This is the third instalment from guest author Matt.
SUNDAY August 2nd, 2015
I told the players that I didn’t care about the result and that all I’m concerned is that they got some fitness. I lied. How the hell did we lose to UDI ’19-Beter Bed? And how is that even the name of a soccer club? Their striker got a hat trick. Now ask me if I gave Thor a rest. Yes, I gave him a rest and put in the guy with a name I can pronounce. Punish me, dear diary.
The first game we’re playing in the league is against Excelsior, which I can only guess is a team created by Stan Lee.
I sent Todd Kane back to Chelsea. The more I thought about him the more annoyed I got. And his multi-thousand dollars per week are a welcome saving.
THURSDAY August 6th, 2015
Woke up to the news today that captain courageous has injured himself in the weights room over night. Lovely. Out for two weeks, which means I’m without a captain for the opening of the season. I had the option of making him play through the pain of a sprained wrist, but that seemed a bad thing to do to a captain at the start of the season.
The press has us at evens to win the game, claiming the home ground advantage will make a difference. Those bloody fans had better turn up. One bonus is that the Excelsior manager has also been in charge for only six weeks.
SUNDAY August 9th, 2015
Game day. Someone tried to interview me in the tunnel before the game kicked off. He probably won’t try to do that again. What the hell? I’m trying to concentrate here.
My professional career could not have started better. Anthony Limbombe got the start up front after some debate in my mind and he scored in the ninth minute. I nearly sat down after that, but kept pacing throughout the game. Except when I fell to my knees in the 79th minute after Excelsior scored. Without Captain Fantastic, the backline is definitely weaker. Not sure how much that played in with the goal. So, a draw in the first game seemed reasonable.
My players had another result in mind though, as Joey Sleegers (yes that’s his actual name) crossed to Gregor Breinburg who slotted it home. In the second minute of extra time! I don’t need to tell you, dear diary, that I had brought those two on off the bench twenty minutes earlier. Genius is a strong word, but I’m sure some people were using it.
SUNDAY August 16th, 2015
Game day. Heracles. Can you really just name your team after a mythological hero? Is that how it works? Anyway, they pretty much slew us in the first half. At no point did we get to 40% in total possession and dropped below 30% at some points. Still, we kept them out of goal with the massing of bodies that we’re becoming famous for. Plus our own god in goal, Thor.
The second half started with Marcel Appiah coming off with an injury. His third since I started working here eight weeks ago. The boys worked hard and the last ten minutes of the half were edge of my seat stuff. But god damn, they scored in the second minute of extra time. It was Frank Sturing’s fault, but after the effort all game, it’s hard to criticise. Thor kept us in it with a Player of the Match performance, but ultimately we couldn’t hang on. Two games in a row decided in extra time. I’ve got my cardiologist on speed dial.
I will say that the midfield of six is making it hard for teams to score. Heracles had 24 shots, but only 6 of them were on target. Lots of long range attempts make it easy for us. Lack of attacking penetration makes it difficult for us.
Appiah is out for three months. Convenient. That means we’ve got three first team central defenders. Might have to look around for unemployed defenders or repurpose one of these fullbacks.
MONDAY August 17th, 2015
Mesut Ozil just signed a new five year contract with Arsenal, so there go my chances of signing him.
Next team up is a team called Ajax. I was quickly corrected to pronounce it as I-Axe. Sounds like a team Gimli would like. They’re currently in fourth place, but a little look into the dossier my PA gave me shows they won the league in four of the last five seasons. Last season they only finished second. So, you can imagine how excited I am to play this off the back of that last one.
Thor won the goalie position in the team of the week! Love this guy. So much.
SATURDAY August 22nd, 2015
Game day. Good news is that Captain van Eijden was back. His timing is impeccable. I put him in that all important ball playing defender role. I told the team to go and look to control the game – we’re at home after all. The Axemen would know they’d played, either way.
We started the half well enough, even getting two offsides called against us in the first ten minutes. That’s progress – we were attacking! It’s not a secret that our flow has not yet arrived.
Then it happened. Christian Santos, that Venezuelan Adonis, slid the ball across the box to the one and only Scot, Jay Fulton who slotted in the easiest shot you could imagine. 1-0! The crowd went nuts. The only way they could have been more excited is if a Dutchman had been involved. It didn’t matter. Here we go, I thought, and immediately told the boys to drop back and start looking for the counter. Enough of this positive approach!
And can I tell you, dear diary, that Ajax didn’t have a shot on target?
I told the boys they were playing well, but there was room for improvement. Didn’t want anyone getting a big head – especially that Emilsson up front. He used to play at Liverpool and tells everyone about it every day. Not that he actually ever played for the first team.
The second half continued things as they’d been. The Axemen had most of the ball, but they were frequently frustrated by our midfield numbers. And then it happened. They brought on a guy named Sanogo who got a yellow card almost immediately. Score!, I yelled. But it turns out I should not yell out “score” when an opposition striker is involved. Ten minutes later, he took the ball at the half way line, ran past two of my men who will remain nameless (van Eijden and Golla) and took a shot from the edge of the box. It was off target, but my wingback who I’d been trying to sell all season, Bart Buysse, decided to try to block it. Or something. And he kicked it right into the goal.
Dear diary, we drew 1-1 against the best team in the history of the league and they recorded zero shots on target. Zero. Twelve shots, five inside the box, zero on target.
The Goffertstadion was packed to the rafters and our fans let the boys know they’d done well. Except the obvious three idiots. They didn’t do well.
WEDNESDAY 26th August, 2015
Four of my players have been called up to their national teams. This is news to me. I knew Thor was playing for Iceland, but it turns out that Golla plays for Poland, and I should have known Santos would play for Venezuela. But who knew Aruba was a country? Gregor Breinburg is off to wherever that is.
In other news we’ve been drawn to play in the Dutch Cup. We’re playing the Go Ahead Eagles. I kid you not. I knew there was a drug culture here, but I had assumed that teams would be named while off drugs. Our next league game is against Willem II, presumably named after a king. Thankfully my Detroit Lions aren’t the Detroit George Washingtons.
SATURDAY August 29th, 2015
Game day. Our visit to the Kings started well with Mihai Roman on the bus after the physio team gave him the all clear. I couldn’t start him, but it was a big plus for all the boys to have him with us.
The pregame talk was the usual sombre affair with no-one really paying attention. Thor, in particular, seems to turn off. Might need to talk to him about that.
If the pep talk was the same as usual, so was the first half. 0-0 anyone?
I brought Roman the Romanian on pretty early into the second half to see if I could spice things up. He was rusty, but made some decent runs. With ten minutes to go, Thijs van Hofwegen (really) crossed the ball just over the top of a defender’s head right onto the swinging foot of Roman who first-timed it into the back of the old onion bag. Dropped everyone back for the last ten and we came away with a win. Bam!
After the game, I got some feedback from my assistant, Gerrit. He told me Ritzmaier and Limbombe are having trouble motivating themselves while playing for someone of my stature. Wow. I’m adding them to list of people whose comments should be shoved back in their faces when I’m king. Thor might be on that list soon.
We finished the game in second position on the league table. I should probably retire right now.
MONDAY August 31st, 2015
End of the month. I made it through without being sacked. We’re sitting in seventh with two wins, a draw, and a loss. I probably would have taken that at the start of the month. We’ve got the international break coming up. Fingers crossed that no-one comes back injured. Four games next month, including a cup game.
I still can’t believe we lost that game to Ajax.
As a bit of a time capsule, I’d copied the current tactics on this page. I can try to do that each month to keep a record of where my head has been. Alternatively in the clouds and up my ass, most likely.