Five games were all that stood between Larry and promotion in his first year as manager of GKS Tychy. They were currently on the back of a five-match unbeaten run which included four victories. When Sosnowiec came into town with nothing to play for, Fredericks knew this was a big opportunity to put pressure on the two sides above them.
Speechless. Everything that had gone before vanished. No cohesion, a real lack of effort and not even a glimpse of quality. Sosnowiec deserved to win and by a more healthy scoreline. Had it not been for Dan Twardzik in the Tychy goal it could and should have been a massacre.
With Fredericks out of the campaign with his knee injury he was finding it even more frustrating. He knew he could have been a big help out on the field but he now had to hone his managerial skills. Ruch are Tychy’s fierce local rivals but had found themselves already relegated, the once great club were really struggling to stay afloat.
Larry made changes after the disaster at home and brought in Thomson, Kubica and Casado in a bid to freshen things up.
He may as well have brought in the three stooges as Tychy were held 0-0. Chance after chance went begging, at one point Larry found himself laughing as young striker Lubomir Tupta flashed a shot wide from right under the crossbar. One point from two very winnable games was heartbreaking, the unlikely story of promotion in his first year was slipping from his grasp.
Everybody was in the next day for a full and frank meeting. They had been lucky that other results hadn’t punished their lapse in form. Podbeskidsie were now five points clear at the top but the four teams underneath were separated by just the two.
Wigry 1-0 GKS Tychy – It was like a bad dream that Fredericks couldn’t wake from. Training was going well, the lads seemed to be in a good mood but when they crossed that white line it all vanished. The game looked to be heading for another goalless draw until right at the death when everyone switched off and allowed the Wigry number 21 all the time in the world to take a touch, pick his spot and win the game for the home side.
Two games remained, both luckily at home and both against teams with little or nothing to play for. Once again Larry made changes and once again he stuck with target man Zapolnik, the big centre-forward was in a bad run of form but Fredericks needed his presence up top.
The game was a tight one, Fredericks made his three changes and threw caution to the wind with 20 minutes remaining. He put three up top and two players sitting just off the strikers. The team were told to lump it long, aim for Zapolnik and feed of his knockdowns. A couple of chances went begging but then with nine minutes to go a deep cross to the back post found the big man and his header looped over towards the back post, clipped it and went in. Fredericks was sure that was meant as a pass but it went in and Tychy got the valuable three points.
Still in with a chance.
Final game and now five teams all sat within 2 points of each other. Tychy were at home and a win could be enough to take second spot.
GKS Katowice had avoided the drop so, in theory, were on the beach. After 35 minutes Tychy were 1-0 down and Fredericks wished they were. Had it not been for Robert Thomson late first-half equaliser he was pretty sure he could have been up for manslaughter. Instead, he took a deep breath and tried to inspire the team, told them that this was the biggest 45 minutes of their lives and they could all be heroes in this part of the world until the day they die.
It seemed to be working, the boys created a few early chances and should have been in front. Fredericks looked at the bench and called for Liam Burt, the young Scottish playmaker hadn’t pulled up any trees since arriving in February but Fredericks rated him and trusted him to make the difference.
Now in this last 12 months, there has been a few occasions where Fredericks has doubted himself, wondered if had what it took to make it at as a manager. As Liam Burt raced forward and fired a 77th-minute winner into the net all those doubts drifted away.
GKS Tychy not only won the game 2-1 but remarkably finished second in the league, gaining them automatic promotion to the Elkstrassa. What a day!
A few days after it had all calmed down Fredericks sat at his desk looking over the reports for the season. The whole team had performed way above what was expected of them, they hadn’t a real goalscorer so the goals had been shared around and they didn’t really have a standout player, it had been a proper hard working team effort.
Eleven of the current squad were on loan and so as loan players do they would be returning to their parent clubs, it left a very small group which meant they would need a huge recruitment drive to start as soon as possible.
That afternoon Fredericks was called in to see the board and plan out the following 12 months. Three hours later Fredericks left the meeting and returned to his office to find Terry Butcher waiting for him. Larry ran through the meeting, a little disillusioned at what he had been told. Only £16k would be made available to him and the wage budget would not be increasing. It looked like an impossible task.
Terry had been an excellent choice when he appointed him in the summer, his experience had been vital so when he said ‘You know, There is another option’ Fredericks listened.
Larry had holidayed in Scotland as a boy but apart from that knew very little about the place. Butcher, on the other hand, had spent most of his professional career in Scotland. He still had a lot of contacts in that part of the world and those contacts had engineered a move for Larry to become the new manager of Motherwell.
Butcher, once manager of Motherwell himself would be making the move alongside Fredericks as they embarked on the next part of their career.
It had been tough to leave Poland and that squad of players who had given him everything but the board refused to back Fredericks and with Motherwell being relegated from the Scottish Premier League it really did look like a fantastic opportunity.
From what Butcher had told him the squad was far too good for the Championship and there was also the added bonus of European Football as Motherwell had managed to secure the Scottish Cup last term.
So as Larry arrived for his first day in charge he was excited at the task ahead of him…
On the second day, he was less excited as in the past 24 hours he had received 8 written transfer requests and split up two training ground bust-ups. Maybe this was going to be a little tougher than he first thought…