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 March
Had we held on for a famous win, we would’ve won the league. Getting closer each year though
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
There’s nothing to say about the Jupiler League. Total domination once again
This win, with 6 games to go, settled any debate
Aalst have established themselves as a force domestically and they took the cup after knocking out a second string Anderlecht team in the quarters
Chelsea built on their 6th place finish from last year
The League Cup went to Hull, who have also ‘done a Doncaster’, starting in Division 3 and working their way up
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
The Premier League team had a bit too much quality on the day, the winner scored by one of my ex-Doncaster players
In the UEFA Cup, we came up agonisingly short in the semis
An all-Italian final, which was as tight as expected.
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?
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..
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.
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
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
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
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%
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…
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
How about this for a Champions League campaign?
Those are Messi level numbers.
Here’s the squad that won it
I bought Gian Paolo Marcuz from one of my other teams, Genoa. He had never really settled there and could not displace this lad
One season later, he is my captain and topping the average ratings
We’ve had a decent three-year run
As the season ends, we also bid farewell to our former captain whose contract is up
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 London
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
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!