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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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We won the League Cup eventually beating West Ham 2-1 after an exciting couple of legs with Everton in the Semi Final.

 

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Some very high scoring games in the latter stages of the FA Cup, unfortunately Graeme Souness' Liverpool side beat us 5-3 in the final to prevent a domestic treble which would've been nice especially on the anniversary of United doing their own treble in the original timeline. 

Could Wenger finally get a European Cup though...? 

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We narrowly got past Roma in the Round of 16, with Edgar Davids' fine strike in Rome the only difference between us. 

 

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We then faced Juventus in the Quarter Finals, a tough test and to be honest I'm not sure we would've gone through had Jaap Stam not lost his head and got a red for a stupid tackle in the second half of the away leg. Ray Parlour's late 2nd away goal proved crucial for us as we went through on away goals after Henry and Del Piero both scored at the JVC Stadium in the home leg. 

 

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Ajax are no mugs, they won the thing 2 seasons ago and bettered us in the group stage, but we got past them thanks to an excellent win in the home tie, with former Ajax man Dennis Bergkamp grabbing a brace. 

 

That set up a debut final in the European Cup in this timeline for Arsene Wenger. In his only ever final in the original timeline he was bettered by Barcelona, in the final this time? 

Yep, you guessed it, it's last season's winner's - Barcelona.

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Posted (edited)

 

 

At the Stade de France of all places given that was also where Wenger's Arsenal lost their only Champions League final in the original timeline, Wenger looks to right the original wrongs and win the big win against Barcelona... 

 

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Tony Adams missed the final with a thigh injury which was a bit of a bummer. Edgar Davids also a massive miss with an ankle problem. Ashley Cole was chosen over Lizarazu as he'd been better in recent weeks.

 

 

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2 former Arsenal players in Laurent Blanc and Claude Makelele lined up for Barca, whilst former Barca player Bergkamp, our best player all season, of course lines up front against them. 

Despite taking the lead through Bergkamp himself in the first half, it wasn't to be, as the best team in the world proved their worth by coming back to win 3-1 and retain the European Cup trophy.

 

See the source image

 

Edited by PaulHartman71
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We managed to get the best out of Bergkamp this season, he was unplayable, 53 goals and 10 assists in 63 games ffs :D 

 

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Ashley Cole I think will start from next season as he's been in great form. Lizarazu is 30 now so coming towards the end of his prime. 

I think Seaman is unfortunately more or less finished at the top level, he dropped a few bad performances this season and I will have to get a new keeper this summer I think. At 36 he's still lasted longer than I thought he would on FM, even if it is several years less than he managed in real life. 

 

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 Wenger's Career Record

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Season      Club                  League                Position           Achievements/Other
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1990/91     Arsenal FC            First Division          2nd              N/A
1991/92     Arsenal FC            First Division          1st              First Division & League Cup winners
1992/93     Arsenal FC            First Division          3rd              FA Cup & Charity Shield winners
1993/94     Arsenal FC            First Division          2nd              FA Cup & Charity Shield winners
1994/95     Arsenal FC            First Division          1st              First Division, FA Cup & League Cup winners
1995/96     Arsenal FC            First Division          1st              First Division & Charity Shield winners
1996/97     Arsenal FC            First Division          3rd              Charity Shield winners
1997/98     Arsenal FC            First Division          1st              First Division winners
1998/99     Arsenal FC            First Division          2nd              FA Cup & Charity Shield winners
1999/00     Arsenal FC            First Division          1st              First Division & League Cup winners
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

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 the New Timeline

 

First Division             - x5 (1991/92, 1994/95, 1995/96, 1997/98 & 1999/00) 

FA Cup                     - x4 (1992/93, 1993/94, 1994/95 & 1998/99)

League Cup                 - x3 (1991/92, 1994/95 & 1995/96)

Charity Shield             - x5 (1992/93, 1993/94, 1995/96, 1996/97 & 1998/99)

 

 

We've already topped the amount of titles won in the original timeline, which is great, albeit a bit depressing :D 

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Palace, Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday go up to the First Division, with Swindon, Lincoln and Preston North End dropping down. 

 

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Bolton smash the Second Division, with West Brom and Cambridge joining them. 

Whilst Cardiff, Scunthorpe, Northampton and Hartlepool go down.

 

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Meanwhile in Spain, Barca can't make it 3 in a row and Real Madrid with an impressive attack and defence come out on top. 

Valencia and Gijon will join them in the European Cup next season. 

 

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The Europa League was won by John Lyall's West Ham side who beat out the much more fancied Liverpool in the Semi Final to make it to the grand stage where they had another English side, Leeds United to contend with. It would've been mental if Martin O'Neil who only joined Leeds mid-season had managed to get them into the European Cup, and he came close, but in the end it was West Ham who became the 5th English side to make the European Cup next season. 

Could this be the start of something special at West Ham? They certainly have some good young talent kicking around in Frank Lampard, with their youth team boasting the likes of Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick and Joe Cole too. 

 

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You all know what happened in the final already as we lost 3-1 to Barca, but some interesting matches on the way to the final, perhaps most notably the El Classico in the Semi Final that Barcelona won on away goals to even get to the final. 

 

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We got a few more players in this than I was expecting :D 

We let in like 14 goals across the competition so I was pretty staggered that 4 of our 5 defensive players got in it, but I suppose we did keep a few clean sheets :D 

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As we're 10 years in gonna post a few best XIs etc give a run down of what's happened so far. Any teams you particular fancy seeing let me know, obviously keep in mind the less good the team the more likely there are to be random regens not from the original period. 

 

Arsenal:

 

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Man United: 

 

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Liverpool: 

 

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Blackburn: 

 

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Everton: 

 

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West Ham: 

 

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Leicester City: 

 

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Tottenham: 

 

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Leeds: 

 

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Chelsea:

 

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Newcastle: 

 

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Will do a brief summary of some of the top clubs as well, manager history etc. Again if any club/manager etc you're interested in let me know can have a look see what's up: 

 

 

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United have had Alex Ferguson since the start of the save. 4 First Division titles certainly isn't bad going for United, not as many as they would've got in the original timeline, but Ferguson has also won a few FA Cups too. Not won the European Cup yet though. 

 

 

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Certainly in the last 5 seasons of the save Liverpool have arguably been consistently stronger than United, winning the title in 96/97 and being our biggest challenger. I am somewhat surprised that Graeme Souness has kind of been like a Wenger/Ferguson type and could well end up staying there long term too, but he's done alright reaching quite a few finals, winning a few trophies and of course the title in 96/97 which is the big one for them. 

 

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Blackburn Rovers have gone through a bit of a journey to establish themselves arguably as the 4th best side in the league. Didn't even make it to the First Division until 94/95, but since then have looked quite good, even winning the UEFA Conference League in 96/97. They've gone through a few managers in that time, namely Bobby Saxton who was there for most of it, but also in more recent times Big Sam Allardyce and right now they've got always available Alan Curbishley who will take them into the European Cup next season! 

 

Everton haven't really "achieved" anything per se other than a Top 4 finish or two in recent times, but they've not had a bad save by any means. Gone through loads of managers, including Howard Kendall, Howard Wilkinson, George Graham, Graham Taylor, Peter Reid and are currently managed by Don Howe. 

 

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Leicester have had a pretty good time of it, they won the UEFA Cup in 94/95 and got a League Cup win a few years back. Gordon Milne was the man who got them promoted but it was Bobby Ferguson who deserves the most credit for that UEFA Cup win. Graham Taylor won them the League Cup before getting sacked at the start of this season, where club legend Gary Lineker took over and for him his main achievement so far has been keeping them from relegation which I'm sure he'll be hoping to build on next year. 

 

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Spurs haven't had the best time of it really :D 

Terry Venables was there for 4 years and did alright but they couldn't really press on too much. Since then they've had Chris Nicholl, Kevin Keegan, Rafa Benitez and even Sven-Goran Eriksson and still not got anywhere really. Graham Taylor's there now so let's see how he gets on with them. 

 

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West Ham have done alright too. John Lyall has been there the whole time, helped them go up and has since added a League Cup and the UEFA Cup this summer to the trophy cabinet, meaning they'll be in the European Cup next year too. 

 

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Leeds have done okay, came very close to the European Cup next summer, losing in the UEFA Cup final to West Ham this season. Gone through a fair few managers over that time, namely Howard Wilkinson, Kenny Dalglish, Bobby Robson, Terry Venables and they're currently managed by Martin O'Neil. 

 

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Chelsea haven't had a great time of it, obviously going down in 94/95. Came straight back up but they've not really challenged for Top 4 at all since then. Could do with a tycoon takeover :D 

They've gone through Graham Turner, David Pleat, Don Howe, Graham Taylor, Gerard Houllier and currently have Mick McCarthy in charge. 

 

 

 

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So much information :eek:

A few things I noticed:

Not as many players as I would have thought scored over 100 premier league goals, or near 80 goals for their national team as well and.

Interesting how many players have 100+ caps :stop:

Is it prerequisite to be promoted into the Prem for winning the UEFA Cup? :lock:

Bergkamp is universally loved by the looks of his inclusion in multiple teams :lol:

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Juventus been arguably the most successful side in the entire game so far, they sacked Luigi Maifredi after 1 season and have had Guus Hiddink in charge ever since who has obviously been very successful for them. 

 

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AC Milan have been very good too, started off the dominant side in Italy but are still right up there domestically and in Europe, with Arrigo Sacchi at the helm the entire time. 

 

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Inter Milan have been not much more than a Cup side really, although they did win the UEFA Cup recently. They had Giovanni Trapatonni as manager the entire time, although for some reason this summer he resigned as manager, took the Director of Football job and they've hired Kenny Dalglish?! :D 

 

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Roma not had a great time of it, only a UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Italian Cup to their name in 10 years. They had Ottavio Bianchi for the first two seasons, since then they've had Fabio Capello in charge. 

 

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Napoli have done okay, they'll be pleased with the UEFA Cup win thanks to Maradona. Alberto Bigon and Mario Corso only lasted 1 season each at the start of the save, since then they've had German legend Franz Beckenbeur in charge. 

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Barca up there with Juve as arguably the best side in this so far. They've had Johan Cruyff as manager since the start and he's done very well for himself. 

 

 

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Real Madrid obviously also very strong, in uncharacteristic circumstances they've actually kept John Toshack the Welshman in charge for the entire decade. Considering he's "only" won 5 La Liga's and 1 European Cup in that timeframe you'd think he's been lucky not to get sacked yet :D 

 

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Valencia not had a great deal to shout about but have been looking better in recent times. They've gone through quite a few managers but have looked their best under Roy Hodgson who's been there for 3 seasons now. 

Edited by PaulHartman71
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Bayern obviously been very successful in Germany although that success has not really carried over into Europe other than a UEFA Cup win when they went out of the European Cup group stage. Jupp Heynckes has been in charge the entire time. 

 

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PSG obviously been the best French side so far, with Henri Michel in charge the entire time. 

 

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Monaco obviously been quite good too. They've gone through a few managers, most notably Terry Venables. 

 

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Ajax have been the best side in the Netherlands. Their most successful manager has been Louis van Gaal who has been there for the last 6 years now. 

 

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PSV have been good too. Most notably managed by Bobby Robson for 6 seasons. 

 

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Celtic have had a good time of it in Scotland. Billy McNeil has been their manager the whole time. 

 

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Rangers have been decent as well it has to be said. They've had a few managers, most notably Celtic legend Kenny Dalglish, who recently left for Inter Milan to be replaced by Chris Waddle.

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Above is of course the original Euro 2000 Squad. Below is what we've gone for: 

 

GK: David Seaman, Nigel Martyn, David James - Richard Wright

DF: Gary Neville, David May, Graeme Le Saux, Chris Powell, Tony Adams, Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand - Phil Neville, Martin Keown, Gareth Barry, Gareth Southgate

MF: David Beckham, Ray Parlour, Nick Barmby, Matt Le Tissier, Steve McManaman, Paul Ince, Paul Scholes, Dennis Wise 

FW: Alan Shearer, Robbie Fowler, Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole - Emile Heskey, Michael Owen, Kevin Phillips

 

David James instead of Richard Wright who's not really done much in this save. Phil Neville would've made it but he got injured, in the end I replaced him with an extra winger as there wasn't a great deal of right backs and David May has been retrained as a right back on this save as well. Keown and Southgate didn't make it over the 4 who got picked, Gareth Barry still quite young and not really broke through as much as he did in real life. 

Heskey and Phillips are okay but not getting in over the 4 selected, I think actually Andy Cole was injured in real life. Owen didn't make it as all the others scored more than him. Jamie Redknapp would've made the squad over Dennis Wise but he was injured. 

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Germany and Serbia both went through from our group anyway. Elsewhere, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Russia got through Group F, with Holland, Greece and Portugal making it through Group D and France and Ukraine in Group C. 

 

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With Italy, Denmark, Poland, Spain and Croatia also getting through. 

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A difficult Round of 16 tie against Portugal, but we held strong in extra-time, with a Robbie Fowler brace seeing us through. 

 

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Germany needed extra-time to get past Greece, they'll face Bulgaria in the next round who needed extra-time themselves to get past Poland. Spain narrowly beat Serbia, who will face a difficult tie in the next round against Italy who knock out Ukraine 3-1. France beat Russia 2-0, whilst Croatia just about sneak past Denmark 3-2. We will face the Czech Republic in the next round who have done brilliantly well to knock out the reigning world champions Holland. 

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It was another Robbie Fowler brace that saw us through to the Semi Final, with Czech Republic scoring once through Pavel Nedved and ending the match with 10 men. 

 

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Germany beat Bulgaria 4-2, they'll have Italy to contend with in the Semi Final after they knocked out Spain. We'll face France, who beat Croatia 3-2. 

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An absolute nightmare of a Semi Final :D 

 

Andy Cole made it 2-1 in the 91st minute and I thought we were in the final, but Trezeguet equalised in the last second of injury time in the 94th minute, taking it to extra-time. It was all quickly downhill from there, a lot of our players were knackered by that point and Robert Pires' early goal 2 minutes into extra-time really put us on the back burner. Trezeguet grabbed another one a few minutes later and at that point we had to go for it to try and get back into it but we just ended up getting done on the counter. 4-0 in 30 minutes ffs :D 

France a very good side and on paper their squad is better, but still not great. 

 

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Italy beat Germany to make the final against France. 

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They might not have won the World Cup in 98 like they did in the real-timeline but it is a repeat of the real-timeline in the Euros as Euro 2000 is won by a rampant French side, who won courtesy of goals from Makelele, Eric Cantona and Youri Djorkaeff. 

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:eek: Flashbacks (um-forwards!) to Brazil v Germany!

England’s player seems to be only a forward in teams of the year. Which in this case was the same as the Czech’s :D

Is Fowler much better in the game than he was at that time?

Was the depth not there for England like the French obviously had. What do we do without Vieira? No problem, play Makelele!

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On 13/10/2021 at 01:47, Sonic Youth said:

:eek: Flashbacks (um-forwards!) to Brazil v Germany!

England’s player seems to be only a forward in teams of the year. Which in this case was the same as the Czech’s :D

Is Fowler much better in the game than he was at that time?

Was the depth not there for England like the French obviously had. What do we do without Vieira? No problem, play Makelele!

 

Yeah, I think Fowler has been better in the save than in real life, could be a combination of the game not having him pick up so many injuries or be involved in so many off the field stuff like the Spice Boys drama in real life. But Souness for a good few years had all the Liverpool players popping insane goal numbers, Ian Rush was putting in Ronaldo/Messi numbers, Shearer's done very well there too. So a combination of everything going right for Fowler I guess. 

I think on another day we could've beaten France, but certainly on paper they had the strongest squad in the tournament I would think. It would've been difficult for anyone to beat them if they were at their best. 

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We're still kind of a club that need to sell to buy especially given how high our wage budget is and that there's not crazy money in this game, but we did manage to get a few signings in. The main signing I wanted to make was a new keeper to replace Seaman, so in come Jens Lehmann who's 30 and we should get at least 4-5 seasons out of at a decent level. 

 

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I did explore other avenues but Buffon and Casillas already at Juve and Madrid put them out of the picture. Bayern wouldn't sell Khan and Barca have Van Der Sar. Napoli wanted like £30M for Dida, similarly Monaco wanted around that for Coupet so I didn't explore either of those given Lehmann was available at a good price I felt. 

AC Milan were trying to flog Cudicini, which did interest me, but he wanted like £85K a week and was going to wind up costing more than Lehmann anyway so I didn't bother. 

Arshavin was another good spot by my scouts in Russia available on a very cheap deal. He's only 19 and some way off first team football but for £5.5M you can't go wrong and hopefully a few loan spells will see him become top notch for us. 

Obviously one "cheat" tactic on this would be to just sign loads and loads of young players like Chelsea on the cheap and sell them for profit knowing they're likely to come good etc but I don't really want to do that as I don't want to mess with the overall landscape of the game world too much to the point that lots of smaller or middling sides can't have top young talent to make money on, I'm mainly just signing players I will actually hopefully use rather than stockpiling. 

 

Kolo Toure has a work permit now but as Martin Keown is still decent enough to be backup to Adams/Ferdinand alongside a young Vidic I thought it made sense to give Kolo another year at least of first-team football, he goes off to Nantes which is a nice finishing school as Gilberto Silva did well there before. 

Gianfranco Zola has probably been a bit of a disaster really. I signed him for like £17M in total which for a 4th choice striker role was a bit of a luxury/statement signing, possibly the first signing I've made where using my real life knowledge instead of looking in game as he wasn't that great really I think he dropped off at a younger age than in real life. He did get 12 goals/assists (mainly assists) in 25 starts, but given he had 37 extra sub appearances on top of that and a lot of his starts were against lesser sides in the Cup it wasn't great really. Anyway I only had him on a 2 year deal but I must've missed he had a 10 league game extension clause which he hit last season to get another year on £90K a week which wasn't ideal :D I managed to loan him out to Hearts in the SPL who are covering a whopping 10 percent of his wages :D But with Drogba in the squad this season there was no space for him so he had to go. 

Xabi Alonso gets another solid loan this time with Real Betis in La Liga. 

Tomas Rosicky joins Porto which is another good move for a young player on our books, whilst Arshavin is shipped out to Sparta Rotterdam who took Alonso last year in January. 

Finally, two younger players I didn't sign but came through the academy also go out on loan, with Jermaine Pennant going to Portsmouth and Jeremie Aliadiere to Middlesbrough.

Seaman is still good enough to be Cup keeper so unless he kicks off and wants a move for first-team football (having retired from international football this summer I'm not sure how bothered he will be) he will stay for now, so it was Shaka Hislop who had to make way, he went to Middlesbrough on a permanent deal. 

 

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Not a massive amount of action early on in the window, Liverpool did get their business done early however bringing in former Arsenal left back Gio Van Bronckhorst from Ajax as well as Demetrio Albertini from AC Milan. 

Anders Svensson left Celtic for Man City, whilst Derby's Tim Cahill joined Sheffield United in a £7.75M move. Dominic Matteo ditched Chelsea for Crystal Palace, whilst Celtic swoop to sign young out of favour Alvaro Recoba from Inter which seems like a good bit of business for them. 

 

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July was where it all went a bit mental. 

 

The big transfer of the window saw Real Madrid swoop in and sign a Man United star player, but it was not David Beckham they bought - it was Paul Scholes. A huge move for Scholes who joins John Toshack's side hoping to make an impact in world record move of £35.5M. Alex Ferguson obviously needed to replace Scholes and he seemed to waste little time in doing so by prizing a young Frank Lampard away from West Ham for £29.5M, with these two transfers changing the face of the United/Madrid/Chelsea midfields for the next decade you would think. 

Juventus signed Dejan Stankovic from Lazio for £20M in a bid to improve their own midfield, whilst Chris Sutton goes from Everton to Blackburn in a £19.5M move as Blackburn look to cement themselves as a top 4 side once more. Everton weren't messing about though and with the money they got from selling Sutton they swooped for Jay-Jay Okocha and Gabriel Batistuta, which certainly on paper look like two fantastic signings. 

AC Milan managed to flog Carlo Cudicini to West Ham in the end, with the in real life Chelsea and Spurs keeper getting the chance to play European Cup football this season and the Hammers using their European Cup/Lampard money to bring in both him and Thomas Gravesen. 

Meanwhile, Diego Tristan left Tottenham for Real Sociedad, with Spurs ultimately bringing in a young Djibril Cisse to replace him. Diego Simeone left Roma for Marseille, whilst Brian Laudrup left Real Madrid for AC Milan.

Perhaps the two most interesting moves sees Porto prematurely raided of two very talented young players that in the real time line would help them to a Champions League win. Deco joins PSG, whilst Ricardo Carvalho is lost to AC Milan. 

 

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Andrea Pirlo left Empoli for Lazio, whilst back in England a few notable moves saw Les Ferdinand leave Spurs for Southampton, and Graeme Le Saux go to Ajax from United. 

 

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Finally, some more action of note in August. 

Robbie Keane leaves Wolves for Newcastle, Alessio Tacchinardi swaps Lazio for Celtic in an interesting move, whilst Napoli sign a young Olof Mellberg. Man United dumped some academy prospects that didn't come great with Jonathan Greening joining Werder Bremen and Simone Perrota going to Fiorentina. 

Dirk Kuyt signs for Feyenoord, Carsten Jancker the German striker goes to Kaiserslautern and finally, a young James Beattie leaves Blackburn for Wolves. 

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Some interesting groups. Our group with AC Milan, Valencia and Anderlecht isn't particularly ideal especially given we were first seeds. Valencia are a pretty good 3rd ranked team, I think we can definitely get past them but won't be a walk in the park. Juve and Celtic should get through Group A I think, Bayern/Napoli/PSV is an interesting one which any 2 sides could probably get through, Barcelona and Liverpool should surely get through Group C. Man United and PSG I think get through their group too. Group E is very interesting. Blackburn have a strong side, Ajax are quite good, Marseille are no mugs - could be a hard one to call that group. Real Madrid you expect to get through their group, but Werder Bremen and Monaco could go either way. 

Finally, West Ham have a fairly interesting group as they have Roma and Rangers in there. All 3 again decent sides, could go either way again.

 

The coefficients in FM inevitably work in favour of the leagues loaded, so countries like Portugal, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine etc were always going to suffer at the expense of Holland and Scotland, but I am surprised to see Holland doing so well currently with 4 CL spots. It's obviously very close and long term I imagine France and Germany to get back in there, but given Ajax won the European Cup that's obviously helped them and none of the French/German sides have done thaaaat well in recent years. I think Holland have done well in the Conference League as well which obviously factors into it. 

 

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A 2-1 loss in the Charity Shield to Liverpool got the season off to a limp start. 

 

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A bad result in the League Cup too as Spurs beat us on penalties, with young Ledley King scoring the all important winner. 

 

 

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Mid-way through the season and our defence of the title isn't going to plan really. That being said it's very much all to play for and there's 4 teams in the race. West Ham have had another fantastic start to the season and for a while were in the driving seat for the title, being unbeaten until their 19th match which they lost to United. Cudicini looking like an absolutely inspired signing for them as he's helped them to by far the best defensive record in the entire league and has them in 2nd despite John Lyall's side scoring way less goals than the sides around them. 

Liverpool looking good value for the title, with a game in hand and a much better goal difference than West Ham. United and us obviously still up there and in with a chance. 

Man City, Spurs, Blackburn and Everton have all looked good too though and the fight for 5th-7th looks very close. 

The Sheffield sides having a bit of a mare and Southampton have been in trouble too lately. 

Sheffield United have already sacked Gordon Milne and got in former Villa, Ipswich and Chelsea manager David Pleat. Chelsea themselves got rid of Mick McCarthy in November and brought in the big name replacement in Terry Venables, who to be fair does seem to have them playing much better since. Newcastle whilst flirting with the relegation zone sacked Kevin Keegan and have hired former Spurs boss Rafa Benitez, some 15 year+ before they'd eventually hire him in the original timeline to try and save them from relegation. Alan Curbishley is available again, after speer-heading Blackburn to Top 4 last season you'd have thought they'd have given him some time, but apparently not, as they've recently sacked him off for Bobby Ferguson, who in-game famously took Leicester to UEFA Cup winners not too long ago. Finally, Southampton parted ways with Peter Reid and it's Big Sam Allardyce, himself most recently with Blackburn last season, who has the chance to save them from relegation. 

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Couldn't have asked for too much more in the group as we top it having won every game but the draws home and away with AC Milan, which I think courtesy of our away goal at the San Siro meant we topped it over them, although we did have better goal difference too thanks to the utter demolition of Anderlecht at the now newly named SEGA Dreamcast Stadium in North London. 

 

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Juve and Celtic get through Group A, with Gijon performing pretty poorly really. Bayern Munich now make it 3 of the last 4 seasons where they've failed to get out of the Group Stage, which was obviously great for Napoli and PSV. Barcelona and Liverpool both make it through, with PSG and Man United a similar story in their group. Ajax and Marseille make it through at Blackburn's expense which I'm sure also played a part in Alan Curbishley getting the boot, but it will mean his replacement Bobby Ferguson has another shot at winning the UEFA Cup this year which they'll probably need to do if they want European Cup football again next season. Real Madrid and Monaco make it through at Werder Bremen's expense, meanwhile another English side went out and into the UEFA Cup in West Ham, which given how well they've done domestically does surprise me that they didn't come closer to getting through. Rangers in absolutely fine form it has to be said, winning 5 of their 6 games, only losing away to 2nd place Roma. 

There's not often changes among the big clubs but an interesting tid-bit I forgot to mention was this summer Roma manager Fabio Capello left to take over Italy, which meant Giovanni Trapatonni, who had only recently stepped down to Director of Football at Inter for Kenny Dalglish to took over, ended up just weeks later joining Roma to manage them instead. 

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Some interesting ties coming up. Liverpool will go toe to toe with Ajax, PSV vs PSG, Monaco and Rangers should be an interesting battle, with Celtic and Napoli also fairly even on paper you would think given both Scottish sides look quite decent at the moment. Roma/Real Madrid a very interesting fight, whilst AC Milan/Barcelona and Man United/Juve are both heavyweight bouts that could quite easily be finals instead of 1st knockout round ties.

In Marseille we've got a fairly decent tie as they haven't made a Quarter Final since the 95/96 season, but they're no mugs and by no means a walkover tie and have some dangerous players like Edilson, Kily Gonzalez and got in Diego Simeone this summer in midfield. A few familiar names in defence too in Fabien Barthez and William Gallas. 

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Some pretty mad moves this window.

The most expensive one sees experienced keeper Santiago Canizares, effectively #2 keeper at Real behind the young Casillas move to AC Milan for £24M. On the face of it this seemed like a crazy move, Milan had been keen to shift Cudicini this summer because they backed Abbiati as #1. However upon looking into this further I noticed Abbiati broke his leg just weeks before this transfer, and is out for up to 9 months, so I guess it makes some sense, although splashing out that kind of money on a keeper to cover an injury like that will put them in an awkward position in a year's time when both are fit. 

AC Milan also signed Boudewijn Zenden from PSV for £19M, which seemed a random move when they have Maldini still, until I noticed that they'd actually sold Maldini to Barcelona! He's 32 and still looks really good on the game, the only thing I noticed was when I looked at Bosman transfers he was actually available and had interest from pretty much every top club on a free, so the only thing I can think of is they didn't renew his deal, Barca won his favour and then they paid extra to buy him once the free transfer in the summer was agreed perhaps. Either way, a crazy move to see Maldini move from Milan. 

Another crazy move, perhaps the craziest in the game yet, sees Francesco Totti, the Roman God, leave Roma and sign for Inter Milan for just £16.5M. I've had a look at this and I think it may have been influenced by Trappatoni arriving at Roma, he plays a 4-4-2 with 2 DMs which means there's not really any position for Totti to play apart from up-front, but he seems to have been using Vieri and Patrick Kluivert or Luca Toni up-front instead. It meant Totti had played like 3 games until January in all competitions and he didn't have any injuries or anything, so you can imagine him being annoyed and wanting to leave, £16.5M though :D Inter Milan getting an absolute bargain there. 

Elsewhere, Liverpool sell Flavio Concecaio to Stuttgart and bring in a young Juan, the Brazilian defender, which should improve their defence in the coming years. Juve's Alen Boksic joins Porto in Portugal, whilst Jesper Gronkjear joins Juventus. Nicky Butt leaves Benfica to join Chelsea and he's joined at Chelsea by a former United man in the original timeline, Ole Gunnar Solksjear. 

Nobby Solano leaves Man City for Newcastle United, with Newcastle also dipping in the market to sign Paul Merson too in their bid to avoid the drop. Jari Litmanen leaves Chelsea for Rangers, whilst Stan Collymore also leaves Stamford Bridge, as he moves to Aston Villa. One time Manchester United midfielder in the real timeline Eric Djemba-Djemba joins Monaco, whilst Bayern Munich pick up Roque Junior from AC Milan on a pretty small fee. Finally, Rory Delap, master of the long throw, signs for Benfica from Bordeuax which all seems pretty random, hadn't seen him in the game so quite weird to see him pop up moving from France to Portugal :D 

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