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FRIDAY July 1st, 2016
I’ve got a problem. Somehow I now have three strikers all rated as among the best players at the club. Plus Jay-Roy Grot. At least one of them will get upset at a lack of game time, so I need to work out how to use two strikers at a time. This seems like a very bad idea considering we finished second using the 4-5-1 last season. However, I have a cunning plan.
I’ve dropped the central midfielder back to form a sort of defensive triangle with the two central defenders. Then I’ve sent the wide guys further up the pitch. This means Djurdjic can play at the same time as Sylla or Roman. Each of the wide guys is being asked to cut inside so that the fullbacks (I still need one for the right) can bomb forward from an advanced position. The striker is going to be positioned deep so there are three attacking players running at the defenders on the opposing team. And now my team sheet looks like two Ws.
The other option is to play 4-4-2, but from what I understand, only boring English teams use that.
After hearing some insider information about Pep Guardiola recently, I’m going to demand everyone stay in their positions, pass quickly (but keep possession), press incessantly, and let them express themselves in the final third. Now, if the players understand that, they’re doing better than me.
I tried all of this in the friendly against Aalborg and we lost 2-0. However, we did have 60% possession and had a lot of shots on target. Shots on target is new. Sexy football is coming to Nijmegen.
SATURDAY July 2nd, 2016
Joshua Smits has told me he needs regular game time in-goal. Apparently he doesn’t realise he is playing in the same team as Thor. I’ve asked Thor to mentor him a couple of times and Smits has rejected it outright. The dilemma is that Smits is young and Dutch while Thor is neither. I’ll let him play some friendlies and see where things stand when the season comes around.
Heracles have made a $750,000 bid for Limbombe which I have accepted. I’ve got a plethora of guys to play on the wings, so any money is good money. I probably need to buy two defenders – one for the right and one for the middle – plus another central midfielder. Then we can concentrate on getting everyone fit and playing this new style.
TUESDAY July 5th, 2016
Managed to find some American hot dogs yesterday, so the Fourth was a joy. Today, less so. 0-0 against Brøndby. However, we managed 55% of possession again. I think that’s going to be my goal for the season average.
While I was smearing ketchup over dogs yesterday, I read through some reports from my admin team. It turns out that we are ranked second in the league in strength and teamwork and come in third for work rate. That seems a good base to work from. Our midfield is ranked second in passing and vision, which is also pleasing. Attack is first (!) in pace and acceleration. We’re also the tallest team in the league, which is saying something for a Dutch team.
SATURDAY July 9th, 2016
Just a goal in 45 seconds, thanks very much. I’ve given Joey Sleegers permission to wander around the middle of the pitch looking for opportunities and that’s what happened for the opening goal. He bombed forward while Sylla was holding the ball up and scored a peach of a goal.
We won the game against AB 2-1 with a standout performance from the on-trial right back, Joshua Brenet. That’s how you get noticed when on trial, I guess. I just signed a right back from Germany, Zimmerman, but Brenet might get signed just to reward that kind of attitude.
The new tactics are looking good, I’d say. The wingback is staying very wide, so there’s always an outlet for the attacking players if (when) they get stuck with the ball. The defence seems to be doing a lot of cleaning up of long balls because my attackers are pressing so hard. Maybe this Pep thing has some merit.
SUNDAY July 10th, 2016
France beat England 1-0 in the European Championship Final. A bunch of managers have left their posts, including Low from Germany, Conte from Italy, and Olsen from Denmark. And, not surprisingly, the Netherlands have fired Jansen. I don’t want to leave Nijmegen, but when the Dutch board call, I will have a tough decision to make.
TUESDAY July 12th, 2016
We just beat Go Ahead Eagles 1-0 with a lovely backheeled assist from Mihai to Santos – one for last year’s stars. The tactics are still nice. 61% possession and that trial right back was player of the match again. I’ve offered him a contract. With the success of this trial, I brought in a central midfielder to try out as well. His name is Yougouda, which demands some sort of cheese joke that I have yet to produce.
This afternoon I got confirmation that we’ve signed Jan-Arie van der Heijden from Feyenoord. He’s our big dollar signing this season at $1.7 million and he’s got the most Dutch name in the history of the world. He’s going to play the half back or box to box midfield role. Maybe both. At some point, I need to make some notes in the diary here about who my starting team actually is. Lots of new names to learn.
FRIDAY July 15th, 2016
We’ve been drawn to play Galatasaray in 12 days. First game is in Turkey. That seems like an awfully strong team for us to come up against just to be able to play in the Champions League. We did finish second, after all.
Holland hired someone not named Jack Bemondo. This baffles me, but we can add them to the list of people whose noses need to be rubbed in some Best-in-the-World-Belmondo at a later date.
FRIDAY July 22nd, 2016
I decided to schedule a friendly today to try to make sure the team was ready for the season. And ready for the Galatasaray game. I decided to schedule it against another Turkish team to help the boys get into the Ottoman mood. I decided to play against Fenerbahçe. Fenerbahçe who seem to be a Premier League home away from home. Whoops.
A few days ago I decided to play the old 4-5-1 from last season against Galatasaray and figured I’d better get the boys used to it again. It went well with us winning 55% of possession and matching Fenerbahce with 5 shots on target from 13 in total. The Turks won the game because my new defender, Marko Suler, passed the ball across the goal right into the feet of Robin van Persie who was standing at around the penalty spot. A brilliant move, no doubt aimed at improving morale in the Dutch national team.
I actually feel good going into next week’s game. If we can perform like that, there’s a good chance we can come back to Nijmegen with a chance of progressing.
WEDNESDAY July 27th, 2016
Game day. After about twenty minutes it was clear we were being slaughtered. It certainly felt that way with the flares going off all over the place. Who thinks it’s a good idea to shoot that stuff off inside a stadium? I called the fire department after the first one, but was told it’s normal. Crazy.
21, 38, 40, 44. Those were the minutes in which a guy named Yilmaz scored. We retreated to the changing rooms. Change was exactly what we needed, so I went back to the new tactics. Maybe three central defenders against Yilmaz would keep him to only two goals in the second half.
The change in tactics (and a few thrown chairs) seemed to work. Our striker was getting isolated due to the four wide players hanging out on the sidelines. Finally, Vadócz ran onto a dink from Djurdjic in the box and scored. One down, three to go. Next, it was Djurdjic himself who scored. Again, lots of space and Breinburg delivered a looping ball from the half way line, which put our Serbian gun one on one with their keeper. A win for the Serb.
4-2 is not a horrible score to go back to Nijmegen with. Especially as we beat them 2-0 with our proper tactics. 5-2 is less good and we have Marko Suler to thank for nonsense again. He back passed the ball to Thor who cleared the ball quickly. Well, Thor would have cleared it if Marko hadn’t watched it sail right into his face and then ricochet into the net. I wanted to eat a flare.
So, we only need to win 3-0 in front of our supportive fans.
FRIDAY July 29th, 2016
Thor got himself a hip injury. I guess Joshua Smits is going to get his chance after all. And his first game will be against Galatasaray at the Goffertstadion.