Champions of Europe

Here we are again, the 2005/6 season is done and dusted and there’s a lot to talk about…

ITALY

Starting in Serie A, we pulled out a big performance to defeat Inter and knock them off the top spot in early Feb

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We were still alive in Europe after a tight two legs against Derby

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We also got arguably the best draw in the Semisuefasemi

But we were beginning to struggle with a crippling injury list. Games like this didn’t help

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A monumental effort to grind out 3 points with 9 men on the pitch by the end

The injuries and suspensions were beginning to take their toll. We were one up in Holland until our goalie was sent off and Paciorek put away the penalty

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Two more injuries and we were struggling to put a fit team out. In the end we fell short

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Juve didn’t have much problem with Feyenoord in the final, although the red card helped. (Florio was released on a free at the end of the season despite his heroics. I put in a generous contract offer, but he ended up at Inter – like everyone else)

Talking of Inter, another cup win for the neroblu

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Our crippling injury list and fixture backlog meant that Inter narrowly beat us to the league. Another double for Luigi Simoni’s unstoppable force

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Still, year-on-year improvement for i grifoni…maybe next season…

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Freddie Kanoute is the goalscoring superstar we had needed to take us to the next level

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The likes of Christophe Eberl, Daino, Valois and Sandreani missed large parts of the season through injury. Hopefully keeping them fit next year, our youngsters getting a year older and a couple of big signings will be enough to win us the scudetto

ENGLAND

Man United reached their sixth league cup final in nine years. A tight match was decided by penalties. Alex Martin, ex-Anderlecht striker missed the decisive spot-kick

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As expected, we cruised to promotion, a run of defeats near the end made it look closer than it was

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The real excitement for us came in the FA Cup. After seeing off three Premier League Clubs (Boro, Birmingham and Hull), this happened

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A semi-final against my old team. Doncaster were well clear at the top of the Premier League, and still had basically the same XI which I left them with.

A massive task was made even harder when we got a red card after just 8 minutes

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Despite being a man down and a goal down at half-time, we fought back in a courageous second half90mins

Extra-time couldn’t seperate us, so it was up to the Stadium of Light for a replay

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Doncaster’s class told in the end, but a hugely encouraging cup run showing that we can mix it with the best in the Premier League already.

Rovers made short work of Spurs in the final

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Remember Alan Shearer took over at Liverpool? Let’s check in on him quickly

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The less said the better

Joe Kinnear completed a double in his first season in charge. A first league title for Cup specialist Kinnear

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Under Bryan Robson’s management, Spurs have established themselves as a power in the Premier Leaguespuors

Not sure about his first transfer market move of the close season though. What has Eidur ever done to justify that fee?eidureidur3

We’ve got a few good players (mostly Doncaster bench warmers) who will definitely be good enough for the Premier League, we need to strengthen our defence though and Mikael Landreau has been a real disappointment in goal

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BELGIUM

Excitement in Brussels was building about our European cup run. Arsenal were dumped out at Highbury thanks to a late goal from German striker Jorge Seitz

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PSG have knocked us out before, but we’re a better team now and I don’t think they are as good..

As it turns out, we battered them at the Parc des Princes. Our captain Dmitri de Conde ran riot

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A memorable night, and even better than one of our few Belgian players made the difference

The second leg was a formality, and of course we all know who we will be playing in the final

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The League and Cup were wrapped up with minimum fuss

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De Conde again, as Aalst are blown away in 5 first-half minutes

So it’s Belgian double-winners against Italian double-winners. A fitting climax to the club season.

They’re fearsome opponents

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My Doncaster team last year were the only team to beat them in Europe for 5 years.

We’re not bad either though, we came into the game on the back of one defeat in 47 matches.

Here’s my starting eleven. More or less at full strength, bar an inury to Rio Ferdinand

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Jason Revelles is the rock of our defence, 25 years old and captain of France. Angelo Sala is just 23 and often captains Italy. Erik Nevland scores close to a goal a game and you’ve all seen what De Conde is capable of. Kim Ottesen in goal has developed into a world-class player (as you’d expect from Schmiechel’s regen)

In a season of unfortunate red cards, we got another on in the second half. Andrea Gennari against his compatriots (I end up selling him to Inter in the summer).

Not only is it a red card, but a penalty and a chance for Ronaldo to put his side one nil up..

Incredibly he skies the penalty! Then when multiple European player of the year Morten Carlsen does have the ball in the net five minutes later, it is disallowed.

Is this going to be our year? After 120 minutes, this is the final score120minscl

And so to penalties.

I’m fairly confident with our penalty takers, the only issue is who will take the all important 5th kick. In the end I go for Jason Revelles, he may be a centre-back but he’s got a shot on him and I think he’s the man to turn to when we’re under pressure

Inter’s penalty takers are just as good. The first three up for them are Ronaldo, Carlsen and Trezeguet. Ronaldo doesn’t miss a second penalty, but Kim Ottesen pulls off a great save from countryman Morten Carlsen!

Our penalties are flawless, and with the score tied at 4-4, Jason Revelles has the chance to win us the cup with big ears for the first time.

What was I doing giving a centre-back the responsibility?clfinalwinners!

Champions! Kim Ottesen and Revelles are the heroes of the shoot-out as we become the first Belgian team ever to win the biggest trophy of them all!

Here’s the squad which led us to glory

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De Conde was our star performer, but everyone played a part.

And here’s my new man crush…revelles

When it comes to goal-scoring, it’s all about one man

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All this and a World Cup hosted in England still to come! Before I leave you, I nearly forgot the Cup Winners Cup. cwcsemicwcfinal

AIK continuing the strong Scandanavian showing in Europe, but Sporting Lisbon winning the final in Glasgow in a role-reversal of the Lisbon Lions..

Here’s the squad which I hope will emulate the legends of 1966 and take us to World Cup victory

engsquad

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Stars of CM9798 – No. 3 – Man United’s Youth Team!

The class of ’92 were in many ways a one-off, but the creators of CM97/98 weren’t to know that. They evidently assumed that every young player coming out of Man Utd in the following years was going to be as good. This means that at the start of the game there is a group of potentially world class players sitting in the stands under Alex Ferguson. If you’re managing a small club, they might not come to you straight away, but give them a year or two of festering in the United reserves and you can pick them up at a decent price. They’ll be stars for a decade or more

WHO ARE THEY?

Macclesfield Town's Graham Tomlinson
Graeme Tomlinson

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Erik Nevland

Alex Notman - Manchester United Youth 12/4/97 Pic : Stuart Franklin / Action Images
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Wes Brown

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John Curtis

Curtis, Notman, Tomlinson and Nevland between them only played a total of 15 league matches for United, while Wes Brown of course was a regular in the United defence for years. There are a few other decent young players at United when the games starts: Wellens, Brebner, Pilkington and Cooke to name a few, but these 5 are the players who can go on to become world class.

WHAT ARE THEIR VITAL STATS? notman nevland curtis browntomlins

In CM9798, Tomlinson actually starts on a free transfer, make sure he’s the first player you sign up when you load the game for the first time…

HOW’RE THEY DOING IN THE CURRENT GAME?

The moral of this story is that you have to give them the game time. The longer they go without playing, the more their ability will drop and the less chance they have to fulfill their potential. My current game is evidence of this, Erik Nevland has gone on to become one of the most feared strikers in Europe

nevl

Wes Brown, on the other hand is languishing in League 2

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But take a look at his stats for this season…the first time he gets a regular run in the team he dominates..

Graeme Tomlinson should never have left Doncaster the first time around. I resigned him when I reached the Premier League, but he never established himself in our starting line-up

graeme

Alex Notman is England captain and a star for his club

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He’s now worth 9.5 million and has still got years ahead of him

John Curtis is the most frustrating. He often turns out to be the best of the lot, a defensive colossus and long-term captain of England and your club team, but he never got a run of games this time around

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I’ve signed him for Chelsea in the hope that it’s not too late for him to blossom. Only 86 games in 9 seasons though…sad waste of talent (serves him right for ditching me for Liverpool back in 2001)

For what it’s worth, two other United youth players, Richard Wellens and Grant Brebner have also had decent Premier League careers

grant rciehe

So in conclusion, sign Tomlinson on a free and play him. Keep an eye om when the other youngsters become available, buy them and play them. You’ll either turn them into world-beaters or sell them at a decent profit..Or of course you could start the game at United, take over from Sir Alex, and try to create a class of 97 as succesful as the predecessors from 5 years previously

Ditching Donny

And so the decision was made, the dice were cast. Here is my new squad

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Yep, turning my back on a young, motivated world class group of players for this lot… At least there’s a couple of decent central midfielders, and Isiah Rankin played for me at Doncaster during our rise through the divisions. The only player left from the original Chelsea squad is, weirdly, Bernard Lambourde

Who would replace me at Doncaster? A media frenzy ensued, but in the end there was only one choice…

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To be fair he did a great job at Wimbledon and has had some cup success at Anfield. He plays a 4-3-3 direct system, which will be interesting to watch with the likes of Owen, Mattar and Sirakov up front

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And look who takes over from Joe at Anfield…

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Big Al at Liverpool. It didn’t take long for him to start selling their best players

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Shocked that I got him for such a great price to be honest. He’s a nailed on starter in the centre of our defence.

Talking of managers, early in the next season this happened

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Yep that’s Neville Southall, back to back UEFA cup winner in the Old Trafford hot-seat. After Sir Alex’s failure in charge of the Azzuri, the Italian FA controversially turn their back on domestic managers and go for Ferguson’s replacement at United. Hmm…

So the English big 3 are now managed by Southall, Shearer and Kinnear, who would’ve predicted that 10 years ago? Also Sir Alex is unemployed, so there will be a few managers around the world looking nervously over their shoulders

And those managerial changes aren’t even the wackiest thing to happen

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Yep that’s Steve McManaman, still a regular in my England squad. The prospect of being managed by Shearer must’ve *really* frightened him. I’m not picking him for England again, out of principle

Oh yeah I forgot the end of season awards

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An Anderlecht clean sweep, and Anelka’s Champions League record winning him the prestigious European award

Another record-breaking transfer in the summer

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Josico’s a striker with a goal a game record for Spain. Real need someone to bring back their glory days. They’ve been knocked out in the CL group stage in 6 of the last 7 seasons

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Meanwhile we had another flying start in Italy

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We’ve finally got a proper striker, so we’ve got a better chance of keeping our form going

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(Not all those goals were for us mind, we bought him 6 games into the season)

Let’s quickly drop in on the Championship, first time I’ve been managing there for a few seasons, and hopefully we won’t be there for long

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We’ve brought and sold half a squad so far, channeling my inner Harry Redknapp

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A few returning old boys in there, including Champ Man regular Tom Youngs, as well as Justin Slade, Alec Barron, Kris Pihaama and Mikael Landreau from Doncaster

Anderlecht were, inevitably, drawn against Doncaster in the Champions League group stage… with surprising results

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Not an easy group, but we dominated it. Our reward is a home time against the English champions

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Oh and we navigated the first few rounds of the UEFA cup easily enough as well

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Neil Warnock’s Derby are second in England and will be a stern test in February.

Meanwhile, the excitement was building for the 2006 World Cup Draw. England, you remember, are hosting and I’m the manager tasked with winning our first international trophy in 40 years.

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I’m not sure if that means we’re the 3rd best team, or in the third group of seeds.. Either way, we got lucky when the names were drawn out

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There’s no easy games at this level and all that, but seriously, if we don’t win that group then I need to resign.

Before I go, a few managerial changes in Italy to update you on

laziosack lazionewmanager torocarlo

Toro have been a much better team in recent years than Lazio, so I’m surprised Silvio made the move. Even more surprised that Carlo was managing Norwich. When did that happen? And how did that happen? Back in a big job now though with back-to-back UEFA Cup Winners Torino as they attempt to regain some ground on runaway leaders Genoa…

Titles decided, managers moving on?

Welcome back! Loads to update you on, so let’s get the League Cup out of the way

lcfinal lcfinalstats

A sign of United’s ongoing decline. They never lose domestic finals, let alone getting outplayed by a team like Derby. To be fair to the Rams, they’ve established themselves as a top-6 side under Neil Warnock, so the result shouldn’t come as a massive surprise

Meanwhile, Rovers were getting ready for the big one. A Champions League semi against this

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Multiple European player of the Year Morten Carlsen was injured for the two legs, but that’s still quite a team. Internationals from 1 to 16, led by Italian captain Roberto D’Aversa. Luigi Simoni’s men had won the last three Champions Leagues and were looking to become the second team since the legendary Real to win 4 in a row

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I felt we could match them. Sure, not quite the same star quality, but our midfield and forward line is as good as anyone.

At half-time, it was going well. Daniel Sirakov had latched on to a Zizi Mattar knock down to put us one-up, a vital away goal

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But then..

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Two yellows and Zizi is taking a long lonely walk down the tunnel. We played on with no recognised attacker on the pitch

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A fantastic, and well-deserved win! Ronaldo & co barely got a ick

The focus on the Champions League was affecting our league form however

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The second leg was even better

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Our right and left-back both went off injured, and one of our centre-backs Riccardo Ludlam took a bad knock but soldiered on. Michael Owen started in place of suspended Zizi Mattar and scored a memorable hattrick. Four goals from English players too…

Milan await, we’ve got to be full of confidence after becoming the first team in 4 years to knock their neighbours out of the Champions League

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Our Italian cousins showed us how it was done

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AZ pulled off a shock in the UEFA semis, thanks to a little known player by the name of Ruud Van Nistelrooj

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And Birmingham continued their push for back-to-back Cup Winners’ trophies, while AGF shock Bologna

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An injury crisis was threatening to tear our season apart

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A series of shaky results left us on the edge

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Arsenal and United’s game in hand was against each other. A draw or United victory would have been ideal

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Hmm, Brian Little’s men are one game away from an incredible come back

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Fair play. An amazing turn around by Brian Little. Arsenal had been muddling around in mid-table under Arsene Wenger. A watertight defence and some quality up front was enough for them to finish above us and win the league

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We threw it away really though

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Losing at Orient!

At least matters went smoothly in Belgium

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That was Bruges’ Orient moment!

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Whoop!

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Finally….Oh and make that a double

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Talking of throwing things away, let’s take a moment to admire the UEFA Cup Final

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Guidolin has to be worried about his job. He has taken Lippi’s all conquering team and taken them to top-6 UEFA Cup wannabes.

Atalanta won a crazy Coppa Italia final

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With Genoa looking good for a top-6 finish, Atalanta were going for a double. They had finished 2nd five years ago and had their team picked apart by the traditional big clubs. Modonico had rebuilt though, and they looked even better 5 years on

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Last game agony for the Bergamaschi though, Italian international Bellucci’s miss cost them the title

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Inter win the Scudetto again, some consolation after their defeat in the CL semis

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Not bad for Genoa eh? By far our best performance and hopefully something to build on next season.

The FA Cup Final is a League Cup re-run, trophy to Toshack this time though

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And the Euell-Ikpeba double act do it again

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And so, here we are

clfinal milansquad

Anelka suspended, same as our number one striker Zizi Matter. Here’s our XI

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Mattar, Notman and our right-back Piacentini all miss the game. Michael Owen is just back from injury and only at 80% fitness, so it’s certainly not our strongest line-up

The first-half is eventful

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I’m hopeful there’s another goal there if we keep playing. Trouble is, there’s not much on the bench to replace Owen when he starts to tire

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Mikael Landreau gives away, then saves a penalty. In the end it is beyond us, it could’ve been a different story with a full strength 11

Runners-up in Europe and England. In the aftermath, this happens

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Chelsea had crashed to a 4-1 defeat on the final day of the season and were relegated as a result. Could it be time to move on from Doncaster?

chelseamanagerWhat to do?! It feels like an obvious time to leave Doncaster and take up a new challenge. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare without me, but will I be stuck in Division 1 for the next three years watching my Doncaster boys rule Europe?

Regens, European dreams and Serie A collapse

I did sign the Alan Shearer regen at the start of this season. He has hardly set the world alight though – but then he is competing for one spot alongside ickle Michael Owen and Zizi Mattar

justin slade

He’s already worth a cool million though. Now I’m Doncaster AND England manager there’s extra motivation to bring through the best English players for the national team. Like this lad who has been on the fringes of our squad for years

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Another regen. With stats like that, he should be capable of doing things like this

Anyway it’s been another decent Doncaster season so far. Here’s our line-up for the season curtain-raiser at Wembley

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Not much transfer activity around Europe this year. The biggest deal was struck by United

trans The Hodg has got the sack though. hodg# letiss

And Le Tiss taking over at Southampton, gotta love it.

Over at Doncaster we picked up a couple of stars on the cheap

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Landreau and Kiko are 97/98 legends. They won’t necessarily walk straight into our team, but they will give us a bit of European experience, which is what we have  been lacking

We got a 4-2 beating at Arsenal in the first game of the season but went on a great run after that

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Arsenal are back in contention after finally getting rid of underachieving Arsene Wenger and replacing him with Brian Little, obviously.

Steve Coppell has turned Palace into a real force, but a bad start to the season sees him getting the sack (pretty harsh). He’s replaced by the Salernitana manager.

paalceroyle

Royle-y was never cut out for Italian management. Lucky for him that he has landed a big job back in the UK.

In Serie A, we got off to a flyer. Mostly thanks to Anthony

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We won our first three games (no surprise if you look at Soares’ stats), but we faced a real test away to Inter in game 4.

ineterway

We would never have come back from 2-1 down last year. Obviously having the Italian captain sent off didn’t help Inter (or Treze-goal getting injured).

We smashed our transfer record when Inter star Freddie Kanoute became available. Inter, you will remember, signed the entire Milan attack in the summer and Freddie has been frozen out as a result

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A great run of form culminated in this result against high-flying Lazio, which put us top

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Just as I thought we had cracked it, things began to go wrong. 9 games later…

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We should be able to hang on to a top 5 slot at least. We had beaten our best ever season points total after 16 games so whatever happens it has been a year of progress…

We got to a cup semi-final too. Atalanta were too much for us though

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And Anderlecht? It’s been our best year in Belgium too. At one point my teams were top in Belgium, Italy and England.

We overhauled Bruges in the winter after going to the Jan Breydel Stadion and getting the three points
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Fully deserved too. Players like Jason Revelles (the new Desailly), Nevland and Marques are far too good for the Jupiler League

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13 wins in a row, scored 35 conceded 4. To be fair Bruges are still in striking distance, they’ve won 10 in 12 since we beat them. The rest are a long way behind.

Aalst have established themselves as a top 5 team and they’ve been causing upsets in Europe this year.

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Juve are going to hammer them surely. Joe Royle is through to a European semi in his first year in charge,

In the Champions League, Anderlecht drew Barca in the groups and gave them a beating

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We should have beat them in the knock-out rounds last year, so this is a measure of revenge

Both Anderlecht and Donny Rovers had tough groups, but two wins on matchday 4 put us in strong positions

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eyroea groupe

Only the group winners automatically qualify of course. This meant that Doncaster needed a win at Porto on the last matchday, while Anderlecht needed a point at Old Trafford. Both big asks

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Whoop! What was our reward?

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Both winnable games. Sure enough we won at home, but the away goals could come back to haunt us.

brondbyhome nanteshome

Anderlecht had bought Mbo Mpenza off Bruges last year. He was a superstar as a youngster but lost his place in the Bruges team and was available on the cheap. He never forced his way into our line-up either though, so we had sold him on to Nantes in the summer. You know what happened next

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Eek! So while Anderlecht crash out, Doncaster get a 0-0 in Brondby and make it through to the semi-finals for the first time

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Ronaldo & co await in a couple of weeks, no excuses though for Doncaster. Back to back English titles and we’re looking in great shape at the moment

So another English title, a first Belgian title and a top-half finish in Serie A for the first time all look possible. Is Champions League glory beyond us though? Stay tuned to find out!

Season 7 Round Up – Back to back titles

Welcome back! It’s been a while since the last update. Real life getting in the way. Thankfully I’ve managed put real life aside for a couple of hours, so let’s get to it…

How about we start in Belgium? Well Catalonia to be precise. Anderlecht, you will remember, had been handed a difficult Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona.

The first leg didn’t go too well. Barca’s Spanish international Victor scored 4..

barxaaway

19 shots to 15, 56% to 44%. 5-0 was more than a little harsh.

The second leg was a formality, but again we outplayed our illustrious rivals

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A 6-3 defeat over two legs in a tie which we should have won comfortably

In the league, we made more of a fight of it than usual

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We were just 2 points behind with 5 games left. We went on to win our last 5 games. Surely that would be enough to lift the Belgian title for the first time?

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Nope, Bruges are truly unstoppable. They ground out 1-0 wins against Standard and Antwerp in their final two games.

They didn’t do badly in Europe either. A 1-1 home draw against Milan followed by this

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Jan Pieter Martens is a goal-scoring machine.

Milan have lost twice to Anderlecht and once to Bruges in Europe this season. They’re still doing OK domestically though

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3 points at home to Bologna would be enough to secure lo scudetto ahead of Inter. Sure enough

milan 34

Anelka cost Capello a lot of money, but he has a habit of coming up with the big goals

As for Genoa?

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Yep we finished 6th from bottom. After two consecutive 5th from bottom finishes. Consistent improvement is what it’s all about. At this rate we’ll be challenging for the league in 2030.

We did sell a number of players during the season, so at least we’ve got money to spend

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In the Premier League, Doncaster fell to their first defeat after 24 games

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Again, I’m going to argue that this was an unlucky result. But over a course of the season, you’ll always get a game or two like this

It didn’t matter though. The only question was when we would win the league, not if.

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Last year’s title was all but secured away to Crystal Palace. And sure enough, a win away at Palace this season would take us to 83 points and out of reach of Liverpool. Palace are always up near the top though so it couldn’t be taken for granted

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Carmelo Groppi, a young attacking midfielder from Italy, grabbed the goal. It was all a bit of an anti-climax this year. A bit too easy.

winners!

EUROPE

After knocking us out, Barca had to contend with our fellow Belgians in the semi-finals of the Champions League

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Bruges went one better than us. They only lost the first leg 4-0

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Inter’s third successive final, and the second time they have faced Barca in the last 3 seasons

Make that Inter’s third successive win in a final

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If Ronaldo doesn’t get you, Kanoute will. Inter have got the smallest squad I can remember for any big team – maybe that’s why they can do it in the Cups but come up short over a 34 game league season.

In the Cup Winners Cup there was a story brewing

uefasemi cwcfinal

Victor Ikpeba and Jason Euell always seem to score against me, and they’ve transferred that form to Europe.

Ikpeba and co did it again in the final with a first-half blitz

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A very rare win for an English club in Europe. We (Doncaster) really need to up our game in the Champions League next season

You may remember Torino won the UEFA cup last year. They’re through to the semis again. This time drawn against cross-town rivals Juventus

A massive game and it goes all the way to penalties

uefa semi2That’s some terrible penalty-taking. Not sure why Zidane didn’t get to take one. Maybe they were saving him till 5th.

A second final in a row for Toro, and it’s an all-Italian affair against Bologna. These two teams have been consistent top-6 clubs for a few years now, so it’s well deserved.

It’s a thriller at Celtic Park

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DOMESTIC CUPS

Guess what – Bruges got to the final of the Belgian Cup too..but…

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Standard are one of the best teams in the country, but any defeat counts as a shock for the Brugeois

United racked up another trophy

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Seven seasons in, and Paul Scholes still scores goals

The FA Cup final has a familiar feel

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Second place in the league and a runner-up medal in the Cup for Joe Kinnear and co.

Over in Italy, it was all about Ronaldo, Kanoute, Carlsen and co in the Coppa Italia final

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Two trophies for Inter, two runners-up medals for Bologna

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Another OK season at Anderlecht. We did well in our first Champions League run-out, but Bruges beat us to the title and knocked us out of the Bekker van Belgie

andersavr

sala deconde

A big season for Dmitri de Conde. He was given the captaincy at the start of the season and led from the front. Angelo Sala looks like he has got a bright future with us too.

Doncaster cruised to the title. We need to go a step further in Europe next year, now we have asserted our dominance in the league

doncavr doncgoals doncvaule

Over in Genova, we got rid of some of the dead wood from the squad and hopefully we can use the money to buy some big name players in the summer

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It’d also be nice if our best player is someone other than our goalkeeper next year. Maybe Cristof Eberl

INTERNATIONALS

I got my first taste of a local derby as England manager

scotland

The fans will have enjoyed that one. With no 2004 Euros to look forward to, and the 2006 World Cup being played in England, we’re not going to have any competitive matches for a while

The Euro 2004 groups didn’t throw up any surprises. Eight strong teams contested the quarter-finals. With Anelka & co sending the Dutch crashing out..

frahol

belita gerden swespa

Italy (still managed by Sir Alex) are playing the tournament on their home turf and beat a strong Belgian team. Two Scandanavian teams through to the quarter-finals. Denmark in particular shouldn’t come as a surprise. They’ve got two-time World Player of the Year Morten Carlsen, and a number of other top-level players

The Italian peninsula came to a stand-still on June 26th as the home nation took on neighbours France in Milan.

itafra

Quarter-final man of the match Martin Djetou got a red card in the first half but the French held on- mostly thanks to some heroics from Christophe Revault.

So the home nation are out, and Alex Ferguson must surely be fearing for his job now. The other semi-final ended like this

denswe

Jesper Gronkjaer scored one minute after coming off the bench and made himself a national hero in the process. Could Denmark be set for their second European trophy in 12 years?

fraden

The answer was most definitely no. Nicolas Anelka cementing his reputation as the best striker on the continent with another goal. France win their first trophy for 20 years and join Spain and Germany as the only countries to have won the Euros more than once

AWARDS

awards awaedsita

Yep, that man Morten Carlsen again, the 5-0 defeat against France didn’t deter the voters. John Toshack and Luigi Simoni are rated as the best two managers. Both won two cup tournaments but came up short in the league.

Stuart Pearce making a name for himself in the Championship with Notts Forest.

In the meantime, there are some crazy post-Euros transfer shenanigans in Milan

delpiero vieri

And a couple of big name managers scrabbling around for jobs

gelnda evans

And I’ll leave you with the passing of an England great

shearer

I’ll make sure I sign his regen next season…See you next time!

Season 7 so far

So it’s been a while since the last update. The last time we spoke, Doncaster and Anderlecht were celebrating historic trophies, while Genoa were delighted to be in Serie A for another season.

No international tournament this summer, so everyone will be getting a good rest. In the meantime, I’m pleased with this

matlik

A couple of years ago we would have stood no chance of signing a 21-yr old German international. The power of ‘Reputation’ at work

Anderlecht have got a decent reputation, but no money to spend on transfers or wages. So here’s our summer transfer activity

andertrans

Not bad for a combined total of zero. Conca is the regen of Roberto Baggio so I’m expecting big things from him. Like becoming a buddhist hunter

Anyway, unusual religious interpretations aside, it has been a quiet transfer window.

As the start of the season draws near, I actually manage to beat Bruges for once, in the Belgian SuperCup.

superbelgie

Hopefully that’s a sign of what’s to come

We’ve got both Doncaster and Anderlecht in the Champions League this season. Doncaster are seeded, but Anderlecht finished second in Belgium so have to go through the qualifiers.

rapidveiann

Vienna are demolished. Recoba scored 6 of them.

We get two tricky groups pulled out of the glass bowl at UEFA HQ.

clgroups

It’s only the winners who are guaranteed to go through to the quarter-finals remember.

Doncaster have got off to a flying start to their title defence

poll away

Sirakov is a Bulgarian forward, plucked from the Belgian league in the close season. He’s tearing up the Premier League. Here are his stats halfway through the season

sirakov

Look at our early form

donnysatatr prem 6

United are lurking in third though. Ferige or no Fergie, they’ll still be our closest challengers

We travelled to Old Trafford in the league a couple of weeks later. 2-0 down at half-time, and it was looking bleak. But…

utdaway

Karl Watkin, our young Welsh forward, pulled it back. With a little help from ickle Michael of course.

Our seemingly unbeatable form was noticed by Marcello Lippi

englandcal;ups

That’s half a team. You may as well get me to manage England. Especially when this happens

euroseng;and

Sure enough

lippi

And yep, they turn to the only viable option. How can I turn down the chance to manage my country. The FA are happy for me to stay on at Doncaster too.

Here’s my first England team

englandteam

It’s basically the Man Utd back 5 and midfield 2, with the addition of Liverpool captain Rio Ferdinand. The three attacking midfielders are from Doncaster (Notman), United and Liverpool, along with Anfield talisman Robbie Fowler up front.

So 7 United players, 3 Liverpool and one Doncaster (the one Doncaster started his career at United too!). It doesn’t say much for the strength in depth of British football.

With no Euro 2004 to look forward to, the England job can go on the back-burner for the next 6 months

A few managerial changes to tell you about

arsearselittlecitehkingkev royeanca

King Kev comes back home, well to Wales anyway. Roy Evans was sacked from Manchester City and ends up in Sardinia taking over from Keegan, who in turn is taking over from Evans’ replacement at City. Confused? Me too

There were a few big money transfers during the season

trasn3trans27

As if United don’t have enough strikers.

Their rivals Liverpool lose one of their stars. Milan have got the most expensive strike-force in the world. Ballotta and Anelka at a combined £27,000,000

trans

Toro spent £10,000,000 on one January afternoon

parise toro2

As well as £6 million plus from the Parise transfer, I banked another five million from Zaragozadobrevosky

So, unrest at the Marassi stadium as we sell our two big-name players. But I don’t think we’ll miss them too much. We’ve got a young Italian centre-back who has stepped in to Dobrevsky’s shoes

tisci

Despite his massive transfer tag, I don’t think we’ll miss Parise much. In 3 seasons he never got a man-of-the-match award.

We’ve also got a few young players who have settled in well this year

legrot eberl

The plan is to finish mid-table this season and splash the cash in the summer.

Having said that, 21 games in we’re still near the bottom. But one or two wins catapult us up the league

serieabottom

Over in the Champions League, we picked up a famous victory.

andermilan

And did it again in Milan

milanaway

That man Alvaro Recoba again (he used to play for Inter too)

We ended up sailing through the group stage

anderschamps

Doncaster were having more difficulties

cl5games

A shock defeat at home to Rosenborg meant that we needed to win our final game and hope Porto could beat United. Our final game was against the Norwegians again

rosenborg

In normal circumstances, a 2-2 draw would be a good result when you are 1-0 down and one player short after 9 minutes. But it means we were out of Europe

Over in Brussels we waited for the Quarter-Final draw with baited breath

barca clwfs#

Gulp. To be fair, there were no easy games. 2 Italian giants, 2 Spanish giants, Man Utd, PSG and the two Belgian teams. Each of the games could go either way, but Barca have to start as favourites.

Anderlecht also had time to fit in a European Super Cup against Inter

supercup semi

We got Ronaldo-d

Despite being knocked out in Europe, Doncaster were flying in the league

pl24

Unbeaten 23 games in and well set for a second successive league title. As well as Liverpool and United, Steve Coppell’s Crystal Palace are near the top again. They have finished 8th and 4th in the last two seasons

A lot of their success is down to this lad

dacosta

Him and Bakayoko are a frightening prospect as an Ivory Coast strike force. It’s fair to say he hasn’t really got going at international level yet though

Before I leave you, here’s a quick look at the top of the table situations in Italy and Belgium

It’s a two-horse race in the Jupiler League (as usual) and a one-horse race in Italy

jupe top

serieatop

And Anderlecht did the double over Milan in Europe! Nightmare for Fabio Capello

 

 

CM 97/98 – Player Recruitment

Don’t worry, I haven’t been researching analytics websites and coming up with formulas of ‘expected goals per 90 minutes’. This game was made in 1997 anyway, so the stats that you’ve got to work with are basic compared to the latest Football Manager and/or OPTA readouts. Part of what makes this game so great is that it has the perfect balance between complexity and speed. Modern management games are practically a full time job if you want to set your team up properly and buy the right players. Anyway…

Regens

I know I’m not revealing any secrets when I say that, on CM9798, new young players are not randomly generated. When a player retires, he is regenerated in the next season. His name, and some of his stats, will be different, but his ability remains the same.

For example, going back to our first ‘Star of CM9798

gudjonsonheidmar

‘Regens’ are usually much cheaper (and obviously younger), then the original player would have been at his peak, so it’s a cost-effective way of buying guaranteed quality

The best way I’ve found to keep track of which good players might retire, is to search by ‘Based Anywhere’ – ‘Age 30+’ – ‘Sort by Caps’

search

You can then make a list of players you might be interested in, and search for them once the end-of-season updates have run. If they no longer exist then you can search for their replacement by nationality, position and attributes

Attributes

For me, the jury is still out on how much attributes matter. One thing for sure is that the attribute scores are relative, not absolute. So for example, the player with the worst average rating in English football this season is…

plymouth

A ‘Heading’ rating of 17 and a ‘Tacking’ score of 18 obviously doesn’t mean that he is in the top 10-15% in the world for these skills. It simply means that his tackling ability is 6 times better than his dribbling (in other words if the ball is within a yard of his feet, he falls over). All of these scores are relative to his overall ‘Ability’ (a hidden attribute, out of 200)

That being said, I like all my players to have good Determination, and I don’t like scores of 1 or 2 for attributes like Pace, Stamina, Strength, Tackling etc.

From my experience (and this is based purely on observation, not research), important attributes include

Stamina – how quickly a player gets tired during a match

Determination – how a player reacts to being behind in a game

Shooting – Finishing ability

Set Pieces – How good the player is at corners (in combination with passing), and free-kicks (combined with shooting and flair)

Flair – how likely the player is to create a chance out of nothing, or score a spectacular goal

Expiring Contracts

For some reason, the AI managers in this game are supremely relaxed about losing their best players for nothing. In general, they will let every player’s contract expire before they offer a new one. Players’ prices begin to drop in the last year of their contract, so it’s well worth your time keeping an eye on who is coming to the end of their current deal.

Sometimes, the player might not even be one that you need. You can sign them at minimal cost near the end of the season, secure them on a long contract, then put them straight up for sale. Be careful though, if you pick the wrong player, you could end up paying a massive wage over many years for someone who nobody else wants. Exhibit A

shevA

Big Club Release Clauses

These can work for, or against you. When you’re managing a Premier League club, you can basically take your pick of lower-league players. If you’re in Division 3 however, you’re permanently at risk of losing your best players.

The one exploit I’ve found to get round this is as follows. When you sign a player with a big-club release clause, make him available for loan straight away. Big clubs will still be interested in him, but will only approach you with a view to a loan, which you can reject.

Make sure you make them available quickly though. Once a player’s value starts to rise, your board won’t allow you to put them on the loan list, and this can happen

curtis

The one that got away (and at a £700,000 loss in three months!)

Searching for players

So although I take attributes into account when looking for the right player, it’s not the most important thing.

First up, I look at average ratings, these are the best indicator as to how good a player is. Again, they are adjusted for the league, so someone averaging above 7 in Serie A is performing at a much higher level then someone averaging 7 in, say, Denmark

If a player is highly recommended by a scout, that is usually a sign that his potential ability is very high.

Making a Decision

Your final decision should be based on weighing up if they are a regen, their current performance (average rating), the opinion of your scouts, player attributes and of course price. Price includes wages. As I’m finding to my cost at Anderlecht, paying a number of players £20,000+ a week just isn’t sustainable in some leagues.

wages

Give me a team of Dewaele’s any day..

So………That’s a quick overview of how I go about the process of scouting and signing. If anyone has got any other ideas or tips, or if you think I’m talking b****ks (very possible), then start the conversation BTL..

Happy hunting

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.

prem38

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…

paalcewaway

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

palace

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

prem37bot

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

37fixtures

donny prize money

That money will come in handy too.

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

donsquad donnytactis seasnobyseasonvalues

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
rumengunnars zizizi

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!

31form

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

vanmol genoavr genoa goald

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.

jupeifnal bekker

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

and liverpool

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

pool away team

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

poolaway

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?

cwcwfinal

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

Here’s their line-up

juvegtactis7

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

andertacticsfinal

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

fulltime

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…

cwcshootout

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

win the cwc

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

andersavr nevland

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

coppafinal

And beating PSG in the Champions League final.

clfinal

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)

euefa finals

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

fafinals

As for the awards

demolpotyengawawrds morten caelsen

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…

hoddle

No, I meant a current international manager.

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

pearce

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..

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.

topvalue

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

colding landrea

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

benficaaway benfawy

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

mattarredux Has anyone ever had stats like this?!

zizicareer

Our reward for thumping Benfica in the qualifying round was the ‘group of death’.
godeathgod2

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

england

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

realaway

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

opening fixtures

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

milanaway juveaway

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

a27top a27

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…

milan away

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

katowice

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

bruges

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

psdeaw

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..

trans5 peachy

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…

utd doncaster

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

The league table looked like this

prem23

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

psgaway

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

clqf2nds

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

cwcsemi

cwcw

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

The FA Cup semis saw 1st drawn against 4th

fasemis

 

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!