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On the 20th of March, Nottingham Forest's opponent would be their arch-rivals, Derby County.
However, in regard to this opponent, various Forest fans were filled with love and hate—extremely complicated feelings toward them. In terms of the relationships between the two clubs, Nottingham Forest and Derby County were rival clubs. However, the most loved and respected person from Nottingham Forest's history actually came from Derby County. That person was none other than Manager Brian Clough, who created Nottingham Forest's most glorious days in the club's entire history.
Tang En did not know much about the history of these two clubs, and therefore could not understand why Derby County and Nottingham Forest would become arch-rivals. It was Walker who told him one of the main reasons. "In year 1898, Derby County had entered the FA Cup finals for the first time. At that time, their opponent was us, Forest. That match ended with a score of 3:1, with us triumphing over them. That was our first time becoming the FA Cup champions, while Derby County's people went home in tears."
Tang En was surprised. This took place over more than 100 years back, and yet they still can't get over it. It was indeed 100 years' worth of c.u.mulative hatred... Sigh, is there ever an end to revenge They should be more tolerant and peaceful.
The 90-minute match ended. Tang En looked at the score on the electronic scoreboard. Hearing the sharp jeering noises which came from Pride Park Stadium's viewing platform, Tang En knew that Nottingham Forest and Derby County's 100-year grudge would continue. It was precisely because of countless people like himself, who caused this kind of situation to last for 100 years.
The score reflected on the electronic scoreboard was 0:3. According to the internationally accepted rules, the home team's score was in front, while the away team's score was behind.
Nottingham Forest scored three goals on Derby County's home ground, and attained three points, causing the 20th ranked Derby County to drop by one rank, only one rank away from entering the relegation zone.
If Derby County ultimately ended up being relegated, then Nottingham Forest's performance in this match would definitely be one that "contributed greatly" to it.
However, Tang En never cared about the well-being of his opponents. For his team to have an overwhelming victory in an away match was the best result that he could have asked for.
Harewood scored two goals, while the other one was scored by Andy Reid. Compared to the first half of the season, Harewood's performance in the second half was as if he was a different person. He even stood a great chance to compete for the position of League One's best shooter.
The only regret from this match, was that both of the starting players from the backline defense would be absent from the next match. Michael Dawson had been suspended from the next match due to the acc.u.mulation of yellow cards, while his midfielder partner, Jon Olav Hjelde had sustained an injury in the last moments of the match. After the match, according to team doctor Fleming's diagnosis, Hjelde had sprained his ankle and might have to rest for two weeks.
Tang En did not take it to heart, as it was a good opportunity for the subst.i.tute players to train in an actual match, and also for the main players to rest up. Therefore, he could not be happier with this situation. After all, Hjelde's injury was not too serious.
Edwards' performance during the match against Wimbledon was rather good, and he could definitely be part of the starting lineup. The 21-one-year-old Scottish defender, Chris Doig, was not too bad, as well.
However, the training which took place the next day only lasted for 20 minutes, before Tang En's plans to switch Doig in had been completely foiled. Doig had, during a non-intense physical contact, fallen down in pain, while hugging his knee area.
Fleming rushed up to inspect Doig's injuries, before running to Tang En's side and whispering to him softly, "Cruciate ligament, at least two months."
"Dang it!" Tang En cursed softly with his head lowered. Two months basically meant that Doig could not partic.i.p.ate for the rest of the current season. The season would end in May, and it was already March 21. "Gary, take him to the treatment room, and treat him properly. Give him some confidence."
Fleming nodded his head. Calling for the stretcher, he brought Doig, who was in pain and agony, off the field.
Due to the injury, the training had been temporarily paused. Tang En expressed his intentions for the team to carry on with their training, while he made a trip to the youth training grounds. The first team no longer had any useable center back, and at the same time, he also wanted to check on that kid's performance after changing to a different position.
The youth training grounds were relatively quieter than the first team's training grounds. There were not many fans who came over to watch the players train, and most of the spectators were the family members of the young players. Only when they held youth matches there, did the place become slightly livelier. During those times, there would also be various scouts from other football teams. Nottingham Forest's youth training was famous throughout England, and therefore it was not rare for scouts to appear.
Tang En did not walk around the fans' viewing area outside the metal fence. Instead, he took a direct shortcut—from the office area straight onto the training field.
Seeing Tang En return here yet again, Kerslake walked up to him and smiled. "Worrying about that kid whom you picked up from the streets?"
Tang En shook his head. "Not this time. I'm in trouble, David."
"Tell me more about it. It is no easy feat for our best manager to be met with trouble."
Tang En smiled helplessly. Ever since he got the best manager award, many people in the club used it to mock him. "Among the five center backs on the first team, one had been suspended from the acc.u.mulation of yellow cards, one injured his ankle and has to rest for two weeks, and the last one just sustained an injury in his cruciate ligament, and has to rest for at least two months."
Kerslake frowned. "That is really troublesome indeed. There's still two left. What about Dawson, who could support an entire match?"
"He is the one who had been suspended from acc.u.mulating yellow cards."
Kerslake blew his whistle.
"Give me some recommendations. Which players are useable from your side?" Tang En's tone was as if he were choosing things in the market.
"It just so happens that there's a lad who is not bad. I also think that he should train in matches on a higher level. But... you have to choose yourself." Kerslake winked at Tang En.
That was actually something which Paul Hart often made his a.s.sistants do, when he was still on the youth team. He would make them watch the team train, and tell him their observations. Paul Hart used this method to train Twain's and Kerslake's observation skills, as well as their understanding of the training cla.s.ses. This kind of game-like training provided a solid foundation for Twain to later become the coach of the youth team, as well as to be promoted to the first team. Many others were unreceptive toward the method, as they felt that the ones receiving training should be the players and not the managerial staff. Hence, only the withdrawn and quiet Twain at that time, completed Hart's requests without uttering a single word. This was also one of the reasons why Hart valued Twain. Hart felt that "seriousness" was the foundation of all success, and that was his lifelong message. However, few could accomplish this, and it just so happened that the unsociable guy from Eastwood, Tony Twain, was one of the few who accomplished it.
However, Tang En was no longer able to recall all those things, as a lot of his past memories had vanished alongside that incident. He did not know the reason why Kerslake did it, and merely treated it as a form of game between old friends, for him to make a gamble.
The two managers stood at the sideline, providing an immense form of motivation for the young lads training on the field. After that match, Tony Twain did not promote anyone from the youth team, but this did not affect the youth players' confidence and att.i.tudes toward the future at all. The only thing they could do was give their best performance on the field, and attract the attention of the manager from the first team.
After looking for around 10 minutes, Tang En's first sentence after he turned his head around made Kerslake laugh.
"How come I don't see George Wood anywhere?"
"As expected, you are here for him, Tony."
Amidst Kerslake's loud laughter, Tang En could only scratch his head in embarra.s.sment, as he only said it as a slip of his tongue.
"I'm making him train alone on the second training field, starting from the most basic and simplest trainings, the simplest ones... to the extent that they can't get any simpler."
"How's he doing?"
"Unable to tell at the moment. But you're right, Tony. He is much more suited to play those positions which require stamina and physical contact, as his body physique is one that makes people go green with envy. What kind of food did he eat when he was growing?"
Tang En recalled Wood's family situation and shrugged his shoulders. "Who knows, perhaps his mother couldn't even squeeze out a single drop of milk at that time." This kid's body was so robust and strong, it must have been because his mother, Sophia, gave him everything. She gave all of the most nutritious food, all of her love, hope, and even dedicated her life to this illegitimate child.
"Alright, we should get back to the topic at hand. Even I get sidetracked by you, David. I've found the person I came here for." Tang En did not point at the training field, but his eyes were fixated on someone. A black young man with a shaved head, in the 10 plus minutes of training, had displayed all of the essential techniques required of an exceptional center back. "Number six. I want him. Have him come along with me immediately and report to the first team."
Kerslake laughed and said, "Tony, you really are Hart's most highly regarded person. That's right, the person I wanted to recommend to you was indeed him. Wes Morgan, an excellent 19-year-old young lad. He is the captain of the youth team, Jermaine Jenas and Michael Dawson's successor." Upon his introduction of the player, Kerslake shouted from the sideline, "Wes! Come here!"
After that, everyone stared enviously as they watched their captain run toward the two managers.
"The rest of you—continue training!" Kerslake shouted again, making the rest of the young lads behave. They already knew that Manager Twain had accomplished his goal for coming there.
Morgan excitedly ran to the two managers and asked, "Sir, what's the matter?" Actually, he already knew what was in store for him.
Tang En raised his head and looked at him. His face appeared slightly more mature than his actual age, and even looked as if he was slightly older than Dawson. "How tall are you, kid?"
"Six feet two inches tall, Sir." Morgan's voice was slightly hoa.r.s.e, as if he hadn't recovered from a cold. The voice really suited his appearance.
Tang En nodded his head. That was around 1.88 meters tall. He continued to ask, "Weight?"
"One hundred and ninety-eight pounds, Sir."
That's about ninety kilograms. This build... is essentially a heavy tank. Tang En was very satisfied. This was exactly the kind of player that he wanted, one that could give his opponents psychological pressure just from looking at his appearance.
"Ok, Wes. I'm not one who likes to beat around the bush. From today onward, you will train with the first team. If you perform well, you will receive a contract to join the first team, just like Michael Dawson and Andy Reid. Do you understand?"
Morgan nodded his head and replied, "Understood, Sir."
Morgan did not say much, and did not become carried away just because he had been promoted to the first team. Tang En liked this kind of mature and reliable att.i.tude, as that was also one of the most important qualities required of a defender.
"Very well, come with me.... Erm, you may go collect your stuff from the changing room. Do you have anything there?"
"Only a few sets of clothes, Sir."
"Go get them. You have three minutes."
Tang En had just completed his sentence, and Morgan turned around and ran for the changing room.
This time, it was Kerslake's turn to speak. "What do you think about him, Tony?"
"Better than what I expected. His power, springing ability, explosive power, and control are all very exceptional. However, the first team and the youth team is different, you know that... I'm here to find an emergency player for the team. I think that even after these few matches, he will still become a subst.i.tute player. Dawson and Hjelde's combination is already very compatible. I can't possibly tear those two apart."
Kerslake nodded his head to express that he understood where Tang En was coming from. "If he doesn't have much chances to be fielded at your side, let him play for me in the youth league."
While the two of them spoke, Morgan was already running toward them, with his clothes hugged. "I'm ready, Sir."
After bidding Kerslake farewell, Morgan followed after Tang En's footsteps. The two of them, one in front and one at the back, made their way for the first team's training ground.
The rest of the players saw Morgan and Tang En off with envy, but Kerslake immediately shouted at them. "All of you, get back to training! Rather than be envious of others, all of you are better off training and improving yourselves!"