Every manager wants a nice easy introduction to life at a new club, right?
Maybe a nice home friendly against a lower league opponent or even an away game – who doesn’t love travelling thousands of miles across the World to take on a random fourth division German side!
Managers want a gentle start to life at the helm, but here at Sporting Loft, it’s never that easy. In my first placement match, I expected to take on another poor side littered with bronzes and loans. You can imagine my surprise when this popped up on my screen.
Sadio Mane and Alexandre Lacazette running at Watford youngster Ben Wilmot and ‘star opening pack signing’ Phil Jagielka is always going to be a mismatch, but sometimes you have to play the hand you’re dealt.
Could my team of inexperienced bronze teenagers and sporadic Premier League fringe players spring the biggest of shocks?
Short answer – no.
It was a baptism of fire for Sporting Loft’s newest recruits, who struggled to impose the midfield in the desired manner. It took less than four minutes for Roberto Firmino to show his top-notch finishing against a totally exposed backline, while Sadio Mane was soon getting in on the act with a brace before half-time.
Seeing my young fledgling’s being outclassed wasn’t nice to watch, and not even the experience of Jagielka and Charlie Austin – who led the line – could make up for the sheer gulf in class.
Whatever was said in the dressing room had the desired effect initially, and Charlie Austin’s close-range finish – which found the top corner in a manner usually showcased by the likes of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani – will forever go down in folklore as Sporting Loft’s first ever goal.
Not even that strike could galvanise my troops and at times, it felt like a dads’ versus lads game at the local sports club!
I was given a metaphorical spanking by ‘Barca’ (quite an apt name for the manner of football displayed) and Sadio Mane even had time to complete his hat-trick.
My team of wannabee Sporting Loft superstars will have to learn the rigours and tribulations that come with being the underdog, as will be the case on many occasions this year.
For now though, it is clear that there is plenty of work to do.