10 years ago
2 hours ago

Back to the journey, man.

I stood there, soaked wet through from the rain, half arsed clapping at the absolute shite I’d just seen. A 3-1 loss at home to Hamilton Academical. Hamilton, Aca-fucking-demical!. To be fair the season was already done by then and we’d been relegated. And to make matters worse, we went and lost to the dog nonces from the other side of the road. That’s the other team in Dundee in case you were wondering.


Despite a piss poor loss we went out after the game for a few slackners, sorry pints, another of my old mans sayings. After being merry for a few hours we’d got back home and watched Match of the Day to see the highlights of the game. I don’t know why we did that, we just always did.


After watching the highlights and the pundits reviews I thought at that point if given the chance I’d easily be able to manage a team. I mean, how hard can it be? Pick 11 lads out of the squad, tell them we’re going 4-4-2, long balls up to the big unit to knock down to the not as big unit to score. Rinse and repeat. Dundee United all over that!

But where to start my career in management? I’m from Dundee, great place, shite football teams, and support United so managing them would be nice, but I wouldn’t want to make things any worse, we’ve just relegated to the pissing Championship, I’d only take us further down at the minute and the sister shaggers would love that. Again, another reference to Dundee FC. There’s bound to be more as we go.


Who else in Scotland would want me, Saint Mirren? Cowdenbeath? Partick Thistle? All shit teams that could be just as bad without me in charge. Teams in Northern Ireland? Nah, that’s not for me. Wales? Sheep, so no. The other Ireland? Leprechauns and it’s green, which is Celtic, so no. England? Not yet, or even ever. I used to see a lass from Newcastle, long brown hair, lovely eyes and a nice pair of, well that’s a story for another time.


I’m young, determined, handsome and a nobody in football. What’s the best way for someone to like me to get into management? I don’t really know how it happened, it was like there was a list of teams that need managers, and lo and behold I’m declaring my interest for the top job at DRB-Hicom FC in Malaysia. No, me neither.

This lot are perfect I thought to myself. They’re in a nothing league which means no pressure, nobody knows me so I can just go about things as normal as a painkiller addict can go about things. Oh but they’re bottom of the league with 2 wins from 15. I didn’t actually tell them I’m not in Malaysia, but I’m quickly invited to an interview, and took out a payday loan I’ve no intention of paying back, and off I went.


Shaari Shazali (try saying that after a few gages!) had told me I was the only person that had applied for the job. I thought it’s gonna sting even more when he tells me I’ve not got it then. That didn’t put me off and I genuinely thought DRB were perfect. It’s a small team so no delusion fans to deal with. They’re not expected to win much so no pressure on my shoulders. The chairman also seems desperate enough to speak to a no name and no experience manager.


I tell him that the best players can often be found in the middle of nowhere as can managers. When he asked for an example I told him Maurice Malpas is Dundee United & Scotland’s best ever player and he was playing in the Farore Islands reserve division before Dundee snapped him up. I was hoping he wouldn’t check that up however. I followed this up by telling him I’m happy to look to strengthen the team using free transfers and loans if need be, but would need the clubs help identifying players. He just nods and makes notes on his pad.


Not enjoying the awkward silence I told him I’m the man, the only man that’s got the stones to take his team on and keep them from relegation. He looks up and says should relegation happen then he couldn’t keep the manager on no matter who it is. Something about the lower leagues not being playable. I’m not sure what he meant by that, it’s not like he’s playing a computer game is it.


He shakes my hand and we part ways at the door. I walk about 15 yards away before he calls my name and asks me where I’m going. I told him I’m going to get pissed in the bar at the hotel I’m staying at.


‘Not any more you’re not. Training starts at 10. You better get down to the changing rooms and introduce yourself’

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Cross posted at The Journeyman Jock

10 years ago
2 hours ago

Every journey has a new beginning (Back to the journey, man Ep:2)


As soon as the interview ended I made my way to the training area where my newly inherited team were waiting for me, their new inspirational leader. I wasn’t prepared to start that quick so had no plans or had anything made up.


As I walked on the pitch the team were huddled around waiting for me to get them started. We’re playing league leaders Negeri Sembilan in 2 days time, out of the frying pan or however that saying goes.

My assistant manager introduces himself as Hamizar Hamzah, and I think he’s the assistant anyway, he’s the only one speaking English to me, tells me the club had agreed a loan deal with Pahang (another team I’ve never heard of) for striker Bright Dike (great name) but as I look around we’ve only got 1 playing that looks to be playing striker, and I did tell the chairman I’m gonna need help identifying players, so having an extra body in is bound to help us

The players train and the coaching staff see to them really as I just stand and observe. I pick out the best players in the squad, forward Kim Jin-Yong and midfielder Nasrullah Johan. Not world beaters by any stretch but for the division and position we’re in, definitely the best of a bad bunch.

I’m not entirely sure what I expected. The team are bottom of the league, but we’re 6 points away from safety with 8 games to go. Is it going to be that tough an ask to save us from relegation? We’ll need a few other results to go our way as well as picking up points ourselves as well. But as I tell the players there’s no pressure, well not on me I’m in a decent position. If we stay up I’m the reason why, a tactical genius if you will. If we go down, well the damage was already done and it’s not on my shoulders. Selfish I know, but I’m just starting out as a manager and I’m only looking out for myself.


DRB don’t have much in the way of training facilities, not that I expect many of the teams in the prestigious Malaysian second division do, but they do have some highlights from their games this season. It doesn’t make for good viewing. The man I replaced was hell bent on playing 3-5-2, so Hamizar Hamzah tells me, meaning the first official order of business I tell the team ‘Fuck that, we’re going the Dundee United special, 4-4-2. Any questions?’. No one replied so I assumed they were all on board with me.

Hamizar tells me we’ve only the 1 natural striker in the team, so playing 2 up top is out of the question for now. I bemoan my bad luck and watch as there’s an okay looking lad called Mohd Kamal who seems to play in the AMC position. When I say okay, I mean he’s quick and has made 5 out of 14 passes to Yong, the only striker we have.

The other decent looking player, well decent for the league we’re in, central midfielder Johan is one of the top players at the club, so we’ll be looking to him for some inspiration, despite not doing much up until now.

As I leave the training ground to head back to the hotel I left nearly 14 hours ago, I get a text from the chairman. Bright Dike has signed on a loan until the end of the season, with a fee of 30k to be paid upon surviving relegation. I actually forgot about this but it’s welcomed. The only issue is he’s not played this season so won’t be fit in time for the first game against Negeri Sembilan.


However, this bit of news tells me 3 things. 1, the chairman believes we can survive relegation so who am I to think otherwise. 2, there’s money to spend, or at least there was and 3, based off point number 1 the chairman is off his nut!

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Cross posted at The Journeyman Jock

10 years ago
2 hours ago

Start as you mean to go on (Back to the journey, man Ep:3)



As I saw the lads lining up I wondered why our right back was wearing the number 9 shirt, so I asked him.

‘For my kids’ was his reply. ‘I don’t get it’ was my reply. ‘I have 9 kids to feed’ Oh, right. That was the end of that conversation.

I decide to go with the ol’ ‘there’s no pressure on you today’ team talk speech in the hopes of inspiring something from the team, god knows we need to start picking up points yesterday! I get a semi decent reaction out of the players, a couple of murmurs and the 2 center halves I pick, I think they’re defenders, they’re the tallest of the bunch, are speaking with each other in a foreign language, Malay I guess. Probably complimenting me on a team talk well done.

The whistle goes to start the first game of my managerial career. I’ve not bothered sitting in the dugout, the bench is rusting away on the front legs and the one nearest the pitch looks to be on it’s last legs, pun intended. As soon as I stopped looking at what was left of the dugout bench my eyes were drawn to our right winger Jamaludin, I think that’s how it’s pronounced, and he’s whipped in a cross from deep which is headed away from goal by the Negeri defence, but into the onrushing Yong who just side foots the ball into the bottom corner of the goal!

From then the players look to add another, but Negeri are slowly getting into the game. We don’t look that shaky at the back and have an answer for everything thrown at us. A couple of half chances for both sides sees us to half time, although we’re not unscathed. Yong has pulled up a couple of times holding his groin, he has done some excellent work chasing down the ball from the front, and behind him Kamal says his ankle is giving him issues. Both tell me during half time they’re happy to stay on the pitch for the second half.

It didn’t take long before the teams defensive frailties were made apparent. A nothing ball from the Negeri midfield was played in which we took control of, but instead of getting rid of it Shathiya in defence decided to take what seemed like 100 touches before going back to Baharin in net who’s clearance went straight to an opposing winger, he then drilled it back across the box for Lee Tuck to tuck in, pun intended, to the net. 1 all and it was all our own doing

I quickly make a sub during the stoppage in play, bringing on M’Barga to play out wide on the right. He immediately makes an impact as he’s pushing the Negeri defence backwards, freeing up Yong in the middle to find space. Nothing comes off the cross but he’s lively enough and Negeri don’t cause us many more problems.

I’m surprised to see them sitting deep with less than 10 minutes to go. We’ve got the worse defence in the division and have been woeful up until my arrival, but Negeri seem happy with a point, I do not however.

M’Barga gets the ball on our right hand side and he drives down the wing taking 2 defenders with him. He plays a neat 1-2 with Yusoff (more from him in a moment) in the middle, as he receives the ball back he’s on the inside left channel cutting into the box now. I’m praying he doesn’t try hitting it, he’s got no left foot at all, but he surprises me and the Negeri defence as he dribbles past the center half and then the onrushing keeper has no chance as M’Barga slices the ball with his right taking it around the keepers left and clips the post as it just slowly rolls over the line

Once the players had calmed down after going ahead in a game for the first time this season, the game resumed and Yusoff who had a crucial role in that goal rushed from center midfield and forced Negeri to play it back to their defence.

Much like the goal we conceded where the defence should’ve just cleared it, the Negeri center half tried to be too clever and take it round Yusoff, but he won the ball on the edge of the box, took another touch to steady himself and placed it around the keeper to give us a 3-1 lead. Surely the worst defence in the league can see this last 5 minutes through?

Negeri knew the result was all but confirmed and didn’t really pressure us in the last 5 minutes, instead more concerned with keeping the score at 3-1 by holding on to the ball for much of the final 5. Stoppage time was a paltry 1 minute which flew by, and the full time whistle went, much to our delight

The dressing room was all smiles after the result. I told the boys how well they did and that if we play like that for the rest of the season, survival will only be a matter of time. We’ve just beaten the league leaders and favourties for promotion, and this is with the same team that had only won 2 so far. With the addition of Dike coming in and being fit for the next game, I’m sure we’ll survive the drop.

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Cross posted at The Journeyman Jock


10 years ago
2 hours ago

Fortune favours the brave (Back to the journey, man Ep:4)


The first player I signed as a manager, Bright Dike (still can’t get over how great that name is ) wasn’t even signed by me. The previous manager had put the feelers out but was sacked by the time Pahang had got back to him, not that I’m bothered, I can now play 2 up top with us having a decent, if not world beating big man to aim for and Yong to play off. He played for Toronto & Portland in the MLS before heading to Russia with Amkar Perm. He left them after 1 season to join Pahang where they played him a total of zero times before joining Jock McGhee and the DRB revolution.


We didn’t spend much time basking in the glory of victory, I need the players all on board and level headed to make sure that the Negeri result isn’t a fluke and definitely not a one off. I want to tell the players that every game is a big game, we’re still 3 points off safety but plenty of time to get things turned around.


I gathered the team around the day Bright was officially signed and told them all how I expect things to go now. ‘With another target to aim for we should easily get some shots on goal, as long as we stay strong in defence and don’t do anything stupid, I’m looking at you Shathiya (I gave him the deathstare as I said that) and we’ll be fine I’m sure of it’

Bright wasn’t fit enough to start the next game away at Sabah so he was on the bench to start. We stuck with the same line up that got me my first win last time out and things were looking good for the most part. We had a few chances nothing that troubled the Sabah keeper though, but we didn’t make any silly errors in the first half and got to half time at 0-0.

This is when we changed things up. Kamal dropped into central midfield alongside Johan and Dike was brought on to partner Yong up top, and within 90 seconds the change paid off. Jamaluddin on the right (M’Barga wasn’t fully fit to start either) got the ball over to the left as Kamal and Salahuddin combined to get the ball into the box where Dike was waiting. A touch on his right to steady himself, then he unleashed the ball with his left into the net. 1-0 only 90 seconds after coming on he scored!

Clearly the team were happy at their new found target man as literally 2 more minutes later Dike doubled the score. Another great run by Jamaluddin on our right was finished with a cross at the byline, Dike came rushing in toward the ball at the near post and glanced a header that went in before the keeper realised what was going on. 2-0 and we’re cruising

2-0 is a tricky scoreline I tell myself, especially with a defence as frail as ours and with 40 minutes to go the next goal would be key, if there was one, which of course there is. Luckily it’s one for us.


Not content on just getting 2 debut goals Dike completed his hat trick a mere 6 minutes after coming on to the pitch. 6 minutes of the second half gone, he’s touched the ball 5 times and got 3 goals. This third goal was a half volley just inside the area. A ball over the top was missed by the defender, Dike let it bounce and hit it as sweet as you like to give us a 3 goal lead. Surely game over?

Sabah were deflated but didn’t give in. They woke up after that third goal and tested our resolve for around 10 minutes, but we held firm. Yoganathan then sealed the victory with a nice finish inside the area to completely deflate Sabah, and we rode out the final 20 minutes of the game

‘I’m sure you’re going to be the reason we stay up this season’ I tell Bright as we speak after the match. He replied by telling me he just wants to play, and I confirm his place in the team is guaranteed.


I wasn’t sure coming to Malaysia was the right thing, or taking on a bottom of the league team that’s won 2 out of 15 was the right thing, but after these opening 2 games I was convinced coming here was the best thing for me to do. We’ve got Johor Darul’s B team up next.


Johor are Malaysia’s top team and their B side play in the second division with us, so I was expecting a tough game seeing as how Johor’s young players and first team players that need games could be in the side. However we’re on a roll and absolutely dominated the game from start to finish.


Kim Jin-Yong & Bright Dike up front tore Johor to shreds. Dike knocking down for Yong in the 7th minute to open the scoring, then as is our game plan, from the kick off press the opposition back as far as possible, Yong did this, won the ball on the edge of the box and played in Dike to stroke home to make it 2-0.


Dike added 2 more, with 1 assist from Yong to get his second hat trick in as many games, then teed up Yong for his second early in the second half to give us a 5-1 victory.

This result took us out of the bottom 2 places in the league and morale was high heading back to the training ground. We worked on the same things in training that had served us well in these last 3 games, no point changing a winning formula.


Malaysian Armed Forces Football Association, or ATM for short, were next up for us at home, and this is where things took a turn for the worse.


The game kicked off before I’d sat in the dugout but by the time I got sat down I was waved over by Hamizar Hamzah, the clubs assistant manager who was looking flustered

‘What is it speak up man?’ I asked him

‘Kim, he’s down, he’s rolled on ankle he can’t play on’

‘Stop trying to be funny, the games just kicked off’

‘Me no funny, look’ and I looked on the pitch and there was Kim Jin-Yong laid down just outside the center circle holding his foot


‘Fuck sake, get him off, go back to 1 up top’ I told him as the stretcher was taken on the pitch. I leant over to Kim and told him it’ll be fine as he was brought passed the dugout, and told him don’t worry about it. M’Barga came on for Yong and went in the AMC position behind Dike up front.


We did take the lead in the 39th minute though, Salahuddin found space inside the area and placed the ball into the far corner. We got to half time winning 1-0 but all the players wanted to know about Yong


‘It’s just a twisted ankle, he’s walking around on it at the minute, he’ll be fine’ I lied. I’d not even spoken to him since he went off the pitch on the stretcher over 40 minutes ago. Whether the players believed me or not I don’t know, but we went out for the second half and conceded the equaliser 7 minutes in. I tried to rally the players and get them pressing higher up the pitch, which they did but it would be to our downfall.


A short goal kick was taken and Dike went to close down the defence, as he did I saw him crumple to the floor holding his foot. I wasn’t sure what had happened but got dejavu as he had only gone and twisted his ankle, the same thing that force Kim off in the first half.


Seeing both of our goal scorers going off the pitch deflated the team I could tell. We hung on for dear life in the second half and came away with a credible 1-1 draw, just.

The same injury, to 2 players in the same position in the same game, what are the odds! With Yong I was tempted to let him use painkilling injections, but as Dike isn’t our player he had to be seen to by the physio. We’ve got 4 games to go now, 12 points available and we’re only out of the drop zone on goals scored, those big scoring games coming to our rescue.

Not mission impossible, but without our inform striker and the clubs leading scorer, it’s definitely mission difficult.

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Cross posted at The Journeyman Jock

10 years ago
2 hours ago

Going down an ever dimming path into darkness (Back to the journey, man Ep:5)


‘You’ll be fine (I was lying) playing behind the striker, being out your comfort can be a good thing (another lie), plus you’ve scored a couple already haven’t you pal (the only truth so far)’ I said to Cedric M’Barga as I had to shuffle the team due to injuries to our 2 main strikers. ‘Plus you’ve got the young lad, the fossil kid to play off in the next game’

‘Fauzi’ Hamizar, my assistant corrected me


‘Yeah cool, I’m still picking up the native tongue, am sure he won’t mind me getting his name slightly wrong seeing as he’s impressed me immensely in training to be given his first start’



Another lie. I was only playing the young lad because I had no other options. Whilst he’s as tall as the other strikers in the team he doesn’t really do much else, but I can’t not let him start. I’m no tactical genius (yet) so playing a strikerless formation this early in my career would be career suicide, if coming to Malaysia and getting relegated right away isn’t.


I could sense morale was low despite winning 3 comfortably and drawing the fourth game during my first couple of weeks here, the mood dampened by the loss of our 2 main, best and starting forwards.


Not content on merely surviving by playing well and picking up points, my team had gotten themselves not 1 but 2 more injuries to key players in the training session before the next game, an away tie at Universiti Teknologi MARA, or UTM for short. Some of the team names out here are incredible.


It wasn’t 2 twisted ankles this time, oh no. Yoganathan had torn the ligaments in his knee, ending his season, his goal against Sabah the highlight. I was impressed with him since taking over, him and Johan in the middle seemed decent enough in the 3 games we dominated.


Joining him on the inactive list is full back Puvanarajah, another name I’m struggling to pronounce, pulling his groin out. He assures me it was in training and not at home doing things he shouldn’t be, I take him for his word. Luckily we’ve an abundance of mediocre full backs in the ranks, so we’ll be just as poor down our left hand side as we were with him in the team.



A bit of a reshuffle for the trip to UTM, and the reason this club were bottom of the league when I took over was apparent right from the first whistle. 5-1 flattered us really. Of those 21 shots on our goal, 14(!) were on target. 14 fucking shots on target! This game could’ve ended 14-1 and no one could argue.


Luckily mercy shone down on us as they decided to stop scoring for the final 20 minutes. The silver lining here would be that we didn’t suffer any more season ending injuries, just a nice big dent to morale, goal difference and overall happiness instead.


The M’Barga up top experiment clearly didn’t work, and I don’t feel comfortable sticking Fossil up top on his own, so we stick to 2 up top again against PKNS FC, I’m not going to attempt their actual name, not that it matters, as we were outclassed, outplayed and we were outscored by our more illustrious opponents, again. The match started off in the worst possible way after they scored in under a minute. I’d just sat down as they scored and was straight back up screaming at the players. Their heads dropped 60 seconds into a 90 minute I knew it would be bad.


In a familiar feeling to our last match, I’ve got nothing much to say to my players at half time other than it’s only 2-0 at the half so we’re still in the game, we just need to grab the first goal and then it’s game on. They score within 2 minutes of the restart so that’s the comeback well and truly off. I make a couple of subs but it’s all for naught. 5-0 at home is embarrassing.


That most recent result dropped us back into the relegation places, 3 points off safety with 2 games to play

Safety from relegation is pulling itself further and further away with every minute that passes, so we’ve no time to waste really. We need to win at least 1 of the final 2 games, hope Kuantan (at home to Negeri Sembilan) and Sime Darby (at home to Melaka) both lose their next game. It’s possible, improbable, but definitely possible.


The next 14 days we’re in training for 10 of them. I’m not gonna have anyone saying we didn’t try everything we could to survive the drop. Bright Dike might just make the team for the next game against Kuala Lumpur, with Yong also resuming light training in a couple of days. Depending on how they are on the day we might risk it, we might not.

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Cross posted at The Journeyman Jock

10 years ago
2 hours ago

The end is near (Back to the journey, man Ep:6) 


‘That was great Cedric, but you didn’t need to scream at the top of your lungs just to get a game, you’re starting today’


‘Strike?’ He still hadn’t mastered the English saying of striker, so I replied ‘No son, you’re on the right wing’. He just smiled and walked back to his seat in the dressing room. Most of the other players looked like they would rather be somewhere else, much like me.


I didn’t want to get up today. Getting up and heading to our ground meant I’d be that much closer to seeing DRB getting relegated, in my first ever role as a manager for good measure. But not to be a downer I get the team ready for the game. I also tell them I won’t be keeping an eye on any of the other games as we just need to concentrate on our performance and nothing else. A clear lie, as I would be checking the scores at half time.


The game starts and we’re looking sloppy already, misplacing passes, not closing down quick enough but our keeper doesn’t have anything to do luckily. 18 minutes into the game though and I’m told that Kuantan have taken the lead in their game at home to Negeri, so we need to press on. I refrain from telling the players the score.


I try to encourage the players and get some fight in them, and we do respond with a couple of half chances, but nothing goes in the net right away. Bright Dike passed the fitness test on the morning and while he does look a bit sluggish he manages to give the us lead right on half time. A cross from our right is headed in by Dike, a typical center forwards goal

We’re still sort of in control of our destiny, as UiTM are doing their part in our survival quest by losing away to ATM, but Kuantan are winning meaning 3 teams are on 24 points, and we’ve got 23 at half time.

I tell the players we’re doing well at the half, and to be fair we are. Whilst we’ve been sloppy our keeper has only touched the ball a couple of times and we’re in the lead. I’m anxious that we’ll let slip defensivley but I’ve got to be optimistic heading into the second half


We start the second half on the front foot, just like we finished the first. We test their keeper with a shot from Dike that’s held easily, then we’re back in our usual slump of allowing the opposition time and space on the ball.


We ride our luck until the 70th minute when I get word that Negeri Sembilan have equalised away at Kuantan

I decide to tell the players that Negeri had equalised and we’ve just got to see it through although Kuala Lumpur woke up and in the final 20 minutes or so absolutely peppered our goal. We blocked shots, saw the post rattled twice, a goal line clearance but thankfully Lady Luck shone down on us and we saw it through to scrape a 1-0 win


With those 3 vital points, possibly the most important win so far in my time here, we’re only 1 point away from safety, with Perlis up next who are on 24 points

Things look a lot simpler now, as we need to beat Perlis to have any hope of surviving. We also need UiTM or Kuantan to lose or at least draw to secure survival. But mission objective number one is beat Perlis by any means and that’s the message I’m sending the players.


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Cross posted at The Journeyman Jock

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