players even more and just have fun. As a 21 year old, it's hard to have to boss around people that are older than you and it's also hard to not want to go out and just have fun. Every day I just think oh maybe I should go out today but the only people I'd be able to go out with are the players and let's just say that's not an option. I just wish there were people I could meet and become friends with. I've been here for about 2 weeks now and obviously it's never hard to move and start all over again but this is for the better and I'm glad I did. I asked my girlfriend about coming and living here but she didn't seem to really want that for now. I guess she's right who would want to live in Altrincham? 55 000 people and not that much to do. Doesn't exactly sound like your dream city as a growing adult wanting to go out and party all the time. Even in high school I was never that kind of person but I do enjoy going out once in a while and it makes me a bit sad that now I just have so much work. For now, being Altrincham's manager is my only job but I'm taking online courses to be able to just gain knowledge in other subjects and things as well to make sure I have as many opportunities as possible if this was to not go as planned. The media and the pundits have made us favourites for the game against Boreham Wood tomorrow and we're playing at home for the first time since my arrival. I'm really excited actually, this is the first time I'll see the fans in action at Moss Lane and I'm wondering how they'll welcome me in their home given our latest result. The game against Boreham is really a good opportunity for us to impress and get our first win. As I went to sleep on Friday night, I thought about tomorrow's game hoping that we'll get off to a better start than in the Welling game but we'll see what the future holds for us.

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8am. Saturday the 11th of October 2014. Game day.
The first home game for myself as manager. Boreham Wood will be hoping to get some points against us today as they stand in 17th place in the table while we're still in 20th. A win today would actually take us all the way to 16th, far away from the relegation zone.

As I made my way to the stadium at around 2pm I started getting nervous again. Last game I had to be extremely harsh to get my players to focus and get a result. I don't want to have to do the same again. Boreham are, no offence to them, a less dangerous opposition and we should be able to get a win easily against them. As I stepped into the main hallway at Moss Lane I could hear some of the players messing around and laughing in the dressing room. I made my way into the dressing room to find it in a complete mess, the players were throwing wet towels around everywhere and they all just stopped and looked at me like innocent puppets as I came in trying to get me to feel bad for them.

"Guys seriously? How old are you? I'm sick of this behaviour! You all make fun of me during practice and now this? Unacceptable. I hope you realise that whatever you do outside of the field costs you a place in the first team, let me just remind you of that. Today's game is incredibly important, we need to get a win to please the fans, to please yourself and to please me. A win will get us all the way to 16th. That would be a great position to be in and I fully expect you to get us to a good start this game unlike against Welling. I don't care about the possession I told you about this last week. Get the shots on target, create chances and score goals. If Boreham have the possession but don't do anything with it, then what's the point? Nothing. I need all of you to perform today, every single one of you. Same as last game whoever plays badly comes off either at half time or during the second half. Up to you whether you want to stay in the first team or not."

That seemed to have calmed them down and the referee's assistant peeked his head inside to tell us that the game was about to start. I was handed the match sheet and it seems as if they were using a 4-5-1 formation. I decided to stick to my gut and use our attacking 4-4-2 as it did wonders in the last 15 minutes of the game against Welling United. I was a bit worried about their 5 midfielders, usually those kind of formations are used to keep a hold of the ball but if not used well can be very weak so I'm hoping that we'll take advantage of that.

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As we all stepped onto the field for my first home game as Altrincham manager I shook Boreham's manager's hand and wished him good luck whilst doing the same with the referees. By now, my nervousness had kicked in a little bit and as the whistle for kick off was blown, my heart started already beating a bit faster as I feared a bad start to the game.

KICK OFF

Fifteen minutes into the game and despite having most of the possession, we only had 3 clear cut chances. So did Boreham. So far it was a tight game and I was hoping that we'd get a goal before half time to at least have something really positive to say during the team talk but nothing yet. I was hoping for the best as the game went on and the first half seemed endless.

We've already gotten two yellow cards and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. It was the 29th minute now and still nothing but Dunbavin kicked the ball long from the goal kick hoping for one of our players to get to it; despite a clearing header from their defence we got the ball back straight away and our two centre midfielders Butterwick and Densmore played it around before putting a through ball on the right to Lawrie playing striker today because of Gillespie's injury in the last game. Lawrie crosses it in to Reeves who slides in and hits it with his right foot but their goalkeeper Russell makes a great save as we get a corner; their defenders clear again but Glasgow gets to the ball and plays it on the right wing again this time to Hall who puts in the cross straight at Russeel and that's another wasted opportunity right there. Somewhat of a disappointing start to the game so far.

Boreham have now got more shots than us, both in general and on target. We managed to get the ball back from a goal kick in the 32nd minute and the ball's given to Hall on the right wing again; last time he crossed it in it was a disaster so I'm on the sidelines as tense as ever hoping for a good delivery. He managed to put in an early cross for Reeves who hits it but once again it's straight at the keeper and the defence clears. 33 minutes in, 0-0.

Long goal kick from Russell again as Boreham look like they're finally going on the attack; nevermind we get the ball back and oh my god what is that?! our defender completely knocks the ball in front and wait a second Reeves managed to get there and for some reason he puts in a cross when no one's there?? WAIT IT WASN'T A CROSS IT WAS A SHOT AND IT CHIPS RUSSELL WHO HAS BEEN AMAZING FOR BOREHAM SO FAR AND REEVES GETS THE GOAL FINALLY!! WHAT A DESERVED LEAD!! I was once again on the sidelines celebrating and congratulating the players whilst telling them to keep their cool because the game wasn't over at all. 40 minutes in, 5 minutes before half time and we go 1-0 up, great way to end the half.

Altrincham 1-0 Boreham Wood (Reeves, 40')

HT

"Good job lads, we took the lead right before half time and that's always a great thing to do. Reeves, fantastic goal let's have more of that in the second half. The defence you've been playing well but I want to see the wingbacks push up a bit more, we need support up there. Boreham are playing well you guys need to be careful now don't be complancent. A second goal would really boost our confidence and we need that right now alright? But if you do score another one, you again cannot get complacent otherwise what happened to Welling against us will happen now to us against Boreham. Let's stay focused boys you're doing well I'm satisfied with our attempts on goal and our possession but try to contain them a bit more if you can. Shaun you're gonna come off again for Simon, you're on a yellow card and I don't want to lose you. Butterwick, be careful out there don't get a second booking. Now come on lads let's go and get this win alright? GO ALTRINCHAM!"

They all seemed confident. For once I felt like they believed in me. We've been playing well but we could be doing even better and I know that, so do they. I hope we'll get a couple more goals in because as of right now we're in 19th place on the table which is an improvement from where we started before the game but I need more. The thoughts in my head were all over the place and I didn't want another emotional roller coaster today. We played like a team who wants to win and I want the same at the restart. I also took off Nicky Clee again as he wasn't performing and put on Ryan Crowther for his first game back since his injury.

It's the 66th minute and Griffin is about to come on for Hall who got a small injury. Boreham just had a counter attack which could have been dangerous but thankfully Dunbavin came out and caught the cross as the ball was coming in. We need a second goal if we want to win this game, we really do.

I switched to a 4-2-3-1 to see how it'd go and so far it seems like we're doing even better now that we were before. We just got a free kick on the right side of the box in the 84th minute which could be a great opportunity to score and kill the game now; Richman crosses it in to Reeves who shoots but it's blocked AGAIN but the ball comes to Crowther who hits it agaiiiiiiiiin and SCORES!! WHAT A STRIKE FROM THE MAN WHO JUST CAME BACK FROM INJURY!!! I'm so proud of the lad he's done so well in training to get back in shape and now there he is scoring surely the winning goal for us in the 84th minute! What a goal!!! Incredible game!

Altrincham 2-0 Boreham Wood (Crowther, 84')

It's the 93rd minute now, surely we've won this! Yes! Get in! Great defending at the end and we manage to get a 2-0 victory, my first win as a manager!! Boreham played well but we played better and we get a fantastic win today.

FT: Altrincham 2-0 Boreham Wood

"That's it boys! What a win I'm all so proud of you! You did what you needed to do out there and nothing more and it got us a great win against a side who fought really hard for this. I'm really impressed. Keep playing like this, keep training hard and success will come you'll see. A clean sheet is also welcome, good job. And let me just tell you by the way that we are now officially clear of the relegation zone for the time being! This win got us to 18th place and we're currently 4 points clear of 21st which means whatever happens in our next game we'll stay out of the relegation zone. This is exactly what I wanted from you boys, congratulations now go home and get a well deserved rest. I need you fully fit and healthy for training on Monday alright? See you guys soon great job once again."

They were all so proud I could see it in their eyes. In my head I thought that we would have a really hard time getting that first win given the attitude the team had in the past week or so. Since my arrival they had all been skeptical of my abilities and their own and I think this win will really get me on good terms with them. As I made my way back home, I called everyone once again to give them the good news and as usual they were all happy for me. My girlfriend didn't answer her phone so I figured I'd call her back later in the day. I watched a bit of football when I came back home to just relax and also analyse how those big teams play around England. I've always supported Tottenham and I still actually get those newsletters that I used to get and think it was a job offer about a month ago. I'm still subscribed to it because it just makes me think about the struggle I've had to go through before getting a job and I'm just so happy to be able to say that now I'm a manager and I finally got my first win. The stats of the game also reflected on the match we had and showed that despite the game seeming quite close, we got a deserved victory more than anything.

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The fans were fabulous today and I finally got a taste of the real Altrincham FC life by being in the stadium, on the sideline on game day. I tried calling my girlfriend a couple of times after contemplating on our victory today before she finally picked up and we talked for about an hour. Afterwards I just decided that since I had tomorrow off I'd sleep early and wake up late to catch up on the sleep I had lost in the past few nights because of the many nightmares I've been having.

Today is the 11th of October 2014 and I've just managed to get my first win as Altrincham Football Club manager. The Football Fan, the one who was supposed to end up nowhere in the footballing world, getting his first win as a manager.
 
Oct 19, 2015
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It's been 2 days since our last game. Next up Lincoln City and the pundits are making us sure-fire favourites interestingly enough. I've thought about a lot of things lately and I've been feeling a bit lost. Here in Altrincham, I'm alone. I've got no real friends apart from my players, I don't know anyone or know a lot about the city itself despite walking around on Sundays trying to figure out what I could do with my days. The board called and said that the F.A. Cup Fourth Qualifying Round draw was about to occur and as they followed it online, it took about 5 minutes to get to our team. F.C. United of Manchester. How fitting. If there's one thing I know for sure it's that they are historical rivals and we can't afford to lose that game. We've got 2 weeks to prepare for it but obviously we've also got Vanarama Conference games before that against Lincoln and Chester. When I got into this, I didn't think it was ever possible to feel pressure for such a small derby in such a small league or competition. The F.A. Cup itself is huge in England but the Qualifying rounds never attract any attention. I want to win now, I want to get success here at Altrincham and the next 3 games will really shape my abilities as a manager. It really hasn't been easy. I thought getting the job itself was the hard part but it turns out getting the job DONE is the hard part. The board have certain expectations of me and I don't want to disappoint them, I hate disappointing people. Tomorrow I'm waking up at 8am sharp and getting ready to host Lincoln City for yet another league game this month, hopefully we'll get a win.

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Two teams, two 4-4-2s. Let's hope we're the best team out there! They have a strong team and Lincoln have done incredibly well with this formation this season so far so we'll need to do our best against them. The weather looks nice; the pitch, well, not exactly in the best condition but it's what you'd expect for a Vanarama Conference game. During the team talk that's what I told the boys about and they seemed to be really fired up. Their biggest game under my management so far and I could tell that now they were starting to want to impress me. Let's get it Altrincham!

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What a game! We were 4-0 up at half time then went 5-0 up, Lincoln came back 5-2 before we made it 6-2 and by the 88th minute it was 6-5. I was really worried that we'd lose our lead and concede a draw but an absolutely fantastic win. One hattrick for Lawrie and another for Reeves and we approach the Chester game in 17th place. I'm so proud of this team, Lincoln were 10th in the league and we knew it was going to be hard but we dominated them and outplayed them and got the win. What an emotional roller coaster. Any football fan understands that with football comes emotions and that, well that match just exemplified that.

"I don't have words to explain how proud I am. You guys did an absolutely fantastic job today. They managed to get a few goals back which doesn't help our goal difference but who cares, I know you'll do even better later in the season. This is an absolutely amazing win and we'll for sure get some attention for our amazing display. Congratulations guys, I honestly can't tell you the kind of emotions I felt throughout the entire game, it was unreal. You played so well and I can only thank you for your performance. It makes my job much easier and I'm really really proud of you guys, keep this up and we'll reach the top half of the table!"

As we get ready for our next game against Chester, I can't contain my emotions and do the same routine that I do after every game; call the family, girlfriend, they're all happy for me, go back home, eat from Sugo Pasta Kitchen and go to sleep after watching a bit of football. Life is getting better, results are coming in. I feel good.

[HR][/HR]
Another day another game. It's 7:54am I woke up slightly earlier than usual as I need to get to the stadium to get the bus ready to leave for Chester. It should take about an hour. The players started to come at around 1:20pm as I hurried them to hop in. They all seemed pretty healthy, no one looked like they hadn't gotten enough sleep. Because Altrincham is a semi-professional club, most players have another job on top of it and I can't always expect them to be 100% but for some reason I've got a good feeling about this game. After trashing Lincoln City and playing really well against Boreham, I have a feeling we could just upset the odds and win today. Playing away won't be easy but I know we can do it.
While I was on the bus, I was talking to the Assistant Manager and suddenly I thought: wait a minute, all this time I've been wondering what to do outside of training. Why not get a coaching license?
I then phoned Grahame to ask him about it and he said he'd very really happy to fund the course for me which means that I'm now starting to study for my National C License, a huge step in my managerial career.
As we got off the bus and reached the stadium we had the usual warm up and team talk and there we were jumping into the game already.

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I decided to stick with our trustworthy attacking 4-4-2 while Chester opted for an interesting narrow formation. This should help us take advantage of the wings and put it a lot of crosses and hopefully score from those. Let's hope for a great game now as the referee blows the whistle. LET'S GO ALTRINCHAM!

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AND NOW THAT IS WHAT YOU CALL A VICTORY! 7-1!!!! Reeves got himself a hat trick AGAIN as we go up in 14th place and stay 7 points clear of the relegation zone. I'm so so so happy with this game, we completely dominated throughout and entirely deserve the 7-1 win. Against Lincoln we got complacent and conceded a couple of goals before the end of the game but not today, we only conceded one and managed to score 7, which means 13 goals scored in 2 games. This makes me extremely confident in the team and my abilities so I really hope that going forward we'll keep getting victories like those! As we approach our derby against FC United of Manchester, I want to be completely focused for the next week on keeping up the kind of form we've been in lately and hopefully qualify for the next round. The boys were so happy on the ride back home as was every single person associated with Altrincham Football Club. We recorded the biggest win of the Vanarama Conference this season and this makes me even more confident going forward.

Today is the 18th of October 2014 and I've just recorded 2 absolutely amazing wins right before my very first historical derby. Let's go Altrincham!
 
Oct 19, 2015
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It's been quite a while, today is actually the 14th of December 2014 so almost 2 full months but I've been crazy busy with everything. Studying for my National C License, travelling here and there for F.A. Cup games and league game, taking care of training, trying to catch up on sleep. Life as a manager is a bit harder than I thought it was but what's really nice is that now when I go to the Manchester suburbs before games, people are actually starting to recognise me and they know of me through the papers and such but still. To think that before I was barely known in Altrincham itself before and now my reputation is expanding to the whole region is great. I can't wait for my future with this club and well, let me just tell you that I've got fantastic news. For 2 months I've been working my a** off trying to get this club up the table and trying to make a living off my studying and managerial job. I actually ended up saving up to get a ticket to go and watch Tottenham play at White Hart Lane earlier this month and it was incredible. No one recognised me obviously which I think so far is the great part about being a manager for such a small side. The results we've been getting lately have been absolutely fantastic and I'm honestly so proud of the boys.

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We had a couple of wins in a row in early November and despite the loss to Tranmere, we didn't give up or lose hope and ended up getting other huge wins in the F.A. Cup 2nd Round and in the league against Forest Green Rovers. When I arrived, I didn't know what to think of the squad. Everyone seemed like they didn't really care about football and didn't really understand the consequences of getting relegated. As I tried to implement my style and philosophy in this club we started getting results and we're not up there in top 10 in the Vanarama Conference. An impressive form, players who are eager to prove everyone wrong especially after our best goal scorer Damien Reeves got injured 2 weeks ago for around 3 months. I'm very excited about my career here at Altrincham. There have been bad times and struggles such as when rumours in the media went around that I was interested in the Blackpool and Wigan jobs, which was completely untrue. I also had a row with ex-captain Shaun Densmore. He wasn't playing well or even playing at all and there were some players who I thought were more deserving of the armband. So far the team has started to get used to me we laugh every once in a while in training and overall have a lot of fun and I'm starting to create relationships in this club. Moving forward, things seem to be very bright for us and to be honest, even though I haven't told any of the players yet I really feel like we could push for promotion places. The squad that we have is one of the most talented ones out there and despite not having a lot of depth, we have a few young players coming through who are looking fantastic.

Tomorrow is our game against Gateshead for the F.A. Trophy 1st Round replay. If I'm honest with you, I've got no interest in the F.A. Trophy. I'd much rather focus on the league and getting us promoted as well as a reputable competition like the F.A. Cup where I really feel we have a chance of going through to the 4th Round after getting drawn against Yeovil Town for the 3rd Round. Even though some silverware would be nice, I don't think that the F.A. Trophy is that amazing of a trophy and it would be a waste of fitness, money and time to spend so much time in the competition. We'll play our game and see where it takes us but I'm not that ecstatic about this game. As the January transfer window approaches, the board has already told me that I would have no budget whatsoever so what I'm hoping for is that I can bring in one or two players on loan to strengthen and deepen the squad a little bit.

Life in Altrincham has been better as of late and despite sometimes getting recognised by local journalists, I'm quite relaxed most of the time. I've met a few people going to bars and restaurants and through the players and have become really good friends with some of them too. The fact that i'm young is I think good for everyone. I'm getting an amazing experience with a decent club, the board is impressing the clubs around the region by hiring a 21 year old and the players are getting a manager who they can feel very comfortable with. Age doesn't matter. Unfortunately, the man who I heard this saying from is Sepp Blatter and I wouldn't want to congratulate him for a good saying but in a way he's right. My age hasn't interfered with the performances of the players on the pitch and well so far we've only gotten good results. I'm hoping this continues as we arrived in Gateshead for our game against their local team.

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Hmm, they're also playing a 4-4-2. We'll have to be careful about that because if I remember correctly we never did well against other teams playing 4-4-2. Hopefully today this changes and we go to the next round but if we don't I won't be disappointed, it gives us an opportunity to focus on the league. The game kicks on in Gateshead as rain pours down on the field. It's really cold and the conditions are terrible but the referee seems fine with it and Gateshead kick off the first half.
It's half time. So far we've had a great game and have definitely been dominating the entirety of the game. I told the players to keep it up as the coaches and I were very pleased and we'll see where this goes. I honestly don't see Gateshead getting anything from this match.

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They kept on defending, we kept on attacking and kept on scoring goals. In football, it's goals that win you games and today we scored 4. A clean sheet is also always welcome and it's a fantastic victory against a team we had a lot of trouble with in the first game that we played against them. Hopefully when we play them again in the league we'll replicate this victory.

"Lads, that was special. What a win! No one thought we would get a win today and you proved them all wrong, it was fantastic. We're through to the next round and this adds up to our amazing victories since my arrival. You've all been doing so well and you deserve every single goal we've scored. Keep going like this and I'm telling you we can fight for promotion. This club has something special guys you should all try and realise how lucky you are to be playing here. I thought that this club was nothing but you've been doing incredibly well and it's taken the club upwards so much. Our next game is against Grimsby Town so do your best, I know it's not very long after this game and you'll be tired, believe me even I am but we need to push on and keep going with those results. The fans are loving it, the board is loving it, I'm loving it and all of you guys are loving it too. It's all in your hands whether you want to keep this going or not. Now let's go home and get a well deserved rest alright? LET'S GO ALTRINCHAM!"

After the team talk we all headed to the bus and went back home. Everyone was happy on the ride back to Altrincham and I took this time to talk to Shaun, who hadn't been too happy with me lately.
"Look Shaun, I understand you're still unhappy about not being the captain anymore. I just wanted to explain myself so we wouldn't be on bad terms. I don't want to be on bad terms with anyone here alright? My goal is not to get you to leave or to make you feel like you're not worth playing for this team. You were injured for almost the entire time when I arrived here and as a manager I needed to make decisions. I needed a captain who could be on the field constantly and lead the team. I hope you understand, I really do not want us to be on bad terms."

"I understand boss I just wish it hadn't all been so sudden. I was enjoying the football I was getting and playing knowing I was the captain and the leader of the team made me feel like I played better every game you know? If you ever change your mind just know that I'm completely open to being the captain again. I understand that maybe for now you won't but again I don't wish to be on bad terms with you either, it's not good for the team. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and I hope from now on we'll have a better relationship."

"I appreciate your time Shaun, you'll get some more playing time in the future for sure, you deserve it and that's why you've got over 225 games with this club. Rest whenever you can when we get to Altrincham and we'll see how you are in training then maybe I'll consider starting you against Grimsby Town."

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Game against Grimsby Town today. It'll be a very hard game as Grimsby are a very good side. With our recent run of form, I definitely feel that we can just about edge the game but the media doesn't seem to think so. I don't know if it's because they think that I'm incapable or if they genuinely believe that my team is not good enough. In both cases, I know they're wrong.

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Another 4-4-2. Ugh. I'm genuinely worried about them now because they know how good 4-4-2s are. Gateshead weren't able to use it against us but I'm not sure about Grimsby. Hopefully our run of form will be enough to see us get a win and go back home with the 3 points. Currently standing 9th place, we could go up to 8th with a win against them today and in the process make it more accessible for us to reach promotion places as they're currently in 4th place. It's snowy and cold, the field doesn't look like it's in the best condition but we'll deal with it, the referee is about to blow the whistle for kick-off, I'll see you all after the game.

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What a win again! I knew Grimsby were going to give us a really tough game and they did but we managed to deal with it perfectly and get a deserved 3-1 victory. I don't have a lot of time to write anymore, my studies are getting tougher and games are getting harder and coming quicker and the fans are wanting more and more serious work from the players and I so I'll write here as soon as I can but it might be in some time.

Today is the 23rd of December 2014 and I am the manager of Altrincham Football Club, currently in 8th in the Vanarama Conference and on a great run of form with wins against very big clubs. Until next time, Hugo Letellier (The Football Fan)
 
Oct 19, 2015
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I'm back. It's been a tough few months but I can finally have some time to write this today. When I say it's been tough it's because I've had family problems and even problems here at Altrincham. Yup, I'm still here. South of Manchester almost in the middle of nowhere in northern England. I've heard that a few people are starting to hear about me and I'm getting a bit more popular in the Manchester suburbs which is always good but this was hard. I've worked so hard to get where I am today and as a 21 year old it was never bound to get easier. Once after a game around April I got robbed and lost my laptop, some furniture and some expensive stuff that I kept around my room. I'm not gonna say I almost fell into depression because it's not true but with not a lot of money to spare being the manager of a Vanarama Conference side, I had to work on the side a bit too to be able to get all of my stuff back. December 2014. That was my last update and there's a reason for that. My grandfather passed away just around New Year's Eve and the club supported me throughout but as I was alone on the phone in my room when my mother announced that to me, I was shattered. To lose someone you've known for so long, exactly 21 years, is a lot to take. The players still performed well but I still took some time off and tried my best to get my head around what had happened to my family. I went to see them in France as they had moved back there since my brother had graduated from the school I went to in Bombay and it was very tough. My grandfather had a stroke when I was about 17 and he never really got better. A few times we got really worried because his health was getting worse and we could tell he was just not enjoying life anymore. Now 21, I still cried as much as I did when I heard about the stroke 4 years ago. I looked back to a lot of amazing memories with him and it helped me feel less sad about the whole thing but to lose a loved one is never easy. After the funeral and some time off, I had to go back to England and that was even harder. Having to go back and live alone in a city in the middle of nowhere in England and manage a club which I've started to develop a passion for. Not that that last part is a bad thing but the fear to not succeed with them, the fear to not satisfy the fans. It haunted me. The players knew about the tragedy in my family and did their best to make me feel better about it and by the end of January I was roaring to go. We were in the F.A. Cup 4th Round, something which absolutely no one expected of a Vanarama Conference side but unfortunately we lost 4-3 to Milwall and got knocked out. When the players were down I remembered everything they did for me and together we got back up and played game after game knowing we wanted to win them. Our goal was now clear; promotion to the Sky Bet League 2. The amount of effort we've put in this season to even get far away from the relegation zone wasn't satisfying enough. I've disappointed many people in my life and I've experienced pretty hard times but this club, I had to give everything for them. They were the very first club who hired me and as I speak I'm still the manager here at Altrincham. The fans wanted more and more every game and we did too. So, we approached every game with a winning mentality, keeping the 4-4-2 formation which had been so effective for us since I took charge. We went through the 4th round, 5th round and semi-finals of the F.A. Trophy to get all the way to the final. We went on an incredible winning streak and game after game got closer and closer to the promotion places. By March, we were 7th, level on points with Cheltenham Town and eager to get that little advantage over them to keep going up the table and fight for promotion. In the semi-finals of the F.A. Trophy we played against an incredibly strong Grimsby Town side but still managed to win a win in the first leg 4-0 which helped us secure a place in the final. On the 29th of March 2015 we played against Eastleigh for our 3rd victory of the F.A. Trophy of the club and to everyone's surprise we did exactly that and got a 5-3 win. We pushed on and on in the league after that and stayed focused, forcing our way into 6th and 5th place. In the last few games we managed to secure a 4th place finish and went into the play-off semi finals against Eastleigh again. They were eager to get back at us following their loss in the F.A. Trophy final but we weren't scared and after two amazing games, we went through to the play-off final 7-2 on aggregate. The final game of the season against Wrexham was my biggest ever game as a manager. Given everything that had happened since I took over in October 2014 and everything that had happened in January, in April and even later on after that, we needed a win. Our biggest game of the season. A win would secure us promotion to the English fourth tier which also meant that our club status would go from semi-professional to professional, a big step forward for Altrincham. It was incredibly hard, I didn't think it would be easy, I didn't think we would get the win, but we did. Three goals in the first 45 minutes of the game got us promotion. I cried after that game, so much. A 21 year old managing an average club to a promotion to the English fourth tier after not even a year at his club. I couldn't even thank this club enough for hiring me. After so many ups and downs, after a couple of losses, after a few arguments with my players, staff and captains, we had done it. I had done it. I had one dream, it was to manage a football team one day. I didn't care who. I got the job at Altrincham and did my best and it paid off. I extended my contract here until June 2017 which delighted everyone at the club and once that season was over I went to see my family, girlfriend and everyone I loved. A well deserved break from a fantastic season during which we did everything we could to get out of the relegation zone and ended up getting promoted to the Sky Bet League 2. What a year. Did we deserve it? To **** we did. Will we repeat those kind of performances next year? I really hope so. The team that we had this year was fantastic and it will be majorly improved next season with our transfer budget and the ambition of the players here in general. So many things have been planned to improve the club including a stadium expansion as well as improved youth facilities. Everything turns out to be perfect and I can't wait for next season.

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We're now in mid August 2015. We've had a couple of games in the Sky Bet League 2 so far and have won those two 5-0 and 4-2. A promising start to the season. As I start my very first complete season in charge of a club, my reputation has increased a little bit and I'm hoping that it'll keep growing if we do well in domestic cups against some bigger teams. We played Milwall in the Capital One Cup 1st Round so far and managed to beat them 3-2 which was incredible but we've now been matched up against Wolverhampton who play in the Premier League. Hopefully things go well and we keep that form going to keep confidence flowing in the team. The players are really happy here and they all seem to be enjoying their football. Not a single player has complained ever since the end of last season and I'm hoping it'll stay that way. This season will be even harder than last season but I know that with the willpower both the team and I will perform and go very far in the league and the domestic cups.

Today is the 18th of August 2015 and I've been managing Altrincham Football Club for 321 days. We've manager to win the F.A. Trophy last season and get promotion and I'm hoping for even more glory here in southern Manchester.
Hugo Letellier (Vanarama Conference Manager of the year); keep dreaming because everything is achievable if you work for it.
 
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