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.
It’s a quarter final clash at home to 1st Division Leicester which is music to my ears.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The last thing we need is another match but we got the ultimate CM treatment.
Oh what a prize…
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.
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.
How are we meant to subdue THIS for 90 minutes?
That bench man. Meanwhile…
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!
Good on Ajax but…there’s no good draw to be had.
Well at least it isn’t Barcelona.
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.
That leads to the International break and a welcome rest.
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.
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)
Andreas Andersson & Woodcock are banned, Disco Des and Bjarni the Gud are injured so it’s Paul Dalglish up front with Al. Urgh.
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.
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.
We’re in the middle of 9 matches in 21 days.
Off to Anfield then for the latest installment of Tyne/Wear fun. Shearer settles it. To Wembley!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The bad news is Shearer will miss the FA Cup final.
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.
It’s Coming Home.
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.
Pinas is in the Dutch squad for their home Championships, surely he’ll get his first cap soon?
But the real star is of course Shearer.
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.
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.
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!