Hello! Welcome to season 12 of the Academy. We may have started at the bottom but the eternal struggle is finally showing signs of getting over that hump. Season 11 saw us secure a second place finish and with it a shot at the Champions League. Naturally, we’ve been given a pretty tough task to get there.
We could have got Linfield but nooo, Porto it is. Normally I given you screenshots of regens I have enticed to the project but I have boldly signed nobody. Why? Well the main reason is that the squad is full. Secondly, I don’t need anybody else. This squad is going places, eventually.
Off we go to Portugal where we lead twice but have to settle for a draw. Hobday and Canhoto sound like a Mexican detective duo.
We’ll worry about that later. Firstly though, the domestic season kicks off at Pride Park. That damn Carr-Lawton scores the opener but Lukic, remember Lukic? He equalises but we’re soon behind again. To settle this, Alfonso junior scores twice in a minute. That’s quite the feat. I hope nothing ever happens to him.
He sees off Hull. It’s not pretty but it’s effective.
Off we go to Wolverhampton and DEAR GOD NO. We’re already 1-0 down but the sight of Alfonso on a stretcher is the last thing we need. Please, just be a dead leg or something.
Oh, it’s dead alright.
This is a pickle. An early season pickle. The return match with Porto and we have a striking crisis. The Simpsons taught us that the Chinese have the same word for crisis and opportunity. Crisotunity. Lavin is recalled from his loan at Celtic, he’s got a part to play.
Big news! The first Graduate to become a manger has happened. Gary Simpson, who played for us in the very first season, has taken over from Colin Todd at Bolton. Bless. I’ve never been prouder.
So then, the Porto predicament. We’re 1-0 down inside 3 minutes and that is a big problem. Big Lavin though. He was playing in the SPL 3 days ago but now he’s my new hero. He scores twice along with the long serving McBride and we will go to the group stage ball.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful but this is the worst group in Champions League history. I’m not even sure what a Pobeda Vitaminka is.
Back to domestic life without Fonsy and McCallum returns from the bench to earn us a victory. Lawrie is the latest to depart injured whilst Hool will get a ban for his red card. Great result, bad day.
Another game, another injury. McBride is proving very useful and gives us the lead but that damn Michael Owen equalises. Mcboyaboy is injured for a month.
Our annual trip to Arsenal goes as well as it usually does.
That wonderful music plays out at the Arena for a group stage match. Pobeda, who are from Macedonia for those keeping score, escape with a 3-1 loss. We had 32 shots. Eadie junior is the next to be injured.
We’re cruising against Everton. McCallum and Lukic rekindle their partnership but then a mad final 7 minutes costs us two points. Sometimes I just want to slap every single member of this squad.
Lukic rolls back the clock with a double to see of Sunderland. He’s still a good goalscorer, he’s just not as dynamic as Fonsy.
Just once I want one of our friendly games of human archery in training to not end with an injury.
With even less strike power than normal we meekly surrender at West Ham. Another of our favourite grounds.
I’m regretting my earlier comments as we head to Yugoslavia and find ourselves 2-0 down at half time. Les Lunt, who is highly rated but nobody really knows why, finally shows his worth by getting us back into the game before eventually winning it in the last minute. Quite the night.
We’re holding it together by a thread at the moment. Leeds make us scrap to the end but we get there and it’s a welcome three points.
Palace have dropped Hawkes! Without him, they are powerless to resist. A rare easy night, I approve.
Barnsley are back in the Premier League, armed with former Academy players Ryan Morrison and Bert Calderwood. Neither score but their team mates takes two points off us and cost us two more players. For crying out loud.
Off to France for probably the hardest game of the Champions League campaign. Once again we’re behind before rallying to lead. The pitch resembles a battlefield as three depart injured before McBride scores a last minute winner. If anybody is stupid enough to follow this club around Europe, it must be quite the party in France.
I hate Steffen Iversen. I didn’t used to but he just scores against all the time. He gives Sheff Utd the lead but Eadie junior powers in a free kick and then the winner and once again we escape. We are basically Crash Holly defending his hardcore title.
League Cup time and with nothing to care about, I rest the entire team. I even play Mads Kanne in goal who might actually be the worst goalkeeper I have ever seen on this game. He holds NOTHING. Everything is parried or he can’t hold on. Butter fingers. He concedes after one minute. Rennie (Beagrie) and Lavin (Scottish beanpole) turn it round and we win a game I never really intended to. As Alanis said, it’s like resting your entire team for a pointless cup game but the reserves win anyway and you have to play another match in a few weeks. Isn’t it ironic?
We finish today’s league update at Chelsea. Bottom club Chelsea. Suggs was dreaming of a blue day and frankly he got his wish.
After all of that, we’re third. At this stage, we just need to be in the hunt. And we are. West Ham look formidable with that goals for/against record but there’s plenty of time for that to change.
We managed another 30 shots in Macedonia. They are terrible, like our finishing.
We should have done more than enough to get through. We have two home games to come and a point against Red Star will be enough.
We’ve been through a lot today but the best news of all is that Alfonso has now recovered. His condition is barely 70% but having him back will make us all the better. Please do join me next week to see if we can keep up our title challenge and secure our Champions League passage. Toodles for now.
Graduate of the Week – Gary Simpson
It seems only fitting to look at Gary Simpson as he takes up the player/manager gig at Bolton. He was brilliant for us in Division 3, wearing the captain’s armband but struggling with an injury proneness of 20. He was basically the Ledley King of his day.
He played for Man City and Watford before moving to Bolton – oddly always for £475k, where he made a real home as a Premier League player. He eventually moved on to Wimbledon in the third division. He has been rescued from that particular hell by landing a management job at a Premier League club but he has a slipped disc, so he won’t be playing any time soon.