Half way through my first full season in charge of a football club and we’re right where I expected us to be, second in the league and playing well. Okay so we lost 3 league games but in those games we were clearly the better side but just didn’t take our chances. We held leaders PKNP to a draw but they’ve got a 5 point cushion above us. We’ve got to play hard and take our chances to keep the pressure up.
In the first game of May we avenged our cup loss to Johor 2 by beating them 2 at their place. A great all round performance from us with 2 early goals they never got back into the game.
Back to back victories as we beat Perlis 3-0 at their ground. Whilst they are a promoted team looking to stay in the division, they put up a good fight but we took our chances, something we didn’t do just a few games ago.
As I walk towards the press room in our stadium my phone rings
‘Right laddie. I avoided you last time as I couldn’t be bothered with your gloating, but this time, this time mark my words son, you’re going down. And this will be the start of your downfall this season’
I recognised that Scottish accent straight away, that husky bitter voice on the other end was Steve Kean
‘Sorry Steve, you just sound bitter. I promised you I’d get the better of you and I did, this young inexperienced manager besting the old guard’
‘Take nothing for granted bonnie lad, when the season is over and done with, you’ll look back on this match as the beginning of the end’
Sounds like sour grapes to me, anyway who is trying to kid the beginning of the end? Can he see into the future?
We’re overwhelming favourites going into this match against Sarawak, and why shouldn’t we be, we’ve been on a roll recently and Sarawak have been average at best so far.
Right, where to start with this one. We had more shots on target, more clear cut chances but less possession. Well it was more of the same really, we had chances but didn’t take them, the opposition did take their chances. Same old story.
On my way out of the stadium Steve Kean is stood there, a grin as wide as he big stupid bald head. He looks me in the eye and says 2 words – ‘Told ya’ and walks off. The prick.
We had Sabah at home next and we didn’t deserve to win this 1 and we didn’t. A poor game matched the result.
In between this the groups for Malaysian league cup are drawn, and we’ve got fellow second division sides PJ Rangers & Negeri, as well as Super League team Kuala Lumpur. The cup kicks off when the league season ends.
Negeri Sembilan Press conference
‘Dmitri, your Penang side have struggled in the previous few games, despite this your name has been linked to not 1, but 2 jobs in the Super League, Perak and Felda. How do you feel knowing you’re struggling at Penang yet higher division teams are interested in you?’
‘Look, we’ve only had a couple of poor results, it’s not as if we’re hitting panic stations just yet. And on the speculation stuff, firstly until something concrete comes up I’ve no further comment, however I will say those 2 teams currently occupy the relegation places, and say I’m blowing my own trumpet but I have a good record of saving a team from relegation don’t I?’ I say that last part with a smirk on my face
‘But what is more important in your mind, taking this team up to the Super League, or keeping a team already there in that division?’
‘As I said, I’m not making any further comment on the speculation, as that is all it is for now, and unless you have any more questions about Penang and our upcoming game this presser is over. Thank you’
Perak and Felda, really? They can’t be interested in me. We beat Felda not that long ago, plus I’m barely a year into my life as a manager. It must just be paper talk. Just then my friend and personal assistant Ilja approached me
‘Hey man, you’ve had 6 calls whilst you were in the press conference, you really need to ring them back, like ASAP’
‘Okay, who was it?’
‘Well Abdul Puhat, that Perak president rang 4 times and Ghani Mohd rang once, I said I’d get you to call them back’
‘Okay who was the other call?’
‘Don’t know, some guy, he said something about being an angel? Anyway he’ll call you back later he said’
Wow, so the speculation is true. I better get on the phone.
Later that day
‘Dmitri, look thanks for taking the time to do a Skype interview at short notice, I know you’re a busy man. Like I said we’re just considering our options at the minute, and we’ll do what we feel is best for Perak FC in our attempts at avoiding the drop’
‘No thank you for taking the time to speak to me Mr Puhat’
‘We’ll be in touch’
Perak are a big team in Malaysia, certainly bigger than Penang at the minute. Maybe I’ve neglected my current team taking time to speak to Perak, but I don’t think they’ll hang around for me. I’ll ring Felda back now.
A short time later after speaking to Felda, I’ve arranged a meeting with them to take place in 2 days time. I just hope this doesn’t get out, it might cause some concern with my current squad. Anyway enough of that lets get this game with Negeri out of the way
Once again another poor result. This one is especially hard to take as it was 0-0 right up until moments left in the game. 6 minutes of injury time and right at the death their player hit an absolute worldie of a goal that flew straight past Carlos in goal with the last kick of the game.
We have got to turn this around soon, I’ve promised promotion and the longer this poor form goes on for the less likely promotion will happen. I’m not too concerned, but I am starting to doubt the teams resolve. The transfer window is open after the PJ Rangers game, I may just look into signing someone.
As for the game itself, we went behind in the first and were easily the worse team and deserved to be losing going into half time. I went absolutely nuts in the locker room, the last few games worth of frustration came out as none of the team were expecting it from me, they all perked up and we took it to PJ in the second half. We drew level with half an hour to play but the same old story of not having that cutting edge came through again as we were held to a 1 all draw.
As I make my way to my office to get ready for my interview with Felda, my phone rings, it’s the president of Perak
‘Dmitri, I won’t take up too much of your time. We’re not going to offer you the job, whilst we were happy with your proposed vision, we’ve gone with a more experienced manager to lead us to safety. Thank you for your time’
Ahh well, Perak may be a bridge too far right now. At least I can try and get the Felda job.
I attend the interview and despite feeling confident going in, I’m actually not sure if I want to go there. I mean we beat them early on this season and they’re rock bottom of the league. I feel like have a better chance of taking Penang up and keeping them there then keeping Felda in the league. We’ll see what the outcome is.
In the build up to our next league game against league leaders PKNP, murmurs of poor dressing room atmosphere surface. I’m not concerned, this type of stuff gets reported all the time, we just need a good performance here to keep our hopes of promotion alive.
A decent performance it has to be said. We went behind early on but equalised before half time before adding 2 more goals late on to kill the game. A very much needed win.
After that we went back to struggling to kill the game off. Another game, another performance where we just didn’t take our chances. 1-1 with bottom of the league Mifa is definitely a poor result.
To add salt to the wounds, not only did we struggle to put anything past second bottom UKM, who are by all accounts probably going down with Mifa, but I got an email telling me I didn’t get the Felda job.
Well this has been a very rough period for us. With 2 games left of the season, we need to win both games to have any chance of going up. With Johor & Terengganu having their B teams in this division, if either of those finished in the top 2, the next placed team would get the promotion spot, but as Negeri & PKNP are above us, we’ve got to rely on ourselves getting the job done. We’re 4 points off top and just a point behind PKNP, so realistically we’re looking at finishing second. Do I have faith that we can finish second, yes I do, but judging by this recent run am I confident? Secretly no I’m not, but I’ve promised the club, the fans and the players promotion and I’ll give it everything I’ve got going into the final 2 games.
‘I told you when we beat you that would be the start of your downfall. We may not be above you, but at least you’re struggling. You won’t go up this season, you’re too arrogant. You over promised with your guarantee of promotion, and now you’re under delivering. You’ll be lucky to be there next season’
Click. That twat. But he’s right, when we lost to Sarawak that was the start of our poor run. Fingers crossed we can pull this off……
Next episode – The final 2 games (part 1)
Previous episode – How’s it looking (mini-sode)