Belmondo Diary #22

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SATURDAY March 4th, 2017

Game day. ADO Den Haag v N.E.C.

Thor was caught completely out of position in the 36th minute, allowing the simplest of goals. We were controlling the game too. Maybe I should spend the big bucks on a keeper next season. It would be nice if Smits stepped up, but there’s clearly something to having a great keeper. Goals like that one wouldn’t happen, for starters.

In the second half, we tied things up. Rios was hovering outside the box on a broken up corner pretending to be a midfielder. He darted left, then shot right, with brilliant precision. Who needs strikers?

In the 83rd minute, Adam Taggart had an open header to win the game and missed it. Who needs strikers, indeed?

Twenty shots and 60% possession again. No win again.

SATURDAY March 11th, 2017

Game day. Roda JC v N.E.C.

They started their Australian striker, while I finally benched mine for the scoring-every-77-minutes Crivelli.

The first sixty minutes saw Roda collect four yellow cards, but neither team bothered the score board. Certainly not Roda who only got above 30% possession at the end of the first half.

The sixtieth minute, however, saw Crivelli improve his average. He received a long, pinpoint cross from Calvo in stride (between two defenders) and first-time shot it into the corner. Our lead lasted a dozen minutes. I’m starting to anticipate equalizers.

Five games without a victory now. That’s the longest spell of my career.

FRIDAY March 17th, 2017

We’ve signed a bunch of youth players this week. I’m not sure how to judge any of them at this age, but my coaches suggest we have a couple of outstanding prospects in defence. Menno Hueback and Arno Joosten are their names and it will be interesting to come back to this diary to see how they progress in a few years. Will I even still be here?

SATURDAY March 18th, 2017

Game day. N.E.C. v Fortuna Sittard.

We hosted Fortuna Sittard today – a no-brainer win. After five non-wins my brain wasn’t believing the suggestion though.

When I went to pick my team yesterday, I discovered that Adam Taggart was away with the Australian team. Nice of everyone to tell me. Apparently the Australian team just takes players whenever they feel like it – not during the international breaks like normal countries.

Christian Santos was back from injury and I started Crivelli. Hopes were high. It’s hard to say how long those hopes stayed in that position. Maybe they dropped when Malen wrong-footed Thor and slid a goal in. Maybe it was when our tenth shot on target failed to register a goal.

I had my resignation letter finished by the 85th minute and was just waiting for the final whistle to sign it and hand it over to the board. Joey Sleegers and Christian Santos had other ideas. Sleegers, playing out wide, smashed a long cross into the box and Santos leapt like only Santos can, heading the ball in at the far post. I guess I’ll keep running the team until the end of the season.

FRIDAY March 24th, 2017

I’m not sure what to do. Six winless games is a record for N.E.C. I’m told. We’ve gone from title contenders to solidly fourth in those six games. It’s obviously possible for us to steal back second place, but that involves PSV and Groningen losing games. As luck (or the paid off Eredivisie schedulers) would have it, after we play Ajax in the Dutch Cup semifinal this week, our next three games are home to Groningen, away to PSV, and away to Ajax. Destiny in our hands etc.

Five games left and if we do well, we’ll end up in the same place we managed last season. Is that good? Not sure.

MONDAY March 27th, 2017

The board has just approached me with a new contract. This is after I created the longest winless streak in the club’s history. I accepted their offer, naturally. It will give me time to entertain offers from other clubs.

TUESDAY March 28th, 2017

PSV won their semifinal. Oh well, I guess we just need to beat the two best teams in the league to lift the Cup. Meanwhile, Ron Jans, the manager of Ajax, told the press (and I quote), “Jack is a very good manager and there’s a lot I can learn from him in handling occasions like this. I’m looking forward to the experience of testing myself against him.”

The board is looking very smart in locking me down to a new contract. Just in case anyone reads this journal, I was clearly joking about entertaining offers from other clubs. Nijmegen until I die.

WEDNESDAY March 29th, 2017

Game day. Ajax v N.E.C. Dutch Cup Semi Final.

We lined up with the more defensive (and violent) 4-5-1 against the home and fancied Ajax. Crivelli started up front, despite his recent decision to stop scoring in every game.

Djurdjic came off after 17 minutes with an injury. That put the inexperienced Albert Makiadi in for the biggest game of his young life. Despite some nerves, he actually held his own. We got to half time without scoring, but more importantly, without letting Ajax score. After a “good luck” at the start of the game, I decided to put some pressure on and tempt them with the dream of playing in the final.

Naturally, that dream was crushed by an unbalanced Thor. Is he deliberately ruining my season because I didn’t give him a new contract? I’m not going to find out. It’s Jimmy Smits for the rest of the season.

Ajax won 1-0 in what can only be described as a win for the Eredivisie schedulers. The board will have to be satisfied with semifinalists.

After the game, my day was brightened even further by the news that Crivelli is out for three weeks and Djurdjic is gone for the rest of the season.

FRIDAY March 31st, 2017

We’ve beaten Groningen in our last three matches. Time for our campaign to be kicked back into gear. I’m trying not think about the fact our game is being played on April Fool’s Day.

Number of wins in March. 0.

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