The Sausage Diaries: Tactics and Transfers

Aired July 20, 2009 – 1830:00 CET


ANCHOR – …and was eventually apprehended in the ladies lavatory of a restaurant in Gross-Rohrheim. More on the Bundesliga later, but first let’s take a trip to the backwaters of the Third Division to catch up with newly promoted Heidenheim. Lothar Gerber travelled to Bavaria to examine the curious case of an English writer turned German football manager.

VT – Anonymous looking footballers in white shirts pass the ball to each other in front of a sparse crowd in a small stadium.

VOICEOVER – 1. Fußballclub Heidenheim 1846. Minnows in a fish tank full of barracuda. Hungry barracuda. You know, the kind of hungry, angry barracuda who, if they were asked to list their favourite food would say ‘minnows‘ without even hesitating or giving a second thought to ice cream or sausages or anything. Heidenheim are crap. But they’re here. Here in the Third Division. Without a hope of sticking around, surely?

VT – A skinny man in a grey suit shakes hands with a wizened old man as a handful of flash bulbs go off in front of them. He leans over a desk and puts pen to paper

VOICEOVER – Enter Iain Macintosh. You know him as the author of ‘Football Fables’, the book that Jurgen Klinsmann once claimed was, “as important as ‘Crime & Punishment.”. Well, now he’s the manager of Heidenheim. He has no experience, no command of the German language and, if you believe the papers, no chance of keeping his team in the Third Division.

IAIN MACINTOSH (sat in a restaurant, a glass of red wine on table) – Bobbins. We’ve got every chance of staying up.

LOTHAR GERBER – You’re a long way from the Stamford Bridge pressbox though, surely this is going to be quite a challenge?

IM – Of course it will be a challenge, but I’m ready for it. And I tell you, the Stamford Bridge pressbox is no walk in the park. It’s a bloody minefield. Garth Crooks asked me where the toilet was once. It took him 20 minutes. I nearly missed the last tube.

LG – But how can a writer with no coaching credentials hope to succeed as a manager?

IM – I know football, Lothar, and I know what it takes to win. I’ve seen a few managers come and go and I doubt that I’m worse than all of them. I mean, come on. Avram Grant? Saw him crap himself at White Hart Lane once, lost a 3-1 lead, was lucky to get out with a 4-4 draw. Started throwing defenders on willy-nilly, it was extraordinary. Anyway, my philosophy is simple. Pass the ball, cherish it. Keep it guarded and don’t let anyone else have it. Start from that point and you’ll be fine.

LG – But what about tactics, set-pieces, that kind of thing?

IM – Yes.

LG – Yes what?

IM – Yes, we do them too.

LG – How do you do them?


LG – Iain?

IM – I haven’t decided yet.

LG – Well, what have you been doing in the friendlies?

IM – I…erm…Well, I..erm… left it to the lads. Keep it simple, know what I mean?

LG – You forgot, didn’t you?

IM – Yes. Yes, I did.

LG – Let’s move on. Transfers. You’ve signed a lot of players in a short space of time. Why all the reinforcements?

IM – I had to, Lothar. I’ll be honest, half the players there are worse than you, and you’re a fat lad. I’ve transfer listed 11 of them, but I can’t find anyone daft enough to take them off my hands. Alexander Raaf, my coach, he had a few ideas, so we took a load of lads on trial and tested them out. Christian Lenze, an experienced midfielder from the lower leagues. He can actually pass a ball, so he might not fit in here. Rachid El Hammouchi, he’ll give us some pace on the flanks. Clement Halet, the French lad, he’s way too good for us, but he’ll do until someone good notices that he’s batting below his average. Then there’s the youngster Zlatan Alomerovic. I can’t believe Dortmund let him go.

LG – Is there anyone you didn’t sign after a trial?

IM – Yeah. Tezcan Kerabulet.

LG – Not good enough?

IM – Oh no, he was a fine player. Just a bit odd.

LG – How so?

IM – Starts fires.

LG – I see. So, were you pleased with the friendlies?

IM – Very pleased. We did very well. Very impressive.

LG – You didn’t win any, did you?

IM – No. Not as such.

LG – Apart from a game behind closed doors. Against a team of 14 year olds. You won that by a single goal. Late on.

IM – You can only beat what’s in front of you, Lothar.

LG – Iain, can I be frank?

IM – Of course.

LG – Is this just a publicity stunt?

IM – Absolutely not. This is real. This is my new life now. I promise you that when we take to the field against Unterhaching this weekend, we’ll be the most prepared team in all of Germany.

LG – You’re not playing Unterhaching this weekend.

IM – I beg your pardon?

LG – You’re playing Erfut.

IM – Yes, that’s what I said.

LG – No, it wasn’t.

IM – Yes it was, check your tape. Erput. That’s who we’ve got.

LG – Erfut.

IM – Yes.

LG – Iain, why did Thomas Zacher hire you?

IM – I have no idea. He just said that he really liked ‘Football Fables’.

LG – Fair play. It’s a fucking great read, that.


Follow Iain Macintosh via his blog, on twitter, and on 3 Up Front.

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