CM9798 Academy – Part 40: Used to have a little now we have a lot

Hello! The end of Season 13 has arrived for the Academy. It is also the last update before we take a break for the summer and the CM9798 Cup. Season 13 has been a mixed bag. We’re still in with a shout on three fronts but some of our results have been a real struggle. We’re second but only by a point, we have a Champions League quarter final to look forward to and right now, we’re in the FA Cup 5th round.

We’re frustrated for large parts of the tie but just as we start to make plans for a replay in 10 days, Alfonso Junior scores yet another vital goal and we’re into the last 8. Well done.

Sheff Wed 0-1

A week later and all the action happens in the first five minutes rather than the last. An own goal after one minute sets us on our way and then a red card seals an easier afternoon. It’s not convincing but is it the sign of champions?

0-1 palace S13

Let’s hope so as just four days later we sneak a third consecutive 1-0 success. The Scottish Messi opens the scoring but captain Lawrie is dismissed. Still, points are points.

1-0 chelsea S13

It’s a far more entertaining game when Arsenal pay us a visit. They usually do a number on us but three of our delicious front four are on the scoresheet and a fun filled 22 minutes is all we need. No jokes.

3-1 arsenal

That leads us into the Champions League and the awkward trip to Amsterdam. At 2-0 down, we’ve got our work cutout but as is our want at the moment we only play for 15 minutes and a last minute goal from McBoyaboy means we leave with a spring in our step.

2-2 Ajax

You’d forgive us for being weary in the FA Cup but McCallum settles the tie in the second half to book us a place in the semi finals where we’ll meet Crystal Palace.

brum 0-1

We’ve got 11 days until we play again so we’re nice and rested for Ajax. Sticking with the theme, we score three in 7 minutes and then relax. How a tie can turn around eh?

3-0 AJax

Two Portugese representatives in the last four – we’ll be playing Porto, who we beat over two legs in the qualifying round last season. Torino remain the dominant force of European football.

CL SF draw S13

Chester, who unsurprisingly prop up the table, is our next destination. A very quick start and an early red for them should make for a comfortable afternoon. Although they do half the arrears with 10 men, McCallum settles it and a mix of our “no more than 20 minutes” attitude plus resting a few for Porto means it finishes 3-1.

Chester 3-1

The International break doesn’t cost us any players but Porto have had their raw meat. 2-0 up inside 15 minutes and it’s looking bleak. As usual though we find something from within, McCallum pulling one back and Powell chipping in before the break. 2-2 at half time would be good but Da Rold heads into his own goal from a corner. Hmm. 3-2 wouldn’t be so bad but 4-2 leaves us with a hill to climb.

Porto 4-2

The big games are coming thick and fast. We’re 2-0 up against Palace but it finishes 2-2 due to a sloppy second half. Colomba heads us in front and Lukic surely settles it although George Benson makes sure we’re having to fight to the bitter end. What a nuisance.

4-3 palace SF

Wolves are a lot less of a threat. Phew.

2-0 Wolves S13

Blackburn go 2-0 up inside 8 minutes though. That’s a problem. The lads fight back though and although Eadie junior is dismissed late on, it’s a significant result.

3-2 blackburn S13

The games and thankfully the wins have been coming thick and fast, a pause to look at the table shows we have an 8 point lead and a game in hand. With the schedule taking us to Goodison Park on Easter Monday before Porto away two days later, it’s time to rotate.

table easter monday

As we’ve discussed before, I have about 14 good players and 8 terrible ones. The 8 terrible ones are very much in action here and we barely manage a shot. Everton are ruthless. A well deserved thrashing.

5-0 Everton

I don’t care though. My selection is totally vindicated when we face Porto two days later. Fresh and rampant, we win 5-0.

5-0 Porto

It’ll be Torino in the final. That’s going to be tough.

Torino CL final

Time to focus on winning the league though and a 2-0 win over Derby helps us along the way.

2-0 derby

Our game in hand comes at White Hart Lane, where an efficient performance sees us open a ten point gap with four games to go.

spurs 0-2

We’re on the verge!

4 games to go S13

We could win the title at Hull but instead…

3-1 Hull away S13

I’d much rather win it at home anyway. Leeds put up a great battle but Giggsy junior climbs off the bench to save the day. The title has been retained!

2-1 Leeds S13

Yay.

Champs 2 games to spare

The remaining two games are formalities. We lose at Bolton with little Dunc scoring for them.

3-2 bolton

We thrash Sheff Utd though, I can’t have Iversen getting one over on us.

Sheff Utd 4-1 S13

Nice. A comfortable retention.

Prem Top final S13

It’s second place Arsenal in the cup final and it’s frankly one of the oddest games I’ve ever been involved in. Pretty much every shot goes in, 2-0 after 13 minutes is 2-2 after 17, McCalum scores a 13 minute hat-trick and it’s 6-3 at half time. It ends 6-4. Not bad for one set of tennis.

6-4 Arsenal FA Cup Final

The double has been completed but the treble…well that would be a wonderful end. Torino play this crazy mess of a formation:

Torino team

Gudnason is the famous Icelandic re-gen, Denilson is of course a hero and Puschmann has been banging them in for years.

But not today!

2-0 Torino

Captain Colomba seals the game, a lovely moment for him and the Academy have gone from nothing to European champions in 13 seasons.

Many of the lads are involved in the World Cup, which is nice. Somehow it’s an England vs Scotland semi final, Powell & Larmour vs Lawrie…

WC SF

Powell puts England in the final!

Powell WC SF

Both Academy lads play the final and are now World Champions. What a time.

WC Final 2010

Let’s take a look at the club now in 2010. That attendance has come on some way.

Info S13 end

As we’ve never purchased a player our balance of £171m is healthy to say the least.

finances

Charting our rise through the ranks, it only took 13 seasons for the defence to be sorted out.

League history

Here’s what lined Ike Mashley’s pockets.

Fees received

Alfonso Junior gets the gong from the writers. Rightly so.

fons junior

McCallum takes the golden boot and I get the manager award. We’ve had a wonderful time.

Awards S13

If this is the last time we talk about the Academy, what a ride it has been. 40 weeks of trials and tribulations but we got there in the end. Of all the saves I’ve blogged, this one has captured the imagination of you readers more than any other. Thank you for humouring me and convincing me to keep it going during the bleak years where I thought we were never going to get out of the bottom half of the table. Whether there’s a new save or a continuation in August we’ll have to wait and see.

For now though, I’ll be giving the CM Cup all my attention. A lot of effort has already gone into it from the lads involved and I hope you’ll all stick around to see how it plays out. Goodbye for now.

Introducing the 2019 CM9798 Cup

Hello! It’s no secret that the wheels have been in motion for the 2019 CM9798 Cup for a while. In an attempt to go bigger and better than last year’s World Cup, we’ve upped the field to 20 and ran a draft style system. Each manager has their own team, custom designed and ready to entertain.

This will be my last big tournament as I’m cutting back my commitments in the new season. The blog will continue and I’ll hopefully still have regular updates for you but I doubt I’ll be able to put aside the amount of time to do this sort of thing. The hours of editing, creating and generally pissing about with a spreadsheet of over 600 players do not come easily. Now if somebody wants to pay me to do this, that’s another matter…

Anyway, onto the event.

The Contenders

FPL Hints returns as defending champion. He will immediately have a bullseye on his chest after winning the World Cup with Italy last summer. Beaten finalist 90sFootball is also back for another crack.

In fact 14 of the field featured last season. Only myself and Adam (Belgium) have dropped out, so we welcome back guest writers KingOfTheRooks, Matt_C_Wills, Ross Jacobs, Rob Tait and Corinthian Collector. There’s also spots for friends of the blog Ross Bell, Tom Reed, Chris Darwen, Ash Rose, Mark Carruthers, Dan Barker and 2017 Champion Dan Williamson

Stepping up from their analysis roles last season are Tom Rostance and Michael Marden. They talk a good game but how will their get on in the dugout?

SupernovaDragon joined the writing team this season so he pitches up with a team, whilst 90s enthusiast Sid Lambert brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. Dave Mathieson is full of 9798 nuggets on Twitter and takes the 19th spot which leaves bundle winner S4ooter to take the final spot.

The Draft

It’s not easy trying to organise twenty people around the country so although I wanted to do a draft, I was also aware time was an issue. I mean that in the sense both in terms of how long I had to set things up but also asking people to give up their time for this.

The lads were asked to pick a squad of 18 players but order them in terms of who they prioritised. So their first pick was their most important player. If more than one team picked the same player, whoever had them as a higher priority got the player. Those spaces would then be filled by the second draft phase.

Clearly some strategy would be needed – picking the best 18 players imaginable would leave the managers running the gauntlet of the second draft so some tact would be needed. Paddy (90sFootball) took matters into his own hands and named a team of Patrick’s (or continental equivalent) and got all 18 of his squad. Poor old SupernovaDragon got 4 of his 18. If anybody really wants to see it I’ll publish the full spreadsheet of carnage.

A scoring system was in place so that a unique player was worth 20 points, a player you stole from another team (due to a higher priority ranking) was worth 10 and a player you lost on that basis was worth -10. The highest score meant you got first pick of a draft pack. As Paddy didn’t need any replacements, there were 19 draft packs.

The draft packs were my way of speeding the process up. Each pack had 14 players in and there were two preview players on show for each pack. Each manager in turn chose a pack and then were given the full list of 14 – they’d then pick however many they needed from that list to complete their squads.

Confused? Try administering it!

The Squads

The upshot of all that is that the squads are now complete. They are in the thumbnails below if you want to take a peek – there’ll be a full preview blog coming up. The lads were asked to pick team names related to their name/Twitter name/publication but that soon went by the wayside. Please note AFC Supernova Dragons were awarded a bonus Chris Sutton by way of an apology – my foolproof spreadsheet failed to pick up Paolo Maldini at number 4 in his list when Quickly Kevin United had him at number two. Racked with guilt, Maldini was replaced by Nesta and Sutton is playing the role of a basket of muffins.

The Format

There will be four groups of five teams, with the top two in each advancing to the quarter finals. Then it’ll be a straight knockout to the final.

The draw will be coming up in a few days, I just need more kinder egg pods. Yes, really.

Matches will be recorded but as ever they will be summarised via blog posts. We’re almost ready to start, I’ll have a definitive date soon and we can be started by June at the latest.

The Prize

Alongside the coveted trophy, there’s a £25 Classic Football Shirts voucher up for grabs. There are other prizes being worked on – please do get in touch if you have something to give away in exchange for exposure on the posts. My sincere thanks to CFS for offering up any sort of prize, it’s really appreciated.

For the non-entrants there will be prizes to be won along the way, so keep an eye out for that.

So in the words of David S Pumpkins – Any Questions?

Run Forest, Run – Part 11

It’s the penultimate episode of Matt’s Forest of the future save! He’s tantalisingly close to restoring Forest to their best years but can he keep competing on all fronts? Catch up with part 10 here.

Hello and welcome back to my Forest blog and for the penultimate part. We head into 2008 as defending domestic treble champions and have set our sights on European glory. We’re top of the league, into the quarter finals of the Champions League and League Cup and about embark on our quest t retain the FA Cup.

We’re doing well, but we’re functional and hardly ripping up any trees, which might be best for a team called Forest.

2007 has been a great year for us, and we see it out with a league match against Watford. They have a strikeforce of Giggs, Heskey, Fowler and Owen, but the latter two are injured, which might explain why they are hovering around the relegation places.

1

Missing penalties won’t help their cause, nor will Shay Given conceding 4 goals. I’m pleased with that result, we played liquid football.

It’s a complete change of lineup when 3rd Division Bournemouth come to town in the FA Cup 3rd round and Alfonso does what he was bought to do, come up with valuable goals.

2

It’ll be Premiership Leeds in the next round at the end of January, but for now, it’s the quarter finals against Man City in the League Cup.

City are down to 10 men early doors, but it isn’t until they score a ridiculous own goal that we take control and book a semi-final spot.

3

We’ll take on Arsenal while it’s a north-east derby in the other.

4

Jarni Jnr is out for a few weeks, otherwise we are unchanged for the trip to mid-table Huddersfield.

Gifton Noel-Williams. I can say no more.

5

The board were as unimpressed as I was.

Time for some redemption against lowly Swindon. Debbah and Rubini shut down any thought of a Swindon comeback.

6

We’re quickly back to FA Cup action against Leeds who are chasing us hard at the top of the table. Amazingly they only have Thomas Myhre as a goalie and he’s injured so it’ll be a random fake goalie, who no doubt will be the reincarnation of Lev Yashin.

7

Maybe he’s actually the regen of Paul Rachubka. It should have been more than 4 really.

It’ll be Division 1 Portsmouth next time out.

Back to the league and our form has gone to pot.

8

With that, Leeds and Spurs jump above us in the table and we’re down to 3rd.

Back to the cups, my lovely cups. They’ll shield me from the inconsistencies of the league.

9

Lovely cups. Although conceding 3 away goals isn’t the greatest thing ever.

At least in the cup we entertain…

10

Four nil up and cruising and then we let in two silly goals.

Potential banana skin in the next round though…

11

Arsenal really should have made us pay for this.

12

But they didn’t and it’s another League Cup Final to look forward to

13

Back to the league and back to winning ways again, Nice to see Ascensio on the score sheet, he was a Stuart Pearce signing

14

All these cup games give us a bit of a fixture pile up in the league and so it’s a midweek date with our title rivals Spurs.

15

Rubini is rolling in the goals so much, Fred Durst could sing about him.

This game was duller than a tin of Dulux extra dull matt emulsion

16

After a long wait, we’re back into Europe and face Espanyol in the Champions League quarter finals.

The Lizard is suspended so Courtin takes over goalkeeping duties. We weather the storm of baby Keane getting sent off and everyone’s favourite Icelander gives us the lead and a valuable away goal, but the lead is ours for only 3 minutes and we come away with a draw.

17

While we await the return leg, we take on Lincoln City in the FA Cup Quarter Final.

18

Rubini is currently on fire and only a late lapse lets Lincoln in. We’re into the semi’s and another match up with first division Middlesbrough who we’ll meet soon in the League Cup Final, manager Joe Royle channelling his inner ‘Bryan Robson 1997’.

19

We travel to one of Bryan’s former clubs next and come away with 3pts courtesy of 3 goals with no reply. Utd looking a shadow of their former self these days, just like in real life really!

20

This win takes us into a table topping clash with Leeds. The scoreline suggest a close match, but in truth, our 3 goals in a 5 minute flurry flatters us and Leeds were cruising to the 3pts. Will this prove vital at the end of the season?

21

This run of form is good preparation for the return leg against Espanyol, where hold a slender advantage having drawn 1-1 away n the first leg.

22

Thompson puts us ahead and when Gislason doubles our lead I start to relax. Edilson gets one back to set up a nervy last 15 minutes but a Thompson second settles my nerves. Espanyol have a player called Nayim in their first 11, but there are no last minute lobs here and we’ve booked our place in the semi-finals. It was no mean feat defeating a talented Espanyol side, but it gives me confidence that this side can go even further.

The draw is made and we avoid Milan and another trip to Spain. Monaco was probably the best draw we could have had and we’ll pick up the semi-final in the last part next week.

There’s just time for one more league match to finish off this post and we’re away to Villa in 10th spot while we sit second to Leeds by 2 pts but with a game in hand.

23

Of course, our form couldn’t last could it? Dukes with the early goal was a definite Hazard.

So, at the end of this part, we’re down to 3rd, our game in hand could put us back 2pts from Leeds at the top, but it’s a big if at the moment.

24

At the bottom, newly promoted Chelsea are struggling, as are Joe Kinnear’s Watford, whose job is in danger.

25

We definitely need to win our game in hand. I’ll be back next week for the final part of this season and this save, can I go out in a blaze of European glory and make Cloughie proud? See you next time.

Before I go, my customary update on the teams you turned down:

Liverpool – Up to an impressive 8th for Shearer’s team. We beat them in the League Cup and they got knocked out of FA Cup by Bury, but they are through to the Semi-Finals of the Cup Winners Cup after dramatically overcoming Real Madrid 5-4 in the quarter finals to set up a semi-final meeting with Inter Milan. Some chap called Neville the hero in Spain.

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27

Espanyol – Well, we’ve knocked them out of Europe and they are down to 5th in La Liga but have a Copa Del Rey semi-final with Sevilla to look forward to, so there’s that.

Lazio – Well, they are 7th in Serie A with nothing left to play for, not a sausage.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

Starting from Scratch – Part 15

Twitterless Matthew is here with the penultimate episode of season two. His Altrincham side started last season without a single player but a promotion later, they’re mounting a charge to Division 1. Oh and I’m going to assume the genering greeting is intentional from Matthew rather than an error. Catch up with part 14 here.

<Generic Greeting, Season 2 Episode 7>. Let’s get on with it!

1

This isn’t a great start to the update, he’s our most reliable midfielder behind N’Diaye so will be sorely missed for the next 3 or 4 games.

2

When it rains it pours. He’s only backup though so we’ll cope

3

Aw c’mon! If someone gets the flu next I’m going to scream. Not great timing either as our next match is in the cup against premiership outfit Newcastle. I put out a patched up team and hope for the best, it might be painful though as I’m without a left wingback so Browning’s having to start there

4

It’s fair to say that it goes about as well as expected. Only Roberts does himself proud, though Browning does alright to say he’s in the wrong position. 5th round is still a decent achievement and we’ll aim to go one better next year.

5

Oh pipe down, look at my injury list you morons. I’m so sorry that we got tonked in the 5th round, which I’ve guided us to for the second season running, you deserve so much better. Why don’t you build some more seats to cheer yourselves up? Besides which, we’re record breakers

6

Anyway it’s time to shift our focus back to the league. Who’s next up….oh, what?

7

Oh for God’s sake, this is getting ridiculous now. Ferguson is back at least, but I might play with one up front until Tomlinson comes back because we’re out of options up front. Oh wait, Ferguson is bloody suspended so he’s unavailable anyway. Shoot me.

What a perfect time to be visiting the Zoo…err, the Den. Our supporters have been complaining about the lack of phlegm in their hair recently so it’s a great time to go and stock up. I decide against going with 1 up front and give McGarrigle a recall

8

We’re quite understandably second best and the scoreline is probably a bit flattering to us really. Let’s just move on, quickly.

9

Of course. Things are going swimmingly right now. This cheers me up a bit though

10

Colwyn Bay come in for Matthew Bound, who I’m happy enough to offload so I accept their offer

11

The loss has allowed Brighton to catch us and we’re second on goal difference. We have the chance to grab first again though with our game in hand, at home to Wigan. Tommo, Ferguson and Hughes are all back so thankfully we can dump the dregs of the team and put out a somewhat stronger side.

12

That’s more like it, back to winning ways thanks to the familiar scorers Allardyce and Ferguson. Taggart picked up some sort of knock but it’s not serious, hopefully he’ll be fit for the next game. After the match we bid farewell to Bound and pocket £250k

13

3 days later we’re back in action at home to Plymouth, and it’s just one of those games

14

We go behind in literally the first minute, and then batter them for 90 minutes without scoring. This happens at least 5 times per season (well, not the scoring in the first minute, you know what I mean) but it’s not going to define the season so let’s move on.

This isn’t too helpful though

15

His understudy Heinrich is also out so we don’t have any cover. I think it’s going to be Browning filling the gap again as we don’t really have another option. Allardyce is also suspended for 2 games to piss on my chips further. At least we’re playing the division’s bottom club, Bristol City:

16

Well, that was bloody close. We manage to survive the first minute without conceding this time – but we concede in the second, what the hell are my team doing at the start of the game? We quickly take control of the game but can’t find a way past their keeper, who’s having the game of his life. After the break our fortunes change and Tommo stabs one in, before Zerrouki blasts in a rebound and N’Diaye heads in a corner. They pull one back in the last 10 minutes and have 2 chances to level it up, but some excellent last-ditch defending allows us to hold on for the win.

There’s a potential Hollywood against-the-odds blockbuster (or at least a BBC 1 hour-long drama) in the making as 3rd division Wrexham are 90 minutes away from the FA Cup final

17

Heinrich makes a recovery but he’s lacking match fitness for our next game against 19th placed Swindon. I hand him a start but will have to sub him later on, hopefully we’ll be comfortably ahead by that point.

18

Ugh, it’s another match where we lay siege to their goal but fail to score. This is the final straw and I’ve made my mind up to sign a third striker that can hit a cow’s arse with a banjo. No wonder no-one’s interested in taking McGarrigle off my hands, he’s sodding hopeless. I make a £1.1m bid for England U21 and Boro striker Campbell, though he’ll probably be tempted to go with Wimbledon and play in the Premiership so I look for a backup target.

19

Tony Bird is twice the price but he’s been banging them in for Swansea over 3 seasons and crucially isn’t wanted by anyone else, so I put a bid in for him as well.

20

At least Allardyce is available again as we travel to Luton for the next game. They are a couple of places outside the playoff places and probably looking to put a run together to break into the top 6, so this might be a tricky one.

21

It’s actually a bit more comfortable than it looks. We go two up by half time as we run Luton ragged. It really should be 5 or 6 and then of course they go up the other end and score with their first effort on target in the second half. We’re holding on for the last 20 minutes but the defence holds firm and we take the win. I’m impressed with Luton’s old man Wilkins, as player manager he’s been selecting himself for every game at the sprightly age of 43.

Bird gets back to me first, and I doubt Campbell will choose us anyway so I rubber stamp the deal, which is a new club record

22

Jason Harris had all the qualities to be a top drawer striker but it just hasn’t happened, so I transfer list him and look to offload asap although his contract is up in the summer so I’ll dump him for free if I must. Campbell opts for Man City to my relief.

Southend in 8th place are our next opponents, and I give Bird his first start at Tomlinson’s expense – he’s missed so many chances recently I’ve lost count. The entire squad is injury free and fully fit so I pick my strongest team and cross my fingers.

23

Is it a Bird? Is it a pla…oh nevermind, it was actually a Bird. He starts paying back his record transfer fee straight away as his diving header puts us one up by half time. We can’t add to it however and we’re indebted to Roberts for keeping them goalless, as he makes 3 or 4 saves to maintain his clean sheet.

There’s now 7 games left in the season, so I’ll save the rest of them for next week. The table makes for good reading right now:

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11 points clear with only 21 to play for, we should get over the line sooner rather than later. In the division below, Colwyn Bay are still in the mix but they’ve dropped out of the playoffs at this crucial juncture:

25

They’re only a point behind though so they have every chance of getting there by the end.
The arse end of the table has tightened up somewhat, if you’ll pardon the expression

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Oh Darlo, you did the hard work and hauled yourself off the bottom earlier this season after being 6 points adrift, but now you’re right back where you don’t want to be. Like Colwyn Bay though there’s only a point (well ok 2, their goal difference isn’t the best) to make up and they’ll be alright.

Come back next time to see how the end of the season unfolds and hopefully see our promotion to Division 1 confirmed. We’ll also follow the division below to see who drops out of the football league. Goodbye!

The B’s of Manchester – Part 11

It’s the end of season two for the Manchester United B team and SupernovaDragon. A late run of form would surely secure a promotion spot as they seek to avoid the dreaded playoffs. Catch up with part 10 here.

Welcome back to the B Team of Manchester United and we pick up where we left off which is 2nd place and looking forward to momentum carrying us onwards to promotion to Division 1 at last.

Our first game of the update is at home to Luton. I tell the lads before they go out that we need to win to get a stranglehold of 2nd. Did that team talk work?

1

I think it’s fair to say that is THE best first half we have ever played. I decided to throw De Bont to start and I am so glad I did. From the 4th minute onwards, we absolutely dominated this half. I tell them to go out and enjoy the second half.

2

I’m very disappointed to have conceded the 3 goals but then I take the blame for that as I took Duncan off because of his booking, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. De Bont was worth his MOTM award.

By the time our next match comes, away to Fulham, Cundy is back from suspension but more importantly, so is Nevland. I was always planning on putting him straight back into the starting line-up but after how well De Bont played, he has to make do with a place on the bench.

At half-time, De Bont has not proven to me he deserves his place. He has wasted numerious chances as we are 1-0 down. I decide to keep faith with him and my lovely Tree equalised and then we go 2-1 down, on comes Nevland and we instantly play better and Nevland almost scored. We then go 3-1 down, Nevland pulls 1 back and in the 90th minute Nevland equalised. Or so I thought, the linesman ruled it out for offside (it wasn’t) and we lost again. I can’t believe how patchy our form is to say we are 2nd.

3

Meanwhile, our parent club are in yet another FA Cup Semi-final. This time playing Chelsea.

Next up, it’s home to Wrexham. Nevland starts again in the only change. Problem was, the defence didn’t play that bad. 2 minutes in and we are 1-0 down, Nevland equalised 5 minutes later but neither team really trouble the goals for the rest of the half. I tell the team to get out there and win this match as nothing else will do.

Second half and we run riot as Nevland got a second, Notman scored 2 and Tomlinson also got in on the act as we won 5-1.

4

Meanwhile, Newcastle are the sole remaining English team left in the Champions League. In the semi-finals against Barcelona. Good luck to the Toon.

5

We then visit Blackpool, not for the Pleasure beach but to play our next match. I leave the entire team as it was and send them on the way. 5 Minutes in and Nevland scored, a minute later and it’s 1-1. Notman then goes off injured and I bring De Bont on, Nevland takes the free-kick and it’s parried and De Bont scored the rebound. On the stroke of half-time it’s 2-2. I tell them to get their act together and get out there and win.

Second half and not a lot really happened until I brought Ferdinand on for Greening, shifting Clegg to the left and within 5 minutes, Tomlinson got given the ball, rounded the keeper and won the match for us.

6

I treat the lads to staying over and letting them go to the pleasure beach the next day.

Bye bye Jonny Macken, you scored a few vital goals for me but I wasn’t standing in your way as I just wasn’t giving you the game time:

7

Not surprised he chose Burnley though, seeing how they got promoted last season and are actually in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Meanwhile our parent club? Well they got a bargain:

8

I forgot to screenshot but Sheringham left our parent club to sign for Celtic.

Another player that barely ever played, yet did feature in my first ever starting line-up of this experiment has now left us on deadline day:

9

The day after deadline day and we get an injury:

10

Not the ideal player to lose as we still only have Appleton as our defensive midfielder. We also lose Duncan for a few days.

Our next match is at home to Crewe. With the two injures above, I have had to make a couple of changes. At half-time we are leading 2-0 thanks to McGibbon (header from corner) and Nevland (putting it beyond the reach of the keeper.) I tell the lads to keep it together and to get a third. We do end up winning the match 3-2 thanks to Tomlinson netting the 3rd and we then came very close to throwing it away as they pulled it back and then missed a golden chance in the 90th minute.

11

Our parent club win the League Cup. Again.

12

As another month ends, we are closer to the end of the season and the board are very pleased. This is very nice:

13

Not one of ours but this is a very bad injury:

14

Up next for us is a trip to Bristol to play against City. I remind the lads that the win is the most important thing. They appear to not be listening to me as we are 1-0 down at half-time. I tell them to get their heads in the game and start to play. This was a very disappointing result. Why is it we can play so well for matches on a run and then we can lose in this manner:

15

What makes it more disappointing is that, according to the ratings, we played well?

4 days later, on the Wednesday, we are away to Leyton Orient. I talk to the team and I tell them, in no uncertain terms, to get out there and win no matter what. 2 minutes in and we go 1-0 down. On the half hour mark however, we turn it around with a quickfire double, first Mulyrne and then Greening getting us in front at half-time. At the end we won, 5-3, even if it did look like we could have thrown away the win at the end.

16

Our parent club are through to yet another final:

17

Now we are finally in a home match again, this time against Exeter. We’ve got to win this one. In 2 minutes we are 1-0 down, 5th minute we equalise through Mulryne, Notman then lobs the keeper to put us in front on 21 minutes and Mulyrne gets a second on 41 minutes and 2 minutes later we conceded another meaning it is 3-2 to us at half-time. By full-time only 1 more goal is scored, Tomlinson pouncing on a loose ball.

18

A very good all round team performance.

19

That’s that at least, but where we are now, we NEED to be securing 2nd also.

Some more good news, after missing the whole season, the friendly ghost has returned:

20

As long as we get the 2nd place sorted, he will get a game or 2 before the end of the season.

Our parent club get the shock result graphic:

21

Blackburn are in the UEFA Cup final:

22

However, Newcastle cannot find their way past Barcelona:

23

Arsenal have got to their final though:

24

Our parent club win yet another Premier League:

25

Up for us next is Swansea who are top of the table and already promoted. Currently it looks like this:

26

Somehow, if we were to win this, we’d be 1 point behind but played a game more. Can we really beat Swansea though?

At half-time we are 2-0 up thanks to goals from Nevland and Notman, we have played so well so far so I tell the lads to keep it tight and keep going as they are. Within 10 minutes of the second half starting, we concede 1. They then stayed on top of us and attacked but we stood firm:

27

That now brings us 1 point behind with 3 games to go. We can win this league, as long as Swansea suffer defeat in their game in hand.

They win their game in hand, beating Wigan 2-0 away.

We then get to the weekend and we’re away to Gillingham. However we are missing 2 players due to international duty, McGibbon and Mulyrne. We’re definitely going to miss Mulryne. A dour poor game was 0-0 until we opened the scoring thanks to Tomlinson, only for an equaliser to come 10 minutes later. It then stays like that until the 83rd minute when Thornley scored a rebound, only for the referee to disallow the goal. We could, and quite possibly should, have won this match.

28

However, this is the news I have been waiting to hear:

29

It’s been a long hard season. I will give a couple of fringe players a game or 2 at the end of the season.

30

I should think so too.

Let’s get this season wrapped up then shall we, our penultimate game is at home to Watford. After being 1-0 down at half time, we play poorly until I do a sub and then after that we play a lot better.

31

The draw was a fair result.

Final game of the season and this update is away to York. I make quite a lot of changes again, give Ridings a game to finish the season off. The final game is one to see us off in style as we win:

32

Great way to see off the season:

33

In the end we drew too many games but our goals for tally is the best I’ve personally had on this game.

Excluding Ridings ratings as he played the one game:

34

The biggest disappointment was Cantona to be honest. McClair has seen the last of our squad also.

35

As you see, Tom and Nev easily got the majority of the goals and I take back what I said about King Eric. He has brought his share of goals and Mulryne has really shone recently. Langley and De Bont also got in on the act and I am so glad they did, they restored the faith I had in them.

36

As for assists, Tomlinson and Nevland easily lead the way, Eric having got 10 assists

We didn’t really get many Man of the Match awards which is a shame.

37

Blackburn won the UEFA Cup:

38

But their joy then changed to sadness:

39

Arsenal won the Cup Winners’ Cup

40

Nottingham Forest pulled off a bit of a shock in the FA Cup:

41

Barcelona won the Champions League:

42

Oh I am so happy for you 3:

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You all deserve it.

Meanwhile joining us in the 1st Division:

44

Had a feeling it would be Bristol Rovers.

I should think you are very pleased:

45

Let’s have a take a look back at the two key players who have left, first up Johnny boy Curtis:

46

As you can see, Curtis has played well for Leeds so far, still no England caps though.

What about our other key player, Terry Cooke?

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He’s only played 9 games for our parent club but saying that, he does have some competition in that team.

It is now that I let you know the board were somewhat surprised I released McClair after we held a clear the air talks after I confirmed to him that he would not be starting any games next season and, to be honest, probably won’t get on the bench either.

I’ve also transfer listed John O’Kane as I feel I won’t be playing him much now either.

We started to start looking at new players for the upcoming season but I failed in my first transfer:

48

He had been released from Real Madrid and would have fitted into our wing back formation but it wasn’t to be.

We will finish this part with the end of season awards:

49

It was a surprise to be to see the Leyton Orient manager get manager of the year for Division 2 as I thought it would be me (somehow) or the Swansea manager but it was also good to see Tomlinson be top scorer.

As we end this part, let’s do another BACK TO REALITY:

Today we look at the career of John Curtis:

Johnny boy Curtis started his his career at Manchester United obviously and was there until 2000 after playing 14 games for the first team. He spent 99/00 on loan to Barnsley. He signed for Blackburn and was there for 3 years until 2003 and spent time on loan to Sheffield United in 2003 before he left.

2003/04 he signed for Leicester City and played 15 times and then signed for Portsmouth for the 04/05 season, played 7 times and went out on loan to Preston North End and played 12 times and signed for Nottingham Forest from 2005 until 2007, played 79 times then started to bounce around signing for QPR (4 games until John Gregory was sacked and got released), John then signed for Worcester CIty just to gain fitness and signed for Wrexham (13 games), Northampton Town for the 09/10 season (19 games) and his final club Gold Coast United, played 19 games and even scored his first goal since he was on loan to Barnsley back in the 99/00 season.

He played 4 times for the England U21’s and 1 game for England B team.

Johnny boy Curtis didn’t live up to anywhere near his potential but at least he played a full career.

Until next part and next season, bye from the Manchester B’s.

SupernovaDragon will be back after the summer break with season 3!

Mission Impossible – Saving Barnsley: Part 3

Andrew is trying to pull off the unlikely scenario of Barnsley staying in the Premier League with the default squad. It’s going quite well but now we’re into the business end of the season. Can he do it? Catch up with part two here.

Ey-up and welcome back to part three of our mission impossible as I attempt to keep the bad boys of Barnsley in the promised land. Previously we cruised through summer and autumn in the top half, but a winter of discontent has seen us slide down to 13th place only 8 points above the drop zone with 14 games remaining. As positives go, we’re above Man Utd in the league and we’re still in the FA Cup (for now, pending a trip to Leeds). The average ratings tell you a pretty good story and a reason why I haven’t diverted from a core number of players, even for the cups, despite the imperative of staying up;

1

Markstedt has been a revelation at left wing back since being introduced despite his absolutely shocking ratings. Meanwhile Liddell has forced his way in with 8 assists so far.

Next up it’s Arsenal and I just can’t get my head around this signing, I’ve never seen anything so bizarre…Lee peaked at Scunthorpe and by 2002 his career was spiralling towards ten transfers across the next ten years…

2

The man from Leek Town just keeps on keeping on. We had several chances to bury the game in the last 4 minutes, but I’ll take that!!!

3

Another Yorkshire derby, another red card and a game thrown away. We had them under pressure until the sending off. Gutted, but at least that’s us focusing on staying up.

4

A chance for revenge goes missing. Must remember dirty Leeds are top, but the ref doesn’t help us. Kewell fouls Redfearn when through on goal…not even a yellow. Wallace commits a cynical foul on Markstedt and again no card and he’s off injured. Nigel gets MoM and that just says it all about our derby day luck!

5

We lose a vital relegation six-pointer against Southampton. We are nothing without Fjortoft as Hristov continues to fire blanks following his lack of competitive action…

6

Things go from bad to worse as we lose to 20th placed Bolton. Shooting boots have gone awol in the last two games.

7

He’s only De Goey’n and let us score a sack full as the floodgates open. As you can see from his 9th MoM award, it could have been a 5-6 loss but for Tony.

8

I am delighted, but Fjortoft gets a 5 and the stats tell the tale of the game. Lucky!

9

Tony, Tony Tony, Tony Tony, Tony Tony Bullock! The man from Leek Town gets his 10th MoM of the season to date and we climb up to 9th place in the table, and reach the elusive 40 pts marker with plenty of games to go.

10

Reality Check: At this stage of the season the real Barnsley had won 9, drawn 4 and lost 18, but were putting up a similar late fight to ourselves. They had conceded 69 and scored 31 and were sat in 18th place with a shot at survival possible. We’re 9 points and 9 places better off.

Elsewhere this save just keeps getting stranger…

11

And stranger…

12

And stranger…

13

And then there’s this…Man Utd sit 4pts from safety with Sir Alex having plumped for this striker from Partick Thistle in pre-season.

14

5 minutes of madness and the Dons go crazy.

15

We can’t repeat that famous night at Anfield with our two attacking midfielders out we had to resort to 4 strikers…so close.

16

We are fading fast and that see’s us drop to within 7pts of the trap door with 4 games left to play.

17

We’ll be without Hendrie, Sheridan, Martin Bullock, and Fjortoft for the next game. Down to the bare bones up top.

18

Whatever possessed Danny Wilson to sign Hristov…I’d like to know who the scout was for that one, a lot to answer for.

19

Twitchy bum time…we are below Man Utd for the first time this season.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!

20

With two games to spare, victory in a South Yorkshire derby and we’re safe!!! The fans storm the pitch and hold the captain aloft.

21

You absolute beauties. Did not see that victory coming.

22

We’re now fighting for 11th place, top of the bottom half.

Disappointing 79th minute.

23

We tamely fizzle out with a whimper having secured our survival a few games ago.

24

Our rag-tag bunch of, what can loosely be termed, footballers have survived against all the odds and all the history. Here is the final table;

25

And at the top, Liverpool pip dirty Leeds to the title, justice!!!

26

So we closed the season out with 11 more points than Danny Wilson’s Barnsley back in 1998 and we’ve kept that goals against down by 20 odd goals too! I am grateful to the following few who enter the fake Barnsley hall of fame;

Tony Bullock and his 11 MoM’s plus a host of other great games, was our best rated player.

27

Fjortoft sure would have been handy from the start of the season in real life, he is no doubt the difference maker in my survival along with Tony.

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The man, the myth, the legend. Captain of the relegation favourites and living up to his real life hype he reached double figures.

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So there you have it. A Yorkshire vintage survival. I just can’t quite believe it. In 20+ years I’ve never seen them survive that season. I can attest to just how hard that was, and I think if I’d had a more punishing spell of injuries during the season I might have failed.

I hope you have enjoyed your stay in Barnsley, I’ll be back soon (hopefully) with another mildly interesting tedious tale to tell.

That’s T’goodbye from me.

My thanks to Andrew for a hugely enjoyable season. You can follow him on Twitter @KingOfTheRooks