Viking Invaders – Part 1

KingOfTheRooks is back with a new series! It’s a little known fact that all of the Scandinavian teams are in the CM9798 database so Andrew has got his experimenting hat on. If you’ve ever wondered how Rosenborg would get on in the Premier League, you’re in for a treat…

Hello and welcome to the latest experiment, Viking Invaders!

Rosenborg BK won thirteen consecutive Norwegian titles from 1992 to 2004 and also qualified for the Champions’ League group stages on eight consecutive occasions between 1995-96 and 2002-03. In 1996-97 they reached the quarterfinals, bowing out to Juventus. The question is, how would a team of such dominance cope in the Premier League? Let us find out… (The unfortunate victims to this act of heresy are Southampton who have been demoted to non-league where they will join Rosenborg 2, our B team).

We’ll also look to bring in some of the keenest talent from across the North-Sea to bolster our assault on the Premier League.

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European Super League – Part 3

Andrew is here with the final instalment of the European Super League. Can he guide PSG up the table? You can also download the files for the Super League here. All you need to do is copy the three .db1 files into your CM9798 folder but remember to backup the current files from your CM9798 folder if you ever want to use them again. My thanks to Andrew for all his efforts in creating this for the blog!

Hello and welcome back to the UEFA Super League adventure! We left you last time having made a strong push at closing the gap to Man Utd following a formational tweak that saw us deliver four 5 goal results, only having fallen foul of Juventus and then returned a poor showing at Club Brugge to fall off the pace of the leaders again. With 11 games to go and a 6 point gap to the leaders, it isn’t unachievable.

Let’s take a look at the run in that we have over the next few months:

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6 of the 11 remaining fixtures against top 10 opposition, 3 against other clubs in the top 5…that is going to be just the run in the TV companies had in mind! Despite being the biggest spenders in the league, we are running a tight ship and outside of the core players the ratings are woeful…

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Patrice is going absolutely loko at the lack of game time, but I just can’t allow him to move on with the squad so small. Gava is still 8 months away from recovering from a knacked pelvis, he’s spending the whole time listening to Dire Straights I would imagine.

Rai-less for the derby with Monaco, his boy Leroy returns to the side. Silly silly Willy! Sagnol gets himself sent off for a deliberate handball, Henry gives us a scare, but we do the job and win the money bags derby.

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That said, the space cowboy has had one too many bookings and will miss a game of the run in after hitting 22 disciplinary points. Hopefully it’s not Man Utd on the 4th April! The gap remains 6 points.

After dominating the opening period in Portugal, Revault has an absolute madness and gets himself sent off. 4-1 down we come back to 4-3 and after 20+ shots, should have had a point. Now Revault and his boy Leroy will miss the Utd game (who extend their lead to 9 points with 9 games to go…

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A 89th minute equaliser as Leverkusen pepper our back-up stopper at the death see’s us drop more points. Utd are cruising 11 points ahead of us and they are our next opponents. Denzil’s two goals might seem good, but it’s a poor return from his 10 shots on goal…

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Despite pushing Utd all the way with key players missing, money is no match for 4-4-2.

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We are playing for our top 5 lives now, as we appear to have well and truly lost our spark. MIND THE GAP.

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We belt Bayern 4-1 in Germany, Denzil gets a hattrick. We’re back on fire, but it’s a case of too little too late. With 6 to go Barca and Juve are chasing a determined Utd down but it might just be too much to make up. That resolute Utd defence continues to be their best area even in Super League land.

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We have our say in the title race (over to you…ve…) and then crash and burn with the lethargy of a bunch of millionaires who have nothing to play for against PSV.

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It really doesn’t matter as we sweep aside a Celtic team with Van Nistlerooy and Larsson up top. The race at the top hots up without us.

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No biology jokes this time. A fairly lacklustre win as we hold off a late onslaught to squeeze home 2-1. Elsewhere Juve top on goal difference, Utd with a game in hand, Barca clinging onto an outside hope.

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Man Utd take their break from the league in their stride as their rigid belief in 4-4-2 wins them the UEFA Cup. Meanwhile in the UEFA Super League, its all change as Barcelona go top (for now).

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A pointless victory against Sporting sees us all but wrap up 4th place. Meanwhile the title race is thrown into Utd’s hands as Barca play their last game and Juve give it up to second bottom Brugge.

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Barcelona need penalties to beat plucky Middlesbrough in the Cup Winners Cup

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And the only thing now standing between Man Utd and UEFA Super League glory is Gordan Durie and the Blockheads at Old Trafford on the last day of the season. A nail biting finish down to the final day, Barca could win the league without kicking a ball.

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We close the season with a draw at the money bags Newcastle Utd. However, in an absolute shock, Gordon and the Blockheads defeat Man Utd 1-0 at Old Trafford and Barcelona lift the inaugural UEFA Super League title without a kick! They also destroy Juventus 5-0 in the UEFA Super League League Cup. A treble for Barca.

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In typically for PSG, we’ve ended up well off the pace, having had an end of season collapse as some players imploded, and Maurice the space cowboy lost his pistol like accuracy and it got all too much for the pampered expensive squad.

Okay, so, lets take a look at the final UEFA Super League tables;

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Club Brugge’s shock victory over Juventus keeps them in the top tier at the expense of Feyenoord, a brutal, brutal end to their stay in the top. Just as brutal as the twist at the other end. Meanwhile in UEFA Super League Two;

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A largely straight-forward affair for Ajax with Ronaldo out for a lot of the season, Inter couldn’t keep the pace. It’s goodbye to Vitesse and Aberdeen. Over in the Premier League Chelsea pull away from the pack and take the title, Spurs the perennial runners-up.

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La Liga you say? Let’s see;

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And in the secondary European competition, Chelsea romp home.

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Whilst we await the result of the World Cup, the financial safety of TV revenue has passed our exuberant spending by…

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A single goal from Omar Assad wins the World Cup for Argentina in an all South American affair. Denzil and Alfa Romario in tears.

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All that’s left now is the end of season awards. Denzil takes a well deserved bow:

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What an adventure…despite our own season coming to an unspectacular anti-climax in the back end of the season, what a rollercoaster it turned out to be for the fight for the title in what is quite possibly the most brutal league assembled. As the TV money rolled in, we overspent and underdelivered, only to be bailed out by our wealthy owners at the close of the season with a financial injection to erase our debts.

I did not want to enjoy this season as much as I have, but would I like to see it in real life? Absolutely not. That said, who knows what the future holds…I hope you have enjoyed following our journey.

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UEFA Super League, over and out.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @KingOfTheRooks

European Super League – Part 2

The notion of a Super League killing football is very real but you have to say, it makes things quite interesting in the entirely fictional world of CM9798. King Of the Rooks is back to continue the madness whilst managing PSG. Catch up with part 1 here.

Hello and welcome back to the UEFA Super League 1997 where we are trying to see if a well assembled PSG side can have better luck than their future money bags selves in a league that never happened. We left part one having made some reasonably smart signings (so I thought):

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As far the transfer round up goes, Monaco signed Jamie Redknapp, Juventus signed Jordi Cruyff, Celtic signed Ruud van Nistelrooy, PSV signed Robert Pires and Newcastle signed…

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For us, Muoio was an absolute gamble, that hasn’t paid off. We closed out October in 6th place, ten points behind the leaders Man Utd, no seems to be able to find a better answer than 4-4-2 it would seem.

We open our winter account by piling on the misery for table proper’s Celtic. The only annoyance is losing Ode and Dhorasoo to injuries inside 10 minutes.

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England fail to qualify klaxon!!! No doubt Eileen saw it coming. Meanwhile Chelsea pay £9m for Richie Humphreys. The transfer market is going bonkers. Our boy Leroy Jetson helps us to another 5-goal haul but Man Utd maintain the 10 point gap…it is getting tasty.

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Petry dishes out enough saves in the Feyenoord goal but under the microscope it was a poor performance from the Dutch as we as we secure another 5-goal haul on the bounce thanks to Denzil and the space cowboy.

We can’t capitalise on a rare slip up from Man Utd as they lose 3-1 to PSV. We can only manage to draw with Sporting despite 15 shots. The gap is down to 9 points. Outside of Man Utd it’s as tight as Mike Ashley on transfer deadline day:

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At this stage, its probably worth sharing the modification we’ve made to the ultimate formation after the few defeats, we experienced:

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The toon arrive in town and future Newcastle boy Domi breaks hearts whilst only a defiant Shaka Flip-Flop prevents another 5 goal haul.

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Meanwhile as Big Ron says goodbye, total football arrives in South Yorkshire and the Premier League:

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A Jamie Redknapp inspired Monaco knock us out of the UEFA Super League-League Cup after extra-time as the space cowboy gets his marching orders. This doesn’t bode well for our chances of chasing down Man Utd’s 7 point lead.

Back to the glory of the Sky Sports UEFA Super League and 11 minutes in a pretty Roche challenge sets us up for a difficult afternoon, but the Kaisers kuk their penalty up and we fight on.

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The gap to Utd is down to 5 points.

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We turn up at the Santiago Bernabeu without the inspirational space cowboy, Domi suspended and Roche suspended. Leroy goes off early but my oh my, that was the performance of the season…

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The gap to Man United is down to just 3 points.

Next up we have a crunch game vs. 3rd placed Juventus who have matched us point for point, goal for goal so far and probably have the strongest squad in the league. After making the right start to the game, it all falls apart as Juve just take hold of the game. We’ll lose Revault now too which is terrible news.

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Man Utd cling onto top spot, we scrape a last minute winner as Romario comes off the bench to assist Denzil.

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Pffffhhhahahahahahahahaha

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Gordon Durie and the Blockheads push us but money buys us a little bit of love despite being without our main man in the sticks.

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We close out February with a poor performance, only managing a draw with 2nd bottom Club Brugge. An Awfuly showing with Rai getting injured. We are woefully out of form when considering the opposition for the last two games.

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We’ve made some good ground over the mid-season, and despite Cruyff’s statement that he’s “never seen a bag of money score a goal” our summer signings sure have helped a good bit. Here’s how the Sky Bet UEFA Super League stands with the run-in coming up:

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Celtic have been rooted to the foot of the table all season, the bottom two are surely down. We’re 6 points behind Utd but it’s not an unassailable lead by any stretch. And now Super League Two:

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Ajax currently pipping Ronaldo’s Inter and its not clear yet who will be relegated to the abyss of Super League Non-League.

Meanwhile over in the Premier League it remains as tight as Steve Bruce in a new suit…

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Total football bringing Sheff Wed right back into it with a game in hand. Wide open. The new boys at Kidderminster continue to boss Division 3, thanks in no little part to signing Tomlinson.

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And to wrap things up, over in Spain, Betis are in control.

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That’s all for now, but please do join us next time to see how the grande finale of the UEFA Super League turns out and whether we can change the fortunes of a poor old cash rich PSG, whether Derby County can win the Premier League, and whether Salguieros can become the most unlikely Champions League winners!

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @KingOfTheRooks

 

European Super League – Part 1

Making a welcome return as a guest blogger is KingoftheRooks! He’s spent his summer making a custom database for your reading pleasure – so here’s the European Super League. Over to Andrew to explain more…

Hello and welcome!

What is this fresh hell you ask? Well…you will no doubt be familiar with the on-going debate regards the creation of a European Super League to try and further delight to pockets of the TV operators and further leverage the debts of clubs, much of which has been played back by Der Spiegel. Back in 1997, the Champions League had finally returned to a format that allowed runners-up of key leagues to enter the competition.

To see what might have happened had Sky set their sights on European footballs elite competition rather than the Premier League, I set about creating a European Super League. How you ask? Using the UEFA club rankings over 95/96 & 96/97, and finishing position in home league, I have determined two tiers in which teams sit (sorry AC Milan, you’re non-league now).

Alas, meet the competitors of the newly formed UEFA Super League:

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…and division 2:

Continue reading

Run Forest, Run – Part 12: Panic

Matt’s here to round off his Forest of the future adventure. He’s achieved a lot in a short space of time with Nottingham Forest but can he round it off in style? Catch up with part 11 here.

Hello and welcome back to the final part of our experiment to make Nottingham Forest a force in England and Europe. We jumped into the hotseat after simming 8 seasons and given Stuart Pearce his P45. In season 1 we came close to winning the league, only to be denied by Watford, but did get us back into Europe where we capitulated in the group stage, but shone domestically to do a Man City style domestic treble. Into our 3rd and final season and we have the chance for the quadruple, but to do so, we’ll have to overcome Joe Royle’s Division 1 Middlesbrough.

League Cup Final day and a chance to defend our trophy. Middlesbrough were reigning Premiership champions when we jumped into the hotseat, but the past few seasons have been unkind to them, but under Joe R’s guidance, they are heading back to the big time and have a chance at a domestic cup.

And that’s the way it seems to be heading when Frank Parkinson heads them into a half time lead. It’s not until late in the game that we settle the scores with Kaye heading in from a corner and whilst everyone was prepping for extra-time, Rubi-gol pops up with a late winner to bring the 3 handled trophy back to the City Ground. Three hands indeed.

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We barely have time to wipe the sweat from our brow and wash the champagne from our underpants as we’re off to the Principality of Monaco to play the first leg of the Champions League Semi final. There’s obviously still some champagne sloshing around our system as we are 2 goals down until Luis Figo/Marco halves the deficit with a valuable away goal.

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While all this was going on, Leeds lost two league games in a row, we’re 5pts behind them and Spurs with 3 games in hand, I can sense a fixture pile up coming.
We won’t have time to worry about that for the moment though, as it’s our 3rd cup game in our 3rd cup competition in a row and this time we take the lead against plucky Boro, only for them to equalise after the break. This time it does go into extra-time but the recently recalled Zizi Debbah knocks in a rebound early doors and we see out the rest of the tie to head into the final against Newcastle United.

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All these cup games mean we’ll have to play in the league again soon. How soon is now? Now, where we welcome Wolves round to ours, where they huff and they puff and they blow our house down. Our league form seems to have dropped off a cliff…

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After our destruction by Wolves, we need to win our next game against 4th place Everton.

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Joyce in the goal repels everything we have to throw at him, only one shot from Inge gets through, and we concede to drop 2pts, not to mention injuries to two of our centrebacks.

2 days later and it’s the bank holiday fixtures and we travel to Arsenal. Our return leg against Monaco is in another 2 days, so it’s another squad rotation experiment.

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Another 1-1 draw and another injury to a defender. I think the experiment went too far again. 2 dropped pts. At this stage, I think we need to forget the league in pursuit of European Glory.

The second league is a tense affair. A goal from Monaco would see us needing 3 without further reply to avoid extra-time, but young Dutch maestro Twan Inge puts ahead on away goals and then as the tension rises, William Sagnol brings down Rubini in the box, gets sent off and Gorgeous Guerrero rolls back the years and sends us into a European Final. Hard luck William, it was really nothing.

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It’ll be the mighty Milan in the final.

Back to the league and Inge and crucial goals go Hand in Glove at the moment. Will that goal be huge at the end of the season? We’re 7 pts behind Leeds with 2 games in hand, we’ve got a chance!

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Sheffield Utd next. They are 20th in the table and there for the taking.

Bigmouth strikes again.

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Lyttle Chef and Ronald MacDonald serve up a beating that drains my soul. Meat is definitely murder in those hamburgers.

A loss to Sunderland away confirms we won’t be retaining the title. In truth we were holding on until The Lizard got sent off and the penalty went in Jancker at the end just rubbed salt in the wounds and heaven knows I’m miserable now.

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Such is life, with the race over, we then go and thrash Burnley in our next league game
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Interestingly, more people came to watch this dead-rubber than to see us dispatch Monaco in the home leg of the Champions League Semi-Final. Go figure.

2 days later it’s another catch up game against Bolton and we are tired and truly awful. We were so bad, even the pitch went off in disgust after 5 minutes.

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I feel like the boy with the thorn in his side. And my girlfriends in a coma. (Certain statements may be untrue – that joke isn’t funny anymore.)

We’ve one last league game to play and it’s against Newcastle, who we’ll play again 7 days later at Wembley in the FA Cup Final. I’m unsure what side I should put out. Save the first teamers for the two cup finals looming and give the squad members one last run out?

There’s intrigue at the top, where Spurs need a Leeds slip up to take the title and at the bottom it’s any 3 from 5 to go down.

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In the end I decide to mix the team up a bit and see what happens.

The story of this game, and stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before, is that we’re crap, they get a man sent off, we rouse a comeback and then we are crap again and lose.

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Rodrigao the man to watch in 7 days time then.

At the top, Leeds drew 1-1 whilst Spurs beat Swindon 3-0 but it wasn’t enough and Leeds take the title having conceded only 2 goals fewer than Spurs, unbelievable Jeff.

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We limp into 3rd. In the final run in, since we lost 3-4 to Leeds, if you include that game, our form was:

P11 W2 D2 L7 – not exactly Champions form was it?

At the bottom, Watford, champions 2 seasons ago, join Bolton and Swindon in the drop, Burnley doing a last minute escape. Joe Kinnear pays the price and loses his job. You can only imagine the swearing, That Charming Man.

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With all that disappointment out of the way, I remind the squad that we have two cup finals to play and some pride to restore to the City Ground Fans. I tell them Cloughie would be spinning in his grave to know we relinquished the championship to Leeds so meekly.

Liverpool end a impressive first season back in the Premiership by sealing the Cup Winners Cup, great stuff by Alan Shearer.

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FA Cup Final – Newcastle United – Wembley.

We’re the holders, we finished above them in the table, we’ve won th League Cup and have a Champions League final awaiting us. We should be favourites, but we’re not. Our form has been woeful, so we’re the underdogs. I tell my players this. I use it to my advantage. It’s mind games son.

The Lizard and Gazza Jnr are suspended so it’s Courtin in goal and Julen Guerrero on the bench.

Newcastle boss, Jimmy Nicholl insists on holding my hand as we lead the teams out ‘I’ve never won this cup!’ says Jimmy to me. Poor Jimmy has some sort of fear of the big occasion it seems.

Fear is only a four-letter word. He’s also called Gareth and plays in midfield for Newcastle United and puts them one up after 4 minutes. But we win the first half, my favourite front two getting a goal each.

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Nelo gets injured early in the second half and the classy veteran Guerrero comes on to replace him. Newcastle have a goal ruled out for offside and Kaye and Courtin combine to thwart Rodrigao and the trophy is coming home with us, happy times!

On a sadder note, Nelo is out of the big one, his injury laying him up for 6 weeks. Is the script written for Julen Guerrero?

Champions League Final – AC Milan – Stadio Olimpico – Rome

Milan have recaptured their invincibility of the late 80’s and early 90’s. A time when Forest were popping up in the odd cup final. Since the start of the save, Milan have won 2 champions League titles and a Cup Winners Cup, 2 World Club Cups and 2 European Super Cups, 5 Coppa Italia’s, 3 Super Coppa Italias and Serie A 7 times out of 11. They have Thierry henry up front, Valerien Ismael in defence and the regen of Peter Schmeichel in goal.

However, they’re not invincible. They’ve finished 17 points behind new champions Napoli in Serie A and lost the Coppa Italia final to two goals from Ronaldo – they can be defeated. If hope is a light, it’s a light that never goes out.

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Zizi Debbah, such an enigma this season, goes down injured in the 4th minute, so young Derek ‘Al Shearer’ Thompson replaces him and slots past the intimidating frame of the Dane, Meedom. We survive a late onslaught before halftime to go in, one nil up.

No need for stirring half time team talks, it’s just as you are and keep your heads.

Advice Tentoni should have had before he hauled down Rubini in the box and received his marching orders. Icelander Gislason has ice in his veins and coolly dispatches the spot kick and we stay firm at the back, Chagnaud in for the injured Bogie getting the MOTM award.

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2-0 at full time, we are champions of Europe, barely 3 seasons after promotion from Division 1.

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Milan, treble runners up. Henry just didn’t turn up.

Confirmation of our trophy haul over 3 seasons

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And our league placings. Our capitulation this season in the league is still a little hard to swallow.

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Goal stats – Rubini amazingly scored no goals in 8 European games and Debbah certainly dropped off from last seasons form. Maybe hitting 30 years old affected him. Really could have done with some goals from him in the run-in.

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A last chance to look at the teams we turned down:

Liverpool – A solid 7th place in the league and the Cup Winners Cup trophy meant a decent return for Shearer’s team to the top table.

Lazio – 5th in Serie A gives them a chance at European football next season

Espanyol – 5th in La Liga and back into Europe for these big-punchers next season.
For completeness, Real Madrid took the title in La Liga, Sevilla the Copa Del Rey and Juventus took the Eufa Cup. I’m disappointed we never faced Juventus who had William Gallas at the back, then I could have used the headline ‘Debbah Does Gallas’, but alas, it was not to be.

As it’s 2008, theres the Euros to be played out and my central defensive partnership of Kaye and Bogie have been called up along with Derek Thompson, who may lead the line with Noel Whelan for Arrigo Sacchi’s side.

England bow out at the group stages. Derek Thompson doesn’t play until the final game, a win over Slovenia, but it’s not enough and they go out on goal difference. Should have had me at the wheel, FA.

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Italy and France overcome Germany and Yugoslavia respectively to set up the final

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A hat trick for Papin’s regen seals the win for France. Milan’s Tentoni and Pelatti are runners up for the 4th time this season, that’s a kick in the Ballacks for sure.

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Well, that brings me to the end of Part 12 and the end of this save. Thanks to all have read, commented and retweeted and I hope you have enjoyed it. I can’t really say I have as much as the Eric Cantona/Man Utd and Gary Lineker/Torino/England blogs I have done previously. I think jumping in 8 seasons down is tricky as normally by that time you have a feel for the game and the characters whereas I felt I was all at sea and Zizi Debbah frustrated the hell out of me.

Special thanks to Dave for hosting me every Wednesday for the past 12 weeks and I look forward to a break and the CM Cup where you’ll find plenty of veterans in my Criterion Club squad, including this blog’s hero, Julen Guerrero.

You can follow me on Twitter where I am intermittently tracing the managerial movements of Alex Ferguson and am currently at Aberdeen awaiting the call from Man Utd once they tire of George Graham. I’m sure I’ll be back at some point with another blog save, interlaced with pop culture references, I just need a good story.

I hope this has been a fitting tribute to Brian Clough. I managed to win all the trophies he did (except the Zenith Data Systems/Simod Cup) but did get my hands on the FA Cup, twice. Cheers Old Big ‘Ead.

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You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

Starting from Scratch – Part 16

Matthew Cooper stands on the verge of a second successive promotion with Altrincham. He still doesn’t have Twitter. Can he finish the season in style? Catch up with part 15 here.

Yay, it’s the exciting part of the season. Or it would be if it were closer, but with an 11 point cushion this should really be a formality. Let’s get it sorted.

The first trophy of the season is up for grabs, and Fergie misses out on it again:

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They’re also out of the FA Cup so the league is their only target left now. It’s a champion’s league place rather than the title they should be aiming for though, as they’re way behind in third

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Their dominance appears to be over, temporarily at least. You may recall Shearer made a blistering start for them with 6 goals in the first 5 games, but he went pretty badly off the boil since and only scored 2 more goals in his next 26. They were dumped out of the Champion’s league this earlier on by Ajax, so it’s been a season to forget for the red devils.

Anyway back to Altrincham, and it’s not the news I wanted to be greeted with

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Curse that sodding big club release clause, that’s the third left wingback I’ve had poached in the 2 seasons I’ve been here. I’ll have to go hunting for yet another one. This guy looks like a decent all-rounder, and at 28 won’t have a need for that accursed release clause thank God

4

Eek, it had better go smoothly as we won’t get a second chance

5

You can sod off though Ipswich, you’re not big enough to bully me

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It looks like 3rd placed Brighton are going all out to catch up with Millwall, they spent £2m on Jamie Cureton and make another big outlay 2 days later

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Well, at least we wrung another £200k out of them

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His replacement swiftly comes on board so it’s not a complete disaster, thankfully

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Bird is serving a 2 match ban starting with the away trip to Bradford, he kept that quiet when he was signing with us the devious little git. Ah well, Tommo can have another shot at returning to form, in the other change Grossi goes straight into the team to replace Hughes. We should hopefully have enough to get the three points today

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Ah, bollocks. It was going to plan right up to the 89th minute, but we’re sucker punched and have to settle for a point. In truth we’re maybe lucky to get that, as Bradford created a whole host of clear-cut chances but Roberts was in top form and repelled (nearly) everything they threw at him. Ah well, it’s a point closer to the line anyway. Millwall only drew as well so no harm done.

The fairytale FA Cup run is over for Wrexham as they get well beaten by Villa. Wimbledon will be their opponents in the final after overcoming Newcastle

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I really am not having the best of luck with my strikers this season

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At least Bird will be back after the next match. We’re against York at home next, and they’re desperate for points to avoid going down so I’m expecting a frustrating afternoon of their keeper stopping just about everything:

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Am I crap at predictions or what? It’s a seesaw kind of game and the lead changes hands 3 times before we close it out for a narrow victory. N’Diaye’s goals have been vital this season, not to mention his consistent performances. We wouldn’t be in the top spot without him for sure. We secure a playoff place with that win, but as per last season we’re going for the big prize so it means little.

The champion’s League is coming to a conclusion and it’s an all German affair this time as Dortmund and Bayern get past their opponents to reach the final

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Next up is Brighton. They’ve fallen well off the pace despite their £5m+ outlay around deadline day and find themselves in the final play off place despite being two points off second a couple of weeks ago. That doesn’t mean this game will be easy by any means but I’m confident heading into it. Bird is the word as he returns from his ban.

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Fiddlesticks. Brighton are the better side but it’s a game of very few chances and a draw is just about fair on both of us. Unfortunately my new left wingback gets crocked and Palmer sees red so availability issues are about to rear their ugly head yet again.

Still, we’re 9 points clear with only 4 games remaining so we’ll get there even if we have to limp over the finish line. We’ll have to do it without Grossi as he won’t be back until next season

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The next game could be the one that confirms our place in Division 1 next season as we face Stockport at home. They are 7 points adrift from safety so pretty much doomed, but they’ll probably put up a fight.

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I’m right for once, they put up a hell of a fight and we could have lost this on another day. We were in fact staring defeat in the face at 2-1 down until the 80th minute when Bird rescued a point. Ah well, we’ll have to wait at least another game to be mathematically uncatchable.

N’Diaye is doubly unavailable for our visit to Peterborough, being both suspended and also on International duty. Zerrouki replaces him in the middle as we look to seal promotion with a win

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It’s party time as Allardyce blows them away with a 30 minute hat trick, finishing the half with a rating of 10 out of 10. Taggart gets himself sent off towards the end so I opt to sub Allardyce to give him the standing ovation he deserves.

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Hurray! It’s another successive promotion and we’re just 1 league away from the Premiership now.

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Really, just very pleased? Not delighted? You want the moon on a stick you lot.

We haven’t had a look at the fight to avoid the non league trapdoor for a while, and it’s a very interesting situation

21

Darlington have climbed off the bottom again and are hoping it sticks this time. Brentford are the ones facing oblivion now but with the table being as close as it is, it might not be resolved until the final day.

We play out our remaining couple of fixtures but with promotion secured, it’s simply a case of going through the motions. We end up winning the final game but it’s pretty lucky as we’re decidedly second-best all afternoon.

22

On the final day in Division 3, Walsall have swapped places with Brentford and realistically need a win, as their goal difference is slightly inferior. If they do win though, they can drag 3 other teams into it so it’s a very tense day for all concerned

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It’s a pretty good day in the end for most of the bottom three as Walsall, Brentford and Darlington all win leaving Oxford, the highest placed team going into the fixtures, slipping into the void with a disappointing defeat to none other than the recently promoted Colwyn Bay. Farewell Oxford, maybe we’ll see you again in a few years but for now you’ll have to be content with the FA Cup as your only games all season.

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As you can see from the results, Colwyn Bay confirm their place in the playoffs and have as good a chance as any of going up. It would be a pretty amazing year for them considering the early chaos of their 16-strong loanee squad.

So who’s taking their place in the league? As it turns out, it’s one of the “big four”

25

Boro pull off a shock result in the UEFA Cup and get the better of the Galacticos after extra time

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Unfortunately, Colwyn Bay’s season is over after getting a spanking by Mansfield in the playoffs

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Villa lift the FA Cup at the crazy gang’s expense

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Kidderminster opt for Mick Jones to steer them to safety next season. He started off as Plymouth manager and was most recently in charge at Preston before being sacked in January. It’s not a bad appointment really so they should be ok.

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Finally, Bayern Munich take the ultimate prize with a solid victory over Dortmund in the final, which is coincidentally held at their home stadium

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I forgot to immortalise my players last year with the squad stats so here they are for this season

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Finally, it will be Plymouth joining us in Div 1 next season after overcoming big spenders Brighton in the final

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So that’ll be it for this season. See you for the next one, when we’ll be plying our trade in the First Division!

Thanks to Matthew for a great series so far, negotiations are underway to renew his contract for the new season. 

Run Forest, Run – Part 11

It’s the penultimate episode of Matt’s Forest of the future save! He’s tantalisingly close to restoring Forest to their best years but can he keep competing on all fronts? Catch up with part 10 here.

Hello and welcome back to my Forest blog and for the penultimate part. We head into 2008 as defending domestic treble champions and have set our sights on European glory. We’re top of the league, into the quarter finals of the Champions League and League Cup and about embark on our quest t retain the FA Cup.

We’re doing well, but we’re functional and hardly ripping up any trees, which might be best for a team called Forest.

2007 has been a great year for us, and we see it out with a league match against Watford. They have a strikeforce of Giggs, Heskey, Fowler and Owen, but the latter two are injured, which might explain why they are hovering around the relegation places.

1

Missing penalties won’t help their cause, nor will Shay Given conceding 4 goals. I’m pleased with that result, we played liquid football.

It’s a complete change of lineup when 3rd Division Bournemouth come to town in the FA Cup 3rd round and Alfonso does what he was bought to do, come up with valuable goals.

2

It’ll be Premiership Leeds in the next round at the end of January, but for now, it’s the quarter finals against Man City in the League Cup.

City are down to 10 men early doors, but it isn’t until they score a ridiculous own goal that we take control and book a semi-final spot.

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We’ll take on Arsenal while it’s a north-east derby in the other.

4

Jarni Jnr is out for a few weeks, otherwise we are unchanged for the trip to mid-table Huddersfield.

Gifton Noel-Williams. I can say no more.

5

The board were as unimpressed as I was.

Time for some redemption against lowly Swindon. Debbah and Rubini shut down any thought of a Swindon comeback.

6

We’re quickly back to FA Cup action against Leeds who are chasing us hard at the top of the table. Amazingly they only have Thomas Myhre as a goalie and he’s injured so it’ll be a random fake goalie, who no doubt will be the reincarnation of Lev Yashin.

7

Maybe he’s actually the regen of Paul Rachubka. It should have been more than 4 really.

It’ll be Division 1 Portsmouth next time out.

Back to the league and our form has gone to pot.

8

With that, Leeds and Spurs jump above us in the table and we’re down to 3rd.

Back to the cups, my lovely cups. They’ll shield me from the inconsistencies of the league.

9

Lovely cups. Although conceding 3 away goals isn’t the greatest thing ever.

At least in the cup we entertain…

10

Four nil up and cruising and then we let in two silly goals.

Potential banana skin in the next round though…

11

Arsenal really should have made us pay for this.

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But they didn’t and it’s another League Cup Final to look forward to

13

Back to the league and back to winning ways again, Nice to see Ascensio on the score sheet, he was a Stuart Pearce signing

14

All these cup games give us a bit of a fixture pile up in the league and so it’s a midweek date with our title rivals Spurs.

15

Rubini is rolling in the goals so much, Fred Durst could sing about him.

This game was duller than a tin of Dulux extra dull matt emulsion

16

After a long wait, we’re back into Europe and face Espanyol in the Champions League quarter finals.

The Lizard is suspended so Courtin takes over goalkeeping duties. We weather the storm of baby Keane getting sent off and everyone’s favourite Icelander gives us the lead and a valuable away goal, but the lead is ours for only 3 minutes and we come away with a draw.

17

While we await the return leg, we take on Lincoln City in the FA Cup Quarter Final.

18

Rubini is currently on fire and only a late lapse lets Lincoln in. We’re into the semi’s and another match up with first division Middlesbrough who we’ll meet soon in the League Cup Final, manager Joe Royle channelling his inner ‘Bryan Robson 1997’.

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We travel to one of Bryan’s former clubs next and come away with 3pts courtesy of 3 goals with no reply. Utd looking a shadow of their former self these days, just like in real life really!

20

This win takes us into a table topping clash with Leeds. The scoreline suggest a close match, but in truth, our 3 goals in a 5 minute flurry flatters us and Leeds were cruising to the 3pts. Will this prove vital at the end of the season?

21

This run of form is good preparation for the return leg against Espanyol, where hold a slender advantage having drawn 1-1 away n the first leg.

22

Thompson puts us ahead and when Gislason doubles our lead I start to relax. Edilson gets one back to set up a nervy last 15 minutes but a Thompson second settles my nerves. Espanyol have a player called Nayim in their first 11, but there are no last minute lobs here and we’ve booked our place in the semi-finals. It was no mean feat defeating a talented Espanyol side, but it gives me confidence that this side can go even further.

The draw is made and we avoid Milan and another trip to Spain. Monaco was probably the best draw we could have had and we’ll pick up the semi-final in the last part next week.

There’s just time for one more league match to finish off this post and we’re away to Villa in 10th spot while we sit second to Leeds by 2 pts but with a game in hand.

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Of course, our form couldn’t last could it? Dukes with the early goal was a definite Hazard.

So, at the end of this part, we’re down to 3rd, our game in hand could put us back 2pts from Leeds at the top, but it’s a big if at the moment.

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At the bottom, newly promoted Chelsea are struggling, as are Joe Kinnear’s Watford, whose job is in danger.

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We definitely need to win our game in hand. I’ll be back next week for the final part of this season and this save, can I go out in a blaze of European glory and make Cloughie proud? See you next time.

Before I go, my customary update on the teams you turned down:

Liverpool – Up to an impressive 8th for Shearer’s team. We beat them in the League Cup and they got knocked out of FA Cup by Bury, but they are through to the Semi-Finals of the Cup Winners Cup after dramatically overcoming Real Madrid 5-4 in the quarter finals to set up a semi-final meeting with Inter Milan. Some chap called Neville the hero in Spain.

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Espanyol – Well, we’ve knocked them out of Europe and they are down to 5th in La Liga but have a Copa Del Rey semi-final with Sevilla to look forward to, so there’s that.

Lazio – Well, they are 7th in Serie A with nothing left to play for, not a sausage.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills