WEDNESDAY November 2nd, 2016
One of my favorite things in the world is hearing that Rens van Eijden has been asked for his opinion on NEC matters. Inconceivable that this guy is regarded as a representative of Nijmegen when he forced a move away. And that move away sees him playing at AZ who are 16th in the league. Genius.
Marcelino, who praised us before the last game, has now said he’s pleased to be playing against a little team. Mind games, Marcelino, you’re not doing them right.
THURSDAY November 3rd, 2016
Game day. Completely against the flow of the game, Villareal scored in the 33rd minute. It was the kind of goal it’s hard for us to counter. A lofted ball from the midfield went to their striker, Germain, who out muscled and out ran our two defenders. Physical prowess costs money and we don’t have it. Money, that is. Or physical prowess.
Down 1-0 at the half, I sent the guys out telling them I expected them to win this match and put a stranglehold on the group. A few minutes into the second half, they showed me they might have been listening. Ryan Ledson chipped the ball into the box and onto the foot of Djurdjic. 1-1.
In the 63rd minute a shot bounced off the crossbar and into the hands of their keeper who was having the game of his life. Fingernails were disappearing at an alarming rate.
I brought Buysse on at 73 and by the 74th he was deep into the action. Running down the flank he crossed the ball to Crivelli who volleyed straight into the keeper’s foot. I was about to call in a hit on this keeper, but Crivelli got the rebound and drove it home. 2-1!
A third goal came in the 84th minute, but it was called offside. Dubious, but I’ll concede it. Four minutes later, we did get a third goal. And it was glorious. Ledson passed into the box to Santos who could have easily taken an angled shot, but opted to pass across the face to Djurdjic who faced an open goal. Bam.
Djurdjic pulled his hamstring in extra time, but that was the only low of the day. However, it did give him an opportunity to come off to a standing ovation for his player of the match performance. He’s going to be out for a few weeks.
Tottenham were thrashed 4-1 by Spartak Moscow, so we are sitting at the top of the table after four games. This is like a dream. Are we actually this good?
Joey Sleegers told the press that the comeback win was down to my words at half time. I realise that’s obvious, but it’s nice to hear. And nice to see your players telling the world. Helps with future job prospects.
Marcelino said we were lucky. Obviously. What else can he say? I told reporters that I was a big fan of his, but he just can’t seem to work out how he feels about me.
SUNDAY November 6th, 2016
Game day. It was a day of groans. We hosted Roda JC with a sort of 1.5 team. Not our first team, but not our second team. And it hurt us. We couldn’t keep the ball. They scored in the first half. Nothing happened in the second half. So much for basically being in first place.
I hate this game.
THURSDAY November 10th, 2016
Sylla got his debut for Senegal today and he thanked his national manager. Might have forgotten someone there, Mamadou…
SATURDAY November 19th, 2016
Game day. Big day. We hosted PSV in a sort of top of the table clash. The TV ads were great – showing us as scrappy underdogs against the established giants.
I started our best eleven. Christian Santos was a bit tired after the international break, but otherwise, this was putting our best foot forward. The first half was all us, but no goal. We had 60% of the possession and five shots. They had one shot and it was off target. Way off target.
In the 55th minute, Zimmerman annoyed me to no end when he ignored the two safe, short passes and lofted a long ball to Crivelli who was marked by two men. Somehow the ball landed with the Italian and he sped toward the goal, dodged a sliding tackle and shot across the keeper to score inside the far post. Zimmerman is a genius. Crivelli was so happy he ended his celebration with a cartwheel.
Nine minutes later, Golla deflected a cross right into the path of their star, Guardado, who had an easy shot for a goal. Thor had no chance. 1-1.
The game ended in a draw. PSV had one shot on target. One shot. Kill me.
SUNDAY November 20th, 2016
Oddly, the press has been linking me to the recently vacant manager position at a lower league club called Volendam. I have yet to hear exactly why I’ve been linked to them or why I would consider dropping down a league. Today, the NEC board came out publicly to praise my loyalty for not jumping ship. It’s a weird old world. Were playing a team from Moscow this week to try to get through to the knockout stage of the Europa League, but some wonder why I don’t want to get into lower league management.
TUESDAY November 22nd, 2016
We play Ajax this weekend. So, this month will see us playing Villarreal, PSV (1st place), Spartak Moscow, and Ajax (2nd place). Plus a loss to Roda and then Tottenham on the first of next month. Interesting scheduling… I’m sure there’s no conspiracy against us in the Eredivisie.
WEDNESDAY November 23rd, 2016
Moscow is a long way away. And cold. Luckily my heart was kept warm by the press trotting out van Eijden for quotes about our season again. There’s also still a lot of attention on Joey Sleegers. I’m getting nervous about this. Once December rolls around, am I going to be hearing about all these managers interested in signing him?
THURSDAY November 24th, 2016
Game day. Snow! I don’t have any tactics for a pitch covered in snow. Poor Carlos Calvo had never even seen the white stuff before. One benefit was that my green pants stood out brilliantly. The Russian fans didn’t know what to make of me.
Spartak Moscow have a player named Kalashnikov and he unsurprisingly committed a foul in the 1st minute. What a gun! The first half was all us, but our two best shots bounced off the woodwork. I’m still pretty sure they should count as half goals. We went into the locker room tied at 0. Tottenham were ahead against Villarreal 1-0.
The second half remained scoreless into the 65th minute which is when I usually like to make subs. I did all three because the stars have been tired this month. And Ajax is in three days, which doesn’t even take into account how long it takes to get back from Moscow.
Four minutes after using all of my subs, Hannes þór Halldórsson got a dead leg and called to be brought off. That was obviously not an option. He had to stay. Three minutes later, their defensive midfielder shot at goal from between the halfway line and the 12 yard box. It went in because Thor didn’t take a step towards it. They scored two more. Thor and I did not sit down for a drink after the game.
Our group has Tottenham on 9 points, Spartak above us on goal difference with 7 points, and Villarreal in fourth on 6 points. Just a little bit of pressure in the last game. Ideally Spurs would rest players, but they’re not mathematically sure of a place yet. Hopefully they have trouble traveling to us on that first day of December. Maybe some food poisoning?
SUNDAY November 27th, 2016
Mihai Roman has finally come knocking on my door to complain about his lack of playing time. I told him he was starting today against Ajax and that I’d do my best to get him more games. Should I send Crivelli back to his club to keep Mihai happy? Should I try to sell Mihai?
Game day. It only took 17 seconds for Ajax to score against my second team. They sat back after that and we actually got plenty of the ball as well as a few shots. I had started three strikers for the first time this season. Djurdjic and Sylla played in the Santos and Calvo roles with Mihai in the middle.
A little later, Ledson took the ball in the penalty area after a cross was cleared off the line. He sent it straight to Mihai Roman who shot first time. The keeper parried it right into Sylla who shot at an open goal. He hit the woodwork, naturally, but luckily the ball bounced back to him and he shot again. This time we got a goal. Ajax didn’t get a second shot until the 34th minute and we went in at half time with a 1-1 draw.
I waited until the 71st minute to make the subs as I had Tottenham at the back of my mind. Calvo, the Bean Pole, and van der Heijden came on at 1-1. Four minutes later, Calvo sent a free kick into the box and van der Heijden headed it into the net. Keep an eye out for my upcoming book called, “How to Make the Perfect Subs”. The boys held on while dropping back for the rest of the game and we’ve walked away with a win against Ajax with our backups. Lots of pressure on the first team to beat Tottenham now.
MONDAY November 28th, 2016
Mihai just strained his back in training and will be out for four weeks. I guess I don’t need to worry about getting him game time now.