WEDNESDAY October 3rd, 2018
We have welcomed the Slovaks of Trencin to the Goffert today. We’ve been labeled as clear favorites. The past month of results does not reassure me that it’s an accurate label.
Our little Aussie right back got a call up to the Australian Under 20 team. He’s played for them before, but it feels much better when Mario Fogarty does it while an N.E.C. player.
THURSDAY October 4th, 2018
Game day. N.E.C. v Trencin. Europa League Group K.
Trencin started with a very negative formation, with two defensive midfielders behind two barely offensive midfielders, leaving two strikers alone up top. Schlupp enjoyed the lack of coverage out wide, running amok, sending crosses in for fun. Inevitably one landed and Uth slid onto it, sending it into the net with his right pink boot. Schlepp’s isolation continued to pay dividends and he sent a ball into Fetfatzidis who one-timed a pass into Uth who used his left pink boot this time.
On 24 minutes, Breno took his turn to capitalise on the space out wide and went for a leisurely run, finally deciding to send the ball into Vela. Carlos drove into the box and was fouled. Penalty. Uth said, “Yes thank you, I’ll take a hat trick in 25 minutes.”
Just after 30 minutes, Breno started auditioning for Hollywood with a long ball across to Fetfatzidis on the far post. Their keeper kept the shot out, but boy were the guys having fun. Ten minutes later, Breno did it again and this time there was no stopping Zorba’s shot. Four nil and we went into the break.
On the 62 minute mark, “San” Francisco Jackson took a ball a few yards outside the box, settled it with a touch and then rocketed it into the net past a diving goalkeeper. Amazing stuff. Two minutes later, Zorba drew a foul in the box and we headed to the penalty spot again. Mark Uth took number four.
Meijers took over from Schlupp at left back and delivered a ball into Fetfatzidis who rattled off a shot, saw it blocked, got the rebound, and slammed it home. Two assists and two goals for Zorba. Golla gave them a consolation goal at 83 with a missed tackle inside the box. Nevertheless, 7-1 is a pretty good day at the office.
Wolfsburg drew 1-1 away to Gent. That leaves us in third. Uth leads the Europa League in goals and average rating. He’s got 10 goals from 5 matches. Nice start. As a team, we lead in goals scored too. Level with FK Austria Wien, but they’ve played two more games than we have.
SUNDAY October 7th, 2018
Game day. N.E.C. v Roda JC.
I had to call some auctioneers into the office after today’s game. I had a piece of art produced in the seventh minute that I just had to find out the value of. It started with Breno as many things do. For some reason he was hanging out on the left, but he sent the ball over to where he’d normally be and his soul mate, Vela, grabbed the ball and managed to pirouette around the ball to keep it in play. The Jolly Spaniard lofted the ball over the heads of all of the yellow jerseys to Diarra who was at striking distance. He chose to head it down to Fetfatzidis though and watched the Greek caress the ball like it was Aphrodite. The keeper basically didn’t move through the entire sequence. He may have been dazed by the beauty.
We got to half time with the score at 1-0. In an unusual move for me, I told them not to think the job was done. They took it pretty well, though Uth looked a bit uncomfortable with that pressure. Fifteen minutes after going back out, he looked considerably less stressed. Zorba played him in after a moment of Zen in the box. I don’t know how he stays so calm. Maybe it’s the yoghurt.
2-0 at home was good enough. I’m looking for a run here and anything to keep the morale up is good at this point. Our brothers at Groningen held Ajax to a draw today too. It was a good day.
SATURDAY October 20th, 2018
I had another young Australian player offered to me this week. Am I the Kangaroo Whisperer? I’ve sent a scout out to watch him for a couple of weeks to see if he’s worth bringing into the fold.
Game day. PSV v N.E.C.
We took the short trip south to Eindhoven for a big game. It’s been a few games without a loss in a row now. An away game against one of the big teams was going to be a big test. In the 26th minute, PSV put together four sharp and forward passes that tore us apart and put us down 1-0. It was like a sucker punch. We staggered around afterward and were lucky to make it to half time with the score unchanged.
Mitchell Dijks fouled in the box on a corner to give us a penalty just after the restart. Fetfatzidis had sent the corner in and he took the penalty. Unfortunately, it was saved. I really need to think about someone to be my regular penalty taker. This lottery system doesn’t seem to be working. Just to sink the boot in, PSV scored again ten minutes later. Due to an unexpected rebound, they had a striker with the ball right in front of goal and that was that.
Late in the second half, I swapped out all of the forwards in the desperate hope we’d score. Santos, Nagasaki, and Uth came on, but it was Diarra who scored. From a corner, we took possession, passed it around the box a bit, and Diarra slammed it in from distance. This was just before the 70th minute. Hope was alive. Ten minutes later, Uth slashed a ball wide after Ayoub’s free kick found him unmarked. Hope was dying.
In injury time, we struggled to win the ball back. I got off my bench to walk back into the change rooms rueing the missed penalty and fluffed open goal. The crowd’s noise halted me though. Diarra sent a wishful ball forward. Two PSV defenders casually chased it down. So did Mark Uth. Timothy Fosu-Mensah, owned by the dreadful Manchester United, made a lazy pass back to their keeper. The goalie never got it because Uth, still sprinting, chased it down and slotted it between his legs. A draw clutched from a game we should have won.
THURSDAY October 25th, 2018
Game day. N.E.C. v AA Gent. Europa League Group K.
I sent out our best eleven in order to make sure we had no slip ups on the road to the Europa League knockouts. It worked. We scored seven. They managed two, but who cares? At one point we scored two goals in two minutes. It was all just very beautiful. Zorba the Greek scored a hat trick. San Francisco Jackson got a brace.
That’s seven goals in two games in a row in Europe. We’ve got six points after three games and sit above Wolfsburg who have five. All is going according to plan.
SUNDAY October 28th, 2018
Game day. N.E.C. v FC Utrecht.
Three days later… I do love these ridiculous schedules. Breno picked up a foul in the first sixty seconds, but I forgave him because he delivered a Jolly Vela goal in the sixteenth minute. I was so impressed with the team focus before the goal. Patience was shown by just about everyone as we held possession in the final third, passing it around until the right shot was on. Sometimes I love these guys.
There was very little to write home about for the rest of the game. A corner here, wild shot there, but we won another game. 1-0 is good enough. We’re marching up, slowly, but surely.
WEDNESDAY October 31st, 2018.
Game day. Achilles’29 v N.E.C. Dutch Cup 3rd Round.
Three days later… Playing a team called Achilles on Halloween had me worried. The fact that we hadn’t lost so far this month added some extra pressure. That this team is allegedly one of our local rivals just added to that. I brought Christian Santos in for Fetfatzidis so he could communicate to the other guys how important this game was. Well, and the fact that Zorba was exhausted after a big month.
The Achilles boys started the game with incredible pressing. At times, there were three guys on our man with the ball. Santos nearly scored for us in the fifteenth but his header was saved. I knew that if we could take advantage of the extra man, we’d score. Eventually.
Eventually turned out to be the 31st minute. Vela had two guys on him as he ran along the sideline, but he managed a cross. It was a bit off target, but Santos managed to connect with it by running backwards. He headed it back toward the goal and Crivelli ate it up, slipping it past the keeper to open the scoring.
Half time came and I urged the boys to score another goal to make sure we didn’t get shot in the heel. My man, Christian Santos, provided. Schlupp crossed the ball in and I’m not sure it was intended for the Venezuelan Adonis, but he stretched for it and tapped it between the keeper and post.
Vanderson Luan was stretchered off in this game, adding to a bit of an injury list. On the bright side, we’ve gone eight games without a loss. On the dark side, we’ve been paired with PSV for round four of the Cup.