This is the second instalment from Matt our guest author.
SATURDAY July 4th, 2015
I got to spend my Fourth of July at a little ground in Waalwijk (don’t even ask) watching the boys win their first game. No hot dogs for obvious reasons, but I did shoot off a little bottle rocket when Mihal Roman scored. Thought about shooting off a second, but this time at Frank Sturing when he was sent off for a last man tackle. But it’s only a friendly. No point injuring a player for a mistake in a meaningless game.
The tactic mostly sucked. The wide midfielders and wingbacks were stepping on each other’s toes, so I’ll have to think about what to do there. Maybe push the wide guys up and in a bit more. That should also solve the problem of no-one supporting the false nine who seemed more of a lonely target man.
On the bright side, nearly half of their shots were from distance, which was mainly because I accidentally had eight or nine players behind the ball. Also, Rens van Eijden got into double figures for intercepted passes in that advanced ball playing defender role.
Player of the Match? The Icelandic goalkeeper, of course. Happy Fourth!
TUESDAY July 7th, 2015
We’ve been working on the tactic over the last few days. I’ve kept the same basic shape, but I’ve got the wide midfielders and one of the central guys attacking more. We’ll see how it goes.
Players are unhappy with the quality of training they’re receiving, so I’ve put a few ads in the various publications. No idea who’s going to turn up to work with an inexperienced manager and a newly promoted team. Should be amusing. We’re also looking for a physio because I’m told we have the worst medical team in the whole league. We’re #1! This does mean I can sneak an offer into Eva Carneiro. That’s really the main reason I got into management.
WEDNESDAY July 8th, 2015
Eva said no.
We’re not playing at a high enough standard, she says. Challenge accepted!
SATURDAY July 11th, 2015
Game day. We played Brighton from England in our first home match under my watchful eye. Just over 4,000 fans turned up to see me, which is disappointing. I wore the green pants and everything. Clearly the media is not doing a good enough job at promoting the pants.
I decided to try out my up and coming Dutch keeper as obviously Barcelona and the like will be coming after my Icelandic guy any minute now. Joshua Smits is his very pronounceable name, which is also a good reason to try him out. The experiment went well for the first seven minutes. Then we conceded in the 8th and 10th minutes. Both from crosses. I waited until half time before bringing on Hannes Þór Halldórsson. Look, when your middle name is Thor, you’re probably okay with me.
2-0 down at the half. I sent Thor on and we scored three goals and won the match. He won’t be getting a minute’s rest until he retires, let me tell you. I was pretty happy with the goals. Two came from the right wide mid position that I had made more attacking, asking them (Santos in the first half and Foor in the second) to drive to the box. The third was from a penalty, so I’ll take that.
Overall, not bad. I’ve been told I can check a heat map for the players, but damned if I can find it anywhere.
TUESDAY July 14th, 2015
I’ve had zero bites on the ads for new staff. So, I went out looking myself. Found a couple of likely lads and hired them. Now, that wasn’t so hard. Can’t wait to turn some of these bastards down when we’re cruising through the Champions League.
Had a game today against some sort of farm club. We won 1-0 and Thor won man of the match. Not exactly happy with that result and I told the team. A couple were not impressed with me, but maybe they need to find another team where crap performances are deemed satisfactory.
I have decided to dip into the transfer market though. Which means I need to sell some players. A couple of the young guys are really attacking wingers which means they haven’t got much of a role in my team. I’ll see if any of them are of interest to the world at large.
Going through the existing contracts and lo and behold, the two highest paid guys are defenders. Who on earth was running this club before me? There are also two backup goalies on over $1,000 a week. In the reserves? Nuts. Naturally no-one wants to leave on a mutual agreement.
SATURDAY July 18th, 2015
Game day. Today we were in Schötz in Switzerland. Lots of nice mountains and lots of lovely schötz. It’s possible the boys are starting to get into this. We won 4-0 with 20 schötz – only seven schötz on target though.
I found the heat map. And we were hot.
Next up is a tour of England. I’ve always wanted to go to England so when the opportunity to run a tour for the preseason came up, I jumped at the chance. Halifax, West Ham, and Lincoln. I’m sure they’re all lovely places.
WEDNESDAY July 22nd, 2015
Halifax. I’m told Ed Sheeran is from here, which is enough reason to beat the crap out of this team. I left a couple of the transfer-listed boys home. Hopefully they’ll be gone before we get back from sunny England. This trip should be good for squad harmony.
Well, we beat them. 1-0. 61% of the possession and 15 shots (5 on target). Still not thrilled with that though. I counted the shots – only four of them were outside of the box. So, am I just working with some poor shooters?
And as luck would have it, not a single team is interested in any of my goalkeeper flock or the unwanted wingers.
SATURDAY July 26th, 2015
West Ham provided our first loss of the preseason, but that was expected. They won 3-1, but the third of those goals was due to a ridiculous pass from van Eijden from defence to their attacking midfielder who then passed to an open striker who was played onside by van Eijden. And the papers still gave him a 6.7 rating! Amazing.
I don’t really know how West Ham rates compared with the Eredivisie. Hopefully they’d sit somewhere at the top and we can have faith that we can compete with anyone in our league.
Am I deluding myself? We’re still not getting enough bodies forward, but I’m not sure which one I should start sending.
Hammers fans loved the green pants. So, there was that. They chanted “Belmondo’s a wanker!” for at least five minutes. Todd Kane told me that’s an English term for fashionista.
WEDNESDAY July 29th, 2015
We traveled to Lincoln for the last leg of the tour. Mihai Roman, my first choice striker came off the bench in the second half to score a brace and secure a win. He was also kicked onto the physio’s table for 4 weeks with a back injury. For a city with a lovely cathedral, Lincoln have got a team of not-so-angelic shin-kickers. 24 fouls against my poor boys. They couldn’t manage a shot on target though, so we got the moral victory as well as actual one.
THURSDAY July 30th, 2015
Another moral victory as we signed Scottish midfielder Jay Fulton from Swansea on loan. He costs way more than we can afford, but I needed to make sure I had coverage. Not that he’s coverage – he moves someone else into coverage. He’s paid well, so dressed well. I called him a wanker. Todd Kane will be sitting on the bench for the next few games.
Also got to make the tricky decision on who to captain this fine squad of barely adequate players. Rens van Eijden got the vaunted captain’s armband. This is his seventh season with NEC, so he makes sense. Gregor Breinberg is his deputy. Let’s hope they can inspire their team mates.
Our final friendly is in a few days against some obscure Dutch team. Then we’re off to the big leagues. God help us.