2019 CM9798 Cup Preview: Groups A & B

Greetings and welcome to the first of two previews for the 2019 CM9798 Cup. Seeing as I opted out of playing this year I get to run the rule over everybody’s selections. If you need reminding of how we got to this stage, this post should help. Today I’ll be going through Groups A & B with C & D to follow on Sunday. Here’s a reminder of the draw:

Group Draw portrait

It is of course very difficult to say how some of our new managers will perform but I have some good intel on some of the repeat competitors. Please note odds are offered purely in jest, there isn’t a real market for this.

Group A

FC Garrincha –  @RonnieDogChris

I was going to say something nice about every competitor but it’s really difficult with Chris. His CM Cup campaigns so far have seen him manage Real Madrid to a first round loss in 2017 whilst his Argentina team were eliminated in the last 16 by Spain in the World Cup last summer. He failed to read the rules correctly this year but his squad may give him some hope of progression.

FC Garrincha

@RonnieDogChris

I would say it lacks star power at first glance but he’s one of the few teams able to put out a back four, with Sergi a particular standout. Robert Page and Christian Worns are both CM stalwarts whilst Laudrup, De Boer and Sibierski are all excellent. The team is perhaps a little light on strikers but Litmanen scored over a goal a game for my all conquering Ajax side and Boksic is a useful hand – this is pre-Boro.

I owe Chris a lot for his support over the years not just with this blog but the subsequent books and writing platforms he has given me. For that I give you one solid piece of advice – don’t play 4-4-2.

Verdict – This team is hamstrung by the manager. If Chris can have his Mike Bassett moment and take charge of this mob then he might not get his eyebrows shaved off for drawing 0-0 with Egypt. He has an outside chance of qualifying.

Selected Odds – Stuart Pearce to miss a pen – evens

Rostance Rovers – @TJRostance

By Tom’s own admission he hasn’t played the game for roughly 20 years but he’s clearly still got a good memory for some stars of the past.

ROstance Rovers

@TJRostance

There’s an obvious omission of a left back but with Davids as a DM he could play as a wingback. The AI clearly doesn’t fancy David Platt or Steve Potts but I think that’s more down to the club’s reputation being 20. Ian Wright is lethal in the first season so don’t underestimate him whilst Maurice, Salas and Pires are obvious stars. Add in Beckham and the always popular (on CM) Lamouchi and there’s a pretty solid side in there. Finding the right formation will be the difference between progressing and an early exit.

Tom has always been very supportive of the blog since I tagged him in one of the early Darlington live texts. He definitely live blogs a good game but can he play one on Champ?

Verdict – What I like about this squad is that it has the right mix of flair and graft. Blending them is easier said than done but if Tom can solve that puzzle then he’ll be in the running.

Selected Odds – Rostance Rovers to qualify for the knockouts – 7/2

Plumstead Common Rangers – @AshRoseUK

Ash played down his chances last summer but the host of Alive and Kicking 90s Podcast was always going to know a thing or two and took Holland to the semi-finals. His squad is stacked although maybe a little too much in the goalkeeper area.

PCR

@AshRoseUK

Three top centre backs and one of the bets left backs on the game should provide good cover in front of presumably Nigel Martyn. There’s a myriad of attacking talent, the most exciting of which is probably Juninho but Davor Suker is at Real Madrid at the start of the game and is very good indeed. Bergkamp’s talent is no secret whilst Michael Owen is very young but capable of great things. Shevchenko – who has his name spelled incorrectly in the database – was a goal machine for my Aston Villa side when I was tactics testing the other year. The biggest problem Ash is going to have is figuring out the jigsaw that gets all of these players into the team.

Obviously Ash and I share a common interest so I was delighted when he asked me to be a guest on his show a few years ago, even if re-living Newcastle’s 95/96 meltdown was a tough one to take. My only advice here is not to expect miracles from Owen – this game came out before World Cup 98 so whilst his potential is very high, he’s very inconsistent.

Verdict – If Ash can find a formation that hides the right back frailty and gets the best out of his many attacking options I can see PCR sneaking through.

Selected Odds – Roberto Carlos to score a free kick – 4/1

AFC Supernova Dragons – @SupernovaDragon

Poor old Supernova came bottom of the draft phase and had most of his squad handed to him by the draft pack system. To make matters worse I ballsed up and gave him Paolo Maldini when he had been drafted elsewhere. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down…

Supernova Dragons

@Supernovadragon

Despite all of that, the squad is competitive. Any team that can pair Nesta and John Curtis at centre half should do fine, whilst McManaman and Fernando will provide the creativity. I’m just not sure where the goals will come from. Emile Heskey is extremely highly rated whilst Sutton and Negri have been proven goalscorers at this point in their careers. Nevland and Tomlinson have their best years ahead of them whilst Kanu is a bit of a maverick.

SD has done great blog work with the Man Utd youth team and three of that squad have made it here. I would say this is the weakest squad in the group but a solid defence will make him hard to beat.

Verdict – It doesn’t look the strongest but then again neither did Greece. A strong defence can get you everywhere.

Selected Odds – Neil Lennon to be red carded in any game – 1/3

Glipton Grasshoppers – @sid_lambert

If you haven’t read “Cashing In” by Sid then you are missing out. I’m not contractually obliged to plug Sid’s material but good work deserves to be recognised. Meanwhile, Sid is another who hasn’t played the game in 20 years but his squad is groin grabbingly good.

Glipton

@sid_lambert

The defence is decidedly average, admittedly. But fundamentally he is able to name a conventional back four should he want to so it stands up well already. Martin Djetou is one of my favourite ever CM players, he will do a job in defence or midfield. Svindal Larsen speaks for himself and then any combination of Shearer, Batistuta, Romario and Scholes will get goals. This is one of the better balanced squads in the group and if he can nail that in a formation, he’ll go far in the competition.

Verdict – My favourite to win the group but at the very least should qualify for the knockouts.

Selected Odds – Gabriel Batistuta to win the golden boot – 8/1

Group B

Patrick Thistle – @90sFootball

Paddy was runner-up last season with France. Some people will claim he has not taken this entirely seriously, but at the end of the day he got his entire team without question.

PAtrick Thistle

@90sfootball

So, genius or insanity? In Kluivert, Loko, Berger, Vieira and Andersson there’s the spine of a good team there. Whether Pat Nevin is entrusted alongside them remains to be seen. My main concern here is the goalkeeper. I think it’s the most important position on the game and I know nothing about Lodewijks. Pat Bonner is terrible. There are a lot of unknowns in this squad.

I’ll always be grateful to Paddy for giving me a re-tweet when I first got started, it may even be how some of you came to find the blog. I wish I could offer some constructive advice here but many of these players even I have never managed. Patrice Carteron played for Sunderland and scored in the Tyne-Wear derby once whilst Patrick Valery played for Blackburn. Good luck?

Verdict – With the attacking talent he has available I suspect he will be strong at home but may struggle away given the strength of some attacks they will be up against.

Selected Odds – Patrick Vieira to be booked three or more times – 2/1

The Rookies – @KingOfTheRooks

Andrew had such high hopes for his Norway side last summer but ran into an inspired Belgium side in the last 16 and that was that. A real connoisseur of the Scandinavian leagues, this side could be a force.

The Rookies

@KingOfTheRooks

Two good goalkeepers and options at the back – this is not like most teams we have seen so far. Figo and Joao Pinto are rightly flagged as star players whilst Vieri always scores goals. Neset, Rushfeldt and Svensson are relative unknow quantities but they have been selected for a reason.

Andy knows this game inside out as shown by his blog posts for us. He will find a way and probably already has. He’s one of my favourites to progress from this group.

Verdict – I think he’ll get through. It’s not the flashiest of teams but it will be organised and the likes of Figo will unlock a door.

Selected Odds – Mihailjovic to score a free kick anytime – 3/1

Bayern Bru – @MarkCarruthers_

There’s been a lot of love for Mark’s squad on Twitter and it’s not hard to see why. Has he found the perfect mix? Mark was Brazil manager last summer but couldn’t convert a great start into the cup win. Will this year be any better?

Bayern Bru

@MarkCarruthers_

Let’s focus on where it matters here. Zidane and Rivaldo in the same team? Crikey. Emmers is just as good as them, bizarrely, whilst Ronaldo could be partnered by any of his colleagues there and still be a hit. There’s barely a wasted spot in the squad. Bould, Ferdinand and Gravesen is a good pool of centre backs and even the AI often plays Gary Neville there.

Mark has shown great form in these competitions. He was runner up in the inaugural cup in 2017 and will have a re-match with Dan during the group phase. A strong favourite not only to progress but for the cup itself.

Verdict – I think he’d have won the World Cup last summer if Ronaldo had stayed fit. Assuming he remains fit here, I think Mark will be in the latter stages.

Selected Odds – Ronaldo to win the golden boot – 7/2

Boca Seniors – @winkveron

As mentioned, Dan won the inaugural cup in 2017 and provided one of my favourite moments in last summer’s World Cup. His much unfancied Chile side faced elimination unless they could pull off a high scoring win over Mexico and a 90th minute goal secured a 5-3 win and progression to the next round. What can he do here?

Boca Seniors

@winkveron

It’s a very strong attacking team but there’s a high risk of Jeff Kenna at the other end. That said, Phil Neville and Luis Fernandez should keep him away whilst Campbell and Roberto Rios is a good pairing. Barcelona pair Guardiola and De La Pena will do well in central midfield whilst Alfonso is a hero to us all. Japhet N’Doram and Kiko are both highly rated in game. There’s a lot to like here.

Verdict – Dan is basically the Bielsa of CM. His games will be entertaining but will he fall on his sword? For me he’ll be in the scrap for second. As we found out last summer, never write him off.

Selected Odds – Boca Seniors most goals scored in Group B – 5/1

Corinthian Collector – @CorinthianHead

This is a squad of great players but will they make a great team? Michael knows what he is doing and did well with Romania last summer but what will he do to get the most out of this squad?

Corinthian Collector

@CorinthianHead

With only two centre backs any injuries could be problematic. He has three right backs though so that’ll help. Robbie Fowler is a goal machine whilst Baggio, Zola, Signori and Henry is an embarrassment of riches. There’s not much balance to the centre of midfield though and I think that may be where he falls down compared to some other teams. He does however have a good CM pedigree and has probably already figured out how to get the most out of this squad.

Corinthian Collector has a book coming out about Corinthian Figures soon so you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for that. The recipe for doing well here is probably not playing Maradona.

Verdict – Should score a lot of goals but might lose the edge in tight matches. Will be in the running but I think will just fall short.

Selected Odds – Diego Maradona to be sent home – evens

There we go then, the first two groups previewed. The thing is, all teams are stacked with top class players and it could even just take one of them to have a great day to win the game for his team. I think Group B is marginally stronger than Group A but it’s pure speculation, I’m really looking forward to seeing this play out.

I’ll be back on Sunday with the preview for groups C and D. See you then!

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Run Forest, Run – Part 12: Panic

Matt’s here to round off his Forest of the future adventure. He’s achieved a lot in a short space of time with Nottingham Forest but can he round it off in style? Catch up with part 11 here.

Hello and welcome back to the final part of our experiment to make Nottingham Forest a force in England and Europe. We jumped into the hotseat after simming 8 seasons and given Stuart Pearce his P45. In season 1 we came close to winning the league, only to be denied by Watford, but did get us back into Europe where we capitulated in the group stage, but shone domestically to do a Man City style domestic treble. Into our 3rd and final season and we have the chance for the quadruple, but to do so, we’ll have to overcome Joe Royle’s Division 1 Middlesbrough.

League Cup Final day and a chance to defend our trophy. Middlesbrough were reigning Premiership champions when we jumped into the hotseat, but the past few seasons have been unkind to them, but under Joe R’s guidance, they are heading back to the big time and have a chance at a domestic cup.

And that’s the way it seems to be heading when Frank Parkinson heads them into a half time lead. It’s not until late in the game that we settle the scores with Kaye heading in from a corner and whilst everyone was prepping for extra-time, Rubi-gol pops up with a late winner to bring the 3 handled trophy back to the City Ground. Three hands indeed.

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We barely have time to wipe the sweat from our brow and wash the champagne from our underpants as we’re off to the Principality of Monaco to play the first leg of the Champions League Semi final. There’s obviously still some champagne sloshing around our system as we are 2 goals down until Luis Figo/Marco halves the deficit with a valuable away goal.

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While all this was going on, Leeds lost two league games in a row, we’re 5pts behind them and Spurs with 3 games in hand, I can sense a fixture pile up coming.
We won’t have time to worry about that for the moment though, as it’s our 3rd cup game in our 3rd cup competition in a row and this time we take the lead against plucky Boro, only for them to equalise after the break. This time it does go into extra-time but the recently recalled Zizi Debbah knocks in a rebound early doors and we see out the rest of the tie to head into the final against Newcastle United.

3

All these cup games mean we’ll have to play in the league again soon. How soon is now? Now, where we welcome Wolves round to ours, where they huff and they puff and they blow our house down. Our league form seems to have dropped off a cliff…

4

After our destruction by Wolves, we need to win our next game against 4th place Everton.

5

Joyce in the goal repels everything we have to throw at him, only one shot from Inge gets through, and we concede to drop 2pts, not to mention injuries to two of our centrebacks.

2 days later and it’s the bank holiday fixtures and we travel to Arsenal. Our return leg against Monaco is in another 2 days, so it’s another squad rotation experiment.

6

Another 1-1 draw and another injury to a defender. I think the experiment went too far again. 2 dropped pts. At this stage, I think we need to forget the league in pursuit of European Glory.

The second league is a tense affair. A goal from Monaco would see us needing 3 without further reply to avoid extra-time, but young Dutch maestro Twan Inge puts ahead on away goals and then as the tension rises, William Sagnol brings down Rubini in the box, gets sent off and Gorgeous Guerrero rolls back the years and sends us into a European Final. Hard luck William, it was really nothing.

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It’ll be the mighty Milan in the final.

Back to the league and Inge and crucial goals go Hand in Glove at the moment. Will that goal be huge at the end of the season? We’re 7 pts behind Leeds with 2 games in hand, we’ve got a chance!

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Sheffield Utd next. They are 20th in the table and there for the taking.

Bigmouth strikes again.

9

Lyttle Chef and Ronald MacDonald serve up a beating that drains my soul. Meat is definitely murder in those hamburgers.

A loss to Sunderland away confirms we won’t be retaining the title. In truth we were holding on until The Lizard got sent off and the penalty went in Jancker at the end just rubbed salt in the wounds and heaven knows I’m miserable now.

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Such is life, with the race over, we then go and thrash Burnley in our next league game
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Interestingly, more people came to watch this dead-rubber than to see us dispatch Monaco in the home leg of the Champions League Semi-Final. Go figure.

2 days later it’s another catch up game against Bolton and we are tired and truly awful. We were so bad, even the pitch went off in disgust after 5 minutes.

12

I feel like the boy with the thorn in his side. And my girlfriends in a coma. (Certain statements may be untrue – that joke isn’t funny anymore.)

We’ve one last league game to play and it’s against Newcastle, who we’ll play again 7 days later at Wembley in the FA Cup Final. I’m unsure what side I should put out. Save the first teamers for the two cup finals looming and give the squad members one last run out?

There’s intrigue at the top, where Spurs need a Leeds slip up to take the title and at the bottom it’s any 3 from 5 to go down.

13

In the end I decide to mix the team up a bit and see what happens.

The story of this game, and stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before, is that we’re crap, they get a man sent off, we rouse a comeback and then we are crap again and lose.

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Rodrigao the man to watch in 7 days time then.

At the top, Leeds drew 1-1 whilst Spurs beat Swindon 3-0 but it wasn’t enough and Leeds take the title having conceded only 2 goals fewer than Spurs, unbelievable Jeff.

15

We limp into 3rd. In the final run in, since we lost 3-4 to Leeds, if you include that game, our form was:

P11 W2 D2 L7 – not exactly Champions form was it?

At the bottom, Watford, champions 2 seasons ago, join Bolton and Swindon in the drop, Burnley doing a last minute escape. Joe Kinnear pays the price and loses his job. You can only imagine the swearing, That Charming Man.

16

With all that disappointment out of the way, I remind the squad that we have two cup finals to play and some pride to restore to the City Ground Fans. I tell them Cloughie would be spinning in his grave to know we relinquished the championship to Leeds so meekly.

Liverpool end a impressive first season back in the Premiership by sealing the Cup Winners Cup, great stuff by Alan Shearer.

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FA Cup Final – Newcastle United – Wembley.

We’re the holders, we finished above them in the table, we’ve won th League Cup and have a Champions League final awaiting us. We should be favourites, but we’re not. Our form has been woeful, so we’re the underdogs. I tell my players this. I use it to my advantage. It’s mind games son.

The Lizard and Gazza Jnr are suspended so it’s Courtin in goal and Julen Guerrero on the bench.

Newcastle boss, Jimmy Nicholl insists on holding my hand as we lead the teams out ‘I’ve never won this cup!’ says Jimmy to me. Poor Jimmy has some sort of fear of the big occasion it seems.

Fear is only a four-letter word. He’s also called Gareth and plays in midfield for Newcastle United and puts them one up after 4 minutes. But we win the first half, my favourite front two getting a goal each.

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Nelo gets injured early in the second half and the classy veteran Guerrero comes on to replace him. Newcastle have a goal ruled out for offside and Kaye and Courtin combine to thwart Rodrigao and the trophy is coming home with us, happy times!

On a sadder note, Nelo is out of the big one, his injury laying him up for 6 weeks. Is the script written for Julen Guerrero?

Champions League Final – AC Milan – Stadio Olimpico – Rome

Milan have recaptured their invincibility of the late 80’s and early 90’s. A time when Forest were popping up in the odd cup final. Since the start of the save, Milan have won 2 champions League titles and a Cup Winners Cup, 2 World Club Cups and 2 European Super Cups, 5 Coppa Italia’s, 3 Super Coppa Italias and Serie A 7 times out of 11. They have Thierry henry up front, Valerien Ismael in defence and the regen of Peter Schmeichel in goal.

However, they’re not invincible. They’ve finished 17 points behind new champions Napoli in Serie A and lost the Coppa Italia final to two goals from Ronaldo – they can be defeated. If hope is a light, it’s a light that never goes out.

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Zizi Debbah, such an enigma this season, goes down injured in the 4th minute, so young Derek ‘Al Shearer’ Thompson replaces him and slots past the intimidating frame of the Dane, Meedom. We survive a late onslaught before halftime to go in, one nil up.

No need for stirring half time team talks, it’s just as you are and keep your heads.

Advice Tentoni should have had before he hauled down Rubini in the box and received his marching orders. Icelander Gislason has ice in his veins and coolly dispatches the spot kick and we stay firm at the back, Chagnaud in for the injured Bogie getting the MOTM award.

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2-0 at full time, we are champions of Europe, barely 3 seasons after promotion from Division 1.

21

Milan, treble runners up. Henry just didn’t turn up.

Confirmation of our trophy haul over 3 seasons

22

And our league placings. Our capitulation this season in the league is still a little hard to swallow.

23

Goal stats – Rubini amazingly scored no goals in 8 European games and Debbah certainly dropped off from last seasons form. Maybe hitting 30 years old affected him. Really could have done with some goals from him in the run-in.

24

A last chance to look at the teams we turned down:

Liverpool – A solid 7th place in the league and the Cup Winners Cup trophy meant a decent return for Shearer’s team to the top table.

Lazio – 5th in Serie A gives them a chance at European football next season

Espanyol – 5th in La Liga and back into Europe for these big-punchers next season.
For completeness, Real Madrid took the title in La Liga, Sevilla the Copa Del Rey and Juventus took the Eufa Cup. I’m disappointed we never faced Juventus who had William Gallas at the back, then I could have used the headline ‘Debbah Does Gallas’, but alas, it was not to be.

As it’s 2008, theres the Euros to be played out and my central defensive partnership of Kaye and Bogie have been called up along with Derek Thompson, who may lead the line with Noel Whelan for Arrigo Sacchi’s side.

England bow out at the group stages. Derek Thompson doesn’t play until the final game, a win over Slovenia, but it’s not enough and they go out on goal difference. Should have had me at the wheel, FA.

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Italy and France overcome Germany and Yugoslavia respectively to set up the final

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A hat trick for Papin’s regen seals the win for France. Milan’s Tentoni and Pelatti are runners up for the 4th time this season, that’s a kick in the Ballacks for sure.

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Well, that brings me to the end of Part 12 and the end of this save. Thanks to all have read, commented and retweeted and I hope you have enjoyed it. I can’t really say I have as much as the Eric Cantona/Man Utd and Gary Lineker/Torino/England blogs I have done previously. I think jumping in 8 seasons down is tricky as normally by that time you have a feel for the game and the characters whereas I felt I was all at sea and Zizi Debbah frustrated the hell out of me.

Special thanks to Dave for hosting me every Wednesday for the past 12 weeks and I look forward to a break and the CM Cup where you’ll find plenty of veterans in my Criterion Club squad, including this blog’s hero, Julen Guerrero.

You can follow me on Twitter where I am intermittently tracing the managerial movements of Alex Ferguson and am currently at Aberdeen awaiting the call from Man Utd once they tire of George Graham. I’m sure I’ll be back at some point with another blog save, interlaced with pop culture references, I just need a good story.

I hope this has been a fitting tribute to Brian Clough. I managed to win all the trophies he did (except the Zenith Data Systems/Simod Cup) but did get my hands on the FA Cup, twice. Cheers Old Big ‘Ead.

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You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

Starting from Scratch – Part 16

Matthew Cooper stands on the verge of a second successive promotion with Altrincham. He still doesn’t have Twitter. Can he finish the season in style? Catch up with part 15 here.

Yay, it’s the exciting part of the season. Or it would be if it were closer, but with an 11 point cushion this should really be a formality. Let’s get it sorted.

The first trophy of the season is up for grabs, and Fergie misses out on it again:

1

They’re also out of the FA Cup so the league is their only target left now. It’s a champion’s league place rather than the title they should be aiming for though, as they’re way behind in third

2

Their dominance appears to be over, temporarily at least. You may recall Shearer made a blistering start for them with 6 goals in the first 5 games, but he went pretty badly off the boil since and only scored 2 more goals in his next 26. They were dumped out of the Champion’s league this earlier on by Ajax, so it’s been a season to forget for the red devils.

Anyway back to Altrincham, and it’s not the news I wanted to be greeted with

3

Curse that sodding big club release clause, that’s the third left wingback I’ve had poached in the 2 seasons I’ve been here. I’ll have to go hunting for yet another one. This guy looks like a decent all-rounder, and at 28 won’t have a need for that accursed release clause thank God

4

Eek, it had better go smoothly as we won’t get a second chance

5

You can sod off though Ipswich, you’re not big enough to bully me

6

It looks like 3rd placed Brighton are going all out to catch up with Millwall, they spent £2m on Jamie Cureton and make another big outlay 2 days later

7

Well, at least we wrung another £200k out of them

8

His replacement swiftly comes on board so it’s not a complete disaster, thankfully

9

Bird is serving a 2 match ban starting with the away trip to Bradford, he kept that quiet when he was signing with us the devious little git. Ah well, Tommo can have another shot at returning to form, in the other change Grossi goes straight into the team to replace Hughes. We should hopefully have enough to get the three points today

10

Ah, bollocks. It was going to plan right up to the 89th minute, but we’re sucker punched and have to settle for a point. In truth we’re maybe lucky to get that, as Bradford created a whole host of clear-cut chances but Roberts was in top form and repelled (nearly) everything they threw at him. Ah well, it’s a point closer to the line anyway. Millwall only drew as well so no harm done.

The fairytale FA Cup run is over for Wrexham as they get well beaten by Villa. Wimbledon will be their opponents in the final after overcoming Newcastle

11

I really am not having the best of luck with my strikers this season

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At least Bird will be back after the next match. We’re against York at home next, and they’re desperate for points to avoid going down so I’m expecting a frustrating afternoon of their keeper stopping just about everything:

13

Am I crap at predictions or what? It’s a seesaw kind of game and the lead changes hands 3 times before we close it out for a narrow victory. N’Diaye’s goals have been vital this season, not to mention his consistent performances. We wouldn’t be in the top spot without him for sure. We secure a playoff place with that win, but as per last season we’re going for the big prize so it means little.

The champion’s League is coming to a conclusion and it’s an all German affair this time as Dortmund and Bayern get past their opponents to reach the final

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Next up is Brighton. They’ve fallen well off the pace despite their £5m+ outlay around deadline day and find themselves in the final play off place despite being two points off second a couple of weeks ago. That doesn’t mean this game will be easy by any means but I’m confident heading into it. Bird is the word as he returns from his ban.

15

Fiddlesticks. Brighton are the better side but it’s a game of very few chances and a draw is just about fair on both of us. Unfortunately my new left wingback gets crocked and Palmer sees red so availability issues are about to rear their ugly head yet again.

Still, we’re 9 points clear with only 4 games remaining so we’ll get there even if we have to limp over the finish line. We’ll have to do it without Grossi as he won’t be back until next season

16

The next game could be the one that confirms our place in Division 1 next season as we face Stockport at home. They are 7 points adrift from safety so pretty much doomed, but they’ll probably put up a fight.

17

I’m right for once, they put up a hell of a fight and we could have lost this on another day. We were in fact staring defeat in the face at 2-1 down until the 80th minute when Bird rescued a point. Ah well, we’ll have to wait at least another game to be mathematically uncatchable.

N’Diaye is doubly unavailable for our visit to Peterborough, being both suspended and also on International duty. Zerrouki replaces him in the middle as we look to seal promotion with a win

18

It’s party time as Allardyce blows them away with a 30 minute hat trick, finishing the half with a rating of 10 out of 10. Taggart gets himself sent off towards the end so I opt to sub Allardyce to give him the standing ovation he deserves.

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Hurray! It’s another successive promotion and we’re just 1 league away from the Premiership now.

20

Really, just very pleased? Not delighted? You want the moon on a stick you lot.

We haven’t had a look at the fight to avoid the non league trapdoor for a while, and it’s a very interesting situation

21

Darlington have climbed off the bottom again and are hoping it sticks this time. Brentford are the ones facing oblivion now but with the table being as close as it is, it might not be resolved until the final day.

We play out our remaining couple of fixtures but with promotion secured, it’s simply a case of going through the motions. We end up winning the final game but it’s pretty lucky as we’re decidedly second-best all afternoon.

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On the final day in Division 3, Walsall have swapped places with Brentford and realistically need a win, as their goal difference is slightly inferior. If they do win though, they can drag 3 other teams into it so it’s a very tense day for all concerned

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It’s a pretty good day in the end for most of the bottom three as Walsall, Brentford and Darlington all win leaving Oxford, the highest placed team going into the fixtures, slipping into the void with a disappointing defeat to none other than the recently promoted Colwyn Bay. Farewell Oxford, maybe we’ll see you again in a few years but for now you’ll have to be content with the FA Cup as your only games all season.

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As you can see from the results, Colwyn Bay confirm their place in the playoffs and have as good a chance as any of going up. It would be a pretty amazing year for them considering the early chaos of their 16-strong loanee squad.

So who’s taking their place in the league? As it turns out, it’s one of the “big four”

25

Boro pull off a shock result in the UEFA Cup and get the better of the Galacticos after extra time

29

Unfortunately, Colwyn Bay’s season is over after getting a spanking by Mansfield in the playoffs

30

Villa lift the FA Cup at the crazy gang’s expense

31

Kidderminster opt for Mick Jones to steer them to safety next season. He started off as Plymouth manager and was most recently in charge at Preston before being sacked in January. It’s not a bad appointment really so they should be ok.

32

Finally, Bayern Munich take the ultimate prize with a solid victory over Dortmund in the final, which is coincidentally held at their home stadium

33

I forgot to immortalise my players last year with the squad stats so here they are for this season

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35

Finally, it will be Plymouth joining us in Div 1 next season after overcoming big spenders Brighton in the final

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So that’ll be it for this season. See you for the next one, when we’ll be plying our trade in the First Division!

Thanks to Matthew for a great series so far, negotiations are underway to renew his contract for the new season. 

2019 CM9798 Cup Draw

Hello! Since introducing the tournament last week, anticipation has been building for the 2019 CM9798 Cup. I mean that genuinely as well, I’ve received literally more than 5 tweets about it. It therefore gives me great pleasure to bring you the draw as we move a step closer to actually playing some matches. For those who don’t want to watch my wife draw names out of kinder egg pods for 6 minutes, you can scroll down past the video and there’s an image of the draw to save you the hassle.

As promised, here it is in pictorial format.

Group Draw portrait

Matthew and Matt will be here on Tuesday and Wednesday to finalise their two saves and then there’ll be a preview piece for the cup on Thursday. The matches should start next week.

Merry Monday to you all,
Dave

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.

26
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