As we progressed through the entire game, I often find my head ready to explode with some of the backstories that develop. So whether you’re new to this blog or you just want to remind yourself of some the exploits, hopefully this page will catch you up.
This will only cover the completed save, which starts with Darlington in the 1997/98 season and runs through to the end of the 2025/26 season, which is as far as the game will let you go. Game 1, which launched this blog before reaching a tragic end, can still be accessed, starting with post 1 right the way through to the abrupt end.
So, allow me to catch you up…
Darlington are in the Third Division and going nowhere fast, but I hope to change that. CM bargain bucket legends Graeme Tomlinson, Andrew Mainwaring & Bjorn Heidenstrom are brought in to bolster the promotion charge, however both have their big club release clauses met before the season is out. Mainwaring does at least have enough time to be top scorer in the division, before Sean Devine is purchased from Barnet to fill his boots for the remaining months of the season. Darlington are ultimately promoted to Division 2.
Elsewhere, Jack Charlton is appointed as Everton manager and Alan Shearer is finally tempted to join Man Utd. The Red Devils win an astonishing 27 of their first 28 league games on their way to winning the Premier League with 100 points. England have to qualify for the World Cup via the playoffs but crash out in the group stages after defeat to Ireland. Argentina win the tournament. Chelsea win the League Cup and Tottenham the FA Cup, whilst Parma win the Champions League.
After Sheffield Wednesday replace Ron Atkinson with George Graham, Leeds turn to Gerry Francis. Villa re-appoint Brian Little after dispensing of John Gregory.
Darlington struggle to come to terms with life in Division 2, eventually claiming a playoff position but lose out to Chris Waddle’s Burnley over 2 legs. We have a running battle with Waddle but his side beat me on pretty much every occasion.
Manchester United win the league in a remarkable final day, where Chelsea are just 2 minutes from the title but blow it. Boro stun Man Utd to win the FA Cup but Fergie can at least take the League Cup as a double, a 2-0 win over Jack Charlton’s Everton. Barcelona win the Champions League, thrashing Ajax in the final.
Sunderland sack Peter Reid and bring in John Toshack, whilst Kevin Keegan takes over at Crystal Palace. Real Madrid sign Denilson, whilst Kevin Gallen is signed by Chelsea.
Newcastle are relegated after just 3 wins in a grim season. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the Toon Army though…
Darlington secure promotion to Division 1 on the final day of the season, hammering Bristol Rovers at Feethams.
Kenny Dalglish is sacked by Newcastle after a bad start to life in Division 1, with Jack Charlton returning to St James’ for a second stint in hot seat. Everton raid North East neighbours Sunderland for John Toshack, so Sunderland get Newcastle idol Kevin Keegan from Palace. A very strange turn of events culminates with Peter Reid taking over at Palace. John Fashanu is appointed at Wimbledon to summarise the madness.
Man Utd spend big on Kieron Dyer (£9m plus Terry Cooke) whilst also bringing in Fabien Barthez. They win the League Cup, but lose the FA Cup Final to First Division Palace. Roy Evans’ Liverpool win the Premier League. Barcelona retain the Champions League in a repeat of last season’s final, this time 2-0.
England have a good go at Euro 2000 but fall short, losing in the Final to France.
Darlington are promoted to the Premier League, second to Crystal Palace who have a remarkable season considering they are also competing in the Cup Winners Cup.
Arsenal sack Arsene Wenger, replacing him with Jack Charlton, who leaves Newcastle midtable in Division 1. Roy Hodgson drops down a Division from struggling Spurs to even bigger strugglers Newcastle.
Chelsea sign Paul Scholes but Vialli quits, being replaced by Bryan Robson of Middlesbrough. Boro appoint Ray Harford, whilst Spurs replace Hodgson with Jimmy Nicholl, who had done well at Fulham. Neil Finn, England’s number 1, moves to Real Madrid from West Ham.
Man Utd regain the league title, whilst also winning the League Cup. Gerry Francis wins the FA Cup with Leeds, but Real Madrid stop a third conescutive Barcelona/Ajax Champions League final by beating the Dutch side, but still lose to Barcelona in the final.
Darlington embark on life in the Premier League by signing Rio Ferdinand, though he only stays 19 days and doesn’t play a single game before Arsenal trigger his release. Man Utd also sign Anthony Betterton from Darlo. Betterton has been my goalkeeper since day one and will go on to play for England. Survival is just about achieved.
Sunderland sack Kevin Keegan following their relegation and appoint Matt Le Tissier as player manager. Keegan is soon back in work, replacing Gordon Strachan at relegation threatened Coventry. There’s also moves on the International Scene, as Cesare Maldini resigns and Jupp Heynckes quits Real Madrid to take over. Jose Camacho from Real Betis takes over. Jack Charlton is sacked by Arsenal, replacing him with Ray Harford from Boro. Charlton then takes the Boro job. Hodgson is sacked by Newcastle and replaced by Paul Ince, whilst West Ham sack Harry Redknapp. They offer me the job, but I decline. Neville Southall takes the gig instead.
Man Utd spend £10m re-signing Paul Scholes from Chelsea, and he watches his new-old side beat his old side 4-2 in the League Cup final. Man Utd beat Darlington in the FA Cup final but can only finish 6th and lose in the Champions League semi finals to PSG. Barcelona need extra time to retain their trophy. Everton win the Premier League, but if you think that is odd…Nigeria win the World Cup. England lose out in the Quarter Finals, to France again, which is less surprising.
It’s another season of consolidation for Darlington, finishing 15th. Feethams capacity is now up to 17,000 and the seeds are being sewn for a decent future. Darren Eadie is signed, the first England International on the books.
Everton & Man Utd take turns in building immense squads – Everton sign everybody’s favourite Icelandic re-gen, plus John Curtis and Ricardinho. Man Utd sign Michael Owen, disillusioned with life at a midtable Liverpool. England International Mark Jones is also signed for £10m.
The big shock of the season sees 2nd Division Southport win the FA Cup, under little known manager Steve Gritt. Gerry Francis wins the Champions League with Leeds, which becomes a double when he wins the League. Everton win the League Cup.
More managerial stupidity in the North East as Newcastle sack Paul Ince and replace him with David Batty, also in a player-manager capacity. Newcastle go on to be relegated to Division 2. Matt Le Tissier waits until the eve of the playoff final to leave Sunderland for Arsenal, who have sacked Ray Harford. Chris Waddle’s Burnley are the beneficiaries, beating Sunderland to gain promotion, along with Keegan’s Coventry. Jack Charlton retires, relinquishing the Middlesbrough job in the process.
Darlington have a big summer, signing Manga Ayew (Japhet N’Doram), Michael Owen & Steve Haslam, whilst the stadium capacity is increased to 22,000. The reward is a 3rd placed finish, just 3 points off the top.
Boro appoint Peter Beardsley as player-manager, aged 42, whilst Sunderland sack Ray Harford just 5 months after his appointment. Villa sack Brian Little and appoint Liam Daish. After taking West Ham to 3rd last season, Neville Southall resigns from West Ham after failing to replicate the success – Peter Reid is snapped up from Palace.
Barcelona sign Robbie Fowler and Gottskalksson (the Icelandic re-gen) but it only helps them to runners-up in the Champions League, losing 2-1 to Liverpool.
Wolves win the League Cup under Gordon Milne, whilst Sheff Wed win the FA Cup for George Graham. Man Utd regain the Premier League on goal difference from Chelsea. England and France again play out the European Championship final, this time it goes to penalties but France retain the trophy after Beckham & Campbell miss.
It’s a great season for Darlington as they win the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and qualify for the Champions League after finishing 2nd. Dave Oakes (Gazza) comes of age and plays a huge part in the success. Feethams is up to 25,000
Gerry Francis leaves Leeds for Chelsea, who have sacked Bryan Robson. Robson takes over at Leeds. It’s all too much for Kevin Keegan, who resigns from Coventry.
Raul moves from Atletico Madrid to Man Utd, helping them retain the Premier League and watching on from the stands as they win the Champions League. Fergie has now won the lot. Wolves win the League Cup, another success for Gordon Milne.
Darlo have a squad who are growing restless, full of star players now and ready to take on the World. The first Champions League adventure ends in the Quarter Finals though at the hands of PSG. There is better news though, as Darlington go on to win the Premier League.
Spain sack Javier Clemente, taking Fabio Capello from AC Milan as his replacement. Spain go on to fail to qualify for the World Cup. Milan move for Gerry Francis (obviously) and Chelsea take Toshack from Everton. Everton have to settle for Brian Flynn of Bristol City.
The real drama comes as Italy sack Jupp Heynckes, tempting Alex Ferguson on to the International stage ahead of the 2006 World Cup, held in England. Man Utd approach me for the gig but I turn it down, and Gordon Milne gets the job after good work at Wolves.
Peter Reid wins the League Cup with West Ham, whilst Brian Flynn wins the FA Cup with Everton. Milne goes close to retaining the Champions League but lose in the final to Juventus.
As ever, Fergie has the last laugh, winning the World Cup with Italy on English soil. The victory is sweetened for him as Scotland knock out hosts England in the Quarter Final. Antoine Sibierski is crowned European Footballer of the Year to show just how far we’ve gone.
10 years after starting the game in Division 3, Darlington are crowned Champions League winners. A 3-1 win over Real Madrid in Germany secures the win. Darlo also retain the Premier League for good measure.
The other big news from England is Liverpool suffering relegation to Division 1. Roy Evans does the honourable thing and resigns. In other news, Brian Little wins the UEFA Cup with Leeds, capping a remarkable upsurge in form since he moved there from Watford in December 2006. This followed Bryan Robson being removed from the role after an indifferent run of form.
Man Utd win the FA Cup on penalties again West Ham, which completes a cup double for them after a League cup success over First Division QPR. Sean Devine, who played for me at Darlington way back when, takes his first steps in management, taking over former FA Cup winners Southport. Raul returns to Real Madrid after a spell at Man Utd, whilst Paul Scholes also leaves Old Trafford and signs for…Manchester City!
I leave Darlington as the Real Madrid job becomes available. Gerry Francis takes the reigns at Feethams, and goes on to retain the Premier League. He does however suffer a loss in the Champions League final to my Real Madrid side. I also win La Liga for the Spanish giants in one of the less challenging seasons of my career.
The Real Madrid job was available as Italy sack Sir Alex Ferguson for very little reason. Camacho leaves Madrid for the Italian job and I take his seat at the Bernabeu. Ferguson is appointed at Everton shortly afterwards.
Darlington lose the League Cup final to Man City, but they do win the World Club Cup and the European Super Cup. Gerry is denied further success as Southport, managed by former Darlington striker Sean Devine, knock them out of the FA Cup. Crystal Palace under Ray Harford go on to win the competition.
The season ends with Euro 2008. Glenn Hoddle’s England lose to Germany in the quarter finals, but the big shock comes in the final where Germany lose on penalties to Denmark after a 0-0 draw.
After resigning from Real Madrid, the Sevilla job becomes available as their manager retires. Sevilla had finished 2nd the previous season but under my guidance they win the league with ease. The Sevilla manager who retired takes the Real Madrid job, oddly. The season gets better as we add the Copa del Rey and then the Champions League to our honours.
The Champions league final is a particularly important match as we go up against Gerry Francis’ Darlington. Darlington equalise late on to send it to penalties but we get the job done, eventually.
Wolves, with Mark Hateley in charge, win the Premier League as Darlington can only manage 5th. The two sides also meet in the League Cup Final, with Gerry’s men winning 3-2 with a late winner from Olivero. Darlington also reach the FA Cup Final, but they are eventually beaten after a replay against David Unsworth’s Liverpool. Unsworth was only appointed in September after Nicky Barmby was dismissed following a bad start to the season. Barmby later replaces Steve Bruce at Chelsea.
Coventry, Southampton and Nottingham Forest are relegated – Southampton still have Dave Jones as manager, one of the few “original” managers still in place, alongside Louis van Gaal at Barcelona. Peter Beardsley refuses to retire though, aged 48.
Sevilla retain the Champions League but only manage 3rd in La Liga. I’m offered the Spain job at the start of the season after they sack Fabio Capello for no real reason, so I’ll be bidding for World Cup glory this summer.
Liverpool win the Premier League under the guidance of David Unsworth. It’s double delight for Unsworth as they also win the FA Cup, beating Chris Waddle’s Burnley in the final. It’s almost a treble, but Brian Little’s Leeds beat Liverpool in the League Cup final on penalties.
Bryan Robson swaps Cremonese for Sheffield Wednesday, with David Beckham taking over at the Italian side. Dave Jones leaves Southampton for Coventry, meaning yet another original manager has moved on. Darren Huckerby takes over at the Dell.
The 2010 World Cup in Argentina is won by Germany, who defeat my Spain team in the final on penalties. I resign from Spain following the final defeat. England bow out in the Quarter Finals to the Czech Republic, but Hoddle keeps his job.
After leaving Sevilla, my search for a job takes me to Norwich City, recently relegated to Division 1. Sitting upper midtable when I take over, we soon set about the upper echelons of the division and come up just short in our search for automatic promotion. We do however win the playoffs to ensure an instant return to the top flight.
David Unsworth leaves Liverpool to take on the Spain job, with Brian Little taking over at Liverpool. Little guides Liverpool to the league title, claiming the title by 11 points from Gordon Milne’s Man Utd.
It’s also League Cup glory for Little, whilst Bryan Robson’s Sheffield Wednesday win the FA Cup. Roy Evans’ Derby are the losing finalists on both occasions, and they round off a miserable few months by being relegated to Division 1.
Sevilla regain La Liga and look set to retain the Champions League, but suffer a shock defeat to Juventus in the final. Napoli suffer a shock relegation from Serie A, leading Arrigo Sacchi to retire.
I guide Norwich to 10th in the Premier League, the highest they have placed during this save. Excitement is at a minimum though, with no cup runs of note, so it is a relief when Jimmy Nicholl is sacked from Division 2 Newcastle at the end of the season. I’ll take up the position at the start of the 12/13 season to try and guide my club back to the Premier League.
The big stories of the season centre around International football, culminating in Euro 2012. England fail to qualify, which sees Glenn Hoddle sacked and replaced by Marcello Lippi. Italy do qualify but still decide to sack Jose Camacho, replacing him with Louis van Gaal. This leaves big vacancies at Juventus and Barcelona respectively.
Although Barcelona offer me the job, I don’t want to go back to Spain so instead they turn to Sporting Gijon manager Marcos Alonso. Juventus sit top of Serie A so it is a surprise when they raid Milan for Francesco Guidolin, considering Milan are rooted to the base of the division. Brian Flynn is sacked by Valencia, but immediately appointed by Vicenza. Liam Daish is sacked by Palace and replaced by Roy Evans, whilst long-time West Ham manager Peter Reid is sacked by West Ham, who go for Leeds boss Alvin Martin to replace him. To complete the madness, Leeds appoint David Beckham.
Amidst all the job changes, Man Utd and Gordon Milne win the Champions League but can only finish 2nd in the league to Gerry Francis’ Darlington. Bryan Robson’s Sheffield Wednesday win the FA Cup but Liverpool deny him a double as they beat the Owls in the League Cup final. To bring us in a full circle, Louis Van Gaal’s Italy win Euro 2012, beating David Unsworth’s Spain in the final.
Division 2 proves to be a lot tougher than I expected, but we improve as the season goes on and grab the final playoff place. An away goals win over Kettering in the semis sends us to Wembley, where we dismantle Watford 4-0 to gain promotion to Division 1. The star player is Arthur Joni – the re-gen of George Weah.
Bryan Robson’s Sheffield Wednesday have a season to remember, going into the final game of the season top of the league. However a 0-0 draw at home to mid-table Chelsea leaves the door open for Darlington & Gerry Francis to win again. Robson does at least win the League Cup, beating Man Utd 2-1. Wednesday do however lose the Cup Winners Cup final on penalties to Napoli. Darlington complete the doublle by beating Liverpool in the FA Cup final.
PSV are the surprise Champions League winners, beating Darlington in the semis before going on to beat Juventus in the final. There’s relegation woes for Coventry, David Beckham’s Leeds and Peter Beardsley’s Middlesbrough. Beardsley still refuses to hang up his boots though.
It’s a conescutive promotion for me and Newcastle United, a playoff final win over QPR securing our return to the big time for the first time since 1999. Antonio Carlos (Ronaldo) has proved a more than useful partner for Joni, who will hopefully make the step up to the Premier League.
In this World Cup year, Spain dispense with David Unsworth’s services and appoint Gerry Francis. It proves to be a terrible appointment as Spain crash out in the group stages, with Holland going on to win the trophy in Germany. The Dutch beat Marcello Lippi’s England in the Quarter Finals
Francis’ appointment leaves a vacancy at Darlington, which Bryan Robson fills. Sheffield Wednesday hunt me as a replacement but I decline, so David Unsworth is appointed. My former defender at Darlington Steve Haslam takes over at Blackburn, whilst Mark Hateley repalces Phil Mulryne at Man City. West Ham sack Alvin Martin and he is replaced by Darren Huckerby, but it is all for nothing as West Ham are relegated. Blog favourite Peter Beardsley quits Middlesbrough but is appointed at Rotherham, who have just returned to the football league.
Matt Le Tissier wins the Premier League with Arsenal, 10 years after they were relegated to Division 1 under his leadership. The Gunners also win the UEFA Cup to cap a memorable season. Ian Snodin’s Everton win the League Cup, whilst Roy Evans’ Crystal Palace take FA Cup glory. Bologna win the Champions League, beating PSG in the final.
My Newcastle side survive relegation on the final day of the season in an uneasy season which saw us rooted in the bottom 3 for much of the season. We beat already relegated Burnley 4-0 on the final day to stay up at Hull’s expense.
Brian Little’s Liverpool win the Premier League from Darlington, who are also beaten in the FA Cup final by Ian Snodin’s Everton. It’s a double for Liverpool though as they see off Man City in the League Cup final.
The big news comes from Spain though where Real Madrid are relegated from La Liga. They face the indignity of playing in the same division as Real Madrid B next season. Sampdoria are the best club in Europe right now, retaining Serie A and winning the Champions League in a final against PSV.
Elsewhere, David Beckham pitches up at 1st Division West Ham after Darren Huckerby leaves to manage Wolves, who finish third in the Premier League. Kieron Dyer is appointed at Bari following his retirement, whilst Peter Beardsley is still player-manager at Rotherham, who are promoted to Division 2 via the playoffs.
In Newcastle’s 2nd season back in the Premier League, I lead them to 14th placed which is a slight improvement on last season, but the real stories are elsehwere.
Louis van Gaal’s Italy retain the European Championships held in Greece, but it’s less good news for Gerry Francis. He fails to qualify with Spain, leading to his dismissal. Sampdoria manager Delio Rossi is appointed as his replacement. Francis takes up the managers job at Inter Milan, but after an average season decides to retire. Lippi’s England don’t even make it out of the groups.
There’s plenty of managerial movement in the early days of the season – Sheffield Wednesday sack former Spain manager David Unsworth and he leaps at the chance to take over at Real Madrid, who are now in the Segunda. He leads them to promotion though despite losing to Real Madrid B. Elsewhere, Bryan Robson leaves Darlington to replace Unsworth at Sheff Wed, and after I turn down the chance to return to Feethams they opt for Bari’s Kieron Dyer instead. I’m also offered the West Ham job after David Beckham is dismissed, but I’m happier where I am.
Despite all of that, it’s Damien Johnson’s Aston Villa who win the Premier League, whilst Mark Hateley’s Man City beat them in the FA Cup final. Brian Little’s Liverpool beat Man City on penalties in the League Cup final, a reversal of the real life final. Sampdoria are a game away from retaining the Champions League but lose the final to Marseille. Cesena win Serie A, whilst Sevilla win La Liga.
I finally turn a corner with Newcastle, finishing 6th in the league and winning the FA Cup. It’s my first trophy since the Sevilla days stretching back 7 years.
Our opponents in that final were Manchester United, who sacked Gordon Milne in August and replaced him with Arsenal manager Matt Le Tissier. Arsenal opt to poach Kieron Dyer from Darlington, who in turn take Phil Mulryne from Real Sociedad. Darlington clearly get the best of the deal as they win the Premier League by 2 points from Scott Colcombe’s Derby, whilst Arsenal and Man Utd both suffer final losses on their way to 9th and 10th respectively. Aston Villa defeat Arsenal in the League Cup final, whilst Manchester United fall to defeat in the afforementioned FA Cup final against Newcastle.
It’s an all Dutch Champions League final, with Ajax getting the better of PSV. Steve Haslam’s Blackburn made the semi final before losing to PSV, with Ajax beating Juventus in the other semi. David Unsworth wins La Liga with Real Madrid after an almighty title race featuirng about 9 teams. Unsworth’s achievement is all the more impressive when you consider he only got Real Madrid promoted last season. Hellas Verona win Serie A, whilst David Beckham gets relegated with Scarborough and quits for also relegated Chester.
Newcastle win the title on the final day of the season, despite starting the final day in 4th place, 3 points behind leaders Darlington. Defeats for Darlington and Sheff Wed alongside a draw for Arsenal allow me to pinch the title with a tense win away at Manchester City. It is the only time we’ve topped the table all season.
Steve Haslam returned to Darlington as manager in September and a season of much promise unravels alarmingly – they pay the penalty twice in 10 days, firstly losing the League Cup final to Derby followed up a week later by another spot kicks loss, this time against First Division Charlton. Remarkably, Charlton go on to win the FA Cup beating recently appointed Gordon Milne’s West Ham in the final.
A quadruple nightmare is confirmed for Haslam’s men when they lose the Champions League final to Spanish side Hercules. There is some good news for an English side in Europe though as my Newcastle side win the Cup Winners Cup, beating Kaiserslautern in the final. Barcelona sack their manager and appoint current player and former Spanish International Arregui as their new manager.
The season ends with World Cup 2018 in brazil, and European Champions Italy decide to replace the very successful Louis Van Gaal with Darlington manager Phil Mulryne, which lead to Haslam’s return to Feethams. There’s also change at England, where Marcelli Lippi is replaced by Parma manager Manuel Gagno. Both sides go out in the Quarter finals though, with England beaten by Argentina and Italy knocked out by France, who go on to lose the final to Germany.
It’s a golden season for my Newcastle side, winning the league, the Champions League and the League Cup. In truth there is little drama, with the league won with a game to spare and Norwegian side Brann brushed aside in the Champions League final. A 1-0 win over Blackburn in the League Cup is also not a very memorable one.
Aston Villa under the guidance of Damien Johnson win the FA Cup, hammering Preston in the final. Preston do however survive in the Premier League, with Notts Forest, Swansea and Barnsley dropping out.
It’s a season of much change though, as Arsenal sack Kieron Dyer and replace him with Brian Little from Liverpool. The odd replacement for Little is Rangers right winger Frazer Samuel, who is the new player-manager. Brian Little retires at the end of the season to make the whole thing a little pointless. The changes continue as Chelsea sack Alvin Martin and manage to tempt Matt Le Tissier to leave Man Utd to take up the Stamford Bridge hotseat. Man Utd take Scott Colcombe from Derby, and the merry go round is complete with Dyer taking over at Derby.
Peter Beardsley is sacked by Rotherham and is immediately offered playing contracts by Grimsby and Plymouth, with Beardsley preferring to stay up north. However in 22 games for 3rd Division Grimsby, he fails to score which is perhaps not surprising given that he is 58. Mark Hateley joins Brian Little in retiring, meaning Man City and Arsenal will be on the look out for new managers in the new season.
In my final game as Newcastle manager, we retain the Champions League, beating Fiorentina 3-1 in the final. We can’t retain the Premier League though, finishing third. The big news of the season though is England winning Euro 2020 in France, beating Italy 1-0 in the final.
The Premier League comes down to the final day, where Matt Le Tissier’s Chelsea need to win at Villa park to secure the title. A 2-1 loss opens the door for David Platt’s Arsenal, who can win the title at home against already relegated Burnley. It’s typical Arsenal though as they fall to a 1-0 loss and hand the title to Le Tissier’s men. Chelsea go on to secure the double, beating Bryan Robson’s Man City in the final.
Colwyn Bay cause a stir by reaching the FA Cup semi finals despite being in Division 3, whilst there is more football league success as Norwich win the League Cup, beating Sheff Wed in the final. Man City do however win the UEFA Cup, beating Werder Bremen 6-0, but Aston Villa lose the Cup Winners Cup final to Zaragoza. In Spain, Real Madrid celebrate winning La Liga by relegating Barcelona on the last day of the season.
The 2020/21 season sees me move to AC Milan from Newcastle. I deliver the Serie A title and the Coppa Italia, but the season belongs to one man. Peter Beardsley turns 60 and makes 54 appearances for Grimsby as they finish 6th but lose in the Division 3 playoffs. Still, a great achievement.
It is a season of much change as Darlington sack Steve Haslam and David Platt resigns from Arsenal. Haslam takes the Arsenal job whilst Spanish defender Freire Chema steps up to the Darlington hot seat as player manager, but they are ultimately relegated. Damien Johnson takes the job I vacated at Newcastle and he retains the Champions League against Haslam’s Arsenal. Liverpool also change their manager, sacking Frazer Samuel and appointing long serving defender Des Rodostenhous.
Manchester United win the Premier League with ease, Cardiff taking the 2nd Champions League spot. They complete the double after beating Matt Le Tissier’s Chelsea on penalties in the League Cup final, but they are denied a treble when Le Tissier manages to reverse Chelsea’s fortunes in the FA Cup final.
In my second season at AC Milan we retain the Serie A title and win the Champions League. The headlines though belong to England, who World Cup 2022 with 61 year old Peter Beardsley up front.
Tired of being overlooked for the England job, I add myself in and recall Beardsley after a 26 year absence. He celebrates by scoring 12 minutes into his recall. In the World Cup, England knock out Brazil, Spain & France on their way to glory.
On the domestic front, Man Utd under Scott Colcombe complete the double winning League & FA Cup, whilst Steve Haslam’s Arsenal win the League Cup. Liverpool are relegated and sack Des Rodosthenous, replacing him with Real Madrid manager David Unsworth.
Other managerial changes saw Bryan Robson leave Man City for Everton, opening the door for Beardsley’s return to management. Manuel Gagno is sacked by England and replaced by Deportivo manager Luis Maria Martin Delgado, who I am now masquearding as. Italy also fancy a change and sack Phil Mulryne, replacing him with Matt le Tissier of Chelsea. David Platt rocks up at Chelsea but retires at the end of the season, along with long time nemesis of mine Gordon Milne.
It’s a wonderful season for my Milan side, winning the Champions League, Serie A, Coppa Italia, World Club Cup and European Super Cup. It’s the perfect way to bow out and i’ve already began updating my CV for a new job in the 23/24 season.
Steve Haslam’s Arsenal win the Premier League, edging out Blackburn on goal difference on the last day as Blackburn fail to beat Hull. Bryan Robson’s Everton are well placed to finally end Robson’s title hoodoo but they slip to 4th, and the former England captain retires.
Aston Villa beat Man Utd in the League Cup final whilst Sheff Wed beat Swansea in an unusual FA Cup final. Kieron Dyer is the Wednesday manager, after former boss Dean Chandler is snapped up by Chelsea at the start of the season.
Milan see off Spanish Champions Hercules in the Champions League final, whilst Peter Beardsley leads Man City to a UEFA Cup final victory over Aston Villa. Beardsley continues to lead the line for England, the reigning World Champions go to 7 wins out of 7 on the way to Euro 2024.
Although I start the season still at Milan, it’s not long until the Darlington job becomes available and I jump at the chance to return to my first club. My first task is to return the club to the Premier League, and after a period of uplift, we hit form at the right time and clinch automatic promotion on the final day.
England qualify with a perfect 10 out of 10 record and head to Euro 2024 in great form. With Beardsley, 63, leading the line, the World Champions march to the final but with Beardsley banned, they fall to a golden goal in extra time to suffer a 3-2 loss.
It is a season of much change, started by Spain manager Pandullo retiring. He is replaced by Arsenal’s Steve Haslam, who in turn appoint Des Rodosthenous. Alberto Savino replaces me at Milan, whilst Chelsea sack Dean Chandler and poach Scott Colcombe from Man Utd. Old Trafford is stunned when they tempt David Unsworth to leave 1st division Liverpool.
Leeds win the Premier League and Arsenal win the FA Cup. Everton win the League Cup and Hercules stun AC Milan to win the Champions League.
Darlington celebrate their return to the top flight by finishing 5th in the Premier League but, more impressively, winning the FA Cup in a replay against West Ham. It means that Darlington will play European football in the final season of this save.
It is a very quiet season for incident. England are automatic qualifiers for World Cup 2026 due to being hosts so play a collection of meaningless friendlies. Beardsley fills his boots against the likes of Yemen and Cayman Islands to celebrate turning 64.
Hercules win the Champions League after an extra time win over AC Milan. Leeds are Premier League Champions, again, this time ahead of Chelsea. First Division Crewe pull off a big surprise by beating Chelsea in the League Cup final, but it is one of the quieter seasons as we head into the finale.
The final season has the perfect ending as 65 year old Peter Beardsley scores the winner in the World Cup final. Darlington also finish on a high, winning the Cup Winners Cup defeating Sporting Lisbon after extra time.
It is a season with about as much incident as you can imagine – I’m offered the Newcastle, Manchester Utd and Chelsea jobs but turn them down to see through the game with Darlington. David Unsworth leaves Manchester United for Newcastle, whilst Kevin Ablett becomes player-manager at Old Trafford. Matt Le Tissier is discarded by Italy, so he is back in the dugout at Stamford Bridge following Scott Colcombe’s departure to Leeds. That comes after Arsenal appoint Pat Graham having lost their manager Des Rodosthenous to Italy. The managerial merry go round is in full swing.
Leeds win a third consecutive Premier League whilst Le Tissier wins the FA Cup and League Cup with Chelsea. Fiorentina are the final Champions League winners, with Hercules winning La Liga and Sampdoria edging the Serie A playoff over Udinese.
In a season where Beardsley earned his 100th cap, it is perhaps fitting that he nets an 85th minute header in the World Cup final as England retain the World Cup in the final match of the save.