Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: St. Catharines, Canada
Sat. November 27, 2021
Barclays Premier League
Sheffield Wednesday (5-3-5, 18 points, 12th) vs. Dover (8-4-1, 28 points, 3rd)
Hillsborough, Sheffield, UK
Betting Odds: Sheffield Wednesday: 11-5 Draw: 11-5 Dover: Evens (Favourites)
Past Meetings: 4W 1D 3L
Sheffield Wednesday are a success story in this dynasty, as they were a League One team when I started managing at Dover and have solidified their spot in the Premier League, now in their fifth consecutive season in the top league in England. Sheffield was one of the biggest spenders in the transfer window, splashing an incredible £34.5 million, with the largest outlay on DC Saber Nasri - if you recall, I was one of the three teams to bid on Nasri, along with French powerhouse OM and Nasri picked Sheffield in the £11 million deal. They also spent £6.25 million on AM Eugenio Balestra from Celtic, £3.3 million on DC Martyn Bristow and finally, £5.25 million on Gerardo Escobar in a deal with us. Escobar has three goals in 12 appearances so far but their leading scorer continues to be English international Steve Pates, who has six goals. Nasri has been good so far and has also chipped in a couple goals for his new club.
We will move to a 4-4-2 DM (4-2-3-1) Control mentality today - Sheffield is adept at defending against the flat 4-4-2 and I've had some success in the past against this club with the one striker formation, so we'll play Zoltan Bardi just behind Shanon Andrea today. Gianluca Bolis is back in the starting lineup at AMR with Kostas Kalfas injured, otherwise, there are no other changes from the Barcelona game.
Dover: 4-4-2 DM (4-2-3-1) Control
GK - I. Wilke
D - R. Gaucho, C. Contreras, R. Hamon, S. Loucif
M - N. Cairney, A. Rocca
AM - A. Bamba, Z. Bardi, G. Bolis
S - S. Andrea
Bench - J. Kuciak, P. Tjiuoro, Mancini, S. Spall, C. Murray, A. Zubizarreta, G. Gesios
Sheffield is in a flat 4-4-2 and Escobar is up front with Steve Pates. I tell the team they can win today and pull aside Neil Cairney ("Pick up where you left off last game") and Gianluca Bolis ("I have faith in your abilities") for personal chats.
1' - HAHA. We give the ball away off the opening kick and Sheffield storm down field. Pates feeds the ball into Gerardo Escobar, he evades Ingo Wilke and scores. Our former player strikes in 40 seconds. Awful. SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY GOAL 0-1
12' - Oh boy, I think we're suffering from Champions League letdown. Pates gets free past our defence and Wilke storms out of the goal to ward him off. Pates beats him to the ball and attempts the lob and just as it's about to go in, Claudio Contreras is JUST able to head it clear from the open goal.
33' - What a horrific half, with no chances so far for us. Escobar has a free kick from outside the area and hits a piledriver that Wilke is able to turn aside.
35' - Now it's just getting embarrassing. Rayane Hamon whiffs on a tackle of Escobar at midfield and the striker moves down the field. Claudio Contreras has to leave Pates to challenge Escobar so the Spaniard cleverly slots the ball to his strike partner and Pates rounds Wilke and has the gaping net at his mercy. He doesn't miss. SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY GOAL 0-2
We change to an attacking mentality. We need a goal before half.
39' - Salim Loucif with a yellow card.
43' - Escobar looks amazing today and we look like pure garbage. He starts another attack down the left side and we leave one of their midfielders wide open in the area but Wilke makes a big save.
HALFTIME - What a letdown this game is. We somehow held 54% of possession but they outshoot us 7-5 (6-2 on target). I consider tilting on them but I decide to go for the more subtle "I want to see more from you" chat. We switch to a flat 4-4-2 control tactic.
61' - NOTHING HAPPENING. I'm PISSED.
63' - Seriously, our first solid chance of the game sees Andrea dribble up the left flank, cut to the middle and send the ball back to Neil Cairney. He gets a weak shot off that Sheffield keeper Erwin Mulder easily saves.
72' - Loucif gets a cross into the box and Arsene Bamba heads it to goal but Mulder turns it aside.
73' - I make wholesale changes - we move to a 4-3-3 attacking set and bring in Giorgos Gesios up front and Shaun Spall in midfield, taking out our two wingers Bamba and Bolis.
75' - From bad to worse. They win a corner and midfielder Jack Cork heads it in. Just a disaster tonight. SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY GOAL 0-3
81' - Claudio Contreras with a yellow.
83' - Contreras wins a header off a Rocca corner but Mulder makes the great save.
84' - Jozef Kuciak is in for Salim Loucif.
Wow. Never saw this coming.
Sheffield Wednesday 3 - 0 Dover
Man of the Match - Steve Pates (Sheffield Wednesday ST - 8.5)
Other Dover Notables - Rayane Hamon (7.0)
Attendance - 28,543
Just a horrifyingly bad game. We edge them in possession with 51% and outshoot them 12-10 (6-7 on target). I tear into the team after the game against my better judgement, as it usually doesn't help matters. In the press the next day, reporters and fans alike talk about my "tactical blunders" in changing from our successful flat 4-4-2 formation to a one striker formation. Guess I should expect that - we've used the 4-4-2 DM (4-2-3-1) as a main tactic for years and it's worked against them in the past. Just not our night.
-- Morale takes a HUGE drop after my tirade, with many players dropping to "Okay" from "Superb".
-- Reading move to within one point of us after beating Aston Villa on the road and they also have a game in hand on us. Arsenal beats Sunderland 1-0 to move into fifth spot. And City wins the Manchester Derby, beating United 2-1 at Old Trafford to take command in the league.
Dover U18 Team Update
-- Our U18s win 4-0 over AFC Wimbledon. Strikers Gregoire Lambert and Eddie Robinson both score twice in the win.
-- We arrange the transfer of reserve DC Matthew Thompson, sending him to Burnley for £10,000 on January 1st when the transfer window reopens. Thompson is actually one of our longest serving current players, as he's in his seventh year with our club but has only played in 19 league games for us over that period. He was a home-grown player but for whatever reason, his 0-21 status didn't qualify him as home grown according to Champions League rules so he was completely useless to us here and surplus to requirements.
FA Cup 3rd Round Draw
-- There are a crapload of Conference level teams still in the competition but we get drawn against Middlesbrough, our next Premier League opponent. At least it's a home match.
-- I see a note come through that former Dover captain Darren Pratley, who just retired in the offseason, has accepted a managerial position with Tamworth in the Blue Square Bet Premier. Good luck my friend!
-- December is always busy and this one is no exception, with SIX Premier League games: we have Middlesbrough, Chelsea, Manchester City and Newcastle in road games and Derby and Arsenal at home. We also have our final group stage match in Champions League play coming up against Schalke. It will be really busy around the Christmas season, that's for sure.
-- I get positive training reports for Andrea Rocca, Jonathan Adam along with youth players Mohamed Lamine Yilmaz, Emmerson Harvey and Louis Read. Negative reports come in for Neil Cairney and Carlo Cerbone. Unacceptable and I let them know it!
Barclays Premier League Monthly Awards
-- Man City's Enrique is back in lethal form this year and he scored NINE goals in four games last month to win the Player of the Month honours.
-- Steve Pates from Sheffield Wednesday wins Young Player of the Month and our own Renato Gaucho finishes second.
-- Carlo Ancelotti once again wins Manager of the Month honours.
December Board Confidence Update
-- The board continue to be delighted with the leadership qualities I'm demonstrating. Our stature increase the the main positive and our 3-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday this week is the negative.
-- We made a profit of £282,000 last month.
Dover Reserves Team Update
-- I sent Giorgos Gesios down to get some confidence and he scores three goals and adds an assist in 50 minutes of action to lead us to a 4-1 win over Arsenal's reserves. Shaun Spall scores the other Dover goal.
-- We try to bounce back in an away game at Middlesbrough in Premier League play.