Matt is back with another season of his Belmondo Diaries series. Be sure to give Matt a follow on Twitter @MattLangdon73 or follow him on The Tifo Project https://tifo.site/+belmondo and you can now buy his new book, Belmondo Diary: Year One via this linkhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FYWMILM
MONDAY July 1st, 2019
Had our first boot room meeting this afternoon. We’re going to do it once a month. We’ve set up a very democratic system for these meetings. On any contentious issue, we’ll simply hold a vote. Olivier, Iddo, Joe, and Han will each get one vote while mine will count as three. I explained to them that that’s how democracy works in America – everyone’s vote is equal, but some are more equal than others.
Our new signings came in today for their first training session. Pablo Perez, Kian Hansen, Dani Garcia, and the American, Gedion Zelalem. That’s a lot of central midfield talent. Someone is obviously going to have to make room. I think it might be Jeremias who is still, inexplicably, harboring a grudge against me for some imagined lack of strengthening of the first team. Seriously, did he not see who walked in the doors today?
The other possible departure is Francisco Jackson. I’d prefer to keep him, but apparently Newcastle are interested in him. I won’t be able to turn down the multiple millions of dollars if that interest turns into a bid.
THURSDAY July 4th, 2019
I need to release a few players to bring balance back to the squad and the salary budget. Parr looks to be on his way out to Excelsior and Rajkovic has gone to Metz in France as of today.
Christian Santos left today. He hasn’t been around the club for a few days as contract negotiations went on between his agent and Zurich. He didn’t even say goodbye. When I said I didn’t want to see him ever again, I figured he’d be able to read between the lines. Alas, no.
This is the saddest and most appropriate Independence Day I’ve had since Russell Casse gave his life in 1996.
SATURDAY July 6th, 2019
In the boot room today, Iddo told me he thinks Alexis Trujillo is going to be a star. A proper star. I agree. I may need to sell Crivelli this season so Alexis is likely to have plenty of game time. We also discussed tactics again. After I played the Diagonal in the first two friendlies, it has been confirmed that we won’t be using it this season by a vote of 4-3. We’ve decided to focus on the 4-3-3 with the 4-4-2 used as needed. Olivier suggested letting more of the players play to their strengths, so we’ll see how that goes. We’ll also try to work out what that means.
FRIDAY July 12th, 2019
Chidiebere Nwakali has signed with us after Manchester City chose not to renew his contract. That’s a win for us. He played well for us in limited appearances last season and offers flexibility by playing at right back, centre back, and defensive midfield. He’s only 22 and he’s come for free. We’ve done well with free signings this season.
SATURDAY July 13th, 2019
I’ve signed Wayne Rooney! That’s right, England’s greatest ever player has come to N.E.C. to help us make the transition to the greatest Dutch team ever.
The fans are rejoicing. What I don’t think they’ve realised is that we sold Christian Santos, someone they could gaze upon for hours at a time, and brought in Wayne Rooney, whose nickname is Shrek for good reason. I am sure it will come to them soon enough. Meanwhile, I’m soldiering through.
WEDNESDAY July 17th, 2019
Alexis Trujillo scored a second half hat trick after replacing Rooney at half time. It was a friendly, but it certainly will be a topic of discussion in an upcoming boot room meeting.
Jeremias went to Turkey today. He was good while he was here, but I haven’t got room for malcontents in this league-winning season. Crivelli went to Belgium too. I wonder how he’ll remember N.E.C. when he’s telling soccer stories to his grandchildren.
SUNDAY July 21st, 2019
Hull have made a series of bids for Nagasawa. He has a minimum release clause of $4 million for foreign clubs, but they haven’t matched that yet. I’ve been talking to Bastian Schweinsteiger about coming in. He’s asking for a lot of money, but maybe what we need at this club is a couple of verified winners. He and Rooney could mentor the young guys, win big games for us, and then coach us all on how to properly celebrate the league win.
THURSDAY July 25th, 2019
We are playing in a cup match this weekend against Ajax. It’s called the Dutch Super Cup and it’s ranked the 60th most prestigious trophy in Europe. It would be a nice thing to win at the start of what I expect to be the greatest season of N.E.C.’s existence. We have a friendly after that match and then we start the season in August. I need to work through the squad before the end of the month to figure out who’ll be the starting eleven. Hopefully Nagasawa will still be part of that. I got another bid from Hull yesterday.
FRIDAY July 26th, 2019
Just a note on the people in charge of scheduling things in this league. We’re listed as the home team in this match tomorrow, but we’re playing at Amsterdam ArenA. I’m sure that’s supposed to be a random drawing for the venue, but come on!
At the press conference, I was asked about the departure of Christian Santos. The reporter wondered how I would be able to convince the fans that it was a good move for the club moving forward. I answered the only way I could think of. I said, “Who?”
Hull finally matched Nagasawa’s release clause, so he’ll be off. I’ve been looking at potential loan signings to replace him. This is not a headache I need right now.
SATURDAY July 27th, 2019
Game day. N.E.C. v Ajax. Dutch Super Cup.
I lined the boys up in the 4-4-2. Nagasawa was on the bench due to his imminent departure. Uth and Trujillo were up front and from the plethora of central midfielders, I chose Ayoub and Perez.
It was the defence, however, that stole the show in the first few minutes. Ajax spent the whole time with the ball in their third and my guys managed to repel each attack. Blocks, tackles, and interceptions galore.
In the 29th, we did not score a goal. We should have. I don’t know how we didn’t. Uth sent a ball across the front of the goal and Trujillo got onto it, slamming it right into the post. It bounced back into play, then off the back of the keeper, then back towards the goal, and was finally cleared by a defender. Inconceivable.
Just as the clock ticked over to 41, Uth got onto a lofted through ball from Trujillo and beat both of the chasing defenders and the keeper. A one goal lead was just what the doctor ordered going into the half time break.
Apparently the doctor didn’t submit her order properly. Ajax took a corner just after 45 minutes that Zivkovic headed toward goal. Van der Hart dropped the easy save and Zivkovic took a second attempt at goal, this time with his foot and without a keeper to beat. Goal. One to one.
The second half started the same way as the first. Tenacious defending from us and relentless attack from them. We weathered the storm and actually got the best shot of the half again. It was rejected again. And before I knew it, we were heading to penalties. Apparently there’s no extra time in a Super Cup. It would have been nice to know that before the game.
The first four penalties went in with no problem. We were tied two to two. Then Van der Hart stonewalled Ajax’s third attempt. There were scenes of pure joy in our dugout. The boot room boys were hugging, the players out in the middle of the pitch were hugging, Van der Hart was saluting the crowd.
Then Diarra had his shot saved and hearts died.
Not to be outdone, Van den Hart parried the next penalty as well. Cue some slightly more reserved hugging as everyone nervously awaited Mark Uth’s shot. BAM – straight inside the left post. There was a reason I sent Marky Mark out at number four. Ajax made their next conversion and it came down to the future of N.E.C., Mr. Alexis Trujillo. He shot left. It went in. We got another trophy. This is how you do it. We’re collecting trophies like it’s our job.
I suppose it is our job. Technically.
SUNDAY July 28th, 2019
That win has put me into the top ten American managers of all time. I have no idea how they score such a thing, but it obviously makes sense. I am pretty great.
Bastian Schweinsteiger came in to sign his contract today. This is an amazing time to be an N.E.C. fan. Rooney and Schweiney in the same team. We’re essentially rated the equal of Manchester United now.