November will be a very big month for us. Not only do we face our arch rivals PEC Zwolle, we also travel to Rotterdam to take on Feyenoord. Furthermore, we are given the opportunity to put Excelsior at greater distance.
Our first match of the month is also our biggest. The rivalry between PEC Zwolle and Go Ahead Eagles is not on the scale of, say, Boca Juniors and River Plate but should not be underestimated. Fans from both clubs look forward to these matches all season and it is my job to prevent a huge disappointment and many awkward moments for Go Ahead fans next day at work. We will do so without tall striker Leon de Kogel in the starting line-up. He has been struggling to get goals recently and will be replaced by Sam Hendriks. Lambooij continues to fill in for Groenbast and Goss replaces the suspended Duits.
Well, this has been infuriating. We never really looked like winning. It was PEC Zwolle all the way. Our first big chance, a failed effort by Daemen, only occurred after the match had already been decided. The hated archenemy went 1-0 up through a goal which looked a lot like that old Windows pinball game. It hits about five players before Ryan Thomas puts it past the goalie. We don’t play much better in the second half, when Bart Schenkeveld puts beyond doubt what was never really in doubt. The fans are really disappointed with the lacklustre performance and I manage to escape the stadium in the boot of the chairman’s car.
Next up, Feyenoord. They are in 4th place, which could be seen as slightly disappointing considering they won the Eredivisie in real life. Rookie manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has a very talented squad at his disposal and they will be a very difficult opponent, which is perfect for my very frustrating 5-3-2 formation. This was designed to annoy talented players and give our very average players a chance to shine.
Somewhere, in the nether regions of my mind lives a little voice. It tells me ‘nobody likes you’ ‘your defensive tactic no longer works’ ‘why don’t we play Panzer General more often?’ I hate that voice and I hate matches like these where you know shortly after the kick off there’s nothing to gain today. De Kuip was firmly in the hands of Feyenoord and we were just along for the ride. Their quality is so much greater than ours, the squad depth is something I get wet dreams about and it has left me scratching my head. The 5-3-2 was primarily designed to stop other teams from scoring. But if that no longer happens and we don’t score ourselves… something goes wrong. So, it’s back to the drawing board I guess…
The next match is quite important. We play against another Rotterdam side, Excelsior. They are dead last with 5 points between them and us. An essential five points, since the number 18 relegates directly to the Jupiler League. The numbers 16 and 17 play promotion/relegation play-offs against Jupiler League sides. I can accept participating in the playoffs, but I can’t stomach instant relegation. So we’ll just have to make the gap bigger by winning. I’m going to do this by playing that cornerstone of Dutch football, 4-3-3. The wingers return, the wing back retreat to full back, and the defensive midfielder is once again present to protect the back four.
I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM. I hate FM.
In the midst of this downturn, at least the board has some good news. Something to lift my spirit immensely.
At this point, the board is just having some fun with me just like a cat playing with a mouse it’s going to eat eventually. Luckily, I’ll not get eaten (not by the board at least; the fans maybe) but fired if we continue like we have in recent matches. And with Excelsior winning quite unexpectedly at PSV, three points are necessary to get us out of 18th place….