FK Partizan / Netherlands – 2032/33 Season Review
I cannot help but feel that it was a year of two-steps-forward-one-step-back.
I don’t begrudge Zlatan mending the Great Schism, but perhaps if he was around to build up their fitness levels in the early months, we wouldn’t have struggled late, securing the Super Liga title but days later falling to second-tier Vozdovac in the Kup Srbije final, with Ibrahim missing a penalty in extra time and during the shootout.
I’m not saying it is Emmanuel’s fault, but it is. Unless it’s Zlatan’s fault.
I’m not going to split hairs over it, even if the Chairman is calling for someone’s head to roll. Once he gets past the initial frustration, he’ll be fine. It’s football.
And, more to the point, it couldn’t be Emmanuel’s fault. Because we had the same problem with the Dutch. Spanking the Spanish in the Nations League semifinal, only to get spanked by ze Germans in the final. (As Zlatan so helpfully pointed out afterwards, you usually have to pay good money for an enthusiastic German spanking like that, especially if you want a balding Manuel Neuer playing pocket pool in the background.)
But now is not the time for accusations and recriminations. We have a few weeks off, and Stana is demanding my attention. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been ignoring her as of late…too focused on my job. Her father’s words still echo in the the back of my mind, promising his blessing if I can find success for Partizan on the pitch.
The coming year will present a new challenge for my tenure. By winning the Super Liga, we’ve gained entry to the Champions League. The promised land. We’re 180 minutes of football from the Group Stages, which would be a massive step forward for this young squad.
For now, though, some down time will be good. We’ve got a long year ahead. A big year. When the first whistle blows, our focus must be unwavering.
A big year. No question. I’m extremely pleased to have a shot at meaningful Champions League football next year. This squad is so ridiculously young that we’ll probably get spanked, but…we have to start somewhere.
The Kup Srbije final was awful. We wobbled a tiny bit in the league — David De Gea’s Cukaricki seem to have our number — but finished strong. The final, though…one goal called back for offsides, our best player (and top goalscorer) missing not one but two penalties. A proper FM’ing.
I’m also not exaggerating re the Nations League final. We spanked the Spanish, 2-nil, after a decent beginning to our World Cup qualifying campaign (beating the Czechs 3-nil, with a frustrating 1-1 draw in Montenegro). I had reason to think that ze Germans would be a managable opponent…but we were quickly disabused of that notion. They were ruthless. Clinical. 5-nil. Like Zlatan says, you usually have to pay good money to get spanked like that, with or without Manuel Neuer’s presence…always look on the bright side, right?
So let’s just sit back, drink some black-market Serbian Rum and forget about our results in cup finals over the last few weeks.
This year wasn’t about winning titles (which we did). Rather, it was focused on getting the pieces of the puzzle in place — both at Partizan and with the Dutch — for success in the years to come. We certainly accomplished that with both sides.
Goals for 2033/34: Defend our Super Liga title. Reach the Champions League Group Stage and/or make a run in the Europa League knockout rounds. Qualify for Japan 2034.
In the Champions League, Raul Valbuena’s Juventus defeated Julian Nagelsmann’s Gladbach, 1-0:
Otherwise, it was an insanely boring year.
In the Europa League, Pep Guardiola’s Monaco beat Marco Rose’s Stuttgart on penalties.
In the Europa Conference League, Sergio Conceicao’s Standard shocked everyone by beating Diego Simeone’s Dortmund, 1-nil…but even that wasn’t as shocking as the elimination of Murad Musaev’s Manchester City at the hands of Legia in the Second Knockout Round.
In the active leagues, Marcelo Gallardo’s Wolves won their first Premier League title since 1959, continuing their ascent up the world football ladder. Raul Valbuena’s Juventus won their 12th straight Serie A title (their 21st in 22 years). Albert Celades’ Valencia de-throned (Arsenal Legend) Unai Emery’s Barcelona, preventing the Catalans from winning their 10th straight title (leading to Emery getting the sack). Julian Nagelsmann’s Gladbach defended their Bundesliga title (their 3rd in 4 years). In Ligue 1, Paulo Fonseca’s PS-****ing-G won the title on matchday 38 with a 3-1 win over Lyon in Paris, to leapfrog Lyon in the table (Fonseca took over for Mourinho, who retired at the end of the 2031/32 season). Simone Inzaghi’s Club Brugge won their 5th Belgian title in 7 years. Antonio Conte’s Panathinaikos were rampant, winning their 9th straight title. Finally, Pontus Jansson’s Hammarby won their 2nd Allsvenskan title in 3 years.
If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused… Don’t worry. The basic concept behind the Nearly Men save is explained here. Just need to catch up? Each installment in Nicolaj Bur’s story can be accessed through the Nearly Men Archive.
And if you just can’t get enough…join us for The Ballad of Toothless Bob, a series conceived and co-authored by Seattle Red and Oriole that explores the world of Nicolaj Bur, away from the pitch. What is Project Arcturus? What lies beyond the twisted redstone door, deep in the bowels of the Santiago Bernabéu?