Building Brazil – Part 15: O fim da linha

It’s the final ever update from Rob’s Brazil series. Over the past 15 weeks, Rob has shown you how difficult it is to build an all Brazilian team but also how good it can be. Can he finish with a flourish? Catch up with part 14 here.

So we have reached the final part of the Samba story, what started as an idealistic adventure in Madeira will end as a three part Blue Peter special starring “The Real” Ronaldo and an excellent regen of Aldair attempting to win the Champions League after missing out in the final a year earlier. Part two ended with Sporting Brazilians (we are a well groomed side) six points clear in the league with twelve left to play and the Taca and Champions league trophies there for the taking. Without further waffle here we go.

Ronny and Co. continue their fantastic league form with a clinical home victory against Leiria.

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It was exactly what we needed before hosting the always tough Manchester United in the Champ league quarters. United are playing Stefan Klos in goal who gets MOM but it is not enough to deny us a 2-0 victory. I feel like we have one foot in the semis but we would be silly to underestimate them.

2

As if to prove to ourselves how it could all go wrong we are terribly inaccurate away to Leca and despite out clear dominance of the match we drop two points. Denilson with an 83rd minute equaliser spares a few blushes and that annoying message from the board.

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Only two days later we are away to Porto in the Taca semi final (they don’t do neutral grounds apparently). In a very even tie Hilario is the difference maker with his MOM performance as we lose 2-1. Annoyingly I sold CM Ledg. Nevland to Porto when I started the whole Brazilian team idea. Would have been nice to get the treble but it was not to be.

4

Five days later and guess what we play Porto again, this time in the league. We are worse than in the Taca, Hilario gets another MOM, Leandro scores again but Mercado misses his 81st minute penalty and we sneak a win, hopefully a momentum changer.

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The games are coming thick and fast at the moment and we are in Manchester three days later for the second leg. In this gaming world Ferguson managed to secure the services of one Alan Shearer who has currently scored 35 goals in 43 games this season, not bad for 31 year old Big Al. It’s a very even match, we are much better that our previous games hitting the target seven times. Utd are on song too though and they have eight shots on target. Utd win on the night but it is not enough to overturn our lead and it feels like we managed to sneak through 4:3 on aggregate.

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Our reward is another trip to England and what on paper sounds like an easy tie, however Leicester beat Juve in the last round so they clearly have a little but about them.

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To make matters worse I get the following information sent through on the pager.

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What the hell lads!

We finally resume some normal service against local rivals Benfica. Not even Scotty Minto’s 68th minute goal can upset us as we run home easy winners.

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The international breaks see me finally achieve a mini milestone as Sporting Lisbon officially become Sporting Brazil, that’s all eleven players of mine starting. Although if he was using my formation I’m pretty sure we would beat Slovenia by more than one goal.

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A few days later the lads are back in Lisbon facing Braga. We are cut throat in front of goal and after a seventh minute scare we brush them aside with ease.

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Semi final time at Filbert Street and Kasey Keller is no match for Fat Ron. What were Juve playing at? Leicester only had one shot on target!

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A bizarre league affair in Chaves sees us go three goals up in 12 minutes only to concede three in the next 33 minutes against ten men to run in at half time 3-3. Fortunately the L’s were on hand to grab a couple in the second half as we win the eight goal thriller.

14

Finally a week off to rest before we face Boavista and it does us the world of good. Dida has been a bit up and down this year but he is keeps a clean sheet as we run out easy winners in what seemed an even game. Djalminha has been a really good signing and him and Denny have been on fire, so much so that Juninho can’t get into the team.

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I hadn’t checked the table for a while so I was a little surprised when I found this. Vitty G have had a nightmare with four points from seven games and suddenly we are 17 clear with five to play. Maths tells me that is enough to see us crowned champions! Maths tells the computer the same thing.

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Ronny and the boys celebrate so hard that Ronny has to call in sick for the next couple of weeks.

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He’s not needed against Leicester, Renaldo and George Jetson see us through to the final where we face.

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There is a little bit of history between us, Ajax beat us in the final last year and are going for European domination, a third Champions League on the bounce. It’s going to be tough, and even more so when I find out that Marcio won’t be playing.

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With the league over I do a bit of squad rotation to try and keep players fit but also in good form as we run up to the Champions League final. Penafiel are beaten 2-0, we draw with Academica 2-2, snatch a 1-0 win at home to Rio Ave and draw 3-3 away to Maia coming back from 0-3 down at half time and despite that being the 2nd eleven playing we will need to show the same sort of spirit if we hope to beat an excellent Ajax side.

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The 22nd May arrives, it’s final day, this performance is “O fim da linha,” (the end of the line) for my Brazilian adventure, is what I’ve been aiming for and was denied a year ago by the same team. The starting eleven are chosen.

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It’s going to be a tough match, especially when disaster strikes in the 8th minute. Captain and defensive giant Vinicius (Aldair) goes off injured. Gralak is on in his place. It gets even worse in the 14th minute when Goosens scores. We are not really at the races in the first half but when Ronny’s in your team you always have a chance and he scores in the 40th minute as we go in at the half 1:1. Dida really shows up in the second half with a fine display and I take back all the things I’ve said about him (he is still really inconsistent though). Unfortunately Van Der Sar is equally as good in their goal and despite a strong attacking showing the second half is goalless and we enter extra time. It looks like it is heading to penalties….

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GRALAK !!!!!!!!!! You beauty, dream realised.

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Oh and we win the last league game to go out with a bang.

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What a year, here are a few stats from the team.

Assists

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Goals

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Avg. Ratings

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These two have been a pretty handy strike partnership over the last three years.

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All that is left is to show you is the Annual awards.

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I’m not sure if Ronaldo can win European footballer of the year, but he should have done, 45 goals and a Champions League winners medal. It’s been a fun three episodes, I can highly recommend building your own Brazilian super squad, maybe not in Madeira, unless you have the patience of a saint. Thanks for reading and if I come up with another idea maybe I will see you again (metaphorically of course). Tchau!

My thanks to Rob for a brilliant series. He’ll be back in future with more. You can follow Rob on Twitter @Taitanator

 

Run Forest, Run – Part 7: Inge-ing our way to the top

Happy hump day! Here’s Matt with his Forest in the future save. Things have taken a dramatic turn – catch up with part 6 here.

You join me on Boxing Day 2006 in my quest to make Nottingham Forest great again. We’re mid-way through season 2 and out of Europe but keeping pace with the front runners in the league, if only we could find some sort of form…

It’s 4th against 9th on Boxing Day as we take on Bolton away. Injuries have robbed us of some key performers, but I’m hopeful my squad can weather the busy festive period.

We’re not great and rely on Inge to rescue us a point. I think I might be relying on young Thompson in the absence of Debbah a little too much.

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Some stalwarts are starting to return from injury, but none are fit enough to face Everton at home. We start well through Rubini, then concede immediately. Its back and forth for the rest of the half until Inge pops up in the box to send us into halftime in front. Young Thompson extends our lead and although Everton pull one back, we hold out for a win that keeps us 4th but a point off top spot.

2

Little Luis Enrique is recalled by Las Palmas so I’m short on defensive options at right wingback but keep faith with young Costacurta.

We fall behind to Birmingham away in our FA Cup quest but recover well to seal a 4-1 win. A returning Ascencio helping himself to 2 goals.

3

Staying with cup action, it’s a midweek visit from Sheff Utd in the League Cup Quarter Finals. It’s a tight game, their keeper getting MOTM tells most of the story, but a minute from time young Dutch maestro Inge seals the win and a semi-final spot against Newcastle.

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It’s a strong statement of intent as we brush aside Ipswich at Portman Road on our return to league action, which is just aswell as the 3 teams above also record wins.

5

It’s tight at the top…

6

Things may change in our next match as we take on first place Watford, who have Figo and Giggs on either wing, but it’s Shay Given in goal who earns them a point in a fairly even 0-0 draw.

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There’s nothing even when we take on West ham in the FA Cup 4th round, Inge and Debbah combining to devastating effect. Young Inge is growing into a vital player in this team now.

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Of course, being the team we are, it’s back down to earth with a bump against man City in the league, leaving us 4th and 4 pts off Man Utd in 1st.

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Maybe we’re just cut out for the domestic cup competition’s like Cloughie’s team of the late 80’s/early 90’s. This is reinforced when we sweep aside Newcastle in the first leg of the League Cup Semi-Final, 6-1. Rubini with 4! Shame we conceded one though.

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Before the second leg, we’ll stick with the cup and our 5th round tie against Norwich City. Nelo settles the game, it was text book, and we’re into the quarters.

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We’re even further than that in the League Cup. With a 5 goal cushion, I ring the changes for the return leg and am happy with a 1-1 draw to take us into the final against Leeds United.

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Back to league action and we brush aside Hull 3-1, but we’re still 7pts off top spot. Ok we have a game in hand, but still.

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Julen Guerrero has been a real bargain buy for us and has stayed fairly free of injury for a veteran. In contrast, young Brendan ‘Gazza’ Fisher has just recovered from shin splints, only to damage his hip in training and he’s out for the rest of the season. Always seems to be the problem with this regen.

I’m not sure if this signing is really worth it as he’s 34, but he may pop up with the odd important goal in the run in.

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We’re too strong again for Newcastle at home in the league, Nelo, Inge and Debbah getting the goals to put us 3rd with a game in hand.

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That game in hand is a midweek trip away to Sheff Utd, and it’s Debbah with a treble to put us 2nd and 2 pts off Man Utd.

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Its FA Cup Quarter Final time and Rubini puts us in control against Sunderland before Jancker pulls one back. Guerrero makes the game safe and I give his compatriot Alfonso a 20 minute cameo, but no goals on his debut.

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We’ll have Spurs in the semi-final, a replay of the 91 final, as I expect the papers will caption it.

It’s a dress rehearsal in the league in another midweek catch up game and it’’s action right from the start. Rubini after 5 minutes, then a response from Kovacevic 4 minutes later. Rubini puts us back in front, then Debbah makes it 3-1 before half time. The floodgates open in the second half and it’s a 7-2 rout. Good times!

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Even though the troops are tired, I send the same team out 3 days later to face Leeds, where a 2-nil win and favourable results elsewhere puts us top of the pile with nine games to go, which seems like the perfect place to end this part. Join me next week where we’ll have the League Cup Final, the FA Cup semi-final and the league run in, it promises to be very interesting!

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A quick look elsewhere:

Liverpool are up to 4th in Division 1 and looking good for a playoff spot, Czech striker Marek Suchoparek banging in the goals for them.

Lazio have pulled themselves out of the relegation zone in Serie A but are still 1pt from the drop zone.

Espanyol are 2nd in La Liga, 2 pts off Real Sociedad, they’re also in the Champions League quarter-finals, holding Milan to a 0-0 draw in the first leg.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

Starting from Scratch – Part 11

Twitterless Matthew Cooper has worked wonders with Altrincham. Promotion at the first attempt has been followed up with a solid summer. Can he build on the initial success? Catch up with part 10 here.

Hello, hello. We’ve made a good start in Division 2, but it’s too early to tell if a second (technically third, with the initial promotion from non-league) promotion is on the cards just yet. Let’s see if we can keep that momentum from last time going.

We pay the price for finishing with 9 men against Reading as both Hughes and Taggart are suspended, but it’s pretty fortuitous timing as we face bottom club Bristol City at home. They come to our stadium off the back of 9 straight defeats and I’m eager to put that figure into double digits. N’Diaye is too tired to start from the last match so Zerrouki steps in, and there’s a start for newly-signed keeper Roberts. Moyes, my replacement wingback, makes his debut despite apparently being in horrendous form.

1

It’s a very pleasing performance, as Zerrouki nets twice in the first ten minutes and we boss the game. They hit us on the counter a few times but Roberts proves to be the safe pair of hands we’ve been missing lately and we keep a clean sheet. After the game, things get even better as we’re drawn to play today’s hapless opponents again in the first round of the FA Cup

2

Luton are the next team to visit Moss Lane, and they are a bit of a bogey team for me in general. I don’t know why but they just seem to be one of those teams that always get one over on me, regardless of who I’m managing. I have a full squad to choose from as my pair of suspended players are once again available, and N’Diaye is fully rested.

3

The hoodoo is lifted as we prevail after a difficult period in the middle of the game. We go in front after 3 minutes, Allardyce running behind and coolly finishing. They equalise soon after, but we look to have wrested back the lead on 20 minutes only for it to be ruled offside. They literally score 1 minute later and a 2-1 lead has become a 2-1 deficit. I feel the curse of Luton is set to continue, but we keep hammering away and N’Diaye heads us level, before wingback hunter scores a rebound to edge us in front. The score remains the same as we get a fully deserved 3 points. A fairly indifferent performance by both Roberts and our new striker Harris are a slight blot on the copybook, but the victory is more important.

Not content with bagging Williamson earlier in the season, Bolton come back for his strike partner Tokely and lodge a £3.2m bid. Wimbledon also are in the hunt for him but offer a paltry £2.7m, which I plan to refuse. To replace him I’m going to need a proven goalscorer – step forward Mr Tomlinson:

4

He got 19 goals last season, which on the face of it doesn’t sound too impressive but when you factor in that he was playing in relegated Doncaster’s joke of a team, it’s bordering on miraculous. I launch a £825k bid to rescue him from his non-league limbo. I make Tokely available and set his true asking price, which is £3.9m. If Wimbledon get away with their lowball bid at the tribunal I will not be happy.

N’Diaye is fatigued again for the next game, away at 22nd placed Swindon, but I start him anyway with a view to subbing him later on. Tokely is unavailable for what is likely to be his last game as an Altrincham player, as he’s away with the Scotland U21 squad so Harris gets his first start.

5

It’s a disappointing game for Harris as he spurns 3 clear-cut chances in the first half. Allardyce can still be relied upon however, and he puts us in front soon after the restart. I’ll be much happier when Tomlinson is on board as if we keep missing so many scoring chances we’re going to be punished before long.

The transfer drags on and Tokely gets one last chance to say farewell to our supporters, away at Southend. He’s at 76% fitness after his U21 efforts but why should I give a shit? He’s leaving tomorrow anyway so I may as well work him to the bone.

6

It’s not exactly a fairytale end to his time here as he fails to get on the scoresheet but we win nevertheless, thanks to the charity of Southend defender Mark Jones who heads a corner into his own net midway through the second half. Roberts earns his corn with a string of fine saves and I shudder to think what the scoreline would have been if Hammond was still between the sticks.

I’d almost forgotten old man Wilkins was still with us, but he reminds me with yet another back injury

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Don’t feel sorry for him, it’s his own fault for not doing the decent thing and retiring last season. His contract is coming to an end so he’s out on his arse whatever happens at the end of the season. Tokely chooses to follow Williamson to the Wanderers and the tribunal knocks the sale price up a few notches

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Tomlinson signs on the same day so we’re back to a full strength forward line at least

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This seems like a good time to review some of the players that got away, and how they’re doing at their new clubs. Striker Regis Williamson, who went for £3.6m to Bolton at the start of the season, has had limited chances to impress and has scored 1 from 3 appearances. Fan (well, my) favourite Jermaine Wright has been similarly restricted by Palace and has played only 5 times since he moved midway through last season. Left wingback Steve Strong has played 13 times for Man City so far but is failing to impress, averaging around 6 and a half. Probably the most successful export we have is Paul Hart, a central defender who was way down the pecking order here but is a regular for Swindon this season, averaging just under 7 in a struggling team which is decent enough.

Only 3 fixtures take place the following Wednesday, one of which is our away game at Plymouth. Tomlinson’s form is listed as a hyphen, which doesn’t bode well but he needs game time to turn that around so he starts in place of the departed Tokely. Taggart returns following his International commitments and Bound makes way.

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Despite his form he makes a dream debut, scoring a hat trick and assisting both the other goals in a 5-3 win. There is cause for concern however, as Plymouth score from all 3 of their attempts on target in a real Jekyll and Hyde performance from Roberts considering his heroics at Southend. The match turns out to be our game in hand and the 3 points take us up to joint 1st place with Peterborough, with an equal amount of games played.

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As I should be wrapping things up for this update, let’s have a quick look at how Colwyn Bay are getting on. Last time we checked they were precariously placed a couple of points above the bottom but evidently something has clicked with them and they’re now in the lofty position of 10th, a point off the playoff places

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Bournemouth now have the dubious honour of bringing up the rear in Division 3, as Scarborough have finally got their act together after 2 seasons of scraping by and sit in the final playoff place

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They’ve shed a couple of loan signings and brought in some more on permanent deals, which may have helped with stability and contributed towards more positive results

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Anywho, that will do it for this update. Come back next week to see if we can hold on to our top spot and if Roberts proves to be a decent keeper or not – we may be dipping into the transfer market.

The B’s of Manchester – Part 7

SupernovaDragon is back with the Man Utd B experiment. In this episode you’ll see the playoffs and the planning for next season. But which division will they be in? Catch up with part 6 here.

Hello and welcome back to my Man United B team experiment. I am at the end of the season now, in the play-offs and losing the 1st leg 1-0. Sunday until the game day on Wednesday, I train the team and let the know this is important.

WE need to get promoted this season.

We haven’t:

1

As you can see, our shots to shots on target ratio is very poor. We never got going in this match.

All we can do now, is prepare for the following season. I’ve already set up the targets, Wallwork and Greening are definitely 2 people that are coming in if I can help it.

In other news:

Chelsea won the Cup Winners Cup and Man United won the FA Cup to round off the English league season. Then something familiar happened:

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2-1 Man United win in the Champions League final with Sheringham scoring right at the end of the match at the Nou Camp? Definitely something familiar.

So Man United won the League, FA Cup and Champions League. Treble anyone?

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Northampton completed the season winning the play-offs. Good luck to them, I will have to contend with Bristol Rovers again next season.

I need to find a formation and stick with it through thick and thin.

End of the season and these are the ratings:

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The Brebner ratings are a little false as he barely played but I am not surprised to see Tomlinson and Nevland up there. Very surprised about Thornley, I really should have played him more.

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The goals tally does sum it up for us, Only 4 players reaching double figures and Tomlinson just about outscoring Nevland.

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The assists column still doesn’t fill me with confidence. However, I think it’s fair to say, Nevland and Tomlinson are my front 2 next season.

Currently Wallwork is unavailable. I am very much tempted to bring in Van Der Gouw on a free transfer as his contract is almost him. Would he be prepared to drop down the leagues? I am not too sure of Culkin.

I did consider going and bringing Cantona out of retirement as he is still on a free transfer. Should I though? He may well slot into the hole very nicely.

Our parent club didn’t take too long:

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Neither did we:

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He was a future Man United youngster, that’s the only reason I have signed him and I am not giving up on Wallwork.

Nice to know the board are still happy:

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Yes, I had to. He was free and an ex United player and, I can imagine Eric being happy to help the kids:

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No, the kids are not available at all:

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I am going to just keep rejecting all summer. NONE of them are leaving, I am adamant of that.

Andy has now officially left Manchester United behind:

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We was not going to really use him next season, best to just let him leave. Nor was we going to use May Day:

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Well, as if winning the lot last season wasn’t enough:

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I think it’s fair to say our parent club are going to be pretty much unbeatable.

France won the World Cup on home soil, beating Argentina in the final 2-0.

For those who are curious, here are the end of the season awards:

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Before we can arrange any friendlies, we are told of who we are to play in the League Cup:

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I may go for the cup this year, even without an award at the end of it.

In the Windowless Shield:

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This one I definitely don’t care about.

I played 3 friendlies during pre-season, lost away to Utrecth 5-0, lost at home to Darlington 3-2 and beat Inter Cardiff 7-2. The Inter Cardiff match was more to get the team scoring. We had suffered injuries before the Inter Cardiff game, both goalkeepers were injured so had to play a greyed out one.

Terrible injury news:

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This is quite the disaster, looks like Jonny Greening will be playing.

What are we doing in training really?

19

Looks like our parent club are on the sell again:

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We finally get to the first game of the season, away to Hartlepool. This is the team and formation I decide to go with:

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It was a very dull opening game of the season. I have never seen such a dull boring match:

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We created nothing of note, despite what the stats say:

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Meanwhile, our parent club continue to win things, they beat Newcastle in the Charity Shield 2-1.

Next up is away to Barnet in the League Cup. I make some changes to see if fresh players will turn things around after that dour showing last match.

At half-time it’s another dour showing, 0-0.

Second half, we take the lead through Macken after Notman put him through. A minute later and Barnet equalise and by the end of the match, we still have played poor and get beat 2-1.

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I have always struggled in my 2nd season and this is systematic of the way I play this game.

We will win the next match.

First home game of the season next and it’s against Preston. At half-time we are 1-0 up thanks to a goal just before half-time from Tomlinson after Cantona’s header on to him.
Final whistle blows and we won 2-0 thanks to a goal from Mulyrne after Tomlinson played him through.

It’s nice to actually win a game again.

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I don’t know what our team do during training but we keep injuring our defenders:

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I am sorry Terry, last season I let Johnny boy Curtis leave, you’re my only right sided midfielder and you are not going:

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Back to the League cup and home to Barnet in leg 2. I make some changes again, though we could do with keeping the winning ways going.

At half-time it’s 0-0 but we are down to 10 men after McGibbon was deemed to be the last man and was sent off for troubles.

Come the final whistle we won 2-0 after Twiss came off the bench and changed the game. First he set up Macken to put us ahead, then he broke free from the offside trap and buried it beautifully to win the game.

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Our next round game is:

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That will be in the next part.

Back to the league and we are away to Grimbsy. Back to my usual line-up.

At half-time it is 1-0 to us, Cantona playing through Mulryne to put us ahead. Second half and it all fell apart:

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Duncan got booked for a high boot not long into the second half. 12th man Woods, equalised and then Duncan got sent off for his second booking after handballing in the box, Grimsby missed the penalty and Blades won the match towards the end of the match.

We threw this match away completely.

Next match is on Tuesday at home to Millwall. I tell the team in the dressing room how imperative it is they bounce back with a win. I make a couple of changes.

At half-time we are 3-0 up. We took the lead through Brebner who pounced on the ball after the shot from Nevland was parried. Then Nevland netted twice in 2 minutes to put us in at half-time winning.

At full-time we won 4-0 after Cook went two footed in on Cooke and got sent off and in the last 10 minutes Nevland got his hat-trick with a lob over the keeper. This was more like the performance we are capable of and always have been.

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I am very surprised this has taken to season 2 to happen to be honest:

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That will cause some pile up, I can feel it already.

What a Champions League group:

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Group of death I think. I feel bad for Sofia.

I completely missed out on Wallwork. Everytime I tried to bid it was rejected as he was unavailable. Then in 1 go 5 clubs bid, I couldn’t and now he’s signed for Layton Orient:

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I’d have paid more.

Last match of the update is away to Bristol Rovers, hopefully we will continue winning with this one. Especially as Bristol Rovers were one of the teams up there with us in the play-offs.

At half-time we are 2-1 down, Cooke put us ahead after pouncing on a loose ball after the keeper could only parry Nevland’s shot. We then continued to dominate until the last ten minutes of the half when Bristol Rovers started to take over and scored twice in 5 minutes.

At full-time we lost. However, we did go down fighting:

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Nevland equalised within 5 minutes of the restart, only for Baroni to net his 2nd. We then started to dominate again and Tomlinson rounded the keeper to put us in level again. Only for Pritchard to blast one from 25 yards to win it for Bristol Rovers. We just cannot beat them.

We finish this part in a lowly 11th:

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This is not good enough, I admit that and I may have to go back to another formation if we can’t get a winning run together. We are so average this season.

Nice to see players being recognised for their hard work, though selfishly I am thinking, they will both be missing for a match:

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Bit of good news on the injury front to end the month with:

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To end the part, this is the first time I have dipped to just ‘satisfied’ by the board:

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Join us in the next part where I try and get the B’s back to where they belong, the top of the table. We need to start turning this around.

Until next time, goodbye for now.

Building Brazil – Part 14: Rob was right

Rob Tait has adapted his all Brazil save in Blue Peter fashion. He brought you Uniao Madeira’s rise but has picked up with his Sporting Lisbon save which is a far more successful version. Catch up with part 13 here.

We finished part one of our Brazilian Blue Peter adventure sitting pretty at the top of the league, 10 wins and a draw from the first 11 games. We are away to Braga in the first game of this middle section of the season and after four minutes Ronny puts us ahead and we cruise to half time one goal up. Unfortunately the wheels come off rather quickly in the second half and it is twelfth game unlucky for us, especially as Flavi C get injured too.

1

After the disappointment of losing our 100% record we finally get underway in the Taca at home to lower league side Marinhense, things are looking good up until the 71st minute when seven minutes of madness have me biting my nails as we just hold on for a win. You can move the Brazilians from one save to the next but their ability to throw away a lead seems like a mathematical constant. The important thing is we made it through to the quarters.

2

A very favourable draw again.

3

Two days later and we face Sparta Prague in our final Group E qualifying game. We really need to win after somehow losing both our games against Real in update one. Unfortunatley we can only manage a draw. I must have been so dispondant that I fogot to screen shot the game and went straight to the table to see if 10 points would get us a place as one of the two best second place finishers. Amazingly thanks to our goal difference we snuck through and Bayern don’t make it.

4

5

I’ve never been more relieved to see this screen.

6

No easy draws in the Quarters though.

7

After all the drama of the champions league we can’t get up for an away match to Academica, luckily RC is on had to score a trademark screamer and rescue a point. Flair 20 anyone?

8

Ronny’s been quite for a couple of games but he loves the carnival atmosphere away at Rio Ave and makes up for lost time. He’s too good for Portugal!

9

We can’t replicate the excellent result in Rio when Penafiel visit, Ronny’s on a come down and only gets a rating of a 6, so strike partner Leandro has to step up.

10

What a earth is going on, we couldn’t stop winning at the start of the season and now we can’t seem to string a set a results together.

11

I decide that to remedy this situation I’ll sign Rivaldo, don’t need him, but that isn’t the point. Unfortunately I’ve spent all the cash building this team and now I can’t afford to pay decent wages.

12

I think he should have taken the pay cut just so he could be part of this adventure. The threat of losing their places, and a weeks rest pays dividends as we run out comfortable winners against Belenenses.

13

That’s the halfway point in the season and those poor results coupled with Vit. G’s excellent form means we are only in second place.

14

There are five league games left till the end of this update and the first of those five is against league leaders Vit. G. Not sure how they have scored 35 goals, they only had one shot on target to our fourteen. It’s a comfortable victory in the end.

15

Next up is Felgueiras who were a thorn in Brazilian Uniao’s side but Brazilian Sporting have got this covered.

16

A little run is developing here as we brush Alverca aside.

17

The penultimate league game of the update is against Maritimo and despite their best attacking efforts Denilson secures all the points for the boys from Brazil.

18

Before the final league game we host Anadia (another non league side) in the Taca, the B team of Roddy Jetson (Romario) and Carlos Renaldo (Bebeto) get it done.

19

Uh oh, we face a proper team in the semis.

20

The final game of the update is against Estrela Amadora. Their super keeper Chilavert (he is actually really good in this game) was rating a 9 before his sending off in the 38th minute. Ronny doesn’t punish them from the spot but makes up for it later on.

21

What a set of results, Vit. G only manage four points in those five games and there is a big swing at the top of the table.

22

As we look towards the final update we are still in all three competitions. I’m feeling confident about league victory but the Champions league and Taca look problematic. We were champions league runners up last year but our groups stage was poor and Man Utd are Man Utd. Joins me next week for the final update of the whole Brazilian adventure.

You can follow Rob on Twitter @Taitanator

Run Forest, Run – Part 6: Zizi Like Sunday Mourning

Matt Wills is here to bring you more from his Nottingham Forest in the future save. Having fast forwarded 8 years, it’s all about making up lost time for Matt and return Forest to their past glories. Catch up with part 5 here.

Hi, welcome back to my Nottingham Forest challenge. Part 5 was a bit dour as we had a hangover from our near miss in season one, but I’m determined to be more positive going forward.

I start by dropping wantaway Liberian Zizi Debbah and bring in Derek ‘Alan Shearer’ Thompson up-top as we labour to a 2-0 win over 18th placed Sunderland, but in an attempt to be more positive, the board are pleased with the result and it catapults us from 8th to 3rd in the table.

1

Even Lizarralde’s injury is minor only needing a few days rest. My cup is half-full.

During the international break for European Championship qualifiers, Lloyd Kaye gets his first cap for England in a 2-0 win away to Romania, Noel Whelan and Scholes with the goals. I’m proud of young Kaye.

After the break, we do well to see off 5th placed Leeds, even if we do leave it late, but my inspired substitutions win out in the end.

2

This puts us 3rd on goal difference from Burnley and only 4pts behind Villa at the top.

This nice little run of form brings us to my biggest test since I took over Forest, AC Milan in our 3rd group game in the Champions League. Milan are the holders and did the treble last season.

I decide to swap out Rubi-Gol and bring back Debbah, as I can only play 3 Non-EU players.

Milan have Thierry Henry upfront and Peter Schmeichel’s regen in goal, this will be some task.

3

Although we give it a good go, we spend a disappointing evening in the San Siro, and it’s not without it’s casualties.

4

It would be a divine miracle to qualify from this position. Even 10 points in 2nd is unlikely to be enough to go through as one of the two best runners up. Still, we’ll give it a go.

5

4 weeks without the lad from Chad.

Debbah enjoys his return to the line-up, although he doesn’t score, he gets Man of the Match against lowly Middlesbrough. Fisher and Kaye notching for us and another clean sheet to boot.

6

This win takes us up to 2nd in the table, and a Villa loss leaves us a point behind them with 12 games played. Feeling positive!

7

It’s a break from league action, for the League Cup and Burnley. Debbah adds a hat trick to his previous MOTM award and we’re in the hat for the next round.

8

This will be an interesting game…

9

I keep exactly the same team for the next game, which coincidentally is Burnley again, but this time away and it’s a real kick in the teeth given our recent fine domestic form. We’re a proper Jeckel and Hyde team again and we slide to 5th. A win would have put us a point clear at the top.

10

Our Mission Impossible resumes in Europe and we take away a narrow win from Croatia. It’s probably not going to be enough, but does award us £750k which will pay for Zizi’s hospital treatment for a few weeks at least.

11

Arsenal beat us to Rai’s regen. Back to the shopping list…

12

Another 2-1 win, this time against Man Utd. It’s impressive that we achieved this with Antti Niemi in goal and forgotten Italian regen The Borg up front. However, not so impressive when you learn that Utd have a guy called Jon Salako in goal…

We’re joint top with Everton, but we’ve scored less and conceded more so settle for 2nd spot for now.

13

After missing out on Rai’s regen, I scour Europe for some back up and sign up Brian Laudrup Jnr, he can’t Fahl(en) to improve us.

14

Fahlen goes straight into the team against bottom club Arsenal, and of course, we play absolutely pants in defence and lose 5-3. This team is starting to drive me to distraction. Down to 5th and Man U top the table! Give me strength!

15

I give the squad a right good rollicking for that and they respond in our next game at home to Rosenborg. Debbah with 4, Rubi-Gol with 2, lovely stuff. We still have a slim chance of qualifying, but to do so we’ll have to beat Milan in our last group game, no easy task.

16

Based on that win, I expect us to lose our next match in the league to Norwich, but we don’t and it’s a welcome 3 pts in the bag. Bergkamp and Shearer Jnrs getting the goals here.

17

3 days later and its Division 1 Liverpool in the 4th Round of the League Cup. Shearer has set his team up to frustrate and the only action in 90 minutes is an injury to Spanish wingback Juanmi. I realise I’ve done my usual thing of not shuffling my subs, so it’s either Fabio Cannavaro or Jesper Blomqvist to replace him. I opt for Jesper and we eventually make the breakthrough via Thompson in the 3rd minute of extra-time and we’re in the hat for the quarter final, which will be Sheffield United at home. The returning Nelo gets man of the match, which was nice.

19

It’s away to 17th placed Huddersfield in the league next. Huddersfield have Dick Dolby up front, whose name makes me think of American talk show hosts for some strange reason. Juanmi is out for a month, so Costacurta comes in at right wingback and I recall Rubini for Thompson, but we fail to get out of first gear in a turgid first half. Then we concede to Gifton Noel Williams in the second half, and I wonder what I’ve done to deserve such things, but luckily Zizi Debbah is on hand to equalise a minute later and then he seals all three points in the last minute by rounding the keeper to slot home – please don’t leave me Zizi!

19

So here we go into the final Champions League group game. We’re up against holders Milan, who sit 6 points clear in Serie A with a game in hand. They have already qualified from our group, with a perfect 5/5 and 15 pts. We’re on 7 in second. Dortmund and Aab are the only 2nd placed teams with more points than us with 10 and 8 respectively, so our task is clear. Beat the mighty AC Milan at the City Ground and hope results elsewhere go our way. It couldn’t be simpler…

Fisher is suspended so veteran Guerrero comes in for him and I have to sacrifice Rubini for Thompson to meet my 3 Non-EU quota for European games. We have more of the chances in the first half but the Schmeichel regen Meedom is impervious and Matteo Pelatti makes it Mission Impossible with a goal on 24 minutes. I try to gee the lads up at half time and send them out with their tails up but we need 2 goals and results elsewhere to go our way, it’s a tall order indeed, and one that unfortunately eludes us.

20

Elsewhere, Aab won but Dortmund drew, so we would have made it had it not been for Milan, and all the other results to be honest. So we are out of Europe, woe is me.

Back to domestic duties and it only takes Nelo 5 minutes to get injured at home to Wolves. Luckily, I had Frank Lampard on the bench. Fisher follows him on 36 minutes and I reluctantly bring on Blomqvist and go in 0-0 at the break. Debbah cancels out a Wolves opener in the second half and then grabs a second 2 minutes later, good old Jesper with the assist, what was I worried about? It’s another 2-1 win! Fisher is out for 3 months with shin splints, the legacy of being Gazza’s regen I suppose. Things get better when Rubini hands in a transfer request as he wants to move to a bigger club, and then Debbah goes down injured for a few weeks.

21

Word gets out that we’re the walking wounded, and I get a mysterious call from an agent claiming they can send me Debbah’s cousin for a trial, but I politely decline…

2 days before Xmas, we’re away to 3rd place Aston Villa and they’re 1 nil up after 6 minutes following a goal mouth scramble. Apart from Blomqvist rattling the crossbar in the dying minutes, that’s it and it’s a sobering festive break at the City Ground.

22

That game was our 19th and leaves us half way and at the end of this update. Villa have leapt to the top and we’re now 4th behind Man Utd and last years champions Watford. We’re only 2pts from the top spot but could have been 2 pts clear had we beaten Villa.

23

We’ll pick this up again on boxing day, hoping for more consistency as we head into 2007, but before we go, a quick look at the other teams we turned down:

Liverpool – Out of the League Cup thanks to us, they are still amongst the play off spots in Division 1.

Lazio – Looking at a swift return to Serie B as they lie 16th in the top division – oh dear.

Espanyol – The best of the bunch as they push Real Sociedad for the Spanish title.

See you soon guys.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills