The beginning of the end, or the end of my beginning?

Confidence is a great thing, especially in footballers. For example, when I told the translator to tell my team that we’re going to win every game because we’re the best team in the league, they were full of confidence and won the opening 3 games. Chang scored 6 goals in those 3 games as well.

Then NTUPES (stupid name) were beaten 1-0 in another win, then we destroyed Tainan City 6-0 for possibly the best showing of my time here.

With those 5 wins I was maybe too confident heading into a game with Taiwan Power hoping we’d avenge that opening stage final day loss to them.

My confidence didn’t rub off on the players, as yet again we were soundly beaten by them, this one not as bad as last time, but still 2-0 after winning 5 on the spin riled me up a bit.

A win and a loss succeeded that Taiwan Power loss, 6-3 over Fu Jen and a 1-0 home loss to NSTC rounded out the first 8 games of the closing stage of the season, and we were sat top on 18 points

I tried to address the teams form before the first of the final 6 league games, but the team still don’t like me very much. ‘We’re doing well, try not to slip up, a couple more wins and we’ll finish top with a game to spare’ but the general reaction was, well there wasn’t one. The team bar 1 player don’t speak English, and after just over a year I’ve finally realised that it is Chinese they speak here, and I’ve been quite lazy and learned exactly zero words in Chinese, so was relying on Mo to translate, but I’m not sure he does that good a job really.

For now though, I’m having to rely on a group of players that don’t like me, don’t respect me and don’t listen to me, but I hope they’re professional enough to put in the effort we need to see this through.

My fears of the team not listening to me were put to bed by the time 23rd September rolled around. We lost the first of the final 6 games to Tatung, but we won 3 of those 6 and we managed to finish first in the closing stage, which meant we would be playing in the grand final against Taiwan Power, who we’ve lost 2 and drawn 2 of the 4 meetings we’ve had with them and they’re in decent enough form, 2 wins and 3 draws in their last 5.

The first thought that entered my mind when we’d managed to secure top place was that I’d met the expectation set to me by the chairman. We’d won the closing stage and qualified for the Confederations Cup, or so I thought. I was under the impression that just getting to the final would mean we’d be in it, but I was wrong, we had to win the final to be given that place. I wanted to win this game not just to keep me in the job, but it’ll help me in my quest to become the greatest manager there ever was.

The day of the game came round quickly enough, and as usual I gave my pre game team talk and Mo delivered it to the squad

‘You’ve all done magnificently well to get this far, as you know we just need 1 more win to secure the league title, this clubs as well as many of your own first title as well. We’ve not beaten Taiwan Power in 4 attempts, so let’s go out there and change that stat today!

As with every other game up until now we started with 4-4-2. This team aren’t anything flash and technically they’re not very good. I know I’m not a good manager yet by any means but I know what my players can and can’t do, and a rigid long ball game has got us this far, so we won’t be changing anything up.

The game itself wasn’t an advert for football in Taiwan. By half time neither side had mustered up a shot on target, and there was not real talking points. My half time team talk was mainly just trying to get some sort of reaction out of the team, both in the dressing and on the pitch.

For just over a year now they’ve pretty much ignored me, and not bothered listening to me, but they must realise that we all want to win this game and the league title?

But by the 65th minute the game was much of the same. Both teams sitting deep, venturing forward very sporadically, when we get a scare from a hopeless long ball over the top, but somehow Taiwan Power don’t do much with the opportunity, which I’d expect they would seeing as how they’ve had our number every time we’ve played them. I make a couple of changes in the defensive end due to fatigue. Chien-hwa and Yu-tsung come on in defensive midfield and left back respectively, as I am wary of more of the counter attacks coming. The change works out well as we’re even more stubborn to break down, but going forward we still offered nothing. Full time in the final of the league and we’re sat at 0-0

‘What was that? Really, please someone tell me? That was absolutely terrible’ I say to Mo and ask him to translate with the clubs secretary slash translator. He continues speaking to the team who get up and go back to the pitch, 11 minutes early.

‘Why are they, where are they going?’

‘Pitch, make statement about being ready for extra time. Put Taiwan Power under pressure’

‘Oh, right, thanks I guess?’

‘Yes’

And what a statement they made, as from the first whistle to the last in extra time, my team seemed to have found a new energy, and completely dominated the extra 30 minutes. Chang Han actually turned provider as he played the ball just inside the box and Yung-fu rifled it home in the first half of extra time. They did not sit back and pressed for another, but that 1 goal got us over the line and confirmed we’d done it, we had won the Taiwan Premier League!

Now without sounding ungrateful or anything like that, I didn’t actually feel like we’d won much after this game. I’m not sure what it was, if it was the players not listening to me, or was it that I was a rookie manager and out of my comfort zone, if I even had one yet? Either way this first job, and it was just that, my first job as a manager, was coming to an end. I’d made my mind up a few weeks ago, if we didn’t win I was going to be sacked anyway, but now that we did win I could leave on my own terms. I had already got a new job lined up, I’ll explain about that later on, but the reason I wanted to leave was that I hadn’t felt like Ming Chuan was a good fit for me. I had no relationship with the players to speak of, and I certainly didn’t have a good relationship with the chairman anyway, and was expecting some sort of negotiating from him for me to stay, but he just thanked me for winning the league, the clubs only ever trophy by the way, and that was that, I’d left my role as Ming Chuan University manager after winning the Premier League.


Next chapter – Excuse me, are you going to Vietnam?

Previous chapter – How to end the season on a high, or low.

Episode 1 – This is not another European journeyman

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