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Tang En stopped talking and the locker room was quiet again. But there was an undercurrent brewing beneath the calm. After a while, the sound of heavy breathing in the room grew louder, and Tang En knew the time was right.
"Well, lads, we can't win the match with hot-bloodedness alone. We still need to use our brains." He knocked on the tactical board, "I think we all have seen what kind of football Millwall plays. Who else is going to reveal his footwork in front of them? No one? Very good."
"In the first half they used all their efforts to press hard across the entire field. The results were very good, and we were unable to react well. But I must say that the other manager is an idiot. There are already some problems with their physical fitness. The second half is destined to be our world. Learn to make use of the width of the field. We move around more and more direct passes. Play a more straightforward game. They want to keep and fight us in the midfield, don't give them the chance, just swiftly break through the midfield. They like to kick long balls. We'll do the long-ball play with them! Taylor!" Tang En looked at Gareth Taylor, who had just returned from the reserve team.
"You're on for the second half. You're going to substitute for Johnson. Pay attention, everybody!" He raised his voice. "When you have the chance, kick long balls! Their center back can't compete with you on headers! The one who's most capable on headers, Darren Ward, is not even on the main list for this match. The 21-year-old Mark Phillips is still too inexperienced. He's not a threat to you." Tang En looked at Taylor as he said these words, everyone could see that the key to the team winning in the second half laid with this guy.
"As for the other player... that b*stard, Muscat, is only 1.78-meter tall, shorter than you by 10 centimeters. And that guy's header skills... are far worse than his ability to slide tackle and break someone's legs off! But the task that I'm giving to you is not to defeat him with a header. I want you to... bring him down! You know what I mean?"
Taylor thought for a moment and then nodded. "He has a yellow card on him."
Tang En grinned and chuckled, "You're smart, big guy. Find a way to bring him down, but don't hurt yourself. Remember, you must be realistic! If you get a yellow card for a fake dive, I won't feel sorry for you." He wagged his finger.
Taylor nodded again. "I know what to do."
It was Tang En's method of bribing the team's heart by entrusting Taylor with a heavy responsibility in front of the entire team. The so-called carrot-and-stick approach.
After the task had been assigned to Taylor, everyone knew what the team's tactics were going to be in the second half: to use the 1.88-meter-tall Taylor, who was excellent at headers, as the bridgehead for the offense and breakthrough to the opposing side. Whether he was going to shoot a goal or make an assist, all had to pass with his head first.
"Rebrov, your mission in this match is not to organize the offense, but to score a goal. Taylor will soon be marked by the opponents, he will attract all of Millwall's defensive attention. You have to follow him by his side. When he seizes the control of the ball, you have to grab the second pass before the Millwall players and then, I don't care what method you use, you must strike the ball into their goal!"
Rebrov nodded vigorously.
"Next... Eugen Bopp, you should reflect on that stupid yellow card in the first half. If I had a defensive midfielder substitute, I would have brought you off immediately," Said Tang En while he stared at the young German player. Bopp lowered his head and dared not look at him. "But lucky for you, except for you and Gunnarsson, we do not have another defensive midfielder. So, you still have to stay on the field. Mind your actions, don't take the initiative to apply for a red card!"
"I... I got it, boss." Bopp replied with a low voice.
"Gunnarsson, Bopp has a card. You will need to help him more in the second half. You two will work together to closely mark Cahill! Don't give him a chance for a long pass like the first half!" Tang En waved his fist. Cahill was able to easily shoot in the first half because Bopp and Gunnarsson did not close in around him in time.
"Yes, sir." The Icelandic man replied with an expressionless face.
"As for their captain..." Tang En closed his eyes and paused a little. He would have to say goodbye to the past from now on. Dennis... Let me send you off one last time!
"There's no need to be afraid of a 37-year-old man!"
While Tang En was assigning tasks to the players and laying out their strategies, Des Walker went out alone to see the situation in the stadium. The disturbance in the stands had subsided and returned to calm. But at a glance, there were still a lot of empty seats. Those people must have been taken away by the police, or sent directly to the hospital...
There were three rows of fully armed riot police stationed on both sides of the visitors stands. Occasionally, fans from both sides still engaged in a war of words across the three-layer human wall, but the situation had largely been restored to calm. It seemed like the second half could proceed normally.
It just so happened that the referees came out of the referee's lounge and Walker looked at them questioningly. The fourth official nodded to him. "The second half of the game can continue, Mr. Manager."
"That's good news," Walker smiled. "If the referees decided to cancel the second half and postpone the game, Nottingham Forest and Tony Twain would suffer the biggest blow."
Seeing Walker's response, the fourth official stopped and said to him, "I too think it's good news, Mr. Manager. I also hope that in the second half we will all see a match, and nothing else. So, please tell your manager to calm down on the sidelines."
Walker shrugged his shoulders, "Do you plan to say the same thing to the Millwall manager and their fans, Mr. Referee?"
This question stumped the fourth official and he did not know how to answer. He froze for a moment, and then shook his head, "I will report all the facts of this game to the Football Association. Good-bye, Mr. Manager." Then he turned and left.
Looking at the back of this man, Walker laughed and said loudly, "You should wish Mr. McLeary good luck!"
He turned and walked toward the locker room, opened the door, and found that Twain was almost done talking.
"Tony, the second half will start on time." He brought the best news to Tang En.
Tang En smiled. "That's fantastic! Guys, you don't have to worry about not being able to give vent to your rage! Do you still remember everything I said?"
"We remember, boss!" The players answered loudly.
"Close your eyes and think about how they've treated us in the first half! What do you recall? How do you feel?" Tang En was like a virtuoso guiding the players to reach the desired state that he wanted.
Michael Dawson raised his clenched fist and trembled slightly. "I... I want to get out there and play! Chief! I want to shut those b*stards up!"
"Then let's do it! Wipe them out!" Tang En and Walker stepped aside in the doorway and the players all rushed out. "Let them know... the consequence of provoking us!"
After the second half of the game kicked off, the hissing sounds from the Millwall fans in the stands did not seem to diminish and some singing voices could even be heard insulting Gavin. But Tang En was no longer in competition with the fans in the stands behind the technical area. He stood on the sidelines, with his hands in the pockets and watched the ongoing game with a grim face.
Looking at him, he seemed to be very worried about the outcome of the game because his team was behind by a goal. McLeary sat in the technical area with his legs crossed, getting ready to enjoy a good show.
But... whose good show was it going to be?
Cahill attempted to dribble the ball to break through from the middle zone. But he was blocked out by Gunnarsson and Bopp in unison at the goal area. Gunnarsson who seized the ball, passed it to Andy Reid on the left wing. Reid's strength was in long passes, and he followed Twain's instruction and directly shot it to Gareth Taylor in front.
The man defending against Taylor now was not Muscat, but young Mark Phillips, who could not compare with Taylor both in terms of experience and physical size. The two players had not even jumped, and he had already lost first—Taylor squeezed in front of him and he completely missed his position!
Now Taylor had not entered the penalty area yet, so it was impossible to do a header straight away. During his struggle with Phillips for the position, he saw Rebrov running up from behind, and Wise followed him closely behind. Should he pass the ball to him?
When he saw Reid pass the ball to Taylor, Rebrov ran forward, and Wise, with ample experience, guessed the Forest team's tactic almost instantaneously and had followed up, too. This created a huge problem for the Ukrainian player in his next move.
Stopped the ball? It would likely to be cut off by Wise. That little man's feet were too fast! And now there were not many people on the Millwall defensive line. He had hoped to directly wade into it, seize the opportunity to break through those defenders who were too close to each other, and then face the goalkeeper. It looked like this was out of the question now.
In order not to let Wise cut off the football, he could only stop the football on the wing. Although he could still retain the possession of the ball, he would also lose the best opportunity for an offense.
What was he going to do?
When Collymore left, Rebrov originally thought that his days on the Forest team were numbered. However, he did not expect that in the previous match, the new manager's words and a change of position had let him regain a new lease on life. Yes, though he was originally a striker, he did not obtain the kind of results that corresponded with the title of a striker when he played for Tottenham Hotspur. It was the same in the Forest team. Just when he began to doubt his ability, Twain told him to move his position backward by 20 meters and he would see a completely different world.