It’s judgement day for Matt, does he blow his current lead during the final month or does he become Dutch Champions?
SATURDAY May 2nd, 2020
Clarence Seedorf told the press today that he admires the work I’ve done to raise N.E.C. to the pinnacle of Dutch football. Those weren’t his exact words, but they capture the spirit.
With our two final games being away from the Goffert, the fans traveled to Rotterdam today, in case we win the league tomorrow. There are green, red, and black shirts and scarves all over town. It’s great to see.
Ajax is playing against Groningen tomorrow. Hopefully, our old friends from up north can make things hard for the Amsterdammers. Interestingly, Feyenoord are just ahead of Groningen on the table, so we could do them a favor as well.
SUNDAY May 3rd, 2020
Game day. Feyenoord v N.E.C.
The first half was goalless in our game. Ajax were ahead 2-0 at the same period in theirs, thanks to Zivkovic. We had a clean sheet thanks to Van der Hart. He had an amazing passage of play near the end of the half in which he kept out four consecutive shots. No trophy yet. We went out on the pitch again.
And we had the same result. 0-0. Ajax won 2-0. Back to a three point lead on the table with only a two goal difference advantage. What happens if we’re tied on points and goal difference? I certainly hope it’s not head to head goals scored. After a 5-0 loss to Ajax, that would be bad.
A point at FC Twente appears to be the minimum requirement. Ajax will be playing Excelsior, the second worst team in the league. Just so we’re keeping score, Ajax got to finish the season against the two worst teams in the league. At home, both times.
SATURDAY May 9th, 2020
Tomorrow is the biggest day of my life. Well, apart from prom, but a lot of things went right that day/night.
Ronald Koeman, West Brom manager, wants to buy Francisco Jackson. Thanks Ronald. If you hadn’t decided to unsettle my player the day before my big game, I’d consider it. As you did, you’re now on the Belmondo Black List. I’ll never talk to him.
SUNDAY May 10th, 2020
Full strength again. I’ve written it before, but Alexis Trujillo is an amazing revelation for us. Can’t wait to see what he does for us next season. He will be tearing up this league. He nearly tore up this game when he snuck in a deft shot in the third minute, but it bounced off the post and we missed out.
As luck would have it, Halilovic made up for it thirty seconds later. A similar drive into the box led to a shot. It was rebuffed by their keeper, but Alen got the rebound and we went ahead.
Trujillo had another gilt-edged opportunity half way through the half, but failed to capitalise. I refused to be drawn into criticising him for his woeful performance in the tunnel on the way out to the half time break. Publicly, anyway.
At half time, I told all of the players to do it for the fans. They barely responded. I told them they’d better do it for me, or else. They got nervous.
The Wanderer was chopped down just outside the box right after the restart. His free kick was way off target, but it was a good way to start the half.
That good feeling lasted a minute. Lacina Traoré volleyed home a long cross into an open goalmouth and we were all tied up. Ajax were a goal up in their game. So, no pressure.
For half an hour, everything stayed even. The players on both sides were nervy. It was Trujillo who came through for us. In the 78th minute, Lemar switched the ball with a rangy pass. Halilovic picked it up on the run and drove into the box, drawing two defenders. That left my favorite Argentinian with only a trailing defender and Halilovic slipped the ball into him. Goal. We were ahead and had one hand on the cup. Or trophy. Whatever it is.
In extra time, that man Halilovic contributed a third goal. This time he provided the assist to Gedion Zelalem and we were off to a party.
Ajax did what they needed to – they won 2-0. Shame for them that we did what we needed to as well.
MONDAY May 11th, 2020
We have won the Dutch Treble! The press has started adding “the talented” before typing my name. I’ve also been listed as the 8th best manager in the history of the Netherlands. No big deal – only did it in five years.
The N.E.C. board has released a statement suggesting that a club of our stature was always going to be a contender for the league title. I can only assume April Fools Day falls on a different day in the Netherlands. Considering our impressive “stature”, we’ve never won the league in our entire history. I wonder what the difference was. Are all boards impossible to impress?
34 games. 24 wins, 5 draws, 5 losses, 69 goals for, 35 goals against, and 77 points. A league season in numbers.
TUESDAY May 12th, 2020
Olivier Guégan has expressed interest in the open manager position at Heerenveen. That makes things awkward. No matter what happens in the future, this will obviously affect our relationship.
The club has announced that they’ll be selling the Gofferstadion and building a new stadium. It’s going to cost a ton, but apparently most of the cost will be made up in stadium sponsorship. I wonder when they’re going to make the announcement that they’ve naming it after me.
THURSDAY May 14th, 2020
Mickey van der Hart has been called up to the Holland squad. It would be a coup if he got his first cap. For me. I haven’t had a player in the Dutch team yet.
WEDNESDAY May 20th, 2020
The Olympics groups have been drawn. We’re in with Morocco, South Korea, and Switzerland. Easy.
TUESDAY May 26th, 2020
Valdivia has become a Dutch citizen and can now play for the national team. Fascinating. I wonder if he will get in.
Newcastle are after Zelalem. A man named McLaren is in charge there. Apparently, he used to manage in Holland and loves umbrellas. Seems a pretty useful combination to me. Gedion is not for sale. At any price.
Montpellier has just hired Olivier Guégan. In our last conversation, I told him he was a valued member of our boot room team. He told me to stay out of his decisions and walked out. That’s loyalty for you. And Montpellier has just been relegated, while we’re in a good position to win the Champions League next year. Is this guy crazy?
THURSDAY June 4th, 2020
I came second in the Manager of the Year award. Second.
Trujillo won player of the year and our own Lelieveld won best player in the lower division. But I came second.
JULY & AUGUST
How to sum up the summer? Start with the…
We began with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland. It was evenly matched and I started to worry that the qualifying matches and pre-tournament friendlies were flattering us. I mean, we got 20-0 in regards to goals in the friendlies. Brooks Lennon was injured in this game as well. That was hardly helpful.
Thankfully we completely destroyed Morocco in the second game. It was only 2-0 but 26 shots to 2 kind of sums up the game. South Korea was also an easy game. They scored, but the result was never in doubt. Things were feeling good.
Then we drew Germany in the first knockout round. Now, I know a bit about world soccer. Germany has some history of quality. However, after my World War II pre-game talk, I figured we couldn’t lose. Using the flanks, Sherman Tanks, and Tom Hanks – my talk was on point. Also, Brooks Lennon was back for the game.
The Germans got the first chance and it somehow bounced away. Unfortunately, they scored on the ensuing corner. Ninth minute. Plenty of time for correction.
They also scored in the nineteenth minute. A lobbed header from a cross. 2-0. Slightly more concerning.
Then Brooks Lennon came to play. He slammed home a corner, one-touching it from the edge of the box. It ricocheted off a German, but I’m counting it as deliberate. Brooks did it again before the half was over, crossing a ball that resulted in a Kai Koreniuk goal.
We managed to avoid defeat in the 71st and 80th minute with shots that just went wide. We did not avoid defeat in the 89th minute, though. Agonisingly close to being saved, but the shot hit the inside of the net and we had to pack our bags.
Not sure how I feel about the Olympic effort. With my management, I imagine most pundits had us down as favorites, but we came up against a tough German team who had luck on their side.
I added another trophy to the case by beating Ajax in the Super Cup. We scored two goals in the first half and conceded one in the second half. There has been a clear changing of the guard in the the Eredivisie. I know I’m not the only one who has felt it. When was the last time I lost a Dutch trophy?
When I went into the board meeting to let them congratulate me, they had other things on their minds. For example, they wanted to let me know that they’d accepted a bid for Gedion Zelalem from Newcastle. My American star was already on a plane. I was not happy with this news. I told them.
They followed that new up with an announcement that Alexis Trujillo had also been sold. To Schalke.
I asked if they had any other news. They said they’d like to see me to win the league this year. I told them I’d like to see them kiss my ass. And I quit.
I’m sure Liverpool will be calling soon.