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
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
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.
And it’s a Liverpool – Monaco final in the Cup Winners Cup, that’s a hard one to call
Its as expected in the cup with big ears
Back in the Premier League, our spell of good form is halted by Sheff Weds, who always seem to beat us
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.
When we stumble to another draw, our Champions League dream looks over, but….
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
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.
Aston Villa won their first trophy in the game, with new manager Gordon Milne guiding them to a comfortable cup final win
In Belgium, Bruges were unstoppable in the league
And if we wanted to win the Cup, we would have to knock them out first
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
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
In Italy the relegation battle is heating up. In the meantime, Juve aren’t having a great league season but won another Coppa Italia
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
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
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…
So all eyes were on Salernitana.. Thankfully they lost at Atalanta, and we survive to fight another year in Serie A
Milan finished runners-up in Italy and Europe
A late Robbie Fowler winner brought European glory back to Liverpool
Ronaldo started the season with a hattrick in the Italian Supercoppa, and finished it with a goal in the European Cup Final
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
STARS OF THE SEASON
For Doncaster, our original star of CM9798 shone brightly once again. He’s now our captain, and most valuable player
Here’s a look at the rest of the squad
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
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
He’s too good for the Belgian league
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
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…