After a mixed run of form throughout the first couple of months of the season, we went into October questioning how much longer we would remain at NK Krk. Despite our secure mid-table position in the Druga HNL, the club’s finances were a mess, our form was stuttering, and the local supermarket had run out of Cornettos.
The run of games that followed would raise more question marks over our future, as we would finish for the three-month Croatian winter break in dire form.
We followed our back-to-back draws in September with three more on the trot. Having taken the lead against NK Lucko through Nino, we needed a ninetieth minute equaliser to salvage a point.
Next up was a bore draw at home to Hrvace, followed by another dull affair at NK Medjimurje. Both games we were lucky not to lose, but poor finishing in the former kept it goal-less and another Kristijan Batelic goal got us a one all draw in the latter.
We then got our first loss of the month at home to fourth placed HNK Gorica. A decent performance from Krk saw us take the lead under ten minutes in through Nikica Stepcic, but the favourites equalised, before taking the lead quarter of the way through the match. After a red card for an opposition player’s late lunge, we pulled level with three minutes left on the clock, who else but Batelic to score it. However, another late goal took all of the points away from us, an exciting game, but I had nothing to show for it, except presumably a sweaty shirt and tie in the blistering Croatian heat.
The month finished with another draw for Krk, as we travelled to Orijent 1919. Another late goal was needed, as we trailed by two goals to one with a minute left of the game. Up stepped Dalibor Gerc. An academy prospect who was drafted in to due to suspensions and Croatian league regulations (every team must start every fixture with at least three under twenty-one players), and he certainly took his chance. Meeting the end of a Josip Galesic cross, he tapped home his first competitive goal on his debut to rescue a point.
Gerc would continue to be a shining light in our poor form as November began, handing us the lead in a home tie against fourteenth placed NK Varazdin. However, in typical Krk fashion, that was not the end of the story, we were denied a long-awaited win by a ninety-third minute leveller.
One week later however, we would finally taste the sweet flavour of victory under the palm trees of Krk Island, well…when we got back from the away match at NK Zadar, anyway.
An opener from youth sensation Gerc made it three goals in three appearances for the local born hero. Loanne Ivan Krajina doubled our tally, as we finally managed to hold on to all three points.
Two Disappointing loses followed our third win of the season.
The first was at home to sixth placed NK Rudes, a tough opposition who simply proved too much for our newly promoted squad. The second was much of the same, a good performance against second placed Sesvete away from home ended in defeat, despite a fourth goal for Dalibor Gerc, and a fifth of the season for last season’s hero Nino Mohorovicic.
This would end the first part of the Druga HNL. We were in poor form, but still five points off of the drop zone in eleventh in the table. We needed to improve our defensive cover in midfield, with our attacking midfielders such as Batelic and Kovacic only helping us offensively.
Therefore, over the winter break I chose to bring in more midfield stability and variety.
This highly-rated defensive midfielder was scrambling around at Trnje, in the league we had just been promoted from, on loan from NK Locomotiva of the top division. We made an attempt to take over his loan deal, but had to settle for lesser options as the move was rejected.
The first of these backup choices came in the free signing of Viktor Maric. Who came in to play as a more defensively minded midfielder. At twenty-two, he helps us meet our quota of young players in a starting eleven and offers competition to our struggling DM’s of Bryan Derwich and the injured Alilovic.
This signing was followed by the loan arrival of a player called Boris. Hopefully he is better at defending our goal than the other Boris is at defending our national health service (sorry for the football themed satire I’ll never try it again).
Boris Pranjic joined for the rest of the season from top division NK Istra 1961. Another young and versatile centre-midfielder, he will once again challenge our struggling midfielders and offer cover to the ones who are performing well.
These two deals would be our only pieces of transfer business, as we went through the mid-season break. More would follow after however.
Our friendly results followed that of our league fixtures, with a couple of loses, wins and draws.
The results were not surprising, with much better teams like Slavia Prague making easy work of our inexperienced Krk team.
With my intention to search for a new challenge at the end of the season I began to apply for certain jobs, and take interviews. I ended up being offered just one of those over the winter break.
The possibility of becoming the Porto B manager was presented to me during the break. Although Porto as a city most certainly passes *The Holiday Rule*, I decided to turn the offer down as I had told them I would like to take the job immediately. Porto B have had three managers in the last two seasons, so I decided to wait on this job as it would probably still be an option in the not too distant future.
In addition, the idea of managing a high-profile club’s B team sort of defeats the object of the Holiday Journeyman concept that I have wanted to create. I would love to try managing a B-team, but this save was made to try out new countries in nice places that I would like to travel to one day, and jumping to a high-profile club, even at the B-team level, felt like it would be taking away the exploration aspect of the leagues I have loaded.
I was offered an interview at Western Sydney Wanderers, and this was another good option for me. I told the owner I would like to see out the current season, and I was not offered the position.
So overall with our bad form and structural problems as a club, I will probably be leaving the beautiful Krk at the end of a season in which anything above bottom would be a wild overachievement.
If we finish the season in sensational form, and I believe I truly could take NK Krk further, I would be delighted to stay, but a continuation of current form would mean I would leave the club.
However, I will be seeing out the season, and with three months and twelve games to go, my next post will follow our progression through the end of my time at my first club of the Holiday Journeyman save.
*The Holiday Rule*- I am only permitted to join clubs that are based in locations that I have an interest in going to in real life. I am also allowed to join them if I have been there in real life…on a holiday obviously, Swindon wouldn’t count.