Despite leading scorer and all round pain in the arse Patrick Cruz’s attempt to derail our mission to survive in the V League, the squad were all on my side. I had a conversation with Kaloulou Sylla, center half by day and team player by night and he made a valid point
‘Vince, boss, he did his job this last season in getting us promoted, and I’ve seen a lot of strikers like him around especially in The Ivory Coast, they’re a dime a dozen’ His English was really good.
‘Yeah but he’s in form, he’s got the skills I want and we need this season’
‘But he struggled last time he was in this division, and he’s already showing his true colours. Look at it this way, I jumped at the chance to come here and play for you and Sai Gon. As soon as we’d spoke on the Skype that day, I knew where I wanted to play. I’ve only got 3 maybe 4 years left in me, but I want them to be playing for you, here in Vietnam. He’s done well for 1 year in the second division and he wants out. Let him go I say, I’m certain there’s going to be strikers just as good, if not better that would jump at the chance to play here’
He is an all round great guy isn’t he. He made me feel like I was the best manager there is, and stuff Cruz, he’s a bad apple, but I am worried about replacing his goals from last year, but then I don’t know if he is just a 1 season wonder and won’t cut it in the V League? But thinking about it, this season is all about grinding results out. We probably aren’t going into any game as the favourites, so we’ll need to focus on stretching matches as much as we can.
Just as I was pondering our chances this season, Mo came and asked me about defensive tactics coaching, which I’d not really thought about much. He’d said that his friend Arsene Kone had been working with Kolo Toure and was ready to make a move to Vietnam to become our defensive coach for the coming season.
Before we got the ball rolling in our survival campaign, we signed experienced winger / striker Truong Hoang Linh on a free. He should come in useful as I think he’s good enough to hang in this league
With Cruz playing the silly twat card and demanding a move away, he’s transfer listed. I even press the little offer to clubs button on his behalf, but there’s no takers. They’ve all probably heard how much of a dick he is.
However, my man Mo had got the perfect replacement lined up. Noh Hyeong-Cheol from South Korea.
As good as Cruz in all the key areas, I never told him this but I’m really hoping Hyeong comes in and does a good job this season. If for nothing else it will shut Cruz up maybe, just maybe they could play together?
A nice second from bottom finish prediction for us from the media here in Vietnam too, but I’m quietly confident of surviving in the league, as far away from 13th as possible
For our maiden season in the V League, it started well as a bumper crowd of over 2,000 fans saw us claim an opening day victory over Can Tho, with our 2 goals coming in the first 10 minutes. We followed that up with a 1 all draw away ant Dong Nai.
March to July saw us play some really good football. We grabbed a last minute goal away to Song Lam early on in the run, we managed to pick up another 7 wins after then too. We obviously lost a few games which I was expecting anyway, Da Nang and Ha Noi, both teams expecting to win the league were the teams that were too good for us on the day, although we avenged the 1 loss to Ha Noi by beating them 2-1 to claim a priceless victory over one of the favourites for the league.
Come the end of July, we were sitting 7th in the league on 29 points. Not bad for a promoted side.
In the Vietnamese FA Cup we were drawn against Dak Lak in the first round
We showed our superiority over them in a 3-0 home win, which set us up with Hoang Anh Gia Lia in the second round
Another resounding win, 3-1 this time kept us in the cup.
We played Thanh Hoa in the quarter final, and held a 4-2 advantage going into the second leg
So roughly half way through our first season as a V League side, we’re mid table, a full 19 points off the relegation places, and have got 1 foot in the semi final of the Vietnamese cup.
With 8 games to go, we’ve more or less secured survival. We’re playing well enough considering this is the clubs first season back at this level, Cruz has played exactly 0 minutes in our survival campaign despite being the main reason we’re here in the first place, but that’s his problem.
We’ve just about secured passage into the semi final of the cup as well, so if the season ended here I’d say we’ve had a good one, but there is much more to play for.
Challenge overview as of mid way through season number 4. I’ll add this at the end of every season from now on.
Next episode – The end of the season is so close we can almost taste it
Previous episode – It happened after 11
Episode 1 – This is not another European journeyman