Chapter 694 – Remnant
Up till the end, Twain did not find Lisa Aria to ask for them to withdraw that news article and to release a public apology. This was not because he had forgotten about it, but his current self did not know what to expect. No matter if he agreed or not, Shania had indeed became his rumoured girlfriend, solely based on the fact she confessed her feelings to him. Thus, this article would not count as one that is fabricated.
Besides, he did not want to find those publishers again for a chance for the media to use this opportunity to blow up the issue. He was not sure of his inner feelings and he did not want to find trouble — he was never afraid of the complications from soccer, but he hopes to have less, if not none of those troubles that includes feelings and other women.
The reality was not too far off from what Twain hoped, the news publishers Lisa Aria supported had limited reputation. Adding on the fact the amount of rumours related to Twain’s rumoured girlfriends were plenty, it was initially Clarice Gloria who attracted some attention, but after that came news of some turkish beauty which became dull and no one cared. The two “rumoured girlfriends” mentioned above even had photographs as proof. However, the publishers could not even produce pictures proving the rumours between Tony Twain and Shania, how can they claim this to be “shocking news”? Is it only because discovering that both of them are friends gave them the right to freely fabricate such ridiculous news? They “were even able to guarantee the truth on their honor”. At today’s age who would not know that these entertainment producers sell their honour for a living. Definitely not many would believe Shania was Twain’s rumored girlfriend.
At this moment, if Twain’s rumoured boyfriend was not a chinese Tang but was actually David Kerslake or David Beckham, this news might have been more sensational.
Since that incident, other than writing that email, Twain has never contacted Shania. His current self did not know how to face that little fairy, he would feel a little uncomfortable until being simply did not want to think about it.
Luckily, he still had work to distract himself.
The new league champion group match schedule had already been arranged. Nottingham Forest, who successfully won the league champions, has gotten unprecedented attention. The experts were also optimistic about the performance of the seeded team. There was even such a voice speaking. “No matter which group Nottingham Forest is allocated, or what the other three teams in the group were, Tony Twain’s team would always win the group, and eight, nine of tens times topping the group. The other teams’ only option was to get the second spot of the group.”
The final outcome was Nottingham Forest being allocated into the last group.
The H group, other than the seeded team Nottingham Forest, had the old-school team Juventus who only returned to Seria A last season to win the championship in this current season. The Ukrainian traditional team FC Kyiv Dynamo and Belarus’ team Borisov were in the group too.
Only Kyiv Dynamo could create some upsets, Borisov was already been determined to be the minnow for the other three teams to win matches from. If everything goes as expected, the two teams leaving the aforementioned group should be Nottingham Forest and Juventus.
The international team competition had reached a pause and players concurrently returned to their respective teams. George Wood had finished his happiest fortnight in the national team as their first team starter. In the two matches on the 6th and the 10th, he gave his best in his debut and used actual results to repay Capello’s trust in him. In the matches where away team England won Andorra with two goals, 4 : 1 to defeat Croatia on away to take revenge for their elimination during the UEFA European Championship finals, George Wood’s midfield defense had a decisive impact.
Capello, who rarely personally praises a single player, told the media after their match with Croatia, “with George Wood, our offensive efficiency is a lot higher.”
Why was it higher? It was because they did not worry about frantically returning to defense after losing the possession.
George Wood used his unwavering sprinting and fierce defending to stop Croatia on their every attack. Croatia could not penetratrate the center path in midfield at all, their only plan was to take the side flanks. Croatia’s new star in the midfield, Tottenham Hotspurs’ Modrić was successfully subdued by George Wood where he only played for 65 minutes.
Twain was proud of Wood’s performance, he heavily complimented Capello on his own column. He said Capello was genuine talent in being a gold medallist coach, and under his guidance, England would definitely go far.
Of course, he did not forget to praise Wood’s performance. After all, his own proud discipline did not made him lose face. “… I said this earlier, George is England’s most outstanding defensive midfielder. It is a pity in the past where there were various reasons he could not be placed in an important position. But now I am glad he met a head coach who could truly appreciate his talents. I can even say, England would welcome the new “George Wood’s era” in the near future.
Twain was not even slightly afraid that exaggerating about George Wood will “kill” him. Because he was well clear that George Wood was not one who would be complacent because of his own pride, his past life experiences enabled him to be more calm than most people, and to be able to experience high honour and disgrace.
George Wood’s outstanding performance display was one of Twain’s few positive results from the international matches. The rest were injury reports.
Ribery, in France’s 2 : 1 victory over Serbia, left the match due to injury at the 77th minute, needing therapy for a week.
Martin Petrov in Bulgaria’s away draw 2:2 with Montenegro, was injured, and needed rest for 15 days.
Eastwood, after representing Wales’ match against Russia, was over exhausted and his fitness coach recommends him to miss the league game that was 3 days later.
Adding those who was still under the injury list, Van Nistelrooy with Van der Vaart who recently recovered and returned to the team whose condition was not guaranteed. Twain felt like it was a pitiful few number of players that he could use.
Although it was home field, and the opponent was Sunderland, Twain did not feel comfortable at all.
The negative scenes from the past summer were frequently reappearing, thus it would be weird if he could feel easy.
“As the following week we still have the champions league match, we need to use some rotations… Eastwood is recommended to not play for this match, Bale should be rotated out as well and Beckham should rest, Fleming suggests Van der Vaart should not play in the match against Sunderland because he was worried the rough Sunderland will cause him to be injured again…” says Kerslake, as he reads the report.
Twain waves his hand to interrupt him. “You should just say who is able to be allowed on field uh? Left flank totally has no people, center road only has two defensive midfielder, and there is not even a reserve for a striker.”
The group became silent, this situation was truly too tricky.
In the end, Twain arranged a roster where Akinfeev replaces van der Sar as the main goalkeeper, left defender being Leighton Baines, middle defender being Woodgate and Ayala, right defender being Rafinha.
Middle midfield being Tiago and George Wood — This time having clear role allocation, Tiago being in charge of defense and George Wood prioritizing attacking, which meant George Wood was pushed into an offensive position.
Left side midfielder being Kris Commons, right being Lennon.
There was no options for the strikers at all, Twain let Zigic partner up with Arshavin.
After this arrangement, Twain discovered the seven in the reserves did not need to decide on their positions, they just needed to be there.
Van der Sar, Chimbonda, Kompany, van der Vaart, Sun Jihai, Bale, Beckham.
The rest of the people were either injured or have no avouchment on their physical fitness, hence being unable to go on field.
Keane obviously knew about the plight of Nottingham Forest. Although his relationship with Twain was not bad, he could not vouch on that friendship. To defeat this half-beaten up Nottingham Forest, Sunderland picked up 120% of their efforts and bringing out their full main roster, striving to fight for an outcome which Keane desired.
Suffering from the drag from the international competitions, Nottingham Forest players were in their low states whilst having poor physical fitness. The whole of Sunderland team were actively fighting for the ball without holding back. Fleming’s worries were definitely with reason, Sunderland had exaggerated actions liken to a brute. As long as they could take back the possession, they did not care about the overwhelming booing from the audience stands. Luckily van de Vaart did not risk coming on field, or else who knows how long he had to rest after this match.
Nottingham Forest started scoring at the start of the second half, but Sunderland, with their tenacious force snatching, gotten an opportunity in the opposing half and evened the score after five minutes. This goal impacted Nottingham Forest’s morale, facing the malicious Sunderland, the mentality of being afraid of being injured made the players over-cautious in their performance, causing them to not being able to display even half of their usual standards.
In the end, Nottingham Forest drew against Sunderland in their home field. Their rank in the league fell to the 5th place, placing them in the same position as Aston Villa and Hull City, whom they triumphed with a five goal lead.
Zigic’s debut was definitely not considered a success. Being the tallest player on the field, he was not able to adapt to the tactics played by Nottingham Forest. Plus, after losing van der Vaart and Ribéry, the support the midfield could give him was pitiful, he was not the type of striker who, after getting the possession by himself, could penetrate the defense, dribble past the guards, solo defeat the everyone on the defensive line and score. Even though his performance was average, Twain still left him on the field to play the full 90 minutes. On one hand it was simply because there was no one else to subsubtitute in, but on another he was hoping Zigic would adapt to the team’s playbook as fast as possible. After all, Twain did not buy him to sit on the stool to watch and learn the game but to push him to join the rotation immediately.
After the end of the match, everyone in the changing room was busy changing in order to quickly leave the stadium. Drawing to a team like Sunderland on home field did not make anyone happy, but there was no choice, this is soccer, no one could guarantee winning all their matches. Besides, everyone was clear that the team had more injuries than usual. So Twain also did not criticise the team’s performance, he only hoped that the team would perform with a different standard in the next week’s champions league match.
On the day after the game, Twain, with the help of translation, notified Zigic to talk to him personally.
The Serbian thought Twain was going to criticise his performance yesterday, but the first sentence that came out from Twain on their meeting was. “Have you experienced the difference between the Spanish League and English Football League?”
Zigic nodded. The match yesterday was totally different from the Spanish League match which he was used to.
“Could you tell me the difference?” Twain asked.
“Speed and tempo.” Zigic blurt out. Both teams, in yesterday’s match, had quick tempo changes between offense and defense, errors made this speed even faster. There were times Zigic was preparing to run back to defense, but Nottingham Forest had already intercepted the possession in their defensive half, preparing for yet another counter attack. In this endless running back and forth, Zigic expended tons of physical stamina, being another reason for him to be unable to display his best.
Twain nods with approval. “Absolutely, although there were also other differences, speed and tempo decides everything. English Football League, compared to other leagues, are a lot faster in terms of speed and tempo, so the demands to one’s physical form is higher, and you need to be smart enough. Yesterday, you expended a lot of physical strength… hasn’t Coach Tang told you before? What does our center forwards need to do? ”
“Make space, attract the opposing defense’s attention, make plays for teammates and shoot for the goal.”
“I feel like yesterday you… Ok, how do i say this, were a little too modest. You are a center forward, you should put “shooting for the goal” as your priority. If there is a scoring opportunity and you would give it up for others, in what situations will you choose to pass the ball? When you are pressurized by the defenders and are unable to turn the body, where your position is not optimal, when your teammates have a higher chance in scoring … then passing is your best choice. Yesterday you prioritized in passing the ball instead of scoring for yourself. Is this trying to win everyone’s hearts over?”
Zigic, after being told off by Twain, became embarrassed, he nodded to admit this original intention.
Twain smiled. “There is no use in this. I found you to become a center forward and not to play as a side midfielder. I indeed did value your abilities to make plays, but you are the center forward. If you want to let them accept you, like you, recognise you, it is actually very simple — score, repeatedly score. That way, everyone will like you.”
Twain had decided to focus on cultivating and supporting Zigic, if he was not adapted to the Premier League, then he would work hard to make Zigic to be comfortable, if he is unable to score, then he would work hard to create opportunities for him to score. He wanted to reestablish a tall center forward, he wanted to let those who are waiting to make fun of him to know, losing Bendtner did not cause huge losses to him, because he had Zigic!
Bendtner was able to pursue the type of soccer he truly wanted, he could enjoy the superiority of being the main core in Man City. But his team, Tony Twain’s team, would continue to win matches and championships.