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Manu’s Summer Grab Bag: The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret

There’s less than two weeks before kickoff! Should you be happy or concerned?

Juventus Meet&Greet Photo by Diego Puletto/Juventus/Juventus FC via Getty Images

What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

I was technically a fifth-year senior when I was in college. It certainly wasn't because of athletics as I’ve mentioned before, but mostly due to two factors:

  1. Dumb scheduling with certain subjects that were only open once a year and if you didn’t plan accordingly you got screwed. Which, of course, I didn’t.
  2. A tidy little ripoff that my university pulled on you. In order to graduate you had to do an internship. It’s not that out of the ordinary, but the kicker was that they would charge you for the internship as if it were a whole class. So, despite the fact the college itself did not help you get the internship, what exactly made it a class? You had to write some dumb essay about what you did during the internship which was as useless as it was long and tedious.

(Try filling out 10 pages about your daily activities and what type of improvements you implemented without getting real cute with it to fill space. Especially when the only thing you are “implementing” are more efficient ways to get people coffee and dicking around online without anyone finding out. Command+Shift for life, baby. IYKYK.)

The final kick in the gut of the whole ordeal was that they had the balls, the sheer audacity to make this a serial class. So you had to take Internship 1 and Internship 2 the next semester and pay for both. College is a scam.

Anyways, my last year was spend taking two classes and two internships. One per semester, which led to me having a lot of free time. Because beer does not buy itself and even the crappiest date requires at least some cash I applied for an over the phone translator gig. A job I got with tremendous ease only a few days after applying.

(Life lesson learned — any listing that hires you almost in the spot is probably not the greatest job out there.)

The job was as boring as it sounds. Spanish-speaking people in the United States would call some service hotline for a company or a service and when they pressed the key for Spanish I would get patched into the call and translate back and forth between the company rep and the client. It was all the tediousness of customer service without any of the ability to actually help people.

Most of it was regular stuff at first — credit card companies, unpaid cable bills, internet not working, a shocking amount of people demanding their hard earned Kroger points. Dull, but not anything too complex.

Couple of months in, however, the company I worked for got a governmental contract and announced it with great excitement in our intranet. They advised we might get some calls belonging to public services but that it wasn’t beyond our capabilities.

Health services were fine — mostly translating dietary advice or low-grade medical recommendations to patients. When we started getting calls from jails and translating legal advice to inmates was probably the first warning sign that things might be going off the rails a bit. The real come to Jesus moment, however, was the first time I got patched into a call that started with “9-1-1 emergency response, how may I assist you?” and I froze immediately. A poor woman was calling about someone trying to break into her house and the responsibility of translating her increasingly panicked instructions to a shockingly uninterested 9-1-1 operator was definitely way above the pay grade of a hungover college kid.

Gradually the calls started to tilt heavily towards governmental offices rather than boring customer service.

The day I decided to quit was when I got bombarded by 9-1-1 calls from the moment I checked in, nothing but emergency response for six hours until my last call of the day in which I had to translate in painfully slow detail to a woman how she had contracted an STD. Which was bad enough, except that she seemed completely unaware of how that might have happened since she was — under the impression at least — in a monogamous relationship with her husband.

When I tell you it took a while for her to get what was going on ... I’m not exaggerating. The extremely patient social worker walked her through the whole thing for about half an hour until the realization hit her like a ton of bricks and I got a front row seat to someones life disintegrating into a million pieces as I just translated “It’s going to be OK” and “There’s treatment for that, now, you know?” over and over again to a sobbing stranger.

After I got my last paycheck, the HR person told me that I had lasted more than the average employee and that I did great work. She also asked if I didn’t know anyone who might be interested in the job. I worked there five months and I ended up openly dissuading two friends who found the same posting online.

Isn’t summer fun?


When the Summer Grab Bag was born, it was with the intention of recapping all the transfer rumors of the past week or so into one tidy post. “We have so many,” I thought, “I’m sure I will never be out of things to write about!”

Yet, as we are now less than two weeks away from the 2023-24 season starting, pretty much everything remains the same compared to the last post.

The Dusan Vlahovic-Romelu Lukaku swap deal seems to still be hanging around but without any concise steps in either direction. The midfield logjam is still without any resolution on sight. Juve signed some young Uruguayan center back who is now rumored to be shipped to Salernitana as soon as he gets signed.

Fabio Miretti might also be getting loaned out, too, and Weston McKennie seems like he might stick around. That’s it! Two backup midfielders is all we have to discuss. We knew this was going to be kind of a quiet summer but not this quiet.

So, sure, let’s talk about the midfielders.

I mentioned before in previous episodes of The Old Lady Speaks — subscribe and rate and all that good stuff — that Miretti going out on loan is not the worst thing in the world. Previous loan spells have done wonders for Nicolo Fagioli and Nicolo Rovella, and considering the tight quarters in the midfield room at the moment Miretti is a prime candidate to get more playing time elsewhere.

Combine that with the fact that McKennie seems like he is going to stick around and Miretti’s chances of playing time might be even slimmer now. As long as it’s a dry loan, I have no problem with Miretti getting his sea legs playing day-in and day-out at Salernitana.

Speaking of McKennie, he’s a guy I’m fine with him staying. After his relatively disappointing loan spell at Leeds, it was always going to be hard to get some club to bite on a big price tag for the American international. He’s an above-average box-to-box guy who seems like a great locker room presence and you can never have too much depth. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which Fagioli might not be 100% back from his shoulder injury and Adrien Rabiot needs a breather and suddenly McKennie is playing big minutes early on. Redemption tour? We’ve seen stranger things.

A win is a win is a win.

So what if it happened in July in the storied Camping World Stadium in the cosmopolitan city of Orlando, Florida? Beating Real Madrid is always fun. Putting three past one of the best teams in Europe is not nothing even if it means a big whole jar of jellybeans in the larger scheme of things.

(Orlando is a city comprised of theme parks, golf courses, shops selling theme park or golf-related articles and Walmarts. Nothing more. Lovely place.)

I know preseason friendlies mean little, but there were some neat things about how Juventus played against Real Madrid that are worth mentioning. A large part of the criticism of Juve’s play has been their lack of offensive punch. It doesn’t matter if you can defend well if the moment you have the ball at your feet you just boot it upfield and pray.

However, both in the Milan friendly and against Real Madrid we saw Juventus defend — as they will — but also actually look good on the offensive side of the game by transitioning very well from defense to offense and creating good chances on the counter.

A lot of it has to do with the great play of Tim Weah who has injected a lot of verticality into a side that desperately needed it. But it’s also I think due to the team tactically knowing what to do with possession once they get it a lot more than last year.

The best examples of what I’m trying to say came on the second and third goals against Real Madrid. On the second goal, look at Federico Chiesa starting the break, setting up an effortless McKennie run that pulls the Real Madrid defense to his side of the field. McKennie almost doesn’t even have to look up to know for a fact that Timothy Weah is closing in on the other wing for an easy tap in.

I know the third goal happened when pretty much the entire bench was playing, but it has some similar qualities. Samuel Iling-Junior pulls the defense to one side with a nice little dribble and uses his speed to start the break. Similarly to McKennie, he doesn’t have to stop and look for an outlet pass, he knows that he can switch the game up to Soule who is wide open in the other wing to make the assist to a rampaging Vlahovic.

This sounds kind of basic what I’m praising here for Juventus, but think back to last season and how many times this team just seemed lost in transition or they missed easy breaks because they stopped to see what to do or who to pass the ball to. Hell, just think back to the Europa League semifinal against Sevilla and remember how many chances they missed just due to them being out of sync.

Under Max Allegri, it feels far fetched to think this team will be a super offensively inclined side, but they don’t need to be if they can take advantage of the opportunities that their defensive prowess creates for them.

See you next week.