Totti’s Team: Part 2

Rob Tait is back with more from Rome. An inconsistent start in part 1 means Totti and friends need to have a strong winter. Should the wolf on the Roma badge look so worried? Let’s find out

If you missed part 1 here is a brief summary. Build a team around the young playmaker Totti in order better his individual career achievements and the club’s. We started poorly getting knocked out of the Coppa Italia in round 2 by non league opposition. Since then we have improved dramatically and rebanded ourselves as the entertainers of Italy. We are currently 6th in Serie A.

A positive start to November sees the lads give me two presents, one either side of my birthday with successive 3-0 victories! Clean sheets are better than goals, said nobody ever, but maybe this is our defensive turning point Santos and Aldair marshalling the troops, two Brazilian internationals holding the line.


As an aside Gerard Houllier is appointed manager of Red Star 93 (that sounds like a beer) at the end of November.


We follow that loss with three victories on the bounce, 4:2, 5:0 and 3:1. This takes us to the halfway stage of the season and a 6th position but only six points from 1st. We really need to carry this momentum forwards.


There is an early Christmas present for Fiorentina, poor Gabby.


The new year is upon us and for once we manage to keep our positive run of form going.


We can’t stop winning in January, two more 2:1 victories followed by a 4:2 drubbing of Napoli and we are flying high.

As the transfer deadline looms Inter and Lazio start making plays for my big names. If they can’t beat me on the pitch maybe they can buy my players and stop me that way.


Persistent buggers Lazio, I’m not sure I would be welcome in Roma if I had allowed this deal to go through. I’m also certain CM Totti would accept and be off, which would be funny but not entirely helpful given the idea behind this save.

January ends with Champions League qualification is in my sights as we lie in second place, we may even sneek the league at this rate. The squad is buzzing and to top it all of I am awarded manager of the month for January.


The first game of February is against Juve, 1st vs 2nd the classic six pointer.


Not a bad result and it shows how far we have come but the main story is Totti’s injury, how long will he be out for? He is the talisman of the team, the driving force and I’m not sure he is really replaceable, especially not with an aging Argentinian striker who couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo.


A month, ok fingers crossed we can muddle through.

The next game is at home to Fiorentina, Batistuta is injured so that is a positive for us but I’m worried about how we will cope without Totti.


Old man Balbo stepping up to the plate in our time of need, I pat myself on the back as I mumble away to myself about how my excellent man management skills and reverse psychology have worked wonders with Old Balbo. However disaster in the 76th minute as Pirri Pirri goes down injured. Half my first team strike force is out and to say the squad lacks depth is something of an understatement.

That brings us to the end of part 2, we a flying high in 2nd place but it is tight, eight points separate 1st and 7th, it’s wide open with seven games to go and with a couple of key injuries I’m worried about maintaining our good form. We have also conceded nearly twice as many goals as the other teams in the top five, I’m not going to worry though because I love goals and we are scoring plenty of them. A final bonus is Pirri Pirri is only out for 2 weeks so not too bad.


You can follow Rob on Twitter @Taitanator



The Return of The King Season 2: Part 6 – Bruce Glee

One more time…we’re gonna celebrate…music got me feeling so free. It’s the final update from Matt Wills’ Return of the King series. It’s been emotional. Can it finish on the ultimate high? And what next? All of this, and more, is answered below. Part 5 is here too if you need to catch up.

So, last week I started off by saying it was the final part of Season 2, but I left a cliff hanger with the FA Cup and Champions Leagues Finals to be played and Eric knocking on my door saying he didn’t want to play in the FA Cup Final…

‘What do you mean you don’t want to play in the FA Cup Final tomorrow Eric?’

‘I want to rest, relax, be ready for, how you say, Le Big One?’


So, Eric doesn’t want to risk himself in the FA Cup and save himself for the Champions League Final, ok fair enough, but who do I select?

We’re up against Division 1 QPR, who have finished 7th in the league and missed a Playoff Spot by 4pts. Their squad is not particularly packed with quality, but they do have Matthew Rose, Steve ‘Don’t pick me up Tony!’ Morrow, Gavin Peacock, John Spencer and Mike Sheron in their ranks, so I can’t take things too lightly.

Big Peter starts in goal and at Full Back I select Denis Irwin and 1990 Cup Final hero Lee Martin. In the centre of defence it’s big Pally with Nicky Butt, saving Steve Bruce’s legs for midweek. Roy Keane is captain and starts in the holding midfield role as he’s suspended for the Champions League Final. On the flanks it’s the usual trio of Giggs and Kanchelskis as my flying wingers, with David Beckham in the hole. Up top, I go with Brian McClair to partner Paul Scholes. On the bench it’s Walsh, Blackmore, Sharpe, Gillespie and Dublin.

Wembley is sunny and Eric mills around geeing up the players. Unemployed Bryan Robson is my guest assistant manager on the bench following his sacking by Boro and I receive a ‘Good Luck’ text from Alex Ferguson, which was nice.

As finals go, and much like most 90’s finals in real life, there isn’t much action or drama here. The first half is mostly a drab affair until the 42nd minute when Brian McClair gets himself a straight red-card for stamping on Steve Morrow. I glower at Eric, I think he gee’d the Scot up a bit too much.

Just before halftime, Scholes break free and slots past Lee Harper in the Rangers goal to put us one up at half time. In the Wembley dressing room, I receive an apology from a distraught Brian and tell the lads to keep possession and use the width of the Wembley surface to wear QPR down. It works a treat as Kanchelskis puts us 2-0 up early in the second half and on 65 minutes I bring off Kanchelskis, Scholes and Giggs to keep them fresh for Wednesday and bring on Blackmore, Gillespie and Dublin for a 25 minute run around. On the final whistle there are cheers of joy, but celebations are kept in check for ‘Le Big One’.

6 1

Kanchelskis gets Man of The Match even though I took him off after 65 minutes and I apologise to Walsh and Sharpe for not playing.

6 2

And so, with the FA Cup Final celebrations over, we head to the Waldstadion in Germany for the Champions League Final and a date with Paris St Germain.

PSG came through a group including Juventus and then dispatched Bayern Munich and Barcelona on their way to the final.

Their squad is impressive, with some CM9798 favourites such as Domi, Agboh, N’Gotty, Allou, Sibierski, Rai and Florian Maurice, lining up in a defensive sweeper system.

I stick with the favoured 2-3-1-2-2 which is tried and trusted, I just need pick the players now, and break some hearts.

Schmeichel and Gary Neville are certs for GK and RB respectively, but LB is an issue. I rested Sharpe for the FA Cup Final but he picks up another knock in training and is injured, a sad story of his season. In the middle, who else but Dolly and Daisy – Bruce and Pallister (I never worked out who was who in terms of nicknames, I’ll have to ask Alex…). I pray Steve’s legs last one more game.

With Keane suspended I opt for the experience of Ince over Butt in the holding role and the flanks are taken by Giggs and Kanchelskis. In the hole, Beckham and upfront its Cantona and Scholes.

On the bench, Walsh, McClair, Butt, Gillespie and Dublin. There’s heartache for Irwin at left back, but despite playing 49 games this season, his stats have been below average. The quiet Irishman is not happy…

So to the match, the biggest game over these two seasons, Cantona’s ultimate destiny and a chance for an unprecedented quadruple. But that’s a story for next week…

Only joking, here we go…

PSG start on the front foot, dominating possession and peppering Schmeichels goal with some long range efforts which Peter is more than equal to, I’ve never seen him so agile!

As we approach the half hour mark, we make the break through we dreamed of, Giggs curling in an effort from the edge of the area past Revault after some neat work from Beckham. I’m beaming, fantastic!

3 minutes later I’m furious. Beckham tussles with Paul Le Guen. Rumours are Paul said something like ‘Spice Girls are crap, All Saints are boss’, but it’s never been proven. Beckham kicks out at Le Guen right in front of the Referee and it’s a straight red card. He looks solemn as he leaves the pitch, close to tears.

I tell Scholes to fall back and fill the gap, but this leaves Eric isolated and PSG press the advantage and I’m glad to get into the dressing room at half time still 1-0 up.

David is being consoled by McClair in the dressing room ‘I loved Spice Up Your Life, David, honest’ lies the Scot.

My half time team talk is basically ‘Don’t get sent off, keep it tight and move the ball’

The second half begins and the lads listen to my instructions but unfortunately they move the ball to Rai and the Brazilian weaves his way past Dolly and Daisy and coolly slots past Big Peter who screams at Pallister and Bruce until his face is the same colour as his nose.

However, PSG start going for the kill and we mamage to hold them off and launch some counter attacks of our own, but Eric is still getting isolated and the PSG players are doubling up on him, restricting us to long range efforts that Revault deals with easily.

As the clock ticks past the hour mark I look at my bench to see how best to change things up. I look to Bryan Robson who shrugs his shoulders. I look at Irwin who turns away from my gaze…

Then it happens, Ince, The Guv’nor, dives in for a 50-50 ball, misses and clatters Rai. Second yellow and an early bath. Perfect. I send Dion on for Pallister, who is knackered and drop Eric into the middle, at least he’ll see some of the ball there.

We hold of wave after wave of PSG attacks and we make it to the end of normal time level at 1-1.

As we prepare for the start of extra time, playing 9 against 11 grinning PSG players, I wonder how we can possibly survive the next 30 minutes.

On comes Butt for the weary Kanchelskis, Eric moves up the field and we kick off.

Eric back to Butt, across to Blackmore on the left flank who knocks it across to Bruce who plays it short to Schmeichel. PSG press and my heart is in my mouth as Peter waits until the last possible second to pass it wide to Neville. Peter gives me a thumbs up, as if a preventive for a heart attack.

Nveille knocks it inside to The Dube, who with no options on and surrounded by 3 PSG players, preforms a Cruyff turn and decides to go on a little adventure into the PSG half. ‘Get rid, get rid!’ I shout, but am ignored completely. Dublin nutmegs Rai and then plays a short pass to Cantona who turns his marker, slots in Scholes who takes aim and powers a rising shot at Revault’s goal. The Frenchman gets a strong hand to it and punches it out towards the left flank. Giggs drops on it and takes it into the corner.

I look up and Dion is ambling around on the edge of the area, what is he doing?

As I look back towards our goal I see Peter whispering in Steve Bruce’s ear, who nods and then sets off on a sprint up the pitch, what the hell???!!!

He rushes past Dion and Eric on the edge of the box, arm raised and Giggs finds a yard of space and sends a curling ball to the right hand side of the box. N’Gotty is back peddling and Revault is caught in no mans land, Bruce launches himself at the ball and powers a header into the roof of the net and the roof comes off the Waldstadion.

Bruce is mobbed by the United players and N’Gotty and Revault start squaring up to each other.

The United bench is jubilant as Rai carries the ball back to the centre spot.

Bruce looks absolutely shagged as he ambles back to our end for the restart.

My instructions are clear, keep ball and ride this out. Sit deep and don’t do anything stupid.

PSG start to get complacent and lazy. They are two men up and start assuming someone else is marking their man. Eric runs the ball into the corners and we reach half time in front.

Gary Neville is complaining of cramp so I send on Gillespie as my final sub. 15 minutes from glory. 15 minutes from disaster. PSG make no subs. Sibierski still on the bench.

The longest 15 minutes of my life as played out a hazy slow motion. Schmeichel comes for a corner and drops it only for Blackmore to clear from the line. Nicky Butt upends Hakan Mild but goes unpunished. We make a rare attack and Eric is one on one with Revault but tries to chip on the on rushing keeper and the ball floats onto the roof of the net…

The clock ticks closer to 120 minutes and the pressure mounts, but each cross or forward pass is intercepted by a red shirt and the PSG players start to get more anxious and start to lose the ball ore regularly, its agony.

I prepare myself for penalties, just in case. I jot down Cantona/Giggs/Bruce/Scholes/Dublin. Bryan looks at it and nods. I look past him at the clock, 119 minutes. For a second, I swear I see David may in a United shirt, sitting behind the bench.

The ball goes out of play near Blackmore, Bruce is almost on his knees. Clayton throws a short ball to Dublin who boots the ball as high as he can up the pitch and then rapture! The final whistle! We’ve done it, Champions of Europe, the quadruple!

6 3

6 4

We made it hard for ourselves but we did it. I embrace Bruce and the celebrations continue long into the night, I remember little of it…

Thursday 20th May 1999 – the morning after. I groggily awake in my hotel room to the bizarre sight of Bruce and Pallister asleep in bed together with the European Cup between them.

I make my way down to breakfast and join the other players to big smiles and congratulatory hugs and back slaps. It’s a dream come true…

Unfortunately, we all wake up from our dreams, and here’s where this story ends.

What a ride it’s been though, we emulated and bettered the Class of 99 and just like in real life made it as hard for ourselves as possible.

There’s been a few highs along the way. Robson getting his 100th United goal. Winning 9 trophies in two seasons, the penalty shoot out wins, Clayton Blackmore playing in a Champions League final. Brian McClair scoring 4 in one match. Steve Bruce lasting 2 seasons and stepping up with some big goals. Mike Phelan retiring.

There’s been some lows too – Robson hanging up his boots, Sharpe’s numerous injuries, Hughes’ season being cut short, playing Arsenal so many times.

As it started off as a blog about redemption for Eric, heres’ his stats, but as much as it’s been about Eric, its also been about Bruce, Sharpe, Hughes etc…after all it’s a team game.

6 5

At the end of the season, Steve Bruce, Lee Martin and Clayton Blackmore all retire and the squad is further diminished. I could carry on into Season 3 and try for a clean sweep including the Super Cups but I think I’d prefer to leave it here, in perfect stasis and would like to think Eric would go out again on a high, fully satisfied.

Big thanks to Dave Black for hosting the blog and to all Twitter followers who took the time to read it, overlook my spelling mistakes and take the time to comment on it, I hope it’s been enjoyable.

Also thanks to Kevin Smith for proof reading the blogs when I remembered to send them to him.

This is only Au Revoir for now and I hope to back soon for ‘One Night In Seville’

6 6

A big thanks from me to Matt for a fantastic series. He will be back soon with his new adventure but in the mean time you can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills





The CM9798 World Cup Draw

It’s finally here! The draw for the CM9798 World Cup draw is below. We’re doing it early so our players have the chance to get to know their teams before the tournament itself. If you don’t want to watch the video there’s an image of the draw below. It is crudely done as I am unskilled. Enjoy, and check back soon for more details on our runners and riders


Who got who:


The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 6

It’s December 1998 and Matt Porter is making miracles in Stockport. All he wants for Christmas is to stay in the European places – but with a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon, can Santa deliver?

Well it’s Cliff Richard season once again and I feel as happy as Noddy Holder’s bank manager at this time of year. We’re 3rd, we are flying, and we are pretty much safe by Christmas. This is about the time of year everything fell apart last year, but I’m confident it won’t happen this time, and anyway even if it does we have already pretty much hit our season target! I’m not going to say that to the players though, I said something similar last year…


Walsall in the FA cup draw, the glamour tie no doubt…. And when the month ticks over once again I am overlooked, I mean I have Stockport County 3rd in the Premier League for crying out loud. Still, at least it means I avoid the curse of manager of the month.


Well its them lot down the road next, the small matter of a trip to Old Trafford, and I have an injury crisis in midfield, with Carlita, Heidenstrom, Sheridan and Bray all out, plus Duberry suspended. I am going to give Martin Lauchlan a go in midfield, might as well experiment, and Walton comes in for Duberry. I’ll be honest, I’d probably take a point here!


Well I didn’t expect that…. We absolutely batter them in the first half, the United fans are choking on their prawns, and if it wasn’t for a crazily good performance by the big Dane in their goal we’d be out of sight before Dugarry finally beats him. We do give them a couple of chances though, and I mean gift them through mistakes, and you can’t do that with Scholes lurking, 1-1 at half time. We’ve had 10 shots for God’s sake, we should be winning! Jardel is unplayable.


That was so harsh. They had the better of the second half, but they just showed how clinical this league can be, 4-1 is so so harsh, but I try to keep spirits up, on another day that could have been 4-1 the other way and they could have had no complaints. It’s a learning curve for us, let’s not get downhearted, lets just have a pint of Robinson’s Best and move on… The team nutritionalist looks like he wants to kill me, but sod him we’re going the old fashioned way.

Oh for goodness sake, Sheridan returns from injury then a day later is ruled out for a month…. Great start for the record signing.

Garde in for Lauchlan and Duberry in for the tired Matt Bound, and it is another Greater Manchester derby but this time Bolton at home. My childhood loyalties are put to one side here, the Edgeley roar needs to get behind us as we aim for our first win in 5.


Well that was the worst half of football we have played in a long time, we’re 2-0 down and frankly lucky it’s only that. We are seriously struggling in midfield but I have no alternatives!


A little bit less terrible than the first half, faint praise indeed, this is in danger of becoming a proper slump. Half time was the first time I’ve had a go this season, poor Remi Garde, it’s not his fault I signed him after a couple of beers…


Incredibly we are still third, but the cushion has gone… still I’d have taken this for the half way point!


Leicester next up at Edgeley, and thanks to the injury problems I have to drop Simic so that I can bring in Carlita in the midfield, thanks to the foreigner rule, Connolly comes in at right back, and Youngs is back on the bench after injury. I don’t want to ramp up the pressure, but how many games without a win?! A couple of our old players in their lineup, so they’ll inevitably score.


A pretty boring first half, but we still contrive to concede a goal from that legendary goal machine Garry Parker. I hate ruts on this game.


Now that was a crucial half, and the monkey is off our back. We equalise deservedly through Jardel, and then get a penalty. Shit, I forgot to take Cavaco off penalties. I am having a heart attack on the side lines, but he slots it away. Oh no, a retake, for goodness sake, but amazingly he slots this one away too and we hold on comfortably (having gone ultra-defensive) to win. I nearly had a heart attack on the touchline, but we won! I’ll even give them Christmas day off, Scrooge I am not… and to be fair, sorry to harp on, but we’re third!

Merry Christmas one and all… Ian Gray turns up for a match, his calendar was fast apparently, and Martin McIntosh somehow rules himself out for 2 months with a torn groin muscle, obviously a little over excited by the present from the missus…

Boxing day remains unchanged, because why the hell not, and is there anywhere better to go post-Christmas than Barnsley?


I’d forgotten how good David Watson was in the return fixture, and he’s doing the same again, 1-1 at half time but we should be ahead.


Well our prayers are answered in the second half but not in a way I would wish on anyone as David Watson is stretchered off with 20 minutes to play. His replacement is appropriately useless and we have 2 shots and score twice, even allowing time for a Barnsley consolation. Tom Youngs returns from injury and hits the ground running, I am impressed, we’ve turned a corner after the Bolton debacle, and every time we seem to be slipping we pull it right back. The County Boys are off on a European tour! (maybe)


40 points! We are surely safe! David Watson is only out for a couple of weeks, I’m glad to hear (I honestly think he could have played for England without his injury problems.)


Every time it looks like we are going to go down the pan, we pull it back. There is proper character, in a proper stadium, with proper pies, and a proper town. You can stick your MK Dons where the sun don’t shine!

You can follow Matt on Twitter @PorterMatt




The Gialloblu Chronicles – Part 4

It’s the end of season 1 for Ross and his Parma team, with the European dream over it’s all about the Serie A title. Can they find a way to beat Juventus to the gold? Catch up with the previous episode here

Hello and welcome to part 4, yes part 4! Count them!! I know you won’t.

For a brief catch up I’ve decided to take control of Parma and lead them to glory domestically and European-ly?

Let’s remind ourselves of the situation league wise.


With the top two going into the Champions League it’s important we hold off Inter and the man I want to spearhead my strike force one day, Ronaldo.

First up is away to Udinese knowing full well any more slip ups will cost us.


Sibierski actually scored the pen only for the ref to order a re-take. I swear I saw an official with Inter Milan blazer handing him a brown envelope. Corruption in the Italian game just doesn’t make sense to me so I refuse to believe it.

Our task is made harder as we find out Inter have won. Juve also win and more or less wrap up the league, to be honest I just wanted to get back into the Champions League, the first season was a ‘get to know you’ one.

We welcome Fiorentina to our place.


Tense doesn’t describe this game. Crespo is the difference but Thuram is my hero. Blocking more attacks than a dodgy MP.

I tell the players we need to score more and ease the pressure off. My nerves were put through the wringer


That’s better, more or less had a cigar in my mouth after 77 minutes. But I feel sick as I have never smoked in my life. Both centre backs get on the scoresheet and Stanic finds his scoring boots. Can be hit and miss that lad. My only moan is that Chiesa has gone goal shy.

Kieron Dyer offers to talk to him and take him camping. I remind Kieron we almost lost 4 youth players the last time he did that.

Next is a massive one. HUGE!! Away to Inter. We lose and we can kiss CL football goodbye.


Enrico finds his touch. Good job to, we went 2-0 down. Gives us a chance going into the last day of the season. I try to speak to Ronaldo after the game about joining but he doesn’t speak English and runs away from me.

So, last day of the season. Inter play Lecce and we have Roma at home. Now if you have read previous write ups, I’m still to work out who our ‘Derby’ is against. Luckily my lads are not the smartest so I blag to them that this is the one the fans look for at the start of the season and we need to do our end of the bargain and hope for a Lecce sized miracle.


All wrapped up before half time. Denilson actually did a lap of honour after 45 mins, till a steward told him there was still another 45 mins. Not the sharpest is our Denny.

At full time I see the lads gathering around a radio to get the latest on the Inter game. Sadly, John Curtis has the racing on as he put about a billion lira on the race back in the UK. Thuram manages to get the result on after holding poor John up by one hand.


Cheers all around, bar Curtis who turned a dodgy shade of purple before Lillian let him go. The board even come down and congratulate me. I see a letter with ‘P45’ on it, but assume it was a prank.

Celebrations are cut short after I remind the players there is a World Cup for a lot them coming up.

Whilst the dust settles let’s look at the final table.


A decent top 6, and to finish above both Milan clubs is a great effort.


Shockingly Roma are relegated. Fiorentina go into a play off to see if they stay up or go down.

For some reason the awards are decided after the World Cup.


Lilian deserves that and I’m proud of Hernan Crespo.

For those of you interested, the World Cup final was one no one probably watched.


Chile versus Belgium, how? I don’t really know.

On that bombshell, I leave you for another week. John Curtis needs me to pick up his winnings as he can barely speak still. Ciao for now.

You can follow Ross on Twitter @Riddley82


Don’t InZulte us

Welcome back to my new life in Belgium. I learned this week that SV Waregem would go on to merge with Zulte VV in 2001 and become Zulte Waregem. Who knew? I’ve rather lazily been living in the future and referring to us in my internal monologue as Zulte. A history lesson aside, we’ve got a team to build.

With our new squad taking shape, we have a rather profitable November. Three wins and I’m feeling pretty happy with my transfer business.

1-0 gent3-1 germinal3-1 cercle

December is less good. The thing is, the Belgian league takes a month off before Christmas and I reckon my lads are distracted by it. I’ve already got my bags packed for a month at home which probably doesn’t help our performance at Beveren

beveren 1 - 0 waregem

I tell them to focus and that Christmas will feel better with a trio of wins. Sometimes you’ve got to just be honest.

2-0 cercle brugge cup3-1 charleroi1-0 la louviere

So as we prepare for a month off, here’s how the table looks. It’s going quite well, all I want to achieve this season is a place in Europe next season. The top 3 are comfortably the best teams in the league, but 4th is achievable.

League top winter break

That gives me a month to try and perform some more squad surgery. What I’d like to do to fill this void of in game action is to let you meet some of the team. You know, give it a personal touch.

Firstly, this guy is averaging 8.00 (EIGHT) from 17 games. He is my everything, which is odd considering he’s slow and can’t tackle. But boy, is he ever in the right position. A very reliable centre half.


He had a big club release clause too but he’s signed a new contract without one. Joke is on him. His partner in crime is also very good and equally well positioned. He’s being courted by some decent clubs in France, but I don’t want to sell him for £700k as that won’t help anybody.


I showed you Mussri, Dammann and Lesmond in the previous update but I’ve had to use the free transfer market to try and give us some depth. Neil Buchanan will do well, you don’t get many strikers with great heading, pace, shooting and…set pieces. I have high hopes for him.


Finally, Jose Carlos De Jesus seemed like a good idea at the time but he’s injured already and he’s knackered after 20 minutes. Also, a Brazilian that can’t dribble? What was I thinking?

De Jesus

So it’s a lovely squad, though injuries and suspensions are mounting up which is incredible considering we’ve had a month off. We celebrate with an exit from the cup at the earliest opportunity.

cup exit

A debut goal for Buchanan gave us the briefest of brief hopes, though Pat’s early red card was pretty ludicrous. TWO DAYS later, we score 4. If I shut my eyes and squint, we were a bit like Aberdeen.

2-4 oostende

Speaking of Aberdeen, they managed a draw in the Nou Camp. It’s remarkable because despite all the talent available to Beardsley he started young Robbie Keane up front then brought himself on after 15 minutes.

aberdeen super cup

The 2nd leg went well.

aberdeen 0 - 3 barca

They’re also out of the Champions League…

CL QF draw 03

…and third in the SPL. Honestly, it’s taken him 5 months to undo 5 years of hard work.


Anyway, back to Belgium and we’re still not as good as Anderlecht. Poor Musrri.

3-0 anderlechy

We can even afford to miss a penalty against Aalst and still win. Lesmond with a double and Zetterberg, who is far too good for this team, atones for his penalty miss.

Aalst 1-3

That brings us to a Valentine’s Day clash with Mechelen, who we’re scrapping with for 4th. We start like a train, Buchanan showing us the art of attack early on though it’s a nervous last half hour. A big win.

2-1 mechelen

That establishes us as the best of the rest with 12 delicious games to go. The goals against column is obviously an issue but it has been better since Fessem signed, though the fact we have 0 draws shows how we play the game. What’s Belgian for “shit or bust”?

Belgian JL top Feb S6

It’s Club Brugge away next so if we can somehow win that we’ll start to dream of being able to hang on to the top 3 but it’ll probably be a heavy defeat. I’m a realist and a poor motivator. I’m quite looking forward to seeing if I can break the top 3 though, it’s a different sort of challenge.

Join me next week for the season finale, I’m off to think of some more Art Attack puns. Toodles!


Totti’s Team: Part 1

We’ve got a new series for you today as Rob Tait joins the party. He’s taken over Roma to try and re-live Totti’s glory days. He had many glory days. Without further Freddy, here’s Rob.

The idea: It’s the start of the 97/98 season, Roma have sacked their manager after a 12th place finish last season, they need someone new to revitalise the squad. They have one positive to take from the previous season and that is the emerging talent of a young Francesco Totti. He is Roma through and through and they are looking to build a future around him. For some reason the board decided that the best person for this job is a 35 year old English man with no previous managerial experience. I have two key aims, I want to win the Serie A title by the 2000-01 season, as Roma won the title that year. I would also like to guide Italy to World Cup success and maybe rewrite history with a Euro 2000 victory, however the Euros will probably come round a bit early for me to have secured the national team job. I’ve made one tweak to Totti’s stats and that is to increase his influence stat from 15 to 20. After all he was Roma captain by 22 and the idea is to build a team around him.

In reality Roma had a good season in 97/98 and finish fourth in Serie A so my aim is to match or better this. Totti played 36 matches, scoring 14 goals during the 97/98 campaign, I hoping for a similar performance here as I need European football next season or this could be a very short lived idea as Totti maybe requesting a transfer to move to a bigger club (as has been seen time and again club loyalty doesn’t exist in CM9798) or the board may start to question their left field appointment.

Let us begin, I would rate the squad I inherit as weak medium.


A few good players but a lot of dross. I have ten players who have centre back as one of their positions, WHY?! It’s a squad of 31, not much room for maneuver or whole scale restructuring and there are way to many non-eu players. I shed a few on free transfer and that immediately gets the boards back up so they are less than satisfied and we have not even kicked a ball yet.

I decide on a hybrid of the 2-3-1-2-2 and 4-2-3-1 formations that were reviewed in the tactics section on the website so I need to buy two (narrow) wide players to slot in behind either my lone striker or front two. I really want to buy Denilson but there are two problems, one he is from Brazil so would add to my tally of foreign players and two he thinks we are crap and doesn’t want to sign for us. I’m in turmoil until League Scout 1 suggests Alessio Pirri, swayed by my love of Nandos and the fact the kid is Italian and cheap I buy a left winger. There is nobody else for sale really so I return to and old faithful in Morten Bisgaard to play on the right hand side. After this I add two other signings Tommy Svindal Larsen (who I’m not sure I need) and Marcio Santos who I do need but would really like it if he wasn’t from Brazil but there is such a lack of centre back talent I have to do it.

I arrange three friendly’s to get my eye in, and experiment with this hybrid formation. It doesn’t go well and I lose 2:6 to Barcelona and 1:4 to Atletico Madrid, however I’m boyed by our 5:1 thrashing of Man Utd and I take this confidence into our Coppa Italia 2nd round match.



Not really the start I was hoping for, best focus on the league then.


Umm… it’s not really going to plan. Inter are quality but a draw with Brescia was poor. I ditch the formation tinkering and go back to the old faithful.


The lads really embrace this formation and we turn on the style with three victories on the bounce, best of which came against Juve.


We take our high spirits and world beating attitude to Florence, we can’t be stopped, confidence is flowing through the side.


Petruzzi’s rash challenge brings us crashing back down earth. Maybe we got a little carried away, I think to myself, but the attitude on the training pitch is top notch and the following four games see us win two and draw two, we scored 14 but conceded 9. The neutrals are loving our brand of attacking entertaining football while I’m wonder what our four international defenders are playing at. I then remember three of the four are from Brazil and defending means something different there. I embrace my inner Kevin Keegan and accept that our approach will be if they score three we score four.

Our next match is against Parma, the press are excited, two strong attacking sides going into battle, they are predicting goals and plenty of them.


Well that was a game for the neutrals. After 11 games we are 6th in the league, we have shown flashes of brilliance but are plagued by a lack of consistency and a leaky defense. I’m hoping the team will gel, Old Man Balbo isn’t getting it done up front the coaches tell me his legs have gone. Del Vecchio is in to replace him.

Rob will be back next week but please welcome him to the CM9798 family by giving him a follow on Twitter @Taitanator