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Part 1: The Manager
The Barcelona players had finally managed to get their captain off Louis’s star striker after the former had essentially attempted to murder the latter with his god awful tackle. Immediately he was over to the fourth official. "Is he gonna get sent off then?"
In a quick motion, the fourth official sighed, put his open hand in front of him without turning his body away from the pitch, and put his other hand to his earpiece.
Before Louis could press the person who had no say in the decision any further, Erik Simon, the Barcelona manager, stormed into the discussion like a panzer tank. He was screaming… something directly into the official’s face, who appeared to be taking the Royal Guard at Buckingham Palace approach to events.
Louis turned back to the pitch. The red card held high by the ref above his head directly in front of Raimondi. He smiled smugly and turned to watch Simon’s antics. Disappointingly, he managed to keep it all in, instead turning around and pointing at the sub keeper to get ready to come on, then turned back to the pitch while his assistant manager came up beside him to discuss who to bring off.
Louis took his seat, turning back to talk to his own staff. "How do we approach this then?"
"We’ve got to go for it," the first to speak was Euan, who was in his first coaching job, and thus, was an annoying little shit who didn’t realise he wasn’t always correct. "I don’t care if they’re Barcelona or East Kilbride, we’re a goal up, they’re down to te—"
That’s enough of that. "Euan."
Euan clearly didn’t know how to respond to that, so he just chose the right answer, and didn’t.
The fourth official was prepping his board: The number 23 flashing in red. 23, Jeroen Vandebroeck, their Left Winger. On the one hand, that was good. Blair had spent the game getting fisted by the Dutchman, but on the other, this would mean their right winger moving into the centre, and their full backs pushing further up. Euan was an idiot, it didn’t matter if Barcelona was down to 10 men, it was still Barcelona—even if they were in the Europa League, they’re wage was still 10 times that of Inverness. Louis knew this and didn’t want his team to get complacent.
He shouted over our captain, "Stick with the same plan, okay? This isn’t gonna make 'em any more defensive. Keep it tight and keep it focused."
Graham spun round and headed back onto the pitch, shouting out the orders he’d been given to the rest of the team. He was the best kind of captain, one who did what he was told.
Louis turned around over to his bench, "Kevin, Macks, get warmed up!" Even though we were ahead, we would still need to change things, especially in attack, the only attacker who had shown up was Stevo, but he was always going to play well, while Deano and Daz had proven just how out of their depth they were. Both players ran down the line to warm up behind the goal, clapping the fans as they did so, who responded in kind.
Louis turned his head back to the match. The Catalonian side had the ball down the wing, their left back bombing forward, leaving Blair for dust, one simple flick of the ball over a slide tackle and he was over Graham and in the box. Shot… saved by Kellock onto the opposite post and out for a corner. From the corner, their massive 6’5 centre back was somehow left fucking unmarked, got to the cross… and completely fucked it.
How the fuck are we winning this? Louis thought to himself.
Part 2: The Player
Wayne Mackay wasn’t quite sure why Celtic had loaned him to Inverness, but he was pretty sure it was some kind of punishment. He had hoped that he was going to loaned out to some club in England where he could play against shite, score tons, and look fantastic. Instead, he was up north, freezing, and playing in Europe. Thankfully, for his own sake, he had scored the equaliser in the playoff against Sporting Lisbon, or the fans would’ve probably noticed that’s only one of the two goals he had scored so far this season. After all, there was a reason he was playing second string to a striker originally from Blackpool.
"KEVS!" Wayne looked up and saw that the boss was shouting over his teammate. He was going to come on. The winger went to run over to the dugout.
"Hey," Wayne shouted, grabbing Kevin’s attention. "Good luck mate."
They shared a high five before parting, Wayne going back in front of the Inverness North Stand to carry on warming up, while Kevin sprinted up to go on. He replaced Daz, who ran off the pitch with his head down, Barcelona’s Russian left back had been all over him and he couldn’t get a cross off. Thank fuck for Durz, Wayne thought. Fraser Durrand’s long range strike in the first half from Steven Graham’s sideways pass was the reason we were ahead, but even after that and Barcelona pushed forward, Stevo was the only one capable of getting anything done.
From behind him, he could hear the frustration of the fans. "Fuck sake, Caley!" was shouted as a sloppy clearance from Liam led to a Barcelona corner, that Ian was luckily able to catch, causing frustration from the Catalonian fans in the south stand behind him. This was cheered by Inverness fans: "Kelloggs! Kelloggs! Kelloggs" Wayne chuckled, knowing how much he hated that nickname.
How the fuck are we winning this?, Wayne thought to himself, as he witnessed another solid five minutes of Catalan dominance, We’re inferior in every way. Even after their captain getting sent off, their heads had still refused to drop. Their striker had given Graham and Richard nothing but torment, Sulejmani, the Romanian midfielder, was pinging balls all over the place and every single time they reached their man, every single time, and Ikegami in defense had swept up every ball that got close to him.
Shaun, Tom, and Greg were all running down the line to get warmed up, so Stevo jogged back to the dugout, exchanging high fives with all of them. Kellock saved a shot from long range by Fischer before somehow getting to the rebound before Pons could. Ballon D’or nominated Francisco Javier Pons. Fucking hell. Wayne sat next to Dan, the backup keeper. The boss was talking to Gaz, his assistant, they were pointing at Deano, and nodding in agreement. A potential cross from their right back was stopped by a slide tackle from Liam and put out for a throw-in. The boss turned around to the dugout. "Macks!" He looked up. "Get ready, you’re coming on."
Oh fuck! Me? What the fuck am I going to do? Of course, Wayne didn’t say any of that, but he was obviously failing to hide it. "Go on then!" The boss shouted, and Macks immediately stood up to get his training top off, catching his shirt that Dougie the kitman had chucked at him. Red and blue stripes on, he walked up to the touchline, letting his studs be inspected by the fourth official while Gaz talked in his ear. "Harass their centre backs, they're tiring out and gonna be trying to lump it forward or play the ball to their full-backs to get rid. Don’t give them the opportunity to do that, and if possible, try to counter."
The next stoppage, an Inverness goal kick, the fourth official raised his board: Number 27 in red; number 17 in green. Deano looked up, sighed, dropped his shoulders, then walked over to the touchline, making sure to waste time but not too much to get booked. "Coming off for Inverness, number 27, Dean Warrington…" shouted the Tannoy, Dean clapped the Inverness fans who responded in kind despite doing nothing but calling him "fucking useless" for 70 minutes. Dean reached Wayne, gave him a high five and moved past him, saying nothing and keeping his down. Wayne sprinted onto the pitch, taking position in the centre circle just in front of the two centre backs.
Part 3: The Fan
"… and coming on is number 17, Wayne Mackay!"
Over the claps and cheers of encouragement, one voice could be heard in the North Stand. "Oh fuck sake, not him! He’s fucking useless!" You see, Wayne Mackay had just come on, and Kyle’s dad was fucking raging. "He scored one goal against Lisbon and everyone thinks he’s a fucking god!"
Kyle sighed. "He scored against one of the biggest teams in Europe, da."
"Aye, but he’s still shite."
"And Warrington’s so much better aye?"
"Nah, he’s shite, too."
"Who isn’t shite to you, da?"
"Fucking everyone! Except Graham, he’s class."
In fairness to his dad, who was still an idiot, it didn’t look like Mackay had changed much. He was just kinda… running around, trying to get on the end of passes from Barcelona to intercept them, but was just a bit too short each time. Barcelona continued to dominate, Minchev got the ball on the left, crossed the ball into the box from deep, O’Callaghan tried to head it out, but it only reached the line into the penalty area and was immediately scooped up by Capagrosso. "For fuck sake!" was heard from a fan behind Kyle. Luckily, the Spaniard completely fucked it, skying it high over the stand and out the stadium. The entire stand cheered, except for Kyle’s dad, "Got lucky there." He wondered for a moment as a ball boy chucked a ball over to Kellock, what would happen if his dad was positive about football for even a second. He always seemed to rate their opposition over the team he actually supported, whether it was Barcelona or Brora Bloody Rangers.
Kyle checked his phone, five minutes until added time. Mackay tried to intercept a pass from David, but failed and it reached Minchev, who played it to Sulejmani in the midfield. Niebuhr received the ball down the Right from Fischer, beat Lawson with ease, and sent a low cross on the ground across goal. Oh fuck. The ball was missed by O’Callaghan and Pons, Kellock was in no man's land, it had passed by Lawson, Pallero was getting to it. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck! Shot… blocked by Richard Amoo and out for a corner.
How the fuck are we winning this?
Corner, every Inverness man back, every Barcelona man forward except the goalkeeper. Kyle looked at his phone again, two minutes until added time. Corner in… grabbed by Kellock immediately. Graham was sprinting forward immediately, Kellock looked up, saw this and threw it toward him. Graham caught the ball with his right foot and used his left to drag forward and sprint down the left wing. The counter attack had started, Every Barcelona defender was rushing back, Portas and Mackay were coming up to support Graham, Readings and Martin lagging behind. Minchev sprinted over to Graham to intercept, his slide tackle was leapt over by the Inverness winger, cross in trying to reach Portas failed but the block by David only reached as far Macka—
Kyle didn’t know what happened in the ten seconds after that goal, all he remembered was a blur of red and white, and his Da lifting him high up in the air in a lung-crushing bear hug. Mackay had leapt into the stand and had been joined by Graham and Portas. "Fucking get in!" could be heard from the mouth of the Celtic loanee. He leapt back over the sponsor board onto the pitch, took his booking from the ref and walked back to his position, interrupting himself to fist pump the air. Kyle turned to his da.
"He’s still shite."