Let The Kicking Commence

With the exception of Boggy the Younger in goal, Boggy the Elder up front, and Horvat on the left wing, it was hard to see how Novi Sad were going to make an impression. Boris also added to the confusion with an extremely aggressive tactic, although the real heart of the team seemed too defensive. With a flat back four, supplemented by a defensive midfielder, I did anticipate a slow and methodical approach. However, the three midfielders formed an attacking trident up the pitch, with two very fast strikers (speed taking precedence over finishing ability, it seemed), the hell-for-leather approach was given a trial.


Less Is More

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.


Putting The Crap Into Scrap

Whether Boris got to eventually take a dump on that first day I’ll never know. I finished my beer, made one last flirtatious comment to Angel, and scuttled off into town. I tracked down two scrap metal merchants who looked more like hired muscle than businessmen, and we set off back to the Deterlinari stadium. My goal was to make enough cash selling off the printing press to get out of the region. Like any plan thought up in a second and without any fallback scenario in place, it was a corker. Things were going swimmingly. Their initial snorting and utter contempt for the pile of crap I was trying to offload on them had melted to a slight flicker of interest once I had passed around the Marlboro and a couple of chipped teacups liberally laced with turnip cognac! Just as the discussion on prices was getting interesting, in walked Vasa Orlovic. He claimed he heard voices and was checking everything was secure; I actually think he was coming in to take a leak in the slum laughingly referred to as my office. (more…)

Out Of The Frying-Pan; Into The Shit-House

There is an old saying in Serbia: “Better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick, and better to be poor and sick than Vasa Orlovic”. I should have thought harder about this as I watched the middle aged but decidedly sickly looking Assistant Manager of Novi Sad swing open the metal door to the small dark room under the main stand. Why I had to be here to sell programmes before the pre-season friendlies had even kicked was beyond me. He flicked on the light switch and a dusty bulb spewed a yellowish light across the grubby room. There was a table dotted with rat shit, a chair that had shed most of its stuffing onto the damp floor, a typewriter that belonged in a museum, and a huge bulky object under what appeared to be a soiled and stained bed sheet. Some of the stains looked, well, suspicious to say the least. Suspicious and violently unpleasant. I took a deep breath and froze. I thought he was going to bugger me. However, what he did was even worse. He whipped the sheet away to reveal a rusting heap of crap that closely resembled an archaic 1950s printing press. The sickening reality began to hit home. I had to write and print the bloody programmes before I could sell them. (more…)

The Road To Novi Sad

Serbia is a country riddled with songs, sayings and poems, and the national psyche is built around this oral tradition, especially when it comes to football. Indeed, that’s the reason I ended up here. To cut a long story short, a large-breasted language student I met in London was travelling out to study the songs and folk traditions of the country. Her breasts, coupled with a need to escape gambling debts in London and the promise of cheap beer lured me to the country. I escaped the debts, the big breasts escaped me, and the cheap beer resulted in arguing about the finer points of football with a barman called Zojan in some back street watering hole. He knew little about football, but did have an overwhelming passion for local club Novi Sad; enough to get me slagging them off just to annoy him. To be honest, I didn’t have a clue who they were, but as with any team, all the usual jokes fitted – stadium has structural fault, all the seats face the pitch; they put 10 grand’s worth of manure of the pitch every week, and so on. I even perfected a line in praising fierce local rivals Veternik just to really piss him off.


Sing It Loud


This isn’t a traditional Strikerless post, as in that it is a story. A brilliant story I might add. It is also someone else’s work, namely an author operating under the pseudonym of Vic Flange, so I do not want to take credit for something I have not written. The story was written back in 2005 and posted on the TheDugout community forums. With TheDugout dying a slow death, I would hate to see this story lost in the annals of internet history, as it is truly the best (and most disturbing) piece of Football Manager fiction I have ever read. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I do, as I will be posting regular updates every week.