Translator:Nyoi-Bo StudioEditor:Nyoi-Bo Studio
Albertini’s injury suddenly made the team’s atmosphere a little more somber. Having a key player fall at a critical moment was a huge blow to the team’s morale.
Regardless of Twain’s wishes, he must now accept the reality that the team would have to start the new season in the absence of the team captain.
He made some adjustments and placed Arteta in the core midfield position during training. It was obvious that the Spaniard would replace Albertini.
At the same time, because Arteta would play in the starting lineup, the Forest team’s offensive tactics also required further adjustments. After all, Albertini and Arteta had different ways of organizing attacks. The team needed to familiarize with them. Fortunately, in the final stage of the last season, Arteta played in a lot of games and the team was not unfamiliar with this more meticulous offense tactic.
The only problem was that George Wood and Mikel Arteta’s coordination was not tight enough. Less than half a season of conditioning was far from enough. Most of the time, Wood still followed the ideas and routines of his partnership with Albertini. The most obvious example was Arteta would get closer to the opposing penalty area than Albertini and in that way, the distance between Wood and the Spaniard was imperceptibly widened. It was easier for the opponents to cut off the connection between the two players. Once the defensive midfielder could not provide enough protection to the attacking midfielder, then the Forest team’s offense could not be organized. It would be easy for opponents to intercept and break up their pace. Then they would completely lose control of the midfield; losing the midfield control was tantamount to losing the game.
Twain saw that situation on the training field and felt dismayed. If this had not happened, he would not have realized that Albertini’s influence on George Wood was so deep.
This had been a good thing in the past. But now, with their current situation, Twain was getting a headache again.
If there was any good news during this time, it would be that Anelka’s performance was still in line with the team. He did not give Twain any trouble to add to the chaos.
As he was new to the team with a new manager and teammates, he would naturally behave himself since he did not know the manager’s temperament. Twain did not relax his vigilance against Anelka due to this. He firmly believed that a leopard could not change its spots.
He did not think that Anelka would suddenly become an optimistic, cheerful, likable chap just because he had come to Nottingham Forest. Even if he seemed to be that way on the surface, it was only because he was trying to suppress his true nature.
Anelka was not a player he had advocated for the introduction of. It was different for Bendtner and Eastwood. He was not enthusiastic about Anelka. Although he told Kerslake to “treat him like any other regular First Team player,” he was still somewhat prejudiced. He could not help it.
If you perform well, I’ll give you a chance, just like giving any good player a chance. But if you have a problem, I’ll give other players a chance.
But if Eastwood had a problem, Twain would shoulder it and help Eastwood return to his condition.
That was the difference.
On August 10th, the first game of the third round of the UEFA Champions League qualifier would be held two days later at the Forest team’s home, the City Ground stadium.
This was the first step for Nottingham Forest to return to the UEFA Champions League after twenty-four years. What was an ordinary and even low-level qualifying tournament had become a hot ticket right away because of its new significance. The tickets for this game were completely sold out a week in advance. Everyone in Nottingham was very interested in the game. Up until two days before the game, there were still many people in the square outside the City Ground, holding “I need a ticket” signboards, hoping to meet someone who wanted to refund. But all were disappointed. Not only were there no refunds, even the scalpers were nowhere to be found. Any tickets which could be sold were sold. Even if the scalpers wanted to make more money, there were no tickets.
Now the players with families in Nottingham were starting to fret because their relatives and friends who did not have a ticket came to them hoping to get tickets which were allocated to the players and club staff members. There were not many tickets. There were only three to four tickets for each person.
As a result, the tickets for the players whose familiar were not in Nottingham or even abroad were all snatched up by the local players.
Of course, there were exceptions. George Wood was a local player, but all of his tickets were given to Wes Morgan. Other than his mother, he had no relatives or friends asking for a ticket. He did not even know whether it was a good or bad thing to have relatives and friends.
Twain had six tickets with him, which was the manager’s entitlement. But no player dared to take his tickets, which was also the privilege of a manager.
Twain could not think of who to send the tickets to. Shania was still in Brazil and Sophia also did not need his special attention. Wood would save a ticket for his mother.
The six tickets in his possession had no one to go to.
The group of people in the Forest bar were loyal Forest fans. How could they not have tickets for the game? Kenny Burns needed to watch over his bar. He had not been to the stadium for a long time to watch a game. No matter how important the game was, he would not go.
But Twain thought of a person when the Forest bar came to mind.
He went to look for Fat John and asked for Michael’s contact address in the United States.
“What are you going to do? Send him a ticket? He won’t come. Plus, he’s in the States. By the time you mail it over, the game will be finished…” John was puzzled.
“Of course, I’m not asking him to come watch the game.” Twain said to John as he wrote the address on the airmail envelope, “I just want to tell the guy, even though he’s sworn that he will no longer love football, that I didn’t just make the Forest team return to England’s top league. I also led the Forest team back to the top league in Europe. I don’t care if he’s not interested or whether he remembers that or not. I promised him before, and now I’ve done it.” Twain looked up at John and put the ticket in the envelope.
John kept quiet.
Twain mailed out a ticket and there were still five tickets left. He took them all to Gavin Bernard’s gravestone. He lit a fire with a lighter. Following a Chinese tradition, he sent the tickets to the Forest team’s eternal fan, little Gavin.
“Five tickets may be too many, but I have no one to give them to. You can keep the extra ones as keepsakes.”