The Retirement Academy – Part 19: Pounderland

Welcome! We finally did it. Not the overall objective of overthrowing Ajax but the minor target of qualifying for the UEFA Cup. It’s a start. It’s a land where we can develop players and begin the difficult task of closing down a 24 point gap to Ajax. Sounds easy doesn’t it?

Time to recruit and the first stop is Darren Thorn, who is Tony Adams. I will be calling this man Tiny Adams, which I think is brilliant.

This is John Salako. He has a funny regen name.

I think this is a Fernando. I always get them mixed up but it could be him.

Sadly we’re always prone to losing players and Rudy Keur is off to Lazio.

Also Alejandro Benito is away. He’s been on loan a few times and we are well stocked back there.

Without the pints cup group stage to truncate our preparation it’s a longer wait to get the season underway but we do so at the FUJIfilm Stadion in Breda. They’ve signed Van der Sar which makes our task harder and with Sirakov, Laudrup and Quinn injured we’re a little bit stretched on the old guy front. We end up with Gullit, McAllister, Rudy, Nillis and Bowen as our 5 but it’s young Theo Pounder who arrives off the bench to grab us a last minute winner. Nice.

Brondby in the UEFA Cup then, which is a middle of the road type tie. It could have been worse.

The 11th minute proves to be pretty eventful at home to Den Haag. Janssen has us in the lead for a matter of seconds. Kick offs are seemingly the biggest threat in this league.

Time to go to Denmark as our passports are out for the first time. Obviously we go behind but Gazza junior equalises and it looks like we’ll get a decent result but then Bergman ruins it in stoppage time. Still, it could be worse.

Another defensive midfielder for the ranks. Bango has a name which should make for some good puns.

Go Ahead Eagles away – this used to be a nightmare in the early days but thankfully they are bang average. That said it takes Deeley until the last minute to prove that particular point.

Pizzi junior is away now. Dropping like flies.

The goals aren’t exactly flowing for us and Heerenveen make us pay. We’re just missing something with this squad and I’m not sure what.

Ah yes Pizzi completes his move. Turns out he had a lot of interest in the end.

Theo Pounder! A very amusing name but only earns us a point as the brilliantly named Van der Roer equalises.

Janssen misses so many chances. He’s a weird lad, he got 22 last season which seems massively out of keeping with his other seasons. He does however score one of his 7 shots and we’re off to Round 3.

Austria! The hills are alive with the sound of The Micker.

Finally some goals but only after Utrecht’s goalkeeper gets sent off and pressure tells. Bowen is out for 2 months – look at what you could have won.

That brief run of form is ended by Willem II. Four months out for Limber, a month for Gullit. Goodness me.

It’s never a good time to play Ajax but our chances are briefly improved when Deeley gives us the lead. That just seems to anger the Amsterdam giants and we’re soon 5-1 down, impressive when you consider we conceded three in four minutes. Pounder and Micker restore some respect but that’s long gone.

It was quite an even game, really.

I don’t know what’s going on but we’re 3-0 down at home to Austria Vienna after 14 minutes. This lot will be the death of me. Janssen and Deeley spring into action and we level it up by half time. We do get 5-3 ahead which to most teams would be a sign that things are looking up but from the kick off Garger makes it 5-4. What is life?

I don’t think we’ll ever beat Sparta. They win 2-0 but the stats show they had 25 shots to our 7. I don’t know what it is about them, I mean at least they are second now but they are our bogey team and I’m starting to hate them as much as Strasbourg.

We finally get our first clean sheet of the season away at MVV, but only after getting a man sent off after 7 minutes. We rally, go 2-0 up, miss a penalty and then go down to 9. What’s wrong with you absolute set of weapons?

Rudy faces a three game ban for a straight red but instead breaks a hip in training. He is old, I guess.

This guy looks ok. We need some young DMs. His pace of 4 means he won’t show up his colleagues in training.

I wonder if Holland has a saying about London buses? It’s unlikely, given they probably don’t care about the frequency of another country’s bus schedule and the Dutch are big on cycling but the laboured point I am trying to make here is that we keep back to back clean sheets to finish today’s update with a narrow win.

So we’re 8th. There’s a lot of work to be done if we have any hope of matching last season but it could all change. For better or for worse…

The squads looking well. If you ignore that our best centre back and captain fancies a move and we’re missing a number of defensive midfielders to long term injuries, things are fine.

I think we need more goals so I’ve started the search for a young striker. Who knows, he could be the next Micker. Imagine what it’ll be like when the Micker retires. His regen better have a funny name. See you next week.

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