FU Club Notes – A couple of weeks in review,
by head of communications with specific responsibility
It would be remiss of the communications department to begin this thrall through the recent trials and tribulations of FU without first starting with Liv’s BBQ. This is now an annual fixture in the FU calendar and brings players, good food and copious amounts of alcohol together in the one room for a night of intellectual debate and reflection on the important matters of the day. Our host went to great effort to smuggle the wine into the country and to introduce us to the Romanian BBQ. There were no reports of any hospital visits or negative after effects, none attributable to the food anyway, and so for this reason alone the communications department propose that Liv be the first recipient of the much coveted FU Michelin star. The grumpy one in Le Chalet has lost hers as she tried to pass off Ikea meat balls as her own.
Ok and now the match report,
On Friday night last FU welcomed Czechoskoda to the Thunderdome. Yes a welcome home game that would surely see us to our first victory of the season. Instead it didn’t. I have a few notes written for this game, but the general gist of it was that we were beaten by a better team on the night. We started with Seppo as the loan striker who was backed up from midfield (allegedly) by yours truly. However, operating that far up the field, with the reduced oxygen levels, was somewhat of a challenge. At one stage I made it the opposition box, but became very dizzy and had to get out of there. Seppo on the other hand operated manfully and went the match in full harassment mode and was an absolute nuisance for the opposition.
Samu, our ultimate all-rounder, started this game in goals, and as usual acquitted himself well. Ilka and Mattias, the Dynamic Duo, opted to pack the midfield in an attempt to restrict the impact of the Skodas passing play. Alas, we were not up to the task and while we worked hard we were outplayed by what is a very nice side. The goals were worked well and really there can be no complaints. In an attacking sense we did create chances, the bishop put me clear with a nice through ball but I opted to be nice to the keeper and sort of back passed it. Seppo got on the end of a fine Samu drop kick, and with his speed outstripped the despairing defenders, but there was no way around the keeper on that occasion. Henkka too in the second half, arriving late at the back post, brought a point blank save from the keeper.
So in summary, we were outplayed by a superior side and we went down four nil. Interestingly, and not based on any facts but more on perception, we had loads of corners in this game. Ok we didn’t score from them, but the very fact that we won so many is a good indicator of the work ethic of the team, the balls up the line and the harrying of defenders. If we are taking corners at one end they are definitively not taking shots at our caviar connoisseur goalkeeper at the other end.
This game saw us reunited again with our old friend robo ref. As I said before, these reports wont criticise refs, and I don’t think that he gets much wrong on the pitch. I find he lets a tackle go and rarely do I disagree with his decisions. But the propensity for yellow cards, and the manner he addresses players lets him down. It inevitably results in him becoming the centre of attention and the significant talking point, fortunately on this occasion we didn’t have too many problems and it was the opposition who had more to complain about.
So in conclusion a four nil defeat, score five in the next match and we would be fine.
Oh for fuck sake!!
Ok I will compose myself as I try and approach one of the most illogical games I have ever played in in a structured manner. We will see how this goes.
Wednesday night saw FU take on the österridges in Kraainem. That’s the pitch in Kraainem not Woluwe, where our Dynamic Duo thought that it would be better to play in. Dumb and Dumber more like! Anyway, this game was a chance to see this seasons new Celtic important in action for the first time. Ali Walker, who is represented by Euro League super-Agent Marcus “mendes” Glynn. Those of you worried that he is a Glasgow Rangers supporter can relax, as he isn’t. There could have been trouble.
Anyway, we started this game with an offensive formation, that saw three attackers take to the field, Ali, Philip and the elusive Pauli. This was an attempt to try and become more competitive in matches by actually scoring, which is a good place to start, I’m sure you will agree. We started the match in controlled fashion and passed the ball nicely, as usual Ilka orchestrating from the back. And it wasn’t long before the faith placed in the attacking plan yielded a reward, with Ali latching on to a loose ball and in the box and lashed it passed the keeper. What we needed now was to be calm and to be tight for ten minutes, but unfortunately we weren’t and they scored from the kick off, sliding a ball passed stand in goal keeper Otto.
FU struck back, and a thru ball for the pacey Philip resulted in the keeper bringing him down. Up stepped a confident Ali to slot the penalty home. A good start to his international career. However, again we couldn’t hold on to the lead. Instead, a thru ball caught me out and the Ostridge attacker lashed what I thought was a bit of a speculative effort in to the near post. Half time and two all.
Now here is where it gets a bit hazy. We ended up being four two down. Then we fought back to four three, then five three, five four, six four and finally six five. What I am certain is that Pauli got a hatrick and terrorised their defence. In fact he looked like he would score with every opportunity. What is consistent is that the heads didn’t drop and we continued to fight back. In fact at the end Ilka took a fine free kick, clipping a nice dipping shot over the wall only for the keeper to make his first save of the night. And more was to come as David drove a shot off the outside of the post with the last kick of the game.
So the big talking points. FU scored FIVE. Prior to this match we were the lowest scorers in the league with only one goal. However we conceded six. This requires a nod to our opposition, who were fast out wide and upfront and who used the big pitch to its fullest and isolated the defenders, especially out wide. They were as good as you will get in the league. Scoring goals and defending are a function of the team and do not rest with any one individual. Yes in this game we went for a more offensive approach, the trade-off is that we were a little more exposed at the back and there were a number of occasions where there were overlaps, generally a sign that something has gone wrong. Absolutely, we can tighten up. I can say also that under a couple high balls I misjudged them and the ball took a bounce in the back line, which should never happen. But this was a much more enjoyable game to play in, we scored goals, we were attacking, and if there was any justice we would have come away with a point. Of note was that when we were composed and strung a couple of passes together we created chances. On the night Mattias put in a big shift in the middle and for the second match in a row Liv made a telling contribution in an offensive capacity and Tanel battled well at full back. Best wishes to Johannes who was the victim of a footblock and now is the owner of a fucked up toe. Should really have let Liv take a look at it. That can be a slow one to come back from.
Antti P who was given the glorious job of Director in Charge of Cyprus made the job a success. His liaison with our local spy R2 as well as the precise organisation made sure our high altitude peace camp re-started the Cyprus peace negotiations
Christian P has started writing songs and has come up with new ones about Marcus G, Paul O'B and several others. Live versions of early rehearsals might become available on iTunes shortly
Henri W - well, there's always something to report. But this time on a positive note as he did not cause an international incident in Cyprus
”Are we here to WIN?” ”NO”. ”Are we here to WIN?” ”NO”. ”Are we here to WIN?” ”NO”, was shouted before the match between Finland United and Turkish Cypriot team in Friendship cup in Cyprus last Friday. I think it doesn't surprise you that it was FU shouting that. Ironic people we are, we can do that before a match and still try to win it.
And win we tried, because watching the first match, where Greek Cypriot team met Cyprus International, it seemed that FU really could have a chance in the tournament. Well, maybe in this first match, which took place in Turkish side of Nikosia, our winning apetite was a bit lost. It was a bit strange game, because we have been warned not to tackle and play it easy. If the Turkish team was warned also, they didn't obey it. Game was friendly in spirit, but Turks played properly and tough. We were a bit soft because of warnings (and also because of the heat and staying out there all day) and that turned the match for Turks (3-0). Jokke by the way made a few great saves that kept our hopes up until close to final minutes. But this first match taught us that these people can fight in the match but leave it on the pitch and we can play normally, just leave hardest tackles away.
Lesson learned and we were much better prepared for the second match on Saturday against Cyprus International. This time it was at Greek side of Nikosia and without police patrolling and hanging out around the stadium. Off course we were constantly reminded, that we are very close to a possible conflict area, by looking at the one end of the pitch. There we saw a Greek side watchtower and soldier patrolling with a rynkky looking at the other side.
Liv warmed us up properly and we were ready and started with determination to score early. Well, we didn't, and they had one shot and one goal. This was our best match and we faced the easiest team in the tournament. But scoring, like so many times this season, was the heel of the achilles. And let's be honest, in our resent matches (including play outs) we have had multiple chances, where most of the blind handicapped in a wheelchair would have scored. And without goals it is like Finland in the Eurovision song contest, zero puan.
But our achievement in this tournament were elsewhere than winning in the pitch. We had a change to be part of the tournament where first ever friendly Sunday league level football match between Greek and Turkish sides of Cyprus teams took place. And part of that historical match is thanks to FU's initiative to visit Cyprus and almost rest to our dear and beloved (and hopefully enough thanked) peacemaker Arttu. After the decision to visit the island, things started to roll and in the end tournament was under European Comission's wings as a very small but as rare step to get these two sides closer.
And Finland United also showed important example in third match. We had dark blue shirts and Greek Cypriot team had black. Shirts were too alike in color and there were no away shirts. Simple solution was that one of the teams would play without shirts. I don’t know how this conversation went, but soon there was a decision that FU plays with skin. No problem, shirts off and game on. Afterwards Arttu told us that the opponents manager told that they wouldn't have taken their shirts off. It was a matter of pride with something complicated and impossible for a Finn to understand in it. Any way Arttu told us that it was also a lesson for them. FU showed that you can sometimes let it go and continue without losing your face. This was something they were not very familiar with. This was only a Sunday league football match, but you can see same tendensy in high level negotiations aiming to reunify the island. We off course didn't understand that at the time, everyone just took their shirts off. Actually for Samu it was easier to take his shirt off than to hold on his pride. The shirt teared his nipples until they bled (nännit verillä) and his pride was happy when that was fixed. Any way Finland United did at that moment something that future generations will remember as disrobe diplomacy. Unfortunately it didn't help us to win the game. Stronger and more skillful team won 3-0. Best player of the tournament, a Brazilian professional looking for a contract, scored twice.
In this historical match between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, people that have been separated for decades, showed that they can play football against each other and leave fighting to the pitch. They played with great tempo and enthusiasm and both teams wanted to win. But it was a fair game and no provocation happened. Everybody shook hands afterwards and teams watched Champions League final together. There at the final banquette Finland United again shoved humor and ability to ease atmosphere by celebrating fourth place and zero goals like winners. We sung our songs, kissed the fourth place trophy (first one ever) and drank beer from it.
Outside the tournament we, you know, had enough beer and at least enough sun and tactical speculation. And not enough food and sleep of course. Nobody got badly hurt, only injury was David’s knee, which will be ok after a few weeks rest. These stories are something that stay in FU folklore and it is better to hear it from your team mates, than me try to find words to write them. And these stories you will hear anyway, years if I am not totally wrong.
And we still have a chance on Saturday to avoid Sláns song: ”Paul O'Brian never scores, hi-ai hi-ai ho”, to turn to: ”Finland United never scores, hi-ai hi-ai ho”. I have no idea how the next sentence in the song would turn to and I refuse to think about it, because I have a strong faith that we will score against Estonia. We have 90 minutes of the season left and there will be plenty of chances to score. And like Finnish strikers say: ”The most important is, that chances to score come.”
Let's peace, let's love, let's score!
Näkemiin (close translation to a word slán, that Slán uses to sign his reports)
EUROLEAGUE CUP QUARTER FINALS: SLOVENIA 1 - 4 FU, no report available, great celebrations afterwards with plenty of refreshments
By head of communications with specific responsibility ;
The League recommenced for FU at the VUB on Sunday evening in splendid conditions following a day of sunshine in Brussels. After the cup heroics against Slovenia it was back to the bread and butter of the principle domestic competition against zee Germans. Spirits were high as a recent upturn in form and some very competitive performances meant a victory in the first league game of 2018 was very much in our sights.
Mattias ‘bold boy’ Guardiola was top management for the night and directed the match from the naughty step on account of his not playing nicely with the other teams in the last few matches. It was also a big night for Philip who was playing against his home country and would go on to turn a performance that surely left the German chief scout scratching his head as to how he slipped through the net. His Grace Bishop Claudio, got caught to say a late mass and so we were short our religious inspiration on taking the field.
The match started quite slowly with both teams feeling their way into the game with the action centred around the middle third. King David provided a valuable outlet in these early exchanges and caused their defence some moments of worry. The first goal however went the way of the opposition and it was crap. A not so good kick out (clears throat with a little cough) resulted in a contested bouncing ball in midfield. The German forward bought a ticket for the lottery and let fly with a very speculative effort from over 30 yards and the angle of reentry into the earth’s atmosphere saw it creep in just under the cross bar. Wonderful.
Half time came and spirits were still high. We had seen enough in the game to be confident that there was something to be had here. Second half would see Philip come to the fore. A well won free kick in our own half and Samu swept a long diagonal pass out to the diminutive winger, who controlled the ball well, turned and swept passed two ‘Panzers’ and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner. A great goal and surely a contender for goal of the season. At the back our defenders continued to remain tight with Henkka putting in a fine display. All the more noteworthy as he left the Deliveroo picket line to take part.
The Germans put themselves in front shortly after, a cross into the box was only half cleared and never properly met. The inevitable happened and it fell to some Hans chap and he slotted it home. This was disappointing but this is a new FU who possess a real goal threat as borne out by recent matches. The equaliser came shortly afterwards and this time the roles were reversed. Philip chased down a long ball on the goal line and proceeded to roast his man and swept a low cross into Samu who dispatched it cleanly first…… actually he didn’t he needed a second bight of the cherry, but crucially kept his cool and swept the ball past the despairing keeper. Another fine goal and one that ensured a night in the spare room for the scorer.
This was a good point in the end as the opposition sit a lot higher in the table and have dished out a number of beatings this season. There was no recognizable gap in class on the night and there was no doubt as to who scored the better goals. There were good performances all over the pitch and in particular the full backs provided the protection for the centre and a performance that was built on a good solid team display. Liv performed well in a forward position and provided a physical edge and the ability to pick a pass going forward and Seppo had a good game in the centre. We may feel disappointed not to have won this game but at the end of the day we found ourselves behind on two occasions, if unluckily, and the effort in this match went in ensuring we came away with a point. We have now played a lot of teams in the top half and the coming fixture offers us the opportunity to turn these draws into wins. Next up are the Danes on Wednesday night who are going through a shaky patch after a good start. I was linesman for the German Denmark match and the Germans won comfortably five nil. Every game is of course different, but we have to go for it from the off on Wednesday.
Finally this was a tough, fair game with both teams committed and clean. A pleasure to play in and the referee was mature enough to let the play go and contributed to the positive spectacle.