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Back to the future – An interview with Coach Meanandugl

The sun shines brightly over the Mighty Redwood Arena. Your correspondent relaxes in a state room, a guest of the Log Cutters and Sawmills Foresters Association. A more than ample decanter of Wissenland Whiskey is laid out for me, along with some choice cuts of pork and sausages [This reads familar…].

A confident but blurry looking Ben_awesome walks in and greets me warmly, inviting me to take my fill before we start [and this…].

Your correspondent shakes his head, the feeling of deja vu is unmistakeable! He rubs his bleary eyes (Talabheim is a good place for a night out!) and the blurry outline of Ben_awesome resolves into the distinguished personage of Coach Meanandugl.

Of course, 5 and half years later, we are back, but this time to meet the new coach of the Sluggers, a DLE veteran, Coach Meanandugl.

Die Fauschlag Nachrichten: Coach Meanandugl, its with pleasure that Blitz! welcomes you back to the league, how does it feel both to be back in the league generally, and to be in the KFC now, being a previous SHC alumni!

Coach Meanandugl: Welcome to Talabheim! It feels great to be back in the DLE.

It’s awesome, and only now have I realized how much I missed it. Regarding your question to be in KFC now instead of SHC back then, well, it doesn’t feel alien or something.

Many coaches in both conferences have changed anyway since I left. There are many new faces in DLE, and some of them I’ve never met before in any bloodbowl match. Well, and then there is the old guard of longtime DLE coaches. But even among those fellows, there are several who have changed teams, some even more than once, and some former SHC coaches are now in KFC and vice versa. Maybe I’ll pay more attention again to the KFC vs. SHC rivalry in the future, but for now it’s not a big thing for me!

DFN: How have you settled in Talabheim? It must be quite different being in the Empire rather than Brettonnia?

Coach M: To be honest it still doesn’t exactly feel like home. But that’s okay. I just didn’t have much time to walk through the streets, discover the city, meet people, make new friends, find the right bars, and do all the other things that make a place your home town. That said the citizens of this great city have welcomed me warmly, there is absolutely nothing to complain about.

With regard to your question if there are big differences of being in Bretonnia or being in the Empire, well, can’t say, I spend/spent most of my time in the cities, Brionne respectively Talabheim. But hell yeah, the differences between these cities are huge. Talabheim is much larger. It’s built within a great, shallow crater deep in the forest, and an island of calm amidst many surrounding dangers. Brionne, however, is located at the sea, a port city, and lying in Bretonnia’s least threatened dukedom. A beautiful place, and pretty peaceful too – if it were not for that tough bloodbowl team, my Brionne Buccaneers, hehe. Err, wait, that’s past, and I digress. What was the next question again?

DFN: How did you feel your first draft back went? Did you take a different approach compared to drafts past?

Coach M: Well, I’ll be honest with you, to prepare for this talk I’ve read some recent interviews of other DLE coaches. I think you’ve asked all of them this same question, right? High time you get a different answer to that question then!

In hindsight I could have done better. While Sluggers got pretty good value for their picks, be it via the draft or pre-draft trades, I put too much emphasis on drafting by overall *value* instead of concrete positional *needs*.

I’ll be frank and give you a name to explain what I mean: Gerri Green. We (me and the draft team) were absolutely thrilled by the character and skills of this promising player and had set sight on him early on. In fact he was our go to guy in case Ben (Banogu, awesome player, but not be mixed up with *Mr. Awesome*) would have left the board before our 1st pick was due.

Well, patience paid off, we got Ben at #47, still love it. However, back to Gerri. Other teams apparently had other priorities, and much to our astonishment he had not left the draft board at #82(!!), our 3rd pick. At the time it was a no brainer for us (well, actually me, I am to blame) to slam the button and draft him – just because he’s so good.

Only much later, when I set up the team for the first kick-off (and Sluggers were to kick), it began to dawn on me that we were undermanned at the LOS, that we should have drafted more players better able to withstand LOS hits and blitzes – instead of players with talents like Gerri.

Well, somebody has to hold the first line of defence, and given our shortcomings the task more often than not fell to our freshies Gerri and Ulysses, who should have manned those frontline posts only in outlier situations, but not on a regular basis.

But that’s how it is, and what was bound to happen sometime actually happened pretty soon: Ulysses was seriously injured in (SoS) round 2, Gerri in round 3. Against the backdrop of the perm injuries the careers of these fine young players might be way too shortlived, and I am to blame. Needlees to say we keep them on the team despite the injuries, at least as long as they perform as they have done so far and are not hampered by more injuries. But that doesn’t change the fact that I could have seen it coming and drafted more to our most pressing needs than to overall talent.

DFN: What if any targets has ownership set for you for D14?

Coach M: This one is easy to answer: make it to playoffs! Is that an overly ambitious target? No, it’s not.

We’re off to a good start and can make it. However, it’s early days, DLE seasons are long, and some very tough matches are right in front of us.

One thing is certain, however: We are hungry for success, and so is Talabheim. The city and Sluggers’ fans want to be proud of their team, they want to see Sluggers in the playoffs, and we will fight hard to make it happen.

DFN: What has Surprised you most being back in the league?

Coach M: Two things: 1. Why have I ever left? Sure, I do recall the reasons, but, man, it’s such a great league. Great teams, great coaches, great fans. And 2: Why is DLE’s recognition among all those leagues out there not even more outstanding than it is?

DLE is top-notch and one should expect more team owners and coaches to queue up to be part of this league. But then again, maybe I’d never have had the chance to come back if DLE had the standing it deserves. All good, I guess!

DFN: What is your early view of your rivals in the KFC?

Coach M: Uhm, this is really too early to say. Obviously there are some very good, very well coached teams in KFC, and at least as many in SHC. But little do I know how Sluggers compare to them. Sure, at a quick glance Sluggers seem to be doing well.

However, if you take a closer look you’ll might find out that more often than not we were just more lucky, not necessarily playing better than our opponents. There is definitely room for improvement, and there is no reason at all to sit on a high horse.

Coach M: SHCS is red hot. Teams need to unleash all their potential and be lucky if they want to compete successfully in that division in S14. Plus there are a number, I’d say an above average number, of heavyweights, of playoff contenders, in the other SHC divisions too.

Just have a look at round 4: Out of 8 KFC vs SHC matches SHC won 6, KFC 1 (thanks to Razorbacks), and one game ended with a draw. Even the “too-strong-to walk-straight” Eagles again didn’t manage to win against (on paper) an outgunned SHC team. So, SHC is strong, SHCS is likely very strong, but Bucs should be up to the challenge.

The rest of the afternoon is taken up with pleasant (but idle) chitchat that need not enter the record. Feeling guilty for taking up far too much of his time already, we bid Coach Meanandugl a goodbye, for after all, he has the playoffs to plan for.

Your correspondent relaxes with the fine Wissenland bottle that accidentally found its way into the his carriage.

The Sluggers have had a great start to the season, but Coach Mean is being his customary modest self, and far too proud to mention that they sit atop everyone in the KFC.

Whilst he is also right that a DLE season is long and hard, and you must not court the attention of Nuffle, your correspondent believes this will not be the only time we visit Sluggers this season, and he has the distinct impression that the KFC route to the Superb Owl will have to go through Talabheim at some point.