Last time we spoke, Euro 2000 was just around the corner. England of course had failed to qualify. The tournament was a bit of a let down in the end. No major shocks to speak of, and the best game was probably the opening match of the tournament
That’s some Dutch team eh? Edgar Davids can only get a place on the bench. They didn’t win the whole thing though. The Dutch were the best team at World Cup 98, but lost 1-0 to Germany in the final. This time they lost to the Germans in the semis. This left us with a Germany – Spain final. Perennial underachievers against regular winners. There could only be one outcome right?
Wrong! Germany had Jurgen Kohler sent off after 35 minutes, and immediately subsituted their captain. Spain dominated after that and their skilful players had time and space to punish the Germans.
Back in the UK, I was trying to bring a few new players into Doncaster. The Premier League is a big step up and I felt we needed two or three big name signings to add to our group of promising youngsters.
I had signed Nene at Watford just before I left. He had smashed 25 goals and 21 assists in his season at Vicarage Road and looked like he would be good enough to lead the line for us. John Curtis is a no-brainer, if he becomes available you have to sign him.
The Dave O’Gorman deal was a strange one, I had been keeping tabs on him for a while, he’s a young Welsh forward who had been a superstar for Swansea…Robert Trees had been with us for about a season and for some reason his value had shot up to £4,000,000. I rejected a few bids from various teams for him, until eventually Swansea came in offering £6,000,000 for him. I added O’Gorman to the deal, so ended up taking their best player, and £1,750,000 off them!
Trees didn’t have much of a career at Swansea. This happened 3 weeks later.
Our tiny stadium got a bit of an upgrade in time for the new season
These were the biggest transfers of the summer..
Thomas Gravesen had his pick of the European giants. Real brought him in real life too. Hopefully he will last a bit longer at the Bernabeu this time.
Some bad news for Sven. If only he had been sacked a few months earlier he could have taken the England job!
Man United lost the Charity Shield again. Could this be the season that Joe Kinnear finally gets his underachieving Liverpool side to mount a title challenge?
Over at Belle Vue, we weren’t interested in that result. Too busy training for the start of our season. The fixture list threw up a few winnable games at the start of the season for us
Spurs and Wimbledon had struggled last year. Bradford and Barnsley had both been promoted with us last season. We had a good chance to get off to a quick start.
We came flying out of the blocks at White Hart Lane. After 10 minutes, we had already had 2 corners and 5 shots on goal
In the end we only got one goal, but a clean sheet and away win is a brilliant start to life in the top flight. New signing Nene paying back some of his £5.5 million fee
Jack Charlton had led Aston Villa to second place, and Champions League qualification a few months ago, but a couple of early defeats led to him being harshly sacked and the Hodg coming in as replacement
In the meantime, over at Doncaster we had an OK couple of months. With a few shockers…
And a few memorable wins
12 games in and we’re sitting comfortably in mid-table
The usual suspects at the top of the league. Joe Royle having another good season at City, and United once again leading from the front. We’re above the likes of Chelsea, Everton and Spurs, so not a bad start all things considered.
Here’s a quick look at who has been doing the business for us.
Matty Upson has displaced our captain Jamie Allinson. I signed Marlon Broomes in pre-season from Blackburn (he always develops into a good player). He has forced his way into the team instead of Steven Haslam. After a good start, Nene has gone off the boil. His dip in form has let Cezary Kucharski back into the team
Cezary had been a star for us in our promotion years, but I wasn’t sure if he could replicate his form in the Premier League. I was wrong.
Another player who has exceeded expectations is this lad
He’s now worth £4,5 million and has become a key member of our team. Heidmar Gunnarson has nailed down one of the two central midfield spots, but no-one has really staked a claim to start alongside him. Bjorn Heidenstrom has led us through the divisions, but he’s getting older and the step-up to the Premier League has come too late for him. With Atsanov playing attacking midfield, that leaves one from Gareth Whalley, Jamie Day or Craig Bellamy (yep, that Craig Bellamy).
Oh and the more eagle-eyed amongst you will see a certain Frank Lebeouf at the bottom of the squad screen. I felt the squad needed a bit of experience, virtually everyone is 25 or under. Frank wasn’t wanted any more at Chelsea, so I’ve signed him up to play as a partner to Marlon Broomes for this season.
There’s been so much happening for each of my teams that I’m going to have to split this update into three parts. Especially with this just happening……
Look who’s come crawling back…..