The Four Seasons

Good day to you, and welcome to the final update of the fourth season. If you didn’t read yesterday’s Champions League Live Text, the next 700 words will be a nice surprise for you. If you did, then some of this will not be news. Nevertheless, I’d appreciate it if you pretend you are reading this for the first time. To set the scene, Ajax are winning lots and we stand on the verge of another league, cup and Champions League treble. I’m not saying this is the last update of this particular story arc, but there’ll be a lot of summing up.

As ever, let’s start with the Pointless Cup in merry old England

League Cup

LC final 01

Newcastle win their second in four years, in a competition they’ve really made their own. But get nothing for. Wonderful.

FA Cup

The semis are lacking a bit of star power, but Wimbledon are looking to win their first since 1988

FA SF results 01

Boro of course lost the 1997 final on their way to being relegated, but wouldn’t you just know that such a wonderful final would need to be replayed

FA Cup final 01

I’m pleased they abolished that rule. Boro win the replay and everyone is delighted.

FA Cup final replay 01

Now, over in Holland, the Amstel Cup is a great source of hydration for me. For once, we don’t have to play Feyenoord in their own back yard and instead we get to play NAC, who Ronaldo puts to the sword. Just.

Dutch Cup final 01

That game is in Rotterdam, as was the previous game – the last day of the regular league season saw us travel to Feyenoord…

feyenoord 1 - 2 ajax

A rare Ronaldo miss but another 3 points and two wins in De Kuip in a row. What does that mean for the league table?

dutch league top final 01

100% Now, let’s pull in the previous three tables for the sake of completeness

dutch league final 00

Dutch League Final 99Dutch league final

So that’s 404 points out of 408. My only regret is not scoring 100 again. But it is a small regret. We haven’t lost in 4 seasons.

We’ve also won the mutch coveted Amstel cup 4 years in a row which makes me an alcoholic I think.

dutch cup history

Ah, TOP Oss. I remember that final well. Enough of this self indulgence

Champions League

Now, if you didn’t read it yesterday, I covered the Champions League final in a live text which you can find here. If you prefer to read it the old fashioned way, it’s below.

Hey look we made the final

CL SF Results 01

Spurs were stubborn but unthreatening, like an old dog. Barcelona did what we couldn’t and hammered Real Madrid, so we’ll face the Catalans in the final

FT Result

We did it! In our third consecutive game in Rotterdam we retain the Champions League. For more reaction and frivolity, live text. Seriously, I spent a bank holiday writing that.

Premier League

Back to a bit of normality after last season’s shenanigans

prem top final 01

Ferguson and Dalglish are still at Man Utd and Newcastle respectively, and of course this is the order they start the game in. So nothing has changed…

You’ll notice my Champions League opponents Spurs are nowhere to be seen, well set your faces to stunned

prem bottom final 01

To think I drew 0-0 with them. Mind you they only conceded 1 goal a game on average so it’s obvious where the problem lies.

Incidentally with Bury bottom of the table it’s not hard to see why Dean Kiely got PFA Player of the Year

English awards 01

I don’t know who Thomas Frigard is but…crikey.

Over in Holland, old Dicky Witschge gets the Dean Kiely treatment

Dutch Awards 01

That though is all I have to say. We’ve had four great seasons and I’ve actually enjoyed this save more than most, your interaction has been outstanding and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about what is probably the best team I’ve ever cobbled together. I say that a lot but it means more when they are real players.

I am going to take a break for the summer now, but fear not CM9798 lovers, I promise there will be new updates to come. This game is 20 years old in October and I’m planning some celebratory pieces. Of course the success of them very much depends on people getting back to me in a timely fashion, but the idea is there. Maybe there will be cake.

In the meantime, I’ve branched out into Cricket Management (just to fit in this summer, you know) and you’ll find my blog on that over at The Full Toss, who have very kindly agreed to host my work. I wish you all a very pleasant summer and I’ll no doubt be talking nonsense on Twitter if you need me.

Champions League Final ‘Live’ Text – Ajax vs Barcelona

Well, well. For the past 12 weeks I’ve been bringing you plucky underdogs Ajax and their rise back to the pinnacle of European football. After narrowly missing out on becoming the first team to defend the Champions League in 95/96, this star studded Ajax team finished 4th in 96/97 and missed out on Champions League football. Somehow I’ve managed to take this team:

Ajax Squad

And return them to the summit of not just European football, but also World football, seeing as we won the World Club Cup which is obviously the pinnacle of achievement in the sporting world. Anyway, that squad has grown and whilst most of the stars remain, we’ve also added in the likes of Ronaldo, Batistuta, Henry and Dion Dublin. It’s gone pretty well.

ajax squad 01

So here we are, mere moments from potentially successfully defending the Champions League. Real Madrid may go on and do likewise tonight and I’ve done it numerous times in previous saves on this very blog, but work with me here people. This could be (fictional) history. So please, join me in suspending reality as we do a live text of the 2001 Champions League final.

CL fixture

18:30 – Welcome to Rotterdam, the home of Dutch giants Feyenoord, who have the rather unfortunate circumstance of their great rivals Ajax bidding for Champions League glory against Spanish giants Barcelona. For those who like a connection, Feyenoord are managed by Johan Cruyff who played and managed both clubs. I wonder who the great man is supporting tonight?

18:40 – We’ll have team news in five minutes but let’s remind ourselves of how both sides reached the final.

Barcelona beat their great rivals Real Madrid 5-1 on aggregate, sealing their final berth with a 2-1 win in the Nou Camp

barcelona 2 - 1 real madrid

Incidentally, Real Madrid were in the same group as Ajax and took 4 points off the Dutch club.

Ajax faced Tottenham over two legs and after being frustrated to a 0-0 draw in London, Black’s men eased to a 2-0 win back at the Amsterdam Arena.

Ajax 2 - 0 Tottenham

18:45TEAM NEWS

Barcelona are missing Perez Munoz Alfonso through suspension and have surprisingly opted for Nikos Mahlas over Sonny Anderson. Mahlas was a goal machine in the Eredivisie for Utrecht but has only scored 6 goals this season. They’ve opted to match up Ajax’s formation.

BArcelona Lineup

Ajax meanwhile stick with their 3-1-3-3 formation which was briefly ditched to accomodate Ronaldo and Batistuta, but it was dropped due to Batistuta’s injury and the run of form that followed. Frank de Boer is the only absentee, so Zidane captains the side in his absence.

Ajax Lineup

It’s going to be an incredible match, looking at the lineups.

18:50 – Although this final is being played in Ajax’s home country, there is a certain irony to it being held at De Kuip, Rotterdam – the home of Ajax’s great rivals Feyenoord

It doesn’t seem to have hindered Ajax too much in the past, winning consecutive Amstel Cup (The Dutch FA Cup) at this ground. In fact, this will be their third match in a row at the stadium, having played their final league game of the season away at Feyenoord before the Amstel Cup Final against Roda JC. What a turn up.

19:05 – We’re getting closer to kick off now so let’s have a look at some of the key players for both sides:

Ronaldo (Ajax)

The former Barcelona man raised a few eyebrows when he moved back to Holland for the 1998/99 season, with many seeing it as a step down. After a disappointing first season where he netted only 12 times, the Brazilian has struck back with 36 goals last season and 32 so far this campaign. He will take some stopping.

Ronaldo end of season 4

Rivaldo (Barcelona)

Another Brazilian who will have a key part to play is Rivaldo. Averaging 8.30 in this season’s Champions League is an achievement in itself and Ajax need to find a way to nullify his threat in order to win.

rivaldo

Zinedine Zidane (Ajax)

Zidane will captain the Ajax side tonight in Frank De Boer’s absence. Very much the heartbeat of the team, he is to Ajax what Rivaldo is to Barcelona.

Zizou

Luis Figo (Barcelona)

Figo’s domestic form has come in for criticism in some quarters, but in the Champions League he has been imperious as ever. Tonight he’ll be up against Kieron Dyer, playing on the wrong side, and that could be crucial.

Figo

19:20 – Under half an hour to kick off, here are some of your predictions we’ve received by SMS (Twitter doesn’t exist in 2001)

Babykangaroobet, Manchester – I’ve put £100k on Barcelona and £100k on Ajax. I can’t lose! Barca to win on pens.

MeLT, South Coast – Ajax to get a throw in after 15 seconds. Nailed on. Barcelona to win 5-2.

Lawro69, Liverpool – Ajax to clean up. Hahahaha you get it?

OctoPaul, Germany – Ajax to win 2-0, what a team

MagicMan, London – I bet my house on a Barcelona win. Rivaldo to get the winner.

19:30 – 15 minutes to go, the players will be in the tunnel here at De Kuip very soon.

The pitch looks immaculate as you would expect.

De Kuip

19:40 As the players are about to emerge, here’s a reminder of the lineups:

Barcelona: Vitor Baia, Grenet, Luis Enrique, Lopez, Guardiola, Garitano, Rui Costa, De la Pena (c), Figo, Rivaldo, Mahlas. Subs: Solozabal, Abel Xavier, Calado, Anderson, Mjelde

Ajax: Barthez, Cafu, Dyer, Campbell, Witschge, Bisgaard, Seedorf, Zidane (c), Sibierski, Henry, Ronaldo. Subs: Batistuta, Van der Sar, Sibon, Curtis, Litmanen.

Hit the Champions League theme song, it’s nearly kick off time!

19:45 – Barcelona kick us underway! The 2000/01 Champions League final is underway.

3 mins – Not much to report in the opening stages, both sides feeling each other out, trying to get their players settled with bouts of possession.

7 mins – We have our first shot of the game! Ronaldo races onto a pass from Zidane but from a tight angle his shot is easily gathered by Vitor Baia. A sign of his threat though, Zidane and Ronaldo are a potent combination.

10 mins – YELLOW CARD

Bit naughty from the man we were just praising. Vitor Baia comes out to claim a ball over the top and takes a clean catch, only for Ronaldo to barge him over. Very needless and a yellow card for stupidity.

15 mins – We haven’t really mentioned Nikos Mahlas so far. The Greek striker has been preferred to Sonny Anderson, somewhat surprisingly, but Mahlas was lethal in Holland for Utrecht before moving to Barcelona. He’s only scored 6 goals this season and he shows that form here, bludgeoning a cross well wide of Barthez’s goal.

19 mins – That form I was talking about. Wow. Mahlas is presented with a clear sight of goal but rather than picking out a corner, he opts for power and blazes very, very high over the bar. Oh dear.

21 mins – Barcelona are pressing for that opening goal. Rivaldo whips over a corner and Josep Guardiola meets it with a glancing header that goes wide of the far post. Not sure if he was trying to flick it on or go for goal himself but he wasn’t far away.

26 mins – Better from Ajax. Having sustained the pressure, they win a couple of corners in succession, the last of which sees Kieron Dyer head goalwards but Baia is in exactly the right spot to claim it.

30 minsWOODWORK

I don’t know how this has stayed out, but it has!

Ronaldo takes a shot from the edge of the box which Vitor Baia tips round the post. It’s a smart save but not something you’d write home about. However, what follows would have you reaching for the quill as Richard Witschge meets Zidane’s corner flush with a header and it cannons off the crossbar. Thierry Henry is lurking on the egde of the box and he hits a first time volley back at goal but Baia re-adjusts himself to get across and tip it over for a corner. Some save, and it remains 0-0.

32 mins – Barcelona’s turn to have head in hands. Garitano shoots from distance, Barthez fumbles it and the arriving De la Pena slots it…into the advertising hoardings! A terrible miss.

Ross Jacobs via Text: Ronaldo has the ability to destroy a team on his own. Power, pace and skill. Just pass him the ball let him do the rest.

Barcelona have dealt with their former favourite so far but there’s still an hour to go.

38 mins – Clarence Seedorf, a £7.5m replacement for Ronald De Boer, has had  a quiet game so far but he forces Vitor Baia into a save here, getting half a yard on the edge of the box but his shot lacks power and it’s easy for the Portugese international.

42 mins – Luis Figo isn’t known for his heading ability but he gets on the end of a floated Rivaldo ball in and panic ensues. A bit of pinball ends with Sol Campbell booting the ball into next week, or at least the middle tier.

44 minsYELLOW CARD

The game has barely had a tackle but now we have our 2nd yellow card, this time Antoine Sibierski taps the ankles of Rivaldo and is booked. Rivaldo had got away from him but was still a long way from goal

45 mins – HALF TIME

No time for stoppages here in Rotterdam, that’s half time and it’s not the worst 0-0 we’ve ever had but it could do with a goal.

An enthralling half, but no goals. Ajax are narrowly ahead on shots but Barcelona have edged possession. Goalkeepers on top though, Barthez and Vitor Baia have been outstanding so far. Will they be required to be penalty shootout heroes later on?

The second half will be coming your way once my fingers have had a lucozade and a once over with the magic sponge.

KICK OFF – Ajax get the second half restarted as they look to retain their Champions League trophy.

48 mins – It’s a scrappy start to the half, both teams have been a little bit cautious so far.

52 mins – Garitano has the first shot of note in this second half. His forward runs from midfield have troubled Ajax a few times and they’re fortunate his shot is right down the throat of Fabien Barthez, who gathers comfortably.

55 mins – Ah now this is the hallmark of the goalscoring midfielder! Seedorf arrives late in the box to head over Henry’s cross from the left, but you know the exact type of chance. In between two centre halves, arriving in the box, should probably do better.

60 mins – An hour played, will either manager be thinking of making a sub? It’s been fairly cagey in the second half as the tension is ramping up.

64 mins – Great save! Ronaldo meets a Zidane cross and it’s a header with great direction, heading towards the bottom corner. It’s not the most powerful though and Vitor Baia scurries across to tip it wide. From the resulting corner, Sol Campbell heads wide. Sol doesn’t get many.

68 minsGOAL! Barcelona 0 – 1 Ajax (Thierry Henry)

There it is! A goal made in France but scored in Rotterdam for Amsterdam. Or some other clever word play. Antoine Sibierski receives a pass from Zinedine Zidane on the right hand side of the box, his shot is low and hard and through the legs of the defender, Vitor Baia is down well to save it but he can only push it out as far as the arriving Thierry Henry who smashes home the loose ball. A quick check to make sure he’s onside and he’s away over to the Ajax fans to reveal a celebratory t-shirt

henry new born kyd

I’m sure that has a humorous meaning which we’ll find out about in the coming days.

70 mins – Barcelona have restarted the game but the Ajax fans are making so much noise, I’m not sure many of them are watching the game at the moment!

71 minsGOAL! Barcelona 0 – 2 Ajax (Clarence Seedorf)

They’re watching now! Morten Bisgaard, the quiet man of this Ajax side, strides forward from midfield before passing to Seedorf, who takes one touch out of his feet before lashing a shot low and beyond Vitor Baia from the edge of the box. That might be that…

73 mins – Unsurprisingly those two quick goals have muted Barcelona’s fans. Their players are still trying to conjure something up but Ajax can defend in numbers now.

77 mins – Both managers are in discussions with their coaching staff, but I bet the conversations are very different…

83 minsSUBSTITUTION

Ajax are the first to make a change, manager David Black applauds as Antoine Sibierski is withdrawn and Jari Litmanen is on. Bisgaard seems to have gone out to the right for these closing stages.

86 mins – The game is a bit of a procession now, both teams are pretty much waiting for the whistle.

89 mins – A Barcelona corner comes to nothing. Not their night!

FULL TIME – AJAX RETAIN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

It’s over! Ajax are the first team to retain the Champions League trophy – it’s party time for them, but spare a though for this Barcelona side that just didn’t get going in the second half.

FT Result

In terms of stats, you’d have to say Ajax were worthy winners on chances created alone

Full time stats

Man of the match is given to Vitor Baia, which sums it up really. Question marks will be raised about why Barcelona didn’t look to their bench at any time, but then again would Abel Xavies have helped the situation?

Full time ratings

The Ajax players are on their way to lift the trophy, it’ll be captain Zinedine Zidane who takes the honour of lifting the famous trophy

zidane lifts CL

I have many skills but photoshop is not one. So here’s Zidane holding the trophy, it’s as good as it’s going to get lads.

TIme for some words from those involved.

Manager Dave Black speaking to anyone who will listen:

I couldn’t be prouder of the players. I came to Holland as a relative unknown managing world class players and I signed Dion Dublin. They still respect me, or at least tolerate me. We are the winners!

Ronaldo:

The Ronaldo name will go down in history. No Ronaldo will ever surpass this!

Zinedine Zidane:

Hopefully we’ll win many more, there’s no better feeling. I hope to win more as a player but then I’ll be back as a manager. I think I could retain it as a manager too…

Thierry Henry on that T-shirt:

Google it. Know your niche Premier League humour

We’ve been through a lot together. Join me tomorrow for the full run down of the end of Season 4 (spoiler alert, Ajax win the Champions League) but then I’m going for a lie down for a few months.

Hopefully you enjoyed my dabble at a live text, and if you know somebody who could also like my interpretation of a live text, be a dear and tell them about this please. Thanks for reading!

World Champs!

Hello! It’s the second update of Season 4, but as 2000 becomes 2001 we have the chance to win two more cups, perhaps competitions that don’t really capture the imagination of the Amsterdam public but they are important to me and achieving the aim which I have dreamt of for the past 11 weeks. Is it only 11 weeks? I feel like I’ve known these guys all my life. Anyway, here’s what I’m on about.

An early blow as we head into the winter months’ is that Thierry Henry has broken his foot

henry broken foot

That rules him out until March, so hopefully he’ll be back in time for the Champions League quarter finals – if we get there.

Those hopes are in the balance a little bit after a stalemate with Real Madrid

0-0 Real Madrid

It wasn’t for lack of trying but that’s both group games against them where we haven’t scored and I have to say that’s a concern. A win over Rangers secures our passage as one of the two best runners up.

Rangers 1 - 2 Ajax

Seemingly nobody can score against Real Madrid.

CL group final 00

The quarter final lineup is typically packed with talent, and Gothenburg. We always seem to have to play Juventus but you know what, that’s fine. I’ll come back to the Quarter Finals later on.

CL QF draw 01

First up though we’ve got to play the World Club Cup in Japan. Ronaldo is actually suspended for collecting too many yellow cards during the Champion League group games but fortunately he has a pretty useful understudy these days.

Ajax 1 - 0 Vasco

It took extra time but we got there. It’s an absolutely packed schedule, not helped by our two toughest domestic fixtures following trips to Japan and a vital Champions League qualifier. Thanks, the Dutch FA.

xmas fixtures

Anyway, as you can see through the power of rotation we have survived until Boxing Day, still unscathed, but our usual month off is halved by the trip to France to face Auxerre in the European Super Cup first leg.

It goes really well.

Auxerre away

Their keeper gets man of the match but some of our lads desperately underperformed. We’ll need a recovery in the return leg

Ajaz 4 - 1 auxeree

Yippee, though a very nervous final 8 minutes where one goal would have beaten us. Still though, another trophy in the cabinet.

Having said that, the people of Amsterdam could not care less.

low attendance

Their loss. Still, at least we are keeping our rivals at bay

PSV 1 - 2 ROnaldoajax 3 - 1 feyenoord

I sometimes feel it’s not fair having Ronaldo in this league. But when he fails, Batistuta is around to keep our 100% record alive

batigol AZ

Twice.

bati 90

Lovely Gabriel.

All of that leave us one point from a fourth consecutive league title, and 6 games from another 100% season. Dreamy.

DUtch league top March 01

We’re also still in the lovely Dutch Cup, though we survived a scare to reach the final

Dutch Cup SF pen win

Dion cleared distracted by 90s model Caprese having her penalty saved but we got away with it. And the best thing is, it isn’t bloody Feyenoord away in the final for once

feyenoord out

What a game! It’ll be NAC in the final though

Dutch Cup SF Resulys 2001

Back to the main event then and that Champions League clash with Juventus, we’ve rushed Henry back (which seems to be a bad idea) and have a mad 5 minutes before half time.

Juve Leg 1

Sibbers gets an away goal and in many ways, I’d say that’s a good result.

Especially when you run through teams at the Arena

Ajax 4 - 1 Juve

Rare to see Richard Witschge in the goals but everybody else does it. That, by the way, is a record attendance.

It could be Barca, it could be Real Madrid…

CL QF results 01

Fortunately, it’s Spurs

CL SF Draw 01

With the greatest respect to Tottenham, look at their squad:

spurs squad

Still, going up against Zidane could be the making of Stephen Clemence. Sadly, Sol Campbell is injured for me or else I’m sure he’d get a lovely welcome.

Staying in England, the pointless cup final is ready

LC SF Results 01

Newcastle are in their third final in four years, they really love the cup with no prize.

Meanwhile in the FA Cup, it’s similarly random.

FA SF Draw 01

The Premier League table has a more familiar look to it, with Man Utd looking good to regain the trophy they lost to…Aston Villa. Where are Villa?

prem top march 01

Not in there…

prem bottom march 01

There they are! With last year’s runners up and my semi final opponents Tottenham loitering in the bottom half. Takes all sorts really.

That’s me done though for another week. Next week will be the last update before I take a summer break, so due to unpopular demand if we make the Champions League final I’ll do a live text. If we don’t make the Champions League final, I will resign in protest. Anyway, have a pleasant week and I’ll be back next weekend.

Three for Free

Good hello to you. Have I used this title before? I feel like I have but, in the words of Keane (not Roy), what do I knnoooowwww? Bedshaped. It’s November 2000 which is actually 4 years pre-Keane being relevant, but rather than replace the calendar based on Keane’s discography, we’ll move on without further reference to the 2005 Brit Award winners. This has been an odd intro. Let’s get back to what we know and love: Ajax.

I ended the previous update covered in trophies. We enjoyed ourselves, won the league, the cup and the Champions League and then lured Gabriel Batistuta here for free. I actually have little to no need for him, but if you had the chance to sign Gabriel Batistuta for free, you tell me you wouldn’t take it. Go on. Do it. See, you can’t. So, whilst the fans, board and any football expert will criticise me for ditching a formation that has brought us great success just so I can live the dream of a front two of Batistuta and Ronaldo, I say this to you: You are 100% right.

Some kind souls left some comments on the previous post asking what that formation was. I’ve been playing a ridiculous looking 3-1-3-3 in just about every game so far. Yes, there were some half baked pledges to play 5-3-2 in the difficult games but when you have Henry, Zidane, Sibierski, Ronaldo, Babangida, De Boer, Bisgaard and Laudrup to fit in, you’ll forgive me for not wanting to play 5 defenders. Here’s the 3-1-3-3

3-1-3-3 2000

With Batistuta’s arrival I’m already contemplating a 4-2-4. That way I’ll basically sacrifice a midfielder for a centre half and another for a centre forward. I rotate a lot as it is, so I’m sure it’ll be fine. We’ve also signed two more legends for the sum of nothing

bogarde signsblanc signs

Look at me being a responsible adult signing defenders. I have however sold Ronald De Boer.

RDB to Man Utd

He’s 30 now and gets injured a lot. Whilst I will always find a place for him, I can replace him for marginally more money but a much younger player

Seedorf signs

The Dutch International quota is maintained. Here’s how we lined up for the Dutch Charity Shield

new plan

I mean, it is quite nice isn’t it? However, it’s functional more than fluid

dutch CS 2000

With this Champions League group, it is not the time to be taking chances

CL Group Draw 00

So whilst we are too strong for Villa

ajax 3 - 1 villa CL G 1

Real Madrid give us a bit of a lesson

Real Madrid 2 - 0 AJax

Batistuta has a damaged achilles tendon and after a couple of struggles, I’ve gone back to 3-1-3-3 pending his return. He has 1 assist and 0 goals in his 4 games so far, so we’ll see how he fits in when fit again. The Champions League is in the balance

CL group 4 games 00

Remember only top of the group is guranteed to qualify, and the best two runners up. About 13 points is usually enough but you’re leaving it to chance really. 15 would more or less guarantee it but that would involve beating Real Madrid. Hmm.

The league, as ever, is a much simpler affair

Dutch league top Nov 00

That’s a pleasing goals against column.

Over in England, Man Utd need more goals to add to Shearer & Owen

man utd sign heskey

What would Juventus and Bayern Munich have done with Emile Heskey? Remarkably, Arsenal have done what many people want in the current day

Wenger out

They replace him with Roy Hodgson. I would love to see the reaction if they did that in real life. But stop everything a second…

Steve Coppell is top of the Premier League!

prem top nov 00

Inspired by England midfielder Jamie Redknapp but still with Neil Shipperley up front, it is inexcusable that the Premier League have allowed this to happen. Man Utd, with Shearer, Giggs, Cole, Solskjaer, Scholes, Heskey, Brian Laudrup, Sand, De Boer and…er, Bernard Diomede at their disposal will no doubt end up top eventually, but Peter Schmeichel has retired and is proving tough to replace. Taibi waits by the phone.

At the bottom, Aston Villa are having a good go at being the worst Champions ever

prem bottom Nov 00

It seems odd that Bury are in the Premier League but they might not be for much longer. Still, relatively early days all round.

That’s it for this week, my well of interesting anecdotes has run dry. Have a great week and I’ll catch you next Sunday as we cross into the dangerous waters of 2001. Who knows which of our Hopers and Fears will be realised. Urgh.

Ajax Clean Up

Hello! Welcome to the third and final part of the 1999/00 season. Things are going pretty well for us at Ajax, with our 100% league record still in tact and just points away from the league title being sewn up. The Champions League has seen us drawn against Barcelona and we’re struggling to get a team out, but that’s all part of the fun. Besides, we’ve always got the Amstel Cup to fall back on. Then we have Euro 2000 to look forward to, though England don’t, so maybe the less said about that the better. Let’s get on with it.

I suppose it would be rude to break tradition, I’m starting witht the pointless cup over in jolly old England

League Cup

I still don’t know why Derby are in this

LC Final 00

What a great day out for those Derby fans. 120 minutes and one penalty successfully scored. Still, they took first and were winning very very briefly.

We may as well stay cuppy and bring you the FA Cup.

FA Cup

The semi finals also pitted Derby against Man Utd

FA SF Results 00

OMG they just can’t be separated.

SF Replay 00

Oh, my mistake. So, onto the final, and Arsenal vs Man Utd is always a classic

arsenal 2 - 2 man utd FA cup final

Keith O’Neill of course turned down Barcelona to sign for Man Utd…played one game in 18 months and signed for Arsenal. Well, in your face Sir Alex. Now you have to play a replay

FA Final replay 00

Sir Alex is normally right. Paul Okon?!

We’ll check in on the Premier League table in a bit, I’m thirsty…

Dutch Cup

Time for our annual dose of ALCOHOL SPONSORSHIP. Would you believe it, we won it again.

Dutch cup final 00

It still seems rather unfair that Feyenoord’s ground is the neutral venue. Like, is PSV’s ground a dump or something? Zidane headed in a late winner and we all got smashed.

You don’t need to be Paul the Octopus to predict us winning the league but could we do it with the 100% record?

dutch league final 00

Well, yes we could. I just wish we’d scored one more goal, it would have given me a sense of completeness. Still, 34 out of 34 is no mean feat. I’m over the moon.

However, the prize I really want is the Champions League, and Barcelona stand in our way. The first leg, in Barcelona, sees us score the vital away goal but at the cost of three players.

barcelona 1 - 1 ajax

Cafu faces a race to be fit (he wins most races, in fairness to him) for the 2nd leg as Dyer is out injured for the season. Campbell and Litmanen’s Champions League campaigns are over. I’ll forgive Dion Dublin, you have to really.

Onto the second leg and the Amsterdam Arena was extended for nights like this

ajax 1 - 0 barca

Ronaldo knocks out his old club and let the party times begin!

Heroes.

ajax barca player ratings

That puts us in the final but Frank De Boer is banned, Dublin is injured and Campbell suspended. I have literally three defenders and the unhappy Ole Tobiasen, a right back, has to be fielded at left back with Curtis holding the fort and Cafu being Cafu. Our opponents will be Juventus, who knocked out PSG and beat us at the semi-final stage last year.

Not only is the team news against us, the final is being played in Rome which should be at advantage for Juventus. However, from the outset, we dominate the game. Peruzzi makes save after save and the woodwork is rattled. Just before half time, Victor Onopko cuts out a throughball with his hand. We demand justice and the referee obliges. Surely, our time is now. Cometh the hour, Ronaldo makes the breakthrough, sweeping home a cross on the volley. 20 minutes later, former Juve man Zidane heads home from a corner and that’s it – Champions of Europe!

CL Final 00

Of course it is one thing to win everything but it is another to retain it. We also have to add the World Club Cup and the SuperCup, so there’s life in this save yet.

This looks comprehensive

managers of the month

Over in England, their league season is coming to a rather exciting finish. This is the state of play heading into the final day

prem last day

All Aston Villa have to do is beat lowly Derby at home to win the league and also condemn Derby to relegation

last day results

Oh look, they did. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Villa/Spurs 1-2 in the 3rd season. Man Utd were unstoppable for a bit but now they’re 7th. Football.

Here’s the table

prem top 00

Toight. Only 9 points between 1st and 8th. At the bottom…

prem bottom 00

West Ham are down again, that defence is anything but toight. Derby have suffered more than most in this update, I’m sure they’ll be back.

Euro 2000 is in Holland! The concept of co-hosting with Belgium wasn’t included but England failed to qualify. Georgia made it though – cheers Glenn. Anyway, the Dutch can’t take pens. Still.

dutch cant take pens

It’s a tournament full of goals, even in the semi final stage

italy 0 - 0 france

portgual 0 - 1 norway

Why leave Figo on the bench for 120 minutes? Problem the same reason Norway left Solskjaer and to a less extent Erik Nevland unused. Stupidity, that’s why. Anyway, the final is at our stadium

euro 2000 final

Henry & Zidane were banned, but those two along with Sibierski have had golden seasons with 4 winners medals to add to the collection.

I am planning to switch to a 4-2-4 next season rather than the 3-1-3-3 that has served me so well so far. Why? Variety is the spice of life. Also, this:

batistuta signs

OH MY. Here’s some awards – we come out of it quite well

dutch awards 00

Maybe I’ll sign Pep. Ronaldo is loved, it’s pretty rare the same player wins two awards on this game

english awards 00

That’s all I have for you this time, but what a horn tooting update. We’ve won the lot but now we need to go one better and win everything again (plus the Super Cup etc) and then we can say we’ve done what we set out to do. Join me next time to find out if pairing Batistuta with Ronaldo is just plain stupid or whether it is the best idea anybody ever had.

Dedicated in loving memory to our family dog, Tilly, who sadly left us this week just short of her 19th birthday. A better assistant manager I could not ask for. Sleep well Hungry Till.

Tilly1

Tilly Black (1998 – 2017)

Three Four One

Hello! We’ve reached the year 2000 and despite rumours to the contrary, there were no Y2K bugs or problems with technology, the robots didn’t rise up and kill us all and it’s as if some of the world’s smartest people thought ahead that we might live to the year 2000 and program electronics accordingly. But how did we get from November 1999 to March 2000? Are Ajax still on form? You bloody bet. LET’S SCROLL (down)

Is greed a sin? This guy was available, I had the money, I didn’t need him but you could argue that every team needs Thierry Henry. What’s Dutch for va va voom?

Henry to Ajax

He’ll slot in on the left side of my attack, which is tough for Peter Hoekstra who has been brilliant but he has the obvious drawback of not being Thierry Henry. Also, Hoekstra went on to play for Stoke, whilst Henry went to Juve, Arsenal and Barcelona. So, you know.

Before we get into the Ajax life and times, England have only bloody failed to qualify for Euro 2000. What a terrible summer lies ahead. But don’t worry England fans, the FA have sacked Glenn Hoddle and poached the Dortmund manager. I’m sure that’ll work out.

England appoint Scala

Anyway, back to the main story here. You may recall PSV are going through some rough times, they’ve brought in Huub Stevens and they are in my Champions League group. Eat goals, you mothers

AJax 4 - 1 PSV CL

So, that was nice. We won the group, at a canter

CL group final

The quarter finals saw us come up against AC Milan, which is a tough draw in any world. We were beaten 2-1 in the San Siro, with Ronaldo grabbing the away goal. We need a performance in the 2nd leg, and by jove, we got it.

ajax 4 - 1 milan

We needed extra time but Ronald-o and Ronaldo (Ithankyou) see us through. However the draw is unfavourable…it’s Barcelona

CL SF draw 00

Bloody hell that’s going to be difficult.

Back in the hilariously unbalanced Eredivise, we travel to one of our two rivals

feyenoord 0 - 4 ajax

Sorry Johan, but we’re a bit too good for David Connolly this season. With the double over Feyenoord in the bag, that only leaves PSV. Those of you who like a pun will have realised what’s coming from the title of this post, but here we are:

AJax 4 - 1 PSV league

Three goals in the opening 9 minutes but then we ran away with it. Hurray for us. We are going to win the league but more importantly our 100% record is still alive

Dutch League top 00

6 games to go, a 16 point lead, not even Kevin Keegan could blow this. I made myself sad.

Not that it’s massively important but we’re also still going strong in the Amstel Cup. We’ve just reached the final, beating Willem II (pronounced ‘aye aye’)

ajax 3 - 1 willem dutch cup

GORRE! GORRE! GORRE!

paul heyman

Early 2000s wrestling references aside, we’re in the Amstel Cup final. Pints all round.

The problem is, my squad is absolutely knackered. This is what’s left to face Barcelona

Ajax squad march 00

Doesn’t matter how much you rotate, Kieron Dyer will always be injured.

Let’s call in on Dyer’s home nation briefly for a quick cuppa and a catch up

We’ve got our Pointless Cup finalists

LC SF results 00

Derby will face Man Utd in both cups, as the FA Cup semi final draw has pitted them against each other.

FA SF Draw 00

Derby are managed by Jim Smith and are in the relegation zone, so why this is happening I’m not too sure. I blame Y2K.

Man Utd though have gone from unbeatable to…er, very beatable?

premier league top march

Wenger’s men may finally realise their potential a few years later than planned, but holy Boa Morte, you wouldn’t rule out any of the top 7 winning the title. Except Tottenham. Sorry, Spurs fans. That was below the belt.

At the bottom, Everton are still boned and West Ham look set to be boned again after their first season boning. Stop saying boned in there.

prem bottom march 00

As I think I’ve gone slightly insane, now seems like a good time to file this update under “possibly inebriated” and head for a lie down. I’ve got to find a way of beating Barcelona and it’s probably going to involve Dion Dublin. We. Are. Boned. Until next time!

The New Ron (Ron Ron)

Hello! Welcome to Season 3. If my Ajax side are going to take things to another level (not Dane Bowers) it was apparent we were going to need some fresh faces. How do you improve a team that hasn’t lost a domestic game in two seasons? Well, you are about to find out. We’ve also seen off another rival, it’s all been happening. Let me tell you all about it.

At the end of the previous update we signed up Fabien Barthez as Van Der Saar is still young in goalkeeping terms and I don’t think he’s Champions League quality. You may also recall that Frank De Boer is knackered, and will be for at least half of the season. A new full back is required, perhaps one who isn’t shy on getting forward. I know just the man…

Ajax sign Cafu

£3m is a total pinch. It’ll mean Dyer operating at left back and then we’ll assess things once Franky boy is back on the pitch. Very much future Dave’s problem. I also need a centre half, as Dublin is getting on and Curtis is probably a bit young to completely rely on him. I’ll raid the only league I know…

Ajax sign Campbell

That’s all well and good but what about going forward? I’d like someone who can operate on the left, but also in midfield. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when he came up on the “Interested foreign based” list

Ajax sign Zidane

Hubba hubba. Three quality signings and plenty in the bank for one more if I need it. Our rivals have dipped into the market as well – all of a sudden the Eredivise seems like a good place to be again

bergkamp to feyenoord

Interesting that he picked Cruyff’s Feyenoord over Advocaat’s PSV despite PSV being my nearest rival in the two seasons so far. Speaking of which, it’s time for the cup named after Mr Cruyff…against PSV.

CS Ajax 3 - 0 PSV

My decision to stick with Ronaldo (tough, I know) pays off as he plunders a hat-trick against his former club. A little under a month later, the league season begins with…a trip to PSV.

PSV 0 - 1 ajax opening day

That’s our most difficult fixture done with and won on day one, and it’s only a few games until we get to see what Feyenoord have aspired to

Ajax 4 - 0 Feyenoord

It just goes to show, David Connolly helps no situation. With shots fired to both of our closest rivals by the end of September, it’s time for action

PSV sack dick

The world’s worst cocktail is sacked and PSV need a new hero. Ironically, they’re in our Champions League group too

Ajax CL Draw groups

It’s a group we should get out of, though the PSV element adds some extra spice. A win over Copenhagen is followed up with a draw against managerless PSV

psv 1 - 1 ajx CL

Absolute scenes with a late leveller. PSV opt for one of their stalwarts from the 80s

PSV appoint Huub

We’re having our usual good season domestically but it’s a good job I have a squad packed with talent. The injury situation is getting critical.

injuries 99

The main man has been Ronaldo. After an indifferent first season, it’s fair to say he’s a new man now. Fully adapted and back to his sensational best.

Roanldo November

We’re in good shape in that Champions League group, as you’d expect

CL 4 games 99

But it’s our league form that continues to be unbelievable, no defeats in two and a half seasons now and we’re looking imperious, if I may say so myself.

Dutch League Top 99

If we just take a trip back home briefly, it’s seemed throughout this save that Man Utd are matching us stride for stride. Here they are, taking a leaf out of my book by signing England’s finest (and Michael Owen)

Owen to Man Utdshearer to man utd

You’d think spending £20m on strikers would only make them stronger but, in a twist, actually getting rid of Alan Shearer helps

prem top 99

Two losses for Man Utd already having not lost at all last season. Oh well. It’s a lot tighter than it normally is. Meanwhile at the bottom…

prem bottom nov 9

Everton are surprisingly bottom of the table but they often don’t last long, they have quite a poor squad from the outset.

Anyway, that’s your lot for this week. I’ve essentially built a Galactico team, or the Dutch equivalent which I’m reliably informed is Godenzonen, which I think roughly translates to “sons of Gods” which is probably a bit strong but then Dion Dublin is one of them, so who am I to argue? See you next week.