Bedlam at Belle Vue

Doncaster Rovers were formed in 1879. In the 125 intervening years, the club has won a few lower-league titles, as well as a few Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cups, and of course the infamous 1923 Wharncliffe Charity Cup. But what happened in 2003 has put those trophies in the shade.

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After nearly a decade of back-to-back United titles, it took something special to break their run.

March 29th 2003 was the day the title race took a decisive turn. Doncaster faced a tough test at high-flying Crystal Palace. The same day, United had an easy three points to pick up away at lowly Leyton Orient.

After 7 minutes, Doncaster were already a goal down. Then…

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The stuff of champions. Not only that, but United lost at Brisbane Road.

This left us sitting 7 points clear, and with all the momentum

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The title was settled with a week to go. The relegation battle, however went down to the last day. Two big teams were involved

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Beating United had inspired Orient on a run of form which saw them to safety. No surprises that Chester went right back down again. As I predicted, the appointment of Glen Thomas had seen Chelsea slide from mid-table comfort into the bottom 4. Over on Merseyside, Howard Kendall had overseen 6 years of decline from a 7th place finish into regular relegation candidates

While we finished with a great 3 points at Liverpoool, conspiracy theorists were having a field day. Chelsea needed to get something at home to Glen Thomas’ old team Watford. Watford were safely sat in mid-table, and conceded a late goal to give Chelsea the point they needed. Everton shared 6 goals in a thriller against Sunderland

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donny prize money

That money will come in handy too.

Here’s an overview of the Doncaster squad which will go down in history

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Our players’ values have been rocketing, 5 of our players have asked to move to a bigger club (have a look at the league table boys…). I’m tempted to cash in on a few of them. but not these three
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GENOA

Last time we spoke, Genoa were in deep trouble, despite winning away at league leaders Milan. That victory sparked an incredible run of form. We picked up more points in 9 games than we had done in the previous 20!

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In the end, we finished one place above the relegation zone, for the second year running btop bbottom

We were the only team to beat the champions though. We just need to add some consistency.

Our best player this year was our goalkeeper, which is never a great sign

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Pitiful goalscoring chart. Iacopino only joined in February as well! We’ve got potential in the squad. (The new N’Doram and Mijatovic – Soares and Dragutinovic) We don’t have enough proven quality though. Shevchenko and Paulo Sousa have both been disappointments. Hopefully our good run at the of the season can continue into next year…We’ll see..

ANDERLECHT

In the Belgian League, it was the usual second place finish behind the Bruges juggernaut.

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Another double, and a Champions League semi-final for the Belgian giants.

However, we were still in with a shout in Europe. As you’ll recall, we were drawn against Liverpool in the CWC semi-finals. Here’s the home leg

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Scholl and Nevland are big game players (wasted in the Belgian league to be honest). Liverpool pulled a late goal back, and they would surely be favourites back at Anfield

Here’s the task that awaits us

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The most expensive player in the game (Denilson) is thankfully injured. We are still playing against the England strike-force (Youngs and Fowler). Three other internationals are out, Rio, Kevin Nicholls and Ballotta (Italian striker), but nevertheless every starter is a full international.

We put in easily our best ever performance, Liverpool’s 3 man attack didn’t even get a shot on target

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Raul Madeiros never gets a look-in in the Juplier League, but he saves his best for the big European games.

And so we’re off to the final in… Israel (eh?)

Who will our opponents be?

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Oh just multiple Serie A and Champions League winners Juventus then.

Here’s their line-up

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Their star players from the first 5 years of the game have begun to fade, and they haven’t really been able to replace them. Still a formidable 11, and they have to be the favourites.

Here’s how we lined up

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We were missing our usual defensive midfield lynchpin, South African Mark Tucker. Putting Martin Nielsen there meant we had no right winger, so Giovanni Van Bronkhurst got a very rare start.

It was a crazy 90 minutes

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2-1 up until 6 minutes from the end.

Extra-time couldn’t seperate us. When Maarten Schops missed our second penalty, I feared the worst. But…

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It had to be Mehmet Scholl! Fully deserved, in the twilight of his career

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Yep, we haven’t got close to a league title, but that’s some achievement. Shame we’re still broke though

Here’s a quick look at our squad

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Nevland had a quiet CWC final, but he has been going at nearly a goal a game for us. Our other star players are Dmitri De Conde (who for some reason can’t get into the Belgian team) and Brazilian international Paulo Rink at the back.

We have been in debt for the last two seasons and we’re still £2.5 million down, despite that European win. It’s a difficult balancing act. To compete in Europe we need to pay big wages, but we get virtually no bonus money in the league and gates of 20,000. We need to start selling to buy

BEST OF THE REST

Inter had a good year in the cup tournaments. Taking the Coppa Italia against a resurgent Atalanta

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And beating PSG in the Champions League final.

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The Kanoute and Ronaldo double-act once again coming up with the goods.

One of my ex-teams won a European trophy (no, not Monza)

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Alessio Pirri, one of my signings, won the man of the match

And of course, Man United weren’t about to let a season go by without winning a major trophy

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As for the awards

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Morten Carlsen with back-to-back European player of the year awards. Seems a bit of a strange choice, but Inter did win the Champions League and Morten did have a big season for club and country, so fair play.

I won the English Manager of the Year Award. With my reputation swelling, I just need an international manager to get sacked now please…

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No, I meant a current international manager.

Look who’s going back to the County Ground to replace Glenn though

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So 6 seasons in my trophy-haul stands at a Premier League, Belgian Cup and a Cup-Winners Cup. Now it’s time to start building a dynasty..

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Season 6 – story so far

Hello! Yep we’re back and well into season six.. it’s been an interesting one so far, to say the least.

Before we get started, here’s a list of the most expensive players in world football. Dominated by the top English and Italian teams.

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Denilson is a bit overrated imo (he was in real life too), for the best player in the world he really hasn’t had much of an impact on Merseyside. Give me Ronalso ahead of him, any day.

As usual, United were busy in the transfer market, snapping up a star goalie amongst others

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Over at Doncaster, we signed an unknown Liberian forward (yep George Weah regen). He made his debut in our first match of the season. Controversially being picked ahead of Cezary Kucharski on our Champions League debut. The young lad did OK

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Here’s his Premier League debut…..another first half-hatrick!

mattarredux Has anyone ever had stats like this?!

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Our reward for thumping Benfica in the qualifying round was the ‘group of death’.
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Probably not quite as hard as Group A, but we’re going to have to knock out one, or both, of the Spanish giants to get through.

Our brilliant start to the season led to our first England call-ups

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And guess what we did in our first group game? At the Bernabeu?

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A famous night for Doncaster, and the Premier League in general. And we didn’t even need a goal from Zizi Mattar. Real Madrid 0 Doncaster 4, read it and weep.

We then put 4 past Barca! Here’s our early season form

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There were some big managerial changes happening in the meantime…

le tiss wenger arse hodgson chelsea

I don’t know where to start with those. Arsenal have been underachieving, so Arsene had to go. (Although he has underachieved for 10 years in real life, but hey…) Joe Royle and the Hodg obviously have big reputations in the game, but I’m not sure why. Glen Thomas took over the Watford team I built, and a 5-year old child could have got that team to the Premier League, so I think Chelsea could be in for some disappointment…

While Doncaster are flying, Genoa had a bit of a nightmare…stuck in the relegation zone for most of the season, but still able to pull out results like this

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That game against Juve was our first league away win (the Milan game was in the Coppa). This left the league looking like this

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Next up was Milan away. Milan, top of the league, with no league defeats all season, Genoa with only one away win. The result was inevitable…

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Over in Belgium. it’s the same old story for Anderlecht. Capable of performances like this..

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But unable to compete with a club that has the money and reputation to do this…

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Doncaster made it out of the La Liga dominated Champions League group. Our reward?

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It’s going to be a tough one, PSG are always there or thereabouts in Europe.

We decided to reinvest the money from our European run..

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Michael Owen and Zizi Mattar competing for the striker’s spot. Time is up for poor Cezary Kucharski.

The league was between us and Manchester United. They seemed to be winning every week, until…

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A fully deserved victory, and we could have won by more

The league table looked like this

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Shaping up to be a 3-way battle to the end. Am I finally going to win my first league title? It has taken 6 years so it’s about time really.

A 0-0 draw against PSG left it wide open for the return leg in Paris. Unfortunately

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The Parisiens fully deserved it, but we’ll be back next year. Inter will be in the semi-finals, and so will Club Bruges, again

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Anderlecht are in the Cup Winners Cup, a much easier tournament, and have made it one step further than Doncaster. Aab had another decent campaign too

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Liverpool, full of big-name players, but they always give you a chance.

The FA Cup semis saw 1st drawn against 4th

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So it’s all set up for a big finale. Will Doncaster win their first title? Can Anderlecht be the first of my teams to return a European trophy? Will Genoa stay up.. Tune in next time!

World Cup 2002

So after all the build-up, the biggest sports tournament in the world is finally here. England are back competing in the World Cup for the first time since their run to the semis in 1990. Alex Ferguson is back at the World Cup too, this time as Italian manager.

The usual suspects will start as favourites; holders Germany, Euro 2000 winners Spain, and of course Brazil

England’s first group game pits them against Sir Alex and his Italian team.

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Michael Duberry, England captain. It was a close game. but Robbie Fowler stole a win for England late on.

Things go from bad to worse for the Italians. A draw against the United States see them heading home on the first flight back to Rome.

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The other surprise of the group matches is a well-organised Bielorussia side topping Group B and qualifying alongside Argentina

The second round sees Bielorussia with a tough draw against the Dutch. On the same day, favourites Germany take on Sweden

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Yep, the Germans crash out and join Italy on the way home

It’s an England – Nigeria 2nd round game. Guess who scores another late goal?

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Liverpool midfield general Kevin Nicholls injuring himself in the goal celebrations, maybe.

The draw for the quarters throws up some big games

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Argentina will be the only side expecting to make it through comfortably

It’s a day to forget for England, ranking high on their list of all-time worst performances. David Beckham was out injured and Marcello Lippi lived up to Italian defensive stereotypes by picking probably the most negative 11 ever to take the pitch together. England went in with not 3, not 4, but 5 centre-backs, plus the Neville brothers and Nicky Butt. They got what they deserved

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Alan Stubbs cruelly out of his depth as well

Fans around the world breathed a sigh of relief at the departure of England. No-one expected what was to follow though

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Mats Lilienberg, from Club Bruges’ stable of centre-forwards with the two goals to knock out the Dutch

Argentina and Portugal join them in the semis. Brazil also out of the tournament

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The first semi saw Euro 2000 holders Spain reach another international final. Brave Sweden on the way home after extra-time

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The Portugal Argentina game was a tight one too. This time we had to wait till the 119th minute for the winner

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So three days after these two marathons, it’s an Argentina vs Spain final. No European country has ever won a final outside of Europe of course. Would Spain be the first?

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Arsenal’s Ariel Ortega is the man of the match. I had a representative in the final in the shape of Diego Simeone of Anderlecht (transfer-listed at the moment though!)

And that was followed by the news that football is coming home™

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Hopefully Signor Lippi will be sacked by then and I can lead England to a glorious home victory

Before I leave you, here’s a recap of the winners of the major club trophies in the first years of this game

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Oh and the end of season awards

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Inter’s Champions League triumph earned Morten Carlsen the Euro player of the year title. Luigi Cagni will feel aggrieved at losing out on the Italian managerial award. His Bologna side won the league, Guidolin only won the Coppa Italia with Juventus. An Englishman abroad wins the Italian young player of the Year award.

So next year we’ve got Doncaster in the Champions League and you’d hope either them or Anderlecht will win my first league title…

Scudetto Bolognese

So, as we move into the summer of 2002, we’ve got a World Cup on the way, Eminem is topping the charts again, Manchester is preparing for the commonwealth games, and East Timorese activists are celebrating the successful end to their struggle for independence. Oh and football, always football.

Let’s have a quick look at the cup semi-finals first

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Shock results in both the FA Cup semis. Derby, managed by Neil Warnock, are through to the final where they’ll play Aston Villa. Liverpool’s quadruple dreams are over

The Champions League semis were more or less settled in the first legs

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Barcelona outclassed Bruges, but our fellow Belgians have shown us at Anderlecht what is possible for Jupiler League teams in Europe.

A surprise turnaround in the UEFA Cup Semi Final in Naples.

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And it’s a Liverpool – Monaco final in the Cup Winners Cup, that’s a hard one to call

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Its as expected in the cup with big ears

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Back in the Premier League, our spell of good form is halted by Sheff Weds, who always seem to beat us

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An aging Dennis Bergkamp is still too good for our defence. No shame there though

That defeat puts us at risk of falling out of the top 2. Joe Kinnear’s Liverpool are lurking dangerously.

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When we stumble to another draw, our Champions League dream looks over, but….

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Leeds hold up Liverpool’s charge, and it’s all down to the last game. A win at home to Wimbledon will get us into the Champions League for the first time.

Wimbledon had a good couple of seasons, until Joe Kinnear took over at Liverpool. Since then they have been on a downwards spiral. They are rock bottom this year and already relegated. Andrey Shevchenko immediately walked out on the club on a relegation release clause. With John Spencer leading their attack instead, there was only going to be one outcome

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Not bad for our second season in the top division! Crystal Palace also overachieved this year, while Chelsea and Man City flirted with relegation and our nemesis from Sheffield won’t be around to beat us next season. Their manager won’t be around either, Big Ron jumping before he was pushed.

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Aston Villa won their first trophy in the game, with new manager Gordon Milne guiding them to a comfortable cup final win

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In Belgium, Bruges were unstoppable in the league

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And if we wanted to win the Cup, we would have to knock them out first

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Alex Martin, our young Scottish striker was the man for the big occasion

The Cup Final was against Liege, and for some reason the final was played at their stadium. We still started as favourites, but it was a tightly fought game till the end

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Apart from an Auto-Windscreen Final a few seasons back, this is the first piece of silverware I have won. Hopefully it will keep me in a job for another season.

Here are the final standings

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In Italy the relegation battle is heating up. In the meantime, Juve aren’t having a great league season but won another Coppa Italia

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There was a battle for survival at the bottom of Serie A. At the other end, however, it was all wrapped up with two games to go

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The first win from anyone besides the big 2 of Inter and Juve. It was fully deserved, and done on the back of a group of players who had been playing well for years

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Last season Atalanta came a narrow second and saw their team picked about by the traditional big clubs. It’ll be interesting to see if Bologna can keep this team together for a push at the Champions League next season.

Down at the bottom, we were two points ahead of Salernitana. A point in our final game would be enough to be sure of staying up. Even a defeat would be OK if Salernitana lost.

A last minute equaliser looked to have secured a point for us, until…

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So all eyes were on Salernitana.. Thankfully they lost at Atalanta, and we survive to fight another year in Serie A

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EUROPE

Milan finished runners-up in Italy and Europe

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A late Robbie Fowler winner brought European glory back to Liverpool

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Ronaldo started the season with a hattrick in the Italian Supercoppa, and finished it with a goal in the European Cup Final

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Barcelona falling at the final hurdle to an Italian team again, as they did three seasons ago against Juventus. Inter celebrated by splashing the cash

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STARS OF THE SEASON

For Doncaster, our original star of CM9798 shone brightly once again. He’s now our captain, and most valuable player

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Thanks Heidmar!

Here’s a look at the rest of the squad

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Jorge Sanabria and Gunnarson are a formidable midfield duo, they cost a combined total of £58000. Cezary Kucharski had another good season up front and Alex Notman scored a lot of goals, but didn’t get a great average rating.

Over at Genoa, this lad was my player of the season. The best of a poor bunch

dobrecveksy genoa swuad

Domenico Doardo got decent ratings, but still never really convinced. You can see from the list of players without a rating, that I have already been busy in the summer transfer market. Shevchenko, available on a free, will be bring much needed quality to the striker position

Over at Anderlecht, there was only one choice for player of the year

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He’s too good for the Belgian league

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The rest of the squad is talented, but inconsistent. Our Scandanavian strike-force scored 48 goals between them though

Next up is the World Cup. Here’s the squad which will be carrying the hopes of a nation

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Nicky Butt as the star midfield player. Michael Owen has been sitting on the bench for United all year, so doesn’t make the cut. Looks like Lippi will be looking to build from the back.

England are drawn in the same group as Alex Ferguson’s Italy, so there are sure to be some fireworks…

01/02 the story so far

Welcome back. So we’re well into the 01/02 season, all three teams in their respective top flights, no danger of getting sacked (famous last words..) and things are going particularly well in England for us.

First up, here’s a taste of the transfer market

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I decided to cut my losses on Fabio Nene, it can be hard to find buyers for players who need a work permit. I didn’t think he would be a regular for us next season so I didn’t want to end up having to free transfer him because his work permit got withdrawn.

Will Claude Makelele be the player to transform Liverpool from a Cup team to a team that is consistent enough to win the league?

Juventus and Inter have plundered last years’ surprise packages Atalanta. By halfway through this season, all their star players have been sold and they found themselves in mid-table

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Meanwhile, some massive managerial changes were afoot

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Yep, early season shock as Sir Alex walks out of Old Trafford to take up the reigns in Italy. We’ve now got Lippi in change of England and a Scot in charge of the Italians. Italian managers are famed for their tactical know-how, they can’t be happy at a Scot coming in to take over their national team.

But more importantly for me, will this spell the end of United’s dominance? Who can possibly step up to fill the gap at Old Trafford? Well. the answer is obvious…

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Yep, it’s Tosh. He didn’t have a great record at Chelsea, so it’s a bit of a surprise. He does have European experience though, and maybe that’s what the United board are looking for, they’ve dominated England for years, but never done it in Europe.

The managerial merry-go-round keeps turning

hodgvillaYep, Hodg to Chelsea and the Villa board think I’m the man to fill Roy’s shoes. I politely decline, I reckon Doncaster will be finishing above Villa this year anyway.

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Joe Royle has done a great job at Citeh, big shoes for Roy Evans to fill. Wimbledon are struggling early on in the season, so a big job for Andy Clarke in his first managerial post.

Oh and big Jack is back in England. I don’t think Germinal Ekeren was ever the right fit for him.

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How about some actual football then? Good start to the season in England eh?

donc 9momUnited are only a few points behind though.

Over in Belgium, Bruges only dropped 5 points in the first 24 games!

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Not much chance of us competing with that, but in a one off cup game, you never know

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In my first full season in Serie A, Inter sent a message out in the Super Cup

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Genoa are having a tough time of it
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To be honest, I’ll be happy with 14th place this year and a chance to buy a few players in the summer. Look at Bologna though! They’ve finished in the top 7 every year so far, so this is no fluke. The next game could be decisive, a top-2 clash with Milan

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Yes, a 4-1 home defeat in the Derby della lanterna is probably not my finest hour. But Bologna are now red-hot favorites for the title.

Over in the Premier League, we had managed to build on our good start

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United, even with a new manager,  just keep winning, so I think the title is beyond us, but we’ve still got a chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

We have put in some great performances though, not least against 4th place Blackburn

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Our situation isn’t helped by our goalie leaving on a big-club release clause

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I bring Nathan Munson, last year’s player of the season back to the club to cover the GK position. Mark McStay’s first game is a cup final

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Another cup for Joe Kinnear and Liverpool

In the European Cup, United faced Ajax in the quarters. After a decent result in Amsterdam, they were favorites to make it through, but….

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They could do with signing that Ajax goalie

The semis looked like this. Bruges are having a monster season at home and in Europe, but Barcelona is a step up for them. Ajax face a difficult trip to the San Siro after dispatching United in the last round

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The other European semis are as follows

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Napoli knocked out last year’s heroes AaB in the quarters.The Neapolitans are in their 4th successive Euro semi-final. Three Italian teams, two English and two Spanish. If I were a betting man I’d go for a Monaco – Fiorentina and Milan – Napoli final.

As well as the UEFA Cup Semi and League Cup win, Liverpool find themselves in another semi-final. Blackburn are having a big season too. Fourth place in the league and two semi-finals. Their opponents in the FA Cup look easier than their draw though.fasemi

So all to play for then. Doncaster aiming for top-2. Anderlecht going for the Belgian Cup and Genoa just hoping to survive. Oh and a World Cup too, will Sir Alex lead Italy to glory?….Join me next time…

Stars of CM9798 – #2 – Andy Mainwaring

Yep, the second star of the game is another player who you would never have heard of if you didn’t play Champ. But Andy Mainwaring is a bona fide lower league legend. I buy him in every game I play, he doesn’t always go on to fulfill his potential, but he always gives you a season or two of goals

WHO IS HE?
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In the real world, he was a forward who was at Newport County in the 97-98 season. A former Welsh youth international, he bounced around the League of Wales and the English non-league for most of his career, including spells at  Cwmbran Town, Bromsgrove Rovers, Gloucester City and Merthyr Tydfil. He had scored 45 goals in a couple of seasons at Cwmbran prior to his move to Newport, which is probably why he was rated so highly in the 97-98 edition of Championship Manager.

WHAT ARE HIS STATS?

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Andy starts the game in the Welsh league and can be brought for 5k. If you start a game in the bottom two divisions, he’ll immediately improve your team. On paper he’s nothing special, but football isn’t played on paper (or computer spreadsheets, but that’s not the point…)

SO WHY’S HE SO SPECIAL?

Young Andy has got that all-important -1 potential ability rating. One of the main attributes (although by no means the only one) that determines how good a player is, is his ability rating out of 200. Having a potential ability of -1 means that there is no determined limit to how good a young player can become. If he sits on a bench in Division 2, then he won’t develop very far. If he gets a run of games for a good team, he can become very good, very quickly.

He usually insists on a big-club release clause when he signs for you. This means that as soon as he starts scoring regularly, and his price shoots up, you’ll be in danger of losing him. That’s the curse of Mainwaring, like Greame Tomlinson and the other -1 players available for free or cheap at the start of the game. They’ll score 20+ goals a year for you and soon be worth millions, but when he moves, he’ll end up sitting on the bench for a bigger team and will never progress to the maximum of his potential

HOW’S HE DOING IN THE CURRENT GAME?

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Well, he has followed his usual path. Only with us for one season (but what a season), before the big boys came calling. He is still worth £2 million, but usually comes off the bench for Everton. He did score the winning goal in the League Cup Final a couple of years ago, but only got 4 goals the year after.

For me, what he does post 2000 is usually irrelevant. If you’re trying to bring a team up from Division 3 to the Premiership, Andy is the first player you should turn to. Although he won’t often be there to see the journey through, he’ll carry you the first step of the way.

Can AaB and Atalanta shock Europe?

And so we reach the end of the 2000-01 season, I’m beginning to get into the swing of things now and all 3 teams had a good end to the year. With all that has been happening at my clubs, we’re falling a bit behind with what’s happening in the rest of world football..so here’s the world record transfer to keep you going

trans6 Betis paid Arsenal £1.9 million for Nico just two seasons ago, and he hasn’t exactly set the world alight. Former giant of world football massively over-spending on promising French forward… Anthony Martial anybody?

While we’re talking about other teams, let’s stop by at Stamford Bridge for a minute

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13 goals conceded, but the keepers both had good games apparently. That match won’t have much of an impact on the top of the league, which is once again dominated by Manchester. This game in March was realistically the last chance City had of catching their cross-town neighbours

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Notice us sitting pretty in 6th, just above Liverpool and Arsenal.

There was a real story going on in Europe, where Aab of Denmark were embarking on a famous Champions League run.

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Although they’ve had a relatively easy draw to this point, AaB have actually got a really good team. Here’s the line-up that dismantled Bruges in the Quarter-Final

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Thomas Brolin is obviously the standout player, but players like Erik Mykland, Percy Olivares and Freddy Dos Santos could all play at any top European club. Bruges have been smashing everyone in the Jupiler League, but they were totally overwhelmed at the Nordjiske Arena.

And, guess what happened at the Vicente Calderon…

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There was drama in the second leg though. Atletico went 2-0 up in the first half and were on the way to the final until a late goal sent the game to extra-time and a mammoth penalty shoot-out
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So it’s AaB versus Juve in the Champions League Final

Here are the other European semis

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Betis not missing Anelka too much in the Cup Winners Cup. A crazy Milanese derby in the UEFA cup ends with Inter going through 3-2 to face Napoli in an all Italian final.

The FA cup threw up a few shocks, but the big guns got the easy draw in the semi-finals

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Liverpool have become a real cup team under Roy Evans and Man City are having an all-round impressive season once again.

Chelsea won the league cup last season and reached the final once again. This time their opponents were Everton. The Everton side were captained on the day by Gazza, and ran out as winners, thanks to a goal from my old boy Andy Mainwaring

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Sol Campbell, captaining Chelsea, having turned down Arsenal to make the move across London from Spurs.

No surprise when this happened

utd

Or this

bruges

4 in 4 for United. 3 in 3 for Bruges.

Serie A was a different matter though. Juve were out of the title race, but did manage to pick up another Coppa Italia, with the Champions League final still to come

coppaitalia

You’ll remember from last time that Atalanta were the shock contenders for Serie A, battling Inter for lo scudetto. With two games to go, Atalanta needed two wins to pull off one of the all-time great shocks. Their penultimate game was away to Torino, who were in mid-table with little to play for. What could go wrong?

seriea atalant

Oops…atopabot

That capitulation from Atalanta left Inter as title winners for the second time. Juventus acted swiftly to their third place finish, immediately buying Atalanta’s star player

trannn

Monza slipped down the table after I left and they ended up making a quick return to Serie B.

Would I be replacing them in Serie A? A run of 7 wins and a draw in 8 games saw us shoot up the table and with 5 games to go we were sitting on the edge of the promotion spots

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Two more wins later and we were in 3rd place

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We didn’t drop any lower than 4th for the rest of the season.

promo

That’s the third time I’ve been promoted. This time I might try and stay in Serie A for more than a few games!

In England, we lost our way a little bit at the end of the season, and didn’t manage to qualify for Europe

prem top

Still, not bad for our first season in the top division

doncleague pos

The board rewarded me with this

capcity

We’re getting closer to having a reasonable sized-stadium. finally.

There were also a few tears shed amongst the Donny faithfuls as the last surviving player from our third division days left the club

bjorn

Liverpool might be underachieving in the league, but they snapped up a second successive FA Cup

fafina;

Man City finished runners-up in the league and cup, but no shame there for them.

We had an OK end to the season in Belgium.

jupe final

4th place isn’t good enough for Anderlecht, but I only joined midway through the season, so next year I’m hoping to launch a real title challenge. Bruges are unstoppable though, winning the Belgian cup too

belgcup]

Mbo Mpenza and Freddie Ljungberg are both stars for them, and Martens scored 32 goals in the season, having signed from rivals Standard Liege in the summer. The board look like they are still backing me

9.5mil

Ah, thanks guys!

The European finals were all close games. Napoli beating Ronaldo and co on penalties

napoliuefa

Betis and Fiorentina played out two hours of goalless football and were seperated by penalties

cwcfinal

And so to the game we were all waiting for, AaB put up a brave defensive performance against the most successful club team of recent years. They even played half-an-hour with 10 men, but went down to a solitary Enrico Chiesa strike as Juve once again were crowned champions of Europe

clfinal

End of season awards. The voters were obviously swayed by the massive transfer fee paid for Nicholas Anelka….engawardAlex Ferguson once again the manager of the year. And Manchester City did win one trophy at least. My old goalkeeper Nathan Munson was crowned PFA player of the year.

So next season we’ve got all three teams in their respective top divisions again. No reason why Doncaster can’t be pushing for Europe, and it’s about time I won a Belgian league too!

Waregem again?

So one season in to my reign at the Regenboogstadion and everyone at the club was optimistic that we could kick on this year

We’ve had probably the best transfer campaign in European football, bringing in 7 0r 8 first-team ready players

wartrans

Within six months of the season, this is what had happened to some of these players..pesky big-club release clausestirusk

recob

onwuz baba

So we were definitely planning to build on last year’s finish…until my Italian alter-ego got offered the Anderlecht job. The plan has always been to have one manager in each country, so I handed in my notice at Waregem, booked a flight to Italy, and started looking for jobs. Here’s one!

geona

Decent size stadium, good attendances and a relatively big club, albeit struggling in Serie B at the moment. In the long-term, they are definitely a better bet than Monza, so I’m happy to say yes when I’m offered the job.

This is how the Jupiler League looked just before my departure.

jupe12

Bruges and Standard already out of reach.

We immediately got to work bringing some players in.The Genoa squad is desperately short of quality

gen trans

Casiraghi and Buffon aren’t a patch on the real-life counter parts unfortunately, but they are still better than what we’ve got. Daniele Adani is a high-quality sweeper though, and Nunzio Oliveri is coming back to Italy after being one of the best players in the Jupiler League. Ginola will hopefully do a job for a season.

b24 games

So back in Serie B again, for the third time. Still, there’s 14 games to go and we’ve got an outside chance of another promotion.

Over in Serie A, I left Monza in decent shape and they are exceeding expectations at the half-way point

seria17

Atalanta are the surprise leaders, but Juve and Inter are circling around the Bergamaschi’s best players, so I don’t expect it to last. Monza above Milan though!

I’ll leave you with a screenshot of David Ginola. Because he’s worth it

ginola

Moving on from Monza

So while things go well over in England…

utddonc

There’s been a lot happening in Italy. Last time we stopped over there, I was starting my first season in Serie A with Monza.

Over the summer, I was still unable to attract big name players, despite our promotion, so I focused on strengthening the squad (defence in particular)

monza trasn

None of those players are going to be star players, but Camarasa and Terrera are good options in defence. Antonio Chimenti was Roma’s first-choice goalie (they had just been relegated to Serie B though!). Zlatko Zahovic is probably the one player you might have heard of. He had a decent career at Porto and Valencia in real life, including reaching a Champions League Final.

We did try for another goalie too…

barthez bartrejec

Our first match in Serie A was away at Stadio Friuli against an Udinese side who have finished mid-table in Serie A for the last three years running. A decent test to see how our squad could compete in the top-flight.

Pretty well as it turned out

mozafirstgfae

Sergei Rogaciov has been a revelation for us over the last two seasons. I had orignally plucked him from Olimpia Balti for 5k, and his first season was useless. I’d written him off and transfer-listed him last year, until injuries and loss of form in our attack meant he got a run of a few games in the team. And he took it.

rogaciov

As long he is scoring at that rate, there’s no need to worry about relegation, no matter how bad our defence. And we do let in a few goals.

monza fictures

But then, 8 games in, this happened

grunsacklechtTime to pack my bags and see if my Italian alter-ego can do any better in the Anderlecht hot-seat. Season 4 and they’re already on their 4th manager. I’m not too disappointed to be leaving Monza. No doubt we could finish mid-table in Serie A, but the gap to the top is massive and we don’t have the finances to compete.

It does mean that I’ve got two teams in the Jupiler League, Waregem as well as Anderlecht. I’m actually building a decent team over at Waregem, here’s the half-time score in our first game of the season!

waregem 1st game

More on Belgium next time… (there’s a line guaranteed to keep the viewers coming back!)

andlert team