Operation : Fundamentals

Penang, Malaysia.

As clubs in this country go, Penang has a decent enough history, winning the Super League 3 times, Malaysian FA Cup once and the league cup 3 times. Chuck in a Charity shield for good measure and this club has a decent history. Despite this they’ve had 3 relegation’s from and 2 promotions back to the Super league before their most recent demotion.

The team sits 11th in the club which is in the relegation zone 3 points from safety, and just above Penang indecently are Sarawak and Steve Kean! With 3 wins in the league getting knocked out of the FA Cup at the quarter final stage, there’s some work to do so we best get to it.

I walk into the locker room, all 22 players sat around waiting for me to speak. Do I go in with a nice guy approach? Should I be conservative and try and win them over early? Well I’m Russian and volatile by nature….

‘Right, you don’t know me and I sure as hell don’t know any of you. What I do know is you’ve all been piss poor this season and you’re looking like heading into another relegation. Buck your ideas up and buck em soon’

My assistant manager is telling me something in Malay I think, I don’t know I don’t speak the language yet but the player liaison officer translates

‘They hate you already boss’


I’m not even going to assess this team until we’ve played a couple of games. There’s no point trying to see who are the ‘better’ players until I’ve seen just how bad they are in competitive matches. I’m going to assume this is a poor bunch, well as far as being favourites for promotion but currently residing in the relegation zone they must be poor. This is probably the proverbial baptism of fire, or something.

We kick off my career with 2 home games, and 2 must win games. First up are fellow relegation place holders UiTM, who are 3 points behind us but with a better goal difference, we could end up bottom of the league if we don’t win this game. My tactical briefing is (excuse the pun), brief. I tell the team to go on the attack from the off. No reaction from the squad, maybe they’re still annoyed at me for being so blunt? Anyway we set up with a structured 4-4-1-1 and we’re sticking to the fundamentals of football. Lots of closing down, long balls over the top and a high work rate. I need to win this game. Whilst this won’t be the game that sends us down, I need to make my mark and put the league on notice that I’m not here to get relegated.


Next post – The first game


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