Paolo’s gone but I’m hanging on

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A STRING of bad results, a players’ revolt and astonishing match day tactics that had the fans raging, there could be only one end for the manager. But surprisingly, I’ve kept my job.

Poor old Paolo Di Canio was axed as Sunderland boss after a run of games that saw him accumulate just one point in five games.

That’s the stuff of dreams with my boys. A point! We’d hire an open-topped bus for a result like that.

I don’t play, I manage. And when I say manage, I mean it in the loosest possible sense.

My team is Coast Soccer Under-10s and we’re not doing too great. We’re thinking of adopting that as the team slogan. “Coast Soccer … not doing too great.”

We’re struggling to find a team sponsor. The Samaritans have been suggested by the parents. I’ve rung, but they don’t pick up. I think they recognise my number.

At the moment we’re on a roll – three games, three defeats. Not so much a roll, as a rollover.

There’s a school of thought that former players do not always make the best managers. And like Di Canio, I’m a former player.

I played for the school, the town team, dabbled with the county squad before going on to represent my league at Under-18 and Under-25 level.

Unfortunately that was in cricket. Never played for the school football team, just cricket.

That said, my experience in that particular sport has, you could say, played a part in our performances so far this season.

The opposition is running up cricket scores against us.

Three games, three defeats, and we’ve conceded 30 goals. We are, however, enjoying a bit of purple patch. We scored a goal.

Normally goals are greeted with cheers and celebrations. Ours was greeted with surprise. No one was really sure what to do. Goal celebrations are not something we practice too often.

We’ve decided to work on a proper celebration at training on Tuesday. There’s no rush, I suspect we’ll have plenty of time to perfect it.

It may be some time before we score another goal. I’m thinking human pyramid.

Our new signing scored our only goal of the season. His first ever in competitive football. We were delighted for him.

He enjoyed it so much, he scored another. Unfortunately, it was in his own net.

Like the opposition needs any help.

I’ll give our boys that, they’re very helpful to the opposition.

For our last away fixture, I was worried about whether the lads would be able to find the back of the net. I should have been thinking on a larger scale.

One of our players couldn’t even find the ground!

We had to play with one less than the opposition while he and his dad went on a tour of Bedlington before giving up the ghost and heading home. He was the lucky one.

Our goalkeeper has won the last three man of the match awards and is getting better all the time.

No surprise really, as he gets more practice than most.

Still, I’m hoping the latest rule changes at Mini Soccer level will make a difference. So far, it’s been a great help to us.

In our matches, the opposition team has to retreat to the half-way line for every goal kick, the idea being to enable defenders to collect the ball off their keeper and play the ball out of defence.

So far, it’s been great for us. Waiting for the team to retreat to the halfway line eats up the clock, giving the opposition less time to score their goals.

Unlike Premiership football, children’s soccer is thankfully, not a results-driven business.

I do it for a love of the game and the smiles on the kids’ faces. And every week the smiles make it all worthwhile.

Unfortunately, those smiles only appear as they drive out of the car park on their way home to their PlayStations.

Now if I could just get them smiling on their way into the ground …