Good day to you and welcome back to France, where season 5 of the Mulhouse save is about to reach a conclusion. There was a real mixed bag of fortunes last time out, as some key players departed and some decent but elderly replacements arrived. Arch rivals Strasbourg knocked us out of the cup on penalties but we’ll get a chance for two legged revenge in the UEFA Cup. Here’s how the table sits after a rocky start:
First up it’s league action as we try to repair the damage of a bad start. Lens away doesn’t look like the nicest place for us to visit in our current vulnerable state but despite going behind early, Del equalises in the first half and we escape with a point. We can work with that.
Because the French FA don’t believe in helping us we’ve got the UEFA Cup two days later. I feel like I’ve made a mistake picking beef with Strasbourg, they’re really quite good. They go 2-0 ahead but Del and Rai score in quick succession to give us the upper hand ahead of the return leg.
We warm up for that with a thrashing of bottom club Montpellier. They are woeful, mind. The only thing they have going for them is the hilariously named Saxemard and although he scores, we score four as they finish with 9 plus two injuries. A good, clean match.
Strasbourg then. I hate these guys. We shoot ourselves in the foot and go 2-0 down again and although we briefly threaten a comeback, it is extinguished when Billy Mac punts one past Ceballos for no real reason. There’s always next year.
We’re out of of all the cups now so we can focus on trying to get up that league table. Another 4-1 home win, this time over Metz, is a good start. Rai has been a great addition, his age hasn’t mattered at all.
Strasbourg away again and this time a sturdy performance sees us draw 0-0. The champions elect are held and I can only hope it derails them.
Our favourite score as Del continues his great form and Rennes have no response. We like having the second half off where possible.
Another quick start has us 3-0 up after 21 minutes and although our progress is briefly checked, Del completes his hat-trick and big house scores an OG. A handsome away win.
It is however the end of Rai. There’s a very real risk he will retire but I hope not.
I tell the lads to do it for Rai. Nantes are blown away.
I set us up to defend away at 3rd placed Marseille. You’ll recall Marseille have Thierry Henry but he has an off day and we score with only our second shot on target. Del is a hero. Two weeks out for Maraval.
We make hard work of lowly Perpignan when Milazzo gets a red card for an elbow. No need. Thuram powers in a header to remind everyone why I spent £900k on him.
He’s needed for the daunting trip to Paris. An extra centre half and Del as the lone striker looks folly when PSG score after just five minutes but Natigol equalises and after an hour of being barracked, Del nips onto a short backpass and slots past Revault. If we have fans, they’ll be cheering.
More of the same at Bastia. Del again scores the winner and can be heard singing “One Voice” on his way back to his flat. A riot breaks out but that’s by the by.
Because you’re Georges, I’d do anything for you. He’s going to the World Cup!
To celebrate, Monaco get absolutely thumped. A 1st minute red card obviously helps but we have a great time, even Macauley Culkin scores. Del gets another hat-trick which leads to another chorus of One Voice.
That’s 8 wins on the spin and back into the European places in the nick of time. If the season was longer we might be able to hunt down the top two but instead, we settle for 9 wins in a row and Maraval celebrates his call up with a late goal to seal a win over Caen – which is NOT where the film festival is.
Third! It’s actually our highest finish which is incredible when you think how bad it was at times. The arrival of Matthew Wicks was huge plus Del’s decision to turn into a world class striker and turn down Porto.
Here’s the lads before they go on their holidays. It’s a bigger squad than usual but we’ll be trimming that over the summer. Some might even retire!
Del still wants to leave. He’s been lethal throughout 2002. That International call up must follow soon.
Natigol, not quite as lethal as last season but involved in 43 goals. Only one less than Del in that regard.
Gorgeous Georges, he’s got his first cap in a friendly and he goes to the World Cup a hero in my eyes.
Old man Glenn, who invented football remember, is now 39. He is fairly woeful but also one of my longest serving players.
France go out of the World Cup in the group stages. Maraval doesn’t play a minute. China reach the quarter finals but Holland win the whole thing. Great times.
Well deserved here.
No great surprises in the awards. Houllier’s PSG were poor in the league but won both cups and made the Champions League final.
Big news…Pennyfather DOESN’T RETIRE. Jim Magilton does. Goodnight Jim.
And so ends season 5. Will we manage to break into the Champions League next season? Will Del come to his senses and stay put? It’s exhausting building a team only to see it picked apart. Booty oil played only 13 games for Strasbourg, was it worth it? See you next week where we’ll try and answer all of this and more.