Saving Vale from Fail – Part 2

Welcome back. Which idiot decided on this title? Anyway, part 1 is here – the gist is, I took over Port Vale with 12 games of the season to go and they were miles from safety. 13 points to be exact. But now, that mile is more like 1,000 metres. It’s still a long way, basically. But with 6 games to go, we just need to make up 7 points on Tranmere. The debt also continues to spiral, but that is not my concern…

It’s Stockport at home next, who are thankfully not managed by Matt Porter so they sit 14th. Now seems like a good time to remind you of my team, which is missing Tommy Widdrington through injury but is otherwise, sadly, full strength.

vs stockport

It’s a good game to get an early goal in, especially as we spend the next 88 missing numerous chances. I’ve never seen a team get as many goals disallowed as we do either, Foyle has a toe poke ruled out for offside. In one game we had a goal disallowed because their defender sliced it onto the bar and Foyle tapped it in. How can that be offside? Anyway, 3 precious points and we sit waiting for Tranmere’s score to tick through. Why did I load three countries?


They’ve lost 2-0 at Swindon. Good. Crewe, in 22nd, have been hammered 4-1 at home to Man City. This is a good weekend for us.

5 to go

These are the Easter weekend fixtures so we actually play again 2 days later. We’ve lost Jeffers to a thigh injury but Widdrington is back to sit in front of the centre halves. It’s a trip to Portsmouth, who are 16th and beatable. Tranmere will go to Man City a day later, though I notice Aldridge as player-manager rates himself as a star player but also has himself on the transfer list. I can’t explain some things.


Anyway, Portsmouth. It’s a dull game with nothing happening until Portsmouth score. From a corner. Foyle equalises against the run of play on half time and I’ll take a point.

Alex Notman won’t. He’s on hand to tap in from Rankin’s spilled shot and we’ll take all three points back from the south coast. It’s a great bus ride home.

pompey 1-2

Crewe are humped 4-0 at Huddersfield. The day is soured though as Notman pulls a hamstring moonwalking down the bus. That’s a problem.

John Aldridge grabs a point for Tranmere at Man City. City are already promoted which doesn’t help. It means Rovers have a 1 point advantage over us with 4 games to go.

Sunderland are our next visitors. They have a very strong squad and usually go up, but find themselves 4th. They’ve added Sasa Ciric to their lineup and he’s a very useful striker. Rankin gives us the lead but Ciric pegs us back. A point is ok. Tranmere have lost at home to Huddersfield, who are fast becoming my 2nd favourite team.

mackems 1-1

Crewe throw a curveball into the mix by beating 9th placed West Brom 4-1. That pulls them back into contention, though Bradford are relegated. The equation is clear.

3 games to go

Bury away is a game we need to win. They are basically safe, barring an unprecedented series of results, but they are nearly as bad defensively as us. Jeffers returns to the bench with Frank continuing in the place of Notman.

We’re awful. We’re behind and after 63 minutes, I have to introduce a 16 year old in the hope he saves the day.

He does.

bury 1-2

Within seconds of his arrival he equalises and then rams in a winner. More likes Francis Jeff-Hurst. Am I right? (Man on the Post, if you read this, sorry I stole your joke).

Aldridge nicks a point for Tranmere whilst Crewe draw at Stoke. We’re out of the bottom 3!

2 games to go

Notman’s back but Snijders, one of the centre halves, is banned for a game. Widdrington’s season is over due to injury, but I can’t really complain when you see the state of Crewe’s injury situation.


Tony Naylor wants a move. He’s unhappy at being left out of the side, but as he played 19 games and scored 2 goals at an average of 6.05, he’s lucky he hasn’t been put down. Goodbye Tony.

The board are satisfied. Is that it? I mean yes, the debt is spiralling but I didn’t shell out £1.8m on Tommy Widdrington, did I?

Our final home game of the season is against Charlton. They are 18th. We should win. We are effectively at match point. A win here coupled with results elsewhere could secure it for us.

0-2 charlton

We’re awful. Call it pressure. Nerves. Lack of talent. We can barely muster a shot in target and not even Jeffers can save us. Salvation comes in the form of the other results. Home defeats for Tranmere and Crewe leave us in the driving seat.

table 1 to go

Crewe have to go to terrible Bradford. Tranmere face Wolves who are fighting for a playoff place. We’re at Sheff Utd, who are 19th.

Ainsworth is injured but Snijders is back. The terrible right wing back I inherited is also injured, so a young lad called Matthew Carragher is in. Sheff Utd have Paul McGrath and Dean Saunders, which is problematic enough in 1998 but I’m pleased it isn’t 1994.

I’m confident a point will do it. Surely Tranmere won’t win at Molineux. I decide to view the Crewe game. Bradford may as well not turn up, like the fans. 5,000 are dotted around Valley Parade to watch Gary Walsh have a tab whilst Crewe run riot. They win 4-1. I need at least a point.

It’s not pretty. Sheff Utd are far the better team but we equalise straight away after going behind. It’s 3-1 at half time though, and it’s a borderline disaster. Aspin heads on in on 52 and there’s loads of time to get another goal. Rankin obliges. There’s 24 minutes to go and I really don’t know whether to stick or twist. A Tranmere win would scupper us. We’ll have to wait and see.

3-3 sheff utd




final table

Bloody. Hell. That was hard work. Every match was a struggle, but we’ve survived by the skin of our teeth. What days.

I’m off for a lie down but I’ll be back Sunday with Aberdeen and the last update of season 4. Until then, have a go at the survival challenge and tweet me your results. It’s exhausting.





Saving Vale from Fail – Part 1

Good day to you. With both Matt Stockport and Matt Man Utd (not real names) having a week off I decided to step into the gaping hole in my schedule with another survival challenge. You might recall, way back last summer, I took over Swindon who were in a load of trouble and managed to save them. You can relive that through part 1 and part 2.

As it’s a nice an easy two part series to keep you entertained why the Matt’s recharge their batteries, I’ve loaded another game, fast forwarded (left it on holiday…) and come to see what’s available with 12 games to go. Across all the divisions, this was the most perilous:

League table

Port Vale, who have as many points as they do goals, and not in a good way, seems like a good challenge. 13 points (14 when you take into account goal difference) from safety and not a dime to spend.


Great times. It seems they spent all of their money on Tommy Widdrington, for reasons I will never understand

PV squad

Aspin is of course the current real life manager. Ainsworth has 6 goals and Foyle 4, to say there aren’t many goals in the team is an understatement. Sadly they can’t defend either, having shipped 62 so far this season.

Richie Wellens, on loan from Man Utd, is at least a talented player but he is recalled the day after my arrival. A bit rude, especially as they go on to loan him to Macclesfield. I have to move quickly and loan in Ben Thornley, also from Man Utd, and Francis Jeffers, who is 16 but seems willing to run about for me. Beggars can’t be choosers.

With Swindon I could build a solid base as they had a solid enough defence, but there’s no chance of that here. I’m breaking out the Aberdeen formation in the hope we can score one more than you/them.

game 1

It’s Huddersfield who are our visitors, they sit 13th and have nothing to play for. Let’s turn this disaster around

5-1 hudds

Yikes. I didn’t expect that. Thornley doesn’t score but does everything else, I just hope he can wait a month until the window closes before he realises he can do far better than this

thornley recalled

One day. ONE DAY. Cheers Fergie. That won’t help, so it’s back into the loan market but nobody is keen to come. Sigh. Off to West Brom

Andy Hunt has chance after chance and the game descends into a battle.

wba 0 - 1 PV

It’s FOYLE’S WAR. Does that work? As a pun? Anyway, we’re 3 points richer thanks to the veteran striker who has 3 in 2 for me and has nearly matched his tally for the season.

It’s the big derby next, at home to Stoke. If I can win this the fans will love me forever, but Stoke are on the fringes of the playoffs and it won’t be easy.

Alex Notman joins on loan, again from Man Utd, but it’s all for nothing. We dominate the chances but can’t score before an Aspin handball hands them a penalty and three points. One step forward, two steps back.

PV 0 - 1 stoke

Games are running out so home defeats can be critical, so a trip to Molineux could spell curtains for us. Isiah Rankin arrives on loan from Arsenal, our final permitted loan signing, and he goes straight into the team.

We trail early on and we’re being battered, but Rankin smashes one in on the counter. Wolves are pushing for a winner but we get a corner. A scramble ensues and Aspin bundles it in. The away end erupts.

Wolves 2-1

That result takes us off the bottom of the table at the expense of Bradford, who are our next opponents. First though, it’s deadline day and with no loan spots left I’m trailing the freebies for anybody who could improve us. This guy has as good a chance as any


He’s straight onto the bench for the Bradford game, which is an absolute must win.

I fear the worst when we are 1-0 down but Talbot and that man Foyle have a great 15 minutes and we’re looking comfortable until Steiner makes it a tricky last half hour. Big Poppa Pump will do that to you.

3-2 bradford

Still, a vital win and we’re within 3 points of safety, though our goal difference is still rancid.

QPR is a horrible fixture on this game. They have so many good players who usually get moves to the Premier League after a season or so – sometimes less. Sadly Sheron and Gallen are still at Loftus Road and they absolutely rinse us. Foyle gets a late consolation that I tell myself might make help our goal difference. It’s a bare faced lie that not even I believe.

5-2 QPE

With 6 games to go, we’re 6 points from safety. Though that minus 40 goal difference is going to be problematic.

6 games to go

We’ve got out work cutout. This is going to go right to the wire, and by that I mean Thursday when this series ends. See you then!

How to manage ANY International team on CM9798

Ahoy-hoy. I like to think I’ve seen just about everything there is to see in CM9798, but it turns out I was wrong. Friend of the blog Adam tweeted me a while ago telling me the story of his Romania side at World Cup 98. His Romania side? How could that be?

What we do know

The game as we know it allows you to control the International sides of each of the 9 playable nations plus Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales. In order to do that, you need to select the league to load that contains your nation of choice. If you want to play as France, load the French league, so on and so forth. You also have to know the name of the manager, which can easily be got from the General Information tab on each team page, or from the editor. You’ll need to enter your name as the current manager name e.g. Glenn Hoddle if you want to be England manager.

How to select the other nations

Right, this is the clever bit. You can manage any nation in the game, you just need to make a few tweaks. Here’s how:

Load up the editor (cm2ed.exe in dosbox or drag the cm2ed icon onto the Dosbox icon) and go to load database. Go to edit database and then search records. Type in the nation you want to manage.

After selecting them from the list (note: if you search Germany you’ll get all the German clubs, just find the nation in the list, they will either be at the beginning or the end of the list from experience) you’ll need to skip to the second page. In this example, I have selected Australia


You’ll see I have highlighted the Division field – you need to edit this to be one of the divisions you are planning to load. In this case, I have chosen EPR (English Premier League) but it can really be any league you want to load, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to change anything else. Of course you can mess about with the stadium name and such if you want to but that won’t effect what we are doing here.

Click done until you get back to the main editor screen and save the database. At this point, if you know the name of the manager of your national team, you are done. If not, you need to click load database and type in mgdata. This will load the manager database. Now, I know the Australia manager here is Terry Venables, but let’s say I want to be Brazil. I need to put somebody in charge of Brazil so I can type their name in. I have chosen Steve Bruce.


You’ll see on the right hand side I have entered Brazil in the National Job field. Again, that’s all you need to do. Come out of that, save the database and then quit the editor. It’s time to load the game.

Load the game up as normal, 8MB or 16MB. Remember to select the league you have plonked your Nation of choice into – don’t worry, they won’t actually be in the Premier League. Adam has done the testing and there’s no game breaking changes in there.

Once the game loads, select your team(s) to manage. I have picked Australia and Nigeria for this example

australia infoNigeria info

As far as I can see, the game will load all players of a nation that has been added to the playable leagues, so you should be able to pick most nations, though obviously the more nations the bigger your database so it might take a bit longer to create the game. I did try adding San Marino, you can manage them but they have no players.

san marino

san marino no players

You’d have to holiday in order to continue, or you could, you know, just not manage these nations.

It’s worth pointing out that you can do this trick with all nations, so for example even though you could select the German league to play as Germany, I have moved them to EPR and loaded England, Spain and Italy. Germany is available to select:

Selected Teams

Also note that only the European Qualifiers are in the game, so if you pick Argentina you’ve got months to wait until the World Cup but you will have a load of friendlies. For the 98 World Cup, Brazil have qualified automatically but the other South American nations are included at random, the likes of Argentina will be fine but some others are not guaranteed.

What now?

In the summer, I will be running the CM9798 World Cup. Think the CM9798 Cup we ran in October but over the summer with 16 human controlled teams. Why 16? That’s the maximum number of players allowed at one time in the game. It’s ambitious but I think it has to be done. Keep your eyes peeled for more information, I’ll need 15 friends.

Get practicing with your nations of choice and of course let me know on Twitter how you’re getting on. This is the type of thing I get excited about so please do share.

Merry Christmas

Seasonal greetings to you. Normally at this time I’d bring you the latest from Pittodrie but seeing as we’re all a bit pre-occupied with Christmas (eating and drinking counts as occupied) I thought I’d take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and to thank you for your support during 2017.

It’s been a great year for the blog but any success is only down to the reaction I get from all of you. The year started with the American Takeover, before we moved on to Ajax, the 20 year anniversary events and now Aberdeen. We’ve given away prizes, we’ve interviewed some great fans (even Bjorn Heidenstrom!) of the game, released a second book and been invited on podcasts. The Classic CM community is stronger than ever and you should all be very proud of yourselves. Without you, there is no me (well, you know what I mean) so I can never thank you enough for liking, re-tweeting, tagging and all those other words which mean more people see what we’re up to over here.

I must also thank the two Matt’s, who have become guest bloggers, as well as MK who did a shift for me earlier in the year. As I mentioned during the 20 year update, my ambition for 2018 is to get more regular bloggers involved and have a constant selection of content for you, which is easier said than done. We’ve got another guest blogger signed up to start in January so the more the merrier, we just need new ideas.

I have a couple of things in mind, what with it being a World Cup year, but there’s plenty of mileage in the Aberdeen save yet. That’ll be back in January.

On a personal level, this blog has taken me further than I could imagine. I was able to cover a match live from the press box a few months ago, which has long been a dream of mine, and it all traces back to starting this blog about a game from 20 years ago. If you’re considering writing, give it a go. You don’t know who is watching and reading, but you do know that nobody is reading if it’s never been written.

I’ve posted the final CM Advent so go and check that on Twitter if you haven’t already, but all that’s left for me to say is have a great Christmas and a wonderful new year and I hope to see you back here in January.

The Current Premier League Managers in CM9798

If you’ve ever wondered what the current crop of Premier League managers were up to on CM97/98, congratulations! You are as stuck in the past as I am. To celebrate, here’s a run through of who you can find on a game from 20 years ago

Eddie Howe

1 Howe

Rewind 20 years and you’ll find Eddie Howe exactly where you’ll find him now. Some people just like to stay on the south coast, alright? Before Howe was a manager though he was a promising defender, racking up more than 200 appearances for Bournemouth and even featuring for the England Under 21s. Much like his managerial career, he briefly left to try something else, didn’t like it and went back to being a Cherry. It wasn’t that long ago that Howe was being linked with every job that became available, though that now falls on Sean Dyche to deal with.

Arsene Wenger

We all know where Wenger is. Even on 9798 you’ll find Wenger struggling to zip his coat up in the dugout, albeit at Highbury rather than The Emirates. Steve Bould is sat next to him as a substitute rather than an assistant, though.

Chris Hughton

Sadly, there’s no sign of Hughton on 1997/98. Having retired from playing in 1993 he joined Tottenham’s coaching staff, and there were no place for coaches in the CM2 series.

Sean Dyche

2 Dyche

Current flavour of the month Sean Dyche has Burnley flying high in the Premier League at the moment, but back in 1997/98 Dyche was a versatile player apparently capable of playing on either flank in defence or attack. Sadly there is no stat for how gravelly a voice somebody has, or that would be a certain 20 for old Dychey. He did however get to play with the most suave man in football Paul Tisdale and Shaun Goater during his time at Bristol City, so it’s not all bad.

Antonio Conte

3 Conte

If you aren’t familiar with the Juventus side of the mid 1990’s, I can heartily recommend you look them up. They were quite good. Conte was an integral figure in the heart of the midfield as Juventus won 5 Serie A titles and the Champions League, among other things. Conte is of course now the Chelsea manager, and he lead the Blues to the Premier League title in his first season in England. A lot of Conte’s traits as a player can be found in his management, he’s arguably as all action in the dugout as he was in midfield, but we’ve also seen the intelligence and tactical versatility to switch Chelsea to a 3-4-3 last season to take them on an 11 game winning run.

Roy Hodgson

Dear old Roy was managing Blackburn 20 years ago, which really shows you just how long the Crystal Palace manager has been in the game for. Managers don’t have profiles on CM9798 so here he is in the editor

4 Hodgson

Fair to say that ‘passing’ playing style disappeared over the years, but he’s doing an admirable job at Crystal Palace in my view and he may yet keep them up. It was around 1997 that Hodgson’s reputation was at its highest having been Switzerland and then Inter Milan manager, which makes it all the more remarkable that he’d go on to manage his country 15 years later.

David Unsworth

When I wrote this, David Unsworth had been caretaker boss for what felt like forever. It was more like 6 weeks, and results had been mixed at best. As the enormous shadow of Sam Allardyce loomed and eventually eclipsed old Unsy, I’d already written this, so bear with me. Back in 1997/98, he had just signed for West Ham ahead of a one season stay. He’s going to need all of that 20 for determination if he’s going to make Everton a decent side again, but I suspect his influence is already well below 15.

5 Unsworth

A bit like Eddie Howe, Unsworth always returns like a homing pigeon and a move to Aston Villa lasted one month before he returned to Everton. He can expect a similar shift back to Everton’s Under-23s. Anyway, it’s not our problem now and Big Sam is in charge. Back in 97/98, he was at Notts County and basically a blank slate, still to learn the term “get it in the mixer.”

5a Allardyce

David Wagner

6 Wagner

The eagle eyed amongst you will spot some errors with above CM9798 screenshot before we’ve even started. Firstly, the date of birth is wrong. I mean, it’s not even close. Wrong month and three years out. Also, Wagner was representing the USA by this point, as despite being German by birth and representing Germany’s youth sides, Wagner held an American passport and was given his first cap in 1996. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s not him at all, but he was at least at Gutersloh in the 1997/98 season so I’m putting it down to dodgy researching. His stats are extremely average but at least he won’t get injured.

Claude Puel

Puel retired from playing in 1996 and took his first management job in 1999, so he’s nowhere to be found in CM97/98 I’m afraid.

Jurgen Klopp

7 Klopp

Klopp spent 11 years as a Mainz player before getting the management job towards the very end of his playing career. He was actually a striker in his early playing days but reverted to being a defender, like a German Dion Dublin. In reverse. Either way, with strong heading and tackling he’s not a bad centre half. I think that aggression needs upping though. You won’t like him when he’s angry.

Pep Guardiola

Long before Pep was a managerial genius, he was dominating the centre of the park for Barcelona

8 Pep

Pep spent most of his playing career with Barcelona before going on to manage them (after a spell in charge of the B team). Of course now find Pep at Man City, bringing his unique brand of pass and move football to the Premier League. As a player, it’s no surprise to see high marks for creativity, passing and technique, making him one of the best central midfielders on the game. As a manager, you don’t need me to tell you what he’s about!

Jose Mourinho

It’s well documented that Mourinho didn’t play at a particularly high level, and indeed he retired 10 years before CM97/98. By the time of release, Mourinho was assistant manager to Louis Van Gaal at Barcelona following the departure of Bobby Robson. Again, as there are no coaches in the game, Mourinho can not be found in CM97/98.

Rafa Benitez

In 1997, Benitez could be found managing Extremadura as a young manager trying to build a reputation. He would go on to guide them to promotion from the Segunda Division, but they only survived one season in the Primera. Here’s his editor stats for your entertainment

9 Rafa

It’s funny to see his reputation being so low compared to Hodgson’s that we saw earlier, but that’s just how their stock was in the football world 20 years ago. Benitez is now at Newcastle hoping to go one better than he did at Extremadura, having gained promotion he is now looking to keep them in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pellegrino

Southampton’s manager Pellegrino was actually a player for Rafael Benitez during their time at Valencia, which is not only a fact but a beautiful link from one manager in this list to another. Back in 1997 though and Pellegrino was still in his native Argentina, playing for Velez Sarsfield.

10 Pell

He played in both Champions League final defeats for Valencia (under Benitez), even missing the decisive penalty in the shootout in 2001. Benitez forgave him and signed him for Liverpool, though his best days were gone by then. Looking at his playing stats, he looks a decent if unspectacular centre half, that low positioning rating would be problematic, especially without great pace to recover.

Mark Hughes

11 Hughes

It’s easy to forget what a wonderful career Mark Hughes had. He’s in the twilight of his career by 1997, but that injury proneness of 1 highlights how he managed to play on for another 5 years after this. I think the fact that he is a very irritating manager clouds the fact that he played for Man Utd, Barcelona and Bayern Munich – obviously no mean feat and he was still very useful in 1997. As manager of Stoke, he’s completed his usual objective of making a team very mid-table, which is fine at Stoke but was less good at Man City.

Paul Clement

Clement played non-league football until 1994 and then concentrated on getting his coaching qualifications whilst working as a PE teacher. He was a long way from the CM radar at this point.

Mauricio Pochettino

Step forward the man who has made Spurs rather good, most of the time anyway. Pochettino can be found in 97/98 at Espanyol, with the seemingly customary high aggression rating for Argentinian defenders. His vital stats for a centre half are actually pretty good, though a 14 for tackling might explain why he fouled Michael Owen for England’s penalty against Argentina in 2002.

12 Poch

Marco Silva

It’s probably not unkind to say Marco Silva didn’t really reach any great heights as a player. He played in a total of two top flight Portugese league matches and only really finding a permanent home at Estoril, where he spent the final 6 years of his career before becoming their manager in 2011. Back in 1997 though and Silva is a pretty promising right back, with stamina, strength and pace actually being a pretty good description of the Watford side he currently manages.

13 Marco SIlva

Alan Pardew

Mr Popular is back in the Premier League, with West Brom being the latest to be taken in by the large amounts of hot air coming from his face. Bias aside, Pardew has a knack of getting results when he first arrives at a club and he’ll almost certainly keep West Brom up, so maybe not a bad appointment in the short term. Back in 1997 and Pardew’s playing career was just about to grind to a halt.

14 Pards

Having been player-coach at Barnet in the 1996/97 season, Pardew moved to Reading with Terry Bullivant in 1997. His profile is still on CM97/98 as a player as he was technically still registered as a player. As a special treat for you, here he is at Barnet on CM2 96/97 season:

14a Pardew

Personally, I feel 6 for intelligence is a bit high.

David Moyes

He will probably tell you we’re saving the best until last, but it’s just alphabetical by team David I’m afraid. Anyway, remember back in 1997 when Moyes was English?

15 Moyes

He’s certainly shown that 20 for adaptability, as he adapts from life at mid-table Everton to high flying Man Utd and then very low flying Sunderland and doing a terrible job at both. Still, with heading of 20 and tackling of 19, it’s only a matter of time before he limbers up alongside Winston Reid at West Ham, with pace of 5 he’s still quicker than James Collins.

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Players from CM9798 still playing in FM18

It may be 20 years since the release of CM9798 but FM18 is upon us. Although this blog is dedicated to keeping CM9798 alive, I can’t encourage you enough to keep involved with the FM series if you have the time. But who will you find lurking in the database, having gone from young pup in CM9798 to old dog by FM18? I was going to put in the FM18 screenshots but I don’t have the game yet and from the demo, you can’t turn off attribute masking. If somebody wants to send me them, I’ll be very grateful.

Gianluigi Buffon

Back in 1997, Buffon wasn’t even Parma’s number 1. Fast forward 20 years and Parma have been and gone and Buffon, well. What a career he has had. Here he is in CM9798


Those 20’s…fair to say the researchers nailed his skills even aged 19. Whether FM18 is his last FM or not remains to be seen.

Roy Carroll

roy carroll

Remember when Roy Carroll was Man Utd’s first choice goalkeeper? Ridiculous times. Now aged 40, Carroll is back at Linfield in his native Northern Ireland. Rewind the clock 20 years and we find our man at Wigan, just starting out his career and showing a lot of promise. I guess he did fulfill that promise by playing Champions League football with one of the World’s biggest clubs, I just didn’t see it coming.

Gabor Kiraly


Everyone’s favourite pyjama wearing goalkeeper is still playing, somehow, and you’ll find him now at Haladás in his homeland of Hungary. Haladás is the Hungarian word for progress, which ironic seeing as they have a 41 year old between the sticks.

Shay Given

The former Newcastle stopper insists he is not retired despite being clubless at the beginning of the 17/18 campaign. This is possibly due to the fact that his autobiography has just been released, or maybe he just loves playing.


Given was very promising on 97/98 and, much like real life, rewards you for sticking by him about 4 seasons down the line. He went on to get 134 caps for Ireland, which is mightily impressive.

Aaron Hughes

What I love about Aaron Hughes is that he’s still playing International football, having been part of the Northern Ireland squad that narrowly missed out on World Cup 2018

Aaron Hughes

109 caps later, Aaron Hughes recently turned 38 and plays for Hearts in the SPL. That pace has probably decreased a little over the years.

Andrea Pirlo

Ok, this is a technicality. Pirlo has just announced his retirement but is still in FM18 as he retires at the end of the MLS Season. He starts on CM9798 as a young Forward (left), a far cry from the central midfield position he made his own


That passing figure will go up, as will his set pieces.

Juan Veron


Veron decided to come out of retirement at the ripe old age of 42, and he is technically player-chairman of Estudiantes. He’s excellent aged 22 on CM9798 but I don’t think he’s up to much on FM18.

Robbie Keane

Wait, what? Robbie Keane is still playing? Yes the man who played for Inter Milan, Liverpool, Leeds, Celtic and Tottenham (amongst others) then finished his career in the USA with LA Galaxy. Except he didn’t. Now aged 37, he has signed up for Indian Super League side ATK. You’re a long time retired, I guess.

robbie keane

Wes Brown

Also in the Indian Super League we’ll find Wes Brown, or Wesley as he was known back on 9798. Brown has signed up for the Kerala Blasters, where I’m fairly sure we won’t see a creativity of 15.

Wes Brown

Do I want to start a game in the Indian Super League? I’m thinking not.

Stephen Bywater

Bywater is a bit of an anomaly, in that he went to the Indian Super League but not to retire. No, that seemed to just put him in the shop window


Bywater returned to England with Burton Albion, and has featured several time this season already. He’s only 36 so we might have another 5 years of him yet.

Ze Roberto

So, this is awkward. Ze Roberto starts CM97/98 at Real Madrid, however by the time the patch came out he has been moved on to Flamengo. When that happens, he doesn’t get loaded in the game. Admittedly, I could move him, but here he is in the editor:

Ze Roberto 9798

Move on 20 years and he’s back in Brazil, having played for German giants Bayern Munich at his peak. He’s still playing, aged 42, so fair play to him.

Ze Roberto

Matt Jansen

This one surprised me but seeing as Chorley were on TV the other day, we learned that Matt Jansen is player-manager these days.

matt jansen

On FM18, he’s just a manager, so I’m iffy putting this one in. I blame BT Sport.

Paul Robinson

No, not the goalkeeper. The uncompromising left back, now of Birmingham, but then of Watford. That aggression is a bit low.

paul rob

As if to prove that point, here he is as a player-coach and 20 for aggression

prob 2018

I like that his squad number is higher than his age.

Michael Brown

This one’s questionable, but I’m running with it. Michael Brown was once a promising midfielder, you may remember he scored a load of goals for Sheff Utd and got a move to Tottenham. Before all that, back in 1997/98 he was at Man City doing Kinkladze’s dirty work

M Brown

Forward on 20 years and Brown has been sacked as player-manager at Port Vale, having started the 17/18 season in charge. He registered himself as a player for the season so technically, he’s still a player. Here he is on FM18 to prove it.

Brown 18

We love a technicality.

Danny Coyne

Yeah yeah, another goalkeeper.

D Coyne

He actually went on to get 16 caps for Wales, but now aged 43 he is Shrewsbury’s goalkeeping coach – but also a player. He’s also valued at £110.

COyne 18

Andrew Todd

I know what you’re thinking. Andy Todd! No way is he still playing. It’s not that Andy Todd. This is Nottingham Forest Andy Todd, who is er, on a free transfer in 97/98 despite being contracted to Nottingham Forest

andrew todd

I know nothing about this kid but those stats aren’t awful. Here he is aged 38 where he is…still on a free.

andy todd

Good luck to him, I say.

Kevin Nicholson

This is another manager who is out of work but still apparently a player. Here he is as a 16 year old trying to make his way past Andy Hinchcliffe at Sheff Wed.

Kevin Nicholson

PACE. CREATIVITY. He then became player-manager of Torquay, oh and the date of birth is a month out, but it’s definitely him


Lee Hendrie

I have no idea how Lee Hendrie has made the cut. Last seen playing soccer 6’s for England looking like a club rep, Hendrie’s last club was Redditch in the Southern Premier League. He’s available for free. He’s also now a CM, and played once for England. Back in 1997/98 he was more of a winger

Lee Hendrie

I definitely wouldn’t want to be influenced by Lee Hendrie.

Alex Russell

This is bordering on silly now. Here is Russell in 97/98. I don’t know who he is

Alex Russell

But he’s still available in 2018, on a free.

Alex Russell 18

Quite who is in a rush to buy him, I don’t know. But here he is, having been released by Bristol Manor Farm at the end of last season.

Darren Ward

darren ward

Anybody? No? Well, don’t be so disrespectful! Darren Ward scored a Premier League goal for Watford in the 1999/2000 season before featuring for many Championship clubs, including Wolves, Crystal Palace (at the time) and Milwall. He was most recently at Yeovil, but how he isn’t.

darren ward 18

Bad luck if you want to sign him, he’s out for 2 months.

By my reckoning, that’s 20 players from CM9798 still playing today. Who have I missed? There’s bound to be some, so do let me know please.

Update 14/11/2017

As expected, I had missed out a few. Some were more obvious than others, but the total is up to 28!

Kenny Miller

My excuse here is that “Kenneth” wasn’t in the Hibs squad, instead he was hanging about on a free transfer

kenny miller

Creativity of 20 is…generous. Mind you, so is 20 for technique. Good old Kenny. Or Kenneth.

Neil Alexander

The veteran stopper starts as a promising youngster at Stenhousmuir, little did we know that he’d still be going 20 years later. These stats aren’t bad like

Neil Alexander

He’s at Livingston now, having played for Scotland 3 times.

Chris Day

Day starts as one of Watford’s star men, which I guess you’d expect as he’s in the England Under-21 squad

chris day

Nowadays he’s a player/coach at Stevenage, but he’s also 41 and won’t be adding to his 6 Under-21 caps.

Gareth Ainsworth

Outfield players still playing are very welcome, as I toy with the idea of putting these fools together as a squad. Gareth is technically player-manager at Wycombe, though he doesn’t do much of the playing these days. In 97/98 we find him at Port Vale with pace to burn


By the time he’s 44, his pace has been burned. Works hard though, which is probably for the best.

ainsworth 18

Kazuyoshi Miura

This is one of my favourites. He’s 30 in CM9798, so you can see where this is going.


Yes, somehow he is still playing, aged 50. Even Wikipedia says so:

He went on to get 89 caps for Japan, I don’t think he’ll get to 90 but it depends if I become the Japan manager any time soon or not. I’d really like to see his stats from FM18 if anybody is at a loose end.

Rob Douglas

This one is largely unfair, given that he came out of retirement after I’d written the initial article. They all count

Rob Douglas

Douglas came out of retirement to play for Arbroath last weekend, which is ridiculous as he’s 45. But fair play. I imagine he’ll be reinstated to FM18 in a data update, provided he sticks around.

Jamie Cureton

Jamie Cureton

I was amazed to find Cureton is still playing. He’s now at Farnborough in the Southern Premier League. He’s another I can’t find on FM18 but I’m sure if I loaded enough leagues he’d be there. I bet he still scores shed loads too.

Clinton Morrison


Clinton Morrison is still turning out for Mickleover Sports in the Northern Premier League, which I guess counts. Maybe I should have put a lower level limit on but it matters not, Clinton has made the list. I don’t even know if Mickleover Sports are on FM18, but if they are, that’s where you’ll find Clintycakes.

That’s it for now – thanks for all your suggestions. Sadly Gareth Barry isn’t on 97/98, whilst another Barry – Hayles, to be precise – is playing in a regional league which I just won’t stoop to.

For more Championship Manager check out the two books available

Happy Birthday CM9798


Oh bloody hell, he’s back again with another post about it being the 20th anniversary. We get it.

I promise I’ll keep this relatively brief. No more mention of the big two-zero after today, but I thought I’d end this party with a speech rather than passing out in the garden – both are viable options, kids.

There are certain memories that linger with any old game, a bit like when you hear an old song from an album you are fairly sure only your Mam owned. Like Vinnie Jones’ album, how was that allowed to be a thing?


With CM9798, I don’t think of the game as being the past anymore, I very much think of it in the present tense. Naturally, I have fond memories of when I first got the game, and then playing it growing up with the lads round where I lived, but having blogged about the game for the past three years it’s really no longer a memory. It’s still happening.

That is of course down to you all. The fact so many of you are still playing the game or interacting with me about it tells me that I was right to start this blog, and that the love for this game will never die. I did a bit of a thank you spree on Twitter on Friday, and the sheer number of people who I have met (most electronically, some in person) as a result of talking about a 20 year old game is astonishing. I think I’ve covered everything there is to cover – from the best players, tactics, interviews with the creators, long time staff members, fans of the game, tech guides, a tournament and of course completing the duration of the game. My one regret is that John Curtis won’t do an interview for me, but you can’t win them all.

I’ve dedicated more time than usual to the blog since the summer break until now, so I’ll be dropping things back to a normal level. What is a normal level? Well for me personally it’ll be a save of mine with once a week updates. There’ll be the odd bonus article along the way, and I’m always open to ideas, but I’m going to ease into Christmas.

The Future

You’ve probably noticed I’ve had some guest bloggers on recently – that will be the case going forwards. I’m not giving my spot up just yet but let’s face it, I can’t do it forever, so my aim for 2018 is to build the writing team up so that we have content 4 or 5 times a week from numerous different writers. Basically, I don’t want the blog to die if I don’t have a save on the go. Once we get to that stage I can look at finally re-designing the site and really continue on as a CM9798 Fansite – I know from the interaction that the interest is there and we’ve got some great guest bloggers on board, indeed Matt Porter’s Stockport Diaries are back next week. If you want to get involved, do let me know.

I’ll wrap it up here. Thanks for all your support, you’ve made a Champ Man very happy.