Short Stories: Kaiserslautern – Part 3

Guten tag! Welcome to the final part of the Kaiserslautern story, where I’m in with an outside chance of replicating one of the more unlikely stories of the 1990s. 12 games separate us for achieving our target, though it is essentially out of our hands as Bayern (and I suppose Bielefeld) have games in hand to overhaul us. You can see part 2 here.

22 games

We have the perfect opportunity to keep the momentum up as we host bottom of the table Duisburg. We get off to the perfect start thanks to Kuka trooper before missing about 20 chances. The Czech star eventually wraps up the points and we keep rolling on.

2-0 duisburg

It’s a tough fixture away at 3rd place Bielefeld. We struggle to lay a glove on them and when Fink gets sent off with the score already 1-0, it’s downhill from there. A heavy loss. Goodbye top spot.

bielefeld 3-0

Bayern win their game in hand during the week to pile on the misery, but they are the next visitors to the Ballroom Fritz. We’re up for it from the start and hound our more illustrious opponents to take a half time lead. Then it gets really fun. Larry Rob makes it 2 before Marschall takes over, netting a pen and rounding Kahn for 4-0. Rizzitelli pulls one back but Marschall completes his hat-trick in injury time. What a day. What a club.

5-1 bayern home

Not now, Pavel. Ffs.

Kuka request

Borussia “don’t make me type it out” MGB host us but they’ve had a rough season. We’re 2-0 up inside 10 minutes before being pegged back to 2-2. Fortunately we are strong finishers and Larry adds two plus another for Kuka trooper and it’s a handsome win.

5-2 BMG

We keep the pressure up with a thrashing of Cologne. When we’re good, my word we are good.

4-0 koln

Every now and again though we throw in a minging 0-0. This is one such occasion.

bochum 0-0

Then, such is the way of this game, we thrash Leverkusen 6-0. Another hat-trick for Olaf. If only Bayern didn’t have those games in hand.

leverksuen 6-0

Dortmund are reigning European Champions and they’re coming up on the rails in 3rd. It’s make or break really, we can’t afford to lose to a rival. It’s a tense affair, 0-0 at the break. Then, Kuka gives us the lead. What a hero. Dundee slots a pen to level it up but Kohler scores an OG to put us back in front. We can only hold out for 5 minutes before that damn Sean Dundee levels it up, before Kohler pops up (pun intended) to score the winner and sink us. Booo.

dortmund 3-2

It’s followed up by the most one sided 0-0 you’ll ever see. I think the dream is dead.

0-0 berlin

Two 0-0’s in 3 days. What a treat.

0-0 stuttgart

Do not resuscitate.

1860 3-0

We do at least finish with a win thanks to a late Sforza goal. It secures us 3rd place.

2-1 Werder

Bayern win the title on the last day – Dortmund ran them oh so close. I am quite pleased with 3rd, after a dodgy start I didn’t really expect to have been top at any time but nevermind. We outscored the whole league, which is like winning.

final table

Marschall is a hero and I sort of regret not playing Kuka earlier in the season.

goals

The front two were exceptional, though there were many strong performers as you can see. Only the wingbacks averaged under 7, which is no surprise. Those ratings are always a struggle.

averages

That brings us to the end of this short story series, I’m going back down to just the Academy from November and for remainder of the year as I fear I have become a nuisance. See you then!

Remember to vote for your favourites as we search for our CM9798 Greatest Team

Short Stories: Kaiserslautern – Part 2

Guten tag! That’s German for how do. In part 1, we discussed how it was a small miracle that Kaiserslautern won the 97/98 Bundesliga and then came up with a plan as to how I was going to replicate that success. The answer was seemingly Olaf Marschall.

After 9 games, we pick the season up with my new charges in 6th, hanging on to the coat tails of the top sides.

Table October

First off I’ve decided I need a centre back to strengthen out defensive resolve and at £1m I have identified Stephane Henchoz.

Henchoz signs

What I didn’t take into account, because I am a bonhead, is that Henchoz counts as a non-EU player because…Switzerland. This was a mistake, I admit that.

Alex Notman is finally back from his torn hamstring and he’s in for Ratinho, who is our for a few weeks. We still can’t defend but the ever reliable Marschall, with help from our young loanee, gets us over the line despite conceding twice in a minute.

cologne 3-5

Bochum. 3-0. Howard Finkel gets his first goal for the club and we’re loving life.

3-0 bochum

You don’t need him, ffs.

notman recalled

Cheers Alex. That leaves a whole in our team which young Reich will have to fill as we face Bayern in cup. The Pokal sounds less prestigous to be honest, but despite making it to half time at 1-1 once we are down to 10 men it’s a battering. Wave after wave and they just don’t stop. Henchoz is useless.

5-1 bayern

Thankfully Ratinho is back for the trip to Leverkusen, who are 6th but have 3 games in hand. If they win them all, they would be top. But we put a stop to that with a good display away from home. We lead twice but a point will do.

2-2 leverkusen

Dortmund are of course the Champions of Europe so you’ll understand my surprise that we score three times in 12 minutes to brush them aside. Momentum is growing.

3-1 dortmund

A visit to the capital gives us the surprising scenario where Marschall doesn’t score. He always scores. Larry Bob does though as the opening 10 minutes bring all the drama, despite Bryan Roy’s best efforts.

berlin 1 - 1

Stuttgart are another decent side, we seem to be in a rough set of fixtures at the moment. Marschall managed to get injured in training during the International break so he misses this one, which brings Kuka in.

4-3 stuttgart

Larry Bob has pulled his hamstring and will face 2 months out, which poses a problem as I really want to play Pavel Kuka now but will need to drop one of the other non-EU chaps. Ratinho is a set piece maestro which is bad news for Sforza and Kadlec, who may face rotation over the weeks to come.

Marschall only misses one game and he will have to get to know Kuka for the time being. We come from 2-0 down to draw with 1860 Munich as our patchy form continues.

2-2 1860 munich

2nd place Werder Bremen away probably will mean more problems for us. We’re already down to 7th but Kuka has given us a new dimension and his double helps us towards a massive shock result. Well maybe not massive but I didn’t expect to win let alone score 4 goals.

4-2 bremen

We get four again just a few days later as another away trip ends in a demolition. This time Kuka gets a hat-trick as Rostock feel the Kuka burn. We’ll work on better word play.

1-4 rostock

The final game before the winter break is Karlsruhe. Finally a game we are expected to win. Kuka, obviously, scores twice as we lead 3-0 at half time. It ends 4-1 with Marschall’s 23rd of the season, he’s now passed his real life total and it’s not even Christmas. Kuka has 9 in 5.

4-1 karlsruhe

Yes, if you are wondering, I should have picked Kuka from the start. Germany love a winter break, it lasts for two whole months where literally nothing happens. Here’s the table to help pass the time.

top winter break

It’s going rather well. I doubt we’ll have enough to overtake Bayern but you just never know.

It’s been 83 years. Or 2 months. But we’re back in action. The transfer deadline has been and gone, most of my players are wanted and were bid for.

squad feb

Our first game back is Hamburg away. It turns out to be the perfect setting for Marschall to get goal 24 of a brilliant season.

hamburg 0-1

You don’t play for 2 months then all of a sudden you play twice in 2 days. Who decided that?

0-0 schalke

We finish with a trip to Wolfsburg. They’re 17th and not very good and it looks set to be another 0-0 until my left back goes through one on one and scores and Sforza adds some Swiss gloss to the occasion.

2-0 wolfsburg

Bayern mess up at home to Leverkusen so we’re top of the pile. A lovely way to end the update I feel.

22 games

They have 2 games in hand so I’m not too excited but they have to visit us yet, we’re still fighting for this title and Ich würde es lieben, wenn wir sie schlagen, liebe es!

For some reason the Bundesliga is big on Wednesday-Friday for matches despite that break so we’re going to be heavily tested in the last few months of the season as my squad depth isn’t great. Nevertheless, 12 games to go and we’re in with a shout. I’ll take it. Join me next week for the conclusion, auf wiedersehen pets.

 

Short Stories: Kaiserslautern – Part 1

It’s new series time! After the success of the Newcastle United short story (which went on longer than planned) I threw it over to you lot to decide what our new short story would be:

 

To Germany! But first, why Kaiserslautern?

Kaiserslautern were relegated from the German Bundesliga in the 1995/96 season. Under the guidance of former Bayern Munich manager Otto Rehhagel, they were promoted back at the first attempt. Remarkably though they went on to win the Bundesliga, pipping Bayern Munich to the title – the first side to ever win the Bundesliga title as a newly promoted team.

Somehow, I have to try and replicate that.

Obviously nothing much was expected of Kaiserslautern so their squad on CM9798 is not equipped to win the league. Real life top scorer Olaf Marschall for example isn’t bad but can he match his 21 league goals?

Marschall

I guess we’ll see. The squad is full of injuries and a young Michael Ballack. Big fan of Ratinho though. As a name, at least.

Squad

There’s £3m in the bank and I don’t want to buy the usual suspects, so I’ve spent £2.4m on Laurent Robert because everyone knows his name. I’ve also never bought him on CM9798 so what a time we’ll have. Alex Notman has joined on loan, but he’s only 16 so it’s merely a squad depth exercise.

Wagner is in the Germany squad and wants to move to a bigger club. There’s nothing worse than having somebody complain at you all season so I’ve moved to cover off his exit. Incidentally we’ve made £3m in season ticket sales, so that’s something. Both come highly rated, even if their stats disagree with that.

dziwiorhahn

The biggest problem is the Non-EU rules. The game says I’m allowed three but how old Otto managed it in real life I have no idea. Some EU passports I suspect. Kuka is the odd man out to begin with as Ratinho, Kadlec and Sforza are deemed more important.

first match

We’re 1-0 down after 3 minutes. 2-0 down after 20. Great start. But there are signs of life and Marschall has us level before half time. I may grow to love him. He pops up with a late winner and he’s already a seventh of the way towards his real total.

3-2 rostock

Notman has torn a hamstring. At 16. Wow. Didn’t they teach him how to warm up in PE?

PSG and Bayern Munich bid for Wagner. Hmm. I’ve prepared for this. I don’t want their money but I will take some of their cast offs in exchange.

Before any of that can transpire though it’s Duisburg away in the cup. A match so important it’s scheduled the same day as a Czech Republic game which costs us three players though only Kadlec plays anyway. Robert starts up front with Riedl in to the left AM position. Marschall nets two more and the two afforementioned lads get on the scoresheet and we’ll see round 2.

duisbug cup win

Duisburg are a Bundesliga side, so maybe we’re not so bad. Hertha Berlin in round 2 – who have Bryan Roy, by the way.

It’s Kalrsuhe away in the league. They’ve oddly just bid for 36 year old Andreas Brehme but they have Sean Dundee and Thomas Hassler, which doesn’t bode well for us. Naturally both score but their keeper gets man of the match. It’s a heavy defeat though.

3-0 karlsruher

I think this is ok for us…?

wagner to bayern

Fink will play the DM role whilst Dreher is a better goalkeeper than we currently have. Dreher makes his debut away to Schalke whilst Fink is injured for a few weeks. Jens Lehmann keeps us out for an hour but Sforza eventually equalises. A good point.

1-1 Schalke

Every team in the Bundesliga has one icon of the game, it’s actually incredible. A bit like the MLS a few years ago where every team had at least one player who had played in the English Leagues. Hamburg, armed with Thomas Gravesen, lead twice before Marschall nets twice to nick a point. We’re a weird team.

2-2 hamburg

We beat Duisburg in the cup and are tasked with doing it again in the league. It’s a topsy turvy game but Marschall has the last word. He is good you know.

duisburg 3-2

Larry Bob settles our meeting with Wolfsburg. Their DBP (designed banter player) is Claudio Reyna if you were wondering.

1-0 wolfsburg

Hertha Berlin (Bryan Roy AND Gabor Kiraly) are next in the cup and we’ve all of a sudden become very, very dull. Larry Bob, 1-0. Again. No extra points for style.

1-0 berlin

That’s two Bundesliga sides in a row so surely we’re due some luck in round 3.

german pokal 3rd round draw

Sigh.

Bielefeld’s best known player scores twice in the opening 13 minutes to leave the Fritz Walter with all three points. That looks like a bad result but they are absolutely flying.

2-0 kuntz

I really don’t fancy us at Bayern but the most ruthless goalscorer in football history gives us the lead…only for us to lose after a second half collapse.

2-1 bayern

There’s no shame in that but the board are less than satisfied. Does the term newly promoted mean nothing to the German people?

Steffen Effenberg and Borussia MGB (don’t make me type it out) are the last opponents of the update. Olaf is mad. I’m a little vexed but you’ve seen nothing like Olaf. He runs to the final seconds so he can secure his hat-trick and keeps the board off my back ahead of the International break.

4-0 MGB

Incidentally, Passlack translates from German to English as “Pulis”.

All of that leaves us 6th after just 9 games. They only play 34 in a German season and I don’t have any European commitments so it’ll be a solid three parter.

Table October

Marschall is well on the way to matching his 21. It’s the defence letting us down at the moment.

Marschall October

After just 9 games, the answer to “can Dave win the Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern?” is probably not. But it’s a long season and Bielefeld surely won’t keep this up. Join me next week to see what happens next.

 

 

Short Stories: Newcastle United – The Aftermath

Hello! Just a quick note, I’ve uploaded the NUFC save file for download so you can carry on where I’ve left off. The only way to do it is for me to upload the whole folder, but it is the only saved game. Basically treat it as a new download and follow the instructions on the How To page. The good thing is you can have multiple CM9798 folders and just mount them all on separate drives, I’ve got about 4 on the go, so do enjoy.

The NUFC save can be downloaded here

Let me know how you get on, there’s £50m in the bank so whether you want to continue my legacy of blooding the youngsters or splashing the cash, the choice is yours. Do tweet me with anything good that happens.

Have a great weekend – see you on Sunday for the Academy

Dave

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Short Stories: Newcastle United – Part 10

Greetings and welcome back to the Newcastle United “short story”. This was meant to only be a one season thing to see how we did without the injured Shearer but it turns out blooding youngsters and signing nobody is more fun than I imagined. Seeing as we are now Premier League champions, we’ll carry on for a third and final season before moving on with our lives. The only signings I am allowed are re-gens of my players who retire, so with Rush and Pearce hanging up their boots…

Pearce regenrush regen

Sadly Geoff “Psycho” Mail has damaged his spine so we won’t be able to play him until the new year. Rush Hour II will hopefully get a loan move but I’ll keep him in mind for cup games if I can’t shift him.

The last thing I can afford to do is sell players, let alone to rivals, so bids for Gillespie and Disco Des from the red side of Manchester are knocked back.

gillespie biddes bid

They are also sniffing around Steve Watson, along with Liverpool, but they can dream on.

We get to play in the Charity Shield, a fine day in any manager’s life, and despite trailing at half time Shearer sorts them out before Jackie McNamara lashes in our winner.

2-1 CS

It’s an inauspicious start to the season though. Blackburn have Petri Jakonen in goal and play everybody behind the ball. We run out of ideas remarkably quickly and 0-0 is about as good as we deserve.

0-0 blackburn

It’s a tough start to our season as we’re off to Leeds, who we only pipped to the title on goal difference. John Hartson gives us that sinking feeling but those old pals Gillespie and Shearer rally to get us all three points. Phew.

leeds 1 - 3

Elland Road is looking large. It’s time for our derby next and it’s a bit of a ding dong affair, our two goal lead is immediately halved before we get two more. Even though we concede again it’s a welcome home win.

4-2 mackems

We’re still not firing on all cylinders as Coventry get the better of us at Highfield Road. We’re awful, but Chris Woodcock climbs off the bench to nick a point. Sign of a good team or the beginning of the end?

1-1 coventry

Champions League draw could have been a lot worse. Dortmund will be tough but by this stage some of their better players have been poached, I think we’ll get through being very honest.

CL group S3

Middlesbrough are our next visitors and our uncertain start to the season continues. The new craze is for teams to play ultra defensive against us – a compliment, in many ways – but when you can’t find a way past Mark Schwarzer it’s not great.

0-0 Boro

David Batty departs injured and will miss the England game, but don’t worry…

barnes 99

WHY?

0-0 west ham

Crikey. We just can’t score. A 2-0 win over Derby is more important than I ever thought imaginable.

derby 2-0

Bjarni can start with Shearer going forward, Andersson was immense last season but dreadful so far. Dortmund are smashed to bits.

5-0 dortmund

Before newly promoted Birmingham also taste defeat.

brum 1-2

Our new found momentum even sees us win despite playing with 10 men for 55 minutes. Shearer’s back in the goals and Disco Des weighs in too. He’s still waiting that England cap though he has been in several squads.

3-1 man city

The goals continue to flow in Denmark, Woodcock getting the nod up front and rewarding me with a quick fire brace. It’s closer than it needs to be but who cares?

brondby 3-4

Tottenham were title challengers last year but thankfully aren’t quite as good this year. We’ve hit a groove now and not even Jurgen Klinsmann can stop us

1-3 spurs

After the International break – no cap for Des, no game time for Barnes – it’s Southampton. They are Shearered and those 0-0s of a month ago are a distant memory.

3-1 southampton

It’s four more against the Bulgarian champions. Shearer’s recent return is incredible.

4-1 CSKA

The party is somewhat halted at The City Ground. A ridiculously open game sees us have a winner from Woody chalked off but a point is better than a loss. We’re actually unbeaten still.

1-1 forest

So after 12 fun filled games we’re top, by a single point. But still too early to get excited.

PL table top October 99

Man Utd just don’t stop. No.

MUFC woodcock

He sort of underlines his credentials with a pair at first Division Southend in the League Cup. A complete shadow side also sees Rush II score though we’ll be missing Steve Watson for a month. Swings and roundabouts.

3-0 southend

We’ll resume battle next week. Thanks for your company.