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

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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..

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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

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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

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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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