"All right team. You have seen the team sheet. Now gather around" The Manager bellowed as he walked into the dressing room.
The players who were getting ready for the game took their kits to the seats near where the manager was standing. They circled him and sat down.
"This is it, boys. The Buyer's Cup Final." The manager sensed the heightened anticipation. "It doesn't mean we have to be all too nervous about it. We have to approach this cautiously and strategically."
"What are our chances boss?" The Striker quipped.
"Healthy. But it will take time." The manager responded with aplomb. "Like they say in football, it ain't over till the fat lady sings. We have to keep on fighting till the last blow of the whistle. It will be an uphill fight, but we will leave our mark in the end. Questions?"
"What are we up against today?" The young winger asked.
"We are up against the old boys from the Park of Traditions." The Manager spoke with a dignified air. "Make no mistake boys. These guys have been around for a long while. They will use every trick in the book out there to get their goals, mind you."
"How are they going to get their goals, gaffer?" The youngest defender of the match day squad questioned.
"Keep a weather eye on their attack." The manager responded. "They will keep on bombarding till they penetrate through the defense line. They will be noisy, irritating and intrusive. They will press-gang you into committing. But, mind you. They have a certain flair about their game. They will bring their A-game with some intricate passes and irresistible attacking prowess. So no slacking on the field."
"Are you sure you're in the right dressing room gaffer?' The captain interjected. "You sure sound like a fan."
Everyone erupted with laughter. The first team coach waved his hands frantically to cull the laughter.
"Get it together lads." He said. "We're yet to win this. Give the man some attention."
"Hear hear." The captain responded. "Let's go over the strategies for the match."
"All right listen up." The manager hollered. "Playing the game at their pace is stupid. They would not be able to sustain the pace throughout the game. So they would attack heavily in bursts and rest on the ball for the majority of the game."
"How do we beat them, sir?" The veteran keeper asked. "They have the manpower, the muscle and have shelled out a lot of money on their squad to get the job done."
"Aye." The captain declared. "So how do we go about this?"
"Persistence is key." The Manager responded. "I would require you all to play your parts to perfection. Stick to the plan and the results will follow."
Everyone in the dressing room nodded.
"BP". The Manager addressed the Goalkeeper. "You are our rock. Read their game threadbare. See how they make their moves. Develop a comprehensive understanding of how they will make their play and orchestrate the defense from the back."
"Read into them and call out patterns." The Manager continued. "If they like to shoot from long, tell the defensive line to press them well. If they want to penetrate through, play an offside trap. Keep the defensive line tight. The more you know about them, the better we perform. All right?"
"Yes, sir." The Goalkeeper nodded.
"Now. Link." The Manager called out to the Centerback. "We would need to rank higher against their attacking prowess. Make sure you shut shop and defend. Defend according to the situation. You can't let us fall behind. I want to see some over-my-dead-body defending to that effect."
"Not just that." He continued. "They would be marauding in. They would play a high line to distribute pressure on the pitch. Launch the ball high and wide to the wingers. Let them have some fun."
"Don't worry, boss. I got your back." Link responded.
"Oi. Word." The Manager called out to the Full Back. "I would need to support the attack as well as carry out your defensive duties. Optimize the attack and thread the ball to your captain. They are weak on the flanks. Put in some quick crosses. Get it?"
"Yes." The fullback responded.
"You lot". The Manager called out to the Midfield quartet. " I need you all to work in unison today. Cohesively, you will push the attack ahead and press when you don't have the ball. Mark will play across the midfield and try to penetrate into their box. Try to bang in as many as you can on target. SM will increase our visibility in their half with his passes. Remain aware and act at the drop of the dime when you see an opportunity".
"That brings me to you two." The Manager pointed towards the Captain and his Deputy. "You will play a crucial role when it comes to the attack. Keep bombing them consistently. You would need to get creative to break their defenses down."
"Keep them busy". He continued. "In the meantime, your deputy will sit at the mouth of the defense and increase traffic on the opposite end. While our captain feeds the strikers with his creative inputs, your job will be to make sure our presence ranks higher at their end than ours. Savvy?"
"Absolutely." The Deputy beamed. The captain nodded solemnly.
"Now. Lander." The manager addressed the winger. "They will all make a beeline for you. Your job is to keep them occupied. Quickly pass on the initiative to the closing stage. Either take a shot yourself or pass it on. Get me?"
The winger nodded.
"And last but not the least, you two." The manager pointed out to the strikers. "The initiative is on you to make the action happen. You two will take a two prong approach. One is to hook them. Make them commit. Give them a call to action that they can't afford but jump on to."
"Yes, sir". One of the strikers responded.
"The other thing is to keep their hands full. Shoot, pass, dribble, do whatever is needed. But, keep them occupied for as long as you need. Bring everyone into the game."
"Yes, sir." The second striker replied.
"Remember boys." The manager's voice cracked. "The greatest trophy we can have is delivering value to our fans. This one is for the name in the front. We may not have the lion share when it comes to popularity and fanfare, but we can do it. Hard work, grit, and dedication. Let's take one bite of the elephant at a time. They say slow and steady win the race. Let’s show them why."
The field announcer started to call the teams out.
"In the next twenty minutes, both teams will walk out onto the pitch and compete for the cup. The Inbound Marketing Team will..."
"Are you ready boys?" The manager shouted.
A defining roar resounded through the dressing room.
"This is it. Let's roll."