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FRIDAY November 1, 2019
The board called me in to a morning meeting. I wasn’t worried because I’m probably the most valuable manager in central Europe. However, I had no idea what they could possibly need to talk to me about. Imagine my surprise when they asked if I’d consider approving an increase in the transfer budget. The first thought in my mind was naturally how to best play this cool. Nothing came to mind, so I just said yes with a huge grin on my face. There’s a Croatian at Barcelona that I have my eye on. The board told me they’d get back to me with a figure.
Now that I think about it, maybe all of Europe.
I didn’t need to wait very long for the transfer amount. They came back to me this evening with a figure of $4.4 million. I think that might be enough. I probably need to sell a couple of these central midfielders too. They’re taking up space and making it almost certain that someone is going to stage a protest over game time in a month or two.
SUNDAY November 3rd, 2019
Game day. PSV v N.E.C.
In less than six minutes we were down by a goal. A keeper going the wrong way is always a sign of imminent danger to me. I have a keen eye like that. Within another ten minutes, each of my fullbacks had earned a yellow card and I had to do everything I could to maintain my usual calm veneer.
Half time arrived eventually and I had to figure out a tactical masterclass. All I could come up with was to bring Zorba the Greek onto the left wing.
All I could do. Ha! He soared to head in a goal less than ten minutes into his stint on the pitch. Five minutes later, he zoomed into the far post to tap home a long cross from the right back, Nwakali. We were in the lead. Thanks to me. Credit where credit is due.
We finished off the game in the 80th minute when young Arno Joosten started a move from the back that finished with some Rooney razzle dazzle into the box. Shrek looped a ball over the keeper and onto the head of Trujllo. Alexis finished it with aplomb.
A 3-1 win on the road to a rival after going down early is about as good as it gets.
Let me take that back. Feyenoord lost! Finally we’re on top of the table without having to share that spot. That’s as good as it gets.
THURSDAY November 7th, 2019
Game day. Lokomotiv Moscow v N.E.C. Europa League Group D.
Vela came into the first team for his experience in getting us through big games. And because Fetfatzidis and Lemar were a bit match weary. Naturally, Vela nearly got us going within ninety seconds. His drilled shot was kept out by the Russian keeper, though. Five minutes later the same thing happened. Drilled shot from Mr. Happy Go Lucky was stopped by the keeper. This time the keeper paid for his trouble, momentarily stunned by the impact.
In the 18th minute, Captain Ayoub received his second yellow card. The ref was clearly influenced by the Russian mob. Two yellow cards for nothing. On the road and down a man with the score tied. Wonderful. Eighty-ish minutes without a defensive midfielder. What could go wrong?
The boys’ shoulders drooped, it must be said. However, one man who was up for the challenge was that man, Vela. He darted in at the far post to smash home a Rooney cross. We’d scored in ridiculous circumstances. My green pants had never done such a jig as was seen on the sidelines at that Lokomotiv ground.
We dropped into a 4-4-1 to try to maintain the lead. Alas, the 38th minute saw what was probably an inevitable goal. Short cross and short goal. The game stayed tied until half time.
Mickey “Blue Eyes” van der Hart made two world class saves to keep us tied up in the second half. Their keeper did the same in the 78th minute when Lemar cut inside and let off a rocket. I brought on Schweiny and Zorba to try to make something happen.
Something happened. Trujillo drew out both central defenders, allowing Gedion Zelalem to make a diagonal run into the box. Alexis slipped in the pass and Gedion (have I mentioned he’s American) drilled home a shot that could make a grown man cry. I didn’t cry – that was a rumor created by the Sun.
We won! Away in Russia in the Europa League!
SUNDAY November 10th, 2019
Game day. Helmond Sport v N.E.C.
Another away game, but not nearly as far. The Wanderer returned to the starting lineup alongside San Francisco Jackson in midfield. With Lemar and Fetfatzidis on the wings, I was quite confident the goals would be pouring in.
Unfortunately, I started Wayne Rooney up front and we only managed two shots on goal for the whole game. I kept thinking, “surely he’ll score soon”. Nope. Seven shots without one on target. By the time I yanked him, I think the whole team had been soured. How is my star central midfielder going to excel if I have Rooney playing? I think the answer is simple.
The game ended 0-0 and two league points disappeared forever.
TUESDAY November 12th, 2019
Trujillo has been injured while with the Argentinian U20s. I have no idea why he has to waste his time playing for that team. He should be in the senior squad. He’s going to be out for a month. How is the new Messi supposed to become Messi while playing in the kid team?
THURSDAY November 14th, 2019
Tragedy has struck. Now Van der Hart is injured. Out for a month and I have no backup keeper. Whose idea was that? Now I have the prospect of putting Sam Loosen in goal. I might be better sending Schweinsteiger in.
The board has said they won’t free up any money for wages, so I’m out of luck there. I already committed the extra money they sent in to purchasing this Halilovic guy from Barcelona.
This is not good.
SATURDAY November 16th, 2019
Mario Fogerty has played his first senior game for Australia. In the local media down there he expressed his gratitude to, no not me, the Australian manager. Sometimes I worry about the lack of common decency in today’s generation of players.
SATURDAY November 23rd, 2019
Game day. N.E.C. v FC Utrecht.
Fresh from an international break, I was able to pick a strong and rested team. Ha. Nope. Sam Loosen started in goal and my hopes started in the toilet. At the other end, I had to choose between Mark Uth and Wayne Rooney. Uth got the nod because Rooney is ruining Valdivia. The rest of the team was solid though.
At the start of the 34th minute, Utrecht got off a shot that was destined for the net only for it to bounce off Loosen’s chest. I’m counting it as a save. There are rarely more clean cut chances and they drilled it right at him.
That save got the team pumped up. Lots of chest bumps with little Sam. It also got us a goal. Zorba’s corner was headed across the face of goal by Golla and into the path of Kian Hansen, who made no mistake. Very nice.
In extra time in the first half, Fetfatzidis did it again. This time his cross from outside the box was met by Marky Mark Uth and we went in ahead by two goals. Absolute magic, considering our goalkeeper.
Utrecht had a goal crossed off for offside in the second half and no other goals were scored. Man of the match went to the Wanderer, which only strengthens the case against Rooney. He’s clearly kryptonite to dynamic young midfielders. Loosen wins in his first start. It’s a miracle!
THURDAY November 28th, 2019
Game day. Panathinaikos v N.E.C. Europa League Group D.
I started a defensive lineup in order to secure a point and qualification. No point risking having to tie or beat Inter in the last game of the group. And Loosen was in goal.
The half started well with Lemar taking a fast break up the pitch and shooting before any defenders could catch him. The ball went off the post, into the back of the keeper and out for a corner. So close.
The half ended poorly with Sam Loosen standing motionless as a well-struck ball flew past him and into the net.
The game ended horribly with a 0-1 scoreline. Now we have to draw with Inter to go through. Not impossible, but I have a slight goalkeeper crisis.