Totti’s Team: Part 7

Who’s ready for season 3? Rob guided Roma to a Serie A and Champions League double in season 2, so how can you top that? Get the chequebook out…(Catch up with Part 6 here)

The aim this season is to win everything and keep my fingers crossed that Papa Maldini gets sacked and I get the Italy job. That said winning everything isn’t that easy. I quickly check the manager ratings to find I am Superb, though still not quite as good as Gazza?!

1

I use my ever increasing reputation to try and entice Del Piero and Figo to join us. They persistently decline my frequent advances which is a little annoying. So I go looking elsewhere and strengthen my squad with the following.

2

3

I’m going back to how we started season 1 with 10 central defenders in the squad. There isn’t much attacking talent available and we are quite strong up top so I’m going to hold out for real quality only. To buy all these defenders I have to let some of the originals go.

4

5

Since Capello and I are friends now I tried to warn him off Petro but he was having none of it and in truth I’m glad to see him go. Capello does make a really good signing though.

6

I was tempted by Vieri by didn’t want to pay the high price because I’m a little bit tight. A few other things of note happen in the off season. Param have had enough of Ancelotti so he is history. He’s only out of work for nine days though, he is on is way to Holland to manage FC Twente.

7

Man Utd and Liverpool do some indirect player swapping.

8

I can’t believe nobody else went in for Fowler, I can’t believe I missed getting him for free. I was clearly too preoccupied with Figo and that silly bid I made for Rivaldo.

Ok so that briefly sums up the summer break, I organise a few friendlies just to get the condition of the players back up to scratch when the Supercoppa tie comes through. I had completely forgot about Chievo and the chance for a rematch.

9

Before Nesta can kick a competitive ball.

10

Maybe those friendlies aren’t such a good idea after all or maybe there was a Lazio fan playing for the opposition. I’m excited for the Coppa Italia draw and despite wanting to win all six trophies I would just like to get past the third round. This competition has not been good to me over the past two years and I can only assume that is why I’m not quite as good at managing as Gazza is.

11

Right our first competitive match of the season rolls around and it is our Coppa Italia round two rematch from last season. Chievo have a new manager and I’ve bought a new back four, although one is injured.

12

13

What a game, what a crowd, what a performance. One down, five to go. I think it might get a bit more difficult than this and I can’t help thinking that maybe it was better the devil you don’t know for Chievo as the new guy isn’t cutting the mustard.

We don’t need to qualify for the group stages this year as league winners and reigning champions of Europe. However when the draw comes out I can’t help but feel they could have done a little bit of a better job.

14

15

Three groups with two teams from the same country, don’t they have rules and procedures to stop that happening? Our group isn’t so bad, we have inside knowledge of Juve, the other two are military medium and I’m acting very confident so I expected disaster.

Coppa Italia round two, job done. Telli has low moral, I’m not sure why after last year’s success, so Inzi is leading the line and doing a good job at the moment.

16

We’re hosting Bobbie Baggio’s Bologna side in round three which doesn’t happen till October.

17

It’s a late start to the league in Italy and only a 34 game season, which I love. Our first league game is away to Genoa. Two thirds of the team is largely unchanged from last season but the defense has been revamped. Panucci is in for Cafu, Iuliano takes the place of Santos and Pistone plays at left back for Lauchlan. Abelardo keeps his place for now but Smoje and Nesta are excellent options, I hope. I feel a little bad as Santos and Abs were excellent last year but they are both 29 and I have a funny thing about playing over 30’s.

18

A great start to the season and a clean sheet. Iuliano really knows how to make a good first impression but he makes it up to me in our second game. After talking about not playing over 30’s Oceano is still going strong at 38.

19

No Thor, Iuli, what the hell is going on in training.

20

21

Our third game of the season is against Inter and it is a reunion with Di Biagio. He was a great player for us in Season one but limited opportunities and the emerging Tommasi, Pirlo and Black Star meant there was no longer a place for him. I’m determined to give Kanoute a bit more action as he seems to score in every France U21 game.

22

It’s another good result and we seem to have picked up where we left off last season. The defensive reshuffle doesn’t seem to have unsettled us and we might have found another gem in Kanoute. As a little bonus Nesta returns from injury the next day.

Tommasi has been the subject of approaches since I started, there is no way I’m selling him to Capello.

23

Champions league action starts for us mid September with a trip to sunny Porto. There are no selection issues as all my signings were made way before round one. As I said before, Juve will be tough but I’m hoping for 12 points from the four other games.

24

It’s all going to plan, King Kanute (Double K) on the score sheet again and three points in the bag. We have a lazy day on the beach Thursday since we don’t play our league games till Sunday. The beach was a great idea, some 5-aside beach football helped our first touch and we dispatch Venezia 2:1 away on Sunday, Double K scoring again. In fact it is all going so well that I decide to buy

25

It is an absolutely unnecessary purchase for a stupid price for a player who plays in a position that I don’t need, so much for being tight. I really can’t explain this purchase, just a £15 million whim.

It’s only five games into the season when…

26

It does seem a bit early but then they are bottom of the league with two points and 10 goals against. At the other end of the table we are on fire.

27

Steaua really try to make a game of it in the Champions League.

28

and Verona are no match for us…

29

Double K just can’t stop scoring at the moment. So we head to our main rivals Juve in high spirits ready to put them to the sword. Lippi has other ideas and in a close game we manage a draw, unable to hang on for a victory.

30

But then another disappointing draw follows. Sometimes this game drives me mad, I guess it does add an element of realism, f*#k realism.

31

Our next game is against Juve again but this time it’s CL group stage action. Telli is a bit upset that Double K is getting more games, in an effort to keep him sweet I give him a start and he repays me. We have such strength in depth now.

32

We win in the league again, away to Sampdoria before hosting Bologna in the Coppa Italia 3rd round, interestingly the winner will travel to Sampdoria in the quarters. I’m a little worried about this tie as we have not played well in this competition over the last two years.

33

There was no need to worry. Our last game of this update is against my old fr-enemy Capello. He’s gone for a regular formation again which is worrying. Pirlo then gets himself sent off in the 23rd minute. A rejig of the team to bring on Tommasi is needed and in the 66th minute he hits a stunner past Rossi for an amazing 1:0 victory. I’ll take home draws against Atalanta for victories like that.

34

That’s the end for Part 1, we haven’t lost a league game and are flying on all fronts. I’m worried that we won’t be able to keep this going but for now I’m all smiles. Can we become the Italian invincibles? For good measure I am also the October manager of the month.

35

36

Rob will be back next week but in the meantime you can find him on Twitter @Taitanator

 

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The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 10

We’re well into Season two now for Matt Porter and Stockport, but has Spring sprung? Or are the legs starting to feel a bit weary in the unlikely quest for European places? Catch up with part 9 here

The final push, well the penultimate one anyway, for our unlikely European wishes to come true. Stockport has every reason to be a proud town at the moment, and it’s not just the league table…

12

I was sent the below by post, second class, postmark Hazel Grove, no idea what the thumbs up or the little yellow face is, but it’s another feather in our cap. Question is, will AC Milan or Barcelona be visiting next season?

Back to the football, and April will be a make or break month, by the end of it we’ll have a better idea of our fate, with only 3 games left after it. Aston Villa away first up, mid table and with a somewhat dubious forward line of Savo Milosevic and Stan Collymore, but these are the type of players who will suddenly turn brilliant when playing your team, so I am cautious with my optimism, but can name an unchanged side as Duberry and Youngs are not quite fit enough.

3

Julian bloody Joachim. I’d forgotten he even existed, which is funny because so did Robert Jarni who was supposed to be marking him. 2-0. Urgh.

4

We batter them in the second half, and I mean batter them. 2-1 after 55 minutes, surely we will score again? No. No we can’t. This game is cruel! I take solace in the fact that Villa have a quite superb centre back partnership, in fact we can only score thanks to Michael Oakes attempting to pass back to himself and surprised that he wasn’t there to receive it, own goal. I just hope Liverpool suffer from the fixture congestion as they have 3 games in hand on me now.

5

An uneventful week lets me check a bit of paperwork and I realise to my surprise that 4th choice goalkeeper and class clown Ian Gray still has 2 and a half years left on his contract, what was the chairman smoking when he gave him a 4 year deal?!

Chelsea at home next and Walton is dropped for Duberry and Youngs returns to the bench, it gets no easier but at least it’s at home, one more big push boys, they don’t like our freezing changing rooms or pre match bread and dripping these Southern pansies!

6

A very decent first half, Tomlinson scores early to send the home fans mad, and we should score again but don’t, hope we don’t live to regret that.

7

We don’t live to regret that. Edgeley is bouncing and we are unlucky to only win 3-0. I want to say keep my feet on the ground, but sod that, let’s celebrate boys!

8

We’re back in 4th we’re back in 4th we’re back in 4th we’re back in 4th…

9

Everton have 2 games in hand but one of them is against Man United who have only lost once this season so I’ll be fine.

10

Bugger. Can’t rely on those buggers to do anything right.

Sheffield United at home next and it’s a game we should win. They are 19th and only ahead of abject Drby who are on a laughable 12 points, but of course they will be scrapping for their lives. We are also missing Mario Jardel to a one match man for totting up yellow cards so in comes the fit again Youngs, and I can also put Carlita on the bench to fill up my non EU quota.

11

What a first half that was! We go 1-0 down early on, but then we batter them, Tomlinson scores 4 times but 2 are disallowed, then John Ebbrell takes out Tom Youngs when he’s through on goal and doesn’t even get a booking, the second time that has happened after Staunton against Villa. So of course Ebbrell scores an equaliser before half time. I’m confident though, surely Alan Kelly can’t play that well in the second half?

12

Alan Kelly can play that well second half. 20 shots, 15 on target. Seriously. This game.

13

One game left this month, but that draw could really damage our season though. 4th, but for how long? Come on lads, let’s not let this peter out…

14

Games in hand have evened up a bit now…5th

15

Liverpool away to finish off, nice and easy right?! Jardel returns from suspension but Dario Simic is injured and Heidenstrom has come back from international duty knackered.

16

Once again we are comfortably the better team in the 1st half, and we deservedly lead. Who said the race for 4th place is over?! It really is atmospheric here, fair play to the Liverpool fans for making such a noise to support a team with Scott Booth unfathomably leading the line.

17

Best performance of the season bar none. We absolutely destroyed them, I know they are probably tired having squeezed in their games in hand but frankly I don’t care. 3-0 at Anfield, the dream is well and truly alive, what a way to leave it for the last month of the season!

18

Shock my arse…

19

The table looks interesting, especially for Big Kev, he’d love it, love it if Newcastle could get over the line. For us, we do have a slightly better goal difference than Liverpool so if they draw their game in hand we have the advantage… Every place is a triumph, but we are now guaranteed to finish in the top 7, I think Stockport would probably take that!

20

Matt will be back next Tuesday with the end of Season 2 but you can follow him on Twitter @PorterMatt

The Gialloblu Chronicles – Part 9

Parma Monday has been a thing for…well this is the 9th episode so you get the idea. Ross has won Serie A but can he add the Champions League trophy to the cabinet? What will season 3 have in store? Let’s find out, or catch up with episode 8 here

Hello, and welcome to part nine of this Parma adventure. And what an adventure it’s been. If you remember, last week we had just won the league for the first time in the clubs history, I did let the players go out and celebrate. Just nothing too big I said, we have a champions league final soon.

The following morning, I get a call from a swiss police station saying they have a T Helveg in their cells. The idiot got on the wrong train, sadly dressed as a Viking which didn’t go down well in Switzerland. No sense of humour those cheese eating clock makers.

Anyway, we have a final to get ready for. Luckily, it’s in Italy and I can keep a tight rein on the players. We seem confident in training even Thuram shares a joke, was a bit close to the edge and he made Hernan cry, might be a reason he keeps himself to himself.

We start the game so well. But Juventus want revenge for losing the league.

1

Even them going to ten men doesn’t deter them. Everything we threw at them didn’t work.

Our captain Thuram gave the players a rousing speech in the dressing room. Only problem was he was naked and no one knew where to look. Not on the small side is our captain.

So, a summer awaits us. No World Cup or Euros. And to be honest I didn’t really dip into the transfer market. Which is odd for me. But this squad is a solid one.

Training resumes in late July and with no new signings to chant about its business as usual. I say that but Kieron walks to every member of the squad and introduces himself at the first session. I shake my head in quiet disbelief.

For the Supercoppa, charity shield for you and me, I decide to rotate to team a bit. Richard Wright has looked sharp in training. And Buffon seems happy to sit this one out.

2

The fact it hit him in the face as he just looked at it makes this lose worse to take.

But still, I want the big one this season and even the league can suffer as long as we get at least second.

With the league not started yet, we have the draw for Champions League, and it throws up a tasty group.

3

And

4

Why so many teams from the same country are being drawn with each other?

The smile gets slightly wiped off my face.

5

Man Utd again? Seriously!! FFS. I immediately regret shouting this out at UEFA Headquarters.

I rush back to Italy, we have Coppa Italia stuff to deal. My mood is improved knowing my dancing Brazilian is back. I put Den straight back in.

6

Sambas all round.

The fixture gods seem to be taking the piss. Juventus away is our first one. I’m having to throw an inexperienced striker Bordin in as Hernan is away injured.

7

Masterstroke from me I say. And sweet revenge for the final. But I want European success.

We make it two wins from two with an easy stroll against Bari.

8

I need another striker of quality. And after 2 years of chasing this lad he is finally mine.

9

A snip at £2mill. Welcome Erik, please don’t talk to Kieron Dyer.

Obviously, he can’t play against United in Europe, well not till the QFs to be accurate.

We welcome United to the Ennio to start our quest for the ultimate trophy in European football.

10

Why they bought Chris Armstrong I’ll never know. More so when he came on for Giggs.

A good start for that competition. Now we turn back to League, and Fiorentina are dealt with easily by C & C (doubt that will catch on).

11

Super Erik comes off the bench to snatch a winner in our next league game.

12

Seriously fixture guy?

13

I’ve never gone that far in this cup and its looks like I’ll struggle again.

As I’m allergic to cats I can’t kick one. So, I tell the lads to attack Milan. This nearly backfires spectacularly after 10 mins.

14

Buffon lamping out a Milan Midfielder wasn’t the aggression I was looking for. But a superb game for the neutrals.

Let’s leave this update here. I need to calm Gigi down with a cold shower. Not like him to be all hot headed but he is young and will learn.

Ciao for now.

You can follow Ross on Twitter @Riddley82

 

 

The Impossible Dream

The dust has settled in Belgium after Waregem’s unlikely league and cup double. Champions League football will be coming to the Roogy Boogy but are we ready for it? Well, no, obviously not. We have a 15,000 capacity stadium and barely a pot to piss in. That pot becomes even smaller when the board spent the entire budget on 5000 seats. Oh my.

stadium

So whilst the Roogy get a slight expansion, we’ll have to pick carefully how we strengthen the squad. For starters, Champions League football means we’ll have to adhere to the 3 non-EU rule for those games, so it’s probably a good idea to buy some EU nationals.

Duncan Ferguson is my first signing. He’s no spring chicken but he’s a difference maker. A battering ram if you will, and my third Scottish striker. Christian Kempkens arrives to battle Fessem for the goalkeeper jersey, he’s got 2 caps for Germany so he can’t be too shabby. Creve is a defender/midfielder who will cover Emmers’ 38 year old legs, whilst Daniel Mutchell is an England Under 21 who, critically, has an EU passport, something Monka and Kumar can’t claim. That’ll be vital. Quinton Fortune doesn’t but he’s free, whilst Ceulemans plays in the always hilarious defender/forward right position, because there’s been so many of them down the years.

in S8

With the squad beefed out it’s time for the Belgian Charity Shield, where we are given a reminder that we are really not all that good.

BElgian CS

Nevertheless, the league season gets underway with a tepid 1-0 win away at Genk

0-1 Genk

Good old Emmers. Never retire.

Goals are already looking a problem. The shots we have are wayward. Were the two Scottish lads just having a purple patch last season? Chilean Musrri scores here but it’s a poor result

1-1 la louviere

The problems continue away at Lommel. This is unprecedented with this formation. Is it the AI working out the tactic? It certainly didn’t in 5 seasons at Aberdeen.

0-0 Lommel

No. It’s the children who are wrong.

There’s only one thing for it…Big Dunc starts against Standard Liege.

waregem 3-1 standard

Big Dunc!!! Welcome to Belgium. Crisis over?

It’s a very kind Champions League draw, being very honest. There’s no obvious favourite and we’ll just have to hope we can scrape 3 or 4 wins to get through, I can see a lot of teams beating each other.

CL Draw S8

Meanwhile Aberdeen continue to degrade themselves

rio to sunderland

Armed with Big Dunc, we’re off to Antwerp.

antwerp 1-0

Poor. Dunc has a goal ruled out. He’s a difference maker, with him around, we might be ok

big Dunc job

You-fucking-what? Obviously I refuse the approach but he goes anyway. Well that was a short lived love.

ferguson sheff wed

Great

ferguson unveiled

Don’t rub it in. Also, Scottish International? Hmm.

More misery follows at home. Is it the new seats? We’re only half full anyway.

1-2 cercle

For our first Champions League game we’ve got a striking crisis. Monaghan is yet to score this season and the other two are injured. I guess Hoekstra can do a job up front and we’ll figure out the 3 non-EU thing.

CL squad game 1

Great time to get your first goals of the season. Phew.

2-1 panathin

That might prove to be a season changer, as we then waltz into RWDM and win 4-1. Monaghan has the taste again.

RWDM 4-1

Another win, this time against Mechelen, makes it a September to remember.

waregem 3 - 1 mechelen

I’d rather smear jam on my eyelids and be attacked by angry wasps

mackems

Thanks though.

Champions League fun continues and this time Buchanan gets a rare goal to nab us a vital point in Prague.

1-1 sparta

Lovely stuff. We should really win in Aalst too but given how poorly we lost there last season, I’m not too upset with a point.

2-2 aalst

Germinal Ekeren remain a mystery. Who are they? What do they want? They lose 1-0.

1-0 germinal

Really glad we spent all our budget on those 5,000 extra seats.

Champions League time again and our old failings are visible again. A bad result no matter which way you look at it, I choose to look at as 15 shots to 1. 4 on target is awful. Bring back Dunc.

0-0 haifa

Naturally our next move is to follow that up with a 0-0 draw away at Lierse. They are surprise leaders at this stage so it’s not a bad result but our famous ability to find goals from somewhere is being severely tested.

lierse 0-0

Fortunately Beveren are terrible. Our two scorers have a combined age of over 70.

beveren 2-0

Off to Greece for the latest installment of amateurs do the Champions League and somehow Buchanan pulls himself together to score twice. Art attack.

Pana 2 - 2 Waregem

What a grim group. A grim group that we top and are unbeaten in. Sparta Prague at home and Maccabi Haifa away will finish the group.

CL 2 games to go

We’ll finish with a league game, where incredibly both strikers score.

3-1 charleroi home

That leaves us 5th, with Antwerp the surprise leaders. They were managed by Roy Hodgson but he took the Sunderland job after I turned it down. Incidentally the job was available because Peter Reid went to Liverpool. Strange game, sometimes.

Table S8 Nov

Surprise leaders all round as Aston Villa lead the way. Man Utd have never finished outside of the top 2 since the launch of the Premier League, having won the last 6.

prem top S8 Nov

Great times always then from Belgium, setting us up nicely for the middle sprint and the lovely month off I get for Christmas. It’s bubbling up well. See you next week for round 2.

Totti’s Team: Part 6

Fresh from the in-depth tactics blog of yesterday, Rob is back with the end of season 2 of what I am calling the Roma rollercoaster. I can’t take the credit for that it was the title when Rob emailed me this over. Anyway, part 5 is here if you want to get caught up but then head back here to see if Rob can bring glory to Rome.

We are back with the run into the end of the season. At the end part 2 I left you with Roma in control of the league, 6 points clear of Juve after 24 games and still in the Champions League, preparing to face Man Utd in the quarters. Without any further delay we head to Old Trafford for a tough tie against the always strong Utd side.

1

What a result, it was close but I think Utd shaded it on the night so to leave level and with an away goal is amazing. I would have taken a 1:0 loss but young Kanoute didn’t let the occasion overwhelm him and came off the bench to grab the equaliser. Here are the other results from leg one.

2

Along with our excellent cup result we get a piece of good news about our favourite goal poacher.

3

The news of his return from injury inspires Kanoute, that and Buffon bringing him down in the box in the 33rd minute. Parma were a bit of a force last season but they are floundering now and we take full advantage.

4

While he was injured Inzaghi wrote a letter a day to Daddy Maldini and his persistence paid off, he’s got an international call up. How is Petruzzi still getting one? I don’t understand.

5

Empoli come and go, well actually we do and our Icelandic regen Thor, his surname is too long to keep writing out, bags us all three points.

6

A win sets us up nicely for the tough home tie with Man Utd that is up next. It’s make or break time.

7

It’s an amazing result but before I even talk about the game I need to ask why the attendance is so low for such a big game when 80,000 will come and watch us play Lecce on a Sunday. It was their loss though, they missed a corker. An early 2:0 lead thanks to Thor and Inzie only to be pegged back just before the half. My head was in my hands when Giggs scored, it was a good run we can try again next year but then up pops the man himself and we hold on for 14 more minutes and a great win. Who will we face in the semis? The other results fall like this:

8

And we draw…

9

I’m quite pleased, we have had the better of them all season but I know they will step it up for the cup. If we can make it through I would feel confident against Ajax or Liverpool. Let’s not get ahead or ourselves though.

During the international break Totti scores on his international debut.

10

We win again in the league, it’s a 1:0 victory. Totti is riding high after his first international cap and goals. I don’t think we had a single 1:0 win last season, it seems like we have had loads this year. With seven games left we are still 6 points up on Juve but a massive 16 points ahead of Lazio in third.

It is CL semi final time with the first leg at the Stadio Delle Alpi. A good result here would go a long way and the game is very attacking but evenly matched as the stats show.

11

The score however…

12

What the hell, it was only 2:1 at half time and then it was 5:1 and I had no idea what was happening or how, then 5:2, 6:2 and finally 6:3. I have no words for this, no words. Just look at the player ratings WTF! The whole team must have been overwhelmed by the situation. Landreau concedes 6 but gets a rating of 9. Makes me think this result could have been a whole lot worse and we were lucky to get 3.

13

14

That isn’t the word I would use. Bright side we have three away goals, negative, they will come and park the bus. Ultra defensive style.

Our poor form continues against Inter at the San Siro.

15

We were really bad and I’m a little bit worried that the wheels have come off and I’m a bit low on ideas of how to fix it. To top it all off we are only three points ahead in the league now. Then this nearly pushes me over the edge.

16

Fortunately time heals all things and a week later Milan and Capello, my new best friend (we have put aside our differences), do us a favour by beating Juve and we take advantage against Genoa.

17

Our next match is the second leg of the CL semi final and the Dirty Dane has gone and got injured for a few days with a damaged heel. Injuries and suspensions mean I have to reshuffle the team and I am pretty sure this is the end of the line but let’s see, after all that first leg was nuts.

18

Hope, we are 1:0 up after 22 mins. What’s this 2:0 up after 25 mins. We’re gonna do this Juve have sat back and it hasn’t worked. It’s 2:0 at the half and I’m buzzing we only need a goal. In an effort to help our cause Abelardo gets himself sent off in the 46th minute and the rest is history.

19

Oh yeah it is, I can’t believe it and neither can the 67,000 who came to watch, the same 67,000 who saw us pip Utd in the quarters. We are the comeback kids! Lippi’s getting sacked in the morning, sacked in the morning.

The final is against…

20

The Bergkamp signing has clearly helped Ajax. We have made the final, then this news comes in to rain on my parade.

21

22

That’s going to make the final a lot tougher. After all the excitement we can only manage a draw in the derby. Abelardo is having a mare.

23

Then this pops up and I decide Juve have had it worse than Abelardo.

24

That is a true fairy tale ending to Coppa Italia, I ring up Chievo’s unknown manager to ask for a little bit of advice prior to our Champions League final. He mumbles something in what could possibly have been Russian and then hangs up, strange.

“I should hope so” was my reaction to this news.

25

Back to the league now and my faith in Abelardo is rewarded. This result will see us through now I think, with three games left we are 6 points clear.

26

Our next match is against Atalanta and a win would mean that with our goal difference we will be champions even if lose the final two games.

27

In the end though it doesn’t matter as Juve can only draw and we beat Atalanta 3:0. The trophy is ours and I’ve completed one of my aims ahead of schedule. My thoughts turn to the CL final and the possibility of becoming Champions of Europe. I wasn’t expecting to make the final this year and especially not after that first leg with Juve but now I’m here I really want to win.

Prior to the CL final this happens

28

Will this knock Ajax’s confidence or did they just rest players? Also are PSV really so bad as to get to the final of what might I say, is the best named cup in the game only to be considered shock winners. Chievo weren’t even shock winners.

Champions league day arrives and I make a bold decision. Forgotten man Antonio Carlos is in at centre back, I don’t trust Petruzzi and Abelardo is suspended. This is Carlos’ first European game and only his 4th game all season, he will at the very least be feeling fresh, if not a tad rusty.

29

The game is an anti climax after the drama of making it here but I really don’t care. I’m blown away by how well we have played this season and we are the best team in Europe. The real story of the match though is Antonio Carlos. Ajax didn’t even show up.

30

A MOM performance, maybe there is still a place for him here. Nah, I’ll most likely sell him if I can. I also wonder if Aldair wishes he had stayed for that extra year, I check how Galatasaray did this year, they got knocked out of the cup winners cup in round one, money isn’t everything buddy.

The final league table looks like this:

31

All is left to do is to share some of this seasons squad stats.32

The whole team performed really well but Totti was outstanding, Pirri has turned into a great player too.

33

Again Totti leads the way with goals and good returns from Telli and Inzaghi as rotating strikers.

34

Looking at these stats I’m starting to think we are a little bit of a one man team, although others are pulling their weight, Totti is shining.

35

The Dirty Dane only gets 21 disciplinary points and finally a category Totti is not top in. MB promises to do better next year, I try to point out that it’s not a category you want to be top in but I feel like I was ignored.

36

Wonder side Chievo are promoted to Serie B so they finally appoint a real manager. Bit harsh on Mr Unknown after his masterminding Coppa Italia success. Bellotto has big shoes to fill.

37

Red Star 93 have a new manager, will he last longer than Houllier did? I kind of want to manage them at a later point in this save.

The end of year awards come out and Totti’s outstanding season is rewarded. I also get the manager award. Capello calls to congratulate me, then asks if I have thought about playing Totti at sweeper, and we had just started to get along.

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The end of season two, it can only be described as a success with three trophies won. I would have been happy with just the league. We will be back next season (if Dave will have me) with six trophies on offer. I hope my success has increased my reputation. I spent season two one place above Souness in 136th, rated as ok and I know I’m definitely better than him.

You can follow Rob on Twitter @Taitanator

 

 

 

 

 

Townsend’s Tactics – The origin of the Tactics Truck?

With the CM9798 World Cup just around the corner, he of Roma-save fame Rob Tait has written up a tactics bible to help our competitors decide how to set-up. He’s got some help from a stricken member of the Irish squad…

I’ve recently named my Republic of Ireland World Cup squad and unfortunately (on many levels) Andy Townsend is out due to injury. Luckily Andy has a plan for after he retires, he is going to become a pundit, offering valuable insight into the tactics used during top flight football matches. He has decided to use his enforced time off to develop these skills and help our World Cup bid. He has bought himself a Winnebago from Bill Murray in order to travel around Europe and discover the best tactics for us to use on our World Cup adventure. He’s even named it “The Tactics Truck.”

Townsend

What Andy wants to know is, should we run a custom formation or one of the CM9798 in-game formations. To find out he is going to visit 6 teams who are all using a custom formation I have found from looking on the internet, thank you internet and thank you people who put these tactics out there. He will then travel back in time to the beginning of the season and watch those teams running one of the in-game formations. Andy only wants to see a Direct style of play, it’s his favourite.

In order to make it as fair as possible I decided to do the following;

  • I copied the save just before the first game of the season so that both times through each team will have the same players with the same stats and the order of games will be the same.
  • I decided to only buy a player if he was really needed for the formation and again this was all done before a ball was kicked so squads are identical. (Well almost but more on that later, Spurs).
  • I tried as best I could to find a squad who had players who fit well into both the in-game formation and the custom one.
  • I played 10 league games minimum with each team.
  • If injuries happened, and they did, Liverpool, then I just accepted this and didn’t sign a replacement. I decided part of what might make a formation good is the ability to move players in and out while still getting results.
  • I didn’t change any of the runs on the in-game formations, I just left them as is.
    As was said above we only played a Direct style.

So to the teams and formations, and a little comparison of the two saves. All the in-game formations are on the left. I really just want to see how the custom formations do against the standard ones after about 10 league games. Would there be any obvious differences in the team’s performance. Let’s look at the stats for each team in turn and then Andy will help us do a final summary, after all this is all thanks to his truck.

From England we have,

Liverpool, with the 4-3-3 attacking formation and a custom 4-3-1-2.

1

Liverpool signed CM legend Bakayoko for a measly £3.2 million

I loved the custom formation here, I felt like it was raining goals. The first couple of league games started started slowly but then this and it just continued.

2

3

We only lost two league games out of 12, both away and both 1:0 to Leeds and Man Utd. It was pretty even against Utd.

4

We even overturned a 2:0 home defeat to Udinese in the UEFA cup by going to their place and winning 3-0. I felt like we could win every game, we didn’t, but I felt like we could. Even at the point in the season when this happened.

5

We kept scoring goals, even with Mark Kennedy up front.

The attacking 4-3-3 I did not like as much. The formations are so similar I thought that we would score a similar amount and it started so well, 2:0 and 6:0 victories but after that the goals dried up and I never felt confident of a win. The 4-3-3 just didn’t seem to get the best out of the players. After 12 games of each here are the two leagues and results list.

Custom:

6

In-game

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I would say a victory for the custom tactic. I think I am going to try this one at some point and it seems like it was built for Bakayoko behind your front two. Also David James only conceded 6 league goals so if it can do that for him then it’s surely worth a try.

On to Tottenham, with the classic normal 4-4-2 and a custom 3-4-1-2.

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Spurs, I thought didn’t need to sign anyone as they had players to fit both tactics. I was so very wrong.

I had high hopes for the custom tactic here, however after 10 league games I had only won 3 times and two of them were in August. It just wasn’t working and I couldn’t help myself, I had to buy a couple of players to see if it was the team or the tactic. I bought Heidenstrom and Emmers in at the beginning of October after crashing out of the League cup to Middlesbrough. We did win the last two games scoring 5 and not conceding but it was all too little too late. We made lots of chances in some games but even when we scored the other team seemed to score more, which is really the opposite of what one is aiming for.

The classic 4-4-2 normal felt like it worked much better but when you look there wasn’t much in it. I signed Emmers and Heidenstrom again but didn’t play them until October as in the previous game. In all honesty I didn’t really feel like I needed them but I wanted to make it as similar as possible. I didn’t lose as many games with the classic 4-4-2 but I didn’t win any more either.

Custom

9

In- game

10

All in all both tactics were a bit duff with Spurs, maybe Spurs just aren’t that good at the start of the 97/98 season. To make either tactic work better I think a number of new signings would need to be made. The tactics might also work better if passing style was used but that is just me speculating.

Andy’s off to Spain next and the capital Madrid.

Atletico Madrid, are playing 4-4-2 attacking and custom 3-1-2-2-2.

11

Atletico signed Welsh central defensive goliath Robert Page for £2.9 million

Both of these tactics seemed to work really well with the direct style and in terms of team performance it was very close with the attacking 4-4-2 edging it on points, league position and goals conceded. The custom bagged you more goals, at close to one extra per game. I love goals and they are the hardest thing to come by in this game yet sometimes it seems the easiest things to give away cheaply. I wonder if a bit of playing with the full back runs and buying some quality in defense would make the custom tactic fly? Vieri and Kiko combined for 23 goals in the custom tactic but only 13 in the attacking 4-4-2. Lardin didn’t take to the attacking 4-4-2 averaging a 7.00 compared to his 7.54 in the custom, others were relatively similar. He’s a pretty good player so if you can get him firing as well that is good.

Custom

12

In-game

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I would say that both tactics have held up well here and either would be a good choice and give you a chance of great things. As was said earlier I only made one signing, if you played for longer and started to identify areas to improve and make a few more strong acquisitions both of these could do really well.

Real Betis, play a diamond and my favourite custom tactic, the 2-3-1-2-2.

14

Betis signed Swede Par Zetterberg for £1.8 million and highly rated (in this game) Michael Brown for £1 million.

Well what can I say about the custom tactic here. I have used this on many saves, you just seem to score so many goals compared to the AI. When I compared Alfonso and Oli’s returns they were very similar for both tactics 15 in total with the custom and 14 with the diamond. With the custom however lots of other players chipped in which just wasn’t happening with the diamond. Custom goals on the left.

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Where this custom tactic falls down is in defense, you concede a lot of goals and the only way to stop this is find real quality defenders, fortunately there are some around early on in the game, Worns, Santos and Page to name a few. The other challenge is the wing back positions, traditional fullbacks will work there, I’ve had great success with Panucci who is a right back rather than a wing back but I’ve also struggled at times to find a player to fit.

The diamond was a little disappointing in my opinion. On CM2 it was my go to formation but I haven’t found it as successful in 97/98. I really don’t like the player behind the front two running back to the middle of the park and I usually remove this run when I use it. It might also suit passing style rather than direct. I was better at defending with the diamond but scored less than half as many goals which for me is just not what it is about. The final thing I will say about the custom formation, and it really highlight it’s strengths and weaknesses is just look at this result, what entertaining mayhem.

16

Here are the league tables to compare.

Custom

17

In-game

18

A clear win for the custom formation here, 8 more points and no lost games. Sort out the defense and you are on your way to being world beaters. On a final note Finidi George is amazing on this game as that inside right support player. I’ve had him average close to 8.00 at the end of a season, and he does it consistently. If you can sign him do, then play him there and enjoy. Just don’t call him George Finidi like the game does!

Finally Andy is off to Italy.

Fiorentina, playing the 5-3-2 attacking and custom 4-2-3-1.

19

Fiorentina signed two full backs in Mirko Conte and Francesco Cozza, both rated by League Scout 1 and costing a combined £4.4 million.

Fiorentina were really fun to play with using the custom formation, Batistuta scored 17 goals, he was a one man wrecking ball, the problem seemed to be that if he didn’t score, which was rarely then we didn’t have any other players to get those vital goals. Again conceding too many goals was an issue, too many score draws and not enough wins. It’s another formation that could have some of the runs played around with and also might be helped by having some qualify defenders. It’s worth a try as it seems very free scoring which is what I like, especially if you can find a goal machine to play up top.

Attacking 5-3-2 direct did not work for me at all. I’m not sure why or what happened, maybe I had the wrong players or it needs to be passing rather than direct but I was bad, really really bad. Batistuta got 2 goals, 2 goals in 10 games. I know people love this formation and have made it work really well but it just didn’t work for me this time. I would have been sacked or we would have got relegated, or both, if I had played the whole season like those first 10 games.

Custom

20

In-game

21

So I would try the custom tactic here, with some tweaks and I know that attacking 5-3-2 can work well even though it didn’t here.

Inter, 5-3-2 normal and custom 3-1-2-3-1

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Inter signed Dane Morten Bisgaard for £4.1 million.

I did not enjoy either formation with Inter. The custom was solid, we didn’t concede many and we scored a similar amount to the teams around us. After 10 games we were 3rd, two points off the lead but at no time was I excited. I had the best striker in the game up front and he wasn’t getting it done. In hindsight it might not have been the best custom formation for Inter, it had clearly been used very successfully by the person who had it on their website so there is potential.

The standard 5-3-2 is what Inter start the game playing but they make more signings than I did, probably because they have too many non-EU players. It was difficult to get all the best players I had on the pitch. We didn’t defend as well playing the normal 5-3-2, six more goals conceded in 10 games hence four places further down in the table. Normal 5-3-2 might also be better suited to a passing style.

Custom

23

In-game

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These two saves upset me the most out of all of them, I just wanted to see Fat Ronaldo who at this point in time was The Ronaldo, and for me always will be The Ronaldo, score lots of goals and it didn’t happen. As I said the custom has potential and maybe some personnel changes would get the goals flowing.

So that is it, 12 tactics have been looked at and given the once over. One of the things I like about this game is a number of tactics that can be successful, both in-game and custom. There is a lot of satisfaction in building a team to fit the formation you have chosen especially if that formation brings you goals, goals, goals and more goals. I’m not sure if the less successful formations were due to style of play or just not quite having the right players for the job. I would have to play a season properly and see how it went. It was very interesting to see that moving Lardin from wide left to inside left raised his performance from 7.00 to 7.54 that is only a small positional change that brought big benefits, maybe indicating a small tweak to any formation can have a big effect.

Rating them is hard to do, even with all the variables I tried to control there are still many more that I didn’t. The best I can do is break them down into groups based on my preferences.

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All that is left to do is say thanks to Andy for collecting all this information using his Tactics Truck and ask him his opinion regarding our World Cup bid.

Me: So Andy you’ve watched all the matches, what do you think?

Andy: Well Rob I think one of those formations will be the best one to choose. If you want to win the World Cup you will need your strikers to score goals but you don’t want your defense to concede too many. If you can just score more goals than your opponents then you have a chance in every game.

Me: Thanks Andy, that’s really insightful.

Thanks to Rob for taking the time out to solve all your tactical needs. Rob will be back tomorrow with the latest from Roma, or you can catch up with him on Twitter @Taitanator

The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 9

After a brief bout of sickness, Matt Porter returns with the latest from Stockport County. It’s been a couple of weeks so you can catch up with the previous episode here, before heading back here to see how Matt gets on in March. Is a European push back on the cards?

Well February was hard. The weather was miserable, the football miserable, but let’s put it in context. We had 3 very tough away games and no home league games, and we did compete in most of them. Plus, we are still 5th in the Premier League and mathematically safe (I think), on balance the folk of Stockport are still rather pleased with their football team. Having said that we don’t want to settle for mediocrity, we want European football, so we need to get out of this rut.

Only 4 games this month and 3 are at home, starting with the trickiest fixture as Arsenal visit, desperate for revenge for their defeat at Highbury. Skipper Duberry is out for a month so Matty Bound returns, otherwise it is as you were.


1

An encouraging first half, we don’t create much but Arsenal create absolutely nothing. We could nick this one you know…

2

We have stopped the rot! A 1-1 full time result, Dugarry scores against Arsenal again and the crowd go mad, but Ian Wright quietens them quickly. We are on top without really making many chances, and Overmars almost nicks it at the end but we breathe a sigh of relief. Hopefully we can kick on from what is a really good performance, and the crowd go home happy, back up to 4th here we go!

3

Interesting venue choice…

4

A bit of a break to the next game which means my players are at 100% except for Duberry and Youngs who are both still out for another 2 weeks. It’s Middlesbrough away next for our boys, our only away game, and we are miles ahead of the only team to finish above us in Division 1 last year. Nick Wright comes in for the injured Youngs in the only change, it was an impressive performance last time out after all. Will the break help? Alun Armstrong makes the bench for Boro, to be fair he’d have had a decent chance of starting for me today.

5

Once again we are comfortably the better side but can’t find a breakthrough in the first half. My mood is not helped when Schwarzer takes out Dugarry… The ref pauses… then waves play on! Are you blind ref?! I hate blaming referees and would prefer a rugby type system so they actually get some respect, so I bite my tongue so hard it bleeds.

6

Full time nil nil. Schwarzer who should have been sent off in the first half gets man of the match. Predicatable really isn’t it?! I don’t make a mention of the incident in my post-match interview, focusing on the positives in our performance instead, I think I deserve a medal. Still, unbeaten in 2! Or no win in 6, depends on your viewpoint really…

7

Could really have done with a win there, the next 2 home games are going to be vital…

8

Unchanged side against Coventry at home, we could really do with that overdue win…

9

Nil nil at half time, God that was boring

10

Well it’s another draw but that’s only half the story, we go 2-0 down to Darren bloody Huckerby, but then Dion Dublin gets sent off, however on 85 minutes we are still 2-0 down, but super sub Graeme Tomlinson nicks 2 in the last 5 minutes to gain the point. I give the rousing speech, this is the run in, we’ve done incredibly well to get this far, just one more big push lads… The atmosphere in the dressing room is electric, we know we’ve been playing well this month, we just need that win!

11

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I feel I need some flair, and who is the first player who jumps into your mind when flair is mentioned? Well it’s obviously Chris Bart-Williams isn’t it…

13

Arsenal are really taking the piss here ,and he has a big club release clause so I can’t refuse!

14

Good lad Chris…

15

Last game of the month and Sheridan is only fit enough for the bench so CBW comes into the side, and of course Tomlinson has to start so Wright makes way. The game comes a bit too soon for Youngs and Duberry. Derby are dead bottom with only 12 points, so surely this is the day?!

16

Well that was a first half! As you may have spotted we score from the first attack before I can even screenshot, and then we score again, and again. Graeme Tomlinson is making a big fat point to me, and I quite happily will eat humble pie if he carries on this form.

17

Well it’s a pity that we can’t keep the clean sheet, but that is a relief. 4 games unbeaten this month, a few too many draws but we can’t complain really!

18

So April may well be the decisive month, it’s been a successful season regardless, but how successful? We’ll soon find out…

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I think you’ll agree it’s great to have Matt back. You can also follow him on Twitter @PorterMatt