WORLD TOUR

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I always like to do story with a few rules. The idea for this is a World Tour starting as a manager with no experience and no coaching qualification. The rules for the tour are that I must start in Oceania and work in each continent for 8 years at a minimum before moving on to a new continent. We will start in Oceania as it probably the least successful continent on the footballing stage, from there we will move along until we finally reach the top European leagues decades in the future.

So to be clear the following areas I will be playing in for 8 year periods or more. (not necessarily in descending order) and these are the possible nations I can manage in

Oceania (Fiji, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti)
Africa (Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia)
South America (Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Peru)
North America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, USA)
Asia (Australia, Indonesia, Qatar, Thailand, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Uzbekistan, India, Malaysia, South Korea)
Smaller European countries (Everyone else apart from complete minnows and some of them too)
Larger European countries (England, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain – will run from the start for some variety late game)
International football (All)

Beyond this there are no specific rules, I can spend longer in specific region if I so wish, but at a minimum at its heart hopefully we can get through the rough 64 years to complete this career and hopefully this will tell quite an unconventional story. Ambitious but let's see how we go!

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Part One – A Journey to Another World

It had finally come, the day that I would travel for New Zealand, to spend some 6 months exploring what Lonely Planet had described as one of the most amazing countries in the world. With natural beauty everywhere I felt as if I was going to another world somewhere eons away from the rainy summer that was London.

At 28 years old, I had some experience of the world but had rarely travelled outside of Europe and this was an adventure. Already arranged was some bar work to give me some spending money. I was leaving my parents, but very little else so it was a chance to grow and discover both another country but also myself.

When I was fourteen years old I was pretty good footballer. I spent some time at QPR U16's, but my maiden season in the Youth Leagues ended with a knee injury and by 17 years old I was on the scrap heap of failed youth players. By then I had decided I wanted to go to university and get my degree. After four years of university I had my degree and had been voted best player at Loughborough University three years in row. I continued to play a bit of football here and there at a Sunday League level until the knee finally began to give way completely. I briefly had thought about starting to take my badges, but never really thought there was much possibility of getting into football coaching and management so decided not to bother, plus the cost was prohibitive for me.

Using my second nationality of Portuguese, which I got from my parents I thought about potentially going to Lisbon to hopefully join a semi-professional club as a coach, but the deal fell through, part of the reason why I decided to get my mind off things and make a new start in another part of the world.




Arriving in Auckland, New Zealand I was tired and the next few weeks were a bit of blur as I got accustomed to work and got a chance to travel about at the weekends and enjoy nights out work friends. The bar I worked at was called Flanagan’s and was owned by a guy called Donny Bell. He was in his 30’s, and owning his bar was his passion. He was a really cool guy and as I got to know him I realised his passion for the beautiful game matched mine.


As we talked over the weeks he made it known he was a big Auckland City fan and more than that he had built a lot of contacts in the club and in New Zealand football generally. We spoke at length about our footballing histories and our passion for the game, from Premier League football to tactics.

We became pretty good friends and eventually the conversation came up about what exactly I wanted to do with my life. I told him that since I was never going to be a footballer I wanted to coach, but reservedly said that it was a pipe dream that I was going to leave behind.

About six days later when I got off work, Donny came into the office above the bar, where I was storing away the cash from one of the registers when he told me that he perhaps could help out with chasing my dream, but only if I was really committed to working towards football coaching. I jumped at the chance and asked him what exactly I would need to do. Donny told me that he had to ask to make sure that I was serious, but that he would exhaust his contact in the football industry to see if there was anything that was available.

I thought it was cool of him to look out for me….little did I know that this was the beginning of the journey and the beginning of my footballing career in management...

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Part 2 – Opportunity Calls

My phone rang at 7 am, where I was greeted by Donny. A few days had passed since Donny had told me that he wanted to help me in my search for a footballing job. I must admit I was still a bit asleep, but woke up when Donny told me that he found a club that might be interested in interviewing me for a vacant role. To my surprise it wasn’t just a coaching job, but a job for Head Coach and manager of the team.



Reeling from what appeared to be unexpected good news. I started to enquire about the club in question. Donny told me that Bay Olympic Soccer & Sports Club to use the full title were searching for a new manager, and they were a club with a pretty good history and played just below the New Zealand Premier League. The obvious question was why they would be interested in a guy who had no experience whatsoever in management. The only response Donny gave me was that he was a very persuasive guy, but that it was not a done deal yet. The chairman wanted to speak to me personally to find out if I was a good fit for the club.

The interview was to be in a few days time, and Donny advised on getting ready for the interview and wished me luck after providing me the details of the Club PA, for me to confirm attendance.

I waited until noon before I put in a call and was quickly answered by what sounded like a young female voice. After confirming who I was, I was scheduled in to see the chairman the next day ahead of schedule at 10am in the morning. Not much time to prepare….carpe diem I thought to myself.

Arriving at the interview at the offices of chairman Daniel Flaws, I could see that this was very much an amateur outfit, but it did not put me off in the slightest. Fundamentally in New Zealand that was what football was below the first tier. To be honest even in the top division a lot of clubs still were mostly semi-professional clubs.



I waited in the lobby after registering with the PA, before being warmly welcomed by Daniel himself. After a little bit of chat and few jokes, mostly from his side, I could tell he was a pretty down to earth kind of bloke. The main question he wanted answered was why should he entrust his beloved club into the hands of young guy who wanted to be a manager with no experience and not a coaching badge in sight. I answered cautiously alluding to my time at QPR and experiences in football and my injury record before answering that was the dream I wanted and Bay Olympic was a great opportunity for me. I then expounded on the fact that although I did not have experience I did have a lot of good ideas, whether it be training or tactics, which seemed to go down reasonably well in my opinion.

We talked club finances and expectations for the position, as well as expected performances for the team, which were to achieve a top half finish in NRFL Premier Division, to which I agreed all seemed sensible.

After about 50 minutes the interview was over and my questions for Daniel at this point tended towards how the club could help me keep developing. A bit of a risky set of questions considering the club finances I had been told were reasonably tight. Daniel seemed happy to entertain the thought of me developing with the club and even talked about potential investments the club might make in me. After informing me that he would be in touch and that he had a few other candidates to see, he concluded the interview.

As I was about to get up, Daniel quickly piped a final question, asking me if I was aware the job was unpaid. To be honest I had not considered the club would not pay its manager. Thinking on my feet I nodded and said yeah I understand that is not a problem, before walking out of the door.

As I walked to the train station, I told myself that everyone has to start somewhere, paid or unpaid this would be a good opportunity. Now it was a waiting game to see if I was going to be successful.

I would have to wait until Tuesday the next week at 11.15am for when the call would finally come. The call I had been waiting for. Fumbling for my phone I answered. Daniel was keen to beat around the bush asking me how I was, before informing me that after seeing everyone he wanted to make me the new manager of Bay Olympic as soon as possible. If I could drop down tomorrow morning I could be inducted and meet the staff and some of the players. As soon as I got off the phone with Daniel I rang Donny telling him the good news. He seemed really happy for me and told me that he knew a friend who was a big Bay Olympic fan, and could help with money working for him, as he owned his own business and would jump at the chance to help the new boss of the club. Donny added that it just wouldn’t be alright to have me keep working at the bar as a manager at a rival Auckland club as he joked.

My career in football had begun but where would it take me…the answer to this question would take time to find out. For now Bay Olympic was the present and the future...

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Terminal

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Part 3 – Getting the Feet Under the Table

I headed down to the club to meet with the chairman and the rest of the staff at the club. Upon my arrival I was ushered into Daniel’s office where he gave me a run through of the club and reiterated what he felt were my objectives, although he said I would get some time to embed themselves into the club. Daniel informed me the club effectively had the equivalent of £40k in the bank, but could only really afford to get players on amateur contracts, so none of the staff were paid beyond expenses and the odd dinner here and there.


The club play at Olympic Park, which takes a rough capacity of 3,375 people. No doubt we won’t be seeing anything like that in the near future or for that matter probably at all at any point during the next season. It was there I met my Assistant Manager Michael Evans. We had a chat for about 30 mins where we started to run through some the aspects I wanted to introduce to the club, but mostly he talked to me about what he thought about the players and basically gave me intelligence on all matters. He was particularly praiseful of defender/midfielder Craig Wylie, who could play at centre midfield and left back, and said he was in his opinion the best player at the club.

We went over the way New Zealand football worked. He informed me this was as high as the club could go in the NRFL Premier, and that it largely regionalised at this level, with no possibility to get to the franchised top division. The Chatham Cup was the other competition, where all the clubs below the top tier contested for a chance to lift it. Almost like an FA Cup of sorts but only including the amateur level of football. It dawned on me that in New Zealand there was a key divide between the “franchise teams” and the rest, and there was never any possibility for this to be shook up, which I thought was a little unfair.

Over the next few days I introduced myself to the players to a reasonably good reaction and set about introducing the concepts I wanted them to take on board. I could see that while Craig Wylie was indeed amongst the best, centre midfielder Nik Robson and right back James Pritchett also seemed to be amongst the best players at the club and probably areas I would not need to touch too much.

I was determined to play a 4-1-1-3-1, as I felt it gave us a good shape. Although I wanted the formation to be a little secondary to the mentality of play, although one immediate concern was the lack of a proper defensive midfielder at the club that could just sit in front of defence. It was clear I would need to look to get someone who could perform this role for us. However I knew it would be difficult, what with having no money to offer, I would need to look locally for talent, a problem that was exacerbated by having no scouts at the club. To add to this there were no physios for the players and no coaches beyond myself and the assistant. We did have Simon Pickering who was involved in the Youth teams at Bay Olympic looking to bring players through as Head of Youth Development. It would need to be situation that I would need to rectify reasonably quickly to make sure we were keeping the players fit and ready for the season ahead and could identify other players that could improve the side.

Our preseason saw us face some stiff lower division sides as well as top division sides, amongst them the best side in Oceania in Auckland City, having won the OFC Champions League 6 out of the last 7 times. I didn’t fancy our chances but it would give me an opportunity to test myself against the very best players on the continent.

The work was now ahead to prepare the players for pre-season and the season ahead.

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mike887

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I really enjoyed the start you have made ☺its something different can't wait for the next update.
 

Terminal

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I really enjoyed the start you have made ☺its something different can't wait for the next update.
Thanks very much for the kind words, much appreciated, stay tuned, and the next update is below.
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Part 4 – Pre-Season Starts



With only a week or two until our first match in pre-season, we worked hard to get some much needed people into club starting with a scout and another coach to work on fitness with the lads. I quickly grew to know the lads and they seemed a nice bunch. Some of the more experienced players waded in whenever there appeared to be the slightest hint of misbehaviour or disrespect with any of the lads, which was good to see since some of them were much older than me, so one might expect them to perhaps not support their new young manager.

The search for key position players was proving problematic. The problem was that there was clearly very little reason for someone to change clubs, when there was no pay to speak of. So despite the fact that we were offering a chance at playing time to some guys who might be on the margins at other clubs or offering important roles within the club, not many willing to entertain the thought. The only one who did was a very young striker; Sean Skeens who decided to move over from Birkenhead United. With the striker position barely having any viable candidates this was a big gamble to only have young Skeens on the books at this stage.


Friendly
15th August 2015
Memorial Park, Auckland

MANUREWA 1-2 BAY OLYMPIC

Our first examination came against Manurewa who play their football in the division below, not that that has much bearing considering we are still adapting to how I want the team to play, and the difference in standard between the teams is probably not too massive all be told at this level.

GOALS

[56] BAY OLYMPIC – Finlay – The first goal starts as a throw-in at about the halfway line. Nice intricate passing in the midfield, allows Paulus in the holding role to eventually play a ball to the wing in behind the opposition wing back to find a marauding Wylie from left back. Wylie takes it beautifully playing a first time ball across the box where Finlay get ahead of his marker and taps home at the back post.

[67] BAY OLYMPIC – Rufer (o.g.) – The goal comes from a Bay Olympic goal kick that is headed away in midfield by the opposition but only as far as Wylie. Some nice tight interplay again finds Wylie unmarked on the wing and this time he takes it on a bit almost to the byline and plays a similar ball as the first goal into the box this time unfortunately for the opposition, their defender can only guide the ball into the corner of his own net.

[77] MANUREWA – Carmichael – Finlay is crowded out and loses the ball on the wing; the next pass finds the centre midfielder who plays a lovely chipped through ball for the striker to chase. He gathers nicely ahead of the Bay Olympic defence and takes it forward just into the box before he curls one round the keeper into the top corner with the Bay Olympic defence breathing down his neck.

Manager Thoughts: It was a hard thought game although I thought we deserved it as we restricted them to one shot, which they duly put in the back of the net. Wylie played extremely well and was great value for his two assists as he harassed the opposition full back all game, playing dangerous balls across the box. Considering the players are still trying to understand what I want from them and I am still missing few cogs in the team I can be pretty happy with the performance. A good 2-1 win.

The night before we were due to face WaiBOP United, I got the good news that we had been able to convince a defensive midfielder to join the club, and quite a player at that. Faitalia Hamilton-Pama, a Samoan international no less had decided to do Auckland club swap from Central United for Bay Olympic. Faitala had two caps for Samoa, which would be some great experience to bring into the team (albeit that Samoa were Oceania whipping boys) and at the tender age of 22 years old I was sure he would contribute for years to come.



Friendly
22[SUP]nd[/SUP] August 2015
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

WAIBOP UNITED 1 - 1 BAY OLYMPIC

We were on the bus early for this game as we travelled about 2 hours down the North Island to Hamilton from Auckland to play WaiBOP United. They play in the Mainland Premier League, another regional equivalent to our own NRFL Premier League. I was expecting a tough encounter out of this outfit, especially considering they had finished about halfway up the table the season before. But we were about a week further prepared, so I wanted to see some of the work paying back, although it was slow going as the boys had only been able to train Tuesday and Friday that week, a regular occurrence for Amateur clubs.

GOALS

[34] – WAIBOP UNITED – Marquez (pen) – Somewhat against the run of play, first half substitute Paulus coming on for the injured Nik Robson, seems to get caught under the ball from a deep cross and a penalty is given. Not sure if it was handball or a push, but Marquez steps and puts it into the corner.

[45] – BAY OLYMPIC – Marshall - We respond just before halftime, WaiBOP United are looking to break on us, but a misplaced pass in midfield is recovered and we knock it about nicely to create a two on one on the right wing. Yamamoto our right winger, plays Pritchett in behind, but instead of running to the byline he plays a looper to the back post. Their keeper doesn’t come to claim it and a galloping Tom Marshall half volleys home low into the net. We are back level.

Manager Thoughts: A draw in the end and to be honest mixed feelings for me. I though by and large we were the better team and really at times their keeper kept them in the game. Unfortunately a moment of lost concentration gave away a penalty and we had to rally to try and find a leveller, and it was a beautiful goal to boot. In the second half we pressed forward looking for the goal and really should have taken one of the number of chances we created, but right at the end we could have lost the game as their striker forced a smart save from our keeper when he was through on goal. Many positives, a few negatives, not least the injury to Nik Robson, which we still need to assess but I hope to build on this.

Next up we welcomed Auckland City to Olympic Park, in what would no doubt be a loss, but it would be interesting to see how we could perform against the Kings of Oceania, and certainly a test for me as well as exposure.

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Terminal

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Part 5 – Auckland City, Chatham Cup and Remaining Pre-Season


Four days lay between our draw to WaiBOP and the visit of Auckland City and in that time we had only one training session before the Thursday kick off. The fallout of the last friendly was that Nik Robson would be out for approximately 5 to 6 weeks, with a bad ankle twist. To be honest it could have been a worse injury so I was a little relieved on hearing the medical report.



Friendly
27[SUP]th[/SUP] August 2015
Olympic Park, Auckland

BAY OLYMPIC 2-2 AUCKLAND CITY


So the big boys finally come to town and I am expecting a loss against the best team in the continent. The most important thing is to show some heart and character, and most of all to keep our structural positioning good.

[17] BAY OLYMPIC – Edge (og) – The ball finds its way into the Auckland City net and its come by way of a corner. The ball is played into the box by Wylie and Edge has tried to get the ball away but miscued and put through his own net. Unbelievably we lead!

[28] – BAY OLYMPIC – Skeens – We find ourselves with the ball in midfield and work around. City can’t get near us before the ball goes out wide to Pritchett. He is not put under enough pressure and plays a perfect ball into the box, where Skeens meets it near post and heads powerfully past the keeper. We are 2-0 up!!!


[31] – AUCKLAND CITY – Joao Moreira – City have a corner and the first ball is cleared back towards the taker. He collects the ball and plays it back in, this time a very good ball back post where it is met strongly by Joao Moreira. They pull one back before half time.

[86] – AUCKLAND CITY – Lewis – We were so close to holding onto this lead, but Auckland break down the wing and play the ball into the box, the ball is cleared about 30 yards out of the box. But Lewis takes a shot and unleashes goalward. The ball is heading straight for the keeper, but he can’t handling it and can only push into his own net. So disappointing to concede a goal like that, but Auckland are level.


Manager Thoughts: Well amazingly we managed a draw and it was certainly more than I thought we could get when I saw that we were playing Auckland City. I am very proud of that performance as we looked so incisive in the first half and deservedly led in the first half. Good teams like Auckland City find a way back into games and there goal before halftime showed that. The rest of game was about conserving the lead and we did extremely well for so long, before the equaliser and it was such a poor goal to concede. The guy was so far out and the shot was straight at Morgan in goal, but he has not dealt with it and it has cost us a famous victory. But you can only take positives out of that game. Not only did we not get outclassed, but we could have won the game, and the stats show it was a pretty even game, with us edging possession and Auckland having a few more shots but only one more on target than us.

Perhaps our draw had drawn some attention as we convinced Karl Reimann a striker from Central United to trade them for Bay Olympic. He looks more ready for first team football than young Skeens, although Skeens does have a very well taken goal against Auckland City to his name this season.

Next up we faced up at home against Eastern Suburbs another Premier League side and this time we could not stop them from grabbing the victory. Skeens got our only goal as we went down 2-1 at home. After this match we confirmed another signing in young defensive midfielder Andy Wortelboer again coming from Central United. The next friendly we travelled north to Takapuna in the suburbs of Auckland. It was a game we dominated as we ran out 3-0 winners with Wylie, Reimann and Jones getting the goals. After the win we faced Waitemata away, a fellow Auckland Club and it proved to be an identical 3-0 win with Finlay, Reimann and Serukalou finding the net.

In our final pre-season game before our first competitive match in the Chatham Cup we played Forest Hill Milford another Auckland club away. It proved to be a frustrating afternoon as we dominated but did not find the net as it finished 0-0. Unfortunately this also then came with the news that Finlay had decided to leave the club to play for the team everyone expected to win our division Glenfield Rovers, which was far from ideal as I rated him quite highly in our team and I could see him getting play of game time and he would only improve their team.



Chatham Cup 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Round
27[SUP]th[/SUP] September 2015
Olympic Park, Auckland

BAY OLYMPIC 6-0 AVON UNITED


We opened up our cup campaign and my first competitive game in charge against Canterbury Premier outfit Avon United. We knew it would be a tough game and we would need to be somewhere near our best to ensure passage to the next round. Bay Olympic had not won this competition since 1970, despite featuring in the final a few times since. It would be nice to have a nice run in the cup to bring back some excitement for the players and fans.

[5] – BAY OLYMPIC – Serukalou – The ball is played out wide to Pritchett and there is just not enough pressure on him as he whips the ball across the goal. The Avon United defence seems to misjudge the flight as at the back post Serukalou pokes home. What a great start!!!

[7] – BAY OLYMPIC - Yamamoto - Avon United are caught in possession up the field and Wylie presses forward, with Avon United scrambling back. Wylie skins the defender on the wing and continues down the wing before crossing into the box, Yamamoto arrives back post having lost his marker and he taps home. 2-0, and the start just got better!!!

[11] – BAY OLYMPIC – Serakalou – We have a throw on the byline and Skeens does well to hold up the ball and play in Jones in midfield. The Avon defence have left Pritchett in acres of space, as he receives the pass and pushes into the box. The defender leaves his marker to cut the shot off, but Pritchett beats him and goes to the byline squaring the ball where Serakalou is waiting on the edge of the six yard box to smash home. Its’s 2 for Serakalou and 3 for Bay Olympic, Avon look in shock, looks like game over.

[38] – BAY OLYMPIC – Yamamoto – Wylie with the throw on the byline to Skeens who takes on the chest and holds up nicely, before playing back to Wylie. Wylie plays a low cross into the box, it somehow finds its way through a crowd of Avon defenders who all miss it, but Yamamoto does not and prods hom in the centre of the six yard box. 4-0, game over and it’s not even halftime yet.

[74] – BAY OLYMPIC – Yamamoto (pen) – Avon United are there own worst enemies. Pritchett has a corner for Bay Olympic and plays a pretty poor low cross into the box, Skeens looks to latch onto it, but the Avon defender goes right through him, it’s a stonewall penalty. Yamamoto steps up to complete his hattrick and take the match ball home. He knocks down the middle as the keeper flies to his left. 5-0 to Bay Olympic.

[79] – BAY OLYMPIC – Serakalou – A corner is cleared back to the spare man in midfield Pritchett who collects and as the Avon United defence push out, Pritchett plays a sumptuous ball out wide to Wylie who is in acres of space, he plays a first time short pass into Serakalou, who controls in the box about 12 yards out and wide left of the six yard box and has a crack across the keeper. It flies into the bottom corner to complete the rout and his hat-trick. Not sure who takes the match ball home anymore.


Manager Thoughts: That was an almighty performance from the boys. We dominated Avon United from start to finish in this game and they barely had a shot all game. Perhaps you could say the defending from Avon was poor at times but we took our chances and we looked so dangerous all the time that it seemed we could score at will. An emphatic win for us as we progress in the cup. Just waiting to find out who we play in the next round of the cup.

We still have two more friendlies before the season starts in earnest. It is good to have the first competitive fixture out of the way and we won in such an impressive style that it gives me a lot of confidence for this season and the future.

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