I barely need to introduce our guest bloggers now but I will anyway. Matt Wills is back with the Class of 94, looking to go one better than they did in season 1 by winning the lot in season 2. It started pretty well last week – you can read that here.
Eric and his band of aging men are aiming for European glory. In the last part, the class of 94 were shrugging off injuries and Cantona’s poor form to secure passage to the Champions League Quarter Finals, mostly by playing against Arsenal, but we’re behind Leeds in the league.
After our group stage exploits, we’re back to league action and a 3-1 win over Chelsea. Buoyed by European qualification, Cantona finds his shooting boots to score twice, the other from Hughes and Utd leapfrog Leeds to top the table.
This is good…
Schmeichel returns from injury, but it’s Gary Walsh who carries on in goal against Tottenham, but he can’t stop Klinsmann cancelling out a Scholes strike and it finishes 1-1.
Boxing day sees us head to the County Ground to beat Derby 3-1, Cantona scoring again and Scholes picking up 2 from the left wing.
As the calendar ticks to 1999, it’s a Manchester Derby in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, but we lose Bruce for 3 months to a torn hamstring – I cursed him by featuring his stats at the end of the last part didn’t I?
Anyway, in the match Anthony Fenton is sent off in the 25th minute after bringing down Scholes in the box and stand in defender Dublin dispatches from the spot, a 2nd Dublin penalty makes the game safe in the second half before Cantona puts the Cherry on the Cake and we’re in the hat for the 4th Round where we’ll face Bury. Bury knocked out Arsenal in the 3rd round, so we would have played them, the game engine saving us from another meeting with Arsenal!
Four days later it’s the League Cup Quarter Final against Liverpool and we’re only separated by a Cantona goal – he’s getting his mojo back it seems. It’s Newcastle in the Semi’s – could we do an unprecedented quadruple?
Well, if we are we need to knock Leeds off the top and next up in the league is Crystal Palace and a chance for Schmeichel to reclaim the No.1 jersey from Gary Walsh. Cantona, Kanchelskis and Hughes put us 3-0 up in the first 40 minutes and then Pallister takes out Andrew Cooke in the area and gets himself sent off. Big Peter saves the penalty from Cooke but undoes his good work by getting sent off in the 67th minute and Cooke blasts past Gary Walsh. Backs to the walls for the next 25 minutes, and it’s a nervy final 10 when Bruce Dyer makes it 3-2 but we hang on to stay top of the pile.
Next up it’s old foes Liverpool at Old Trafford and you can see below how dominate we are at the moment – another 2 from Eric.
In the 4th Round of the FA Cup we brush aside Arsenal conquerors Bury 3-1 with the resurgent Leee Sharpe getting one of the goals, and its Liverpool in the next round – I can see a pattern forming here!
Over to Sheffield on a Saturday to face Wednesday, but it’s a Blue Monday for us as we are stunned by two Ritchie Humphrey goals and a third from Scott Oakes (Showaddywaddy’s Trevor Oakes’ son – Blue Monday or Blue Moon?) and this leaves us 2nd in the table behind Leeds.
Worse news follows, Leee Sharpe is out injured for a couple of months with a groin strain and he was playing so well at left back too…Injuries haven’t been kind to us this season, will it be telling at the business end of the campaign?
Most of February is cup action from here, starting with the first leg of the League Cup semi’s against Newcastle. It’s not over yet.
In between the return leg, it’s Silk and Steel in the FA Cup at Anfield, Cantona scoring for fun now. It’ll be Division 1 Birmingham in the next round.
We need an extra time rescue job from Scholes to see off Newcastle in the League Cup (a competition I wasn’t intending to bother with….) and we’ll be facing Leicester City in the final next month.
Those cup exploits have knackered most the of the squad and to avoid running them into the ground, I play a very changed line-up in the league against Villa. Sinclair and Cerny score within the first 10 minutes and it’s left to Hughes and Gillespie to salvage a point. 10 man Leeds squeeze past basement club Palace to win 1-0 and extend their lead at the top to 3pts. I moaned last season about having no challenge, well I’ve bloody got one now!
What is it with Newcastle and own goals? Another 2 dropped pts but Leeds lose to Spurs so we’re now 2 pts adrift – doable!
Cantona is loving life at the moment and as Leeds stiff against Liverpool, we’re back on top of the league!
As we lurch into March 1999, we’re getting to the games that will shape Eric’s destiny. Betis are 3rd in the league. They may have sold Afonso and Sanchez Fernando but they’ve replaced them with Denilson and Sebastian Rambert. An away goal here will be key as we rarely keep clean sheets anymore!
Gary and Keith take note, but the win is not without its costs…
Neville and Scholes are out for 4 and 6 weeks respectively and Ince and Giggs (2nd yellow) will also miss the return leg…
We struggle with a 1-1 draw against Birmingham City in the FA Cup. They’re 16th in Division 1. I’m pushing these old guys too hard I think. I’m playing Kanchelskis at right back. The replay is scheduled for the end of March, so we’ll save that and the return against Betis for the next part. There’s also the League Cup Final and a tasty league match against Leeds coming up.
Here’s Eric’s stats for the season, he’s doing well, see you next week!
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills