I mentioned before that my company sponsors an 8-a-side league in Leeds and while we were relegated from the top division last season, we managed to win the league cup so salvaged some glory (I now have 3 trophies on my desk at work – time for a trophy cabinet me thinks). I was pretty disappointed that we went down for a couple of reasons. First, if we could have fielded the same squad each match we were good enough to compete at that level, but circumstances conspired against us. And secondly it was a real challenge playing against some quality teams and players.
I think there are two types of footballer. There are those who like to look good on the pitch and will tend to play with players who're not as good as them (a big fish in a small pond). Then there are those who want to play with players as good as or better than them which forces them to raise their game and play out of their comfort zone, although it's much tougher. I definitely fall into the latter category and while some dreaded playing the top team in the league last season (who are a class act full of young, fit and skillful players), I couldn't wait to take them on. With relegation we wouldn't get a shot at them for another year.
So imagine my surprise when due to a couple of teams pulling out, we've managed to stay up! I was preparing for a less-than-taxing season in the second division but now I'm feeling all competitive again knowing how tough it's going to be to win. Frankly I'd rather give 110%, play well and have a really close game against a quality team than win 5-0 at a canter against a rubbish team. Of course there's added pressure now that I'm managing the team but if it all goes wrong I can always take the standard football manager lines and blame the lack of quality in my side / refereeing decisions / the packed schedule / instability in the dressing room or just say the other team were "lucky"! Should be fun.
So calling any quality footballers (hey, if you played for a pro-club as a lad even better) who want to join in the fun and act as ringers, let me know. Although if we lose I reserve the right to use you as a scapegoat! 😉