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[Retro DB - FM21] Back to The 90's: Save the Arsenal, Save the World - and bring Football Home!


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What if you could go back in time 30 years with knowledge of every football player that was going to come through in that time? 

What would you do? 

Make your club the undisputed best in the world?

Lead your country to the World Cup? 

How about both? 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

May 2021

Baur au Lac 5* Hotel

Zurich, Switzerland

 

Arsene Wenger sat at the desk in his hotel room as miserable a man as he’d ever been.

It had been another horrendous day at FIFA headquarters.

Everyone was lobbying for this new World Cup system to be every two years.

Every two years!

What a terrible idea, but of course they all wanted it for the extra money, most of the smaller nations were all over it as it would give them more chance to qualify for the tournament.

It was a nightmare.

Imagine the fixture congestion – it was bad enough having a World Cup in Qatar, and talk of them making it 48 teams from 2026 – he’d gone into FIFA to try and change things for the good, for the better, but it was a disaster.

Everything he touched turned bad in recent years.

Just look what happened at his beloved Arsenal.

He was too angry and ashamed to even make a return to the Emirates Stadium before Covid-19 measures prevented it. He’d helped build that ground and now he couldn’t even face turning up to it.

He wished he could go back in time.

Do things differently.

Maybe he’d still be Arsenal manager now, with a Champions League medal or two as well, he could help stop that Super League rubbish as well that Florentino Perez and the other parasites wanted to push through – but he couldn’t do that, time travel wasn’t real, that was just a thing in the movies.

**RING RING…RING RING**

Bloody hell.

Reception ringing him again.

Probably another unpaid bill that FIFA had forgot to pay.

“Oui?” Wenger answered in his native tongue, expecting to have to offer his sincere apologies and insist that the bill would be paid within a few working days.

“There’s a gentleman here to see you Mr Wenger,” the receptionist noted in French. “He claims to be a Mr Infantino. As you know, our Covid-19 policies do not permit guests to have visitors to their rooms, but we can arrange for you to meet him in one of our conference rooms on your floor of the hotel, after all, at this time of night they are all empty anyway.”

Wenger sighed.

What the hell did that twerp Gianni Infantino want at this time of night?

“Very well,” Wenger replied, doing his best not to sound too annoyed. “Send him up.”

It took him a few minutes to put back on some formal clothes, as he’d already changed into his night wear.

He made himself a coffee from the expensive machine that came in the room, picked up the cup and made his way to the conference room suite on his, the fourth floor of the hotel.

By the time he had reached the conference suite he’d finished most of the coffee and was feeling rather awake. He almost hoped Infantino would keep him busy for a few hours, it would take him ages to get back to sleep now.

That bastard.

He should’ve never taken the FIFA job.

How many mistakes and bad decisions could one man make in his life.

Finally, he reached the conference suite and opened the door.

“Look, Gianni,” he began, not even looking at his boss in the eye as he took another dreg from his coffee cup and pulled up a chair to sit down in. “I do not know what you want at this hour, but please, if it’s about this ridiculous World Cup proposal, then I must say-

Wenger stopped in his tracks, not able to finish his rant at his boss, as, having looked up at the gentleman standing there, he noticed that it was not Gianni Infantino at all.

“Hello, boss,” the elderly gentleman said in French with a croaky, weak voice.

Boss?

How could a man who must be – 5, 10, maybe even 15 years senior to him be calling him boss?

He studied the old man, vaguely recognizing him to some extent, but not able to really put a name to the face.

The man had very thick eyebrows and a distinctive mole on the left side of his nose.

He recognized his dark eyes, but he just couldn’t place him.

It almost looked like – no – no that was silly.

“You must forgive me, my friend,” Wenger began apologetically. “In my old age I am afraid I am getting more and more forgetful by the day. Do I know you?”

The old man grinned to himself.

“Perhaps it is better that way,” he said. “The shock may have been too much for you if you had recognised me straight away.”

Arsene’s interest was slightly peaked by the unusual gentleman.

“Look, you know, as much I do not wish to be rude,” Arsene said cautiously. “I do not wish to play games. It is late. Please, who are you, and what is it that you want with me that could not wait until the morning?”

The old man smiled once more.

“It’s me boss… Mathieu Flamini… and I want you to travel back in time to save the world.”

 

 

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“Boss? Boss? I am sorry, I knew it would be quite the shock.”

Wenger did not take in the man’s comments at all.

He was dizzy in the head, sweating all over, he thought he might pass out, maybe he had Coronavirus.

“You!” Wenger managed to stammer out. “You can’t be Mathieu, you are older than me. Mathieu is no older than forty!”

“I’m eighty seven years old, boss. I would be thirty-seven in this timeline yes, but-

“In this timeline?!” Arsene spat.

“I’ve come from the future boss, you don’t understand, the year now, it is 2021, yes?”

“Of course it is,” Wenger replied nonchalantly.

“I have come from the year 2061, boss. You must believe me!”

Arsene laughed.

“That is impossible.”

“Nothing is impossible, boss, don’t you remember? That’s what you told me, in your office, when you wanted me to play left back in our Champions League run, I told you it was impossible, we would never make it to the final with me at left back, but you told me nothing was impossible, and we did.”

Wenger was not laughing anymore.

“Look, I don’t know who you are, if Mathieu thinks this is some funny kind of game to play on me, but I want you to leave. This is not funny. Please, leave.”

The old man looked deeply saddened.

“It’s not a game, boss,” he said in a pleading kind of voice. “It’s a matter of life or death, for the entire world. You don’t understand. The world I’ve come back from… it’s a disaster. My company… we tried to save it… we have tried to save the world, but it’s falling apart. We must go back… I have managed to build a time machine, in this timeline my company is the biggest in the world, I am the world’s richest man, you would not believe the resources we had access to, I have managed to build a time machine… it can take four people back to the year 1990… with one mission, to save the world… and I want you to be one of them, boss.”

Arsene huffed.

“For argument’s sake, say I believe you, which I don’t, but say I do, what could I possibly offer you in this scenario? If you want to save the world, as you say, what use am I as a seventy one year old retired football manager? How can that help you? It is laughable.”

The man professing to be Flamini began to cry.

“But don’t you see? Football was all part of the problem. Too much money in the game. Too much greed. Corruption. Countries all over Europe went into recession as football clubs were bailed out after the pandemic. Clubs owned by oil states and countries for soft power, what was their end goal? Just for soft power? Or real power? You would not believe the things that happened even if I told you. The initial Super League plans were just the beginning. Everything went to hell – but with your help, we can stop it all. We can stop massive money going into football – cut out the greed – stop the TV deals to the Premier League, hell, we can stop the Premier League ever happening full stop! I can take you back to the year 1990, that’s where we will go, we will start again – and you will be at the centre of it. You can become the most respected man in football, more than Sir Alex and Pep at their peak, you could change everything – not just football, but politics too, but I can sort that out in the background too, you won’t have to get too involved, but some stuff like putting pressure on governments to stop wet markets wouldn’t go a miss and also-”

Wenger barely took in most of what the lunatic was saying. Whoever he was, he needed some help.

“What exactly would I do in this scenario? As I said, I am an old man. I am not much use.”

“But you don’t understand!” the old man relented. “I have the power to flick a switch and when you go back in time you can return your mind to your original body, instead of the body from the other timeline, like I am now. I want to put you in your original body in the year 1990 – you will become Arsenal manager in the year 1990 instead, then for the next 30 years you will create the greatest dynasty that English football, or indeed any country in football, has ever seen! The only reason I am an old man as you see me now is because once you choose to return to your other body in another timeline there is no going back. I had to keep this body, in-case, in-case you said no, and I had to go back.”

The greatest dynasty that football had ever seen, eh?

Chance would be a fine thing, Arsene thought to himself.

“I don’t know where you have come from tonight, my friend, but I think you should very much go back, I think you are deeply disturbed and whilst you have my pity, I cannot play along with this nonsense anymore-

“If you don’t believe me… if you really don’t believe me… take my hand, right now.”

Wenger got off from his chair and took a step back.

“Look, I mean you no offence, but you know, the virus, the pandemic, I err, I don’t think I should take the hand of a stranger and-

“Please… just for one moment, if you remain in this very room then I will leave you and never bother you again… if what I tell you is true you will touch my hand and be transported instantly to the year 1990… please, just try it.”

Wenger thought this man belonged in an asylum, but if touching his hand for a mere second was enough to get him to go away, maybe it was worth it.

“Very well,” Wenger relented as he reached for the man’s hand. “But what you are saying is impossible, time-travel is not-

 

 

 

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“This is impossible,” Arsene raged. “This is not possible!”

But the newspapers in the hotel lobby all confirmed it.

The elderly man professing to be Mathieu Flamini seemingly had genuinely taken them back thirty one years, to May of 1990.

“You are really Mathieu? Flamini, my boy, what happened to you? You are so old.”

Flamini laughed.

“Time is a cruel mistress, boss. Come on, I have two men that I want you to meet, the other two men who have already agreed to join us here in 1990 changing the world.”

Mathieu led them to another part of the hotel.

Who on earth had he possibly recruited for such a mission?

They must be more useful than a mere football manager, surely, perhaps a highly trained security operative, maybe a spy capable of infiltrating or toppling governments or even just a really great money man to help build up resources.

Flamini opened the door to what looked like one of the more executive suites in the hotel, in the year 1990 of course.

“Wotcher, Arsene? How ya doin’ me old mate?”

Wenger could not believe his eyes or ears.

The man standing before him was not a highly trained security operative, or a spy capable of infiltrating or toppling governments – and he was possibly the worst person with money that he had ever come across in his life.

It was Harry Redknapp.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

“You see, I never spoke much to Mathieu really, don’t get me wrong, t’riffic player on his day, t’riffic, tried to sign him at QPR actually on a free before you got him Arsene. Course he was never signing for us after you went after him, but no, never spoke to him much, then what do you know out of the blue I get an elderly chap turn up at me gaff wanting to speak to me. I thought, bloody hell, they’re trying to get me on that bloody Strictly again, maybe ten-fifteen years ago, but not at my age, can’t be doing all that dancing with my knees… but what do you know, it’s a time-travelling Mathieu Flamini offering me the chance to go back to the year 1990 and do it all different – what a story, eh! Classic. Definitely one for the grandkids, eh Arsene?”

Arsene hadn’t been paying much attention to Harry Redknapp as he’d waffled on for the last five minutes. It was still a lot to take in.

“What is Harry’s role in this mission, Mathieu? I thought you wanted me to establish a dynasty at Arsenal, but if Harry too is managing then-

“I’m always managing, Arsene!” Redknapp laughed, smashing his knee as he enjoyed his own joke.

“Mister Redknapp has agreed he will not be managing at club level, boss, there is a different plan for him.”

Wenger muled it over in his mind, then it suddenly clicked.

“You see, Arsene,” Redknapp began excitedly. “My biggest regret was never getting the big job. Not United, not Liverpool, not Chelsea – England. That’s the job I always wanted. Never forgive them for giving it Roy Hodgson instead of me, what’d he end up doing? Going out to Iceland? Embarrassing. You see, in this timeline I’m going to replace Sir Bobby in 1990 and create a dynasty of my own. Mathieu sold it to me lovely he did, you see I’ll have all the cheat sheets won’t I? I know what players to pick, who the opposition managers will pick and play, what formations and what not. I’ll probably be able to win multiple tournaments – I’ll be bigger than Sir Alf Ramsay. They’ll give me a knighthood I reckon, and I can get me boy Jamie in the team too, he only got 17 caps for England! 17, can you believe that? Nonsense. I’ll get him triple figures, Jamie and his cousin Frank in midfield, corr, Jules Rimet still gleaming on that I tell you!”

Arsene wondered just how long Redknapp would last as England manager if he persisted with his son in the team, well, if his son could even stay fit and regularly be part of any team that was.

“I don’t understand though, Mathieu, how does this help your mission? The English national team being a success, how does this help at all?”

Mathieu frowned.

“It was not my idea, boss. I never planned for it. I never really wanted it. I don’t care how the England national team does. But you see, for this mission to work, we need a fourth person we can trust. We needed someone to buy out Arsenal Football Club, to help fund the FA, to be the face of all of this – and the most important thing was that it had to be someone who did not exist in the original timeline yet. Someone completely new. Someone that was born after the year 1990. And he had to be English – I knew the FA, and the Arsenal board in the early 90’s, they would be resistant to foreigners. We’d have to get an Englishman to buy the club and only with his say would they hire you as manager. And the only man, the only friend I should say, who fit all of this, who I could rely on, who I could trust more than anybody else in the world – that was his only condition for coming on the mission.”

“What condition?”

“That he wanted Football to Come Home. To England. He wanted not just Arsenal to be the greatest club, but England the greatest country in the footballing world. He said that was part of the deal, and so, reluctantly, I said, yes.”

Wenger heard a boisterous voice coming from inside the toilet, just after a flush.

The sound of a familiar song.

The sound of a familiar voice.

“Oh, God, not this again,” Redknapp raged in an annoyed tone. “I tell you Mathieu, I tell you Mathieu if you don’t get this lad to pack it in with this crap I won’t come! Triffic little player on his day, and I know he hand picked me for this, but this anti-Tottenham stuff has to stop!”

The toilet door opened, and a man in his thirties, with a bucket hat sat on his head emerged with a half drank can of Stella Artois in his hand.

“WHAT DO YOU THINK OF TOTTENHAM?!??!?!?”

It was Jack Wilshere.

“S***,” Wenger sighed.

 

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So, what is this save all about then? 

 

I have downloaded an FM21 Retro Database which starts off in the season 1990/91, which they have programmed to churn out real life "regens" of real players up to the year 2020/21. In the save itself the real dates are in play, so it will start 30 years ahead of what it actually is, but in all references to dates in the thread I will use the retro dates instead. 

The database can't override the Euros/World Cups in terms of where they will be hosted on the game, but all references to the thread will be to the original tournaments, i.e - Italia 90 etc, albeit Italia 90 will have already taken place from when we get kicked off. 

There are also a few other minor things like the format of the European Cup and UEFA Cup, as well as the World Cup and European Championships which unfortunately cannot be changed either, however I have a way to work-around this at least in story-line wise of the save, so I'm hoping we can look past that and still enjoy the retro database for what it is and is trying to be. Another small quirk is that for the first season the European competitions have the teams who qualified for the 2020/21 competitions, but I plan to work around that again by not focusing on that massively in the first season and again, I have a storyline work around to try and make the majority of it believable in the context at least of Arsenal's season.

In terms of the international tournaments I will present them entirely as the original tournaments and in the "right" time in terms of the seasons, but as the dates don't completely match up due to going 30 years back, I will have usually played the tournaments a year or two in advance of them actually happening in contrast to the domestic season. "Euro 2020/21" taking place at the end of the first season is actually ideal as it means I can always be "ahead" and have tournaments ready to go by the end of the season they're meant to take place in. 

I'm led to believe that whilst a lot of regens come through are genuine players, they can't over ride "legit" regens coming through too, so what I plan to do is after each annual intake I will have a quick browse at the players with the highest PAs that are obviously not real players and effectively "nerf" them so they won't come to any prominent positions in the game and ruin the suspension of disbelief. Inevitably, in doing this I might glimpse the PAs of some of the "real" players that I can use, which isn't ideal, but from what I'm led to believe I essentially already have a cheat-sheet anyway as the majority of the real players coming through will have very similar potential ability to real life, so if I wanted to go super nuts I know who to sign anyway. 

I don't want the save to be a complete whitewash of 30 years of Arsenal dominance just signing all of the best players of all time etc, as I don't think that would be particularly entertaining, I want to try to re-play it with some degree of what Wenger might do if he could do it again, which will include trying to sign some of the Arsenal legends of the 30 years like Wright, Bergkamp, Henry, Vieira, Pires etc, but also towards the latter stage of his career correcting some of the wrong signings. I think some players will be very hard to sign as well, like Sol Campbell for example, so we will see how close to real life I can actually make it, as I might get some players who do start at the club or come through the youth system demand a move. 

I won't use or sign any regens that aren't real players and say between 1990-2005 I want to keep it very close or as close as I can to the original timeline in terms of the Arsenal team, with some changes, but hopefully the core of the original squads involved for most of it with maybe some additions along the way. 

For the England part of the save I will only use "real players" as well, I'm guessing some will have different career trajectories so it probably won't be the same players and squads of the real timeline, but it will be interesting to see how close to real life it ends up being, with added Jamie Redknapp and maybe a few other Harry Redknapp biases for storyline purposes. 

I don't think this save will be for everyone but I had the idea after seeing the database and thought it would be a fun little detour to have on FM, I didn't think of doing a thread for it at first, but as the idea went further in my head and I had the storyline ideas for it I thought I'd try and flesh it out and if a few people on here come along for the ride with me then all the better!

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“So it is agreed,” Mathieu said to the group of misfits. “We go back on this date, 23rd May, to the year 1990, that is enough time for Jack to buy Arsenal, Harry to get in on the England job after Bobby Robson leaves in the summer, and for Arsene to come in as new Arsenal manager.”

“I can save my mate Brian too, from that car crash,” Redknapp said solemnly. “That was part of the reason I wanted to go back too. That horrible car crash in Rome, I can stop it, save Brian, it will be the one bit of real good I do with this whole thing.”

“Excellent,” Mathieu said. “I will return to my young body, with all my thoughts and memories of now, I will aim to become a child protégé and-

“You mean like Young Sheldon?” Jack Wilshere piped up. “Love that show!”

“Yes, maybe,” Flamini said, somewhat annoyed at the interruption.

“More like that Greta Thunberg,” Redknapp added.

“Either way, I will contact you all to some extent, but obviously as a young child it will be difficult to do too regularly or in person. You know your mission. You must just remember The Butterfly Effect. Of course we are going back to change the world, so things will change, but don’t expect everything to happen as usual when we are making changes. Even little changes can have big ramifications. Be careful with what you do - and remember, to be absolutely sure it is your 2021 selves and not your 1990 selves, it must be you who contact Jack first, you have the 1990 landline number to contact him on memorised, you must contact him as soon as you wake up, if you do not contact him on May 23rd, i.e - today - Jack will know something has gone very wrong indeed.”

Wenger was slightly worried by Flamini’s last comments.

This was all just some weird wine dream, no?

“Good luck everyone,” Mathieu said finally. “In five minutes you will return to your 1990 bodies with your current minds. You should remember everything we have discussed. Jack of course will stay here in his 2021 body, and mind, to take over Arsenal ready for Arsene to arrive.

“It will be just like old times, boss, except I’ll be your boss now,” Jack beamed. “Don’t worry, I won’t sack you like they did!”

“I was not sacked, Jack!” Arsene spat back. “We left by mutual consent.”

“Corrr and people say I come out with a lot of hot air,” Redknapp joked.

They didn’t speak much between then and the next five minutes, Arsene didn’t remember much of anything at all, he slowly passed out, almost like being put to sleep for a medical operation.

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Arsene awoke.

He got up.

He needed to be sure.

Looking in the mirror after turning the light on it confirmed it.

He was 30 years younger!

He looked out the window.

Monte Carlo!

He was in Monaco.

It had worked!

It was May 1990.

Unbelievable!

He scanned the room for any further proof of this, nothing, but yet, on his bedside table he found a newspaper.

JULY 1ST 1990!

Merde!

It was meant to be May!

What happened?!

He scrambled for the reception phone-line, frantically dialling in the number for his handler, Jack Wilshere.

The abroad tone dialled slowly as the call began to be connected.

“Hello?”

“Jack! Jack it is me, Arsene!”

“Bloody Hell, Arsene! Taken your time, ain’t you? Something went wrong with the time travel business. Harry only got back a few days ago. Or maybe sooner than that, whatever happened he came back after his car accident, couldn’t save his mate and he’s been in hospital in agony – he’s not happy at all – threatened to go rogue and call the whole thing off – wanted to go back – I told him that weren’t possible.”

“Okay, but what about me, and Arsenal? Is it too late? Can you still make me manager in time for this season?”

“Already have, Arsene,” Jack confirmed. “You’ll start as soon as you can get to London. I sacked George Graham weeks ago, said he’d been involved in all sorts of dodgy business with a foreign agent, I don’t think the real dodgy stuff happened until 1992, but oh well, George looked guilty enough, maybe he had some other dodgy dealings we didn’t know about. But yeah, get a move on, boss, we’ve got a transfer window to complete!”

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*RING RING* *RING RING*

Arsene answered the phone in the office at Highbury.

“Hello?”

“Alright boss, or should I say I’m your boss now aren’t I, ha-ha!”

“That is very funny, Jack. What do you want?”

Arsene was not in the mood for Wilshere’s banter.

“You best turn on the radio quick. It’s one of Harry Redknapp’s first press conferences as England manager. I’m afraid he’s gone rogue after all.”

“Bloody hell,” Wenger sighed as he turned on the radio..

 

“So Harry, you’ve already told us that the crash was what triggered you to decide to go all out for the England role as that was always your dream job… you’ve given us some indication into the sorts of players and tactics you’ll be looking at using hopefully going into the European Championship in two years time, but what are your thoughts on UEFA discussing increasing the European Championship tournament from 8 teams to 16? Rumour has it that won’t come in until Euro 96, which, should you still be manager will be a home tournament, but is 16 too many, or is 8 enough?”

“Well, let me tell you,” Redknapp began. “It’s a fantastic summer tournament. T’riffic tournament. Course 16 is better, course it is. I believe, it is my genuine hope and dream that as many of these European sides get to play in the tournaments as possible – the World Cup we have 32 already don’t we?”

“Well, not yet-

“Oh, yeah! Not in Italia 90 just gone no, but FIFA have already decided 32 for the American one in 94 ain’t they? And look, 32, that’s fantastic, brilliant… I mean with the World Cup why stop there? I think 32 is fine, great, yeah, but there’s so many countries in the world these days, why not have 48? Keep them all happy. And so, when you say 16 is good for the European Championships? I’d say no, I’d say go higher, go up to 24. 24 teams is a lovely number, just under half of Europe, and look we all want football in Europe to go up a notch, that’s the way to do it.”

“Well, err, quite radical proposals from you Harry. UEFA of course quite busy with the revamp of the European Cup and the UEFA Cup, all of the English sides still banned until next season, but in 91/92 they’re talking about bringing in a group stage, what do you think about that?”

Redknapp smiled.

“UEFA has a responsibility to make European football as exciting as possible. They could have it fantastic. Why just have the winners of each league? There’s 3 or 4 top top teams in Italy, Spain, England, France, Germany, and top sides out there in Holland, Portugal and all over Europe, isn’t there? Let’s open it up. Let’s have a 32 team group stage, but before that have qualifiers so all the teams from all Europe can try and make it. Let the top 4 ranked sides in Europe have 3 or 4 teams enter. Expand the UEFA Cup too, have a group stage in that, let the Champions – European Cup rather, let the European Cup sides who get knocked out go into that after if they come 3rd in a group or whatever. It’s all triffic stuff. The kids will love it.”

Arsene Wenger looked at the radio in horrified shock.

What was Redknapp doing?!

He could potentially cause the evolution of football to speed up – not slow down!

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7ef972ed106b6f146b7281ecf2fbbb63.png
 

 

Arsene had arrived and in an understated press conference he played down comments made by the new England manager about crazy expansions to international tournaments and competitions. 

He arrived at the training ground and found many a player that he he recognized.

The Famous Back Five of Seaman, Bould, Adams, Winterburn and Dixon. 

A young Ray Parlour and Paul Merson. 

He popped round to the youth team and found exactly who he was looking for. 

After making conversation with him for a while and doing his best to strike up an initial bond, he asked his old right hand man, Pat Rice, to be the new Assistant Manager. Pat was a bit taken aback by this but seemed generally happy about the idea. 

He'd made a call to get good old Boro Primorac in as well. The boys were well and truly back together. 

Arsene had a small tablet device giving him details of all the 1990-2020 squads and stats to try and help him. 

There were a few players at the training ground he didn't really remember or recognize. 

He recognized the late great David Rocastle but he had never managed him or even seem him alive during his original spell at the club. 

Michael Thomas, Paul David, Alan Smith and Kevin Campbell were all players he recognized that had been and gone at the club by the time he had gotten on the scene. 

He was surprised to see and be introduced to an extremely young and spotty 17 year old Paul Dickov, who he hadn't remembered had come through the ranks at Highbury.

But he was even more surprised to find a teenage Andy Cole, of Newcastle and Man United fame. Arsenal had let him go as a youngster clearly never realising how good he was going to be. How should he play it with him? 

With the knowledge he had now surely he shouldn't let such a good striker go? But maybe it was only the rejection at Arsenal which had spurred him onto success in the first place!
 

 

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What to do in the transfer window?

Arsene had assessed his squad.

For the most part he was happy with it. 

But still, some improvement wouldn't go a miss. 

Alan Smith was the main striker, but he wanted to play 4-4-2, so he needed 2 strikers he could rely on. Kevin Campbell was only 20, Andy Cole 18, Dickov 17. 

He'd like to loan out Andy Cole, perhaps to the 2nd Division, to see what he was made of. 

But then that would mean getting a striker in. 

He looked at his notes

It was in 1991/92 that Arsenal had bought Ian Wright from Crystal Palace for just over £2M. 

Perhaps he could sign him a year earlier. 

Defensively he was satisfied for the most part. 

Andy Linighan, who was only signed that same summer, was already listed to leave for Napoli in Italy. Jack Wilshere had claimed this was the transfer that George Graham took a bung for, so Linighan had swiftly been banned from English football for a year, so would have to leave abroad if he was to play any football that year. 

Gus Caesar was sold to Celtic for just over half a million, but even with him leaving Arsene felt he had another defensive cover with David O'Leary still in the squad. 

The problem was more at left back. Winterburn was a fine player, but he had no real back-up option to push him or cover in the case of an injury. 

Arsene struggled to think who he could sign though. 

Left wing was a problem also.

They had Paul Merson as a fine first choice for a few seasons, but Perry Groves worried Arsene as under-study. He had to match George Graham's title win this season, he would feel more confident with a hungry young player as back-up to Merson. 

But who could he sign? 

He had put feelers out to Ajax for a young Marc Overmars but they had laughed him off. 

He scoured through his notes looking at left wingers he had signed before. 

Then he saw a name that interested in him. 

Robert Pires had not signed for Arsenal until he was 26 in 2000. 

He would be just a 16 year old boy in this timeline at Metz. Could he sign him?

He was sure Arsenal could convince young Robert to come, but would it work out? 

It had taken Pires as a man a year to adapt to the English game, but what if he had joined as a boy? He would not have to adapt from Ligue 1 style football if he never played in Ligue 1? Maybe he would learn the language sooner, and being in a dressing room with the characters of the 90s, perhaps he could be an even better fit to the English league - maybe even start tracking back and putting in tackles? Perhaps not, but maybe it was worth a try.

He felt he would need a Frenchman in the dressing room to help young Robert adapt though, perhaps he could sign a French left back. Who was a good young French left back? 

Ah, of course, he knew of one. Would it be unfair to sign such a promising young player, knowing that he was going to be so good? 

No, of course not, he had trophies to win!

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Andy Cole leaves on loan, with Gus Ceasar and Andy Linighan also departing. The other players who leave for less money are just random newgens other sides wanted. 

 

Michael Thomas and Paul Merson come in through the youth system, with 3 proper transfers.

The big one being Ian Wright for £2.2M, possibly rising to £2.8M

Wenger also brings in hot young French full-back Bixente Lizarazu from Bordeaux, with 16 year old Robert Pires also joining from Metz. 

 

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Let me know if there's any other players you want to see!


 

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Harry Redknapp was exhausted. 

He'd already had Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool manager, asking him about plans for upcoming Euro 92 qualifiers and how involved John Barnes would be. Of course he was going to be heavily involved, it was John Barnes. Dalglish told him he needed Barnes fit to win the league, Harry had confidently told him Liverpool wouldn't win the league for another 30 years if they didn't get on top of the foreign market before everyone else. 

He'd had Fergie on the phone asking if Steve Bruce would finally get a call-up under his tenure. Harry said he'd think about it and that Fergie should get himself another striker if he wanted to do anything serious this season in the league. 

"Hello, who is it?"

"It's me, Mr Redknapp, John Scales."

"Oh right, yeah, alright son, what's up?"

"It's just, I want to know if I'm likely to get a call-up for England under you. I've always wanted to play for me country but never had a chance."

"John Scales for England? Well, I don't know about that, we've got some top players at centre back, Terry Butcher, Des Walker, Tony Adams, hard to really see you getting a chance whilst you're at Wimbledon. I mean, come on John, you think you'll get a look in for England whilst at the crazy gang. Tell you what you want to do son, get out of there, get a move to a big club, then I'll think about it."

 

3 weeks later at the end of the transfer window... 

 

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A world-wide view saw Barcelona fairly active, getting in Juan Senor from Deportivo in the biggest transfer of the window, alongside John Scales and at the moment you can see a quite young Romario too. 

Bayern take Jonny Otten and Uwe Rahn in a raid on their fellow German clubs, whilst Gerald Vanenburg leaves PSV for Juventus. 

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At the half-way stage in the 1990/91 season, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal side lead, but not by much, with Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool side just a point and goal difference behind them. Alex Ferguson's Man United are only 3 points adrift, with Don Howe's Queens Park Rangers also well up there and in contention.

In the first season of 3 relegations in the First Division, it looks like Sheffield United will almost certainly go down, with Palace and Derby currently in contention to join them. Derby went down in the original timeline, but Palace came 3rd! So a real drop off for them - Ian Wright clearly made all the difference!

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I echo the above sentiments - with my ‘knowledge’ starting in the mid to late 90s, I’m excited to see where this goes!

However, what gets me most is how this mod works. I can’t believe that someone has stumbled on something so incredible and can’t wait to see how different clubs’ intakes pan out - class of 92, La Masia in full swing, etc.

Lovely read, as always, so far!

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Holy-guacamole! Reddnapp as England manager?! Crazy in that season.

I can see the Spice boys already having a European flair instead. Maybe they’ll ditch those white suits...?

Next please :D

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Real Timeline: 

 

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Crystal Palace the biggest shocker, 3rd in the real timeline, but without Ian Wright, they get relegated with the extra team going down in the new timeline. 

QPR doing a lot better to get 3rd instead of 12th.

But the real shocker is Alex Ferguson's Man United storming to their first title 2 years early, winning on goal difference largely thanks to having a much better defensive record than Wenger's Arsenal. 

 

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Real Timeline:

FA Cup Semis and League Cup 4th Round

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The magic of the cup saw Second Division side Ipswich Town win the final on penalties against Liverpool. 

 

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The 2nd Division saw Newcastle as winners, returning to the top flight with Leicester City and Ipswich Town, who with their cup win will also be in Europe next season.

 

 

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Bournemouth, Tranmere and Fulham are promoted to the 2nd flight. 

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Not gonna go too nuts on the European Cup/UEFA Cup as the wrong teams were in it so kind of kills the realism of the initial season, but the winners were: 

 

European Cup: 

Real Madrid, beating Bayern Munich in the final

UEFA Cup: 

Borussia Dortmund, beating Real Sociedad in the final

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Press: Well, Arsene, a decent first season at Highbury for you, many Arsenal fans will be happy in your debut season you came so close to the title, but some are saying you lost on goal difference due to, at times, playing naively away from home. With such a strong defence, is it fair to say under George Graham perhaps your side could have done better and won the title? 

Wenger: No, no, look, well, I think yes at times away from home we have played little bit with the handbrake off, in second gear instead of forth or fifth gear, but offensively I think we have played very, very well and to score as many goals as Ian Wright has done, and to not have your side win the title is very unlucky. Look when you go into your last game of the season able to win the title, I think you have had a very good season. Two years ago Arsenal won the title on the last day at Anfield, I think this year if results had gone our way in the Man United game we win the title at Villa Park on the last day, so I think, overall, we have done well, yes for sure next season we have room to improve, but overall we have had a decent season, ultimately disappointing, we congratulate Alex Ferguson and Manchester United of course, but next season it is all to play for and we will see what happens. 

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23 hours ago, PaulHartman71 said:

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The magic of the cup saw Second Division side Ipswich Town win the final on penalties against Liverpool.

Heck yes!

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---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Season      Club                  League                Position           Achievements/Other
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1990/91     Arsenal FC            First Division          2nd              N/A
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Arsenal's Trophy Cabinet in the Original Timeline: 

 

First Division/Premier League - x4 (1990/91, 1997/98, 2001/02 & 2003/04) 

FA Cup                        - x9 (1992-93, 1997/98, 2001/2, 2002/03, 2004/05, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2016/17 & 2019/20) 

League Cup                    - x1 (1992/93)

Charity/Community Shield      - x9 (1991/92, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2002/03, 2004/05, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2017/20 & 2020/21)

UEFA Cup Winners Cup          - x1 (1993/94)

 

 

Trophy Cabinet in New Timeline:

 

Empty

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It was defensive and midfield depth that Arsene Wenger prioritised in the summer of 1991, with Colin Pates leaving for Luton Town for just under £2M and Michael Thomas leaving for QPR for over £4M, a right back, centre back and central midfielder were all on the cards. 

With not a massive budget to work with Mr Wenger had to be careful with who he signed, so he opted for young French talent who he knew would come good. 

He debated going in for his old friend Gilles Grimandi, but when Marcel Desailly was available at a similar price, it was a no brainer to take Marcel instead. A right back was needed and who better than a young Lilian Thuram from his old Monaco side? And finally, with a central midfielder of the defensive variety needed, who better than the man who would go on to make the defensive midfield position named after him? 

 

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The highlight of the window was no doubt Real Madrid breaking the World transfer record to sign Paul Gascoigne from Spurs for £10M, egged on by England manager Harry Redknapp, keen to avoid his triffic talent from succumbing to similar demons and behaviour problems in the original timeline, he advised Paul to join John Toshack at Real Madrid. 

Elsewhere, Gary Lineker followed his England team-mate out of Spurs, opting to leave for Inter Milan and a return to Champions League football. Trevor Steven left Rangers for Liverpool, whilst Jurgen Klinsmann, perhaps not needed as much with Lineker's arrival, joined French champions Monaco for just under £10M. 

I had to google who Danny Williamson even was, but it seemed he was a very highly rated young midfielder at West Ham who had his career ruined by many injuries. Newcastle will be hoping he doesn't succumb to the same injuries this time around, as they've blown £9.5M on him, which given some of the players available this summer seems pretty bad business unless he stays fit and reaches his true potential. 

Eric Cantona joins Man United a year early and having skipped Leeds United, with the Frenchman signing from Marseille for £9.5M. Liverpool spent the same amount on highly rated English midfielder David Platt, who in this timeline stays in England rather than moving to Serie A. Another player joining Serie A is experienced Dutch defender Danny Blind, who joins Roma from Ajax. 

Ajax soon spent the money on a replacement though, signing Anto Drobnjak from rivals PSV. 

A massive change compared to the original timeline sees a young Alan Shearer join Liverpool, which could have huge ramifications for the future of both Shearer, Liverpool and Newcastle, with no Blackburn tycoon title bid looking like it will be on the cards either. Didier Deschamps joins Marseille from Nantes, whilst Christophe Duggary joins AC Milan from Bordeaux. Roberto Mancini swaps Sampdoria for Lazio - and Paolo Di Canio leaves Juventus for Fiorentina. 

Main other big move saw a young Jaap Stam leave PSV for Juventus for £5M. 

 

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A few more First Division transfers for interest: 

Main ones seeing Bebeto leave Deportivo La Coruna for Everton and Brian McClair leaving United for Celtic. Anthony Yeboah joins Leeds from Frankfurt. 

Julian Dicks also left West Ham for Leeds in a £1.9M move.

 

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Paul Dickov was loaned out by Wenger's Arsenal to Rangers, with Andy Cole coming back from a year at West Ham in the Second Division and looking like he could be a real asset to Arsenal instead of Newcastle and Man United in this timeline. He was set to fight it out with Ian Wright, Alan Smith and Kevin Campbell for the striker position this season, but in pre-season he did his cruciate ligaments and will miss the entire season - Paul Dickov was swiftly called back from loan, just 5 days after departing for Ibrox :D 

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Posted (edited)

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The first "proper" European Cup with teams who actually qualified based on the in-game league positions and qualifiers. 

AC Milan arguably the best team around at the moment so they're a very difficult side to be in there with, although Werder Bremen and Steaua Bucharest should be sides that Wenger's Arsenal can navigate past. 

Real Madrid have added Paul Gascoingne in their bid to retain, but there's a lot of strong sides out there, including last year's finalists, Bayern Munich. Man United and Liverpool will be in the conversation, as will be Barcelona with Stoichkov, Koeman and Michael Laudrup. Monaco could be a dark horse, with Inter Milan, Marseille and Juventus also boasting strong squads, whilst Ajax have a young squad filled with quality too.

Edited by PaulHartman71
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9 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Shearer at Liverpool? Owen, Fowler, who else will be around. That’s some line-up if it comes out like that!


Yeah, Ian Rush in his prime, a 21 year old Shearer, just had a 16 year old Robbie Fowler come though and have also I just noticed have hilariously signed Duncan Ferguson too :D 

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1 hour ago, PaulHartman71 said:


Yeah, Ian Rush in his prime, a 21 year old Shearer, just had a 16 year old Robbie Fowler come though and have also I just noticed have hilariously signed Duncan Ferguson too :D 

Duncan Ferguson! That is hilarious :lol:

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So far, so good in the League Cup, we're in the Semi Final with Leeds up next. 

 

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Half-way into the First Division season of 91/92 and Wenger's Arsenal are top at Christmas once again, with Fergie's Man United hot on their tail with a superior goal difference once again. 

Norwich have been the surprise package this season, with Chris Sutton's goals helping to fire them to 3rd so far, whether they can keep onto that position is anyone's guess but a great start all the same. Tottenham despite losing their best players in Gazza and Lineker have managed to get into 4th so far, with both Southampton and Chelsea currently ahead of a Liverpool side in 7th who have been poor so far given the squad they have at their disposal. QPR, who came Top 4 last season, slumped to 9th but could well get back up there, with Newcastle and Forest in the fight for Europe too. 

Wimbledon having a noticeably bad season, looking doomed to go down having picked up no wins in 19 goes, with Ipswich and Man City looking in a precarious position too. 

 

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Vicente Cantatore only joined Everton in the summer but he was soon sacked for poor performance, with Howard Wilkinson joining to take-over just weeks after getting sacked on the same day as Vicente by Leeds. Leeds replaced Wilkinson with former Liverpool gaffer Kenny Dalglish, whilst it's Brian Clough, sacked by Forest last season, who has taken the impossible job on at The Crazy Gang.

 

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About as good as we could've hoped for in that group, I'm glad we didn't lose both games against AC Milan at least, with substitute Paul Dickov providing a brace after going 2-0 down at Highbury. Milan have an impressive record, helped largely by smashing Steaua 13-0 at the San Siro :D 

 

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Elsewhere, the big shock in Group A saw Real Madrid and Monaco go out to the unfancied QPR and Kaiserslautern. QPR not had a great season in the league, perhaps the Champions League was a bit of a distraction, but fair play to them for finishing top of that group and having a right go. Real Madrid sink to the UEFA Cup after winning last year's Champions League. 

Liverpool and Ajax through in what is no surprise in Group B, with Roma and an impressive Red Star through in Group B. 

 

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Inter Milan going out in Group E was a bit of a surprise, with a perhaps unfancied Stuttgart side going through at their expense. 

Porto and Bayern going through more or less expected in Group F. 

Juve getting dumped out in Group G a bit of a surprise, although PSV are a strong side so perhaps not as big a shock in 1991/92 as it may have been in later decades. 

Finally, in a fairly mixed group with no clear favorite Valldolid and Dinamo Moscow dump out a hapless Marseille side, which helped see manager Franz Beckenbauer sacked from the job and replaced by Jacques Santini.

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Not a bad draw for us with Porto to play in the Round of 16. 

Milan/Ajax probably the highlight of the draw in a clash that could quite easily have been a heavyweight Semi or even Final proper.

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The January window of 1992 saw a hell of a lot of action. 

Barcelona, who had a quiet summer, decided to go on a bit of a rampage, as they grab a 19 year old Luis Figo for £10.5M, a 21 year old Frank De Boer for £9.75M and then Brazilian left back Branco for £6.25M, before rounding the window up with young central midfielder Javi Gracia from Bilbao. 

The biggest transfer of the window saw Gianfranco Zola leave Napoli for Inter Milan, in a £12.5M move - in the original timeline he'd eventually sign for Parma, but where there seems to be no bank-rolled Serie A Parma in this timeline, it was perhaps inevitable he'd join one of the other big Italian sides instead. Elsewhere in Italy, Roma spend £11.75M to bring in Alberto Malusci. Napoli seemed to spend most of the Zola money on a player who in the original timeline would end up linking up with Zola at Chelsea, as they pay £8.25M, with potential add-ons, to prize a young Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank away from AZ. 

Real Madrid made a few big moves, as they spend £12M on Luis Enrique and £7M on Gheorge Hagi, who had a brief spell at Everton. Everton themselves were quick to reinvest this money, signing a young Chris Sutton from high-flying Norwich, Sutton originally went to Blackburn, who are still only in the Second Division. Everton capped off the window by adding Adolfo Valencia from Real Betis. 

Other highlights saw experienced right back Paul Parker swap QPR for Anfield and Liverpool, whilst a young Chris Powell joins Derby County in an expensive £7M move. Gary Stevens leaves Rangers as another Scottish player joins Alex Ferguson's current reigning champions, with David Kerslake going the other way to Ibrox. 

Finally, the eagle eyed will have spotted a young Cafu leaving Zaragoza for AC Milan. 

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I love these transfer windows, as you never know who’s going where. I noticed Cafu, wondered who Paul Parker was, surprised Javi Gracia moved from Bilbao. Didn’t recognise Bayern’s signing (Laslandes) either! Hagi to Madrid from Everton is fun.

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13 minutes ago, Sonic Youth said:

I love these transfer windows, as you never know who’s going where. I noticed Cafu, wondered who Paul Parker was, surprised Javi Gracia moved from Bilbao. Didn’t recognise Bayern’s signing (Laslandes) either! Hagi to Madrid from Everton is fun.


Yeah I had to Google Laslandes, looks like he was a half decent Ligue 1 striker for much of his career. Maybe in this save he will go on to bigger things at Bayern!

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