Steadying a Shakey Ship


Senior Squad
This is the story of a young British manager thrown in the deep end to get Arsenal FC through thier transitional season and back to the invicibles of previous years.


William Hancox woke up mid-July with a throbbing headache, that night before was one to remember, pity he couldn't. Stumbling down stairs he remembers telling his mates that he applied for the Arsenal job, with only Football Manager stats and experiance to his name! He said "I'm going to treasure the rejection letter". Lying on his doormat is a letter in a red envelope with the Arsenal FC logo there for all to see. Picking it up assuming this is it, or some promotion he picks it upand takes it to the kitchen, he puts the kettle on and puts some bread in the toaster.

Five minutes later, with cup of tea in hand he rips the letter open. Reading the first line...

"Dear Mr Hancox, we thank you for your application to our vacent mangerial job (The Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger left the club in the summer to form a group of secret assisins to take out Russian billionaires). And we are pleased...."

The cup of tea slipped from his grasp, hurtling towards the marble floor in slow motion....

".... to tell you we have taken a risk and given you the opportunity to manage Arsenal Football Club."

CRASH! Tea and the remains of a ceramic Arsenal tea cup lay all over the floor. William read on "You are to report to the training ground in Shenley, there are directions overleaf." He put on his best clothes and packed his training gear. He was not going to be a manager who sits around all day.
Into his Toyota Carolla he went and drove to his first training sessions. His heart was pounding so hard he could barely think.

The car rolled slowly to a stop outside the training ground. Peter Hill-wood and David Dein standing there smiling. Getting out of his car and locking up, William walks towards the the two men.

"Hello, you must be William Hancox... I'm .." "Peter Hill-wood and David Dein, I know" interupted William with a big smile on his face. "Good to hear, now shall we go in and negotiate the first contract?" david Dein asked, William nodded. Money however was the last thing on his mind. Due to this the contract talks were short and sweet, William signs a one year contract understandibly. William kept reminding himself "I'm not dreaming, i'm not dreaming!"

Day 1
The big one, the whole squad sat infront of him. "No-one late, excellent" he thought. He then introduced himself, told the team of his ambitions for the club this season, and what he expected from every player. He also told them that there will be transfers made however.

£25 million that's what they gave him, an extravogent sum especially in comparision to what Arsenal had previously spent. He sent his scouts straight off, Scandinavia, Brazil, Argentina, France. But he had a few names in mind anyway. He took to the phone with David Dein in hand to aid with the negotiating.

First stop- Sampdoria.
He felt that the biggest weakness in his team was the centre of midfield. Too little cover, too little presence. He wasn't looking for a youngster right now for that position, some-one solid, hard working and seasoned. Sergio Volpi was the man for the job.
Negiotiations with the club were simple, a £6 million deal was agreed and contract task took place the day after.
Before that though, William head to Lyon, hoping to persuade Benoit Pedretti to join him. A fee was agreed but Pedretti refused to sign, saying a permanent transfer was not what he was looking for right now, after only recently signing for Lyon. Barcelona come in the next day and sign him on loan. A fish that got away for William, but he'd be back later.

With Volpi now signed on, his scouts started to get back to him. Steve Rowly contacted him about a young defensive midfielder, plying his trade at Le Harve. Didier Degard. William quickly went to join Rowley to watch him train. He certainly showed potential, comfortable both in defense and midfield he could prove to be a useful young player to have. £2 million was the price accepted, William felt he may of overpayed, but he took the risk.

Next Stop- Cagliari
William felt that with Pires aging and Ljungberg being ever so injury prone another winger would be needed. Step in Mauro Espostio. 26 years old, fast as lightning and a great passer. A good find he felt, snapped up for 4 million with ease.

Nick Roberts then rings up, Roberts had been scouting the Americas. He said he'd found a few starlets, recommending Evandro Roncatto, a young talented Mexian goalie by the name of Ochoa, Freddy Adu and a 16 year old left back by the name of José Gorosito. William putting his blind trust in him, he agrees fees with all three clubs. Adu signing for 1.4 million, Roncatto signing for just over 3.4, Garrido being unsigned, came for free. Ochoahowever cost William a big 7.5 million. William hoped he'd do well. Roberts also said he saw two 15 year olds who'll make waves oin the world, but William would have to wait a while before they could join him.

Finally, one more phone call. This one from Gilles Grimandi, who was in Scandinavia scouting, said he found a young right back in a tiny little club who might change modern defending forever. Nisanth Ram. Now this is what William called a bargain, a fee on £1,000 was agreed and Ram quickly signed on.

Then I got a call from a Mexican club, Nacional de Madeira, offering me a healthy 3 million for the young show pony Quincy Owusu Abeyie, I feel with the new wingers I'd bought that it was a fair price and offloaded him. Then days afterwards, with Almunia on the transfer list Olympiakos come in with a 1 million bid, I accept, feeling he's surplus requirements.

By mid-July all the transfers were done and dusted. William added to his coaching staff with some of the biggest names in South America; Carravetta and Paulo Paixao to name just a few. With his training system sorted out and coaching staff sorted out.

Now for the friendlies, 7 were organised... all of them went well in William's mind. Six goals conceeded, too many, but 15 goals scored, a plus he felt. However with his transfer kitty out, defenders would have to wait.

Then comes along in seemingly no time, his first real match, although it's only a glorified friendly. The Community Shield vs Chelsea, the rivals. Amazingly he wasn't nervous at all. He put out his strongest team. Playing a 4-5-1, Henry by himself, being a creative force, drifting around the place with Reyes and Esposito running in the area from the wings to pick up the ball. The three man central midfield consisted of Gilberto and Volpi dropping deep and Hleb running from the middle to support the attack.William in honour of Wenger wanted the ball played on the ground, fast and beautifully.

Now, the match. Not the best of starts, hell even the worst possible. Lampard to Robben who flicks it to Drogba who turns Touré too easily and scores... after 3 minutes. Oh dear William thought...

But al was not lost. 11 minutes later some great build up play on the left, the ball is switched to Lauren, who's completely free, who fizzes the ball in the air directly in front of Henry's head who knocks it in from 6 yards. 1-1. Now the Arsenal onslought begun, a few chances passed with Cech making some good saves, then a counter attack, Henry picks the ball up half way in Chelsea' half, Reyes running off him to his left, he releases the ball in prefect time, Reyes on the edge of the area shoots, right footed and it nestles in the bottom far corner of the goal. 2-1 to the Gunners. Half time came and went, Arsenal continued to dominate the game, Cech forcced into 5 supurb saves, William knew it was all gonna go wrong. He makes a fe wchanges, van Persie on for Reyes, Pires on for Esposito and Evandro Roncatto on for Henry. Ift was a friendly after all. Then Crespo struck, completely against the run of play Crespo beats Ochoa in the 86th minute. To penalties it went.

A disappointing penalty shoot out. Lauren, van Persie and Pires all had thiers saved, Volpi scored his. Ochoa managed to save one penalty, against Terry, but Lampard, Crespo and Duff won it for Chelsea.

William was very disappointed, but not with his team. They out played Chelsea everywhere, his new signings didn't make waves, but who would of expected them to? Cech was the only difference between the two teams. William felt that this ship was now under his full control, he was the one who could direct the club towards greatness.

End of Part One.