Belmondo April 2020

It’s getting to the business end of the season now as games are quickly running out for Matt but just how far away from winning the league is he?!!

SATURDAY April 4th, 2020

Game day. FC Utrecht v N.E.C.

The problem with goalkeepers is that they often ruin games. Take Robbin Ruiter, for example. He managed to keep out eight shots on target. Fortunately, Trujillo got one past him. Unfortunately, Utrecht had already scored ten minutes earlier. Add to the annoying keeper, five blocked shots from defenders.

And Olaza is out with a groin strain.

So, we drew with Utrecht. That would not have been a problem if Utrecht was the only team five points behind us. They were not. Ajax is now three points behind us and three behind us on goal difference. There are four games left. None of them are against Ajax, thankfully.

On the plus side, Trujillo’s goal got him up to 13 for the league. That’s an N.E.C. record. Watch him leave for a big bid at the end of the season. Another plus is the return to training of Mickey “Blue Eyes” van der Hart. Maybe he can keep us in this thing.

I am starting to feel like Arsene Wenger. Apart from the obvious connection in talent level and suaveness, I now know his frustration at being let down by his team at the business end of the season.

FRIDAY April 10th, 2020

Ayoub has been speaking to the media today. Big game against Helmond Sport tomorrow and he’s been rallying the troops for the march to the league title. If we win three out of four games, the title is ours according to their math. Methinks their math does not take into account goal difference.

FC Utrecht drew with PSV today, so that puts it down to a certain two-horse race.

SATURDAY April 11th, 2020

Game day. N.E.C. v Helmond Sport.

My players should have no question that I was disappointed in them today. We finally scored in the 77th minute. The Sportsmen never threatened the net, but our attempts were woeful. Ajax didn’t win their game until the 83rd. So, we’re still neck and neck, essentially. Three points, three goals, and three games.

SATURDAY April 18th, 2020

Game day. N.E.C. v PEC Zwolle.

I brought Van der Hart back into the team. He had one game in the reserves, so I hoped he’d be fit enough. I mean, it’s goalkeeping. How hard can it be?

Naturally, Van der Hart conceded within ten minutes. What on earth is happening to this team? World beaters three months ago. Now I wouldn’t trust them with egg beaters.

On the 66th minute, we still hadn’t scored, so I brought on Fetfatzidis (after a long recovery) and Fogerty. I also moved us into the suicidal 4-1-5 blitzkrieg attack formation. In the 80th, it finally paid off. Fogerty crossed to a darting Greek and we tied it up. Zorba’s goal was something to behold. He planted his right foot, spun 45 degrees counter-clockwise, and volleyed the ball with his left foot. Physics be damned! Also, I’m pretty sure Fogarty was offside when he received the ball. But as a manager, you have to support the referee’s calls.

Four minutes later, Trujillo took a ball inside the box, walked five steps away from the goal and back-heeled to a running Lemar. The Frenchman slotted the ball coolly into the net in a way only Frenchmen can.

And somehow, we’re still in it. Ajax play tomorrow. I say play, but they’re visiting bottom of the table, VVV. Let’s assume three points.

SUNDAY April 19th, 2020

They drew! 1-1. I don’t know what to do. We haven’t technically won, but by god, we’re close. Our next match is the Dutch Cup Final, so there might be a lot of celebrating this month.

SATURDAY April 25th, 2020

Edgar Davids is trying to get me distracted. Not going to work. Well, as long as he’s not anywhere near me. He’s actually very distracting in person. He has told the press that the tension is all my fault and that I made it personal. He also tried to influence the ref by stating that he expected a lot of fouls and cards and that he felt bad for the officials. This guy is insane. And a scam artist. And a bad dresser.

SUNDAY April 26th, 2020

Game day. Heracles v N.E.C. Dutch Cup Final.

The Wanderer was suspended for this game due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Conspiracy. Gedion was back though, so he went to the bench and Diarra stepped into central midfield with Francisco Jackson. Olaza was back from injury too. Missing a bit of sharpness, but raring to go. First choice team, otherwise.

Twenty-six minutes and fifty seconds. That’s how long it took us to get our first shot of any kind. Luckily, it was a tap in for Alexis Trujillo, but that is way too long for us to waiting before a shot. Edgar Davids was enjoying the game up to that point as we’d already inexplicably had ten fouls called against us.

Just after the restart, Señor Trujillo was in the right place at the right time. A clearance kick from a defender smashed him in the head, bounced back toward the goal, and he was able to get to the ball before any defenders. After a short dribble, he slammed the ball past the rushing keeper.

Trujillo’s hat trick came less than two minutes later. Diarra and Lemar tag teamed the closing down of the Heracles left winger. The ball popped out for Lemar to take and run the length of the pitch. He danced past their fullback, cut inside, and sent a ball across the face of goal to a grinning Argentinian.

Then Davids’ team gave up and we got to raise the Cup again. Streamers, Champagne, loud music. We had it all. Twice in a row, baby! Twice in a row.

A spokesperson for our fan club said they credit me with the victory. A little obvious, but I appreciate the sentiment. Lots of talk by journalists about a dynasty etc. These guys get it.

It also turns out that we set a few records. Most Dutch Cup wins in a row. Most goals scored in a Dutch Cup campaign. Most stylish manager in a Dutch Cup Final. Things are looking good for the players, the board, the fans, and most importantly, me.

MONDAY April 27th, 2020

Two league matches left. We’re five points ahead of Ajax. Only a calamity could stop us from winning the league now.

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