Week 13: Barton Wins HTUM Talent Of The Season

The last home match of the season is always a busy time for the back-office staff here at Slingsby Lane.  The Operations crew has to deal with a larger than usual crowd and the need to sell off the remaining supply of knishes, Recruitment has to begin finalizing the short list of transfer prospects for next season and to lay in earplugs against Finance’s inevitable shrieks of pain, Security needs to convince our ultras that this is not the appropriate time to set any portion of the stands ablaze and so on.  This year, I had one additional duty thrust upon me: organizing a pre-game ceremony so that some Golden League oligarch could present Alex Barton with the trophy for winning the HTUM U20 Talent of the Season Award (and to drink all the good scotch, but I digress).

Most of us here were quite pleased for Alex- this could easily have been a lost season for him after he narrowly missed out on making the USA U20 team, but instead he buckled down, focused on improving his playmaking abilities, and played a key role in our campaign.  In fact, his 85th minute goal in a 1-0 win over Owls was arguably the turning point of the season.  The one dissenting voice was manager David Jorgensen who, like the possibly apocryphal Roman slave of old, could be heard muttering “Remember, you are mortal” to Barton during his triumph.  Ok, it may have actually been “keep tracking back on defense or I’ll smack you.”  Same thing, really.

Turning to the match itself, it demonstrated precisely why Barton is both so frustrating and tantalizing as a prospect.  Asked to play in an unaccustomed forward role due to our putting Rolando Blackmon-Thomas in midfield to work on his playmaking and because Ruggero Panero is still out injured, Barton promptly embarked on a display of spin moves, rabonas and general hot-doggery that had Jorgensen gnashing his teeth in frustration.  He also chipped in two of the nicer goals you’ll ever see and sparked us to an easy 8-0 win over Dybesciaki Batory that all but clinched auto-promotion.

In the post-match press briefing, Jorgensen was asked about his plans for Division IV.  After dispensing with the obligatory cliches about not looking past bot team Steel City Chaos next week, he said “we’ll be buckling down next year and focusing on defense.  It’ll be a shock to the system for a certain Fancy Dan who shall remain nameless, but he’ll just have to adjust.  Or else.”

While this might be chalked up as a mere motivational ploy, we shortly demonstrated that it was not, as Jorgensen announced the signing of 23-year-old Ronald Sellers, a powerful Chicagoan described as our central defender of the future, for a club-record fee of $4.3 million.  So, I guess we’ll see how Barton adjusts to playing wingback next year.  It’ll be, um, interesting.

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