One Season in Turin – Part 2

Matt Wills is back in Turin with some of the heroes of England’s 1990 World Cup Squad. Part 1 is available here if you missed it, or AC Jimbo gives us a neat little summary to start off part 2…

‘Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Gazzetta Football Italia. The big news this week is the blistering form of one Gary Lineker, fresh out of retirement and lured to Torino in Serie B by manager Matt Wills, who is attempting to bring this sleeping giant back to the top table. The last time Lineker was in Turin, there were tears and blood (poo) on the carpet (pitch), but now he’s bringing a smile to the faces to the Toro fans. The least said about Peter Shilton’s mobility the better….’

Ah, James Richardson and your Grandma’s roast dinner were always the best cure for a hangover on a Sunday, shame we can’t go back…still we have Dave’s blog updates to keep us happy.

Welcome back to Part 2 of One Season in Turin, where I’m trying to get Torino promoted whilst playing Lineker, Shilton, Butcher and McMahon amongst Torino’s Italians, plus Aussie Englishman with Italian heritage, Tony Dorigo. Things were going very well in Part 1 as we entered November, so hopefully things will continue.

With no Coppa Italia fixtures to trouble us, a game a week should keep the old timers legs fresh and the Italian young guns hungry. One young gun who is off however is defender Fabio Moro who leaves for Udinese. His stats are good, but Butcher is stifling his development, so he’s off.

We pick up in the league against Salernitana at home and a Marco Ferrante goal see’s us collect 3 pts and a clean sheet for Shilts.

Next up is Castel Di Sangro away and another Ferrante goal gets us a point, but we should have capitalised on playing 10 men for the final third of the match. We’re definitely missing Dorigo through injury at left wingback.

1

Padova come next to Turin and an early penalty by Lineker, who opts for power rather than a chip this time gives us all 3 pts, but we are woeful in front of goal which could have cost us. Still 7 pts from 9 is not to be sniffed at.

We travel to Perugia at the end of November full of confidence, but the match is a disaster! Briaschi gives Perugia a 4th minute lead, however we equalise on 28 through midfielder Sommese, but we are level for less than a minute as Briaschi doubles his and Perugia’s tally with a header from a corner. Two more from Briaschi give us a heavy defeat, which to be honest I felt was coming, but it still hurts. They beat us and didn’t even need to bring Marc Emmers off the bench. We played the second half against 10 men too, which is an extra worry.

2

I tell the chairman it’s nothing but a blip and sure enough, we beat Ancona away 1-0 through that man Ferrante again.

Against Ravenna, Lineker salvages a point after going behind, and Shilts gets man of the match for saving 3 shots with his knees.

3

Verona are up next and Lineker has his shooting boots on again, but we can only force the one goal, but luckily, we prevail against ten men to get the points on the board.

We’re effective, but we’re also bloody boring. I’m not intentionally playing catenaccio but it sure feels like it. I feel like Shilts has a howler in him every time the clock ticks past 60 minutes. However, I’ve made my bed, now I have to lie in it – and pull the covers over my head.

We’re now into the xmas break and I’m hoping the winter sojourn will rejuvenate my aging England heroes. I send them all home to their families, whilst Gary does some moonlighting on Match of the Day and flogs some more crisps. I like the fact that I have Salt ‘n’ Lineker and Tony Dorito in my team.

Speaking of Tony, he is back from injury and I’m hopeful of pushing for top spot, but we start the New Year with a thud, losing 0-1 to midtable Treviso. Incredibly, that’s our first blank all season. We had 20 shots, 6 on target, but Pasa’s 1st minute goal was enough for them.

4

The next match brings us to the halfway point of the league, with a visit to Genoa and we are masters of our own downfall, conceding an own goal and second 2 minutes later. Sommese reduces areas but the 3rd goal in the second half does us in.

5

We’re still second in the table and on course for promotion, but the last run of games has me concerned. Do I need to sort out the defence, replace Shilts or bring in another striker?

Lineker has 16 goals in 22 games, which for a 37 year old is pretty good going, while Ferrante has 12 in 22 himself, but there’s not many other goal getters apart from Sommese with 6.

I wonder if Gazza fancies coming back to Italy?
No.

6

What about Beardsley?
No.

7

Steve Hodge?
Er no.

Hodge

Bully?
He tells me he’s had a wonderful afternoon but he’s going to let someone else have a go.

8

Maybe they don’t have to be English?
Maybe they don’t have to be at another club?
Maybe they can also be a star from Italia 90?
Maybe Toto can Hold The (Front) Line?

9

See you next time!

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

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Short Stories: Newcastle United – Part 7

Welcome back! Season 2 of the “no purchase” challenge with Newcastle, where I’m putting an emphasis on bringing youth players through to try and support Shearer and co. After winning the FA Cup in season 1, you would be forgiven for thinking it would be all downhill from there, but surprisingly it’s been above average. That said, it’s barely October, so still plenty of time for disaster to strike.

Derby at home is a nice gentle start.

3-0 derby

After we ruthlessly dismantled Portadown in the first round, Dinamo Moscow is an all together tougher draw. The fixture is played on a Thursday with a trip to Old Trafford in the offing two days later, so some squad rotation is needed.

1-0 moscow

Chris Woodcock is coming on nicely. His late intervention puts us is a strong position ahead of the trip to Moscow.

Old Trafford and I’m getting a little bit sick of Paul Scholes. What a nuisance.

2-1 man utd away

Gudjonsson’s record at Old Trafford is obscene.

The League Cup gives us a tie against Leeds who knocked us out in the semi finals last season. They’re flying high in 2nd with John Hartson doing the business for George Graham, though what “the business” is will later be debated in court.

Bottom line is we thrash the tits off them. Revenge!

4-0 leeds

Aaron Hughes becomes the latest youngster to make his mark.

Blackburn are also dismantled. We’re cooking on gas at the moment.

3-1 blackburn

Even in Russia when I take another risk by playing a shadow side and Woodcock adds two more. He’s only 18 but he’s already a hated man in Russia.

0-2 dinamo

Who is Chris Woodcock? His stats are sensational, even if he can’t pass or run but my can he head. Also, set pieces? Who is this guy?

woody

There’s an interview with him here but if that’s not your style, here’s a picture of him. The least footballer looking man of all time:

woody 2

Source: Essentia

So this was an eye opener. Let’s get back to 1998 quickly. It’ll be Sporting Lisbon in the quarter finals but that won’t happen until March.

CWC QF

Anfield is our next reward and bloody hell we’re 2-0 up. Bloody hell it finishes 2-2. Nuisance Paul Ince equalises with the last kick of the game. I would have liked those points.

2-2 liverpool

That seems to mess with us a little bit and after the International break we host top of the table Tottenham. Despite taking an early lead we concede to Gary Mabbutt and Nicola Berti. Incidentally if you are at a loose end find the episode of the Quickly Kevin podcast with James Richardson and just listen to him say Nicola Berti. Sensational.

1-2 spurs

Chelsea have sacked Gianluca Vialli and his replace is Roy Hodgson. Shearer piles on the misery.

chelsea 0-1

December arrives and our daily tiny chocolates power us to a mighty 1-0 success against Bristol Rovers in the League Cup. Gudjonsson is once again the brightest of a young team and a win is a win.

1-0 bristol

The last 8 draw could have been worse. We’ll re-visit this later in the update.

LC QF draw

We’re going through a bit of a spell where goals are hard to come by. Kevin Pressman is having the game of his life but the boy Woodcock climbs off the bench to finally down 10 man Wednesday. Hinchcliffe dismissed for terrible banter with Daniel Mann followed by some poor analysis where he somehow claimed Brighton were the better team.

1-0 sheff wed

Highfield Road is a much missed stadium, fair to say things haven’t really gone to plan for Coventry since leave it behind. Gillespie and Speed make sure we take 3 points from them in a dress rehearsal for the quarter final.

0-2 coventry

Southampton away though has always been a disaster. The Dell. I hate the Dell. We’re ahead, we’re behind, we’re level for a minute, we’re grateful to Big Al getting us level late on. It’s 2 points dropped.

3-3 soton

That leads us into Christmas where Kestbaia offers to host our Christmas do. Everybody gets the shits – mostly defenders, for some reason, which gives us a selection headache.

illness bug

Luckily West Ham are the visitors and they are poor at best.

3-0 west ham

We’ll finish with two cup games. 1999 dawns with a tricky trip to Millwall. Woody thrives in tricky situations.

millwall

It’s Spurs away in Round 4 which is a terrible draw for us. Spurs are 2nd and flying so I’m not looking forward to that.

The League Cup quarter final with Coventry ends up being a frustrating affair until Speed finally breaks the deadlock. Darren Peacock looks to have sealed our passage but former Magpie Darren Huckerby makes us sweat.

2-1 LC Coventry

As ever we get the hardest available draw. We’ll fancy beating anybody over two legs.

LC SF draw

Just a sneak peak at how the squad is developing. A lot of the young lads are starting to come to fruition. Pinas is thriving. Hamilton and Watson are wanted by Man Utd and Steve Howey is wanted by Arsenal despite never playing. Albert is interesting Ajax and I have sold Rob Lee to Derby. That man deserves to play.

values January 99

We’re 7 points off the top but it’s looking like a bit of a 5 horse race.

prem top January 99

When we resume next week we face a trip to Sunderland for the derby and then we welcome Leeds to SJP for a match we really need to win. You won’t want to miss that so I’ll see you next Wednesday for more of the same. Bye for now!

Pain in the ASSE – Part 1

Please welcome our second debutant blogger for the week as Frank Hirst joins our ranks. Frank has set up just across the channel in France managing Ligue 2 side St Etienne. Frank will explain why but it gave me the opportunity to utilise an immature blog title, for which I can only apologise. Over to Frank…

Hi and welcome to my 1st CM9798 blog. This game was such a massive piece of my teenage years and probably (along with many of you), the reason why I failed my GCSE’s.

The challenge I set myself for my 1st blog was to go as a French side, only signing French players, which I ran a poll for on Twitter. Although Auxerre ran out as winners, there were a few comments saying that was too easy, so I went with a side that I do like in real life and were sitting in Ligue 2 with a paltry 1.5m.

 

There are no star players at ASSE, although Didier Thimotée has a lot of potential to tear up Ligue 2.

I decided to go with a 2-3-2-1-2 (wingbacks), a slight amendment on a formation that I used all those years ago, pushing the central CB into DM.

1 thing I really notice is the lack of CM’s in the squad, well we have Papé Sarr, but in our all French side, I can’t play this lad unfortunately with him being Senegalese, so to the free market we go…

1

We manage to sign Stéphane Basson, Cyril Aubert, Guillaume Rey, Rémi Luc & Wilfried Nancy on free transfers.

We start the season with a poor 0-0 away to Laval, but our 1st home game of the season is altogether a different story…

2

We continue to smash it up in the league, especially at home having a home GD of 22-2 after the 1st 5 home games of the season.

5 games into the season and I check out the transfer market and I need to spend my 1.5m very wisely, this is where I find Philippe Christanval available for 625k, bargain!

3

Things are looking very good for St Etienne so far, but 10 games into the season, star striker, Didier Thimotée hands in a transfer request. 10 games and 13 goals for ASSE and the lad wants to leave, good thing for us is that he doesn’t have a dreaded “big club release clause”!

4

St Etienne finished 17th the season before (and 17th again in this season in real life), so to be sitting top of the league and undefeated after 10 games is a great achievement.

5

Things carry on going well for ASSE, going undefeated in until the turn of the year, but we face our 1st defeat of the season in early January.

6

7

3 defeats before the end of February made us a little shakey, but we’re still well on course for promotion and hopefully for the title.

Join me next time for the 2nd half of the season. Can Saint Etienne pull off a miracle and win Ligue 2, with only French players after being expected to be in a dog fight at the other end of the table? See you next Tuesday

You can follow Frank on Twitter @FrankHirst84

What If? Part 1 – Return of the Macc

Please welcome new guest blogger Andy Chapman, who you may remember managed Norway during the CM9798 World Cup. Andy has gone to great lengths to create a full Gateshead squad for the 1997/98 season, so what’s the story? Andy explains…

Welcome to the (hopefully) heart-warming fictional tale of how one of the finest Gateshead teams to grace the pinnacle of the non-league game made it back to the football league after being ceremoniously dumped from it in 1960.

Back in 1996, as Ian Brodie sang What if, we take the squad of 96/97 season, and look what might have happened if Gateshead had returned to the football league instead of Macclesfield, and whether the squad was capable of making the cut and bringing a small amount of delirium back to the south bank of the Tyne instead of being dismantled by Jim Platt and relegated to the Northern Premier League.

So let’s meet the squad…

1

An FA Cup Finalist, Bryan Robson’s brothers, and you’re favourite cousin of George Weah…to be fair to the test, I’ll not look to make any signings and live with what we have.

2

We setup in a CM9798 favourite with the Robson’s as the engine. The game has given us some clear weaknesses, poor passing ability, and little flair or creativity…it could be a major issue.

Elsewhere, tired of the music scene in Belgium, an R&B superstar checks in to give the bag pipes a go…

3

Pre-season and I’m re-stocking the clubs library, only copies of Viz from now on…

4

It’s a pleasant pre-season visit to Croft Park for Gateshead and the big bos man and Stevie Harkus see us to a derby day victory.

5

Tyneside talent is finally reaching a peak since producing an England World Cup Winner back in ‘66

6

First game back in the football league and we score, in Trump’s words, all of the goals…Dowson looking a liability already

7

Dia Dia like it, is it is it wicked? Dia scores his first football league goals, but on a sour note the main man Harkus is off after five minutes with a back injury. The score is too kind, Scunny had two disallowed.

8

Nightmare… with talented Harkus injured we rotate the squad for the second leg, bringing the Big Bos Man up top…clear early signs, we are lacking depth significantly

9

10

An injury crisis sees me having to stick Pearson (D/MC) up top, a masterstroke that sees him score a hat trick!

11

We end August with a draw against promotion hopefuls Barnet, which sees us close the month in 3rd behind local rivals Hartlepool. Goals against probably represents the challenge of playing with a 43 year old in goal!

12

We start September with a grudge match against the team we were booted out the football league for, Peterborough, and we’ve got revenge on our mind…the Big Bos man wastes chance after chance but finally we break the deadlock, lower league goalkeeping CM legend Tyler makes it easier for us

13

Elsewhere, future Gateshead managers Bogie and Aspin are locked in a relegation battle in division one.

14

We taste some international action over the border and promotion chasers Cardiff prove my point…we leave it very late to scrape a point, and actually have our 43 year old FA Cup finalist to thank for not getting hit by Cardiff’s 15 shots

15

Rochdale put us to the test, half time stats tell the story so far…

16

17

Living the life of Brian, Rowe comes to the rescue as we finally beat one of the top sides.

The real (Bobby Gould doesn’t count) sack race has started, some of us have “it” and some of us just don’t…

18

I can see the repeat headlines now…Dodgy Barnet: Heed Struggle.

A Dia-lightful derby day victory, but we’ll miss Thomo’s all-round play for a few weeks!

20

21

Michael Rankine’s uncle could not stop us on our roll but 19th placed Brighton send us to our first defeat of the season despite a late push. That leaky defence comes back to haunt us.

22

23

It’s a tight battle at the end of September, anything can still happen here on in.

More news from the sack race, back to scratching his arse on BBC 2 then…

24

He Dia-serves it! (If you can’t stand the puns, this really isn’t for you)

25

Devine intervention…Barnet are our bogie team…Devine really is a magnificent player on this game.

26

In typical Heed fashion, we win but give ourselves a massive scare by letting Shrewsbury back into it.

October see’s us start to get our defensive play together as Wrightson is brought in for Rowe.

27

28

Typical Gazza…Eileen might be able to fix him up.

29

Three clean sheets on the bounce, that’s right (son)…

30

Malcolm Crosby decides to get some practice in for his next job at Gateshead in 18 years’ time…at least it will be great craic off the pitch…

31

We regain top spot from the poolies, in a tense affair we were lucky not to have two sent off…but Pools could only manage one measly shot on goal.

32

Thompson saves the boys from a roast of a full-time team talk at the oven chip stadium and we end October top of the pops in possibly one of the wildest title battles of all time.

33

Here is the table:

34

Across the rest of the pyramid, John Oster and Everton are in a surprising title battle with Man Utd back in 3rd with a game in hand.

35

In La Liga, Real are having a Zidane of a league season.

36

Rangers do their usual…but Aberdeen look like they can compete without Dave’s managerial prowess…

37

Next time out, we’ll see how we survive winter as the games and disciplinary points wrack up and whether we can keep up the pace at the top.
See you next then!

You can follow Andy on Twitter @KingoftheRooks

CM9798 Academy – Part 2: No Defence

Welcome back to our experiment. If you’re not sure what this is all about, the post from last week is here. In short, we’ve made an Academy which only signs free transfers under 23. We’ve got a squad together and made a reasonable start, but can we kick on?

table august

The problem is of course that our players will be poached if we do well. But on we go. Look busy, Colchester are coming.

2-1 Colchester

A late winner from Morrison, who is interesting Oxford, but we’ll worry about that later. A home game with Notts County goes badly as Betterton is away with England Under 21s and he’s the best of an awful bunch.

1-2 Notts

The CM9798 academy has had a huge impact on the world, so much so that I had a Twitter conversation with Nicky Byrne of Westlife.

 

On that basis, he’s in. I mean he fits the criteria and Ike Mashley senses a business opportunity.

byrne signs

An easy 3-0 win at Macclesfield continues out good start. I feel like nothing can ever go wrong.

3-0 macc away

Swansea at home, they’ve done alright since 1997 and the filthy Swans give away 3 penalties. Pearson converts them all and adds two more in a 6-1 win. What is going on here?

6-1 swans

It is a great footballing irony therefore that a few days later we lose 3-0 and have two men sent off…inside 6 minutes. Southend are a division higher so we were up against it anyway but that more or less ends our stay in the League Cup.

0-3 southend

That seems to trigger something that leads to a lot of problems. First, Lincoln defeat us 3-2.

3-2 lincoln

Then Cardiff win late on. No shame…

cardiff 2 - 1

Some form is rediscovered against Mark Hateley’s Hull. Pearson is really motoring now

2-2 hull

Another 2-2 draw, this time in the return leg, is barely cause for celebration but it’s nice to compete at a 2nd Division club. Cassin, the young Irishman, is starting to be useful.

2-2 southend

We even manage to beat Mansfield, what was I even worried about?

2-1 mansfield

Then the wheels start to come off. Two defeats in 3 days including a harrowing loss at home to Torquay

barnet 2 -0

1-4 torquay

McVeigh was available for free. I should have got him. Our fury is taken out on Shrewsbury in the Windscreen Shield. They are 3rd in our division so this is a good result, but I would rather it was a league game.

4-1 shrewsbury

Let’s concede 6 goals in 4 days…and somehow win one of them. What is really remarkable is that Betterton managed to get sent off twice in 2 games.

3-4 exeterchester 3-2

FIVE MATCH BAN. Christ.

betterton ban

So yes, I’m a little bit tense. Then the first offer comes in.

Gee bid

We’ll miss Danny Gee. £400k banked for Ike Mashley, a whole in our already leaky defence has appeared.

Gee to Swindon

It seems a bit unfair that we have to face Cambridge of all teams without him

5-4 cambridge

This team man. One minute you’re conceding to Trevor Benjamin, then you’re pulling it back to 4-4. To lose 5-4. Who wants to buy these idiots anyway?

I may as well get another one in. This chap will do.

Smorrison signs

He doesn’t have a big club release, which as I mentioned last time immediately makes me think he’s rubbish.

Another goalfest, this time Freeman (in for the banned Betterton) concedes 3 in 5 minutes. Why have nearly 10,000 turned up for this?

3-3 wrexham

We’ll play Burnley in round 2 of the Shield. Chris Waddle is older than at least 2 of my players added together.

Freeman gets injured so I’ve moved for another keeper, a Twitter recommendation. He’s got…1 for technique. Send help.

heritage

He makes his debut at Colwyn Bay in the FA Cup. He’s not exactly great but a win is a win. Watford in Round 2.

colwyn bay 2-3

He does however get man of the match at Millmoor. This win means a lot, I feel like we haven’t won a league game in ages.

rotherham 2 - 3

We’ve kept two clean sheets in the league in TWENTY ONE MATCHES MAN. Maybe I should change the formation to something that protects our goalkeeper, isn’t it amazing that I have four goalies and not one of them can catch? Anyway, off we go to Hartlepool for more of the same.

3-4 hartlepool

Yay. However…

gowshall injured

Back to the free transfer list I go. First though, Burnley away. They are 2nd in Division 2 so I’m more than a little surprised when we’re 2-0 up at half time, but less surprised when they coming roaring back to force extra time. We lose, obviously. Heritage gets a 9, which gives me a dilemma about whether to bring Betterton back or not.

3-2 burnley

Reinforcements have arrived

gary simpson

That injury proneness means I’m really not expecting much but he only wants £300 a week.

He can actually have the armband, this team has no leadership, probably because they are all children. Watford in the cup, Sir Elton takes his seat in the CM9798.co.uk Arena, Heritage keeps his spot in goal and…

1-0 watford

What a time to get a clean sheet. Simpson immediately earns hero status by marshalling a defence to a cleansheet against opposition a division higher. They are 8th in Division 2. Incredible.

Last game of the update and we host Peterborough. I’ve got a good feeling now with Simmo at the back. Obviously, he lasts 10 minutes, we blow a 2-0 lead and my other centre half also goes off injured. I don’t know why I bother.

2-3 peter

All of that leaves us in a worrying 11th, 6 points off the playoffs. We’re the top scorers but our defence is abysmal.

table december

Speaking of which, Simpson is out for a month. McCaffrey for 3 months. In the words of Kel, WHHHYYY?

I’ll be back next week to try and put this back together. I’ll end every episode with a look at those who have graduated the academy. So far, it’s just Danny Gee. And look what he’s aspired to…

Gee Swindon

 

 

One Season in Turin – Part 1

Matt Wills, like Alice Deejay, wants you back in his life. The man who brought you Return of the King is back in time for the new season with another crazy concept. He’s off to Turin…but why?

World Cups, England and Nostalgia have such an interwoven narrative. Every 4 years, England’s hopes of a successful tournament seem to be constantly compared to Euro 96, Italia 90 and 1966. It’s inescapable, so why not embrace it, and this year, England too our hopes as far as 1990 and the semi finals again.

Italia 90 was the first tournament I can remember and watching the semi-final against Germany on TV is still a vivid memory, only enhanced by YouTube clips of Parker’s back, Shilton’s Stumble, Linker’s ecstasy, Gazza’s Tears and Waddle’s Penalty. We can relive One Night In Turin as much as we like, but nothing will change, but CM97/98 gives us the chance of ‘What if?’. Dave did it excellently with his books (obligatory plug). If you followed my ‘Return of The King’ blog, pondering what would have happened had Eric Cantona not retired in 97, you’ll know I like to heap nostalgia on nostalgia, so got me thinking about my next blog theme – how about more than a night in Turin, how about a Season?

1

I’ve looked past Juventus for this and opted for Serie B’s Torino – The Old Lady’s Little Sister, if you will. Torino living in the shadow of Juve, finished 5th in 97/98 and missed out on promotion after a playoff defeat. Back in the 1940’s Torino won 5 titles in a row, provided the backbone of the Italian national team, tragically decimated by a plane crash in 1949.

In 1997, the team consists of a smattering of promising youngsters, seasoned pro’s, journeymen, and a member of England’s Italia 90 squad, Tony Dorigo.

2

There’s a lot of centre backs in this squad, a lot of left wingbacks and no holding midfielders. This team may need a bit of surgery. Tony will be staying though.

3

Before I can make a start though, Jimmy Nicholl frees himself up for a future management move.

4

My first order of business is to sign a 3rd goalkeeper for my squad. I opt for someone who should know Turin well. I had to fight off some stiff competition for the 47 year old, but I got my man.

5

Next up, I need some competition for Ferrante and Carparelli. Gary swaps the Match of the Day studio for Turin via a lucrative contract (£2k a week) and some fiddling with the editor. Hey, if it’s good enough for Cantona…

6

That gap in the middle of the field concerns me, so I opt for Steve McMahon, another Italia 90 stalwart.

7

And whilst I don’t need any more centre backs, I wasn’t about to let Terry Butcher play for a Welsh team.

8

With my team of Italians and England stalwarts, I set up a few easy friendlys to get to know my team and it seems Lineker didn’t leave his shooting boots in Japan…

9

Bobby jumps before he’s pushed.

10

Our first game of the season is away to Como in the Coppa Italia. We’re heading out until Lineker pounces to take the game to penalties and then tries a Paneka with our first spot kick, but we prevail. McMahon showing him how to do it. Shilton, even though he waits to see which way the kicker goes, saves the decisive spot kick.

11

Our joy is short-lived though, as we go out on penalties in the next round, Lineker again trying that bloody chip-penalty. Tony Dorigo missed and Shilton got no where near Genoa’s 3 penalties, unsurprisingly.

12

So, it’s just the league to concentrate on now, and aiming for automatic promotion.

I try a few formations out, starting with the 2-3-1-2-2, but given the amount of centrebacks I have at my disposal, I settle into a 5-3-2 attacking formation, which seems to work…

13

Lineker and Ferrante forming a formidable partnership, Shilton leaking the goals though…

Meanwhile, England draw with Moldova and Italy in their France 98 qualifiers so have to negotiate a playoff with Greece…

14

The first leg puts them in control, and Robbie Fowler finishes the job in the away tie.

15

The draw places England with Cameroon, Germany and Japan – shades of Italia 90 there for Glenn and his men…

16

Back to the league, and after 10 games, we’re sitting pretty in second, with plenty of goals scored…

17

Most of which are down to this man, who still knows how to sniff out a goal, in almost every game it seems. Butcher and McMahon are marshalling the defence and midfield around them, although Shilton isn’t as mobile as he was in the 70’s. The Italian youngsters and journey men are gelling well with the class of Italia ’90, so hopefully you’ll follow me in seeing if we can get them to Serie A.

Thanks for reading and I’ll leave you with Gary’s stats. You’ll see he’s picked up the first yellow cards of his career, maybe setting his aggression at 7 was a little high… Ciao for now!

18

For more from Matt don’t forget to follow him on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

Short Stories: Newcastle United – Part 6

But you said…

In my defence, the vote was pretty close and I really wanted to carry on the NUFC save too. So you’re getting two stories a week from me until there’s an uprising against the quality of the content.

To recap, I started a game as Newcastle and decided not to buy anybody at all, even though Alan Shearer was injured for 7 months. As luck would have it, we did ok then Shearer returned and we did brilliantly. We won the FA Cup, came 4th and lost in the semis of the Champions League and the League Cup. Quit whilst you’re ahead?

Well, maybe. Instead I’ve decided to carry on. I’m not going to buy anybody still, unless anybody in my squad retires, in which case they will be replaced by their own re-gen. I’m looking at you, Rushy.

We re-join the game in August 1998. England finished 3rd in the World Cup, beating Scotland in the 3rd/4th place playoff. Incidentally the World Cup final was almost identical to 1994

98 WC final

Magic. Some good news for me is that by not spending any transfer money, they’ve expanded St James’ Park.

new stadium

Getting closer to than 52k. In the meantime though, it’s Wembley for the Charity Shield. It’s an opportunity to see how a couple of the youngsters get on, namely Chris Woodcock and two stars of last season, Bjarni Gudjonsson and Brian Pinas.

CS lineup

Probably should have taken this more seriously.

CS 5-2

Get used to Scholes scoring past you lads, you’ve got another 10 years of it yet.

What worries me is that most of the goals weren’t even rebounds – this game loves a rebound, but these shots were flying in. Southampton at home is a kind way to start a season, or at least it should be.

5-3 soton

What is going on here? Has Shay Given got no hands? He was injured towards the end of last season but this is getting serious now. Off we go to Upton Park for more “ffs”

1-1 west ham

I enjoyed that 3 minute lead. Man Utd keep bidding £6m for David Batty but that’s not really part of my game plan here. Now he’s injured for two weeks.

Tyne-Wear derby day is bound to be a charged affair, especially after a year without one. The newly promoted mackems keep us out thanks to Lionel Perez until the final minute where Gillespie eventually beats the bedraggled Frenchman and the Geordie public go home happy.

1-0 gillespie

This is a strange season but we’re off to Leeds unbeaten in the league and taking one game at a time.

At least that was the plan…

6-5 leeds

I don’t know where to start. Is it Shay? Do I need to send for Shaka?

The Cup Winners Cup will be a chance to continue to blood the youngsters. Jimmy Crawford is already 25. Paul Brayson however is not. We’ll have a great time in Northern Ireland.

CWC draw

Shaka is in for the visit of Leicester. We lost this fixture last season and we’re off to a rough start with Fenton scoring after just 2 minutes. I hate Graham Fenton. We equalise but never look likely to win it. Weird stuff going on here, I guess we are in unchartered territory here as I’d normally just spend the pain away.

1-1 leicester

It’s a month out for Peacock and I’ve also decided to loan out Brayson. He’ll have a great time at Altrincham.

A midweek trip to Everton has disaster written all over it, but I’ve recalled Given hoping that last game will give him a kick up the arse. He’s barely utilised through the whole evening as we go 3-0 ahead before the half hour. Chris Woodcock appears from the bench to get his first goal for the club. I think Woodcock and Pinas make us a very potent force.

everton 1 - 4

Cock Piss Tomasson.

International break now and Andy Griffin damages his spine playing for England Under 21s. That’s a shame, as he would have played the CWC games. This is rough too:

shearer 2 weeks

He’s got 7 in 7 this season so will be missed for the next few, especially as it’s Arsenal at home next. Gillespie has been nursing sore ribs for a long time and is still not back, so it’s Des Hamilton in the AMRC role with Bjarni the Gud partnering Andersson. Aaron Hughes is wanted by Arsenal so he’s starting. That backfires as he is sent off shortly after half time but we hang tough and Bjarni heads a last gasp winner. What is life?

2-1 arsenal

That puts us third and sends us to Northern Ireland in good spirits. It’s a very experimental side but it’s what we’ve committed to here and Idiot Enterprises and it’s over 2 legs afterall. Shearer will be back for the return leg so he can run wild if needs be. Also, and I don’t know why I feel the need to justify this so much, we play Thursday-Saturday and it’s a big ask.

Portadown team

26 shots later…

4-1 port

Poor Shay. Just can’t catch a break. The young lads did well though, and the potent duo got on the scoresheet again. I’ll look forward to the return leg.

Just two days later then and it’s Villa away. Shearer announces he is fit to the surprise of everybody, and with Gillespie back there’s only Peacock missing. I’ll stick with Aaron Hughes, his Arsenal red card dismissed as an unlucky blemish.

3-2 villa

Maybe he’s just a clumsy oaf? Barnesy bends in a free kick which helps establish a 3-0 lead but it’s a nervy last 35 minutes and an even nervier last 10. Aaron Hughes making Darren Peacock seem competent is a new low.

A midweek Tyne-Tees derby will please both fans and police alike but it’s 2nd vs 4th so a bigger game than usual.

1-1 boro

Rubbish. Incidentally it’s Tottenham who top the pile.

Another newly promoted side next as we make the trip to Nottingham. The Aaron Hughes experiment is over for now, with Peacock back in the mix.

2-2 forest

Bring back Aaron Hughes. We’re 2-0 down and a mess but Shearer gets us back into it and then covnerts a pen after a deliberate handball sees Centurioni sent off. We push for a winner but sub Woodcock elbows Scot Gemmill in the face in injury time. I must stop feeding these youths raw meat.

Portadown arrive at St James’ Park and looking them in the eyes, they don’t believe they can overturn a 4-1 deficit here. Even Shay fancies a clean sheet here.

porta 6-0

Hurrah. I put Shearer on at half time just to be a tosser. Woodcock’s 3rd goal is ruled out for offside but he’s making good progress. It’s Dinamo Moscow in round 2 which will be a lot tougher.

Final game of this update and we’re off to Bolton. Let me tell you about Bolton. They are bottom of the table and have lost 10 out of 10. They regard Paul Telfer as a star player.

bolton 0-3

Make that 11 out of 11. I’m quite happy with third but our goals against column is disgusting.

prem top october 98

Man Utd are struggling for goals but opted to sign Scott Booth for £3.7m. That will not help but it’s not Shearer so I’m fine with it.

That’s about all I’ve got for you in this update but I’ll be back same time next Wednesday with more from NE1. Toodles!