Guest writer Matt is back again with the latest edition of the Belmondo Diary.
FRIDAY March 4th, 201
Game day. From a corner, Ritzmaier cannoned a shot in and their keeper spilled it, kicking off a scramble for the ball right in front of the goal mouth. Jay Fulton was the first one there and got us the goal. Nijmegen 1, Heracles 0.
Our next goal came from Christian Santos in an absolutely crazy way. He made a half-hearted, lofted shot which went just over the top of the head of a jumping defender, which blocked the keeper’s view. The ball came down on the keeper’s ankle and bounced onto a defender’s thigh and then into the net. And Christian was credited with the goal. Amazing.
2-0 and the world makes sense again. Ritzmaier was player of the match. Again. It’s going to really hurt when he goes back to PSV next season. Maybe I can convince him to stay.
SUNDAY March 6th, 2016
Ajax lost today, so we’re back at home in 4th position. We play them in a week’s time in Amsterdam. A draw would be acceptable at this point. I’d really like to finish above them. FC Twente are four points ahead of us and there are eight games left. From what I understand, we’d go into the Europa Cup automatically if we finish third.
SATURDAY March 12th, 2016
The bookmakers have Ajax as the favorite for this match, unsurprisingly. They’re home. They’re legends. I get it. A few questions into the press conference, I got this question: “Ajax are a solid mid-table team performing above expectations right now. How do you see the match going?” I replied with, “You’re an idiot.” No-one else wanted to ask a question, so the press conference ended.
This afternoon, FC Twente lost their home match against Zwolle. So much pressure.
SUNDAY March 13th, 2016
Game day. Ajax came out with a very narrow formation. Three central midfielders, two strikers, and very forward-thinking attacking midfielder. He was essentially a third striker. I was a little nervous. Our width would be interesting to watch.
In the first fifteen minutes, it mostly went our way. The width was definitely helping us as it allowed for quick out balls into space. We got three shots off and ALL were on target. Our midfield closed around Ajax’s attacks and stifled them, so I was pretty happy.
On the 23rd minute, they scored with their first shot of the game. A cross over to the far post that was tapped in. In the second half they got another. It was a frustrating game because we could have scored at any time. We were not embarrassed. But we lost. And now we’re in fifth. And Cocu was in the stands.
THURSDAY March 17th, 2016
My youth candidates played against the under 19s today and managed to draw 2-2 with them. The new guys had five shots on target, so that sounds promising. My youth development guy liked the looks of a lot of them and suggested we sign basically the whole team.
SATURDAY March 19th, 2016
With a loss for Cambuur and a win for Zwolle, we’re sitting in 6th, a point separating us from each of those teams – Zwolle above and Cambuur below. We’re playing Den Haag (16th) tomorrow and Ajax play PSV. My finger nails have never suffered so much.
SUNDAY March 20th, 2016
Game day. We scored three goals in the first half! Kwesi Appiah got a brace and the crowd chanted, “He only scores in pairs!” The real difference was the width. They played with the same formation as Ajax, but this time our advantage paid off. Santos on the right and Ritzmaier on the left were just running free.
Santos got his much deserved goal in the second half. And it was a beauty. He slalomed through three defenders and took a shot from the edge of the box right into the net past an outstretched keeper’s glove. Not content with that, he got a second after I switched him to the left from a cross from Lundholme who had taken up the right-wing spot.
Captain Fantastic gave away a penalty in the dying minutes, but that didn’t take anything away from our five goal haul. Absolutely amazing stuff from the boys. Four of our players were rated higher than 9 for the game. Never thought I’d see it.
The day got even better when I saw the other results. Ajax lost to PSV, Twente drew, and Vitesse lost. So, we’re in fourth again, two points out of third.
TUESDAY March 22nd, 2016
Six of our players made the team of the week. Six!
SATURDAY March 26th, 2016
An international break is pretty well-timed at this point. Looks like Roman might be starting training this week and we could have him for this run to the end. It’s also well-timed because we’re playing Vitesse next weekend and could use a well-rested team.
THURSDAY March 31st, 2016
Vitesse is tomorrow. It’s the local Gelderland derby. I’m pretty sure that’s where Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein, protector of Italian virginity, was born.
A place in Europe is up for grabs and their manager played down the rivalry last time. We beat them away 1-0 in November. What can we make happen tomorrow? I probably can’t get him fired, but I can give him heartburn.