Matt Wills returned to the blogging arena last week with his Potless FC concept. He’s put together a team of decent players who never managed to win a cup, can he put that right? Here’s part two…
Hello, and welcome back to my new blog, taking a team of 90’s stalwarts who never won a major title, in a team that has never won a major title (you can catch up with Part 1 here).
I left you in part 1 on a run beyond my expectations with a front two of Beppe Signori and Stan Collymore scoring for fun. We’ll start back with league action and something of an oddity for us, a clean sheet, as we beat Barnsley 1-0. Shaw, he won’t let you down.
Our next league game away at Bolton is all about the second half. Pick the bones out of that one. Pedro at the double but it’s not enough when Stan and Beppe do the same.
We hit the buffers slightly at home to Derby, who conspire to concede to Steve Watson, but hang on for a deserved point.
The return leg in the League Cup against Stoke is the perfect chance to give a run out to the second string players and Julian Dicks marks his return from injury by grabbing a goal. We’ll face Chelsea in the next round, who have just seen their manager Vialli resign.
Back to the league and another rare cleansheet. Signori makes up for his penalty miss by scoring the winner deep into the game.
Despite his great form, he obviously thinks Palace are beneath him. He may have a point, but he’s’ going nowhere. Request denied.
Signori is in the first eleven for the crucial World Cup qualifier against England and he puts the cherry on the top of the cake to send them to France 98. England will need to navigate two legs against Belgium to join them. I wonder what Gazza did to get sent off?
Our next opponents Chelsea turn to a safe pair of hands to save them from mid-table mediocrity.
Trev, Stan and Beppe spoil Bobby return to management, despite their bright start
Our next two games are real tests of character and progress against Arsenal and Man Utd.
We come away from Arsenal with a 1-1 draw and then it’s a character building nil-nil at home to Utd. If you had told me beforehand that we would take 8pts from 12 from this little run of games I would have been ecstatic!
We heap more misery on Mister Bobby’s Chelsea in the League Cup where Flo’s contribution this time is to get himself injured. The Stan and Beppe double act rolls on.
All these impressive results gain me recognition in the form of Manager of the month for October. The board are equally pleased but warn me of the financial losses we are making. Have an Italian goal-machine on £45k a week will probably do that.
High-flying Coventry visit Selhurst Park in our next league game and if your surname starts with ‘S’ you can get on the scoresheet it seems.
We’ve got 5 players in the England squad for the France 98 playoffs against Belgium.
None of them play though as England make their way to the World Cup where they’ll face Chile, Colombia and Denmark.
With all these International shenanigans over for the time being, Benito Carbone takes his chance with a rare start to bag a brace and it feels like my defenders have finally worked out that their job is to, well, defend.
This continues away at Blackburn were Collymore scores the winner and Dean Richards takes the MOTM award.
Stan’s the man again against Newcastle as we take a creditable point from the Magpies and Nigel Martyn gets the MOTM.
We take our fine form into the League Cup 4th Round against Peter Beagrie’s Bradford City and it’s a demolition
Le Tissier getting his first goals of the season, surprisingly, while Signori seems to have taken his transfer request denial badly and goals have dried up. We are drawn with Coventry in the quarter finals.
Beppe gets his chance to find the goal trail again against 17th place West Ham, but of course our fine form cannot last forever and we crash and burn to a 1-0 defeat, despite the man advantage. Sometimes football and form just does not make sense.
However, when I look at the table at the halfway point, I can’t be anything less than delighted. 3rd and only 4 points of the top. Ok, our goals against column could be better, but our defence is gradually improving. Not playing Carlton Palmer definitely a factor in that.
So at the half way point we are doing very well and if I can relight Beppe’s fire we’ve got a good shot at finally giving these guys some medals.
In the next part we’ll join the excitement of the FA Cup and see where our league form takes us.
Before I sign off for another week, another look at a couple of our nearly men and their real-life careers:
Centre back Dean started his career at Bradford before moving onto Wolves in 1995, staying for 4 seasons and becoming club captain. In 1999 he moved onto Southampton. He then followed manager Hoddle to Spurs in 2001 for a cool £8.1m. Deans time at Spurs was beset with injury and he was forced to retire early in 2005 due to health concerns. He moved back to Bradford as a coach but sadly passed away in February 2011 at just 36.
Versatile on the right side of defence or midfield, you would often see his ‘electric copper’ hair speeding down the right flank for Newcastle in their mid-90’s pomp. Watson moved onto Villa in October 1998 for £4m but was off again just under 2 years later to Everton. Moves to West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday hen followed before hanging up his boots in 2009. Now the manager of York City, Steve gained one England ‘B’ cap and was a runner up with Newcastle in the 1997/98 FA Cup Final against Arsenal.