FRIDAY September 1st, 2017
I signed one last player before the end of the window. He is a young dynamo from Hungarian team, Videoton. I assume that’s where they invented the VCR. His name is Sándor Szűcs. Not the Sándor Szűcs who was killed by the Communists to warn other Hungarian players from defecting. Not that one, because he’s dead. And he was a defender. This 17-year old is a left winger. He comes highly recommended.
SUNDAY September 10th, 2017
Game day. N.E.C. v FC Twente.
I was ready to get back into the winning way. I was ready to establish ourselves as a force for this season. I now have to work out how to recover from a 3-0 shellacking. They absolutely creamed us. They managed 49% possession, which almost no-one does. They had 26 shots, 14 of which landed on target. We had one.
Another home loss. Another 3 goals against. What are we doing?
THURSDAY September 14th, 2017
Game day. Lazio v N.E.C. Europa League Group F.
There was literally nothing to say about the first half. That’s not a bad thing when we were playing in Italy. The second half was a different story.
A couple of early probes in the second half gave me some confidence. In fact, the first ten minutes we were all over them. They responded by starting to tackle harder. Fouls were flying. A couple of yellow cards came out. My confidence grew. Djurdjic went one on one with the keeper on the 55th, but couldn’t convert. Diarra shot over the bar three minutes later.
The next ten minutes went the same way. We were killing them, but just couldn’t score. Then the unimaginable happened. Felipe Anderson got a second yellow card. And he was off. Now it was time for us to go off. Vela shot wide immediately after the ejection.
Naturally, the sending off was when Lazio stepped things up and they started banging in shots. Jimmy was up to the challenge. At the 73rd minute, the crossbar was up the challenge. Golla and Mangane were immense at the back, chasing down darting attackers, and intercepting killer passes. Why did the game become more difficult after we were up a man?
In the 80th minute, Buysse did what Buysse does. He lobbed a ball from wide and far towards the goal. It wasn’t a problem for their keeper, but it was a good change of pace after all of their attacking. Ninety minutes went past and we were still 0-0. Then the magic happened. Vadócz passed forward to space; space that Diarra ran onto and one-timed a pass into the box. It went through the legs of their defender and onto the feet of Sylla who smashed it home between two more defenders. Insert exclamation marks.
An away win in European group play. Bam!
SUNDAY September 17th, 2017
My assistant manager suggested I meet with the players because they’re angry at my management of the team. Note that this is just after we beat Lazio in a European match. Adam Taggart was the ring leader, but I was able to bring him around during the meeting. Djurdjic, less so. He decided to make himself spokesman after Taggart backed down and now I have half a dozen first team players thinking I’m to blame for their terrible play in the last month.
This is the same day my team has been labeled as soft because we rank lowest in the league for cards and fouls. Surely the Eredivisie press are smarter than that. Football is about skill, not brutishness. This isn’t the Premier League.
Game day. FC Utrecht v N.E.C.
Sylla opened up the scoring for us in the fourteenth minute, but he nearly did it earlier than that. A pass from Mangane went over every outfield player on the pitch and into the path of an offside-trap-beating Sengalese who failed to beat the keeper.
Christian Santos put them back in the game with a horrid backpass that caught our defenders off balance. Janssen went one on one with Smits and won. They scored again just before the half with a Buysse-style cross/shot that caught Smits off balance, meaning he was only able to bat it down in front of him. Korte accepted the gift and put them up by a goal.
In the second half, we should have equalised twice in the same movement. One shot came off the post and eventually fell to Sylla who somehow blasted it a few yards off target. Impressive considering he was standing two yards away from the goal. Then again a few minutes later Golla headed a corner wide followed shortly by a world-class save from their keeper off a howitzer from Vela.
In the last ten minutes, they scored again and stole the game. Maybe we’re doing last season in reverse. We’ll lose for two months and then storm up the standings for the rest of the season, finishing in fourth. Currently, we’re in 18th. That’s bottom.
THURSDAY September 21st, 2017
Game day. N.E.C. v Telstar. Dutch Cup 2nd Round.
My 100th game in charge. Surely a win against a lower division team would be a good way to celebrate it. Always one to risk disappointment, I started some of the young’uns. Sándor Szűcs started on the left and Marengo on the right. That turned out to be a pretty good choice as Szűcs sprinted down the flank, hit the ball to Rios and then ran into the box where he took the ball back. A quick pass across the face ended up with Marengo slotting it home. That was after 41 seconds. Marengo ran straight for the corner flag to give it to the fans.
Less than five minutes later, Marnego was back with a great early cross from the flank that landed in front of Djurdjic who wasted no time in scoring the second goal. In the sixth minute, we were two up. We nearly made it to the half that way, but the injured Serrarens slotted home a goal from a cross.
The second half produced basically nothing and I got to go home with a win in my hundredth game. As much of the team hates me at the moment, I got to have a celebratory dinner by myself. That was enjoyable.
FRIDAY September 22nd, 2017
We face the Go Ahead Eagles in the next round of the Cup. I am pretty sure they have my favourite team name. Just a bit ahead of Excelsior.
SUNDAY September 24th, 2017
Vitesse and Zidane thumped Feyenoord 5-2 today. I’m a little worried about the possibility of our arch rivals performing at a reasonable level of competence.
Game day. N.E.C. v PEC Zwolle
So many great shots on goal, so many better saves by their keeper. We owned the first half, but it ended with them scoring a goal. Naturally. My guys can’t seem to win 50/50s. In fact, I don’t call them 50/50s any more. They’re more like 30/70s.
In the 75th minute, Jimmy Smits kept us in the game with a scintillating save from a one-on-one. Ten minutes later, we capitalised on that lifeline with two hard shots on goal resulting in a rebounded tap in for Vela. 1-1 and we pushed on to win. Not enough, though.
We have 5 points from 7 games. The bottom four teams are all on 5 points. To our credit, we have played one fewer game. Assuming a win with that extra game, we’d be up to the lofty position of 14th.
THURSDAY September 28th, 2017
Game day. N.E.C. v Sporting CP. Europa League Group F.
Christiano Ronaldo warned the Sporting players about Nikola Djurdjic before the game. That felt good. It gave the guys some confidence before they headed out in front of the fans. The fans do love them some European football.
A very solid half ended with Sporting scoring a goal – an assist from Adrien gave Palacios the score. I told the boys we were unlucky to be behind. Djurdjic and Golla just chatted with each other while I was rallying the troops. I need to win some games so these guys can get off their whine train.
In the 80th minute I told the boys to go all out. Forget about defence and try to get the goal. It nearly resulted in a second goal for Sporting, but the shot was skied. The referee gave us two extra minutes, which seemed half as many as we should have had. The clock was just about to tick over to two minutes when Vadócz sent a long ball to Vela who slipped Taggart in and Adam sealed the deal. 1-1! Oh my! This is what Europe is all about. Taggart just stood with his arms aloft and the boys knocked him to the ground. We’re sitting in first place in our group. And 16th in the league…