When Diego met Paul: Part 1

My good friend Ross is back in the guest bloggers chair with his latest idea. It involves Spurs, Gazza and an Argentine character you are all familiar with. I’ll let Ross explain further – enjoy!

Hello, it’s good to be back. Thank you, firstly, for all the positive comments regarding my previous Parma work. After Russia 18 (no one called it that though) I needed an idea. Then I saw this picture…

Cover

Maradona in a Spurs shirt, yes it happened – during an Ossie Ardiles testimonial in fact. So, what if he joined in real (CM9798) life. I made it happen, but he came with an unusual request.

I sit in my office near White Hart Lane, on the other side of the desk is one Diego Maradona. I say to him ‘Are you sure about this?’, ‘Yes’ he replies, ‘or I don’t join’. ‘Ok, I’ll make it happen’. I turn to my assistant and say, ‘Get me Paul Gascoigne on the phone please’.

Inside 3 hours I have a beaming Geordie yelling ‘I’M BACK!’

So, this is the story of when Paul met Diego.

First things first, I need to assess my squad. Diego and Gazza are in their 30’s and the front line will be Jurgen and Sir Les, who are also into their more mature years.

1

Diego forgets tell me he is injured. Nothing serious just a heel problem, will clear up in time for the start of the league campaign.

I’m going for a trendy formation, all the kids seem to be using it so I’ll jump on the band wagon to get success.

2

Sol Campbell will be the actual captain. Ian Walker wears too much gel to be taken seriously.

Our first game of the season is Chelsea. Been a while since we have beaten them. I tell the team they will need time to bond and it may not happen straight away but to keep it tight at the back.

I’m not sure they heard me…

3

Diego sets up one and Gazza was very strong. Our front 5 combined age is nearly 160, but 4 goals is something to keep them feeling young. The fans are happy and surely the board are too.

That same board call me up to say I can only buy when I sell. I can transfer list myself I have to wait for one to go and replace like for like. So far, probably because Anderton is injured, no bids have come in.

I go into the next match not sure what to tell the players. Diego just juggles a ball without doing his laces up during pre-match warm ups. I worry the lad will break his neck one day, or worse, Gazza ties his laces together.

4

Wow, what a team I have. Maradona scores, and provides more assists. Dad’s army are sticking them away. Wondering now if we could trouble the title favourites?

In a word, no.

5

And we had a goal cancelled out in the 88th min. Fuming I was, fuming.

Important to bounce back but a loss in our next game makes me think this team will be very 50/50.

I notice that we have been missing Steve Carr from those two matches. Maybe I’ve been focusing too much on the 2 big stars and not my little sprinting Irishman.

Leeds are next, Elland Road is never a happy hunting ground for Spurs. But with Carr back and some loud shouting from Diego, not sure what he says as it’s all in Spanish, we are up for it.

6

Lovely stuff. Gazza gets 2 and real life future player Richards helps us by lunging into Daveed.

After beating Bolton at home it’s Barnsley at WHL which should be fine…and is

7

Ginola playing alongside Maradona behind the front 2 is paying off.

Scales and Campbell are rock solid and David Howells is showing why he should be an England regular.

Blackburn do us in the last few minutes just after I thought we had nicked the game.

8

I tell the lads not to worry about it, but Gazza keeps yelling something in Geordie and I just smile and nod.

The next match is the North London Derby. I think Gazza got himself too wound up before the game. But how we lost against 9 men is beyond me.

9

I can’t let it go, 9 men vs 11. Adams was sent off early as well.

I’ll end this first part with the table.

10

A strong start but Chelsea have a game on hand on us. 26 goals are a lot but I’m worried the defence will cost us.

11

At the bottom and Everton and Newcastle have a lot to do. Though I reckon Newcastle will bounce up the league one Wor Al comes back after injury.

I’m still upset, 9 men!!!! Anyway, Diego is doing great and Gazza has promised to stop letting off fire extinguishers in hotels.

Join me next time, ciao for now.

You can follow Ross on Twitter @Riddley82

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Short Stories: Newcastle United – Part 12

Hello! Here we are then, the final edition of the NUFC “short” story. You get a feel for when a story is no longer interesting, so hopefully I can bow out at a high point. I will however upload the save file so if you really want to continue this save, be my guest. Here we go then, three months to go and four competitions to try and win…starting with the FA Cup.

The last 16 sees us welcome Liverpool to St James’. It’s a tough tie, as you’d expect, but my hero and yours Bjarni the Gud sees us through.

Liverpool 2-0 FA

It’s a quarter final clash at home to 1st Division Leicester which is music to my ears.

FA QF Draw

February continues with the second leg of the league cup. With a 3-0 advantage I can rest a few and settle for a narrow defeat. Needs must.

1-0 arsenal LC

It’s Spurs in the final at the end of March.

I swear we draw 0-0 with Derby at least once a season. It’s best not to dwell on these things

0-0 derby S3

The excitement continues with a trip to Middlesbrough. These fixtures are coming thick and fast. Andreas Andersson was brilliant last season but he’s been utterly garbage this year, so it’s a relief when he grabs the winner here.

Boro 0-1

Whether it is fatigue or just not being very good, we’re dull to watch at the moment. The whole team is rotated ahead of a clash with Milan, so Birmingham face our reserves. Disco Des ends their resistance.

brum 1-0

Milan then and it seems a little unfair that they’ve added Henry, Zidane and Juninho to the squad. The little Brazilian enjoys his return to the north east before a needless red card opens the door and we jam our foot in it to give us a good lead to take to Italy.

3-1 milan

A problem though is that Shearer and Tomasson both pick up cards that mean they will miss the return leg. An FA Cup quarter final against 1st Division Leicester sees both play alongside the B team and a bit of a shambolic display.

1-1 leicester FA Cup

The last thing we need is another match but we got the ultimate CM treatment.

leicester stats

Oh what a prize…

FA SF Draw S3

The games continue to come thick and fast and West Ham get a clobbering for their troubles. Disco Des though is without a hamstring for 6 weeks.

5-2 west ham

We have a dress rehearsal for the League Cup final but it’s also a matter of days before the Milan return leg. Once again Shearer and Tomasson do the damage ahead of their watching brief in Milan, whilst young Woody adds the third.

3-0 spurs

How are we meant to subdue THIS for 90 minutes?

milan team

That bench man. Meanwhile…

vs milan

Our attacking options are stretched. I’m considering recalling Paul Brayson, that’s what it has come to. It’s not pretty but we survive a 1-0 loss. We’re through!

milan 1-0

Good on Ajax but…there’s no good draw to be had.

CL QF results S3

Well at least it isn’t Barcelona.

CL SF draw

Weirdos.

barton man utd

The squad is at breaking point but we’re 2-0 up at Southampton inside 10 minutes. But this is the Dell, never a happy hunting ground for us, and even Ian Ashbee scores as Given plays a 4. Woodcock briefly gets us back to 3-3 but it’s a loss.

Soton 4-3

That leads to the International break and a welcome rest.

Oh ffs.

gudjonsson 1 month

Still, we’ve got the League Cup final to get to and even if Shearer is slowing down, he’s still the man for the big occasion. Two more goals for the great man and it’s a trophy in the bag.

spurs 0 - 2 toon LC final

However, if we’re going to add the Champions League to that bag we’re going to have to find a way past this (over 2 legs)

lazio

Andreas Andersson & Woodcock are banned, Disco Des and Bjarni the Gud are injured so it’s Paul Dalglish up front with Al. Urgh.

vs lazio

It’s about as good as you’d expect as we’re 3-0 down inside 21 minutes, and Shaka in net with Given dimissed in the penalty incident. Shearer pulls one back and mercifully it finishes that way. You know, I’ll take that, in the circumstances.

3-1 lazio

The fixture list is so congested we have a replay with Leicester on the Friday night. The winners will play Sunderland just 2 days later. Who schedules these things? We win despite Graham Fenton trying to ruin things again.

leicester 2-1

We’re in the middle of 9 matches in 21 days.

fixture pile up

Off to Anfield then for the latest installment of Tyne/Wear fun. Shearer settles it. To Wembley!

mackems 0-1

A pair of wins over struggling side – with a goal and red card for Warren Barton – moves us closer to the league title. We have many games in hand it’s silly. Also, I recalled Paul Brayson.

2-0 forest1-0 fulham

Once again though I have been able to rest players ahead of the big game. Lazio.

This would be hard enough with Shay in net but with him banned, Hislop needs to be good. We’re 2-0 up in no time but Peacock’s dismissal followed by Boksic getting the vital away goal and our bubble bursts. It’s 2-2 shortly afterwards and we’re done. But a pen from Shearer and sub Woodcock sees us get back to 4-2 and we only need one more for an unlikely comeback. That lasts a minute before Par Andersson shatters us again. Never beaten, Woodcock scores our 5th. There is to be no drama though and we’re out on the damn away goals rule.

5-3 lazio

Curses. It’ll be Barcelona vs Lazio in the final.

Shearer has 32 this season which is more than any other season, so much for him declining. He has played more games, I suppose.

A disappointing draw with Chelsea follows, but I think the squad is at breaking point. The conditions are also mid 80%s

1-1 chelsea S3

What won’t help that is this is Easter weekend and a Monday game is not what we need right now.

Still, when life hands you tired lemons, make lemonade.

sheff wed 3-0

That moves us closer to the title, with 3rd and 4th already close to being out of the equation and Tottenham emerging as our main rivals having won 4 on the spin.

6 games to go

They close that gap to 3 points with a win over Chelsea. But I’m not worried, Disco Des is back in training!

During the International break, England live the dream by playing Warren Barton and Lee Sharpe as wingbacks in a 7-0 win over Saudi Arabia. Shearer scores twice but I still think Glenn is losing the plot.

Speaking of losing the plot, we’re off to Anfield in a vital match. There’s no Stan Collymore but we still lose.

liverpool 2-1 away

On the same night, Spurs win at Villa. Level on points. Gulp.

It’s Villa for us next and eventually we see them off. Shearer continues to hold things together.

2-0 villa

Spurs also win, whilst Tomasson’s season is over. It’s another bank holiday too, so Old Trafford beckons.

Man Utd still have Neil Sullivan in goal and they’ve spent £45k on Alan Fettis to be his backup. Mad really.

Anyway, I mentioned Collymore earlier and here, in the role of old Stan, is Phil Neville. For crying out loud, shove the class of 92 up your arse.

4-3 man utd

Coventry beat Tottenham. Phew. Two games to go…

It’s the blue side of Manchester for us, just two days later. Spurs host Man Utd – come on Neil, please have learned to catch in the last couple of days.

We do our bit, even old man Barnes scored.

1-3 man city

Spurs win 1-0. Sullivan gets man of the match, to be fair.

Last game of the season and we play Arsenal. The irony that Arsenal could win Spurs the league is equalled by Middlesbrough being Tottenham’s opponents. There’s only goal difference separating us.

As it is, Shearer gets his 39th of the season and secures us the title. Spurs can only draw 0-0 which is irrelevant anyway.

1-0 arsenal S3

The bad news is Shearer will miss the FA Cup final.

S3 table

In a repeat of the 1998 final, we face Blackburn at Wembley. With Shearer out, Pinas is captain. Don’t ask me how or why but his influence is 20. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Pinas is always a main influence but it’s bold to admit it.

FA Final

It’s Coming Home.

England squad.JPG

Lazio won the Champions League, by the way. As we’ve reached the end of our matches let’s just take some stock on how this played out.

The aim of the game was initially to survive without Shearer. We did that, thanks for Andersson, Rush and Bjarni the Gud. We vowed not to buy any players and bring through the youth – Pinas, Gudjonsson, Woodcock and Aaron Hughes all became regulars, whilst Disco Des is always part of the squad and should get England honours.

values S3

Pinas is in the Dutch squad for their home Championships, surely he’ll get his first cap soon?

Pinas

But the real star is of course Shearer.

shearer career

99 goals for me from the big man. A phenomenal return. Two Premier Leagues, two FA Cups and two League Cups.

England played Watson, Woodcock, Barton and Shearer (Des an unused sub) but they drew 0-0 with China in a warmup. Great. Watson is considered a star player by Hoddle, which just raises further questions. Where’s Eileen?

Pinas makes his Holland debut in the opening game of the tournament, coming on at 3-0 down against France. England lose 3-0 to Portugal, though Shearer does score in a 1-1 draw with Romania. Woodcock then scores the winner against Poland as England sneak through to play Denmark.

A Michael Owen hat-trick sees England through to the semis and a rematch with Portugal. It’s penalties this time and Lee Sharpe is the hero.

portugal pens

In the final, Shearer gives England the lead but they can’t hold on. It is penalties again and everybodu misses…except Andy Marshall and, to finish on an NUFC note, future centre half Franck Dumas scores the winner.

Euro 2000 final

That’s it then, the final mega-update and the end of the save. If you’re interested in carrying on where I left off let me know and I’ll send you the file.

Thanks for putting up with my little project for 12 episodes, I’ll be back soon with another but in the meantime the Academy will continue on a Sunday and we have various guest blogs for you the rest of the week. Bye for now!

 

 

 

CM9798 Academy – Part 7: Twiss & Shout

Welcome back! There are 20 games between the CM9798 Acamdemy and a second consecutive promotion, but we’re dodging obstacles from all angles. Our captain, Stonesy as I once called him, is the latest to depart. He followed creator in chief Ryan Morrison out the door and owner Ike Mashley is swimming in cash. We’ve found free replacements – which is all we are allowed – but now we have our top scorer injured for January. It’s a good job we’re second.

Div 2 top Jan

Good news though, Twiss is back for our visit to Millwall. Ricky Newman does the most stereotypical Millwall thing and gets sent off for an elbow to the face after a minute. Good. Twiss departs with a hamstring injury. Bad.

4-0 millwall

Our last two away games have been 4-0 wins but now we’re at home for two in a row. A month without Twiss though.

Without Pearson, Twiss and the departed Morrison we are the opposite of ruthless. I don’t know what that is. Toothless? Big Bill Davies (centre half/striker) nets a late winner after Cassin and Billing miss a truck load.

1-0 plymouth

To celebrate, Davies gets injured in training. ‘sakes.

My options are few and far between up top. I’m fortunate that Billing has really hit the ground running since signing, though he is inconsistent like a lot of the team really.

injuries

Lowly Gillingham are next up and we’re just not at it. They deservedly lead and Cassin eventually manages a shot on target to equalise. It’s two points dropped.

1-1 Gills

As luck would have it results elsewhere go our way. 4th placed Oxford beat 3rd placed Wigan and Shrewsbury can only draw. So we’re still 2nd and no worse off.

We are however in Bristol. Nicky Byrne is the only absentee to return and I’ve decided to play him in the AMRC role, with Johnson dropping out. He picks up two assists on one of our more impressive days out.

3-0 bristol city

Shrewsbury lose so this puts us top of the pile. FLYING WITHOUT WINGS.

Byrne’s new lease of life continues as he heads us in front against Carlisle. We lose Gowshall to injury though and although Billing adds a second, the return of big Bill lasts one minute before he is the victim of a bad challenge and he departs on a stretcher. My sub keeper plays the last 23 minutes up front.

2-0 carlisle

It’s a month for Davies and two weeks for Gowshall. Pearson returns to training though, which is great timing with a trip to 3rd placed Wigan coming at the weekend.

Twiss returns to training the day before the game so the pair of them are subs.

We’re 2-0 down inside 8 minutes. It’s the type of form that got Graeme Jones the assistant managers job with Belgium. Johnson pulls one back but it’s soon 3-1, Heritage having a shocker in nets for us. Billing reduces the arrears before Byrne scores an OG from a corner. What is life?

We have a serious key change at half time though and with Johnson departing due to a thigh injury, Twiss is in the action. Byrne pulls one back at the right end before Billing and Cassin both round Roy Carroll. 5-4 up and Pearson arrives from the bench to make it 6. Game, set, match.

wigan 6-4

We’ve got options for the visit of 6th placed Oxford. Only Johnson (and long term Gallagher) are missing from the forward options and I think we’re approaching some sort of Utopia in terms of our form. 5-0 doesn’t flatter us and what’s more – nobody gets injured.

Oxford 5-0

5 points clear at the top and 8 points ahead of 3rd place. We’re well set for automaitc promotion with 13 games to go.

It’s Shrewsbury who lead the chasing pack and that’s where we’re off now. We’re in the form of our lives and this is our opportunity to make the Meadow less Gay. However, we fail at that. To paraphrase Jimmy White, I’m beginning to get a little tired of them.

shrews 2-1

Nevermind. Still top and as 3rd place lost, still 8 clear of the playoff positions.

Just outside of those playoff positions are Wrexham. We’re in no mood for their shenanigans and it’s an easy win.

3-1 rexham

On to the last page of fixtures now but with 33 points still available, our 10 point gap back to 3rd can still be cut down.

3 months out for Brazier. What we do to each other in training I dread to think. Byrne starts out of position in central midfield as Luton are disposed of.

3-1 luton

10 games to go, 10 points the gap to 3rd.

A win over Norwich costs us Twiss for two weeks

2-1 norwich

But a win over Crewe is without incident. Sides around us faulter too, so it’s a 12 point gap now with 8 to play.

3-1 crewe

Cassin and Byrne both play for Eire Under 21s whilst Heritage makes the bench for England’s equivalent. The transfer deadline looms…

deadline

Phew. Twiss has three Premier League clubs circling but as he is valued at £4m, maybe his recent injuries have put them off. Good.

Hull have tiptoed into 3rd place which makes our trip there quite important. Brian McClair settles it though and we are momentarily pegged back.

1-0 hull

It’s still very much in our hands though.

7 games to go

Twiss wants to move to a bigger club. Now is not the time, Michael. You quite literally can’t. A sketchy performance agaisnt Cardiff brings a point thanks to Heritage saving a pen.

2-2 cardiff

Hull lose so there’s no damage done. Everybody else seems quite intent on beating each other. 6 to go.

We don’t have a game on Easter Saturday as our opponents, Bristol Rovers, are in the Windscreen shield final. It means we are raring to go on Easter Monday against 21st placed Chesterfield. Pearson is banned but Gallagher is back after a long absence.

1-3 chesterfield

That. Was. Awful. The gap is down to 6, though we have a game in hand. Don’t blow it now!

No Gowshall and without him the defence is weak. 4-1 down at half time, I really question why any of us bother and fortunately it rouses us to immediately reduce the arrears, but it is soon 5-2. A fight back ensues and we sneak a point. Bloody hell man.

5-5 wycombe

The game in hand is away at 5th placed Bristol Rovers and we have a further curveball to deal with – International call ups. Heritage, Byrne and Cassin are all away yet somehow old crisp packet hands Aldous keeps a clean sheet.

2-0 bristol r

9 ahead of 3rd, 9 points available. In the words of Boris Becker, any point will do.

Name the dullest way to seal promotion

0-0 preston

We’re up! That’s the main thing.

What’s more…we’re the champions!

champs

table 2 games to go

We round off the season with a win at Walsall and a thrashing of Burnley. Pearson had a great bank holiday,

1-2 walsall

4-1 burnley

That leaves us on 99 league goals, annoyingly.

Div 2 table final

Barnsley have been releagted from the Premier League so we’ll up against Betterton and Ryan Morrison next season. Amazingly we lost nobody in this update, I will save the graduates update for next time though as I’ve covered so much already, you’ll be sick of me.

Tottenham have won the Premier League, quite who has allowed that to happen I don’t know. They also won the UEFA Cup so Jack Charlton is obviously a genius. Shrewsbury go out of the playoffs on away goals to Crewe. Good. Wigan win the playoff final. Coventry are in the 1st Division yet win the FA Cup and then lose the playoff final. So they’ll have a fixture nightmare next season with Saturday/Wednesday confused by Thursday fixtures thrown into the mix too.

Anyway, we’re going to have a lot to sort out ahead of our life in Division 1. Jeff Brazier wants to move to a bigger club, Channel 4 are weighing up a bid, whilst Twiss…

everton bid for twiss

With that, here’s some awards. Obviously only one matters.

awards S2

Give Pearson the golden boot. If he gets it next season things have gone really well. See you then as I try and convince Twiss to stay or more accurately hunt for a free replacement. Bye for now.

 

 

One Season In Turin – Part 6

Matt Wills is back with the end of his Turin story. A promotion for Torino was good, but the cast of Italia 90 winning the 98 World Cup would be better. They can’t, can they?! Part 5 is available here.

Here we are, the final part of my Italia 90 meets France 98 odyssey. To bring you up to date, after getting Torino promoted from Serie B with a smattering of former England stars including Lineker and Shilton, I’m now in charge of England, trying not to humiliate myself with the Italia 90 squad. We crept out of our group which included Germany, Cameroon and Japan, Lineker became the alltime top scorer for England and John Barnes got ruled out for 11 months. These aging heroes knocked out Norway in the second round and we are now paired with Tunisia in the quarterfinals.

With you bang up to date, lets get the world in motion.

2

A reminder of those other quarter final line ups. Group chums Germany face Nigeria, whilst Brazil and France meet earlier than in real life. Spain vs Italy makes up the 4th slot.

3

Quarter Final Match 5 – Friday 3rd July 1998 – Tunisia vs England – La Beaujoire.

Three Lions 98 are at the top of the UK pop charts, Vindaloo by Fat Les is in number two and England are in the quarter finals of the World Cup.

Reality Check – England beat Cameroon 3-2 thanks to two Gary Lineker penalties after almost crashing out of a tie described by Bobby Robson as a ‘bye’.

Tunisia are lining up in a 5-3-2 formation. I must admit, I know little about their team, but they edged out Denmark to qualify from their group behind Nigeria and then put Sweden to the sword in the second round. Sellimi plays for France and Boumnijel is in goal for West ham, but that’s about as far as my knowledge goes.

4

I’m sticking with the tried and trusted Direct – 5-3-2 and keep faith with Trevor Steven on the right of my midfield 3. Age is not catching up with anyone yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

That all lasts for 60 seconds when Ben Hassan steals in behind the defence to slot past Shilton to put Tunisia 1-0 up. However, Trabelsi sees a straight red 2 minutes later and I encourage the squad to use the man advantage and control the play. We come level on 7 minutes through a break from Lineker, squaring for Beardsley to get off the mark at the tournament. On the half hour mark, Gazza swings in a free kick for Platt to volley past the West ham stopper and we go into half time with our tales up.

I can see tired faces and minds at half time, so to lighten the mood I get John Barnes to do his rap from World In Motion. Gazza then offers to sing ‘Fog on The Tyne’ but luckily the bell for the second half rings and we are saved.

The second half is a cagey affair and Tunisia start to mount pressure and I can see the players flagging. To freshen things up, I bring on Tony Adams for Mark Wright and Bryan Robson for Trevor Steven to control the midfield. The fresh legs force a corner in the lastminute and Butcher rises highest to settle the match. We’re in the bloody semi-finals!!

5

We find out our Semi-Final opponents, Brazil. Bloody Hell.

6

In the other quarter final matches, Germany beat Nigeria and Italy squeeze past Spain on penalties.

7

We’ve got about 5 days to recover from our exertions against Tunisia. So I order plenty of rest and some light training. This doesn’t stop Gazza and Waddle from nipping out for a ‘few beers’.

Semi Final Match 5 – Wednesday 8th July 1998 – Brazil vs England – Stade Velodrome.

The press back home are full of our heroics at France ’98, we’ve surpassed all expectations, including my own, with a team where the youngest players are 31 (Platt and Gascoigne if you’re wondering) and a goal keeper who is 47 and long overdue his pension.

However, this will surely be our toughest test, the might of Brazil and Ronaldo et al in full flow.

Holders Brazil came untroubled through a group including USA, Eire and Ukraine, before dispatching Colombia and holders France to set up a clash with our England faithful’s.

Our exploits might be heralded back home, but other nations are not too impressed with our journey into the latter stages of the tournament, but I just it as fuel to fire my charges up. One game from the final I tell them, you’re here on merit, let’s do it!

A creature of habit, I’m unwilling to make any changes, so England line up like so:

1 – GK – Peter Shilton – Torino
2 – RWB – Paul Parker – Free Agent
3 – LWB – Stuart Pearce – Newcastle Utd
4 – DC – Des Walker – Sheffield Wednesday
5 – SWDC – Mark Wright – Liverpool
6 – DC – Terry Butcher – Torino
7 – RM – Trevor Steven – Bristol City
8 – MC – David Platt – Arsenal
9 – SC – Gary Lineker – Torino
10 – FC – Peter Beardlsey – Bolton Wanderers
11 – LM – Paul Gascoigne – Glasgow Rangers

On the Bench:

12 – GK – Chris Woods – Burnley
13 – DC – Tony Adams – Arsenal
14 – CM – Bryan Robson – Middlesbrough
15 – RM – Chris Waddle – Burnley
16 – SC – Steve Bull – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Kick Off!

Brazil have the better of the opening 15 minutes and Ronaldo takes advantage of aging legs to power through the defence and blast past a stunned Shilton. Stade Velodrome is a cacophony of Brazilian cheering. It lasts for a minute, as England power down the right hand side through diminutive Paul Parker who lofts a ball into the area, knocked out of play by Zetti. From the corner, Gazza finds the head of Mark Wright and England are level, euphoria!

The euphoria lasts for 18 minutes, as England repel wave after wave of attack, but are finally breached when Denilson spots Shilton off his line and lobs him from the edge of the area.

Not to be outdone, Beardsley pulls us level after some good link play by Platt and Gascoigne. The England fans are in full voice 2 minutes later when Ronaldo his hauled off the pitch. Is he injured? Are they arrogant and resting him for the final? Who knows, but it gives us hope when they replace him with Dunga and not Romario.

Sadness sweeps the England half on 44 minutes though, as Lineker fouls Bruno after a through ball from Platt. Its’ a yellow card. Gary’s 2nd of the tournament. He’ll miss the final, if we make it. He starts to well up. Gazza speaks to him and then motions to the bench to keep an eye on him, what a lad.

Half Time.

It’s 2-2. Ronaldo is off the pitch physically, but I fear Lineker might be mentally. Keep your head I tell him, get us to the final. Do it for the fans, do it for Des Lynam. Do it for Willie Thorne!

Gary listens and on the 51st minute, he scores his 51st England goal and puts us 3-2 up in the semi-final of the world cup against Brazil – amazing scenes!

Unfortunately, that’s as good as it gets. These players are knackered, and Brazil flex their muscle, scoring 3 goals without reply to win 5-3. I bring Steve Bull on for Beardsley after the 5th goal, but to no avail. There will be no fairytale ending to this story, but I am beyond proud.

8

9

Reality Check – England suffered the agony of penalties against West Germany but returned to England as heroes, as they will do once more.

In the other semi-final, Italy beat Germany 1-0 to set up a repeat of the 1994 final.

10

But what of our England heroes? Well, we have one more game, the 3rd place playoff against Germany to deal with before we head home.

11

3rd Place Playoff Match 6 – Saturday 11th July 1998 – England Vs Germany – Parc des Princes.

After the highs of the tournament, this is the game no-one wants to be in, after going so close to the final, but it’s there to be played and a chance for the stars of Italia 90 to exact a modicum of revenge against Germany.

I make a few changes to the line-up for this match, bringing Bully in for the suspended Lineker, move Pearce into the 3 man defence and play Dorigo at left wing back. Finally, Chris Waddle replaces Trevor Steven on the right of midfield.

We give Germany a bloody good game, helped somewhat by Jurgen Kohler getting sent for a very early bath. Wright and Waddle cancel out an early Klinsmann strike but we can’t make the extra player count and with 10 minutes to go, concede to a Stefan Freund free kick and after a goalless extra time, the match goes to penalties.

Unbelievably, Shilton guesses right twice to save from Klinsmann and Thon and look who is on had to smash in our fourth penalty and give us the bronze medals…..?

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13

Reality Check – At Italia 90, England lost to Italy 2-1 after some awful fumbling from Shilton.

Over to the final, and Italy exact revenge on Brazil, Paolo Maldini winning it for Italy with a golden goal after Del Piero cancelled out Ronaldo in the first half.

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So there we have it. England return to, well, England as Heroes, the stars of Italia 90 not quite going one better than in 1990, but surely doing the nation proud.

I never honestly thought we’d make it out of the group, the 2nd phase at a push, but to finish 3rd was amazing and I’m sad that its all over. Every-time the opposition team attacked, I thought Shilton would let it in, but in some matches, especially Norway, he kept us in it and our defenders popped up with some important goals. The legs held out, the formation worked and Gary Lineker finally became the all-time record goal scorer for England. I can already hear Nessun Dorma being played over the credits…

I hope you enjoyed this blog as much I have playing it, and then writing about it, and hope the twist in the Torino tale was worth sticking around for. Thanks to Dave as always for hosting it and I’m sure I’ll be back at some point to create another new story from this 20 year old game.

‘Loves got the world in motion and I know what we can do…’

My thanks to Matt for bringing us a wonderful save, I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I did. You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills but I’m off to negotiate a contract extension for him

 

Short Stories: Newcastle United – Part 11

Good day! We’re here for the penultimate episode of the NUFC “short” story. We’ve made a riproaring start to life in season 3, the pressure of being champions is being thrived upon rather than being a weight on our shoulders and life is good. So, how far can we go? It’s Liverpool first.

We’re actually unbeaten in all competitions at the moment and although Liverpool won’t just leave us alone we’ll take a point. Nuisances.

2-2 Liverpool S3

We thrashed Dortmund 5-0 earlier in the season but our visit to Germany is a lot less fun. It looks set to be a 0-0 draw but a last minute penalty leads to our first loss of the season. I could see it from here, never a pen.

dortmund 1-0

Anyway, Fulham are bottom of the table. What they need is a Michael Jackson statue. Thankfully they defend like statues and it’s another win.

3-1 fulham

After an International break where Gudjonsson gets his first goal for Iceland, it’s back to the capital to play Chelsea away. Look, Jesper. Get another hobby. Bjarni the Gud continues his recent run of form and it’s a share of the spoils.

chelsea 2 - 2 toon

We can secure a place in the last 8 of the Champions League with a win over Brondby. Dortmund have made a proper hash of this group. We win, we’re through, what more can you ask?

2-1 brondby

We’re just not ruthless anymore. We are denied time and time again by the always annoying Kevin Pressman before known psycho Paolo Di Canio looks to have claimed a point for Sheff Wed. Andreas Andersson, who has been nowhere near as impressive as he was last year, but he climbs off the bench to net a late winner.

2-1 sheff wed

The League Cup – always a favourite on the blog – is next. Shearer sticks it to QPR despite Kevin Gallen reducing the arrears. It’s Villa at home in the quarters.

2-1 QPR

Ironically that’s where we are off now. What a way to suffer your first domestic defeat of the season.

3-1 villa

Stan Collymore and a young Alan Lee. That’s a pity but it’s also December, so not a bad time to lose your first domestic game.

As we’re already through I can rest a few for the trip to Bulgaria. The front 4 all score and if nothing else that shows we could survive without Shearer, who is definitely on the decline.

1-4 CSKA

Yay.

CL Group top

That’s a strong last 8. I wouldn’t have wanted to play any of them. On the plus side, Milan have just sold Maldini to Juventus.

CL QF draw S3

That’s future Dave’s problem. Current Dave has to play Man Utd, who we are joint top with at present. It could have been any score but some poor finishing keeps it to 3. Later that night on Match of the Day, Alan Hansen makes the bold claim that you’ll never win anything with Neil Sullivan in net. I think he’s probably right.

3-0 man utd

Boxing Day should be a time for celebration but we’re off to Arsenal. Wenger has got these in a right mess. They’re 16th and field a 36 year old Ian Wright alongside Isiah Rankin up front. Jordi Cruyff and Craig Burley are deemed star players and despite all that they win 3-2. Urgh.

arsenal 3-2

We’re still top, mainly because everybody else is as incompetent as we are. Wrexham are our visitors in the FA Cup and a dour game is settled by Woodcock. On New Year’s Day.

1-0 wrexham

Just two days later it’s the usually fruitless trip to Ewood Park. Petri Jakonen gets man of the match as always but he can’t stop Keith Gillespie – not many can – and it’s 3 welcome points.

1-0 blackburn

Another two days later it’s time to seek revenge against Aston Villa. Both sides are knackered and much rotated but Aaron Hughes scores just after half time to put us in a 2 legged semi final

1-0 villa LC

It’s the revenge cup this year, as it’s Arsenal over 2 legs. Why don’t you try and stop me?

LC SF draw S3

We pipped Leeds to the title on the final day of last season on goal difference only and they’ve got themselves in second place here as Man Utd have fallen off a cliff over Christmas. Aaron Hughes gets his 6th red card of a career that is not even 100 games old yet and it’s backs to the wall, but a flurry just after half time gives us a lead which we just about hold on to. A huge result!

4-3 leeds.JPG

That puts us 3 points clear of Leeds heading to the Wear-Tyne derby. They are 13th and we should really win but form goes out of the window in a derby. Or something. A terrible game comes to life in the final 4 minutes, where we lead for a minute and look set for a point after being pegged back immediately. Then…BJARNI THE GUD

1-2 mackems

Writing his name into history. What days.

FA Cup 4th round time and we’re off to QPR. We knocked them out of the League Cup so sticking with the theme, they’re out for some form of revenge. They were an awkward opponent then and it’s more of the same here, with Bjarni the Gud showing he is the natural heir to the Shearer throne. Apparently.

1-2 qpr

It’ll be Liverpool at home in Round 5. That’s…not great. It’s before the Champions League returns though so we’ll hopefully avoid the mega fixture pile up for now.

Coventry are 7th yet park the bus on their visit up north. I suppose it’s their bus they can do what they want with it. They score with their only shot on goal, a Stuart Nethercott header from a corner. We equalise but can’t find a winner. By can’t find I mean there are literally no highlights for the last 25 minutes. Incredible. Consider that bus parked. David Batty gets man of the match.

1-1 coventry S3

Grumble. Our lead is cut to 2 points which we’ll come to in a minute. First though, it’s time for the final game of this update and it’s the first leg of the League Cup semi final against Arsenal. I don’t believe in counting your chickens before they’ve hatched but I think we’ve got one foot in the final. Even Shay Given saved a penalty.

3-0 arsenal

So all is well in the City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Our form has been patchy and the goals have not flowed as they once did but we’re still top, that’s the main thing.

prem top Feb S3

With the second leg, the FA Cup and the Champions League all to come it’s going to be a test of our resources in the closing months of the season. It could end up being a bumper last episode next week…or we could crash out in the next game of every cup. Join me then to find out which it is. Bye for now!

 

 

 

CM9798 Academy – Part 6: Skipping Stones

Greetings and welcome back to Academy life. My team of young freebies are doing themselves proud in Division 2 after our surprise promotion in the first season, but seeing as our number 1 graduated in September, we’ve got a job on our hands. So, what now?

Things get worse before they get better. We drop to 15th after a valiant but ultimately fruitless trip to Luton.

3-2 Luton

You may recall we drew 2-2 with Charlton in the 1st leg, well we’ve done exactly that again. Sadly, nobody except Pearson can take a penalty and that’s the end of that.

charlton pens

Finally some better news as we thrash a side who defend worse than we do.

Crewe 0-4

As ever though good news is followed up by extremely bad news. I’ll miss Ryan Morrison. Barnsley better have plans for my young’uns.

barnsley morrison

So long.

morrison to barnsley

Not to worry though, Billing gets his first goal for the club in a 3-0 mauling of Norwich.

3-0 norwich

Then we show Cardiff how it’s done. Hurrah.

cardiff 1-3

To fill the Morrison hole I’ve opted for Chris Johnson. He’s a flairy type. I like that.

Johnson signs

Wish he could pass. We ease pass Rotherham in the Windscreen Shield. We lost our first game 5-0, so we’re not guaranteed to go through but who cares.

Rothrham 3-0

The schedule shows no sign of letting up and 3 days later we host Bristol Rovers. We’re both in the hunt for the playoffs so it’s a shame when Jeremy Beadle scores twice.

0-2 Bristol Rovers

High-flying Hull are our next visitors though and we raise our game – young Billing getting the decisive goal and reigniting our promotion hopes.

Hull 1-0

We’ve got the taste for it now and even when we fall behind at Chesterfield, a quick response lays the platform for two more goals and 3 more points. Howay!

chesterfield 1-3

Wrexham have made their way to the top of the pile so our trip there on a Wednesday night fills me with dread. TV personality Jeff Brazier gives us the lead but it soon disappears and that’s that. A huge shame.

wrexham 2-1

Nevermind though, our anger is taken out on manager-less Wycombe. We had to come from behind but who cares? The young lads are going from strength to strength.

3-1 wycombe

The FA Cup 1st round is always a special day on the calendar but I’m not really sure it applies to a club ran solely as a cash cow. Nevertheless, Gillingham are brushed aside and we’ll face Brentford in round 2. Ike Mashley can’t wait.

3-1 Gills

Back to league action as Oxford sit 7th whislt we are 6th. A draw is more than reasonable. That keeps us in the hunt at least.

1-1 Oxford

Preston are a bit filthy. Two red cards and a 3-0 deficit, I bet Deepdale was a wonderful place to be at half time. We decide it’s best not to make it any worse.

3-0 preston

I rarely step outside of the Academy bubble but I love it when things like this happen

southall player manager

Walsall are the next to taste defeat at the Arena.

3-1 walsall

Windscreen Shield time now. Huge game. You’ll remember I cared so much about this tournament I changed my entire team and lost 5-0 to Shrewsbury. Well, good news! We’re playing them again in the first knockout round. That’s poor planning. Anyway, short story longer than necessary, we are out.

shrews 1-2

I hope we have bigger fish to fry. Brentford visit us for an FA Cup 2nd round tie and it would mean…literally nothing to a club like us to make the FA Cup 3rd round. Prestige, history…are just two of the things we don’t have. Oh we won.

1-0 brentford

Don’t get me wrong, I love the FA Cup and we’ll try and go as far as we can but Ike. Oh Ike. He couldn’t give a Michael Twiss. It’ll be Norwich away in Round 3, who of course are also in Division 2 and were smashed to bits by us a few months ago.

Struggling Burnley is our next destination and like so many before us Paul Furlong stings us and we have to settle for a point. We’re 4th, remarkably.

1-1 burnley

6th placed Grimsby therefore is a bit of a crunch tie. The boy Billing puts us in front and a nervous hour ensues, but Gowshall gets on the end of a set piece to secure the points. It keeps us 4th but we’re only 2 points off top spot. Bloody nora!

2-0 grimsby

The squad is showing signs of being weathered though. The two keepers who can’t catch are unhappy and keep asking to move. Shut up the pair of you. There’s a few injuries and suspensions cropping up, Twiss is the latest to be out for a few weeks whilst Pearson departs on a stretcher against Brentford. Bloody Brentford.

2-2 brentford

A point in the cirucmstances will do and actually moves us up to 3rd. But the news Pearson will be missing for 6 weeks is not what I wanted to hear. He’s played just about every minute since he joined so it’ll be a tough test to see how we get on without our main man.

Happy bastard Christmas.

bolton for stones

Blackburn and Palace join the bidding and the reality is my captain will be departing in the near future. He hangs on until Boxing Day though, obviously desperate to play away at Watford but probably more accurately keen to save on travel expenses.

watford 4-0

Take that, Sir Elton John. That puts us second. Why would you want to leave this, Stonesy?

Stones to Blackburn

In his defence, they are in the Premier League. 7th as well. Will never get a game.

Off to find his replacement then and all roads lead to Matty Walsh. Walshy. The Walshster.

Walshy

Signed on his birthday too. He doesn’t want a clause, which immediately makes me suspicious that he is actually rubbish. I guess we’ll see.

We’ll finish with Norwich away in the cup. I’m left with a squad who are all timid as a scared cat, not a captain amongst them. The armband is thrown to TV personality Jeff Brazier. Walshy in for his debut.

2-0 norwich

Hopeless. Walshy had to be pulled after an hour as he played a 5 and was rancid. Barely any chances created, hopefully not a sign of things to come.

This seems like a good time to call it a day. A lot has happened in this update but the upshot of it all is that we have 20 games left and if we win them all we’ll be promoted. Even if we win some of them. Who knows?

Div 2 top Jan

On the negative side, we’ve lost our captain, our top scorer is out for another month or so and Nicky Byrne is unhappy. In a world of his own that boy. Still, I hope none of that puts you off joining me next Sunday for those remaining 20 games. See you there!

Graduations

Not to worry anybody but Michael Twiss is worth £3.2m and wanted by Everton. Gulp. Billing is already worth £1m whilst Brazier is up to £1.7m. But for those who have flown the nest…

James Stones has just left so is yet to appear for Blackburn as he was cup tied. Ryan Morrison has played 4 games for Premier League Barnsley but made little impact, whilst Anthony Betterton can’t displace Dave Watson in the Oakwell goal. Gerard Lyttle is only on £5k at Leicester, not that I’m bitter, but he has made 9 appearances for them as they prop up the Premier League. Stuart McCaffrey has played 21 times for Stoke this season, so he’s a regular, as is Lee Norfolk at Huddersfiled with 27 games and 5 goals under his belt.

The big news though is Danny Gee, who is the first graduate to…graduate? He’s now doing a masters at Wimbledon or something along those lines. I don’t know how deep these metaphors can go, but look out for somebody doing a doctrate at Sparta Prague by 2006.

WimbleGee

See you next week.

One Season in Turin – Part 5

Matt is back with Part 5 of what started as out a fleeting reunion in Turin but has ended in the England squad from Italia 90 re-uniting for France 98. Can Lineker, Waddle and co match their 1990 heroics?

Thanks for coming back – we finished Part 4 with mission accomplished, taking Torino into Serie A spearheaded by the goals of Gary Lineker and a few other England Stars from Italia 90, and then there was the twist. Lead England into France 98 with the Italia 90 squad.

With two friendly games we destroyed Scotland 4-0 at Wembley but then lost 3-1 to Brazil in Rio.

There’s a buzz around the England camp, these are mostly players who thought their England days were long gone. My aim is to avoid whippings and at least get out of the group with reputations intact. The Quarter finals would be a minor miracle.

Our World Cup Group will put us up against Germany, Cameroon and Japan. Given the age of our squad I’m aiming for results against Cameroon and Japan and hope Germany will slip somewhere to take us through.

1

Group E Match 1 – Saturday 13th June 1998 – Germany vs England – Stade De France.

We take on Germany in our first game, but will have to do it without the fine hairstyles of Chris Waddle, so this gives me an opportunity to bring John Barnes into the middle of the park with Gazza and Platt playing off him, which suits his new DMC position, not to mention his waistline.

2

3

Germany line up in a 5-3-2 with deadly Klinsmann upfront. I ask our chief scout who will partner him up front.

‘It’ll be Karsten Baron boss. We’re quite surprised it wasn’t someone else.’

‘Who?’ I ask.

‘Do you know Uwe Fuchs?’

‘No, I don’t know Uwe Fuchs, and I don’t care Uwe Fuchs, that’s his business.’

4

Silliness aside, it’s not a classic encounter. Klinsmann nets midway through the first half, but it’s only 1 of 2 shots on target out of 5 efforts for them while we muster 1 on target out of 6 attempts. To be honest, I expected to get trounced, so coming away from the Stade De France with a narrow loss is somewhat of a result. Pearce and Gazza pick up bookings, which I hope won’t be costly. I’m not mad though, as they were both bookings for fouls on Andreas Moller.

5

6

The other game in our group also finishes 1-0 in favour of Cameroon,

7

Which leaves the table looking like this.

8

Reality Check –
Italia 90 – England drew 1-1 with Eire in Cagliari, Lineker being cancelled out by Kevin Sheedy.

Of course they met Germany in that famous semi-final back in Italia 90’

Group E Match 2 – Saturday 20th June 1998 – England vs Cameroon – Parc Lescure.

With a full week to rest my aging stars, the players spend the week relaxing by the pool – it’s like a scene from ‘Cocoon’ – to prepare us for our next match against Cameroon. Luckily Roger Milla is now retired, and I fancy our chances to get 3pts on the board after our brave showing against Germany.

The first half is a cagey affair, but sparks into life after halftime. Misse Misse doesn’t miss on 46 minutes to put Cameroon ahead and facing oblivion, Lineker steps up to the plate to pull us level and in the process overtake Booby Charlton as England’s all time record goal-scorer, 50 on 50, perfect!

9

10

Our backline repels attacking pressure from Cameroon to secure the draw but we suffer two yellow cards for Lineker and Gascoigne.

Reality Check – at Italia 90, England drew 0-0 with Holland, famous for the Gazza’s showcase of skills against the Total Football masters…

In the other group match, Germany put Japan to the sword…

11

All of which leaves the group looking like this…

12

If I’ve done my maths correctly, we need to win and hope Germany beat Cameroon. Destiny is not in our hands for the final group game against Japan, otherwise we are out.

13

We’ll play our last group game against Japan without Gazza after he picked up 2 yellows. That’s his World Cup over if we don’t beat Japan.

Group E Match 3 – Thursday 25th June 1998 – England vs Japan – La Beaujoire.

So, here we go, the final group match, everyone is knackered, but I stick with the same formation and swap in Trevor Steven for Gazza as Waddle is still not fit. It’s all out, or we are out.

We get off to a flyer, forcing Ihara into scoring an own goal and Lineker doubles our lead with his 51st England goal, but we’re pegged back by Maezono to go in 2-1 up. A second own goal in the second half and a Mark Wright header sees us run out 4-1 winners, but will it be enough?

14

Yes! Germany do the business against Cameroon,

15

And we’re through, just! Now, to find out who we’ll play.

16

Reality Check – A Mark Wright goal gave England a 1-0 win against Egypt to set up a second round tie against Belgium.

17

Norway, not the worst draw, but they have a decent side. Germany have Austria, whilst France vs Argentina looks tasty.

18

We’ll have to do the 2nd round without John Barnes though. His world is no longer in motion for now.

19

Waddle will be back soon though, so that’s a diamond light.

20

Phase 2 Match 4 – Monday 29th June 1998 – Norway vs England – Felix Bollaert.

We all now the Scandavian players on CM9798 are a decent bunch, so we’ll have our work cut out. They topped ago that eliminated Holland, but in truth it’s a dour affair, only 4 shots each and Gazza gets our only shot on target to take us through to the quarters, but it’s an amazing result in reality as we’re now going further than I ever imagined.

21

Even the FA are pleased, which is nice.

22

So, we wait to find out our opponents in the quarter-finals.

Tunisia! That’s almost a bye! We’re on our way to the semi’s!

23

Look at that quarter-final line up. Dodged a few bullets there! Frances reward for beating Argentina is a painting with Brazil.

24

So, join me next week we’ll take on the mighty Tunisia for a place in the semi-finals of France 98, I can hardly wait!

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills