SATURDAY April 1st, 2017
Ajax play PSV and we play Groningen. 1 v 2 and 3 v 4. The TV channels were loving it. I have no idea what their alliteration headlines were, but I’m sure they were fantastic. Do they even have alliteration in Dutch?
Game day. N.E.C.v FC Groningen.
When they nearly scored in the seventeenth second, I became suddenly lacking in confidence that April was going to be a changed month for us.
When van der Heijden struck a curling shot at goal that was parried into the path of a rampaging Rios who crossed to Christian, who grabbed a goal, I felt a little more positive. Especially as Groningen had yet to have a shot at the 27th minute.
Calvo sent a free kick to the head of Taggart in the 41st minute and I became a true believer. Two minutes later they scored a goal on their first shot and the “of course” attitude came flooding back. 2-1 at the half.
Lesly de Sa then chose the 70th minute in the 30th league game to score his first goal of the season on Groningen’s second shot on target. My players then chose not to score again. We got half of our 17 shots on target again.
2-2. Still fourth. Eight games without a win. PSV and Ajax drew 1-1. So, absolutely no change in the league table.
Heracles have been relegated and fired their coach less than an hour after the game.
SATURDAY April 8th, 2017
Game day. PSV v N.E.C.
Three goals in the first twenty minutes for PSV. That’s all there is to say. Well, except that Makiadi got his first league goal as a consolation in the second half. But he’s on loan, so that’s hardly worth mentioning. When you’re in the middle (or hopefully the end) of the biggest slump in club history, you look for anything to mention though.
It’s actually possible for us to drop to 5th if we don’t win a damn game. Next up is Ajax, who will seal the league if they beat us. Haha, if. When.
SATURDAY April 15th, 2017
Game day. Ajax v N.E.C.
PSV lost their game, so Ajax won the league before we even kicked off. Was this a chance to sneak a win while they were celebrating? Well, the first half certainly made it seem that way. We had more of the ball, took more shots, and had better passing. They somehow blocked five of our shots, though. They might as well have had a second keeper.
Ajax came back to form in the second half, but we held strong and ended up with a 0-0 draw. Has a team every gone two months without a win and still finished fourth?
A couple of managers are watching Gregor Breinburg with an eye to signing him next season. In this game, his main point of interest was an injury. He’s never quite left the periphery since I joined the club, so I wouldn’t say no to a transfer offer. We need some huge improvement in quality, anyway. And maybe some new tactics.
SATURDAY April 22nd, 2017
Ajax beat PSV in extra time to win the Dutch Cup. Their manager, Ron Jans, has been inducted into the Holland Hall of Fame. I’ve added that to my to-do list.
TUESDAY April 25th, 2017
Wojciech Golla has been injured on the training ground for four weeks, otherwise known as the rest of the season. That’s going to add to the fun factor of trying to win a game.
SATURDAY April 29th, 2017
It’s two months and 19 days since our last win. Not that I’m counting. I’ve decided to begin a new approach to this club. If we can’t beat Ajax, we’re going to join them. Starting today, we’re going to be become a possession-based, attacking team. Individual skill is a priority, but not more so than the ability to work with and off each other. Eventually, I’d like the team to be primarily Dutch, but that can only come with money and an expensive youth infrastructure. And when I say starting today, I mean I’m going to start thinking about it and work out which players need to be shipped away.
Tomorrow we play Feyenoord in an effort to avoid two full calendar months without a win. After that, we begin the new Nijmegen.
SUNDAY April 30th, 2017
Game day. N.E.C.v Feyenoord.
Things didn’t start well, with Jimmy Smits having to pull off a few great saves. It got worse when Feyenoord had a man alone in the box, allowing them to stand alone on the scoreboard.
In the 32nd minute, Zimmermann sent a ball into the box and Sylla performed a pirouette to bring the ball down with his right foot, transferred to his left, and blasted home the equaliser. We were lucky not to concede in extra time of the first half when a ball bounced off the inside of the post and clear.
Early in the second half we conceded a header in front of goal where three of our defenders jumped for it. I have no idea what to do. Have I lost the players? Maybe they just don’t care any more.
I brought on Crivelli at 70 minutes despite him not being match fit. Naturally, he scored five minutes later with an exquisite header. Feyenoord had another shot bounce off the woodwork in the 81st. And then it was over. Another draw. Another non-win. Two full months!
Groningen lost, so if by some miracle we win our last game, we could sneak into third if Groningen lose. Or if we win by five and they draw. We finish our season against Heracles, unquestionably the worst team in the league. If we don’t win that game, should I just quit?