End of season round-up

So here we are in May 2010, the country has just to gone to the polls and a new coalition government have been voted in, volcanic ash from Iceland hangs over the continent, Scouting for Girls are riding high in the music charts and another season of football is reaching its peak.

Let’s take a trip back in time to the previous Autumn. First some managerial moves…tosh2

Finally! Our chance to take over a second international team. Tosh was long overdue the sack.

Then a series of crazy, crazy moves.

bigaal

OK so Cardiff are bottom of Division 2, so that’s not so surprising right? But look who is going to be Big Al’s new midfield generalbellamy

Oh dear

Matt Le Tissier’s previously unknown brother takes over from Al at QPRrob

I have no words for thisgneville

Gary Neville is a red, he manages Scousers

They weren’t going to miss out on the other side of Stanley Park either, as ex-Liverpool legend Rob Jones takes over at Goodisonjones

So we’ve got Shearer managing Bellamy, Neville at Liverpool and Jones at Everton. The world has truly gone mad.

Meanwhile, one of my proteges is striking out on his ownmainwaring

Good luck Andy

How about transfers?tarantionnotmannotters

Big moves for my boys in blue.larrieueggenberget

Oh and let’s check in on Alan quickly..alabns

Oops! Never mind, one day later this happens..nottsc

shearer

ENGLAND

Chelsea, bouyed by their new signings, hit the top early on

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But we were hit by a proper injury crisis..What are my coaches doing to them in training??inj1inj2ionj3inj4inj5inj6

Ouch! As a result, we slipped to 2nd behind Joe Kinnear’s Arsenal

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We reached the FA Cup semis, but once again came up short. My ex-Doncaster youngster Karl Watkin (Mark Hughes) has become the most valuable player in the league and put us to the sword in a thriller

forest chels semiwatkin

Notts F really could have done without that extra-time, look at their fixture backlog!nottsffixtures

Stuart Pearce still didn’t make any substitutions until he was forced to, running his players into the groundnottsffitnessfadraw

They played cup experts Newcastle in the final. Mark Madigage continued his Didier Drogba level cup final record with another winning goal for manager Bryan Robsonnewcastnewc2

Back in the league, our injury list cleared up and we secured the title with this win at our main rivals

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Jansenn has returned from his slipped disc in top formjanssenprem32chelsea

Whoop!prem38

Arthur Mann has put together a decent team at WBA. Blake is the Ian Rush regen, Tom Youngs is the one and only Tom Youngs. Bradley and Barton are both in my England squad and Kenny Lunt used to bewba

Paul Scholes hasn’t been a great success at Donnydonny

But not as bad as Rob Jones who takes Everton down to Division 2! Rumours that the ex-Liverpool star is intentionally sabotaging the Blues..div1robjones

7-1 defeat at Man City? Ouch

BELGIUM

It was a year to remember for Anderlecht, as we went head-to-head with Standard in an extraordinary title race. Erik Nevland was a little wasteful at times

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But that didn’t get in our way, have a look at this. Two great teams or a very weak league?

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The clash of the titans took place in April and didn’t disappoint. Standard saving a point with a late equaliser

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The pressure began to tell on Standard as we marched on relentlessly. 100 points!jupe34

We never seem to be able to win the Cup though. Rio let us downandbru

ITALY

We laid down a marker early on in the Serie A season with a great come back against 10 man Bologna

bolgonabologna stats

A month later, we smashed our perennial rivalsintera12

We could be playing in the Belgian league with that kind of form. Our strength in depth was such that we could sell our 3rd choice striker to Inter for a fortunelivon

Didn’t stop us beating them in the return game either20intera27

Remorseless.. and sure enougha34

We may have more of a challenge next year with a few of the big boys coming back up from Serie B

b

EUROPE

There’s a story to tell here too…

First up, we took care of the Super Cup

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And, after our 3 teams comfortably qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals, we had a rematch on our hands with Marseilles

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andmars

A clean sheet at home put us in the driving seat and sure enough centre-back Revelles made up for his penalty miss at the Velodrome

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Chelsea were still in the midst of their injury crisis when Bruges came calling and crashed out thanks to a late equaliser and a winner in extra-time. chevry

Not happy with Geli..but he did have a decent season overall to be fair

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Genoa faced an Aston Villa side who were a decent cup-team under Gerry Francis

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Led by star Italian striker Elio Di Fabiodifab

It was a total stalemate, the teams only seperated after 210 minutes and 18 penaltiesgenvill

The two favourites were drawn together in a mammoth semi-final clashclsfdraw

Anderlecht drew first blood and made themselves clear favorites clsmies120seims

Both keepers had a blinder, but Anderlecht clearly the better team.

The second leg took a decisive turn after just three minutes when the oddly-named Belgian international Sortiris Van Kerckhoven saw red. Anderlechy had 83 minutes to hold out, but surely one goal would see them through right?

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Not when Zizi Mattar is around, this man loves the big occasion and he came off the bench to score two screamers which sent Genoa through 4-3 in a memorable tiegen41ratings

German international Christof Eberl with yet another man of the match performance and Anderlecht lose a Champions League tie for the first time in 3 years…clsemires

And so here we are. Genoa more or less at full-strength for the final

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Eberl, Conca (Baggio) and Mattar (Weah) are unplayable on their day. 4 of the back 5 are Italian internationals and Calderaro is first choice French centre-back.

Inter aren’t bad either. Ronaldo is still banging them in at 33 and Pellegrini is arguably Italy’s star forward. Multiple Euro player of the year Morten Carlsen runs the midfield and Italian captain Andrea Gennari plays at the heart of a back 3interteam

Genoa were too good for Inter in Serie A and the final went true to formclfina;geninterecl

A new name on the trophy, is it the start of a new dynasty?

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All that and we’ve still got a World Cup to come. Before I leave you, here’s a quick recap on the other Euro tournaments.

Notts Forest and Stuart Pearce made it to another final. Not young Karl Watkin this time, but old Patrick Kluivert

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An all English affairuefafina.jpg

Stuart Pearce UEFA Cup winning manager.

Cup specialists Newcastle got to the CWC semis before running into Real

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In turn, Madrid were blown away in the Netherlands by Udinese who follow up last years UEFA triumph with another European trophycwc

Oh and how could I have forgotten our annual trek to Japan?

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See you next time in Argentina for the 2010 World Cup Finals, where I’ll have two teams taking part. We should both be making it out of the group stages

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Till next time!

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2009 round-up

So Anderlecht beat Genoa in a titanic Champions League battle..but who took the honours domestically? Read on to find out..

ITALY

Genoa had been leading the way for much of the season in Italy, but you can never write a team like Inter off and they won a top-of-the table clash in April  to put themselves back in contention0-1inter

However, they couldn’t follow up that victory, and the draw against Toro proved to be a fatal blowa31fixturesa3leafue

Serie A champions for the first time!

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Juve heading into Serie B after a few mediocre yearsjuvehistory

Here’s the players wot won it

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The only reason I haven’t stuck a screenshot of Crisotf Eberl up there is because his brilliance has become routine now. We’ve got a young squad, that also forms the core of the Italian national team and there’s no reason why we can’t go and dominate Italy for the next decade

Oh and a quick shout to Freddie Kanoute. I sold him in the summer to make space for young players like Conca and Soares. I did OK without him, but he has done alright for himself too

kanoute

ENGLAND

April 18th was the day the title race turned in the Premier League. Birmingham put a spanner in their neighbours’ title challenge, while we thumped Tranmere

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We weren’t the only team to be Tranmere this season..premobototm

11 days later, we travelled to Villa Park and wrapped things upvillachels

We are cursed to be wearing that graphite and tangerine away kit for all eternity. I’m ashamed to admit that I actually owned one as a teenager..

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Julian Slade (Alan Shearer) came of age this season and Pal Skavhaug was a colussus in defence. Christophe Monterubio (Robert Pires) only joined us in the summer and at just 21 he’s sure to have a big future

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BELGIUM

Move on, nothing to see here. Anderlecht crushed all-comers again. The usual suspects Bruges, Standard and Aalst trailed in behind

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Rene Joilton lived up to his reputation as the most expensive player in the world. Jason Revelles is a machine, near the top of the ratings every season

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A shout out to Pier Canale, probably our best Belgian player. Doesn’t score many goals or get many man of the match awards, but he’s consistently in and around the first teamcanalejoilton

Utility man Nacho Castro (Luis Enrique) doesn’t always get to start for us, but he’s a star for Spain

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INTERNATIONAL

Despite a terrible Euro 2008. John Toshack is hanging on to the Azzuri job. He has been on the verge of getting the boot all year. I’m waiting for that job to become available

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England are cruising it in World Cup Qualifyingwcqf

END OF SEASON AWARDS

Inter have won nothing and he’s now 32 years old, so SURELY Morten Carlsen won’t get the European Player of the Year award for the sixth time right?engawards

Nope, it’s Daniel Larrieu of Bordeaux, of course. He did make a big contribution to their UEFA Cup run I suppose

larrieu.jpg

And he’s so good they released him on a free

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And to think the likes of Erik Nevland and Jason Revelles will likely retire without winning it…I’m fuming

My Anderlecht team didn’t get much love in Belgium either

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And Genoa made it 0 from 3. Pellegrini is a decent player though to be fairitaawrds

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What else? Well some end of season managerial news. Guidolin does the only honourable thing

guiodolin

Bombshell in England..after just six (disappointing) months in the job, Joe packs it inrolyeretire

And (I love this) look who the replacement is..stepping in as player-managerscholes

He’s not the first ‘Class of 92’ player to move into management. Remember Gary Neville took a job at Reggiana?

neville

You might call this a failure, but it’s longer than he lasted at Valencia

Chh-C-Champions League

Afternoon all. I never got around to talking about season 12 in Europe in the last post..it’s been emotional..

Genoa and Chelsea had to navigate the qualifying round as they both finished second domestically in 2008.

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Geno got the trickier draw, but both emerged unscathed

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Anderlecht eased through the group stage

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And found time to add a couple more trophies to the cabinet.supercup

This one looks close…

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But it really wasn’t…lanus

The group of death was Group D. My clubs Genoa and Chelsea paired with the might of Inter and only one club guaranteed to go through

In the end it came to a Genoa Chelsea play-off. The first team these two clubs had played each other…

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Simon Kjer, a Danish attacking midfielder who is valued at £5million plus finally justifies his reputation (Brian Laudrup regen)clqfdraw

A more favourable quarter-final draw for Genoa. In keeping with how the domestic leagues are going, there were some unusual names in the last 8.

Here’s the Aberdeen squad. A few decent Scottish and Irish players thereaberdeen

Led by Pittodrie veteran, Sergeio Rebrovrebrov

Sergei got our centre-back sent off, but it made little differencegenaberd

We picked a reserve team for the second leg because we needed to focus our energy on keeping first place in the league. After 10 minutes I was beginning to panic

aber genoaecqf

The semi final draw kept us apart, leaving open the possibility of an all-human final. Anderlecht would have to get past Inter first…we’ve done it before

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Tomasso Conca (Roberto Baggio regen) did the trick at the Vicente Calderon

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The Anderlecht all stars team put on a show at San Siro. These were the half-time stats

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And we kept it tight in the second half to record a priceless 1-0 wininterft

The second leg was a real nail-biter. Nevland and Trez-e-goal traded blows and Inter were one away goal away from going through2ndleg

Genoa cruised through, but we lost our captain to injury which would rule him out for a key monthgen 2nd leg

Young Filippo Spinesi got the goalsspinses

And so it was writtengen anders

What about the other trophies?

Let’s get this one out of the way. Well done to Peter Reid and Derby

lcfunal

The FA Cup semis were close run things. Title challenging Villa saw their dreams of a double ended by Bryan Robson’s Newcastlenewcvillafasemiutd leeds semi

Newcastle made it two Cup Finals soon after

cwcsmis

Birmingham, who have carved out a niche as European experts, also reached a final. It could’ve been a local derby, but mid-table Udinese snuck through against Villa who crash out in another semi-finaluefasemis

Newcastle’s man for the big occasion, South-African Mark Madigage, brought home the FA Cup, but couldn’t do the same in Europe

newcfacwcmarsellie

And Birmingham made it two defeats out of two for Englandcwcfinal

Udinese, true cup experts…coppaitalia

And so, to the big one. Italy and Belgium came to a halt for the evening to tune in for a Wembley showdown. Here are the line-ups.

Genoa still missing injured captain Alfredo Tisci, but with an attacking three of Mattar, Conca and Eberl who have proved unstoppable all season.

Midfield stalwart Daniele Daino is surprisingly left out due to fitness issues, but Italian international Sinigaglia will be looking to pull the strings

genoaxi

The Anderlecht team picks itself. The only player missing is the injured Rio Ferdinand. Big signing Heidmar Gunnarson is cup-tied for European competition. Players like Nevland, Joilton, Revelles and Sala have seen it all before. The Belgians start as favourites and, if successul, this would be their 3rd Champions League triumph in 4 years.andersxi

Cool-headed centre-back Jason Revelles slots home from the penalty spot early on to give Anderlecht the league. Erik Nevland chips in with his customary goal. Despite an immediate reply from Christof Eberl, Genoa are always chasing the game and Anderlecht cling on in front of a near full-housegen2ander3

No complaints about the result, the Genovese had their chances but so did Anderlecht and Tovalieri was man of the matchgenadnratingsecllegaueandersclrecord

Europe hasn’t seen this kind of dominance since the Real side of the 1950’s.

Of course, the league is our bread and butter and it’s been a busy domestic season from Spain to England. I’ll leave that story for next time though

 

 

 

 

Season 12 the story so far

We’re into March 2009 now, and it seems like a long time ago that the English squad returned as champions from Euro 2008 in Spain. At this point in the game, most of the original players have retired and as result the traditional big teams are starting to slip away from the top spots in the table

Here’s the Premier League 12 games in…prem12.jpg

Similar to real life 2016, there’s some unusual clubs in the race for top 6. United, Liverpool etc nowhere to be seen (Arsenal and Newcastle are going to fade away during the season too). Is this a coincidence, or evidence that we are, in fact, living inside a football management simulation that started around 2004? Probably coincidence, but I wouldn’t be the first eminent philosopher to claim that we are all living in simulation

A-a-a-a-nyway, I’m here as a football manager, not an expert on metaphysical matters, and as a football manager I was pretty happy to hear this

ffp

Luckily FFP hasn’t reached CM97/98 so my owners are free to pump in as much money as they want. Who will I buy with my new-found riches? Who else..

gunnargunnarson

Lovely.

Here’s a rundown of the most valuable players in world football in 2008

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Most of them have played for me at some point. Ickle Michael Owen is the most expensive player in the world after his summer heroics (let’s hope he cashes in on his fame so he won’t need to end up working as a pundit after his retirement). I sold Jorg Seitz to Milan – no regrets though, super Erik Nevland is a better striker. I spent the best part of 23 million on Zizi and Heidmar this summer. Viveros used to play for me, but I think he’s massively overrated (look at his stats). 2 Englishmen and a Scotsman (Alex Martin) in the top 8.

While we’re on transfers, I bid a sad farewell to a bit of a ledge. He’s not getting any younger and we need to recoup some of the money we spent this summer on Zizi and co

freddie

I’ll happy take the first-choice Italian right-back off my old club’s hands thoughpiacentini

This bombshell kicked off the season and started an epic-merry go round.

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Based on his managerial record Big Nev can’t really complain. nev2

While we’re talking Southall and Owen, here’s a video of him having a go at Michael Owen, after Michael tries to humaliate a 13 year old..

There’s only one man for the Old Trafford hot seat. Brian always seems to have a great CM9798 careerlittlekinnear

Arsenal have poached Joe! Where will my old team turn?royleroyley

He’s done a solid job wherever he has gone (apart from getting Salernitana relegated), but this is a step up. Bryan Robson completes the game of musical chairs

robbo

While we’re talking managers, as a fan of 90’s Italian football I like this move

ancleotimonidico

Emiliano back where he belongs and Carlo gets another decent job tooatalanta

Not sure what to say about this one, makes sense for Roy geographically at least..just a couple of stops on the train to Liverpoolruncirn

Gary Neville goes abroad for his first taste of management, that’s sure to end well then

reggiana

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How about some actual football? OK. Guess what, Anderlecht are top in Belgium. We did a nice bit of business on a striker we didn’t really need

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Bruges kept pace at first

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But performances like this, meant we soon built a decent lead.anderdsgent

My goalie got injured for the last 15 minutes of this game and I had used all my subs. Gent hadn’t had a shot on target so I just played without one for the rest of the match to even things up…

10menotteseno

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The Premier League turned into a 3-horse race between us, Villa and Sunderland thanks to results like this

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Yep that’s Gifton Noel-Williams banging them in for Villa. Deniol Ratcliffe (Gary Speed regen) and Jimmy Nava, both 22, are having big seasons in central midfield.

We were starting to belive, thanks to results like thisvillasunderland

and especially this comeback..3-1 down with 11 minutes left!

3-4leedsavrleeds

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It could be a first league title since 1955 for the boys in blue

And could Genoa make it a hattrick of titles for me? We certainly provide enough players to the national team

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Marcuz and Sala are Anderlecht players and Nava is Chelsea, but that’s still 10 Genoa representatives!

It was neck and neck in Serie A early on

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Then we hit some serious form

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With 8 games left it could be our year

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But we’ve been in this position before and Inter are more than capable of taking maximum points from the last 8 games…it’s going to go down to the wire.

The eagle-eyed reader will have spotted a Genoa -v- Chelsea Champions League clash in the fixture list. The Champions League campaign is a whole story in itself so I’ve leave that for next time

For now, I’ll leave you with the worrying news that Roy Evans faces a battle for survival in Division 3. His Runcorn side are languishing below Alan Shearers QPR. Thankfully for all concerned, Alvin Martin’s Southend look doomed to relegation at this stage

div3 bottom.jpg

 

Will it be pain in Spain, again?

Welcome back!

Remember we were about to kick off our Euro 2008 campaign against the hosts? The Spanish FA took the unusual decision of locating Spain’s first match in the heart of Catalonia..

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Michael Owen continuing his pre-tournament form. He had done this in our final warm up matchjapan

Whatever our weaknesses elsewhere,  Owen and Notman are established world-class performers. They showed why in our second-group game

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With that, we were already through to the Quarter-Finals. Two very good teams comfortably brushed aside…the nation started to dream..

We put out a second-string team for our final group match. David Beckham even got a run-out

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Slade (Alan Shearer regen) is a young striker making a name at Chelsea and he showed that the post-Owen future is in safe hands. And yes, CM9798 lovers, that is Tom Youngs still going strong (ish)

Here are the final group standings

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It’s a cliche, but there really no easy games amongst the qualifiers (well maybe Scotland)

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We’ll take that to be honest. Italy and France are my favourites and Denmark have got a golden generation at the moment.

Holland do have some stars, as you’d expect, but they’ve also got an aging Boudewijn Zenden, Ruud Van Nistelroj in midfield, and a very average defenceholxi

Here’s our team. Peter Bradley has had a great season at West Brom and forms a combative midfield pairing with ex-Doncaster stalwart Paul Barrett (now back at Arsenal). We’ve got another Arsenal player, Adrian Middleton, partnering Anderlecht legend Rio Ferdinand at the back.

Paul Scholes is still going strong at 33 and unsung full-backs Pell and Upson give you 7 out of 10 every game. Richard Wright has spent a decade at Man United and marshalls a solid defenceengqf

Michael Owen and Newcastle youngster Eddie Pell make the difference, whilst Rio is immense as usualholland

In other news, Spain crash out on home soil

sapfra

France are just too good.

Morten Carlsen was missing for Denmark, and they are on the plane homedenita

A comfortable win for Germany, never really in doubtscoger

And so there were 4…

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Yep! A rematch of the 2006 World Cup Semi where France played us off the park at Wembley. Hopefully we are older and wiser now..fraxi

Quality all over the park. My Anderlecht centre-back Revelles (Desailly regen) is the defensive leader, but that front three are unplayable on their day. They’ve got 139 international goals between them! (Anelka 65, Trez 40 and Kanoute 34).

But, somehow, this was the score at half-time

frahtstatshtfrafrahtratings

Wright was having a busy night and the French are putting themselves about.. 5 yellow cards in 45 minutes. There’s only one man for this situation

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Just don’t get yourself sent off David.

He did get booked, but we hold on for a shock victory against the pre-tournament favourites. Thanks Wrighty!fraengfinalscorefrafinalstats

We’ve beaten Spain, Holland and France, doing it the hard way, but will it be the Germans or Italians in the final?

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<Gulp> Maybe I was wrong about France being the best team on the continent

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Here are the teams

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Italy draw the core of their team from the dominant Inter side (Constantino, D’Aversa, Torbidoni, Pellegrini, Gennari and Tacchinardi). Their full-backs know all about the English team, having just won the league with Doncaster. The only weakness is their manager. The one, the only, John Toshack?!

engitateam

Paul Barrett’s suspension means a start for my Chelsea captain Richard Flounders. We’ll be looking to our defence to keep it tight and hoping Owen can keep up his goal a game record in the tournament

A quiet first-half bursts into life after 43 minutes. Paul Scholes plays Michael Owen through on goal, and there is only one outcome

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The score remains the same until late in the second half. Until, Andrew Middleton sends Pellegrini sprawling in the penalty area. A nation holds its breath, but the referee inexplicably waves play on! 5 minutes later and it’s all overengitafinal

The England squad goes down in history!winners!

A fitting swansong for Paul Scholes, level with Gary Lineker in the list of all-time goal scorers

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Michael Owen is arguably the finest striker in world football right nowowen

And Rio is peerless at the backrio

And a shout-out to David too. His best days are behind him but he finishes his England career with a medal (I’m not going to pick him again)becks2

In the post-Euro euphoria UEFA make an odd decisionnorway2012

awards.jpgF****g Morten Carlsen. He was injured for half the season and didn’t win the Euros or the Champions League, but he’s the player of the year again!

No arguments from me about the Belgian awards

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Before we go, a quick transfer update. I’ve been saying for a while that my Genoa side lack the real star quality we need to make the next step. Well, no excuses now..

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And the big pre-season news? Angered by my decision to drop him from my England Euro 2008 squad, Nicky decided to give it all up and open a pub in Marbellanicky butt.jpg

And Becks went out on a highretired.jpg

 

 

 

 

The 2008 Dream Team

Hello, hello. Welcome back, we’re on the run-in to Euro 2008 in Spain, meanwhile the club titles have all been decided for another year.

Last year Inter, Doncaster and Anderlecht took the titles. Can you guess what happened this time around?

The decisive game in Serie A came in late Marchgenint

Had we held on for a famous win, we would’ve won the league. Getting closer each year thoughintera34

The core of the Inter team (Carlsen, Ronaldo, Trezeguet and Italian stalwarts like D’Aversa and Torbidoni) are all 30+, so there’s a window of opportunity in the next couple of seasons for us to take over

Ex-Spurs manager Arrigo Sacchi steered Napoli to 3rd place and a Coppa Italia win

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There’s nothing to say about the Jupiler League. Total domination once again

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This win, with 6 games to go, settled any debate

5-2bruges

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Aalst have established themselves as a force domestically and they took the cup after knocking out a second string Anderlecht team in the quarters

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Chelsea built on their 6th place finish from last year

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The League Cup went to Hull, who have also ‘done a Doncaster’, starting in Division 3 and working their way up

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A great story in the FA Cup, as Leyton Orient, led by some good young players, made it the FA Cup Final against Joe Royle’s Newcastle

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The Premier League team had a bit too much quality on the day, the winner scored by one of my ex-Doncaster players

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In the UEFA Cup, we came up agonisingly short in the semis

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An all-Italian final, which was as tight as expected.

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Hernan Crespo still going strong at 33

There was a shock in the Cup Winners Cup. Bologna crushed Atalanta in the semis so they would surely have a stroll in the final against surprise package Rosenborg, right?cwcrosenbcwcfinal

Liverpool ‘legend’ Vegard Heggem the only recognisable name there. They do actually have a decent team. There are a lot of good Scandinavian players in CM97/98 and Rosenborg have also got Georgia’s best player, Nemsadze, leading their line.

What about the Champions League then? Anderlecht had to be favourites in their semi against Arsenal who had overachieved in reaching 2nd place in the Premier League last year. Sure enough..

andsemi

The second leg looked like a formality. However, a week before the match Erik Nevland pulled a calf in a game in ‘Le Classique’ against Bruges (see above) and would miss the game. At 4-1 ahead we should have more than enough to go through, but we might live to regret selling Jorg Seitz earlier in the season. He would’ve been a ready made replacement for Erik.

With 3 minutes left, we were heading out as Arsenal smashed in three goals without reply at an unusually noisy Highbury. It’s the time when you need your big players to step up, and Gilbert Meeuwsse did just that.

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He has established himself as a true world-class performer this year for club and country…just look at those stats…

Still, a lot of average performances on the day, and we just have to cross our fingers that Nevland will recover in time for the final

anderteam

Debray Correa came from Uruguay with a big reputation, which he hasn’t lived up to, so it might be time for the annual Alvaro Recoba recall. The last couple of years he has been transfer listed and barely featured, but he always does it in big games. He played in the Champions League final last year, and it could be same again this time around.

Talking of Uruguayan forwards, Ferro fired Barca into the final

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And so the stage was set for another all-star clash. The first time in a few years that the Catalans have made it this far in the Champions League

baraca clbarcaxi

It’s a decent line-up obviously, but they’re not on the same level as usual finalists Inter. When a 31 year old Jesper Gronkjaer is your first choice winger you have to ask yourself a few questions.

Here’s my XI. We’re at full-strength besides suspended centre-back Jason Revelles. Nevland recovered enough to start although he’s not at 100%

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That attacking three are unstoppable and they’ve got arguably the best striker in the world (now Ronaldo is 32) ahead of them. Alvaro Recoba gets a spot on the bench alongside big summer signing Matlik.

With just 13 minutes on the clock, Fernando Ferro comes back to haunt us as he smashes in a 30-yarder which Kim Ottesen can only watch. I’m already beginning to think the worst, but this Anderlecht team is made of stronger stuff…

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Joilton going some way to justify his world record transfer fee and Nevland doing what he does.

From then on we started to turn on the style. It doesn’t matter if it’s Lommel in the league or Barcelona in the European Cup Final; when we hit our stride no-one can live with us. In the most memorable final since Milan destroyed the ‘dream team’ in 94, we ran out 5-2 winners. Nevland capping off a magnificent season with a hattrick

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How about this for a Champions League campaign?

nevlandfindThose are Messi level numbers.

Here’s the squad that won itandersavr

I bought Gian Paolo Marcuz from one of my other teams, Genoa. He had never really settled there and could not displace this lad

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One season later, he is my captain and topping the average ratingsmarcuz

We’ve had a decent three-year runclhistory

As the season ends, we also bid farewell to our former captain whose contract is updeconde

He always made the very most of his talent and saw off many more famous names over the years.

Some massive managerial developments in West Londonqpr

Sounds like a good move for Big Al until you realise that QPR have just been promoted into Division 3 from the non-league.

Next up is Euro 2008. Here’s the squad I’m hoping will take us to glory in Spain this summer

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The spine of the team – Wright, Ferdinand, Barrett and Owen – are all 29-30 and we’ve got a nice mix of youth and experience. Becks is essentially coming along as a cheerleader, Fabio Cappello style. It’s fair to say that if we had another decent midfielder then David would have the summer off.

First up we’re playing the hosts, in front of 110.000+ plus people in the Nou Camp. Join me next time to see how we get on!

Season 11 – same old story

And so we move into the summer of 2007. The new Wembley has opened, Live Earth concerts take place around the world in the midst of a European heat-wave and the UN declares that 2008 will be the International Year of Languages .

The question on everyone’s lips is – ‘what is the bigger waste of money, a year of languages or Man United’s summer transfer business?’broomes

By March, we have our answer…it’s Marlonbrromes

Arsenal also spend big, on an overpriced player on the fringe of the England squad

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I’m happier with the way my teams splash the cash

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He was a star for me at Doncaster and still young. £10,000,000 is a LOT of money though, all my transfer budget in fact

Chelsea  and Genoa meanwhile bring in a few good players on cut-price deals, getting them cheap because they have spent the last year on the bench at Inter

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As I alluded to in the previous post, the season didn’t get off to a great start for Anderlecht. We dropped more points in the first 11 games this year than we did all of last season. Luckily we then went on a 12-match winning run which saw us go top

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And then pull clear

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During this run, we did a controversial piece of business. Selling our World-Cup winning centre-forward to Milan and replacing him with a relatively unknown 21 year-old

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Despite his big-game goals, Jorg has never really been a regular for us and hasn’t made much of a contribution this season

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The reason he hasn’t been a regular is..nevlannd.jpg

Even by his standards, he’s having an incredible season. Check out that Champions League record.

With Erik banging in the goals, you won’t be surprised to see this

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Or, in the quarter-finals, this…

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There was another Anglo-Belgian battle in the UEFA quarters

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Genoa got as far as the last-8 in the Champions League, but we were dumped out by a mid-table Arsenal team

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Big shock in Catalonia as Inter crash out. They were 2-1 up on aggregate, with Barca down to 10 men, with 20 minutes left!

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Franciso Ferro, a Uruguayan who couldn’t get a look-in at Anderlecht, scored the winning goal. It’s wide open for Anderlecht to go all the way now.

Here’s the line-up for the semi-finals

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In late March, Genoa and Chelsea are both on long unbeaten runs but still can’t get the better of Inter or Doncaster

Chelsea have won 16, drawn 8 of the last 24 league games

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Genoa are 15-2-0 in the last 17!

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Besides the dominance of the usual suspects, it’s noticeable that, 10 years in, the big name teams have started to disappear. Juve, Milan, United, Liverpool etc are nowhere to be seen in the top sixes.

Results like this haven’t helped Milan

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Oh and before I go, a quick update on the post-Liverpool career of Roy Evans..

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That’s 8 jobs, 3 countries and 3 sackings in a decade. You have to admire his work ethic though. No doubt he’ll convince another chairman to give him a job soon…

 

 

10 years in, a quick recap

So that brings up to the end of season 10. Here’s a rundown of how the trophies have been won since our story began in 1997.

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The Italian league has dominated Europe for the most part. 7 Champions League wins, and 17 trophies from a possible 30. Inter with 4 Champions League have been the most successful club on the continent, whilst the city of Turin alone has captured 5 trophies.

English teams have tended to do better in the Cup Winners Cup, with 4 successes – including Birmingham’s memorable back-to-back in 2004&5.

Domestically there have been some clear trendspremo10a10

Juve and Man Utd were the two biggest clubs as the game began, but they have been superceded by Inter and the Doncaster team I built.

In terms of my managerial careers – this incarnation has been the most successful, overseeing a golden period at Anderlecht after winning promotions with Monza and Torino. vino

My doppelganger who started at Anderlecht (and got sacked) has finished 2nd on three seperate occasions, but has yet to win a trophy

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My other persona has stayed in England throughout, and had more or less uninterrupted success

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End of season awards time. Morten Carlsen is such a superstar that he can be injured for the last 3 months of the season, but still take the honours

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Danny Sirakov becomes the first back-to-back top goalscorer in the English top flight

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Some crazy seasons there, Scholes-y in 1997/98 and Chris Ohen for Watford two years later in particular

Over in Italy

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Ronaldo is 5-time Player of the Year and 4-time top-scorer… fair play.

In Belgium, the Bruges and Anderlecht eras may as well be the Maartens and Nevland eras

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Controversially, an Anderlecht player did not win the Player of the Year award, despite us finishing 18 points clear of 2nd place Standard.

Fairwell to Claudio, he never made it over to England, retiring after a decade plus in charge at the Mestallaranieri

Denilson got himself a decent move after walking out of relegated Liverpool

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That’s it for season 10. Season 11 update coming soon. Anderlecht won their first 16 games in a row last year, season 11 it only takes one game to end their winning  streak. Fair to say we dominated though…

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And following that brief interlude

Yep I know, 4 months is a long time..real life got in the way a little bit there, but I’ve been playing on and off and I’ve got an entire season to update you all on..

Those of you who can remember back to November will know that Big Al wasn’t pulling up any trees in charge of Liverpool.. One month into the new season, this happened

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Steve McManaman back at Anfield after a couple of seasons at Northwich Vic.

Is this a record for the longest ever injury? artes

He’ll be a big miss for Luigi Simoni, not like they’re short of decent players though. Talking of which, here’s a definite record as I raid the piggy bank (and put myself into debt)

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Oooh, he’s a player…

A quick look at the leagues early on..

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The only surprise in any of that is seeing Doncaster down in 9th, oh and we’re doing OK in Belgium eh?

And not just in Belgium…

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Jorg Seitz with a World Club Cup Final goal to go with his World Cup Final goal 5 months ago (and he’s still not my first choice striker…Erik Nevland gets the nod ahead of him most weeks)

In a normal league, 32 points from 14 games and a draw away to your main rival would mean you were in a great position, but Serie A in the mid-2000’s ain’t a normal league

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We got a 0-0 draw away to the best team in the Premier League too, and halfway through our first season in the top flight it looks like a year of consolidation

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Doncaster back on track. Over at Stamford Bridge, a top-6 finish and European qualification is the limit of our ambitions for now.

Anderlecht’s target of winning every single league game came unstuck 17 matches in, in unfortunate circumstances

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But we did add the European Super Cup to our trophy cabinet, it’ll go nicely alongside the Champions League, World Club Cup, League and Belgian Cup trophies.

The trophies weren’t just being won by our Belgian cousins though..

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A win over Brian Little’s Arsenal gave me a first League Cup win of the game so far (I didn’t win it in 8 years at Doncaster).

Arsenal had fallen behind Doncaster in the league by this point, but had their eyes on another trophy

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Brian Little’s old club, relegation threatened Aston Villa, stood in their way, managed by Gerry ‘the perm’ Francis.

As we reached the end of the Premier League season, a 4-1 win at Liverpool meant we were in with a shot at a UEFA spot

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As for Liverpool, how was player-manager Stevie Mac working out?

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Out of the top-flight for the first time in 45 years! Successive catastrophic managerial appointments and a mediocre squad have resulted in a spectacular collapse. The rats waste no time in leaving the sinking ship. Denilson on a free is definitely worth having a look at..

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Anyway, there’s a UEFA cup place to win. Our last two games are against the top-two, Arsenal and Doncaster. Arsenal must have their minds on the upcoming FA Cup Final

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A quick word of praise here for our captain Richard Flounders

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A £3.2 million purchase from Everton last season, that’s some performance for his first season in the top-flight with us.

Another 0-0 draw with champions Doncaster means we finish in a creditable 6th place

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Drama down at the bottom though. It’s a great day for the Midlands as Villa and WBA both win on the final day and escape relegation, but look who’s going down with Liverpool!

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From 2nd to 18th in one season. I did say that £7 million for Eidur Gudjonsen seemed like a strange pre-season transfer choiceeidur.jpg

It’s not like the money helped Liverpool much either though

Aston Villa’s momentum continued into the FA Cup Final

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Arsenal’s season – 2nd in the league, FA Cup runners-up, League Cup runners-up. Maybe they are regretting cashing in on Joilton earlier in the season.

Serie A and the Jupiler League did not throw up any shocks

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Nor did the respective cup competitions

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What about Europe? Well, first up here’s some UEFA cup action. Holders Juve rounded off a miserable season by crashing out in the semis. They finished 12th in the league (the first time they have been out of the top 6) and Guidolin (of Swansea fame) must be fearing for his job

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Leeds, still managed by George Graham, have managed back-to-back 3rd place finishes in the Premier League, but they came up short against a strike-force of Crespo and Montella.

The Cup-Winners Cup saw arguably the two favourites reach the final

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Atalanta proved a long time ago that they are no mugs, and fully deserved their win in the final. cwcfinal

Having sold their star striker to Inter earlier in the season, their 2 goals in the final came from an unlikely source

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Pellegrini has not even got on the pitch once for Inter since his transfer, he’s got Ronaldo, Trezeguet, Del Piero, Giuly and Vieri ahead of him!

Inter of course, are competing in the Champions League alongside Anderlecht and Genoa

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There’s no easy games at this stage, but even so Doncaster and PSG are just about the toughest games you could get besides the men from Milan.

Or at least they sound tough on paper

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It’s an Italian derby in the semis!

The low-countries derby was a bit of a mis-match

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This is the scale of the task facing i grifoni in the other match-up

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Anderlechy are the only team to knock them out of the Champions League in the last 6 seasons! At least they’ve got a few injuries.

Unfortunately we couldn’t follow up a 1-1 draw in the San Siro with a good result at home

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And so a rematch of last season’s final

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Both sides missing the star-strikers (Ronaldo and Nevland). Multiple European PotY Morten Carlsen is also injured.

The turning point of the match came in the 2nd half when last year’s hero Kim Ottesen was sent off and a penalty awarded to Inter. There was no coming back from that

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Kim can’t beat himself up about it though, he had a great season

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So a treble for Inter, a double for Anderlecht and a 4th title in 5 years for Doncaster. Total dominance from the big 3.

For Genoa, Christophe Eberl showed he had recovered from his 12 months out injured

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We’ve got a settled and balanced squad, with a lot of younger players like Vitiello and Daino confirming their ability. It’s just a case of adding a bit more quality and waiting for half of Inter’s team to retire!

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A good season for Chelsea, similar to Genoa, we need a few big signings and then hope Doncaster fall apart next year

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Anderlecht have got quality all over the pitch, as well as World Cup winner Jorge Seitz, France captain Jason Revelles and Uruguay star Alvaro Recoba, we can count on players like these

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As for England, we should have no problem qualifying for the Euros

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And as for Alan? A picturesque north-Italian town is his next, bizarre, stop

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Football’s Coming Home

So here we are, the summer of 2006. Britain basks in a heatwave, the Queen celebrates her 80th birthday, Gnarls Barkley is number one and the World Cup finals are being held in England. The scene is set for the first English triumph in 40 years, and yours truly has been tasked with making it happen.

Not a great start

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It’s OK though, plenty of cup triumphs have begun with false starts, right?

Our Doncaster connection puts us back on track in the second group game at Highbury

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We’re still waiting for a big performance to announce our arrival in the tournament. It came a few days later

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With those 4 goals, Scholesy draws level with Jimmy Greaves as England’s all time third top scorer.

A comfortable passage through an easy group. Most of the big names made it into the round of 16, except from group H

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Four years ago Spain made the final in Japan, this time around they were on the plane back to Madrid on the back of 3 straight defeats.

World Cup fever was gripping the country, and the draw for round 2 only increased the excitement

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Brazil hadn’t won the trophy since 94, but they had an attack which could outscore anyone on their day. Ronaldo, still the best striker in the world; Denilson, formerly the world’s most expensive player; and the current highest valued player in the world Joilton

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Gulp… tough draw for us. We won our group but the fact is that it doesn’t matter how well we play if those three turn it on

Here’s our starting line-up

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Our attacking four can rival anyone in the world. We’re a bit light in centre-midfield though, and Matty Upson is no-one’s idea of a world class full-back (I actually dropped him on the day of the match!)

In the end it was a comfortable 90 minutes. Michael Owen turned provider with 2 assists. A goal in each half sent us into the quarter-finals and the Brazilians to Heathrow for an early flight homeengbra

The other big story in round 2 was France, dispatching Holland with ease and starting to look ominous

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Trezegoal, Anelka and Kanoute are a frightening prospect.

Who will we get in the quarters?

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The auld enemy! On paper quite an easy draw, but imagine being knocked out in our home world cup by the Scots. Germany Italy should be a good’un too.

After days of hype, the game began and we had a catastrophic start. Just 7 minutes in, Doncaster midfielder Paul Barrett brought down Alex Martin in the penalty area, penalty to Scotland and red card to Barrett!!

Star Scotland fullback Euan Bradford made no mistake from the spot

We played OK for the rest of the half, but we were missing the injured Paul Scholes and despite creating a few chances we never looked like scoring.

With time running out, we turned to Robbie Fowler off the bench and Rangers forward Carl Samways, playing arguably the biggest match of his career.

With 10 minutes left, Samways pounced on a Scottish mistake to pull us level. At full-time the momentum was all on our side, despite having played most of the match with 10 men

Sure enough, in extra-time Alex Notman scored a dramatic golden goal winner (from a Samways through ball) to send the country into riotous celebration and the Scots into misery

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As you can see, we rode our luck and had Richard Wright to thank for a series of great saves in the first half

Germany Italy was as tight as we expected

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John Toshack’s first tournament as Italian manager ends in the quarter finals but he can’t be too upset with that. In the words of Gary Lineker “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.

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An emotionally and physically drained England squad made the journey up to Manchester a couple of days later.

This time we managed to last until the 9th minute before a red card and penalty decision went against us. Today’s villain was Barrett’s team mate Riccardo Ludlam

Trezeguet buried the penalty and from that moment on, there was only one winner. France were a different proposition to Scotland and with an extra man they dominated from start to finish

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1 shot on goal versus 19. Even with 10 men that’s pitiful. Riccardo Ludlam becomes the number one hate figure. Following Sven’s footsteps I urge the nation ‘not to kill him’, although to be honest I feel like strangling myself… should’ve started Michael Duberry and Rio in the centre instead..

With the home nation out, all eyes turned to Germany. They won the last international tournament in England and were favourites to do so again

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Sure enough, Anderlecht striker Jorge Seitz scored a golden goal in the first minute of extra-time to send the Germans to a final date with France

Before that, there was the 3/4th place play off to get out the way. A bit of an anti-climax. Only 4 shots on target in the whole 120 minutes. David Beckham ballooned his penalty in the shoot-out (sound familiar?) and the Belgians took bronze

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Germany vs France in the final had all the makings of a classic. The two best teams in the tournament by far, and it lived up to its billing.

Lars Ricken had a penalty saved by Christophe Revault early on.

His miss was punished when David Trezeguet scored yet another goal to put the French in front. When Martin Djetou scored a second after 56 minutes, France had one hand on the cup. Until…

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Substitute Marcel Ketelaer, a full-back plying his trade at PSG was the unlikely hero as Germany completed a remarkable turnaround

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Jorg Seitz had a season for the ages. Belgian League, Belgian Cup, Champions League and World Cup Winner. He scored in the World Cup Final too. Still can’t get into our team ahead of Erik Nevland though

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He didn’t win European player of the year award though. Oddly this honour went to a player beaten in the World Cup Final and the Champions League semi-final by Jorge Seitz and co

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(How is Anelka winning those awards ahead of Ronaldo & co?)

With that, I’m off on a well-earned summer holiday!