“I would say I was weak for not speaking out” – Cherno Samba on depression, trying to help the next generation and embracing Championship Manager legend status

Whilst not strictly CM9798, every now and again an opportunity comes around and you have to take it. In this scenario it was the opportunity to interview star of Championship Manager 01/02 thanks to our friends at Row Z. My thanks to Harry for setting this up, Derren Touissant for the excellent artwork and Cherno himself for giving up his time to speak to a silly Geordie man. Be sure to check out Cherno’s book, hopefully the interview below entices you to put it on your Christmas list.

To many of us the name Cherno Samba evokes memories of Championship Manager at the turn of the millennium. But behind the stats and flashing goal text is a tragic backstory and a man ready to share his story with the world in his newly released autobiography Cherno Samba: Still in the Game.

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Short Stories: Real Betis – Part 1

Hello! Or maybe that should be hola! I’ve pitched up in Seville to manage Real Betis in the latest short story series. Why Betis? Well, just look at this squad!


Alfonso and Oli, Finidi and Fernando, Jarni and…Prats. It’s got the makings of a title winning side. But can they do it? Can this lot upset the traditional big clubs and win La Liga? Let’s find out.

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CM9798 Academy – Part 15: Freefall

Welcome! The CM9798 Academy are doing me proud in the Premier League, getting off to an impressive start before slightly levelling off towards the end of last week’s episode. The adjustment to the top flight has not stopped us scoring goals but we are leakier than ever, and leaky is never a positive adjective. The table looks healthy though as we pick up in October 2001.

table October S5

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CM9798 Academy – Part 14: Tough at the top

Well hello there. Welcome back to the CM9798 Academy where we’ve just about come down to earth after securing promotion to the Premier League. A great run of form to finish the season saw us steal the second promotion spot and save us the lottery of the playoffs, but now reality sets in. How am I going to survive in the Premier League with this set of morons plus the next batch of young freebies? Let’s hope those freebies are good…

Chris Woodcock was good in the Newcastle save. I consider this a good deal.

woodcock signs

In other news, the stadium is bigger! Our finances are ridiculous and Ike realises he can seat 5,000 more scouts this way.

stadium expansion

The new youth intake. Make your own jokes about Willi Serena.

Brabin and Lukic can go out on loan, Fulvio looks good enough to play now whilst the others will be squad backups. It’s hardly going to win us the league but frankly survival is the aim for now.

The season hasn’t even started man!

spurs woodcock

Obviously he goes. Snake.

woodcock leaves

Life imitates art.

capello to england

Anyway, free transfers assembled, it’s time for the opening day of the season. We’re off to the Reebok where Jeff Brazier is a sub. Our team is the same as what finished last season with some new subs available. It’s a novelty being able to name 5 now.

team day 1 S5

Some things never change as we play out a 6 goal thriller. We did lead for a bit before going 3-1 down but Irwin jnr and Ugo Howard earn us a point.

3-3 bolton

Chelsea pipped us to the First Division title and it’s a return to the Arena for Michael Twiss. Well he’s a sub anyway. Denis Deary nicks us all 3 points and this Premier League lark is easier than you think.

2-1 chelsea

Even at Wolves, we score three times in the opening 20 minutes. Falco gets his first for the club – rock me amadeus. It could have been 8.

0-4 wolves

It’s rarely dull as we contrive to go from 1-0 up to 2-1 down in three stupid minutes. We’re soon 3-2 up again only for it to finish 3-3. If we could defend we would be dangerous.

3-3 mackems

Remarkably we’re still unbeaten, and a trip to Nottingham Forest sees us frustrated by Peter Schmeichel. CM legend Erik Nevland briefly equalises before Billing slots past big Pete to get us the win. Unbeaten and top of the table, somehow.

2-1 Forest

West Ham are our next visitors and that’s where we find Anthony Betterton. We can’t handle Emile Heskey though Buckley levels immediately, only for Renou to…renew fears that we aren’t good enough for this league.

2-1 west ham

Look who gets man of the match

betterton MOTM

Grumble. We ship 4 at Old Trafford the following week – yes, that is Norwich City failure Marc Libbra – I never really expected to win here so we’ll move on.

4-2 man utd

League Cup time and we have a bye to the 2nd round for the first time. Oldham are in the third division and frankly I just want to get back to winning ways. Naturally we blow a 3-1 lead and lose one of our strikers to injury. I even had to play Nicky Byrne here due to a lack of available right backs.

3-3 oldham

Uh oh, bids ahoy. See you later, Chris.

Johnson to PV

Sometimes I hate the rules I have in place.

Johnson leaves

We’re short of attacking options for the visit of Tottenham. Chris Woodcock is on their bench as if to rub it in. We injure two of their stars (one of which sees Woodcock introduced) before falling behind. Makeshift striker McBride earns us a point. Phew.

1-1 spurs

Sam Shilton also leaves for £275k. He barely played and I don’t care. He’s replaced by Paul Perry.

perry signs

Two goal lead after 9 minutes? Doesn’t matter. Lose 4-2. That is Robert Dunn, by the way.

4-2 sheff wed

Oldham time again and I’m desperate for us to end our bad run, so it’s our strongest team plus newcomer Perry. We thrash them but Heritage gets a red card. That will mean a league debut for Willi Serena.

5-1 oldham

Newcastle are somehow reigning champions, though Kenny Dalglish left to manage Italy. Yes, really. He was replaced by Des Walker, who was at Chelsea, and as you can see it’s thrilling.

0-0 newcastle

Serena makes his league debut at Ewood Park. We lead for a minute. Dion Dublin, Danny Murphy and Chris Sutton inspire a media based comeback and despite us briefly being level at 2-2, we end up 4-2 losers. Boo.

4-2 blackburn

Unsettled by having to use Nicky Byrne, an injury to Irwin junior has lead me back to the free transfer market. Gary Dods, come on down. We’ll try and find you another D.

Dods signs

He might be our good luck charm as he makes his debut in a delightful 2-1 win over Liverpool to end our indifferent run of form. Get us to 40 points as soon as possible.

2-1 liverpool

All of that leaves us 12th after 12 games. TWELVE. We are top scorers and worst defenders in the top half.

table October S5

…and the bottom half. We’re as midtable as it gets, perhaps unsurprisingly given those facts.

table bottom S5

Survival is the aim and on our current ratio, we’ll just about do it. We’ll just keep plugging away, at least with goals in the team we’ve got a chance. The nightmare scenario would see somebody come in for Billing, as I just don’t know how we’d fill that gap from the free transfer market. At least with the two new strikers out on loan they might be ready in a season or two.

I’ll be back as usual next week with part 15 so once again I bid you farewell. Have a pleasant week.

CM9798 – The Greatest Team: Right backs/wingbacks

Welcome to the final category of our CM9798 Greatest Team vote. There are only right backs & wingbacks left to consider and I need you to pick one from the 6 candidates if could be so kind. Remember, the results are revealed tomorrow so today is the day to get your votes in.

Your six options…

Kieron Dyer

In Dyer’s early days at Ipswich, he was a promising young full back. As he began to mature, George Burley recognised his great pace would be more useful further forwards, which is why we see him as an option for both full back and wing positions:


His potential is set very high – quite rightly, after all he did go on to play Champions League football and for his country. He’s a favourite of mid-ranging Premier League teams due to his relatively low price of a couple of million and you’re pretty certain to get more for him than you purchased him for if you are in such a position.

Is that enough for him to get your vote though?

Javier Zanetti

One of the greatest right backs ever to play the game, Zanetti had to feature in our voting.


Part of the great Inter Milan squad, he very rarely transfers away showing the same loyalty he did in the real world. I always found him to average better than Cafu, who you’d probably put in the same bracket and for that reason, he makes the list.

Peter Smith

This man is the meaning of a CM legend. You will of course remember MK’s Brighton save, where Smith was a star performer.


His stats are incredible for a third division player worth £200k but he has no big club release, which is great news if you are the Brighton manager. Brighton have operated him in central midfield in this screenshot but with a passing of 3, I’d rather seem him using that stamina to get up and down the right wingback position. Vote Peter!

Thomas Helveg

This category was quite slim pickings but Helveg usually gets a reasonable move from Udinese, so he must have something about him. Here he is enjoying a first season move to Juventus.

Helveg Juve

Available for less than £5m, I’d say he’s a good candidate for you if you are managing a top level team. Wingbacks aren’t that easy to find on the game but Helveg is a good bet. You should get a good 5 years plus out of him too.

Christian Panucci

This one isn’t difficult. He plays for one of the best clubs in the world and has incredible stats.


He quite often makes a move back to his home land but I don’t think he’s fussy as long as you are a massive club. A slight negative is that he technically isn’t a wingback but I’m sure he’d do a job there anyway. His statistical strengths lie in his defensive capabilities anyway.

Eric Rabesandratana

Fun fact for you, when my friend Ross showed me he had signed this guy I thought he had made him up on the editor. Mind you, this was in about 2003.


He often ends up at Man Utd or, in this example, Milan. The AI doesn’t sign bad players for big clubs and this guy is a bit of a marvel. Even after reading his wiki he still doesn’t ring any bells for me, I’m sure he was excellent in his day but he’s very good on CM9798 and that’s all you can ask.

Eric future

There you have it then, 6 right backs or wingbacks and it is now down to you to choose just one. You have 24 hours. The results will be revealed tomorrow as we celebrate CM9798 turning 21. Woo and yay. Bye for now.

Remember to vote in every category – you can do that here