Return of the King: Season 2 – Part 2

Matt Wills is back with the class of 94. We’re now into winter 1998 and the old boys are holding up pretty well. You can catch up with the previous episode here

Eric and his band of treble winners are back for a crack at the Champions League, but Eric is out of form and an Arsenal shaped obstacle is forming…

I left you in Part of Season 2 with Utd picking up the Charity Shield by beating Arsenal and then drawing them in the Champions League group stages, meaning we’ll play them 5 times at least this season. The form from last season has continued, but Eric is looking out of sorts again and Leeds are chasing us in the table.

Our second meeting of the season with Arsenal comes in the league at Old Trafford, which is a tight affair which bursts into life either side of halftime with Hughes and Wright trading goals on 45 and 46 minutes. Hughes then gets himself injured and McClair comes on to set up Neville with an uncharacteristic long range effort and then rounds off the game by making it safe in the 90th minute. No bookings for foes Keane and Vieira is a surprise…

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McClairs goal catches the eye of Craig Brown and he gets a run out for Scotland. After the international break, we’re off to Maine Road where it’s the Dolly and Daisy show, with Eric getting a few minutes from the bench. Manchester is red tonight.

2 2

Back into Europe and back to Arsenal at Old Trafford for our third meeting of the season so far and again United have too much in their locker even after going a goal down to a Patrick Vieira header. Neville and Ince wrapping up the points and a handy £750k! In between which we lose Giggs for 3 months to a torn hamstring – looking light on the left with Sharpe also out long term – I notice Ben Thornley looking keener in training now. Hard luck Ben, I’m going the Sven route and playing Scholesy out on the left wing – I heard he loves it.

Next to Old Trafford are Vinnie Jones’ Wimbledon for a humdinger of a match. Eric’s first goal in what seems like an eternity is tempered by an injury to Keane, but we’re cruising with goals from Scholes, Cantona and Hughes before Pallister gets himself sent off and a Marcus Gayle brace brings some equity to the tie.

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The League Cup starts for us in the Third Round with the visit of Sheffield United and I go full blooded for a 3-1 win – our reward? Bloody Arsenal in the next round! So that’s at least 6 times we’ll face off this season, would you Tony Adam(s) and Eve it?

Halloween ends the month and takes us to Everton in the league, but there nothing to be scared of when you can rest Kanchelskis for Darren Ferguson is there?

Nope, he breaks the deadlock and Eric grabs a brace – that’s 4 goals in the last 3 games for Eric. The collars turned up again it seems.

Dortmund are beaten 3-1 in, er, Dortmund in midweek with Cantona scoring the third goal past Contala, which was probably a tongue twister for the commentator when that went in past the German keeper. Ole GS reduces arrears when he gets a penalty after being chopped down by Schmeichel when through on goal – he was lucky to only get a warning.

Results elsewhere means we’ve qualified for the knock-out stages after 4 games. Would 11 pts be enough for Arsenal to go through as one of the two best runners up? I hope not!

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European midweek exertions are followed up with a turgid 0-0 with Blackburn means a relentless Leeds United draw level at the top of the table with us – Andrew Cole seeking revenge for being discarded.

2 5

On the international break, Eric’s good recent form continues as he scores against the powerhouse of Moldova, and it gets better when Gary Neville is side-lined for a few months. Clayton Blackmore, get your boots ready.

2 6

Friday the 13th is unlucky for Arsenal fans, Overmars is off…

2 7

Joining Giggs, Neville and Sharpe in the treatment room are Paul Ince with concussion and then Cantona and Hughes both get the flu. Normally you’d dip into the transfer market with these many injuries, but not me. Why bother when you have Lee Martin, Darren Ferguson and Clayton Blackmore in your squad?

Well, maybe you should consider it more when you lose 1-0 to Leicester and Brian McClair misses a penalty I suppose. Leeds draw 1-1 with an Overmars-less Arsenal to top the table by a point and I’m relieved that our next game is against Standard in the Champions League and with nothing at stake I can rest the few first-teamers that are still standing.

Fifty Five Thousand people watch my second stringers have a bit of a car-crash against Standard, put to the sword by two Van Overloop goals (a name which sounds a bit like a Belgian car crash). Ben Thornley gets the consolation. The other consolation is Arsenal losing to Dortmund – I can’t see them progressing further now, and they’re 10th in the league – Wenger out?

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Back to league action and Huddersfild are beaten 3-1 with 2 goals from Eric and a Mark Kinsella own goal. Aging Italian goalkeeper Walter Zenga was in the sticks for Town. The Zenga Bus won’t be going Boom, Boom, Boom on the way back to Huddersfield tonight. (urrgh, sorry).

The FA Cup 3rd round draw pairs us up with Man City and I feel relieved to have avoided Arsenal again, not because I think they’re a threat, I’d just like to play some other teams for a change.

Which neatly takes us to Arsenal and the 4th round of the League Cup. It’s a dilemma for me, as I’m not too bothered about the League Cup, but I want to beat Arsenal so I mix the team up a bit and see how we get on.

I play the Dublinator up front with Scholes and they combine with 3 goals to beat Arsenal 3-1 and put us into the Quarter-finals, where we’ll face off against Liverpool.

Next onto the treatment table is Schmeichel, out for a month with a broken hand, so up steps Gary Walsh, but he manages to fumble a Fjortoft shot and allow the Norwegian to poke home the loose ball and we fall to a 1-0 loss away to Barnsley, which is both a shock defeat and an abysmal result according to the press and the board. Why did you have to retire Les Sealey?

I’ll finish off this part of the blog with our last group game in the Champions League against Arsenal, we’re through and Arsenal are out, so not much expectation for this game, but after recent losses I send out a strong side and it’s a 4-0 rout at Highbury. Cantona gets 2 and Hughes and Kanchelskis the others, all supplied by MOTM and left winger, Paul Scholes.

The quarter finals are drawn and we get Real Betis. They’ve sold Alfonso to Real Madrid for £15.75m (standard) and he’s now out with a broken leg for 15 months.

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Not quite a bye to the semi’s, but I’m feeling confident compared to other pairings and we should have a few people back from injury by February.

So that’s us for another week, we’re still a point behind Leeds at the top of the table, but doing well in Europe despite the injuries, so I’ll sign off with the current stats for Steve Bruce, for no reason at all, cheers!

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You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

 

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The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 2

Matt is back with the second part of Stockport’s Premier League adventure. You can read about pre-season in part 1 available here

Well its time folks. Remember the date, 15th August 1998, Stockport’s Premier League debut. I’m a proud man, although a little nervous. We have a packed schedule, 5 games between now and the end of the month, and our start isn’t too bad really, Leicester and Blackburn away with Barnsley at home in the middle of it.

I am torn between my poor pre-season and my wish to attack, and I opt for the latter. Jarni and Dugarry are not fit, hopefully they will be OK for midweek. Not much more to say then just, here we go…

1

For the first 20 minutes we look nervy, overrun, and Leicester gain a deserved lead. We grow into the game though, and 10 minutes from half time Kasey Keller brings down Cavaco and is sent off, we have a penalty. Jardel steps up… he balloons it. Someone is laughing at me, I’m having the mick taken out of me for buying a fat striker with cheap puns about ballooning. We have a full half against ten men to come though, and the reserve goalkeeper is a greyed out teenager as Leicester have no reserve keeper, so surely we can pressure them and get something?

2

Neil Edwards man of the match, says it all really. Leicester go 2-0 up straight after half time, but its only when we go down to ten men that things improve, we pull one back and almost equalise, but a loss is a loss. I will persevere for the next game with my gung ho approach, and maybe then have a rethink.

3

What a signing this is! Impressive work from the Sheffield lads:

4

Jarni comes in for his debut but Dugarry is only fit for the bench. There is an air of excitement around the ground, and hopefully we won’t let them down. I have to drop Carlita for Jean Bray as I can’t have 4 non-EU players in the squad.

5

A perfect performance in almost every way in that first half, Dave Watson in Barnsley’s goal is superb, we hit the bar twice, and we are superb. 13 shots to zero, but its still nil nil. More of the same please boys!

6

The second half is more of the same, we hit the bar another 3 times although at least score from the rebound, Watson is inspired, and Barnsley create only one chance of note. More of this and I’ll be a very happy boy! The only disappointment is to lose Flynn to injury in the last few minutes, but he’s only out for a week.

7

Now this is what I’d call a leftfield appointment:

8

Blackburn away next, and although the temptation is to ease off the Keegan approach, I just can’t bring myself to do it! Three changes, 2 enforced as Flynn and Walton are injured so in come Bound an McIntosh, leaving a very un-Premier League looking back line, and Dugarry in for Armstrong who is knackered. My reasoning is similar to Big Kev’s back in the day, I haven’t got the quality to defend so let’s just try and score more than the opposition.

9

What a first half! The Stockport faithful in the Darwen end are going mad, we’re battering them, they can’t deal with Cavaco and we are 2-0 up, it really could be more. This Premier League lark is easy isn’t it?!

10

The second half is more even, but we hold our own and with our creaking back line still keep a clean sheet. I’m very pleased!

11

I know the table doesn’t really matter at this point, but hell I’m fifth!

12

Games come thick and fast early in the season and it’s Wimbledon (!) at home next (bizarrely with Ally McCoist up front). We are actually favourites for this one, so let’s not mess it up please…

Micky Flynn is back for McIntosh, otherwise it’s as you were. Come on County!

Half time and we’re in charge and 1-0 up. I’m in dreamland, the County fans can’t believe it, and it’s the beautiful long haired Dugarry with the goal.

13

Well that was as one sided as they come, 16,000 chanting for the mighty County, we battered them, and it could easily have been 6, but I’ll take 3-0. I was worried at the beginning of the season when I saw the fixtures that we’d end up bottom even after playing all the lower teams, how wrong I was, 3 wins on the spin, pretty much a quarter of the way to safety already!

14

3rd!!! Simic is only out for 2 weeks, so no disaster. It’s all going well!

15

Everton away to finish the month, and I see no reason to change. Simic is replaced by Connolly and Walton returns to replace the suspended Flynn, otherwise we go again in front of the Goodison cauldron.

16

Well as you may have spotted things don’t start well, I can’t even click off to take the 1 minute screenshot before Everton score, but after that we are once again in control, and Cavaco continues his impressive form by bagging a brace to take us in 2-1 in front. I am almost laughing with glee in the changing room, but try to hide it, don’t want complacency kicking in, wow never thought I’d say that in this division with Stockport…

17

The second half is an interesting one, we start well and should go 3-1 up, but then Everton change formation and batter me for 10 minutes, so I switch to a flat back 5 and play 5-4-1 and nothing happens for the last 20 minutes, perfect it seems we can defend a lead as well as playing samba football. Oh and there are 52,000 people watching, not sure how they managed to expand that stadium but hey ho!

18

Erm yeah, that… come on the County Boys! No more words required…

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You can follow Matt on Twitter @PorterMatt

 

The bad old days

Greetings to you and welcome to season five. Four successful seasons for Aberdeen have culminated in us winning every trophy on offer last season, and this season we’ll have the chance to win two more in the World Club Cup and the European Super Cup. You know, the important ones. But how do you improve on perfection? That is the question.

I want Luis Enrique, who is available on a free. He chooses Atletico Madrid, so I turn my attention to his Swedish equivalent. He plays every outfield position, which makes him a hero in my eyes. £7m is steep but we have £45m in the bank doing nothing.

Alexandersson signs

I am greedy for forwards, and Alan Shearer is fed up at Arsenal. Yes please. He agrees to talk but picks Man Utd over us. That hurts, Al. So I turn to his younger, quicker alternative even though he turned us down years ago

Owen to Aberdeen

Keep your enemies close and all that.

The season gets underway and it’s business as usual. Hibs are lucky to get nil.

3-0 hibs

However it’s a cruel twist of fate that we draw Rangers early on in the Coca-Cola cup. I want to win everything and I’m going to have to go through Ibrox to do it.

cup draw S5

There’s an early clash with the other side of the Old Firm, and young Michael gets his first goal for us. Nalis incidentally has been called up to the France squad. There’s a tear in my eye. So proud.

2-0 celtic

The big news though is that our Champions League group isn’t filled with Europe’s biggest clubs. That looks quite reasonable compared to previous years.

S5 CL Group

Before that though, our first dropped points of the season come at a frustrating day at Dens Park.

Dundee 0 - 0 Aberdeen

Poor, really. Still, off we go to Ibrox where Marco Negri is having a goal a game sort of season but we come through in extra time. Mulryne always scores against Rangers, it’s wonderful.

Rangers cup win

With Rangers taken care of early on, we don’t face Premiership opposition again until the semi-finals where we face Hibs at Celtic Park. Pick the bones out of this!

7-4 hibs

Owen and Mukhamadiev fought over who would take the match ball home whilst the two teams shared 11 goals.

To the Champions League then and PSV will be our toughest opponent, so it’s good we can land the first punch on them

PSV 2-0

We go to Split hoping to avoid a banana skin and really I just hope we can keep it together. The puns sidetrack the team from the matter at hand and we crawl to a 0-0 draw.

Hajduk 0-0

That could be a problem in future weeks. Luckily Sparta Prague are terrible and Keith Gillespie helps himself to a treble.

5-1 sparta prague

That takes us to the reverse fixture against PSV, but this doesn’t go to plan at all. Shades of our humbling in Amsterdam last season as Ortega runs wild and confines us to a heavy loss. That is an onion in the ointment.

PSV 4-1

The group doesn’t look good and it’s not in our hands. 13 points might not even be enough for a best runner up spot to advance. Terrible.

CL group S5 4 games

My mood is not helped by some shoddy domestic results. A pair of draws with Rangers aren’t awful results but to be denied so late on by Paul Ince of all people is pretty annoying.

Rangers 0-01-1 Rangers

That actually knocks us off the top of the table. You don’t want to make us angry, Scotland.

S5 Scots Prem November

I blame Michael Owen. He’s come in here with his horse racing and gambling and unsettled everybody. I hate him and won’t shoulder any of the blame myself.

Meanwhile it’s a North East fest down in England. That won’t last.

prem top S5 Nov

It’s all going a bit flat. Once the World Club Cup and European Super Cup are out of the way just after Christmas I am officially on the look out for a new job. Where? Preferrably Belgium. But it could be anywhere. Liverpool, or Rome. But not Rome because I didn’t load the Italian league.

Anyway, Beautiful South nonsense aside, that’s it for this week. Our next game is Celtic away and we have to win. I can’t go back to the bad old days of not even winning the Scottish League, that would render all my work pointless. We’ll sort it. Until next time…

I am exploring the idea of a Youtube channel for 90s football games. If you have 20 minutes spare and care to give me some feedback, the pilot is here. Thank you!

 

Return of The King: Season 2 – And The Band Played On

If you’re unfamiliar with this save it’s hard to summarise in a few words, so here’s a link to how it all started, or if you are struggling to recall how season one ended, that’s here

Boss, we need to talk…’ were the ominous words from Eric Cantona at the end of the 97/98. Eric had come out of retirement and we’d got the 93/94 team back together and managed to crack the domestic treble. Robson, Sealey, Parker and Phelan all retired and then Eric knocked at my door.

‘I retired the first time when we lost the Champions League Semi-final in 97’

‘You’re not thinking of doing it again are you?’

‘Non, non – I want to win the Champions League! We came so close, I know we can do it’

‘I do too, but we’ll need some reinforcements – Jardel is available on a free…’

‘Non, we stay the same…’

Who am I to argue, we had a great season last time out and got so close to getting to the Champions League final, let’s see if we can take this team to the ultimate glory.

The 98/99 season roles around and the squad is looking a little lighter, but still packed with quality. The likes of Neville, Butt, Beckham and Scholes will get more game time this season.

To get us in the mood, I arrange four home friendlies before the Charity Shield curtain raiser against Arsenal. Dortmund, Anderlecht, Sao Paulo and River Plate all contain a player that was discarded for Eric’s 93/94 revolution.

Two Cantona goals brush aside Solskjaer’s Dortmund before a turgid 0-0 draw with Jordi Cryuff’s Anderlecht. An understrength team get done 1-3 when Ronny Johnsen’s Sao Paulo visit – Ronny only lasts half the match due to some choice tackling from Hughes. Beckham and Scholes combine to send Henning Berg’s River Plate packing 4-1 with 2 goals each.

This sets us up nicely for the Charity Shield match with Arsenal. I plan my team carefully, Schmeichel in goal, with a back four of Sharpe, Bruce, Paliister and Irwin, Giggs and Kanchelskis on the wings, Keane and Beckham in the middle, with Scholes and Cantona up top, Walsh, Blackmore, Ince, Dublin and Hughes on the bench. On the eve of the match, poor Leee Sharpe is ruled out for 6 months with a damaged spine – this is a blow.

1 1

In my hour of need I turn to 1990 FA Cup Final Replay hero to fill in at left back. The game finishes 1-1. Cantona scores from the spot in the first half and Vieira pounces on some goal mouth confusion to level in the second half. The match goes to penalties. Eric misses the target with the first spot kick and iceman Bergkamp coolly slots their first but misses from Wright and Overmars and steady nerves from my players and our recent form at Wembley continues with our first piece of silverware in the cabinet – happy days!

First up in the league are Spurs who have added Frank Lampard to their ranks since we defeated them in the FA Cup, but he can’t stop us winning 3-1 at the Lane. Beckham revelling in his central midfield position gets 2 with Kanchelskis the other.

Next up is Derby and we play so poorly, I wonder what’s going on. Eric looks out of sorts – did the penalty shoot out miss in the Charity Shield affect him? Is he about to retire again? With 15 minutes left I haul Eric and Scholes off for Dublin and Hughes and they combine in the final minute for Dublin to nick us a 1-0 win – Clayton Blackmore the next to fill in at left back.

Crystal Palace are our next visitors and routine 3-0 is spoiled by two Bruce yellow cards, but Chris Casper makes his claim for a central partnership with Pally by getting a 10 and motm – you’ll have to fight Dion for that position Chris.

Our first midweek game is also a first test against the bigger teams (no offence Spurs). Scholes scores twice to put us in control, but Liverpool come back strongly to draw 2-2 with goals from Berger and Spanish International and Tennis Uncle, Nadal. Schmeichel gets MOTOM and Eric again looks like a lost soul out on the pitch – worrying.

Eric is benched for the next game against Sheffield Wednesday and Hughes comes off the bench to get his first of the season in a narrow 1-0 win.

All of which puts us top of the pile after 5 games with a 3 point lead, but Arsenal have a chance to reduce this to 2pts if they win their game in hand.

1 2

At the bottom, City and Villa need to get going and Newcastle betray a tight defence with a lack of firepower.

1 3

The Champions League draw swings around and I anxiously wait to see who we are up against –

1 4

Arsenal? How does that work? Dortmund won’t be easy and we don’t want to drop any points against Standard. This won’t be an easy ride.

Transfers – I keep forgetting to screenshot these!

As I’m not purchasing players, the transfer market seems less active, however, the big signings are Rio Ferdinand heading to Arsenal from West Ham, quickly followed by Neil Ruddock from Liverpool, Stan Collymore moves from Aston Villa to Chelsea for £3.3m and Villa replace him with Kevin Phillips from Sunderland for £1m.

Cantona is restored to the line-up for the visit to St James Park, but apart from supplying an assist for Scholes to chip Given for the opener, he does little of note. Chris Casper adds to his form book by scoring the second with a header from a corner. Dublin playing at centre back handles in the box on 70 minutes, which gives the unusual sight of Shearer missing a penalty (or rather motm Schmeichel saving it) so a comeback is averted, and Newcastle still only have 1 goal on the board this season.

The Euro 2000 qualifiers gives the league programme a break and England draw 3-3 with Czech Rep, Ince getting 2 of the goals, with Neville and Beckham also featuring. France beat Scotland 2-0 with Henry starring and Eric is injured on 59 minutes – I await the prognosis gingerly. Hughes puts 4 past San Marino for Wales to show there’s life in the old dog yet. It is just San Marino though…

That’s a relief…

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League action resumes with a top of the table clash with second placed Leeds, being spearheaded by Andy Cole who has 4 goals in 6 league games, will he be out for revenge for being cast aside today?

1 6

You couldn’t make it up! Scholes has a goal disallowed for offside, we hit the woodwork 4 times and then up pops Cole with 10 minutes to go level on points with us at the top.

1 7

The board make their feelings known – steady on. On the back of this, Arsenal and Liverpool make bids for Gary Pallister which are quickly rebuffed.

We make a strong start in Europe against Dortmund and that’s the closest we’ve had to someone sounding Cantona scoring for us for a while…

1 8

Back to the league and struggling Villa look to carry on where Leeds left off and Cole’s best mate Yorke strikes on 73 minutes but luckily Welsh maestros Giggs and Hughes save my blushes and further gripes from the board.

1 9

Ronny joins Ole in Germany.

Hughes and Giggs carry on where they left off with Villa against Coventry and the game was over by half time when Scholes added the third.

Gary Neville is an idiot. He was injured for the start of the season, now he’s in the team. Numpty.

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High flying Middlesbrough in 3rd are up next, but we do Robson no favours at the Riverside, Schwarzer brings down Hughes in the first 5 minutes, who converts the penalty and when Scholes adds the second, the result is not in doubt. Leeds keep winning though and we’re level on 25 points at the top of the league, with a gap appearing…

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We finish off the month and this part of the blog with our second game in Europe against Standard in Belgium. Hughes has found his scoring boots in Eric’s absence and adds 2 to an early strike by Kanchelskis. It looks like Hughes wants the Champions League as much as Eric.

We’ll be back next week with a visit from Arsenal in the league – we’ll play them at least 5 times this season, and we get the League Cup campaign underway against Sheffield United. Eric will be back from injury, but he’s so out of sorts, I wonder whether it’ll be collar up or collar down – see you soon.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

 

The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 1

We re-join Matt Porter in pre-season 1998. How do you prepare a club like Stockport for the Premier League? Catch up with the end of Season 1 here. Oh and I’ve ditched the Roman numerals.

The euphoria has barely died down, but it’s the end of May and I now need to do some serious wheeler dealing in the close season if we are going to have any chance of staying in the Premier League. Scouting through Europe and released players as I am not exactly sitting on a fortune, there are areas to improve.

Stockport has the largest singular brick built structure in Europe in the form of its railway viaduct to be proud of, but not a lot more, I want to make our football team another top feature of the town!

I feel this may be the first of many:

1

As a Bolton fan I really should run a mile, especially as his wages are ludicrous, but I feel the buzz it will create around the town will be incredible. I just hope he doesn’t keep all the local takeaways in business:

2

It would appear signing Jardel on silly money has scared our board who now limit our wages to £3784 per week, because that makes perfect sense. This may not work out very well….

On a lighter note, we do have a surprising bid:

3

Well Marsden has gone, but we still can’t afford any wages which is making me miss every single transfer target. This could be a long pre-season. I am however able to sign another keeper, just in case Edwards can’t make the step up, a bit of a legend too:

4

I forgot to screenshot it, but I got a bid in of £1 million for Tom Bennett so let him go to Leicester, maybe that’ll sort the wages issue?

It worked! Having failed 3 times, it is 4th time lucky as I can offer a decent wage for a good young defender who crucially can play as a wing back.

5

What a career Andy, enjoy your retirement!

6

Well Edgeley has been packed all last week, and it will now be even more spacious, and revenue generating. Oh God, what have I become? Revenue generating? It’s everything I hate, but it has to be done, we’ll just have to play some ridiculously entertaining football and see what happens.

7

Oh I could get really pissed off with this game. Robert Jarni agrees to discuss terms with me and I can only offer him 3k per week! Argh! Why are my wage offerings fluctuating so much? I go and ask the chairman, he tells me it’s whether he’s in a good mood or not. Bloody wonderful Brendan, bloody wonderful.

Time for the first of 2 pre-season friendlies with my (slightly) new look squad. I’ve done nowhere near as much as I had hoped and have too many non-EU players, so I am glad when Leicester come out of the blue with an offer for one of my outliers:

8

Due to this being a friendly the foreigners aren’t noted on here, but it is a worry, alongside the fact we are light on both numbers and quality.

I am sticking with the 5-3-2 attacking formation I went for last year, because I can’t just hold on for points so might as well go down fighting. I have only signed 4 players: Srnicek, Simic, Jardel and a regen called Jean Bray who looks a decent prospect in midfield. I know I can’t play the team I play here in the league as there are 4 non-EU’s, but I’ll give it a run out in the friendly and see what happens.

9

Birmingham are the first visitors to Edgeley and I anticipate a bumper crowd. God I’ve missed football, let’s get some momentum to take into the season.

Not my best ever first half, although some decent performances. Time for some changes and lets see what happens. It’s only a friendly lads so I’m not going to get too wound up about it, and we are the better team.

10

Well that went well… I’m not going to dissect that performance or I’ll cry. I’m not panicking though…yet.

11

I feel like this pre-season has been pretty awful really, nowhere near enough signings and then that dreadful performance. I am hoping this Leicester bid might help loosen the purse strings so I can make some late signings.

Tetradze goes for a tidy profit, so I’m buying another non-EU. Yes I know I can’t play them all, but this lad is class and fits my system perfectly. I now need to buy another keeper as big Pav will be a victim of the “non-EU” rule.

12

Unchanged side for Everton at home, please let it click this time… Interesting signing for Everton in Kinkladze, Jarni isn’t fit even for the bench for me.

13

Eesh we got battered in that half, I’m dropping a man back into midfield and see how it goes, I still want to go with wing backs but I’m not sure it’s working brilliantly at the moment.

14

The second half is far better, we are the better team but still indebted to Edwards at times. Jardel scores, we draw the half but lose the game. Small improvements.

15

Oh my God oh my God oh my God! Random bid I never thought would work has worked! And yes I know I already have too many strikers but fuck it, how could I not?!

16

Slightly less exciting, but he is the England under 21 keeper so has to be worth a go. Neil Edwards looks nervous.

17

Didn’t see this one coming!

18

Well it’s been an interesting transfer window, it started so badly but I have managed to make some decent signings in the end. The town is buzzing with the idea of Jardel and Dugarry up front, and there is some proper class around. I have some severe worries about central defence and central midfield though, I am a bit of class light and I also have an issue of only being able to play 3 out of my 4 good foreign lads. I’ll still be shopping around for a few weeks, but it is better than it was. Looking forward to the new season, and Stockport taking on the big boys!

 

 

Aberdone

The end of my fourth season at Pittodrie is upon us, and I’m presented with the chance to win all four competitions for the first time. The League Cup is already in the bag, the Scottish Premiership title is just about sewn up in March and I’ve got a first leg lead in the Champions League Quarter Finals. So let’s start with the Scottish FA Cup…because that’s our next game.

Ayr away is a decent draw, it seems the league clubs tend to do quite well in this competition to a point, which ideally will be the quarter finals and no further.

Ayr QF

Whoopee. A semi-final with Celtic awaits us.

First though, we stand on the verge of winning the league in the middle of March. All we have to do is secure one more win, and Starks’ Park is as good a place as any to do it.

4-1 Raith

That’s the double secured

aberdeen league win S4

So now we can turn our attention to the Champions League again. We secured an impressive 2-1 win at Old Trafford in the first leg so as long as we don’t do anything daft here, we’ll be in the semis.

1-1 Man Utd

Nevland tries his best to give his former club a lifeline but Bakayoko soon puts an end to that and despite some late hope offered by Nicky Butt, it’s a safe passage.

CL SF 01

PSG have a very impressive side but they were quite average when we faced them in the group stage last year. They’ve lost Maurice to Man Utd and they play Lamouchi as a left wing back, so they’re not perfect.

psg vs aberdeen

It’s going to be attack vs attack as I decide to fight fire with fire, or in this case Wiltord with Nevland.

PSG 1 - 1 Aberdeen

I’m so pleased the Nev has regained his form after his bad injury.

Another semi-final comes in the form of the Scottish Cup, as we renew rivalries with Celtic. In fairness to both Old Firm sides, they seem to have re-modelled themselves so they can at least compete in the matches against us even if they are if anything further away from us in the league. Celtic scrape a draw after a pair of red cards kill the game somewhat

0-0 SF

That means a replay, something I can definitely do without, and so two days later we renew rivalries. Cusack is sent off again for Celtic, a rather silly opening 5 minutes sees us two goals and a man up before Celtic pull one back late on. Still, we’re in the final!

SF Replay 01

The schedule is getting pretty stupid now, that replay not helping and a third game against Celtic in 5 days seems entirely unnecessary

2-1 celtic

Those 3 Celtic games (plus a home clash with St Mirren) are the meat in a PSG sandwich and it’s time for another famous European night at Pittodrie, which is definitely a thing. It’s a nervy affair but Bakayoko is once again the main man and fires us into the final. What a guy

Aberdeen 1 - 0 PSG

Look at that schedule

S4 schedule

7 games in 14 days…cheers. It’s a good job the league is won.

I am very proud of our unbeaten league record this season but the sheer number of games we have to play is making it difficult to pick my best team. Bakayoko comes off the bench to snatch an equaliser at Eatser Road but they go straight up the other end to snatch it. Boo!

3-2 hibs

A rare blot on our copy book but I won’t lose any sleep over it. We win the league by 24 points.

Scots Prem S4 final

Scenes. Celtic and Rangers are very similar now, though Rangers have a fearsome attack of Laudrup, O’Neill, Karembeu and Negri, which is always annoying. Just as we look set to win the FA Cup, Laudrup forces extra time and we’re soon behind in extra time. Mulryne, who from memory has a really good record against Rangers, saves our bacon and it’s another replay.

2-2 cup final

The normal replay slot would be the Wednesday, but that’s Champions League final day. I despair sometimes. So the replay will have to wait.

In the meantime, hit the Champions League music. We’re off to Lisbon for the final against an Atletico Madrid side with Kiko, Vieri and Juninho. This will be tough

2-1 CL final

Yippeee we’ve got the trophy back! A nervy 10 minutes, yes, but you can’t stop Emmers and Nevland. Well you can try, but the trophy is ours. That’s the treble.

To make it four out of four, we just need to win an FA Cup final replay against Rangers. Bakayoko gets sent off after 2 minutes after a horrible tackle. Silly man.

We trail at half time and it looks like the dream of winning the lot is dead. Marc Emmers is always a man for the big occasion though and he equalises, before your hero and mine (mostly mine) Erik Nevland scores a late winner. I’d jump on him if it wasn’t very risky for his dodgy spine.

FA Cup final S4

Here’s a quick look at how the Premier League ended before we look at the awards. Man Utd won by a country mile:

prem top S4 end

prem bottom S4

Awards time then and some winners are more surprising than others

Eng awards S4awards S4

Good days for Marc Morgan and Stephen Bywater, presumably the awards panels were short for time and just handed out the player of the year and young player of the year to the same players. Who in the blue hell is Tomasz Popszynski?

player of the year

20 for passing? I’m sold! The Ederson of his day.

That’s it for season 4, a golden season for the Aberdeen faithful. What now? There’s £40m in the bank to improve the squad. I would like to win the Super Cup and World Club Cup just to finish the job, but then I’m actively on the move. I don’t think there’s any more for me to achieve here. But where to go?

 

 

Saving Vale from Fail – Part 2

Welcome back. Which idiot decided on this title? Anyway, part 1 is here – the gist is, I took over Port Vale with 12 games of the season to go and they were miles from safety. 13 points to be exact. But now, that mile is more like 1,000 metres. It’s still a long way, basically. But with 6 games to go, we just need to make up 7 points on Tranmere. The debt also continues to spiral, but that is not my concern…

It’s Stockport at home next, who are thankfully not managed by Matt Porter so they sit 14th. Now seems like a good time to remind you of my team, which is missing Tommy Widdrington through injury but is otherwise, sadly, full strength.

vs stockport

It’s a good game to get an early goal in, especially as we spend the next 88 missing numerous chances. I’ve never seen a team get as many goals disallowed as we do either, Foyle has a toe poke ruled out for offside. In one game we had a goal disallowed because their defender sliced it onto the bar and Foyle tapped it in. How can that be offside? Anyway, 3 precious points and we sit waiting for Tranmere’s score to tick through. Why did I load three countries?

stockport

They’ve lost 2-0 at Swindon. Good. Crewe, in 22nd, have been hammered 4-1 at home to Man City. This is a good weekend for us.

5 to go

These are the Easter weekend fixtures so we actually play again 2 days later. We’ve lost Jeffers to a thigh injury but Widdrington is back to sit in front of the centre halves. It’s a trip to Portsmouth, who are 16th and beatable. Tranmere will go to Man City a day later, though I notice Aldridge as player-manager rates himself as a star player but also has himself on the transfer list. I can’t explain some things.

aldridge

Anyway, Portsmouth. It’s a dull game with nothing happening until Portsmouth score. From a corner. Foyle equalises against the run of play on half time and I’ll take a point.

Alex Notman won’t. He’s on hand to tap in from Rankin’s spilled shot and we’ll take all three points back from the south coast. It’s a great bus ride home.

pompey 1-2

Crewe are humped 4-0 at Huddersfield. The day is soured though as Notman pulls a hamstring moonwalking down the bus. That’s a problem.

John Aldridge grabs a point for Tranmere at Man City. City are already promoted which doesn’t help. It means Rovers have a 1 point advantage over us with 4 games to go.

Sunderland are our next visitors. They have a very strong squad and usually go up, but find themselves 4th. They’ve added Sasa Ciric to their lineup and he’s a very useful striker. Rankin gives us the lead but Ciric pegs us back. A point is ok. Tranmere have lost at home to Huddersfield, who are fast becoming my 2nd favourite team.

mackems 1-1

Crewe throw a curveball into the mix by beating 9th placed West Brom 4-1. That pulls them back into contention, though Bradford are relegated. The equation is clear.

3 games to go

Bury away is a game we need to win. They are basically safe, barring an unprecedented series of results, but they are nearly as bad defensively as us. Jeffers returns to the bench with Frank continuing in the place of Notman.

We’re awful. We’re behind and after 63 minutes, I have to introduce a 16 year old in the hope he saves the day.

He does.

bury 1-2

Within seconds of his arrival he equalises and then rams in a winner. More likes Francis Jeff-Hurst. Am I right? (Man on the Post, if you read this, sorry I stole your joke).

Aldridge nicks a point for Tranmere whilst Crewe draw at Stoke. We’re out of the bottom 3!

2 games to go

Notman’s back but Snijders, one of the centre halves, is banned for a game. Widdrington’s season is over due to injury, but I can’t really complain when you see the state of Crewe’s injury situation.

crewe

Tony Naylor wants a move. He’s unhappy at being left out of the side, but as he played 19 games and scored 2 goals at an average of 6.05, he’s lucky he hasn’t been put down. Goodbye Tony.

The board are satisfied. Is that it? I mean yes, the debt is spiralling but I didn’t shell out £1.8m on Tommy Widdrington, did I?

Our final home game of the season is against Charlton. They are 18th. We should win. We are effectively at match point. A win here coupled with results elsewhere could secure it for us.

0-2 charlton

We’re awful. Call it pressure. Nerves. Lack of talent. We can barely muster a shot in target and not even Jeffers can save us. Salvation comes in the form of the other results. Home defeats for Tranmere and Crewe leave us in the driving seat.

table 1 to go

Crewe have to go to terrible Bradford. Tranmere face Wolves who are fighting for a playoff place. We’re at Sheff Utd, who are 19th.

Ainsworth is injured but Snijders is back. The terrible right wing back I inherited is also injured, so a young lad called Matthew Carragher is in. Sheff Utd have Paul McGrath and Dean Saunders, which is problematic enough in 1998 but I’m pleased it isn’t 1994.

I’m confident a point will do it. Surely Tranmere won’t win at Molineux. I decide to view the Crewe game. Bradford may as well not turn up, like the fans. 5,000 are dotted around Valley Parade to watch Gary Walsh have a tab whilst Crewe run riot. They win 4-1. I need at least a point.

It’s not pretty. Sheff Utd are far the better team but we equalise straight away after going behind. It’s 3-1 at half time though, and it’s a borderline disaster. Aspin heads on in on 52 and there’s loads of time to get another goal. Rankin obliges. There’s 24 minutes to go and I really don’t know whether to stick or twist. A Tranmere win would scupper us. We’ll have to wait and see.

3-3 sheff utd

Ooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

tranmere

WHEY!

final table

Bloody. Hell. That was hard work. Every match was a struggle, but we’ve survived by the skin of our teeth. What days.

I’m off for a lie down but I’ll be back Sunday with Aberdeen and the last update of season 4. Until then, have a go at the survival challenge and tweet me your results. It’s exhausting.