Boris was peering into a sea of 65 blank faces and scratching his balding head. I could see he was struggling. The staff looked on impassively; Vasa Orlovic had made sure they weren’t going to help. I sat directly behind him and whispered: “Set some criteria to thin this lot out or you’ll never get started”. He remained impassive for about ten seconds, and then sat upright as if someone had shoved a cattle prod up his arse. He started barking out commands, splitting the group down by position, age, type of contract and so on. It was naivety gone mad, but it was as good an approach as any. He was going to have to off-load a lot of these players, especially as the wage bill was sky high, but he didn’t have time to assess them all individually.
Players with youth contracts were stuck straight in the Under 18s. The crowd was reduced to 58. I figured he was doing good so wandered off to think about raising the cash to escape. When I ambled back about an hour later, the crowd had shrunk to 28. I asked Boris: “What are they like?” In response, he coiled his hands together, with one finger slowly sliding out of the clenched fist like a turd edging out of an anus. I nodded an acknowledgement of what he was trying to communicate.
From what I had seen with my somewhat uneducated eye, the 65 players boasted three potential footballers. Two of these were the Bogunovic brothers, the younger being the first choice goalkeeper, and the older a moderately impressive looking striker. The third worthy of note was Horvat, an attacking left footer. Horvat was attracting attention from Mallorca and Red Star, so that was only a matter of time. The Boggy brothers, on the other hand, were local lads and seemed happy at the club. They knew about nothing other than shit and turnips, so the Deterlinari stadium suited them. Was this the right squad? Boris said a few more had to fall by the wayside, but that we would all learn by his mistakes. I thanked him for counting us all into his mistakes. He muttered “Fuck off” and lit a cigarette.
The Serbian world of football has a massive youth culture, so the free signings available are plentiful – crap, but plentiful. I asked Boris if he had any intention of dipping into the slime-filled waters of the transfer market. He laughed and pointed out: “I don’t know how much crap I have yet; so I don’t know how much more crap I need”. He had six friendlies to answer that question, and I didn’t envy him. As I got up to leave, he asked: “Are there any players from your country worth looking at?” I thought for a moment. Who would come to this godforsaken shit-hole of a country and play against turnip-eating lunatics for the equivalent of £600 per week? Not even Paul Furlong!
NB. As I said before, this is not my own work. It is Vic Flange’s. The original work can be found on TheDugout, right here. TheDugout is dying, so I’m rescuing the story and giving it the attention it deserves.