Jump to content
Sports Interactive Community
King Jeff

The Premier League Reimagined: It's a Whole New Ball Game

Recommended Posts

"History is not merely what happened: it is what happened in the context of what might have happened." – Hugh Trevor Roper

We know how it turned out.

Conventional wisdom says that history is told by the winners. In football, the winners (and in some cases losers) have their names etched into trophies, column inches, Wikipedia entries, and our memories. But behind every story is a series of butterfly effect moments: near misses, crossbars hit, penalties saved, tackles missed, managers being sacked, or last-minute transfer deals being hijacked have fueled countless hours of debate in pubs all over the country. "If only… then it would all be different."

The most commonly-mentioned if only moment of my lifetime is the 3rd Round FA Cup tie in 1990 between Manchester United and Nottingham Forest, in which Alex Ferguson's job was reportedly on the line. We know how it turned out: a clever ball from Mark Hughes set up a Mark Robins headed goal in a 1-0 win. United would win the FA Cup that year, the Cup Winners' Cup the next season, and the rest as they say is history. But what if Hughes' pass was mis-hit, Robins scuffed his finish and knocked it wide or Steve Sutton pulled off a brilliant save? Would it have been ta-ra Fergie, after all? "If only… then it would all be different."

English football's big bang moment occurred on 20 February 1992, when the clubs in the Football League First Division announced they were breaking away from the Football League to take advantage of a lucrative television deal. Ultimately, the deal was signed with Sky, which branded the Premier League as "A Whole New Ball Game".

Now, 26 years later, the Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world. The clubs are worth billions, the players tens of millions, and the league is a truly global brand. Premier League legends like Ferguson, Wenger, Cantona, Giggs, Henry, Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney are names known all over the world.

We know how it turned out, but what if we turned back the clock and did it all again?

What if we could go back to a world pre-Sky, pre-Bosman, a world in which English club teams were just being welcomed back into European club competition, and Denmark won the European Championships after qualifying only because Yugoslavia was kicked out of the competition due to the civil war. John Major is in Downing Street, George H.W. Bush is in the White House and Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot is #1.

Won't you join me in the summer of 1992 so we can do it all again? This time we don't know how it will turn out.

Welcome to the Premier League Reimagined. It's a Whole New Ball Game.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Knocking Down the 4th Wall

It's been about 15 years since I was last here so I feel as though I have to (re)introduce myself and explain the concept behind the project.

At the risk of giving away my age, I discovered Championship Manager in 1995. I was growing up in New Zealand and the Premier League wasn't on television yet – we got our results through Teletext (ask your parents) and a list of scores in the newspaper. From a television perspective, we only got the occasional Champions League game on ESPN and Match of the Day. That was it.

A demo for CM94 appeared in a PC magazine and, being a fan of simulators, I gave it a whirl. My first careers were with Sheffield Wednesday, because I liked the colours and the team name. I was immediately hooked. I bought the game through mail order and purchased every version of the game for the 10 years that followed.

I began writing stories right away—first on Marc Duffy's old forums in the late-90s and then here. I was always most fascinated by concepts that had a unique twist, and my biggest contribution to the forums were stories called "England's Awfully Bottom Heavy," which told the story of a Premier League breakaway gone wrong, and "Ta-ra, Fergie," which was based on the United Forest FA Cup tie mentioned above going the other way.

About a decade ago I had a rather ambitious idea—the complete re-writing of the Premier League, cascaded through the CM/FM series. It would have been easier then, but all of the Premier League at 25 stories got me thinking about it again. I've spent the last six months testing the concept to ensure it could work. Through the magic of dosbox, it worked like a charm and the tests became more interesting than I could have imagined. This wasn't just an idea worth playing; this was a story worth telling.

Our world will begin in July 1992, with the original CM93 being used to tell the story. I'll leverage the CM1 engine up until the 95-96 season, jump forward to CM2 for Euro 96, use CM96/97 until the 1998 World Cup is finished, and continue to move between versions of the game at the completion of each international cycle. As much as possible, whatever happens in one game will be pushed through to the next – this will include caps, promotions/relegations, transfers, manager changes, and retirements. I will not touch player ratings.

As part of the game, I'll also build a series of wikis on Google Sheets that contains a statistical and historical database for this alternative world. It will be constantly updated to include historical tables, player records, awards, and manager info. Links will be included.

A couple of items I need to call out now, as they're things I've wrestled with during the testing phase. There is one season in which we'll see a lot of change: 1995-96, the first year on the CM2 database. The game featured a much larger international database and in my tests teams have often ended up stocking up on South American, Greek and Scandinavian players during that year. I've taken steps to try and mitigate that impact but there's only so much that can be done!

Additionally, my focus is on providing as organic a re-telling of history as possible. As such I will not be controlling any of the Premier League teams. Instead, I'll control the 80th/92nd ranked team in the Football League and change my team every year to stay out of the top three divisions. Any transfer market activity by my club will be based on scout recommendations, not historical biases. Not controlling a team meant the game simulated too quickly and I would miss a lot of what was happening.

The story will be told through two perspectives: 1) an omnipotent narrator who will report on results and flag things that might be of interest, and in some cases use hindsight bias (e.g., if a young star is transferred before they hit it big), and 2) a tabloid journalist who will focus on major stories and rumours. We'll also develop Tweets for breaking news (many years down the line). Foreign stories will be re-told through the rather biased eyes of the English media.

Let's get started.

Edited by King Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its good too see you back King Jeff and I'm intrigued to see how this goes. Looking forward to your next post

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, Mark. Happy to be back.

--------------------------------

July 1992

It was just three weeks ago that Denmark shocked the footballing world by winning Euro 1992.The last team to qualify for the tournament, the Danes beat the Netherlands on penalties in the semi-finals, then toppled the Germans 2-0 in the final. England? Well, they were there, too, but everyone is anxious to forget about a bottom-of-the-group performance by Graham Taylor’s side.

Thankfully, domestic football is back with 20 squads beginning their preparations for the brand-new FA Premier League. A full season preview will follow, but all eyes will be on last year’s First Division champions Leeds, while Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Liverpool supporters will also consider their teams in with a shout.

Around the world, making news is the breakup of Czechoslovakia into two independent nations. In one of those interesting anomalies, since the nation of Czechoslovakia already entered qualification for World Cup 94, a combined team will play out the qualification campaign under the name Representation of Czechs and Slovaks (RCS), and the Czech Republic and Slovakian national teams will begin playing in 1994.

Another national team without a nation, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which competed in Euro 1992, has now disbanded and the players will represent their new nations in internationals. The CIS had the worst-ever flag and used Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as their anthem. Two players from the CIS’s squad, Dimitri Kharine and Andre Kanchelskis will ply their trade in the Premier League in a few weeks’ time.

Back home, the transfer market starts to ramp up with Graeme Souness’s Liverpool making the biggest splash of the month when they sign Neville Southall from their crosstown rivals, Everton. The fee is a paltry £650k. It’s a good pickup for the Reds but given they already have Bruce Grobbelaar and young star David James under contract, we are likely to see more movement.  

The biggest outlay of the month comes from Manchester United spending £1.6 million to sign QPR youngster David McEnroe. That doesn’t quite match the club’s transfer record fee of £2.3 million, which they shelled out in 1989 for Gary Pallister, but it is more than they were reported to have spent on Eric Cantona. Go figure.

The most active team in July are the champions, Leeds, who sign three squad players. Welsh midfielder Jason Rees joins from Luton, backup keeper Carl Muggleton is signed from Leicester, and Scottish international David Speedie is signed from Southampton for £550k. Speedie scored 23 times for Blackburn last year and might have one or two more years in him.

 

Up Next: A full preview of the 1992-93 season.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

July/August 1992

Chris Coleman has the potential to play in the Premier League, but he’ll have to wait a while for that to happen: he’s been sold by Crystal Palace to Division One side Derby County for £450k. Chris Hughton is entering the twilight of his career, but he’s going to get a shot at the Premier League after leaving Brentford and joining up with Bobby Gould’s Coventry City side for a token £20k. Another experienced pro leaving Brentford is Kenny Samson, who joins Barnsley.

Manchester United continue to splash the cash making the second biggest signing of the summer when they pick up midfielder Gavin Peacock from Newcastle for £1.3m. Newcastle are raided by another of United’s title rivals when Liverpool pick up midfielder Scott Sellars for £1m. Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle are one of the favourites for promotion from Division One, so we’ll see what they do with the money they’ve received from the double deal.

Outside of England, bookies favourites and host-country Spain win the gold medal in football at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The Spanish side contains young stars Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique, Kiko, Perez Munoz Alfonso and Santiago Canizares. They beat Poland 3-2 in the Gold Medal match with Cadiz star Kiko scoring a last-minute winner. Of course, the home nations were not eligible to play in the Olympics.

***

8 August 1992 -- FA Charity Shield

Liverpool vs Manchester City

 

David White scores FA Charity Shield victory for Manchester City

It normally isn’t a worthwhile endeavor to try and draw any conclusions from the result of the Charity Shield. Despite the best of intentions, it is, after all, a glorified friendly. However, as he stood on the Liverpool touch line, Manager Graeme Souness must have been concerned with what he saw.

His Reds were dominated over the course of the 90 minutes by the Blues, and ultimately it was a man named White whose goal made the difference in a 1-0 Manchester City win. Souness’s decision to give the captain’s armband to new signing Neville Southall is a defiant act, likely to alienate supporters and squad members alike, but Southall was probably his best player on the pitch today. The Welsh international made a total of ten saves while at the other end of the pitch Rush, Rosenthal and Barnes were nearly anonymous.

Manchester City player-manager Peter Reid, influential in central midfield, will be especially pleased with the strength of his backline. Tony Coton rarely had a save to make, and if City is to push onward from their fifth-place finishes the past two seasons, they will need to be equally stingy throughout the year.

David White’s second-half winner was well taken, as he capitalized on a well-played pass by Rick Holden, burst through the Liverpool defense and slotted home from 12 yards. In addition to his goal, White was deservedly named man of the match.

This game never hit the heights we have seen in FA Charity Shields in the past, but City fans won’t care. They’ve claimed the first silverware of the season.

 

***

Premier League Preview -- Part One: The Relegation Strugglers

Welcome to our preview of the 1992-93 FA Carling Premier League season. The preview will be split into four parts, the first of which will focus on the teams who we expect will be fighting against relegation. In the second part, we’ll look at those we consider safely mid-table. Part three will highlight the second tier, likely to be in the top half but where a title challenge might just be beyond reach. We’ll conclude with a look at those we expect to be in the title conversation.

20th - Southampton

Manager: Ian Branfoot – one of Reading’s most successful managers ever, Branfoot is entering his second year at The Dell

Last Season: 16th – a run of six straight wins in March and April, fueled by key goals from Iain Dowie and stellar goalkeeping from Tim Flowers kept them up.

Transfers in: Mark Stein, Stoke 200k

Transfers out: Derek Allan, Scarborough 35k; Matthew Bound, Bristol City 100k; David Speedie, Leeds 550k; Micky Adams, Sheff Wed 850k

Projected XI (4-2-4): Tim Flowers / Francis Benali, Ken Monkou, Richard Hall, Alexei Cherednik / Terry Hurlock, Stuart Gray / Mark Stein, Nicky Banger, Kerry Dixon, Matt Le Tissier

Key Man: Tim Flowers - there aren't a lot of goals in the squad (unless former England international Kerry Dixon can roll back the years or Matt Le Tissier can increase his production), so Flowers will need to be on top-form to help the Saints survive.

Prediction: 20th. This doesn't look good. Losing Alan Shearer and David Speedie up front, as well as Neil Ruddock and Micky Adams at the back, looks like the difference between staying up and going down. 

 

19th - Coventry

Manager: Bobby Gould. Best known for leading Wimbledon's Crazy Gang to a shock FA Cup Final win in 1988, he's back for a second spell at Coventry after Don Howe's resignation.

Last Season: 19th – stumbled across the line. A late win over bottom club West Ham kept them up.

Transfers in: Chris Hughton, Brentford 20k

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): Steve Ogrizovic / Phil Babb, Dave Busst, Peter Billing, Brian Borrows / Mickey Gynn, Stewart Robson, Lloyd McGrath, Peter Atherton /Peter Ndlovu, Roy Wegerle

Key Man: Roy Wegerle. The American international is a new arrival from Blackburn and will have to fill the net if the Sky Blues are going to survive.

Prediction: 19th. The squad looks too thin to stay up, although Ndlovu and Wegerle have goals in them.

 

18th - Wimbledon

Manager: Joe Kinnear. The former India and Nepal international boss is entering his first full season as Dons manager with a tough job on his hands.

Last Season: 13th. No home, three managers, but still survived with ease

Transfers In: None

Transfers Out: Carlton Fairweather, Millwall 100k; Vaughan Ryan, Plymouth 100k

Projected XI (4-4-2): Hans Segers / Brian McAllister, John Scales, Warren Barton, Roger Joseph / Lawrie Sanchez, Robbie Earle, Vinnie Jones, Neal Ardley / John Fashanu, Terry Gibson

Key Man: Robbie Earle. 15 goals last year; a similar output this year would go a long way to ensuring the Dons' survival.

Prediction: 18th. There's enough talent here to stay up but the instability around the club means we expect more departures throughout the year and Kinnear's lack of experience is a concern.

 

17th – Sheffield United

Manager: Dave Bassett. Took Wimbledon through the divisions and earned two promotions with the Blades. Entering his sixth season as boss.

Last Season: 9th. Mid-table safety and their best performance in the league since the early 70s.

Transfers In: Andy Leaning, Bristol City 80k

Transfers Out: None

Projected XI (4-2-4): Alan Kelly / David Barnes, Paul Beesley, Brian Gayle, John Pemberton / Jamie Hoyland, Paul Rodgers /Adrian Littlejohn, Brian Deane, Alan Cork, Franz Carr

Key man: Brian Deane. Sheffield United's top scorer each of the last three seasons. A loss of form could mean a return to the second tier.

Prediction: 17th. They're on a knife's-edge with no margin for error. More strengthening in midfield is required.

 

16th – Ipswich

Manager: John Lyall - nearly 20 years of experience in the game and uses a variety of different tactics. Entering his third season as Ipswich boss.

Last Season: Winners of Division Two - a massive wobble in April nearly cost them the title but Steve Whitton's key goals got them across the line

Transfers In: None

Transfers Out; Steve Palmer, Blackburn 400k; Jason Winters, Port Vale 150k

Projected XI (4-3-1-2): Craig Forrest / Neil Thompson, Phil Whelan, David Linighan, Gavin Johnson / Simon Milton, Geraint Williams, Vlado Bosinoski / Jason Dozzell / Chris Kiwomya, Boncho Guentchev

Key Man: Jason Dozzell - Whitton's goals might have gotten them up last year; but Dozzell is the team's offensive talisman in his role supporting the two strikers. An outside shot at an England cap.

Prediction: 16th - Staying up is the goal and they should have just enough to do it.

 

15th – QPR

Manager: Gerry Francis - racked up over 300 appearances for the Rs as a player, now in his second full season as boss.

Last Season: 11th - mid-table mediocrity and a lack of goals with top scorer Dennis Bailey grabbing only 11

Transfers in: None

Transfers out: Maurice Doyle, Chesterfield 90k; David McEnroe, Man Utd 1.6m; Mike Meaker, West Ham 500k

Projected XI (4-4-2): Jan Stejskal /Clive Wilson, Darren Peacock, Brian Law, Danny Maddix / Andy Sinton, Ray Wilkins, Ian Holloway, Simon Barker / Les Ferdinand, Bradley Allen

Key Man: Les Ferdinand - the ex-Hayes man is primed for a breakout season, after managing only 10 goals last year

Prediction: 15th - unlikely to go down, but the squad is awfully thin. There is an unexpected windfall through the McEnroe sale and the proceeds will need to be invested wisely; otherwise, with one or two injuries Francis's men will be looking over their shoulders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about the possibility of maybe adding other stuff like some of the other bigger leagues like Spain or Germany or would that be too much for you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good question. You couldn't run multiple leagues until CM97-98, so we're somewhat limited in what I can do. I'll do my best to keep as much information as I can coming until that time, and then we'll flesh it out in more detail when we move to the CM3 engine around the turn of the millennium. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Premier League Preview -- Part Two: Mid-Table Survivors

In this section of our Premier League preview we are focusing on the teams we consider to be safely mid-table. Unlikely to get pulled into a relegation battle, but unlikely to push for much more than a top-half finish.

 

14th- Chelsea

Manager: Dave Webb. Made 230 appearances as a Chelsea player, and was brought in on a short-term contract following the departure of Ian Porterfield. Now he’s been given an unexpected opportunity to lead the team on a permanent basis.

Last Season: 14th. Poor results during a season of major transition.

Transfers in: Neil Moore, Everton 200k; Robin van der Laan, Port Vale 40k; Tony Agana, Notts County 800k

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): Kevin Hitchcock / Frank Sinclair, Paul Elliott, David Lee, Gareth Hall / Eddie Newton, Andy Townsend, Nigel Spackman, Damian Matthew / Graham Stuart, Robert Fleck

Key man: Andy Townsend. The Irish midfielder is the team’s creative force and will need to be counted on to provide adequate service for Stuart and Fleck.

Prediction: 14th. The backline and midfield look alarmingly thin and they could be short on goals. They should be safe but it could all end up going horribly wrong.

 

13th- Manchester City

Manager: Peter Reid. Entering his third year as player manager with two fifth-place finishes under his belt, Reid looks like he’s destined for a top career as a boss.

Last Season: 5th. Another strong finish but just off the pace of the elite pack.

Transfers in: Steven Yates, Bristol R 100k; Lee Jones, Liverpool 350k; Stuart Barlow, Everton 400k

Transfers out: Mike Quigley, Aston Villa 150k

Projected XI (4-4-2): Tony Coton / Terry Phelan, Keith Curle, Michael Vonk, Ian Brightwell / Paul Lake, Fitzroy Simpson, Peter Reid, Scott Thomas / David White, Mike Sheron

Key man: David White. Finished last year with a hat trick in the last match and hit the winner in the Charity Shield, City fans will be expecting more of the same throughout the year.  

Prediction: 13th. This prediction might surprise some. We believe City has a strong defense and an attack that will score goals, but the midfield looks vulnerable and think the Blues are destined to take a step backward this year.

 

12th- Crystal Palace

Manager: Steve Coppell. A Manchester United legend who is entering his ninth season at Selhurst Park. His managerial highlights include nearly guiding Palace to their first FA Cup title in 1990.

Last Season: 10th. Mid-table mediocrity.  

Transfers in: Chris Sulley, Port Vale 70k; Mickey Thomas, Wrexham 3k

Transfers out: Chris Coleman, Derby 450k

Projected XI (4-4-2): Nigel Martyn / Simon Rodger, Eddie McGoldrick, Andy Thorn, Lee Sinnott / John Salako, Geoff Thomas, Simon Osborn, Ricky Newman / Chris Armstrong

Key man: John Salako. The speedy winger-cum-forward will split time between the two roles. If Chris Armstrong struggles to find the net, Salako will be called upon to carry the load.  

Prediction: 12th. More of the same this year – unlikely to threaten or get pulled into a relegation fight. Might be low on goals.

 

11th- Norwich

Manager: Mike Walker. After five years managing the reserves, this is his first season in charge of the senior team.

Last Season: 18th. A disastrous run-in saw them pick up only 5 from the last 36 possible points. Narrowly avoided the drop then off-loaded their top striker, Robert Fleck.

Transfers in: Darren Wassall, Derby 600k

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): Mark Walton / Mark Bowen, Rob Newman, Ian Butterworth, Ian Culverhouse / Ian Crook, Daryl Sutch, David Phillips, Ruel Fox / Mark Robins, Lee Power

Key man: Ian Crook. A set-piece wizard, the diminutive midfielder is considered one of the best players to have not yet won an England cap.   

Prediction: 11th. On the surface this looks like a team that should be battling the drop, considering how they ended last seasons, but we think there is enough going forward to ensure safety. Mark Robins will need to adjust to being a number one man quickly.

 

10th- Tottenham

Manager: Doug Livermore. His first-full time role, he takes over the job after last season’s sacking of Peter Shreeves.  

Last Season: 15th. A dismal performance, despite having two of the greatest players in England’s history, Lineker and Gascoigne, in the lineup.  

Transfers in: None

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): Erik Thorstvedt / Pat van den Hauwe, Gary Mabbutt, Neil Ruddock, Dean Austin / Nayim, Kevin Watson, Steve Sedgley, Paul Allen / Nick Barmby, Teddy Sheringham

Key man: Teddy Sheringham. Lineker scored 35 goals last year and was named Football Writers Player of the Year. Sheringham has some big boots to fill, now that Lineker is plying his trade in Japan.    

Prediction: 10th. We can’t see them doing worse than last year, but the losses of Lineker and Gazza won’t help their hopes of finishing in the top half.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Premier League Preview -- Part Three: Top-Half Hopefuls

 

9th- Everton

Manager: Howard Kendall. An Everton legend in his second spell with the club who has yet to replicate the success of his first managerial run in the 80s.

Last Season: 12th. Inconsistent underachievers. The pickup of Peter Beardsley from Liverpool was a great piece of business.   

Transfers in: John Beresford, Newcastle 800k

Transfers out: Neil Moore, Chelsea 200k; Neville Southall, Liverpool 650k; Stuart Barlow, Man City 400k

Projected XI (4-4-2): Jason Kearton / John Beresford, Dave Watson, Gary Ablett, Matt Jackson / Preki, Billy Kenny, John Ebbrell, Robert Warzycha / Peter Beardsley, Tony Cottee

Key man: Peter Beardsley. Scored 20 goals last year, and with Preki and Warzycha bombing down the wings, we expect another big year from the Geordie.

Prediction: 9th. A difficult team to figure out. There are a lot of strong pieces here, but the sale of Southall was a head-scratcher. We expect another season of inconsistency.

 

8th- Aston Villa

Manager: Ron Atkinson. Over 20 years of experience as a manager, now entering his second season with Villa after joining under somewhat controversial circumstances.  

Last Season: 7th. The best of the rest during their first year under Atkinson despite him selling Cascarino, Cowans and Platt.

Transfers in: Darryl Powell, Portsmouth 150k; Mike Quigley, Man City 150k

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): Nigel Spink / Steve Staunton, Paul McGrath, Shaun Teale, Earl Barrett / Neil Cox, Kevin Richardson, Garry Parker, Mark Blake / Cyrille Regis, Dean Saunders

Key man: Dean Saunders. The ex-Liverpool man will be expected to be among the goals right away for Villa to be in the top half again.  

Prediction: 8th. There’s a lot of to like here. Their defence is strong, and with one or two more upgrades they could be legitimate contenders.

 

7th- Nottingham Forest

Manager: Brian Clough. A managerial legend who has won it all (other than the FA Cup). This might be his last season in the game.   

Last Season:8th. Second season in a row finishing 8th. Another strong year in the cups, winning the now-defunct Zenith Data Systems Cup and reaching the League Cup final.  

Transfers in: In

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): Mark Crossley / Stuart Pearce, Steve Chettle, Carl Tiler, Gary Charles / Thorvaldur Orlygsson, Scot Gemmill, Roy Keane, Gary Crosby / Nigel Clough

Key man: Nigel Clough. With the sale of Sheringham to Spurs, Number 9 will be carrying the weight of expectations on his back.

Prediction: 7th. Cloughie’s men are unlikely to threaten the top pack but are primed to have another strong year in the cups. Youngsters Gemmill and Keane are one of the strongest centre midfield duos in the division.

 

6th- Blackburn

Manager: Kenny Dalglish. The appointment of King Kenny last October was a surprise, but it paid off as he earned promotion in his first season. Only Brian Clough has a similar pedigree among managers.

Last Season: 6th in Division Two, winners of the playoffs. Top of the division for most of the year but faded down the stretch and had to rely on the lottery of the playoffs to get up.

Transfers in: Kurt Nogan, Brighton 200k; Steve Palmer, Ipswich 400k; Gary Blisett, Brentford 350k; Ally Mauchlen, Leicester 90k

Transfers Out: Frank Talia, Notts County 100k

Projected XI (4-4-2): Bobby Mimms / Alan Wright, Kevin Moran, Colin Hendry, Patrik Andersson / Jason Wilcox, Gordon Cowans, Simon Ireland, Mark Atkins / Alan Shearer, Mike Newell

Key man: Alan Shearer. The British record transfer fee comes with an unrivalled amount of pressure. The young striker seems more than capable of handling the expectations but the spotlight will be on him all year.

Prediction: 6th. Blackburn have signaled their intent to play with the big boys after splashing cash on a number of quality players over the past year, including Shearer, Gallacher, Le Saux, Ripley and Andersson. They’ll be in the title conversation before long, but we think that’s one year away and the new signings will require some time to gel.

 

Up next, the title race.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Premier League Preview -- Part Four: The Contenders

 

5th- Liverpool

Manager: Graeme Souness. A former Reds captain who has rubbed supporters and several star players the wrong way. Entering his crucial second season.

Last Season: 6th. FA Cup winners but a far cry from their glory days.

Transfers in: Neville Southall, Everton 650k; Scott Sellars, Newcastle 1m

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): Neville Southall / David Burrows, Torben Piechnik, Mark Wright, Steve Nicol / John Barnes, Ronnie Whelan, Jan Molby, Michael Thomas / Ronny Rosenthal, Ian Rush

Key man: John Barnes. 29 and still in his prime, the skillful winger will play a major role in the setting up Rush, Rosenthal or whomever starts up front.  

Prediction: 5th. A lot will depend on the harmony within the squad. Rush, Rosenthal and Molby have all submitted transfer requests so we expect a lot of movement. The signing of Neville Southall is intriguing but surely means the end of the line for Bruce Grobbelaar, and what of David James?

 

4th- Arsenal

Manager: George Graham. Entering his seventh season as Gunners boss with two First Division titles and a League Cup to his name.  

Last Season: 4th. A shaky patch in January ended up killing their title hopes but ending the year on a 17-game unbeaten run bodes well for this year.  

Transfers in: John Paskin, Wrexham 30k; Martin Foyle, Port Vale 200k

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): David Seaman / Nigel Winterburn, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Lee Dixon / Paul Merson, John Jensen, Ray Parlour, Paul Davis / Ian Wright, Kevin Campbell

Key man: Ian Wright. Entering his second season at Highbury there is no doubt he is the main man. An injury or poor form would probably kill off any title hopes, although Alan Smith is still a capable deputy.

Prediction: 4th. The return of Martin Keown makes an already stingy defence even more impressive. John Jensen is a downgrade from David Rocastle in midfield, while Paskin and Foyle are unlikely to add much to the squad.

 

3rd- Sheffield Wednesday

Manager: Trevor Francis. Handed the player-manager role last year, he exceeded all expectations in his first campaign.   

Last Season: 3rd. The Owls were a legitimate title threat last year, coming up just a bit short. The core loos ready for another run this year.  

Transfers in: Ian Marshall, Oldham 300k; Micky Adams, Southampton 850k

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): Chris Woods / Nigel Worthington, Viv Anderson, Paul Warhurst, Roland Nilsson / Danny Wilson, John Sheridan, John Harkes, Chris Waddle / David Hirst, Chris Bart-Williams

Key man: David Hirst. His goals will make the difference between a title run and a top half finish.

Prediction: 3rd. The additions of Chris Waddle and Mark Bright strengthen the attack, while Micky Adams is a good pickup at the back. We think they’ll be in the mix the entire way but come up a bit short.

 

2nd- Leeds

Manager: Howard Wilkinson. The most successful manager since Don Revie, Wilko led the Whites from Division Two to the Division One crown.    

Last Season: 1st. 13 points from a possible 15 down the stretch saw them eke out Manchester United for the crown.   

Transfers in: Jason Rees, Luton 200k; David Speedie, Southampton 550k; Carl Muggleton, Leicester 250k

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): John Lukic / Tony Dorigo, Chris Fairclough, Jon Newsome, David Kerslake / Gary Speed, Gary McAllister, David Batty, Gordon Strachan / Lee Chapman, Rod Wallace

Key man: Gary Speed. The Welsh wizard anchors one of the best midfields in the country.

Prediction: 2nd. The departure of Cantona to their fiercest rivals will be the difference. Chapman and Wallace doesn’t look like a Championship-winning front line.  

 

1st – Manchester United

Manager: Alex Ferguson. Entering his seventh season at Old Trafford, he’s won in Europe and won the Cup, but now he’s looking for the league title.     

Last Season:2nd.  With stars in their eyes, they lost three times down the stretch and ultimately blew the title.

Transfers in: David McEnroe, QPR 1.6m; Gavin Peacock, Newcastle 1.3m

Transfers out: None

Projected XI (4-4-2): Peter Schmeichel / Dennis Irwin, Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce, Paul Parker/ David McEnroe, Brian McClair, Paul Ince, Ryan Giggs / Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes

Key man: Ryan Giggs – the most exciting youngster in the country.  

Prediction: 1st. To us this is a no brainer. Should have won the league last year and the addition of Cantona from their biggest title rivals, along with young forward Dion Dublin, should be more than enough.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Round 1

Finally, nearly four years after a breakaway first division was announced, the Premier League kicked off on 15 August 1992. QPR’s Ian Holloway writes his name in the history books by scoring the first ever Premier League goal in Rangers’ 2-1 win over Tottenham.

Defending First Division champions Leeds took on fellow title contenders Arsenal at Highbury in the round’s feature tie. Howard Wilkinson was likely to be the happier of the two managers but the honours were even in a 1-1 draw: Kevin Campbell scored for the hosts, while Lee Chapman netted for Leeds.

Elsewhere there are wins for Southampton, Villa, Coventry, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United.

 

During the week, Ipswich, which drew their opening game of the season 0-0 at Blackburn, went into the transfer market to further strengthen their backline. Andy Llewellyn arrives from Bristol City for 70k. I’m skeptical whether he’ll ever get a game.

***

Round 2

Aston Villa were on the top of the table by virtue of goals scored following their 3-1 win in the first week. They were on the losing end of the same score line this week—a Nick Barmby hat trick, the first in Premier League history, securing Tottenham the three points. Dean Saunders scored the consolation goal for Villa; Saunders is also off to a fast start this year, hitting three goals in his first two league games.

A dubious bit of history is notched up at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea defender Steve Clarke becomes the first man to get sent off in a Premier League game. His team still managed to secure a 2-1 win over Sheffield United, Graeme Stuart and Robert Fleck getting the Chelsea goals.

Through two rounds the only team on a maximum six points is Everton. The Toffees travelled to Selhurst Park and knocked off Wimbledon 1-0 on a Robert Warzycha goal. It hasn’t been a good start to the season for either of the two Selhurst-based clubs, as they are both yet to record a point through two fixtures.

The biggest surprise of the week came at Portman Road where Ipswich record another clean sheet, this time in a 1-0 win over Liverpool. Picking up four points from their first two against two teams expected to contend is a great return for John Lyall’s men.

Round 2 Table: Everton 6; Leeds, Man Utd, Man City, Southampton, Ipswich 4

Sheff Utd, Blackburn, Norwich 1; Wimbledon, Crystal Palace 0

 ***

Round 3

It wouldn’t normally be a game you’d flag as the week’s feature encounter but this round our eyes were on the happenings at Goodison Park where early pace setters Everton took on a miserly Ipswich defense. Unsurprisingly goals were difficult to come by, and when young Matt Jackson got sent off for the hosts, Everton were second favourites. However, at the end of the 90 minutes it was the home fans who were celebrating their team had picked up 9 points from a possible 9 – a Tony Cottee goal proving to be the difference in a 1-0 win.

A number of teams remain hot on Everton’s tail: defending champions Leeds have made it 7 points from 9 after beating QPR 2-1 at Loftus Road. The other teams on 7 points are Manchester United, after they beat Chelsea 3-2 at Old Trafford, and Southampton who beat Arsenal 2-1 at Highbury. Arsenal are struggling early out of the gate: they only have two points from three games.

That’s two more than Wimbledon, though: they lose again, this time 2-1 at Sheffield United.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes you see a 0-0 scoreline and people say, “It was actually a really eventful game.” Aston Villa and Manchester City ended without a goal, but Steve Staunton and Kevin Richardson were both sent off for the hosts, while Tony Coton, Peter Reid, and Mike Sheron all left the game injured for City. Madness! 

Round 3 Table: Everton 9; Leeds, Man Utd, Southampton 7

Arsenal 2; Norwich 1; Wimbledon 0

 ***

As we head into the international break, two teams near the top of the table add some more depth in goal. Veysey joins table-topping Everton from Sheffield United for£150k; he’ll back up anointed number one, Jason Kearton. Meanwhile Ian Ironside joins Manchester United from Middlesbrough for £100k. Right now, Ironside would be the third-string choice; however, with Gary Walsh on the transfer list, there’s a possibility Alex Ferguson is just trying to get in front of this one and he sees Ironside as his long-term backup.

Up next: Graham Taylor announces his latest England side.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Monday, 31st August 1992

England manager Graham Taylor announced his 22-man squad for next week’s friendly against Spain. The match will be the first since England’s failed Euro 92 campaign. The squad features a recall for Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley, both of whom appeared to be out of national team contention. Meanwhile, six men are in line to pick up their first cap if they see any action.

 

The squad in full:

Goalkeepers:  Chris Woods, Sheffield Wednesday (34 caps); Tony Coton, Manchester City (0 caps)

Defenders: Paul Parker, Manchester United (17 caps); Earl Barrett, Aston Villa (1 cap); Stuart Pearce, Nottingham Forest (50 caps); Tony Dorigo, Leeds (10 caps); Gary Pallister, Manchester United (5 caps); Des Walker, Sampdoria (47 caps); Steve Bruce, Manchester United (0 caps); Tony Adams, Arsenal (19 caps)

Midfielders: Chris Waddle, Sheffield Wednesday (62 caps); Matt Le Tissier, Southampton (0 caps); Kevin Watson, Tottenham (no caps); John Barnes, Liverpool (67 caps); Paul Gascoigne, Lazio (20 caps); Peter Beardsley, Everton (49 caps); David Platt, Juventus (32 caps); Nigel Clough, Nottingham Forest (7 caps)

Forwards: Alan Shearer, Blackburn (3 caps); Ian Wright, Arsenal (5 caps); David Hirst, Sheffield Wednesday (3 caps); Les Ferdinand, QPR (no caps)

***

Round 4

In the last round of fixtures before the mid-week internationals, it’s derby day and the spotlight is on North London and Manchester. Both Doug Livermore’s Spurs and George Graham’s Arsenal are struggling to start the season: Tottenham has three points from their first three fixtures, while Arsenal has just two. Nick Barmby and Kevin Campbell have both had solid starts to the year and both men pick up another goal in the first half. Barmby now has four goals, while Campbell has three. The difference in this fixture was a second-half goal from veteran Spurs midfielder Gordon Durie, which sent the home supporters into raptures and piled more misery on the Gunners.

Up in Manchester, City hosted United at Maine Road in a typically cagey affair. The lone goal came from City winger-cum-striker David White, who will be disappointed not to have been in the England squad. United’s dropped points don’t have a major impact on the happenings at the top of the table: leaders Everton lose 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsbrough, with England squad members Chris Waddle and David Hirst scoring the goals.

Within the chasing pack, Southampton are held at home by Coventry, and Leeds play Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road. Those results mean there are now seven teams within two points of the top.

Down at the bottom of the table, Wimbledon are finally off the mark following a 1-1 draw at home against Blackburn. They’re equal on points with Norwich, and one back of Arsenal.

Round 4 table: Everton 9; Leeds, Southampton 8; Liverpool, Sheff Utd, Sheff Wed, Man Utd 7

Arsenal 2; Norwich, Wimbledon 1

 

After the weekend's fixtures we learn Brian Clough is not happy with the amount of goals being generated by his forward line and he decides to look to Division Two for an addition, bringing in 28-year-old Paul Jewell from Bradford City. Jewell scored six times in 30 appearances for the Bantams last year, so I’m not convinced this is the difference maker Forest is looking for.

***

Spain vs England

Estadio El Sardinero, Santander

 

Spain: Andoni Zubizarreta, Albert Ferrer, Toni, Roberto Solozabal, Juan Manuel Lopez, Vizcaino, Gregorio Fonseca, Michel, Jose Maria Bakero, Martin Vazquez, Guilermo Amor

England: Chris Woods; Paul Parker (Earl Barrett HT), Stuart Pearce ©, Gary Pallister (Steve Bruce 63), Des Walker, Chris Waddle (Matt Le Tissier 78), Paul Gascoigne, David Platt, Nigel Clough, Alan Shearer, Kevin Watson (David Hirst 78)

 

In the first half, England start well with debutant Kevin Watson breaking free in the second minute but his chance is poorly taken and is hit right at Zubizarreta. From that point on, Spain begin carving England apart—they get chances through Martin Vazquez, and then Gary Pallister is called upon to make a last-ditch tackle to avoid Fonseca getting in on his own, but England’s defence can’t hold out for long. In the 11th minute, Fonseca gets in the way of a Martin Vazquez shot but he is able to pick up the loose ball, turn and put it past Chris Woods to give Spain the lead. 

Later in the half Alan Shearer has a goal ruled out when David Platt is ruled to have fouled the keeper, but otherwise it is one-way traffic with Martin Vazquez pulling all the strings and Fonseca looking like the biggest threat on goal. Despite their dominance, Spain are unable to extend their lead.

The second half brings little in terms of chances, with a skied shot from substitute David Hirst representing the best opportunity for Graham Taylor’s side to draw level. England will need to do better when World Cup Qualifying starts in four weeks’ time.

 

Final Score: Spain 1 (Fonseca); England 0

***

Round 5

With the mid-week friendly out of the way we can get back to what matters: The Premier League. Leaders Everton hit the ground running after the break with a 3-0 hammering of Tottenham—Tony Cottee’s double making the difference.

Liverpool also deliver a hammering as they lay a beating on Southampton, 4-0 at Anfield. Jan Molby is the unlikely offensive weapon as he scores twice, with Mark Wright and Michael Thomas grabbing the others.

The feature game this week is the Steel City derby between a Sheffield United team that’s exceeding all expectations early on and their cross-town rivals Sheffield Wednesday. It’s United who strike first through an Alan Cork goal and the hosts head into the break 1-0 up. In the second half Wednesday pull even with a David Hirst marker but it’s Sheffield United and Dave Bassett who have the last laugh—super sub Jamie Hoyland hits a late winner to give the Blades the three points.

Down at the bottom of the table in the battle of Selhurst Park, it is the “visitors” Wimbledon who score a huge 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. Paul Miller’s goal lifts the Dons out of the bottom three. Replacing the Dons in last place is Norwich who are stuck on one point after losing 2-0 to Aston Villa. Arsenal join Palace and Norwich in the relegation spots – the Gunners blow a late lead at home to Ipswich: John Wark coming off the bench to grab the equalizer for Ipswich.

Round 5 Table: Everton 12; Liverpool, Sheff Utd 10; Man City, Sheff Wed 9

Arsenal, Crystal Palace 3; Norwich 1

Edited by King Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Thanks! 

---------------------

 

For the first time in Premier League history, manager and player of the month awards are handed out. Manchester City's player-boss Peter Reid picks up the managerial award, while Aston Villa winger Tony Daley wins in the player category. Given City's win in the Charity Shield, Reid's win isn't a surprise, while Daley was a bit of an under-the-radar pick.

Round 6

Our weekly roundup begins at Old Trafford where we witness one of the games of the season when Manchester United host Liverpool. First-half goals from Gary Pallister and Paul Ince gave the hosts a 2-0 lead at the break, but Liverpool completes a total smash-and-grab job in the second half. With just three shots on goal, one goal from Ronny Rosenthal and a John Barnes double mean the Reds escape Manchester with all three points. United controlled possession and had many more chances than Liverpool to put the game to bed but couldn't get the job done. Alex Ferguson hasn't knocked Liverpool off their perch yet.

Table toppers Everton traveled to Highbury in the week's other marquee fixture. Arsenal's struggles have been well documented, but Kevin Campbell's fine personal form continues as he scores first to give the hosts the lead. Arsenal controlled the game and really should have won but an equalizer from young midfielder Billy Kenny, who Peter Beardsley has ordained the "Goodison Gazza," meant the teams split the points. Everton are now equal on 13 points with their Merseyside rivals, and we are now looking for Arsenal to begin turning the corner--with a couple of more performances like these, they'll be climbing the table in no time.

One team that we suspect may have far more difficulty climbing the table is Crystal Palace. They were simply horrible against Aston Villa and the 1-0 Villa win did not begin to illustrate the difference in the two sides. Villa racked up 61% possession and out-chanced Palace 10-1. It was only a heroic performance from Nigel Martyn that kept the score somewhat respectable.

Down at the bottom, Norwich pick up their first win of the year, knocking off 10-man Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Hillsborough. Norwich's talisman Ian Crook picking up the lone marker in this one after John Sheridan was sent off.

Meanwhile, there was no manager of the month curse for Peter Reid and Manchester City – two goals from young winger Scott Thomas gave City a 2-0 win at Wimbledon.

Round 6 Table: Liverpool, Everton 13; Manchester City 12; Aston Villa 11

Arsenal, Wimbledon, Norwich 4; Crystal Palace 3

 

Everton is active in the transfer market during the week, bringing in centre back Paul Mardon from Birmingham for £400k. Mardon has made three appearances for Birmingham so far this year. QPR are also active in the market, picking up Polish utility player Detsi Kruszynski from Brentford for 90k. Poor Brentford has been picked clean this year, and unsurprisingly they are quite a bit adrift from the rest of the pack in Division One. Krusyznski had previously made 71 appearances and scored four goals during three-and-a-half years with Wimbledon so he has some top-flight experience.

Down in the Football League we note the transfer of right-back Simon Grayson from Leicester City to Bolton for 100k. Grayson missed out on a First Division winner's medal by leaving Leeds last season but it seems like he never settled in Leicester, making just four appearances—perhaps the move up the A50 will help kick-start his playing career.

Also midweek is the draw for the second round of the Coca-Cola Cup. Defending league cup champions Manchester United start their title defence against Division One Oxford. Co-leaders Liverpool will face Grimsby, while Everton will take on Division Three Shrewsbury. There will be eyes on the Birmingham Aston Villa tie, while West Ham Arsenal is another intriguing contest.

 

Round 7

We start out with an intriguing battle at the bottom of the division with Arsenal traveling to Selhurst Park to take on basement-club Crystal Palace. People, your fearless correspondent included, keep waiting for Arsenal to turn the corner and this fixture seems like a prime opportunity. Signs look good when ex-Palace man Ian Wright opens the scoring in the first half for the Gunners.  However, it all comes undone in stoppage time when substitute Robert Bowry nets a late equalizer for Palace for Steve Coppell's men. George Graham is furious but surely the pressure must be starting to mount.

The other teams at the bottom have mixed results: Norwich lose 2-0 against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, while Wimbledon picks up a point in a 2-2 draw at Southampton. Kerry Dixon rolls back the years to net twice for Southampton, while John Fashanu grabs one of the goals for the Dons.

At the top of the table, Everton is turned over by Blackburn at Goodison, going down 1-0 to a Mark Aktins goal. Liverpool fares a little better as they grab a 1-1 draw against QPR at Loftus Road—Rufus Brevett nets for QPR, while Michael Thomas gets the goal for the Reds.

Coming up on the outside in this now three-horse race is Manchester City who signaled their intent by beating Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. Graham Stuart scores for the hosts but goals for Fitzroy Simpson and David White give City the points.

Round 7 table: Man City 15; Liverpool 14; Everton 13; Sheff Wed 12

Arsenal, Wimbledon 5; Norwich, Crystal Palace 4

 

 

 

Edited by King Jeff
Sorry, Fitzroy--spelled your name wrong!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brian Clough was known to rate Stan Collymore and now he's got his man. After having a couple of initial bids knocked back, Collymore is off to Forest for 650k—although the price strikes us as a great deal, it still represents a tidy 500k profit on the man Southend signed in the summer. Stan the Man ended his time with the Shrimpers with four goals from nine games. To help fund the deal, Forest had to sell Ian Woan to Chelsea for £1 million. I don't think Cloughie will be disappointed by this trade-off: Ian Woan did not make an appearance for Forest this season.

Elsewhere in the transfer market, another week and another departure from Brentford: Marcus Gayle, a young defender/forward, who played five times for the Bees this year, has joined Everton for 200k. And finally, we note Crystal Palace, currently sitting at the bottom of the table, have made the rather curious decision to sell off one of their starting defenders to a rival. Andy Thorn has been shipped off to Ipswich for 450k.

***

A look into Europe

This week marks the kick-off of the UEFA Cup, and as such, it's time to take a look at the lay of the land in Europe. There are three levels of competition: the Champions League (in its first year under the new branding), the Cup Winners' Cup, and the UEFA Cup.

The Champions League contains only one representative from each country and begins as a straight two-legged knockout competition until there are eight teams left. These eight clubs play in two groups, with the group winners advancing to the final. The defending champions are Johan Cruyff's Barcelona, which beat Sampdoria 1-0 in extra time on a Ronald Koeman free kick. Barcelona will be one of the major contenders again this year, as will the defeated finalists Sampdoria, the Romario-led PSV, and Marseille. The British team most likely to make an impact this year will be Rangers; not much should be expected from Manchester City, although they get somewhat of a bye in the first round after being drawn against Jeunesse from Luxembourg.

The Cup Winners' Cup is another two-legged knockout competition with teams playing down to a single-leg final. Last year's winner was Werder Bremen but they are in the UEFA Cup this year and won't have a chance to repeat as champions. We expect the major contenders to be Juventus, Real Madrid, Bordeaux, or Porto. Liverpool flies the flag as England's representative and will have to be considered in with a shot after they made the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup last season. If you're thinking about a darkhorse, how about Partizan Belgrade? A notoriously tough place to play and a talented side led by Predrag Mijatovic and who are running away with the Yugoslavian First Division. The winner of the Partizan Liverpool tie will be expected to do some damage.

The UEFA Cup promises to be intriguing as there are several heavy hitters in the tournament. There are four English representatives in this year's Cup, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Tottenham, but when you look at the contenders your eyes are immediately drawn to the three Italian clubs: Inter, the Van Basten and Rijkaard-led AC Milan and Maradona-less Napoli. A Monaco side managed by Arsene Wenger and speared by Jurgen Klinsmann, Luis Aragones's Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon are the other teams we'll be watching closely. Although there is unpredictability about European competition in the early 90s, three English teams will still be favourite for their first-round games. Aston Villa should beat Danish side Esjberg, Tottenham will cruise past Besa from Albania, and poor domestic form aside, Arsenal should have just enough to get past Espanyol. We are less confident in Manchester United's chances – Fergie's men have drawn George Weah, David Ginola and Paris St Germain.

Key European Fixtures

Champions League: Manchester City vs Jeunesse (Lux)

Cup Winners' Cup: Partizan (Yug) vs Liverpool

UEFA Cup: Aston Villa vs Esjberg (Den); Besa (Alb) vs Tottenham; Espanyol vs Arsenal; PSG vs Man Utd

***

The Champions League and Cup Winners' Cup will kick off in a couple of weeks' time but for now, the spotlight is shining on the UEFA Cup.

The biggest tie featuring an English squad takes place at Old Trafford, where Manchester United face PSG. The first leg ends up scoreless and is largely devoid of any action, leaving it all to play for back in France. United will have to be considered second favourites but they're not out of it by any stretch.

It also ends up scoreless in Denmark, where Aston Villa holds Esjberg. Not an ideal result but I think Ron Atkinson would have taken a draw if it was offered before kickoff. They'll fancy themselves the more likely to win it back at Villa Park.

Tottenham was in tougher than they would have anticipated in their first-leg fixture against Besa. A Justin Edinburgh red card put them under the gun but goals from Gary Mabbutt, Darren Anderton, and Teddy Sheringham were enough to see them through to a 3-2 win. Job done, but a goal by the Albanians back home will change everything.

More comfortable after the first leg is Arsenal who set aside their dodgy league form by dismantling Espanyol 3-0 at Highbury. A double from Paul Merson and a third from Ian Wright will surely be enough to see the Gunners through to Round 2.

Up next: A return to domestic action

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Round 8

 

This has proved to be a good week for the leading pack. We start the weekly roundup at Anfield where Liverpool hosted Arsenal. We keep waiting for Arsenal to really pick up some momentum—we’ll have to wait at least one more week because a double from Ronny Rosenthal and strong supporting performances from John Barnes and Mike Marsh saw the Reds run out 2-0 winners. This is the fifth straight game in which Rosenthal and Marsh have been the starting strike pair for the Reds. We’ve been waiting for an announcement that Ian Rush is on the move but there has been nothing to report on that front so far—there aren’t even any suitors rumoured to be tracking the unhappy Welshman.

First-place Manchester City continue to roll on at home, winning 1-0 over Ipswich. Influential midfielder Fitzroy Simpson hits the winner for the second straight game for the Blues. Third-place Everton cruised to an equally straightforward 1-0 win at home, topping Aston Villa on a Peter Beardsley marker.

We’ve not spoken much about Sheffield Wednesday but they send a warning shot to the lead pack by dominating Tottenham in a 2-0 win at White Hart Lane. The Owls’ dynamic strike duo of David Hirst and Paul Warhurst are both on target in the win.

At the bottom of the table it’s a much-needed win for Steve Coppell’s Crystal Palace side. Goals from Chris Armstrong and John Salako help Palace jump right out of the bottom three. Meanwhile, it’s honours even in a match between two relegation battlers: Norwich and Wimbledon draw 1-1 at Carrow Road.

We conclude our roundup with the report of a game straight out of the late 80s between Southampton and Leeds at The Dell. The game ended 2-1 for Leeds with Kerry Dixon scoring Southampton’s goal and his former Chelsea strike partner David Speedie collecting both goals for Leeds—and what would an old-school game be without a couple of red cards? Nicky Banger was sent off for Southampton, while Jon Newsome and Gary Speed both saw red for Leeds, the latter for a crunching tackle on Glenn Cockerill, who is now expected to miss a month with a thigh injury.

Round 8 Table: Man City 18; Liverpool 17; Everton 16; Leeds, Sheff Wed 15

Wimbledon 6; Arsenal, Norwich 5

*** 

 

With the season reaching the quarter-mark, for the first time this season we’ll look at the happenings in Division One, where Glenn Hoddle’s Swindon lead the way early on. Leicester holds the second automatic promotion place, with Millwall, Barnsley, Derby and Portsmouth all sitting in the playoff spots. At the wrong end of the table, Grimsby, Middlesbrough and Brentford occupy the bottom three—shockingly, Brentford’s strategy of selling off every asset they have just doesn’t seem to be working out for them, they’ve been in last place since the first week of the season.

 

In the transfer market, Southampton make two moves to try and strengthen their (rather thin) midfield. They sign Steve Anthrobus, a 24-year-old attacking midfielder who played ten times for the Dons last season but hasn’t featured yet this year. The fee is reported to be 150k, the same amount Wimbledon paid to sign him in 1990. The Saints also pick up Blackburn’s 21-year-old right winger Simon Ireland for 650k. He’s played seven times for Rovers this year and we like this signing – he appears to be a player with some potential, but from Blackburn’s perspective it’s a 450k profit on a player they bought under a year ago from Division Three Huddersfield.

 

***

 

England vs Norway

World Cup 94 Qualifying – Group 2

 

England kicks off its World Cup qualification campaign with a home tie against Norway at Wembley. Based on an interesting bit of scheduling, Norway have already racked up nine points from three games. Admittedly they have played San Marino twice, and outscored them 12-0, but a 2-1 win over the Netherlands is a sign that the Norwegians are no pushovers. With only two from Norway, Netherlands, Turkey, Poland and England advancing (sorry, San Marino), qualifying for USA 94 won’t be a straightforward proposition.

 

Graham Taylor names a lineup with two changes from the squad that lost in Spain last month. Arsenal defender Tony Adams replaces Gary Pallister in central defense, while up front Ian Wright partners Alan Shearer. Nigel Clough drops to the bench.

 

Norway: Erik Thorstvedt, Roger Nilsen, Tore Pedersen, Rune Bratseth ©, Stig Inge Bjornbye, Kare Ingebrigsten, Erik Mykland, Kjetil Rekdal, Gunnar Halle, Goran Sorloth, Mini Jakobsen

England: Chris Woods; Paul Parker (Earl Barrett 90), Stuart Pearce ©, Des Walker, Tony Adams; Chris Waddle, Paul Gascoigne, David Platt, Kevin Watson; Alan Shearer, Ian Wright (David Hirst 69)

 

England start the game out in the ascendancy, racking up a number of first-half chances. The best chance falls to Ian Wright who woefully mishits a clear-cut chance to break the deadlock. In the second half, England take the lead they deserve – a cross from a free-kick from Pearce is toe-poked home by David Platt. It looked like England would march to victory but a 25-yard-belter from Kjetil Rekdal flew into the top corner, eluding Chris Woods in goal and giving Norway an unlikely equalizer.  The goal sucked the life out of England and the game then petered out completely – 1-1 being the final result.

For England, they’ve put themselves under the gun very early in this qualifying campaign while Norway will feel as though they have a very good chance of securing one of the two automatic qualification spots.

 

Final Score: England 1 (Platt); Norway 1 (Rekdal)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing encourages unnecessary fixture congestion more than the Coca-Cola Cup. For some reason the early rounds of this competition are two-legged affairs, and with a pretty uninspiring draw, there isn’t much in terms of talking points. Highlights include Aston Villa getting city bragging rights after they beat Birmingham 3-0 at St Andrews—Dalian Atkinson hitting a double for Villa. The most surprising result comes from Anfield where Division One strugglers Grimsby manage a 2-2 draw against the Reds. Out of favour Ian Rush claims a goal in a rare start. Two ties we will be watching in the second legs are Sheffield United vs Fulham after the Cottagers picked up a surprising 1-0 win in the first leg, and Newcastle Tottenham after Newcastle grabbed a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane.

 

Round 9

Reputations can be made and destroyed in local derbies and young defender Matt Jackson has his name on the lips of people on both sides of Merseyside after his “performance” in a 4-2 Liverpool win at Anfield. Jackson scored two own goals and got sent off in a day he’ll be desperate to forget. Ronnie Whelan and Ronnie Rosenthal also grabbed goals for Liverpool, while Gary Ablett and Peter Beagrie scored in the right end for Everton.  Jackson is a player with real potential so we're hopeful he'll be able to put this behind him.

Could Manchester City be real contenders? It’ll be hard to count them out if they’re able to keep up the home form they’ve displayed so far this season – they destroy Southampton 4-0 at Maine Road this week to remain undefeated at home. Mike Sheron grabbed a brace for City in the win.

Leeds keep pace with the leaders with a 1-0 win over Ipswich at Portman Road. Aussie-born England international Tony Dorigo has had a great start to his season and chips in another goal in the win. Sheffield Wednesday are knocked off 2-0 at Nottingham Forest, a game notable for Stan Collymore picking up his first Forest goal.

At the bottom of the table, both Arsenal and Norwich pick up a point. Arsenal are lifted by an Ian Wright double in a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa, while Norwich hold Chelsea 0-0 at Carrow Road. Wimbledon escape the bottom three with a fine 2-0 win over Tottenham, John Scales and a Gary Mabbutt own goal being the difference. That pulls Crystal Palace and Ipswich into the drop zone – Palace were beaten by Sheffield United 2-1 on a Brian Deane double, while Ipswich lost to Leeds.

Round 9 Table: Man City 21; Liverpool 20; Leeds 18; QPR, Sheff Utd 17

Ipswich, Crystal Palace 7; Arsenal, Norwich 6

***

In the transfer market, Wimbledon sell Irish international midfielder Paul McGee to Watford for an undisclosed fee. A former member of the Crazy Gang, McGee has made just two appearances for Wimbledon this year: Watford are near the bottom of Division One, so he should make more of an impact there.

 

Midweek marks the return of the UEFA Cup for the second leg of the first-round ties and results go about as well for English teams as could be expected. Manchester United were always second favourites heading to Paris to take on PSG. They put in a strong performance but were ultimately beaten by a second half goal from captain George Weah, losing 1-0 on aggregate.

The other team for whom the result was uncertain was Aston Villa, but goals from Kevin Richardson and Dean Saunders saw them knock off Danish side Esjberg 2-0 on aggregate to book their spot in the second round. Both North London clubs advanced into the second round, as well—a goal from Kevin Watson put Tottenham’s tie against Basa out of doubt. Spurs pick up 1-0 win in Albania and a 4-2 win on aggregate. Ian Wright’s strong form carries on for Arsenal as he picked up two more goals in Spain in a 2-0 Arsenal win over Espanyol. George Graham’s men win the tie 5-0 on aggregate.

 

In the second-round draw, Arsenal get a tough draw against German representatives Werder Bremen, while Tottenham have been drawn against Aston Villa. Other interesting ties include Aberdeen vs Inter Milan and PSG vs Sporting Lisbon.

 

Liverpool weren’t in action mid-week but they are struck by the news that young midfielder/forward Mike Marsh has badly broken his leg in training. Marsh, who was being used by Graeme Souness in the number ten role this year, is expected to miss a year’s worth of action. Through injury comes opportunity—this might be a way for Ian Rush to get back in the team’s plans and playing on a regular basis.

***

Round 10

The news at Anfield is the return to the starting lineup of Ian Rush for Liverpool’s match against Sheffield United. Rush takes no time adding his imprint on the game: he nets a first half double and is named the man of the match in a 3-1 Liverpool win. Strike partner Ronny Rosenthal grabbed the Reds’ other goal, while Alan Cork picked up a consolation marker for the Blades.

Table-topping Manchester City remained perfect at home following a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday. David White scored the only goal in the first half, and while a draw might have been a fair result in a even contest, Chris Bart-Williams’ red card in the second half was a major setback for the Owls’ chances of grabbing anything from the game.

Leeds are staking their claim to third position with their third straight league win, this one a 2-1 victory over Tottenham at White Hart Lane. The game also marked the third fixture in a row in which Tony Dorigo scored a goal—for a man not known as a goal scorer he has been a revelation this season. Teddy Sheringham scored Spurs’ goal while David Batty scored Leeds’ other marker.

The biggest fixture at the bottom of the table took place at Carrow Road where Norwich hosted Ipswich. Despite the game being relatively even, and largely devoid of quality, a Daryl Sutch goal was the difference in a 1-0 Canaries win. One redeeming factor for Ipswich was the play of Gavin Johnson, who looks like quite a promising player, and was named man of the match in defeat.

Arsenal have fallen to last place in the league following a 2-1 home defeat against Manchester United. The teams traded first half goals: Brian McClair put the visitors in front before Kevin Campbell equalized, and a second-half goal from Mark Hughes proved to be the difference.

Round 10 table: Man City 24; Liverpool 23; Leeds 21; Everton 19

Chelsea, Coventry, Tottenham, Norwich 9; Ipswich 7; Arsenal 6

 

After the game, it is announced that Aston Villa boss Ron Atkinson was named Manager of the Month for September, presumably for his success in the UEFA Cup. My vote would have been for Peter Reid.

Aston Villa striker Dean Saunders was the winner of the Player of the Month award. I would have sprung for Tony Dorigo or Ian Wright, myself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Manchester United have made some questionable decisions in the transfer market this year, but their latest signing has us scrambling for the Rothman’s Football Yearbook. The new man is Robert Codner, a 28-year-old midfielder, picked up from Brighton for 100k. He scored six goals in 30 appearances in what-is-now Division Two last year and has three from his 12 appearances so far this year. I really struggle to see where Codner fits in, but we’ll see what Ferguson’s plan is.

 

The first leg of the second round of the Coca-Cola Cup brought few surprises but our eyes were on Sheffield United vs Fulham after the Division Two side picked up a win in the first leg. The second leg is truer to form as the Blades cruise through 3-1 on aggregate. Tottenham were another Premier League club that were in a bit of trouble following a first-leg loss to Newcastle. Kevin Keegan’s men proved the fist leg result was no fluke winning 1-0 at St James’ Park for a 2-0 aggregate score.

The biggest shock comes at Blundell Park where Grimsby hold Liverpool to a 1-1 draw meaning the Mariners advance on away goals after their 2-2 draw at Anfield. At Filbert Street, Division One contenders Leicester knock out Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace 3-2 on aggregate and Southampton implode at the Dell against Derby County, losing 4-2 at home and 5-4 overall.

The draw for the next round seems equally uninspiring with Leeds vs Blackburn, QPR vs Nottingham Forest and Norwich vs Sheffield United the only all-Premier League ties.

***

Round 11

There’s only one place to start this recap and that’s at Elland Road where leaders Manchester City travelled to take on defending champions Leeds. The champions are clearly not ready to give up their title without a fight and jumped out to a 2-0 lead at half time through goals from David Rocastle and David Speedie. Scotsman Speedie has a well-known nasty streak so it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see him shown a red in the second half which opened the door for a City comeback. Player-manager Peter Reid grabbed one to make it nail-biting stuff, but the second goal never came and Leeds emerged victorious to draw level with City on points.

The Leeds win meant that Liverpool would go top with a victory at Villa Park, but they weren’t able to capitalize on their opportunity. The only goal of the game was a Mark Wright own goal and Villa picked up the three points. Everton’s form has been questionable of late and they also fell this week, 2-1 to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Brian McClair and Mark Hughes picked up the United goals, while new signing Codner was (unsurprisingly) not in the matchday squad.

Down at the bottom of the table there are huge wins for Arsenal, who beat Sheffield United 1-0, and Ipswich, who knock off Chelsea 2-0 at home. John Lyall will deserve a lot of the credit for the Ipswich win as his two substitutes, Jason Dozzell and Boncho Guentchev, scored the goals. Those results combined with a 2-0 Southampton win over Tottenham creates a very interesting situation at the bottom where three big London clubs now occupy the relegation places. Hold on to your hats, everyone.

Round 11 Table: Man City, Leeds 24; Liverpool 23; Everton 19

Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham 9

***

Cue the anthem! The newly re-branded Champions League is here and with it a new anthem written by a British composer, channeling the style of Handel, and lyrics in English, French and German. It’ll grow on you.

Less than six months ago Barcelona and Sampdoria were facing off at Wembley in the European Cup final but if either team is going to get back to the finals this year they’re going to need to overcome a first-leg deficit to avoid falling at the first hurdle. Neither team has too many reasons to be concerned, mind you: Barcelona lose 3-2 to Gotenborg in Sweden, while Sampdoria go down 1-0 to FC Tirol in Austria. We expect both teams will be fine.  The English representative Manchester City have a bit of a free pass in this round, being drawn against Luxembourg’s champion, FC Jeunesse, but they make harder-than-expected work of it at Maine Road. Ultimately, a goal from Mike Sheron and an own goal make it a 2-0 final heading back to Luxembourg.

In the Cup Winners’ Cup, Liverpool have a tricky first round opponent to navigate in Partizan Belgrade. The trip to Serbia proved suitably challenging for the Reds, with Ljubomir Vorkapic scoring the only goal in a 1-0 Partizan win. Our pick to win the CWC is Real Madrid but they will have some work to do after being held to a 2-2 draw in Norway against Lillestrom.

***

Round 12

It’s joint-top vs joint-bottom at White Hart Lane when Manchester City come to town. City have not impressed in their two recent outings, losing at Leeds and putting up an uninspiring win in the Champions League, and Tottenham are the latest club to capitalize on City’s wobble in form. Goals from Vinny Samways and Nicky Barmby knock City off their perch and send Spurs jumping right back out of the bottom three after being sucked in last week.

While there were good fortunes for one of London clubs in the relegation dogfight, it was not as positive for the other three clubs that are there or thereabouts. Chelsea were downed 2-0 by Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough with both members of their dynamic strike duo Warhurst and Hirst finding the back of the net. Arsenal – oh, Arsenal – lose again, as well: this time 1-0 at home against Coventry. Micky Quinn scores the winner for the Sky Blues and every week I find myself wondering how George Graham still has a job.

Crystal Palace weren’t in the bottom three at the start of the round but they are another London club that must be looking over their shoulder every week. Travelling to Anfield is never easy, and Steve Coppell’s men put in a strong effort, but they are ultimately overturned 2-1—Michael Thomas and John Barnes netting for Liverpool. That result, combined with the City loss and Leeds’ 1-0 defeat to Wimbledon, puts Liverpool back in the position where they’ve spent most of the past ten years: first.

They aren’t a London club but I will highlight the Norwich Southampton game, if only to be able to recite one of my all-time favourite football anecdotes. The goal scorer in the game is former Soviet international and now Southampton right back, Alexei Cherednik. The rumour is that when Cherednik moved to England from the Soviet Union, he did not know how to complete a throw-in. A no doubt befuddled Southampton manager Chris Nicholl had to get Barry Horne to provide throw in lessons to the club’s new star import.  

Round 12 table: Liverpool 26; Man City, Leeds 24; Everton 22

Norwich 10; Arsenal, Chelsea 9

 ***

Midweek sees the return of the Coca-Cola Cup. We went into the round expecting little in terms of storylines but a major one surfaces at the Victoria Ground where Division Two leaders Stoke City dominate Arsenal and end up 3-1 winners. Surely, surely, surely George Graham has to go now. Surely.  Elsewhere, it’s as you were, with wins for Leeds, Aston Villa, Man Utd, Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich, Manchester City, Coventry, Everton and Ipswich.

 

Also during midweek, Graham Taylor names his England squad to face Turkey in next week’s World Cup qualifier. There are first-ever callups for Leeds keeper John Lukic, Wimbledon defender John Scale, QPR man Clive Wilson, Paul Ince, and two Manchester City players, Scott Thomas and David White. In addition, two men, Des Walker and Peter Beardsley, would earn their 50th England cap is they find any action. Nottingham Forest left-back Stuart Pearce is expected to retain the captain's armband. 

The squad in full is:

Goalkeepers: John Lukic, Leeds (no caps); Chris Woods, Sheff Wed (36 caps)

Defenders: Paul Parker, Man Utd (19 caps); John Scales, Wimbledon (no caps); Stuart Pearce, Nottingham Forest (52 caps); Clive Wilson, QPR (no caps); Gary Pallister, Man Utd (6 caps); Tony Adams, Arsenal (20 caps); Des Walker, Sampdoria (49 caps); Martin Keown, Arsenal (9 caps)

Midfielders: Chris Waddle, Sheff Wed (64 caps); Scott Thomas, Manchester City (no caps); Kevin Watson, Tottenham (2 caps); Andy Sinton, QPR (6 caps); Paul Gascoigne, Lazio (22 caps); Peter Beardsley, Everton (49 caps); Paul Ince, Man Utd (no caps); Nigel Clough, Nottingham Forest (8 caps)

Forwards: David Hirst, Sheffield Wednesday (5 caps); Alan Shearer, Blackburn (5 caps); Ian Wright, Arsenal (6 caps); David White, Man City (no caps)

 

Up next: Rumours of a manager being on his last legs at one of the London clubs…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Arsenal and Chelsea not doing too well at the moment there compared to what happened in OTL.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep. In real life, Arsenal struggled to a 10th-place finish in 92-93 despite being one of the pre-season favourites, but their start to the season is far worse than expected. I'll be curious to see how they do in the next couple of months – clubs were slower to fire managers back in the 90s, but would a club like Arsenal keep faith with George Graham if they continued to languish in the bottom three? I'm not so sure.

From a reputation standpoint, 25 years ago Chelsea was not what they are now but also ended up mid-pack in real life. Dave Webb was dismissed as manager, Glenn Hoddle took over, and Chelsea began their upward trajectory – it will be interesting to see how "The Big 6" clubs evolve over time!

=========

Ken Bates has never been known as a patient man. So those of us who woke up to see reports in today's papers that Chelsea is already lining up potential replacements for Dave Webb probably took the news with a grain of salt. Sacking a manager barely one-quarter of the way into his first season seems harsh but this is Webb's first job at this level, and given the Blues' shaky start the story seems more plausible: 20th in the Premier League and eliminated from the Coca-Cola Cup, it's reported that a loss at home to Wimbledon will seal his fate.

 

Round 13

The locals are restless at Stamford Bridge and Dave Webb's job is reportedly on the line if Chelsea is unable to pick up a win over Wimbledon. Chelsea spent a fair amount of time in the second tier of English football in the 1980s but was promoted back to the First Division in 1989 and has eyes on becoming one of England's big clubs. They start the game against the Dons as the better of the two sides and take the lead through a Robert Fleck goal. However, a second-half equalizer from Neal Ardley means that the speculation over the Chelsea manager's future will continue to drag on. "You're getting sacked in the morning" is the chant from the away stand – will he be?

Another man who might very well get sacked in the morning is George Graham, although he's got a bit more money in the bank from previous performances. Arsenal has been poor this year and headed to West London for a tricky tie against Queens Park Rangers – they controlled the game from a possession perspective, racking up 61% possession, but came away losers again. 2-1 QPR is the final with Gary Penrice and Les Ferdinand finding the net for QPR and Ian Wright scoring in a losing cause. That result leaves the Gunners alone in last place.

It wasn't a very good week for any of the teams in the bottom three as Norwich are also beaten, going down 2-0 to Manchester City at Maine Road. Goals from Keith Curle and Niall Quinn make the difference and City keep their strong start to the season alive.

At the top of the table, there is a win for Liverpool at Ewood Park. Goals from Ronny Rosenthal and a resurgent Ian Rush make the difference in a 2-1 Reds win. Leeds keep pace with the leaders, remaining two points back, with a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday. There have been several stars of the 1980s enjoying a great start to the year, and today's goalscorer David Speedie is a great example of a man who is proving age ain't nothing but a number.  

Lastly, we'd like to tip our hats to Dave Bassett's Sheffield United. Tagged as a relegation candidate the Blades are flying early on and are up to 4th place after a 1-0 win over Everton. Sheffield United's main man Brian Deane is the goalscorer as the Blades overcame a red card to Glyn Hodges to hang on for the win.

Round 13 Table: Liverpool 29; Man City, Leeds 27; Sheff Utd 23

Chelsea, Norwich 10; Arsenal 9

 ***

In the transfer market Crystal Palace sign Sheffield Wednesday striker Nigel Jemson for 550k. Jemson did not make an appearance for the Owls this season but should play in a Palace side that seems awfully short on goals. Down in the Football League, two transfers catch our eye: Trevor Sinclair moves from Blackpool to Bristol City for 200k, while Sean Goater moves from Rotherham to Bradford for 150k. We'll be curious to see how these two youngsters do with their new clubs.

 

Midweek there is a return to Europe and it's a disaster for last year's two European Cup finalists. Defending champions Barcelona are bounced by Swedish side IFK Gotenborg following a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp. That allows Gotenborg to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Austrian side FC Tirol held a slim 1-0 lead after the first leg of their tie with Italian club Sampdoria. Even so, few people would have given them a chance against Sven Goran Eriksson's men heading into the game at the Stadio Marassi. When Tirol grabbed the first goal, heads around the stadium dropped knowing the task of advancing became a lot harder, and despite Roberto Mancini grabbing one goal the Italians couldn't get the job done. 1-1 the final on the night, 2-1 for the Austrians over two legs.

Several other big hitters from around Europe were able to successfully navigate their ties, including Bayern Munich, Ajax, Benfica and Marseille. Manchester City will also be into the second round draw: a 1-0 win in Luxembourg saw them ease past Jeunesse 3-1 on aggregate. I don't expect them to go much farther, though: they've drawn Ajax in the second round.

In the Cup Winners' Cup, it's goodbye to Liverpool. They fall 1-0 against Partizan at Anfield, losing 2-0 overall. We tipped Partizan as a dark horse to win the Cup and they look strong early.

 ***

Round 14

Before we break for a round of World Cup Qualifying there are massive fixtures at both ends of the Premier League table. At the top, it's 1 vs 2 as Liverpool host Manchester City; at the bottom, it's a London derby where Arsenal welcome Chelsea.

Liverpool has a perfect record at Anfield so far but it's possible that the loss at home to Partizan has had an effect on the Reds as they fall behind in the first half to a Scott Thomas goal. The 18-year-old winger has been a revelation this year, breaking into the first team and finding his way into the England setup already. The goal temporarily knocks Liverpool off their perch at the top of the league but an equalizer from Ian Rush steadies the home-crowd nerves. Neither team can find a winner, and a draw is a fair result.

The draw opens the door for Leeds but they are unable to capitalize – they go down 2-0 against Everton at Goodison Park. Goals from their attacking duo of Peter Beardsley and Paul Rideout see the Toffees through. Sheffield United, though, they keep rolling—a goal from Carl Bradshaw gives the Blades a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest. Give Dave Bassett a standing ovation for the work he's doing this year.

When Arsenal faced Chelsea you had to assume someone's job was on the line. Arsenal has been woeful this year but comes out flying—goals from two unlikely sources, Tony Adams and Paul Davis, give the Gunners a 2-0 lead at the half. Chelsea fights their way back into it in the second half with a Tony Agana goal but are unable to find an equalizer. Dave Webb applauds the traveling Chelsea fans knowing that's probably the end of the line for his time at the club. For Arsenal and George Graham – has the corner finally been turned?

Norwich win! A 2-1 win at Carrow Road over Coventry combined with a Crystal Palace loss sees the Canaries escape the bottom three at Palace's expense.

Round 14 Table: Liverpool 30; Man City 28; Leeds 27; Sheff Utd 26

Arsenal, Crystal Palace 12; Chelsea 10

Edited by King Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

England vs Turkey

World Cup Qualifier (World Cup 94 – Group 2)

Wembley Stadium

England: Chris Woods; Stuart Pearce, Gary Pallister, Tony Adams, Des Walker, Paul Parker; Paul Ince, Peter Beardsley; Paul Gascoigne; Alan Shearer, Ian Wright

England deviates from their usual 4-4-2 to increase the chances of shutting down Hakan Sukur up front while Ince in the holding role unlocks Beardsley and Gascoigne to move forward. The move proves to be a tactical masterclass by Graham Taylor as England run riot: Gascoigne opens the scoring on the quarter-hour mark and Shearer makes it 2-0 on 28 minutes.

In the second half there are two goals in two minutes as Pearce scores in the 61st and Gascoigne grabs his second a few seconds later. A great win by England lifts them to 4 points from 2 games and with San Marino coming up next it gives the Three Lions a chance to stake a claim for one of the top-two spots in the group. For Turkey, that's three points from three games and little chance of progressing.

England 4: Gascoigne 16, 62; Shearer 28; Pearce 61

Turkey 0

***

Round 15

Having survived another week, the Sword of Damocles continues to dangle over Dave Webb's neck. For once, his Chelsea team responds and first-half goals from Graham Stuart and Robert Fleck put Chelsea out of sight in their 2-0 win over Tottenham. You'd have to think Webb survives at least one more week but surely rookie Tottenham manager Doug Livermore is under a bit of pressure now, too. Spurs sit just outside the relegation zone.

At the top of the table, it's business as usual for Liverpool as they rack up another win, this time 2-1 against Coventry at Highfield Road. Jan Molby and John Barnes find the net for the visitors while, cue dramatic music: John Williams (not that one) scores for the hosts.

Manchester City stumbles at home, being held 0-0 by Nottingham Forest, which allows Leeds to leapfrog them into second following a 1-0 victory over Norwich. The wee Scot Gordon Strachan picks up the only goal at Elland Road. The Champions remain three points back of Liverpool.

Sheffield United have been a revelation this year and was sitting in fourth at the start of the weekend but after being beaten 2-1 at Bramall Lane by Manchester United they've fallen to sixth – United and Everton have both jumped ahead of them.

So much for Arsenal's turnaround in form. They remain unable to string two results together, falling 2-1 to Blackburn at Ewood Park. A couple of defenders, Mark Atkins and Terry Dobson score for Blackburn – it's Dobson's first ever goal for the club. To round out the defender theme, Tony Adams gets the goal for the Gunners.

Round 15 Table: Liverpool 33; Leeds 30; Man City 29; Everton, Man Utd 28

Chelsea, Norwich 13; Arsenal, Crystal Palace 12

A quick look down into Division One sees Leicester on top with Newcastle in the second automatic promotion spot. Portsmouth, Barnsley, Derby and Peterborough are all in the playoffs but we have a long way to go.

 ***

Mid-week sees the announcement of the monthly awards and it's another accolade for Peter Reid, named the monthly award winner for the third straight time. Everton's Peter Beardsley is picked as Player of the Month. 

 

Round 16

Well played, Ken Bates. Your faith in your manager just might be starting to pay some dividends. No one could have expected an under-the-gun Chelsea side to travel to Anfield and completely shut down the previously undefeated Reds but that's exactly what happened. The Kop was silent all afternoon as Liverpool barely got a whiff of goal. At the other end, a second-half marker from Nigel Spackman gave the Blues a well-deserved 1-0 win. Chelsea is clear of the bottom three while Leeds will have the chance to pull even with Liverpool if they can pull out a win at Old Trafford.

They couldn't. We haven't talked much about Manchester United because they've been too inconsistent to hang with the leaders but good enough to be a constant in the top half of the table. Their talisman this year has been Scottish striker Brian McClair and he's on target again to give United a 1-0 lead. We remain confident in the fact that United will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season but in order to do so, they need to start winning games like this one. Today they allow Leeds to pull level through a Chris Fairclough goal and both Alex Ferguson and Howard Wilkinson will be looking at this as two points dropped rather than one point gained.

Manchester City took on Arsenal in another top-vs-bottom fixture and this one was truer to form, piling even more misery on George Graham. City took the lead through Paul Lake then rode a bit of luck and some fine goalkeeping from Tony Coton to end up with a 1-0 win. Everton stay right on the heels of the leading pack, too, with a 1-0 win at home over Southampton. John Beresford's goal in the first half pulls Howard Kendall's side into a tie for third place, just two points off the lead.

At the bottom, both Norwich and Crystal Palace do little to make their supporters believe they're capable of getting out of the relegation fight in 0-0 draws against Blackburn and Sheffield Wednesday, respectively.

Round 16 Table: Liverpool 33; Man City 32; Leeds, Everton 31

Norwich 14; Crystal Palace 13; Arsenal 12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's UEFA Cup day in North London with both Arsenal and Tottenham in action. Spurs are taking on Aston Villa, while Arsenal has a tricky draw in defending Cup Winners' Cup champions Werder Bremen. It's a damp squib of a game at White Hart Lane where the teams end up playing to a scoreless draw – Aston Villa will be the happier of the two sides thinking they can win the tie back at Villa Park. Over at Highbury, Werder Bremen jump out into a first-half lead through a Wynton Rufer goal but an Ian Wright goal in the second half meant that Arsenal escaped with a 1-1 draw. They might not fancy their chances of pulling off a win in Germany but an early goal would blow this one wide open.

 

Round 17

If Arsenal's form in Europe is passable, it's a shambles domestically. George Graham has clearly seen enough of two of his star players, as he drops Martin Keown and David Seaman. Today's starter in the Arsenal goal is 22-year-old Alan Miller. Miller has represented England at Under 21 level so he's no slouch but the change still comes as a real shock. If the change was supposed to inspire the Gunners to rally around their young goalie, it completely backfired. Nottingham Forest hit three past the debutante—Neil Webb grabbing two and Gary Crosby the other—and offer little going forward in a 3-0 win. At this point, it seems to be a case of when not if Graham will be sacked, and frankly we're surprised it hasn't happened yet.

If Arsenal's story is all negativity then Sheffield United's campaign is at the completely other end of the spectrum. They win their fourth straight away game, this time beating defending champions Leeds 1-0 on a Carl Bradshaw goal. A defender/defensive midfielder, Bradshaw is not known for his goalscoring but has hit the winner two times in the last three games. The win moves the Blades up into third place in the league.

There's a change at the top of the table as Liverpool fall 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. Chris Waddle and John Sheridan find the net for Trevor Francis's side, while Mark Wright picks up the Reds goal. That result opened the door for Manchester City who just doesn't seem to lose at home – a routine 2-0 win over Crystal Palace moves City back to the top of the league.

City's cross-town rivals Manchester United aren't doing much to dispel the feeling that they're just too inconsistent to mount a serious challenge this year. After finally sneaking into the top five last week, they fall 1-0 to an equally inconsistent Tottenham side. Maybe next year, United fans.

Round 17 Table: Man City 35; Liverpool 33; Everton, Sheff Utd 32

Norwich 15; Crystal Palace 13; Arsenal 12

***

QPR have had challenges finding the net this year: Les Ferdinand hasn't really delivered the type of return that was expected of him this year, so Rangers look to Division One for a potential answer. Journeyman/worst pundit of all time Steve Claridge joins the club for 250k. I'm sure he's very *annoying chuckle* excited about the chance to prove himself at the *annoying chuckle* highest level.

 

Back in Europe and it's the second leg of the 2nd round UEFA Cup ties. Domestically, eyes will be on the happenings in Bremen and Birmingham. Predictably it is Werder Bremen who advance over Arsenal after a 1-0 win at home. Up at Villa Park, with the sides level after the first leg, it's the visitors Tottenham who claim a surprising victory—goals from youngsters Kevin Watson and Nick Barmby propel Spurs to a 2-1 win and a spot in the next round.

Tottenham's European campaign might continue into the later stages of the competition after they pick up a favourable draw against Dutch side SVV. The most intriguing ties of the round appear to be Dortmund vs Sporting Lisbon and Fenerbahce vs Milan.

***

Round 18

With Manchester City back on top of the Premier League, Liverpool fans were hoping that their local rivals Everton could do them a favour and take points off of a City side who have played with freedom and confidence all year long. It didn't start well for the Merseysiders as Mike Sheron fired City into the lead – after the goal, the teams were pretty even and perhaps a draw was a fair result, but Everton just couldn't find the breakthrough. 1-0 City the final and the Blues roll on.

Liverpool kept pace with the leaders, remaining just one point back, after looking very impressive in a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest. Ronny Rosenthal, Ian Rush and Steve McManaman all find the goal for the Reds. They were outdone by Sheffield United, though – the Blades win 4-0 over Ipswich and confirm that they are the division's form side. There's another goal from Carl Bradshaw, in addition to markers from Paul Beesley, Dane Whitehouse and Alan Cork.

At the bottom, Alan Miller is in goal again and concedes three goals again, this time against Wimbledon. Robbie Earle and John Fashanu, the Dons' two biggest weapons, both grab goals in the win. I may as well harp on about George Graham not being fired yet. Elsewhere, a woeful Norwich side goes a fourth straight game without a goal and fall 2-0 against QPR at Loftus Road – Steve Claridge does not play for the home side. Equally offensively inept are Crystal Palace who picks up a point in their 0-0 draw against Leeds. It's a good point on the surface, but it also marks 270 minutes without a goal and just one goal in their last five games– a worrying sign indeed.

Round 18 Table: Man City 38; Liverpool 36; Sheff Utd 35; Everton, Leeds 32

Norwich 15; Crystal Palace 14; Arsenal 12

Edited by King Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Coca-Cola Cup continues to offer little in terms of excitement, even as we move into the later stages of the competition. The only upset we see is Division One side Peterborough knocking out Aston Villa. Otherwise, it is straightforward wins for both Manchester clubs, Leeds, Norwich, Ipswich and Wimbledon. The quarter-final draw throws up one tie of note, as it will be Manchester United hosting Leeds. Other ties are Manchester City vs Coventry, Norwich vs Wimbledon and Peterborough vs Ipswich.

 

In the monthly awards, Aston Villa boss Ron Atkinson is chosen as Manager of the Month. It's a confusing pick, given they've been eliminated from the UEFA Cup and Coca-Cola Cup this month. Wimbledon defender John Scales is recognized with the Player of the Month award.

 

For many supporters, the FA Cup only starts with the third round and this year's draw provides lots of intrigue. We'll have three non-league teams hosting clubs from the Premier League: Scunthorpe will host Blackburn, Halifax will take on Norwich, and Slough will play Crystal Palace. Arsenal, Southampton and Tottenham have all drawn home ties against Division Three clubs so there will be lots of potential giant-killings to keep an eye on. There are also two all Premier League ties and they're big matchups: Manchester City will host Manchester United, while Chelsea will play Liverpool. We'll watch with interest what happens in the first week of January.

***

Round 19

It's crazy to think that we're already at the halfway point of the season. Manchester City will end the first half of the season at the top of the table, even though they could only grab a 0-0 draw at QPR. While City being in first is a surprise in and of itself, no one could have predicted that their nearest rival would be Sheffield United. The Blades are the form side of the division right now and they rack up another three points following a 2-1 win over Southampton at Bramall Lane.

The Blades' move into second was precipitated by Liverpool falling 3-1 to Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. Leeds and Everton both win their fixtures to remain tied for fourth place.

Arsenal ends the first half of the year in the last place, after falling to yet another loss, this time 1-0 at home against Sheffield Wednesday. Norwich and Crystal Palace join them in the relegation spots, tied on 15 points.

A full mid-year report, including a club-by-club review, will follow.

Round 19 Table: Man City 39; Sheff Utd 38; Liverpool 36; Everton, Leeds 35

Crystal Palace, Norwich 15; Arsenal 12

 

At the halfway point in Division One, Leicester is in first place, while Derby holds the second promotion place. Oldham, Peterborough, Portsmouth and Newcastle make up the playoff spots.

 

Up next: Mid-year report cards!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mid-Year Report Cards

If we've learned anything in the first half of the inaugural season of the Premier League it's that predictions only make your fearless correspondent look like a fool. Surprises at each end of the table have left us completely in the dark as to what to expect in the second half of the year.

Herewith, a look back at our pre-season predictions and a club-by-club review of every team's first half of the year.

20th – Arsenal

Halfway Grade: 0 out of 10. Abysmal.

What we said: "4th.The return of Martin Keown makes an already stingy defence even more impressive."

Star Man: Ian Wright – Goals haven't been the issue here; however, the fact the team's leading scorer (Wright) and starting keeper (Seaman) have recently both been dropped illustrate that George Graham is now desperate to find any combination that will work.

What to expect: Surely they have to get it right at some point – don't they? We have no idea how George Graham is still employed—if things don't turn around quickly, a change must take place to preserve Arsenal's top-flight status.

19th - Norwich

Halfway Grade: 1 out of 10. A woeful goalscoring record has the Canaries looking the most likely team in the division to go down.

What we said: "11th. We think there is enough going forward to ensure safety. Mark Robins must adjust to being a number one man quickly."

Star Man: None. Left-back Mark Bowen has been the most consistent player this year but it is a very low bar.

What to expect: Relegation, unless can someone grab the team by the horns and lead them to safety. The most likely candidate is Ian Crook, the midfielder who received an England call-up earlier this year, but will anyone actually step up?

18th – Crystal Palace

Halfway Grade: 2.5 out of 10. A shortage of goals has left Steve Coppell's men facing the drop.

What we said: "12th. Unlikely to threaten or get pulled into a relegation fight. Might be low on goals."  Half of that prediction has proven to be accurate.

Star Man: Bobby Bowry. A first-year pro who is leading the team with just four goals. That's an awful lot of weight on his shoulders right now.

What to expect: Chris Armstrong was supposed to be Palace's star man but has found the net just twice in the first half of the year and has submitted a transfer request. So far, this signing seems to be a bust – they'll need to make moves in the transfer market to find goals quickly to get out of trouble.

17th – Chelsea

Halfway Grade: 2.5 out of 10. Look to be turning the corner after a very rocky start to the year but have underachieved.

What we said: "14th. The backline and midfield look alarmingly thin and they could be short on goals. They should be safe but it could all end up going horribly wrong."

Star Man: Andy Townsend. Nearly the only man to come out of the first half of year with any credit but there are rumours that he will be on the move to Aston Villa.

What to expect: Ken Bates has shown a rare level of patience in his dealings with Dave Webb but whether they trust him enough to give him the transfer money he needs to help his squad remains to be seen. If they don't, they should cut him loose quickly.

16th – Tottenham

Halfway Grade: 3.5 out of 10. We knew this would be a year of transition but they've struggled throughout the first half of the season.

What we said: "10th. The losses of Lineker and Gazza won't help their hopes of finishing in the top half."  

Star Man: Nick Barmby. The 18-year-old leads the way with seven goals and has already proven himself to be a player of considerable promise in his first year as a full-time pro.

What to expect: They should be fine, but the major question is whether the team's young core (Vinny Samways, Nick Barmby, Kevin Watson, Ian Walker, et al) have the heart for a fight if the team goes through another wobble in form.

15th – Coventry

Halfway Grade: 5 out of 10. Although they're out of the relegation places, they have no reason to feel comfortable.

What we said: "19th. The squad looks too thin to stay up, although Ndlovu and Wegerle have goals in them."

Star Man: Stewart Robson – we're reaching here. There hasn't been a true standout but Robson has been the most consistent.

What to expect: We still consider Coventry among the most likely relegation candidates. Peter Atherton, Dave Busst and Mick Quinn have all requested transfers, and if they leave is there money available to fund replacements? If they stay, what is the morale in the dressing room going to look like?

Up Next: Part Two of our Mid-Year Report

Edited by King Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mid-Year Report Cards (Part Two)

14th – Ipswich

Halfway Grade: 5.5 out of 10. On track to achieve their objective of top-flight survival.

What we said: "16th. Staying up is the goal and they should have just enough to do it."

Star Man: Gavin Johnson – an impressive young fullback who is coming into his own this year and attracting interest from teams higher up the division. Could be in line for an England call-up before long.

What to expect: They'll likely be in a relegation fight right until the end. There are a lot of big hitters who are below them in the table and probably capable of stepping it up a gear – can Ipswich? If not, it might be a quick return to the second tier.

 13th – Southampton

Halfway Grade: 6 out of 10. Ian Branfoot's men have exceeded our expectations but we feel as though they've been riding a lot of good fortune to get here.

What we said: "20th. Losing Alan Shearer and David Speedie up front, as well as Neil Ruddock and Micky Adams at the back, looks like the difference between staying up and going down."

Star Man: Kerry Dixon. We did not see this one coming. The ex-Chelsea man is rolling back the years and leads the club with seven goals. Without his goals, they would probably be in the bottom three.

What to expect: Dixon has a lot of miles on those legs – we expect him to fade in the second half of the year. Can he last? The defence requires investment to ensure survival.

12th – Blackburn

Halfway Grade: 5 out of 10. Even though this is Blackburn's first year in the top flight we were expecting more of an impact given some of their signings.

What we said: "6th. Blackburn has signaled their intent to play with the big boys after splashing the cash on a number of quality players… the new signings will require some time to gel."

Star Man: Alan Shearer. More goals are needed for him to justify the British record transfer fee but he has stood above the rest so far this year.

What to expect: More spending—Shearer, Graeme Le Saux, Patrik Andersson and the others didn't sign up for a relegation battle.

11th – Aston Villa

Halfway Grade: 6 out of 10. Pretty much as expected so far, comfortably in the second tier of teams within the division.

What we said: "8th. There's a lot to like here. Their defence is strong and with one or two more upgrades they could be legitimate contenders."

Star Man: Dean Saunders. The Welsh international has been a one-man team, picking up 12 man of the match awards from his first 19 league games.

What to expect: More of the same in the second half. There is an exciting young core that Ron Atkinson will hope can ease some of the pressure off Saunders, too.

10th – Nottingham Forest

Halfway Grade: 6 out of 10. Another team who has delivered pretty much exactly what was expected, although Brian Clough will be hoping for more in the second half of the season as there appears to be room to grow.

What we said: "7th. Cloughie's men are unlikely to threaten the top pack but are primed to have another strong year. Youngsters Gemmill and Keane are one of the strongest centre midfield duos in the division."

Star Man: Nigel Clough, influential even if he hasn't contributed the number of goals his father will have expected.

What to expect: Someone will step up with more goals in the second half and that should push Forest a bit farther up the table. Collymore and Clough only have one each, while Webb and Gemmill have just two. That isn't good enough.

9th – Sheffield Wednesday

Halfway Grade: 5 out of 10. Big underachievers this year, The Owls have never really threatened the leaders.

What we said: "3rd. The additions of Chris Waddle and Mark Bright strengthen the attack, while Micky Adams is a good pickup at the back. We think they'll be in the mix the entire way but come up a bit short."

Star Man: Chris Waddle – back in England and his fine form garnered a return to the England setup. Even in his mid-30s, he's still terrorizing fullbacks with his runs down the wing.

What to expect: More production is needed from Chris Bart-Williams and Paul Warhurst. The defence is aging and Trevor Francis's team selections have been questioned by the Wednesday fans. We expect the supporting cast to improve performances and maybe a fullback to be added.

8th – Queens Park Rangers

Halfway Grade: 7 out of 10. Consistently mid-pack throughout the first half is a decent turnout for a team many expected to be looking over their shoulder.

What we said: "15thunlikely to go down but the squad is awfully thin… with one or two injuries Francis's men could be in big trouble."

Star Man: Ray Wilkins – 36 years old and enjoying one last fine season in the centre of midfield.

What to expect: Les Ferdinand's form in front of goal has dried up completely so we expect additions to come up front and to help augment a thin midfield.

7th – Wimbledon

Halfway Grade: 8 out of 10

What we said: "18th. There's enough talent here to stay up but the instability around the club means we expect more departures throughout the year."

Star Man: John Fashanu – his ten goals so far are double the next highest total.

What to expect: The supporting cast, including Neal Ardley and Robbie Earle, has had fine starts to the year. We expect a slight railing off of form. On the other hand, we do expect to see John Scales continue to develop into a leading Premier League defender following his first call-ups to the national side.

Up Next: The Last Part of our Mid-Year Report Card and Fearless Second Half Predictions

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

6th – Manchester United

Halfway Grade: 6 out of 10. Our pre-season pick for the title have just never been able to get it together.

What we said: “1st. Should have won the league last year and the addition of Cantona and young forward Dion Dublin should be more than enough.”

Star Man: Mark Hughes – Brian McClair might end up with more goals but Hughes’ play has been more consistent and productive than anyone else’s.

What to expect: Consistency. Cantona hasn’t quite been the revelation that we were expecting but Hughes has done a great job leading the line. Every time United have been on the verge of contending their form slips, and we think that will ultimately cost them the title. A strong run in the cups would help paper over the cracks.

 

5th – Leeds

Halfway Grade: 7 out of 10. The defending champions have been in with the front runners all year

What we said: “2nd. The departure of Cantona to their fiercest rivals will be the difference. Chapman and Wallace don’t look like a Championship-winning front line.” We stand by the second half of this statement.

Star Man: Tony Dorigo. We had concerns about the amount of goals that would have come from the forward line; Dorigo’s move to midfield has really paid off.

What to Expect: A difficult month, with David Speedie and Gary Speed both out for at least four weeks with injuries.  If they can continue to pick up results until those two key men are back, they might still contend.

 

4th – Everton

Halfway Grade: 7.5 out of 10. Never quite made it to the top of the pile but have been among the lead pack nearly all season. Howard Kendall should be quite happy with how his team has done.

What we said: “9th. There are a lot of strong pieces here, but the sale of Neville Southall was a head scratcher. We expect another season of inconsistency.”

Star Man: Peter Beardsley – along with Aston Villa’s Dean Saunders, one of the best players in the league so far this year.

What to expect: Jason Kearton, the club’s appointed #1 keeper will continue to become more confident in goal. We also expect more from the out-of-form Tony Cottee in the second half; if that happens, look for Everton to remain in the lead pack all year.

 

3rd – Liverpool

Halfway Grade: 7 out of 10. There have been strong performances from both the old guard and the group of youngsters who will carry the team forward in the years to come.

What we said: “5th. Rush, Rosenthal and Molby have all submitted transfer requests so we expect a lot of movement.”

Star Man: John Barnes. The incredibly skillful winger has been the offensive catalyst this year, serving up goals for a front-line that seems to be changing every week.

What to expect: Some sort of resolution to the morale issue. The three men who handed in pre-season transfer requests are still here – if they stay, and stay happy, the Reds have a real shot at a title.

 

2nd – Sheffield United

Halfway Grade: 10 out of 10. Blades fans must be in absolute dreamland so far this year. Dave Bassett is the clear front-runner for Manager of the Year right now.

What we said: “17th. They’re on a knife’s edge with no margin for error. More strengthening in midfield is needed.”

Star Man: Glyn Hodges might have been the best player so far, but this has been a real team performance.

What to expect: There will be some sort of wobble in form during the second half – the real question is how the team responds to it.

 

1st – Manchester City

Halfway Grade: 9.5 out of 10.

What we said: “13th. We believe City has a strong defence and an attack that will score goals, but the midfield looks vulnerable and we think that the Citizens are destined to take a step backward.”  Oops – ed.

Star Man: Mike Sheron. An Under 21 international who has picked up 11 goals in all competitions so far – a lot was resting on his shoulders and he has stepped up.

What to expect: This is more of a “what to watch for” – can they maintain their impressive home form? If yes, they just might be able to hang on for the title…

 

So ends our mid-year report cards, and since we didn’t learn our lesson about the foolishness of making predictions, here are a few more based on what we’ve seen so far this season.

 

Manager of the Year: 1) Dave Bassett, Sheffield United; 2) Peter Reid, Manchester City; 3) Joe Kinnear, Wimbledon

Player of the Year: 1) Dean Saunders, Aston Villa; 2) Peter Beardsley, Everton; 3) Andy Hill, Manchester City

First Manager Sacked: Dave Webb, Chelsea; George Graham would be the obvious candidate, but the Arsenal board seems to have the confidence in him being able to get the Gunners out of trouble, whereas we still expect Webb to go the next time Chelsea’s form dips.

Champions: Liverpool – sorry, Manchester City fans, we’re going with the team that has the experience of multiple title races

Relegated: 18th – Coventry; 19th – Crystal Palace; 20th - Norwich

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do love those report cards, Jeff. This really is a great read so far, even if the bottom of the table doesn't make a pretty sight for Gooners like me. GRAHAM OUT :mad:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Top Scorers

8 – John Fashanu, Wimbledon; Ronny Rosenthal, Liverpool

7 – Alan Cork, Sheff Utd; Mark Hughes, Man Utd

6 – Alan Shearer, Blackburn; Brian Deane, Sheff Utd; Brian McClair, Man Utd; David Hirst, Sheff Wed; David Speedie, Leeds; Dean Saunders, Aston Villa; Ian Rush, Liverpool; Nick Barmby, Tottenham; Simon Barker, QPR

 

Largest Transfers

1) David McEnroe QPR -> Man Utd, 1.6 m

2) Gavin Peacock Newcastle -> Man Utd, 1.3m

=3) Scott Sellars Newcastle -> Liverpool, 1m

=3) Ian Woan Nottingham Forest -> Chelsea, 1m

5) Micky Adams Southampton -> Sheff Wed 850k

=6) John Beresford Newcastle -> Everton 800k

=6) Tony Agana Notts County -> Chelsea 800k

=8) Neville Southall Everton -> Liverpool 650k

=8) Stan Collymore Southend -> Nottingham Forest 650k

=8) Simon Ireland Blackburn -> Southampton 650k

 

Monthly Awards

Manager of the Month

August – Peter Reid, Manchester City

September – Ron Atkinson, Aston Villa

October – Peter Reid, Manchester City

November – Ron Atkinson, Aston Villa

 

Player of the Month

August – Tony Daley, Aston Villa

September – Dean Saunders, Aston Villa

October – Peter Beardsley, Everton

November – John Scales, Wimbledon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your kind words, CFuller! It means a lot coming from an FMS stalwart like you 😉

 I have no idea why George Graham hasn’t been fired yet. You’d have to think that if a series of results this bad happened in real life, even back in the early 90s, there would be absolute outrage among the supporter base every single week. We’ll see how it goes but I can only see this ending badly…

 ---------------------

 The second half of the season started with two match-ups between English and Dutch club sides in European competition. In the Champions League, Manchester City take on Ajax, while Tottenham take on SVV (now known as Dordrecht - ed) in the UEFA Cup. It’s difficult to see City advancing against a lineup that includes van der Sar, Bergkamp, Blind, the de Boer brothers, Davids, Litmanen, Overmars, Reiziger and Seedorf, but Tottenham might have a good chance to advance.

If Tottenham are to advance, they'll have some work to do back in the Netherlands. SVV are in last place in the Eredivisie but in the first leg of their tie they manage to neutralize Spurs at White Hart Lane. The game ends scoreless with little in the way of action to report on.

Two hundred miles to the north Manchester City supporters get a glimpse of a team that may dominate football in a similar manner to the Johan Cruyff-led side from a generation earlier – Ajax are rampant, with a lightning-fast young winger named Marc Overmars and a dynamic 23-year-old forward, Dennis Bergkamp, stealing the plaudits. Both men score, while Swedish striker Stefan Pettersson grabs a third in a 3-0 win at Maine Road. Bergkamp looks to have a huge future ahead of him with several of the Italian giants already gunning for his signature.

***

Round 20

The second half of the domestic season starts with a clash of 1st vs 2nd as Sheffield United travel to Manchester to take on a City side that could still be shell-shocked from their midweek fixture. City start the better and there is a noticeable difference in quality between the two sides, but Dave Bassett’s men defend well and keep the game scoreless at the break. In the second half, City continue to pile on the pressure – they rack up an unheard of 72% possession and end up outshooting the Blades 12-1 on the night but Alan Kelly puts in a blinding performance and the game somehow ends 0-0.

At Carrow Road, Liverpool are able to capitalize on Norwich being reduced to ten men and pick up a 1-0 win, which pulls them into second place, one point back of Man City. Lee Power’s red for a reckless “striker’s tackle” stretched an already overmatched home side and Ronny Rosenthal slotted home in the second half to make the difference.

At this stage, we’ve run out of adjectives to describe Arsenal’s performances this season. But we’ll try one more: pathetic. It’s clear that the team has officially given up and isn’t playing for George Graham anymore – they are destroyed 3-0 by Leeds at Elland Road with Carl Shutt scoring twice for the Whites. Arsenal have now shipped three goals in three consecutive games, and it could have been worse – they conceded 15 shots on target today, generating only two chances themselves. Can someone just hurry up and hire a plan to circle over Highbury towing a GRAHAM OUT sign?

In our mid-year report card we expressed concern about Crystal Palace’s lack of goals and questioned whether the signing of Chris Armstrong was a total bust. Inevitably, Palace find the night three times at the Dell and Armstrong is among the goals. New-ish signing Nigel Jemson scores his first for Palace, while youngster Bobby Bowry gets his club-leading fifth of the year. That result pulls Palace out of the bottom three and it’ll give Steve Coppell something to smile about.

We also predicted Bobby Gould’s Coventry side would end up going down, so they won 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. The little man with a big moustache, Micky Gynn, scores for the Sky Blues, as does Peter Ndlovu. Chelsea are back in the bottom three.

 Round 20 Table:  Man City 40; Liverpool, Sheff Utd 39; Leeds 38

Chelsea 17; Norwich 15; Arsenal 12

 ***

 

The table is sorry reading for Arsenal fans but a report in the week’s tabloids might be an encouraging sign.

Quote

Exclusive: George Graham Will Be SACKED If Arsenal Lose Next Weekend

It appears that the Arsenal board of directors has finally lost their patience with manager George Graham. Sources within the club have told us that the Scot will be SACKED as Gunners boss if they’re unable to beat fellow-relegation strugglers Norwich City at home this weekend. Arsenal were many pundits pick for the title this year but currently find themselves in last place in the league, six points from safety.

What do you think, Gunners fans?

Elsewhere on the back pages this week there are stories of QPR making a double swoop in the transfer market, first picking up defender John Pemberton from 850k, then grabbing midfielder Stuart Gray from Southampton for 550k. We haven’t questioned much coming from Bramall Lane this year but it seems odd Sheffield United would sell a starting defender if they want to be real challengers. We like both signings for QPR; they probably overpaid for Gray but need the depth in midfield.

Coventry are also active in the transfer market, signing former Everton legend Graeme Sharp from Oldham for 500k. Sharp only made one appearance for Joe Royle’s men this year and is desperate to make the most of his last shot in the top tier. To make room for Sharp they unload Ray Woods to Newcastle – he made five appearances up front but didn’t score.

***

Round 21

There’s only one place to start this week: Highbury, where George Graham’s job is reported to be on the line if 20th-place Arsenal can’t beat 19th-place Norwich. It starts well for the Gunners when Alan Smith puts the home team in front but Norwich quickly pull level through a David Phillips goal and the teams enter the break tied. The second half solves nothing and the game ends in a draw – neither manager will be happy, but is this the end of the line for George Graham?

Another man who should ensure his desk is already cleared out is Dave Webb. It looked like there might have been a slight upturn in fortunes a couple of weeks ago but Chelsea slump to their second straight defeat, getting easily beaten by Sheffield United 3-0, at Bramall Lane. Goals from Paul Beesley, David Barnes and Adrian Littlejohn illustrate that this has been a total team performance so far this campaign.

At the top of the table, it’s the story of two Thomases, Scott and Michael. Scott Thomas scores the lone goal in Manchester City’s 1-0 win at Blackburn, while Michael Thomas’s goal is the difference in Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Ipswich. Consequently, three teams will remain separated by only one point. Leeds lose ground, though, after they are beaten 2-0 by Coventry at Highfield Road – Stewart Robson and Micky Gynn grab the goals for Bobby Gould’s side.

Lastly, a slow clap for Tottenham, who pick up their first away point of the season in a 2-2 draw at Aston Villa. Dalian Atkinson and Dean Saunders score for the hosts while Nick Barmby and Nayim score for the visitors.

Round 21 Table: Man City 43; Liverpool, Sheff Utd 42; Leeds 38

Chelsea 17; Norwich 16; Arsenal 13

Edited by King Jeff
I can't spell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Round 22

There is still no news of a managerial change at Highbury or Stamford Bridge so we’re on deathwatch again this week, starting in west London where Chelsea host Manchester United. Chelsea’s one-million-pound man, Ian Woan, hasn’t much of an impact since he signed from Nottingham Forest but he’s on the score sheet this week pushing the Blues into a 1-0 lead. That goal is pegged back by United’s forgotten midfielder, Russell Beardsmore, who makes a rare appearance in the starting lineup. The game ends up as a 1-1 final and Chelsea will spend another week in the bottom three.

For Arsenal it’s more of the same: they lose 1-0 against Southampton at the Dell, with Mark Stein grabbing his second goal for the Saints since arriving from Division Two Stoke. Arsenal probably deserved a draw for their efforts but you get the feeling most Arsenal fans would take the loss if it meant the end for George Graham.

In the other key game at the bottom of the table, Norwich and Crystal Palace split points in a 1-1 draw. That moves Palace to 19 points, keeping them one ahead of Chelsea. Norwich have grabbed two straight draws and with a win they will likely get themselves out of the relegation zone—this has to be a concern to the other clubs down towards the bottom.

At the top of the table, it’s another home win for Manchester City. A double from Niall Quinn and a third from Terry Phelan sees City cruise past Aston Villa 3-1. Sheffield United manage to keep pace with another impressive victory, this time beating Wimbledon 3-2 at Selhurst Park. Quietly, Alan Cork has become one of the division’s top scorers and he grabs two for the Blades. John Fashanu, scores for Wimbledon in a losing cause, but in doing so becomes the first player to reach 10 Premier League goals.

Tottenham may be abject away from home but they’re nearly unbeatable at White Hart Lane – they throw a spanner in the title race by beating Liverpool 1-0, thanks to a Kevin Watson goal. Leeds also lose track with the leaders after losing their second straight 2-0 against QPR. New signing John Pemberton, picked up from Sheffield United a week ago, scores for Rangers. Leeds are now 8 points back of Manchester City and 7 back of Sheffield United.

In closing, I’ll mention that three weeks ago I picked Coventry to go down. Since then Bobby Gould’s side have picked up nine points from a possible nine, and Micky Gynn has scored in all three games. You’re welcome, Coventry fans.

Round 22 Table: Manchester City 46; Sheff Utd 45; Liverpool 42; Leeds 38

Chelsea 18; Norwich 17; Arsenal 13

 ***

Midweek, our eyes are on the happenings in the Netherlands with the second leg of the Champions League and UEFA Cup fixtures. Manchester City needed a miracle to overturn Ajax but instead they met Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars. Just like in the first leg back in England, Bergkamp and Overmars put in impressive performances and Ajax cruises to a 2-0 win, 5-0 on aggregate. This Ajax team will take some beating.

 In the UEFA Cup, Tottenham pull off a bit of a surprise result given how bad they are away from home and beat SVV 1-0, thanks to a Teddy Sheringham goal. Tottenham’s road to the final looks a bit easier now with news from Spain that Greek side Olympiakos has bounced Real Madrid from the competition. Left in the draw is Real’s local rivals, Atletico, as well as the two Milan sides so it’s not going to be easy.

 

European Draws in Full:

Champions League – Group Stage

Group A: Red Star, Marseille, FC Tirol, Ajax

Group B: Steaua Bucharest, Benfica, Bayern Munich, Goteborg

Cup Winners Cup – Quarter Finals

Atletico Bilbao vs Netori (Alb); Dynamo Bucharest vs Feyenoord; Juventus vs Porto; Partizan vs Olympiakos

UEFA Cup – Quarter Finals

Atletico Madrid vs Werder Bremen; Borussia Dortmund vs Inter Milan; Dnepro (UKR) vs Tottenham; AC Milan vs Dundee United

***

 

We’ve ripped on this year’s League Cup for offering very little in terms of drama but the FA Cup Third Round Draw looked like a real winner full of a bunch of intriguing story lines and upset opportunities. And boy, did it live up to the expectations.


We’ll start at Highbury where Arsenal are desperate for a win and with Division Three Chester the opposition everyone expected a straightforward victory. For once, those who showed up weren’t disappointed – two first half goals by Paul Merson set the stage for an easy 3-1 win. Of note, only 7,028 supporters showed up – a shocking indictment of the morale of the fanbase right now. Crystal Palace are another team in need of a result and although non-league side Slough ran them close, Palace emerged 1-0 victors thanks to a Bobby Bowry goal.

Two non-league teams did even better: Halifax held Norwich to a scoreless draw, earning them a money-spinning replay, and Scunthorpe did the same thing to Blackburn. Kenny Dalglish was furious with his team’s performance and lamented the lack of leadership in his squad.

At Stamford Bridge, Dave Webb was in a party mode after his Chelsea side beat Liverpool 2-0. Robert Fleck and Ian Woan grabbed the goals for the hosts. The glamour tie came at Maine Road where we saw a Manchester derby in the Cup – there’s something to be said for experience and it’s team captain Bryan Robson who earns man of the match for his goal and performance in the centre of the park in a 1-0 United victory. Without a doubt, City were the better club but it’s Fergie’s men who go home happy.

***

After the game there’s a stunning piece of transfer news: the performance in the FA Cup tie is Bryan Robson’s last appearance for Manchester United. The 36-year-old midfielder is off to Blackburn for a fee of 150k. Robson had been a squad player for a few years but racked up 15 appearances and two goals in his last season with United. Since signing for United from West Brom in 1982, Robson made a total of 331 first team appearances and scored 74 goals. He leaves a club legend and although Rovers probably overpaid, he will provide Kenny Dalglish’s side the experience it needs to solidify itself as a Premier League club. Cynics might even say he’s likely to be the next Blackburn manager when King Kenny moves on.

United make a signing this week, too, bringing in Portsmouth striker Guy Whittingham for 500k. Now this is an interesting pick-up. Whittingham has been a goal machine at the Division One level, hitting 14 goals from his 28 appearances this year, but we’re not sure whether he will be able to make the step up. With McClair, Cantona and Hughes all likely to be ahead of him in the pecking order, we’ll be curious how much of a chance Whittingham gets and what it means for Dion Dublin’s future at Old Trafford.

As if that wasn’t enough we wrap the week with a new Premier League record transfer fee. We’ve mentioned the lack of harmony in the Liverpool squad and that Ronny Rosenthal had requested a transfer – he has got his move, joining Sheffield Wednesday for £1.675m. Rosenthal has 10 goals from 26 appearances in all competitions so far this season, and is joint second-highest scorer in the Premier League with nine. Even despite the fact he made a transfer request, we’re surprised to see this move go through given how tight it is at the top.

 

Quote

Premier League Record Transfers

1)      Ronny Rosenthal Liverpool -> Sheff Wed 1.675m

2)      David McEnroe QPR -> Man Utd 1.6m

3)      Gavin Peacock Newcastle -> Man Utd 1.3m

 

Up Next: Ian Helliwell becomes a household name…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fear not, CFC, I’m expecting #WebbOut before too long!

===============

Ian Helliwell will never have to buy a drink in Scunthorpe again.

It started out as a day in which new Blackburn captain Bryan Robson was paraded in front of the home crowd but ended with Helliwell being carried off the pitch on the shoulders of his team mates.

In a day that the traveling 518 Irons fans will remember their entire lives, the 6’3" Yorkshire-man, who has never played higher than the third tier of the pyramid, hits a remarkable double to knock Blackburn out of the Cup. A late consolation goal by Mark Atkins did little to ease the humiliation that comes from being the first top-flight team to lose to a non-league opponent since Sutton United beat Coventry in January 1989.

It’s the second major FA Cup upset in as many years following the Mickey Thomas-led Wrexham victory over Arsenal last season.

Scunthorpe’s reward? A trip to Old Trafford in the Fourth Round of the Cup. Some prize.

 

The December monthly awards are announced during the week and mulleted Sheffield Wednesday winger Chris Waddle is named as player of the month. Tottenham boss Doug Livermore is named manager of the month.

***

Round 23

For the second time in less than two weeks Manchester United and Manchester City face off, this time in the Premier League, and this time at Old Trafford. United got the better of City in their FA Cup tie but this time it’s City who end up winners, thanks to a Terry Phelan goal.

The win keeps them one point up on Sheffield United who beat Norwich 1-0 thanks to 20-year-old Andy Scott’s first ever goal as a professional. We keep waiting for the bubble to burst on the Blades but every week they prove us wrong.

At the bottom of the table, could this be a sign of life from Arsenal? Fresh off the back of Doug Livermore being named Manager of the Month, his team is predictably flat in a 2-0 loss at Highbury. Goals from Alan Smith and Paul Merson-- he now has three in two games—propel the Gunners to victory.

Chelsea, too, are impressive in a win—Ian Woan demonstrates why he came with such a big price tag as he scores twice and gets sent off in a 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. That’s a huge three points for the Blues as it pulls them back out of the bottom three.

Lastly, it’s four wins on the bounce for Coventry City as they beat Southampton 2-1 at Highfield Road. In addition to Stewart Robson’s opener, Graeme Sharp scores his first goal for Coventry since his move from Oldham in the win. Don’t look now but Coventry is suddenly in the top-half of the table, which is a remarkable turnaround from where they were a month ago.

Round 23 Table: Man City 49; Sheff Utd 48; Liverpool 43; Everton 40

Crystal Palace 20; Norwich 17; Arsenal 16

 ***

League Cup Quarter Finals

Someone break up this Coventry City side! Bobby Gould’s team is clearly the in-form outfit right now and in addition to their four straight league wins, they’re into the Coca-Cola Cup Semi-Finals following a 3-2 win at Maine Road. Mike Sheron hit a double for the Premier League leaders, but those goals were cancelled out by a brace from Graeme Sharp, who already looks like a quality signing, and a goal from American striker Roy Wegerle.

Also in to the semi finals are Manchester United, after they defeat Leeds 1-0 at Old Trafford. Young winger David McEnroe grabs the only goal in the United win. I scoffed at the transfer fee Alex Ferguson paid to get the young Irishman, but he does appear to be a player of some promise. Wimbledon need extra time but they’re finally able to beat Norwich 1-0 to book their spot in the last four. Jeremy Goss was sent off early in the game, which gave the Dons the advantage but it wasn’t until defender Roger Joseph popped up with a rare goal in extra time that Wimbledon’s place in the semis was confirmed. The fourth semi-finalist is Division One side Peterborough, who beats Ipswich 1-0 thanks to a Phil Whelan own goal.


The draw for the last four sees Coventry vs Peterborough, and Wimbledon vs Manchester United. The semi-finals are two-legged affairs and Coventry and Wimbledon will play hosts in the first legs of their respective ties.

***

Round 24

As luck would have it, the fixture calendar served up another Manchester City vs Coventry fixture at Maine Road just four days after their League Cup tie. It looked like another win might be in the cards for Bobby Gould’s men after Roy Wegerle put the visitors in front but a goal from Keith Curle meant the teams split the points.

That gave Sheffield United the opportunity to move into top spot in the division but to do so they would need to beat their local rivals, Sheffield Wednesday. The Blades have amazed us all year long but were overmatched by the Owls in this one. Goals from Chris Bart-Williams and Paul Warhurst, along with a David Barnes red card for the Blades, led to a 2-0 Wednesday win.

Liverpool couldn’t capitalize on their opportunity to close the gap on City, either, as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Southampton. Richard Wood was sent off for the home side but they got goals from Terry Hurlock and Iain Dowie, while Don Hutchison, getting more playing time following the departure of Ronny Rosenthal, scores both goals for the Reds.

At the bottom of the table it’s another typically abject Arsenal performance as they lose 1-0 at Ipswich. There’s really nothing more to say here, every time you think there might be a false dawn, they come crashing down to earth.  They’re now eight points from safety.

Round 24 Table: Man City 50; Sheff Utd 48; Liverpool 44; Everton 40

Crystal Palace 21; Norwich 18; Arsenal 16

 

If Ipswich were looking for a scapegoat for their loss to Peterborough last week, they found one in Phil Whelan. The man whose own goal eliminated the Tractor Boys has now been shipped off in disgrace, sent to First Division side Grimsby for 460k. Also in the transfer market, Colin Pates, a 31-year-old defender/midfielder moves from Arsenal to Liverpool for 300k. Pates hadn’t featured all year for the Gunners so we don’t expect him to make much of a splash at Anfield.

 

Up next: The FA Cup 4th Round

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A look through the records tells me that Scunthorpe were in Division 3 in 1992/93... but were they a non-league team in the original CM? Either way, a great result for them against Blackburn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah yes, one of the great little anomalies of the original CM. The divisions were built with a coding structure that could only accommodate 20 teams in each tier so there are several teams farther down the league than they were in real life. Scunny is a great example!

 Oddly, this includes the Premier League, too—don’t forget it was a 22-team league for the first three seasons of its existence (Oldham and Middlesbrough were arbitrarily relegated to Division One in CM93). When we transition to the CM2 engine in 1995 the division structure will update to what we know today, although there are a couple of differences in promotion/relegation, which I’ll cover.

 I’ve never seen the Collyer brothers explain how they picked which teams were dropped down the league, by the way.

==============================

With the FA Cup back up and running all eyes are on Old Trafford where Scunthorpe will be looking to claim a second Premier League scalp. Schmeichel, Parker, Irwin, Pallister, Giggs, Ince, Cantona and McClair are all in the starting eleven which is a clear sign that United isn’t taking anything for granted. For a brief moment it looks like the impossible might just happen when that man Ian Helliwell finds the back of the net to give the Irons a 1-0 lead; however, United quickly fight back and equalize through their mercurial Frenchman, Eric Cantona. The game is tied 1-1 at the end of the first half. In the second half there is no doubting Manchester United’s dominance—they rack up 65% possession and pepper the Scunthorpe goal with seven shots on target, but they’re unable to find a winner and this one is going back to Glanford Park for a replay. Another stunning result for the Irons.

The only real upset this round is Division One club Watford knocking out Wimbledon at home. Goals from young defender Jason Drysdale and Andy Hessenthaler give the Hornets a 2-1 win. Hessenthaler is Division One’s leading scorer by a fair margin so this might not be that much of a surprise.

In the all Premier League ties, red hot Coventry continue their run of form with a 1-0 win over QPR at Loftus Road. Graeme Sharp got the goal, his fourth for the club already; Sharp’s arrival has really been the catalyst for the Sky Blues’ revival. Chelsea have moved into the fifth round after beating Nottingham Forest 2-1 on the back of a Robert Fleck double. With rumours of Brian Clough’s retirement swirling around the English game, it might be that he never lifts the trophy he wanted so badly. Elsewhere, Sheffield United knocks rudderless Arsenal out of the Cup thanks to an Alan Cork double, while Ipswich beats rival Norwich 1-0 thanks to a Chris Kiwomya winner.

In other fixtures, Tottenham, Sheffield Wednesday and Everton all cruised past lower division opponents, while Southampton eked out a win over Newcastle at St James Park.

***

Mid-week there is a bunch of transfer activity, headlined by Liverpool midfielder/attacker Paul Stewart joining Blackburn for 1.5m. He made just four appearances for the Reds this year and it frees up a spot for someone to join their first team. From Blackburn’s perspective, they need help and money isn’t really a concern for them, so we think this is a good pickup.

We think the best signing of the week is the transfer of Richard Jobson from Oldham to Coventry for 710k. Jobson is a dominating centre back and a leader at Division One level. We think he’ll be capable of making the step up to the Premier League, as well. It’s a strange choice by Oldham to let him go, given they’re in the promotion hunt. Immediately following the arrival of Jobson, Dave Busst was sold to Manchester United for 450k. He’s a serviceable squad player but won’t be a starter ahead of Gary Pallister or Steve Bruce.

For the “one to watch” category, we move into the lower divisions where Reading has picked up 19-year-old attacker Gareth Ainsworth from Preston for 10k. Ainsworth scored two goals from his 12 professional appearances, but we think this will prove to be a pretty good deal for the Royals.

Midweek sees the replays of three FA Cup fixtures. The headliner is at Glanford Park and it proves to be the end of the line for Scunthorpe’s fairy tale run in the Cup. Manchester United put in a professional performance and boss the non-leaguers from start to finish – goals from Pallister, Ince and Cantona see Ferguson’s men safely into Round Five of the cup. They’ll be joined in the draw by Crystal Palace who edge past West Ham 1-0 thanks to a Lee Sinnott goal, and Barnsley who surprise Leeds with a 3-1 win at Oakwell. David Currie steals the spotlight with a well-hit double for the Tykes.

***

Round 25

It feels like ages since there’s been Premier League games to report on, but let’s start by giving credit to the new league leaders, Sheffield United. Their form has been remarkable, they have the best away record in the league, but the thing that is truly impressive is how much of a team performance it has been so far – Alan Cork has been scoring goals but it seems like there’s a different hero every week for the Blades. This week they crush QPR 3-0 at Loftus Road and get goals from first-year pro Andy Scott, Cork (his tenth of the year) and midfielder Jamie Hoyland.

The Blades jump to the top of the league on goal difference after Manchester City are held at home by Wimbledon. Steve Cotterill was sent off for the Dons but City could only manage one chance all day and the game ended in a drab 0-0 draw. Joe Kinnear will definitely be the happier of the two managers as he enjoys his post-match drink. 

Liverpool solidifies their position in third place after picking up a big 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield. There are goals from Jamie Redknapp, John Barnes and a Steve Bruce own goal, while Ryan Giggs grabs the consolation marker for United.

Fourth place Everton come from behind to hand George Graham yet another loss. Paul Merson gave Arsenal a 1-0 lead going into the break but goals from Andy Hinchcliffe and Billy Kenny piled the misery on the Gunners.

In an equally bad spot is Norwich, although this is less of a surprise, who were beaten 1-0 by Sheffield Wednesday at Carrow Road. It’s been a while since David Hirst was in the goals so Owls fans will hope he can find some form and help them move up the table. The other club in the bottom three, Crystal Palace, also lose, and to make matters worse for the teams in the relegation spots, fourth-from-bottom Chelsea win again - this time beating Leeds 1-0- so the gap to safety gets wider.  

Lastly, Coventry’s run of great form has been temporarily halted by a 1-0 loss against Blackburn. Mike Newell grabs the only goal for Rovers.

Round 25 Table: Sheff Utd, Man City 51; Liverpool 47; Everton 43

Chelsea 27 / Crystal Palace 21; Norwich 18; Arsenal 16

 

So, there you have it: Norwich and Arsenal are 9 and 11 points adrift with 13 games to play. At this point I’m going to put a stake in the ground and say both teams are relegation certainties (cue the 13-game Arsenal win streak). Even if George Graham or Mike Walker are sacked now, and there are no signs Walker’s job is in jeopardy, there won’t be enough time for a new man to save them, surely.

Edited by King Jeff
I can't do math, either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, King Jeff said:

Ah yes, one of the great little anomalies of the original CM. The divisions were built with a coding structure that could only accommodate 20 teams in each tier so there are several teams farther down the league than they were in real life. Scunny is a great example!

 Oddly, this includes the Premier League, too—don’t forget it was a 22-team league for the first three seasons of its existence (Oldham and Middlesbrough were arbitrarily relegated to Division One in CM93). When we transition to the CM2 engine in 1995 the division structure will update to what we know today, although there are a couple of differences in promotion/relegation, which I’ll cover.

 I’ve never seen the Collyer brothers explain how they picked which teams were dropped down the league, by the way.

I thought as much. Scunthorpe's 'demotion' is a bit odd, though, seeing how they'd lost in the Division 3 play-off final the year before.

No sign of things getting any better for Arsenal. I fear our 74-year stay in the top flight might be coming to an end. :(

I have to say that chairmen in CM1 seem to be incredibly patient. You'd think Walker, Graham and probably Webb would have been long gone by now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tough to disagree with that – it’s almost farcical how patient they were with George Graham, but…

============

Premier League Top Scorers

12 – John Fashanu, Wimbledon

10 – Alan Cork, Sheff Utd

9 – Nick Barmby, Tottenham; Ronny Rosenthal, Liverpool/Sheff Wed

8 – Brian McClair, Man Utd; Dean Saunders, Aston Villa; Teddy Sheringham, Tottenham

7 – David Hirst, Sheff Wed; Kerry Dixon, Southampton; Mark Hughes, Man Utd; Robert Fleck, Chelsea

 

Division One Update

It’s often said that the second tier of English football is one of the most competitive and exciting leagues in the world. (And one day my team will get back there! – ed). So far, Division One is living up to the hype. Derby County lead the way with 49 points from 25 games, then we have five teams separated by three points: Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle and Glenn Hoddle’s Swindon are on 43, Oldham is on 42, and Leicester and Peterborough are on 40. Throw in a couple of more teams –Barnsley, Tranmere and Middlesbrough -- just a point farther back and it seems apparent that we’ll be waiting until the last day to see who is joining us in the Premier League next year.

***

Round 26

Alan Cork was the top scorer of the English Fourth Division in 1981. Now, 12 years later, at age 34, he is the joint top scorer in the Premier League – a remarkable story that aligns perfectly with everything Sheffield United have accomplished this year. Cork hits a double for the league leaders in a 2-1 win over Blackburn taking him up to 12 goals for the season. Mike Newell scores in a losing cause for Blackburn, the third straight game in which he has found the back of the net.

Manchester City keep pace with Sheffield United with a 1-0 win over Ipswich at Portman Road. Teams can often eke out a 1-0 win, but City were dominant, racking up 71% possession away from home, which is absolutely unheard of. The goal came from the team’s influential player/manager Peter Reid, who like several other players in their golden years, is enjoying one last great season.

Realistically, it looks like it will be a three-team race for the Premier Division title after Everton’s 2-1 loss to Aston Villa at Villa Park leaves them 11 points off the leaders. The third team in the race is, of course, Graeme Souness’s Liverpool, and they remain four points behind the co-leaders after beating Arsenal 1-0 at Highbury, thanks to an Ian Rush goal. It’s another lousy performance by Arsenal which generates only two shots on goal. In addition to David Seaman still being relegated to a backup role, Ian Wright is not included in the match-day squad at all.

If there’s no signs of life for Arsenal, there might be at Norwich after they pull off an unexpected 2-0 win over Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. The goals for the Canaries come from Lee Power and Ian Crook, which is just a fantastic pair of names.  Norwich’s faint hopes for survival are helped by the fact that both Crystal Palace and Chelsea lose – Palace fall 1-0 to Coventry, as Graeme Sharp scores again – he might be the signing of the season at this rate - and Chelsea also go down 1-0 against Nottingham Forest. Collymore scores for Forest, while Craig Burley sees red for the Blues in the loss.

Round 26 Table: Sheff Utd, Man City 54; Liverpool 50; Everton 43

Chelsea 27 / Crystal Palace, Norwich 21; Arsenal 16

 ***

Rejoice, Arsenal fans, George Graham is FINALLY sacked after the Liverpool loss. This move has almost certainly come too late for the Gunners to stay up, but we’ll be curious to see who is picked to help turn this ship around and how they handle some of the inevitable challenges that will come with relegation. After all, this is a team that can still run out England internationals in goal, defense, midfield, and up front!

The names being mentioned by the bookies as possible contenders for the job: Brian Little of Leicester, Russell Osman of Bristol City, Mel Machin of Barnsley, and Steve Perryman of Watford. We don’t think the last one will happen given Perryman’s Tottenham connection.

Mid-week, Alex Ferguson is named Manager of the Month, and Tottenham captain Gary Mabbutt is picked as Player of the Month

***

League Cup Semi-Finals, 1st Leg

The Manager of the Month award is often considered a curse but it didn’t affect Manchester United in their League Cup Semi-Final against Wimbledon. David McEnroe puts in an inspired performance on the left wing and scores the game's only goal in a 1-0 United win. They’ll head back to Old Trafford with a big advantage.

In the other semi-final, Division One Peterborough shock Coventry at Highfield Road by picking up a 1-0 win. 21-year-old midfielder Steve Hayward grabs the only goal in the Posh win. We’ll be curious to see whether Coventry can overturn the deficit in the second leg.

***

England’s national team is back in action in two weeks, taking on San Marino at home. Graham Taylor’s squad is as follows. You’d assume that England will cruise to an easy win so Taylor has picked a pretty young squad. It will be interesting to see who gets an opportunity to play and whether he experiments with his starting lineup.

Goalkeepers: Chris Woods, Sheffield Wednesday (37 caps); Tim Flowers, Southampton (no caps)

Defenders: Paul Parker, Manchester United (20 caps); John Scales, Wimbledon (no caps); Stuart Pearce, Nottingham Forest (53 caps) ; Clive Wilson, QPR (no caps); Gary Pallister, Manchester United (7 caps); Tony Adams, Arsenal (21 caps); Steve Bruce, Manchester United (1 cap); Des Walker, Sampdoria (50 caps)

Midfielders: Chris Waddle, Sheffield Wednesday (64 caps); Scott Thomas, Manchester City (no caps); Ian Crook, Norwich (no caps); Tony Dorigo, Leeds (10 caps); Paul Gascoigne, Lazio (23 caps); Peter Beardsley, Everton (50 caps); Nigel Clough, Nottingham Forest (8 caps); Matt Le Tissier, Southampton (1 cap)

Forwards: David Hirst, Sheffield Wednesday (5 caps); Dalian Atkinson, Aston Villa (no caps); David White, Manchester City (no caps); Les Ferdinand, QPR (no caps)

***

What are the odds on a Manchester United cup double? It’s FA Cup 5th Round weekend and United, who already have one foot in the League Cup Final, cruise through to the FA Cup Quarter Finals with a comfortable 2-0 win at home over Tottenham. Brian McClair, who has been United’s star man this season, grabs both goals in the victory. United are the last Big 5 club left in the draw after Everton are knocked out by Division One Millwall. Both Sheffield clubs are still alive, after Sheffield Wednesday got past a tricky tie against Barnsley, 2-1 at Oakwell. Sheffield United will require a replay in their tie against Crystal Palace after a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park. Also in the last eight are Coventry, who destroy Watford 4-1, and Ipswich, who beat Southampton. Peterborough are also in with a shot at a cup double - and what an incredible achievement that would be – they’re through to the last eight after beating Charlton 2-0 at the Valley.

One team not playing in the Cup is Arsenal, but they were busy introducing their new manager! It’s a case of art imitating life as Bolton boss Bruce Rioch is appointed as the new man at Highbury. He seems pretty happy at his introductory photo shoot!  (that’s a dreadful watch, though – ed) Bolton are mid-pack in Division Two right now, but even though Rioch comes with a promising reputation I can’t imagine Arsenal supporters are particularly happy with this appointment. What do you think, Gunners fans?

Up next: Bruce Rioch’s first signings and the transfer deadline…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the international break upon us, new Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch wastes no time adding to his squad, bringing in two young players with a lot of promise.

David Seaman probably won’t stay with the Gunners in Division One so Arsenal add young Liverpool keeper David James for 600k. James was originally signed from Watford in the summer but didn’t end up making one appearance for the Reds. Craig Fleming arrives from Oldham: he’s a 21-year-old right-sided player who can play on the wing or at full back. He’s been one of Oldham’s best players in their promotion push and could be the replacement for Lee Dixon who we also can’t see sticking around in Division One.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Russell Beardsmore, who never quite made it at Manchester United, is on his move to Liverpool for 900k. This strikes us as a peculiar piece of business for Graeme Souness but we’ll see if Beardsmore is able to benefit from a change of scenery. We also note the transfer of young Scottish forward John Spencer from Chelsea to Newcastle. Spencer joined Chelsea from Rangers but never made an appearance for Dave Webb’s men.

***

England vs San Marino

World Cup Qualifier

Chris Woods; Paul Parker, Tony Dorigo, Des Walker, Tony Adams, Gary Pallister; Chris Waddle, Paul Gascoigne, Peter Beardsley ©, Ian Crook; David Hirst, Les Ferdinand

This game ends up being the Peter Beardsley show and England stroll to an easy victory. Wearing the captain’s armband, Beardsley hits a double in the first half, then adds two more in the second half. Gary Pallister and Les Ferdinand also get in on the fun, Ferdinand scoring on his national team debut. 6-0 England is the final but qualification will get tougher in the next couple of months with a trip to Turkey, followed by a visit from Dick Advocaat’s Netherlands side.

Standings: Norway 10; England 7; Poland, Netherlands 4; Turkey 3; San Marino 0

***

Transfer Deadline

The transfer deadline is upon us and league leaders Sheffield United make the biggest signing of deadline day by bringing in Dion Dublin from Manchester United for 1.2m. Dublin never really got much of a look-in at Old Trafford but will probably get the chance to lead the line for the Blades for years to come so we think this is a very smart signing. The Blades also bring in Northern Ireland international Gerry Taggart from Division One Barnsley for 300k. Co-leaders Manchester City only bring in one player, backup keeper Ludek Miklosko, signed from West Ham for 300k.

Among the lead pack, Liverpool are the most active: in addition to selling David James last week, they sell Mike Hooper to Everton for 700k. Hooper was playing as backup to Neville Southall for the Reds but might end up as Everton’s number one keeper. The Reds also sell midfielder Mark Walters to Tottenham for 550k, which is less than half what they paid for him two years ago. Tottenham are very reliant on their young core and the addition of someone with a bit of experience makes sense. Liverpool do bring in one signing, capturing Steve Whitton forward from Ipswich for 300k. Whitton scored a number of crucial goals in helping Ipswich win promotion to the Premier League last year but hasn’t been able to make an impact in the top flight so far – he will probably get better service for Liverpool so this will be an interesting adjustment for him.

In addition to bringing in Mark Walters, Liverpool sign young left back Andy Hinchcliffe from Everton for 700k. Hinchcliffe looks like a player of considerable promise so we’ll see how he fits into a young Spurs side. Spurs let two go at the deadline to make room for their additions: forward John Hendry joins Manchester United for 500k, while fellow attacker Paul Moran moves to Crystal Palace for 200k.

Lastly, nearer to the bottom of the division, Southampton announce the capture of young Norwich striker Chris Sutton. The young target man only made one appearance for the Canaries but we expect big things from him on the south coast.

***

Round 27

With every team’s roster now in place for the rest of the season it’s time to focus on the run-in. At the top of the division we expect a straight shoot-out between Sheffield United, Manchester City and Liverpool—we still believe the Reds’ experience will be the difference but we’re (not so) secretly pulling for the Blades.

Down at the bottom, it’s tough to see any of the bottom three escaping the drop. Arsenal obviously have the most quality but they’re too far adrift to make up the difference, while we just don’t think Norwich or Crystal Palace score enough goals.

We start the weekly wrap-up at Bramall Lane where Sheffield United host Coventry. I’ve mentioned this before, but Coventry’s pickup of Graeme Sharp has to be the signing of the season – before he came on board they were in a relegation dogfight but now their form matches the leaders. The Scottish forward scores twice to take his total to seven goals from ten games and throw a wrench into the title race.

Over to you, Manchester City. City is also held scoreless at home by Chelsea, but the game ends in a 0-0 draw, putting them back in front by one point. This also allows Liverpool to get to within two points, as they pick up goals from young forward Don Hutchison and old pro Ian Rush in a 2-1 win over QPR.

At the bottom, we watch Bruce Rioch’s make his debut in the Arsenal dugout at home against Crystal Palace. David Seaman and Ian Wright are both recalled into the lineup, and Arsenal seem to respond well for their new man. Midfielder David Hillier scores the first goal, then new signing Craig Fleming pops up to grab a goal on his debut in a 2-0 Gunners win. “We are staying up,” are the predictable chants from the terraces – we’ll see.

Round 27 Table: Man City 55; Sheff Utd 54; Liverpool 53; Everton 43

Chelsea 28 / Norwich 22; Crystal Palace 21; Arsenal 19

 ***

League Cup Semi-Finals, 2nd Legs

Manchester United will have a chance to defend their League Cup title after easing through their semi-final tie with Wimbledon. The Red Devils carried a one-goal lead back to Old Trafford after the first leg and won the second leg 1-0, thanks to a Brian McClair goal. But who would their opponents be?

Division One side Peterborough had a one-goal lead heading back to London Road but knew they would be in for a tough contest against Coventry. Coventry have been completely revitalized since Christmas and were lifted by their talisman Graeme Sharp yet again. Peterborough fought valiantly, getting goals from Mick Halsall and Worrell Sterling but goals from Peter Billing, Sharp, and a late winner from substitute Micky Quinn gave the Sky Blues a 3-2 win. The Premier League side advanced through away goals, a cruel blow to a Posh side that gave it everything they had. Manchester United vs Coventry for the League Cup will take place at Wembley in a few weeks’ time.

Edited by King Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This might be me being me but was there no international management in the early games of Championship Manager.

EDIT: I might create the same file for myself and play some of the earlier Championship Manager games as there are a few in the early days that is now abandoned. Starting with 92/93.

Edited by HawkAussie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hawk - You being you is just code for perceptive, right? 😉  

 You’re right – there is no playable international management in the CM1 engine, but squads were still selected. So what I’ve done, as I’m sure it would have become apparent, is imposed the game’s squad selections into the real life results. It’s not ideal by any stretch but this is the creative licensing I had to apply in the early days! For your game, I’ve seen CM1, 93, 94, 94+data disk (which is basically 94/95) and CM Italia all kicking around the various abandonware sites. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the older versions!

 Oche – thanks for the kind words! I won't be using all versions of CM/FM, but several, and it's still a lot of database work! Based on the amount of hard-coding, running only one season per game would mean we were losing too much data. Right now, the plan is: CM93 for three seasons, CM2 for one season, CM9697 for two years, then onward on a two-year cycle. That could change.

 

=====================================================

 Round 28

We knew it was coming at some point. Sheffield United have had a phenomenal year but they seem to be hitting the wall now. They lose their second straight game, looking tired and flat in a 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Simon Osborn picks up both goals and the result must give Palace fans hope that they have what it takes to get out of the bottom three.

Manchester City haven’t been able to capitalize on Sheffield United going slightly off the boil, though. They are held to a 2-2 draw by Southampton down at the Dell. A couple of old war-horses, Kerry Dixon and City’s player manager Peter Reid are in the goals, and so to are two young England internationals, Matt Le Tissier and David White. The draw moves City two points ahead of the Blades.

Liverpool remain three points back of the leaders after being beaten in the Merseyside derby by Everton. Peter Beardsley carried on his international form into domestic competition and grabbed the only goal in a 1-0 win. Everton are still ten points back of the leaders so it’s too little too late for them.

Down at the bottom, we saw Arsenal fans signing “We are staying up” after Bruce Rioch’s first game in charge. By the end of the second game, I think even the most optimistic Arsenal fans must realize they’re gone. It’s an Arsenal performance that reminds us of some of the stinkers they played under George Graham this year – they generate only one shot, 39% possession, and concede an own goal in a 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.

The other key game at the bottom sees 19th-place Norwich taking on 17th-place Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The visitors take the lead through a David Phillips goal, but substitute Graham Stuart equalizes in the second half to split the points. Not a result that helps either side but, hey, Crystal Palace are probably happy with the outcome. Norwich remain six points away from safety with ten games to play.

Round 28 Table: Man City 56; Sheff Utd 54; Liverpool 53; Everton 46

Chelsea 29 / Crystal Palace 24; Norwich 23; Arsenal 19

 ***

The next weekend sees the FA Cup Quarter-Finals take place. Division One Peterborough were desperately unlucky to be eliminated from the League Cup in the semi-finals, but they will be in the semi-finals of the FA Cup after a stunning 2-0 victory over Manchester United at London Road. Mick Halsall, who scored in the League Cup Semi-Final loss to Coventry, grabs the goal that seals the Posh’s spot in the last four. They’ll play Crystal Palace in the semi-finals: the Eagles seem to be finding some form just at the right time and they beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 at home to book their spot in the last four. Goals from Geoff Thomas, John Salako and Chris Armstrong are enough to see Steve Coppell’s men through.

Coventry’s shot at a cup double is now gone, after they were defeated 3-1 by Millwall at the Den. Among the Millwall goalscorers is Carlton Fairweather, an impossibly awesome name. Millwall will take on Ipswich in their semi-final after the Tractor Boys knocked out Chelsea 1-0, thanks to a Geraint Williams goal.

 

Mid-week, Bobby Gould is rightly honoured with a Manager of the Month award for his team’s remarkable turnaround. Chelsea defender Paul Elliott is voted Player of the Month, which is a tremendous injustice to Graeme Sharp.

***

Round 29

The headline here is that both Manchester City and Sheffield United are now winless in three. City collect their third straight draw, 2-2 against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. Goals from Mike Sheron and Fitzroy Simpson were cancelled out by David Hirst and Paul Warhurst.

The Blades have now dropped three in a row after they lose 2-1 at home against Liverpool: Alan Cork continues his goalscoring form for the home side, but they are out-done by an Ian Rush double. That result moves Liverpool in to second place just one point behind City.

Everton will also be looking up the table now, after they close the gap to third place to just five points. They beat Bobby Gould’s Coventry side 2-1 at Highfield Road – the curse of the Manager of the Month award strikes again. Graeme Sharp scores for Coventry in the defeat, while Peter Beardsley grabs both Everton goals – he now has seven from his last three appearances for club and country.

At the bottom, Arsenal are embarrassed again. The result, a 1-0 loss at Old Trafford, isn’t particularly surprising, but another game of only one shot generated and 35% possession is indicative of why they’re going down.

It also looks like time up for Norwich, as they also lose again – 1-0 against Ipswich at Portman Road. Crystal Palace, though – they just might escape. They are finding a rich vein of form at home and they pick up a 1-0 win over QPR, thanks to a John Salako goal. Palace remains five points off safety, though, as Chelsea also pull out a result, winning 2-0 at Southampton. Nigel Spackman and an on-fire Robert Fleck get the goals.

Round 29 Table:  Man City 57; Liverpool 56; Sheff Utd 54; Everton 49

Chelsea 32 / Crystal Palace 27; Norwich 23; Arsenal 19

 

Midweek we see the end of Tottenham’s European run. Facing a 1-0 deficit against Dnepro after the first leg in Ukraine, the two teams are evenly matched in London. Spurs get a goal from Vinny Samways to level the tie, but it’s quickly cancelled out, and Dnepro move into the last four with a 2-1 victory on aggregate. Joining them in the last four are AC and Inter Milan, as well as Werder Bremen.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We’re heading towards the stretch run now, folks, and with three teams (Man City, Liverpool and Sheff Utd) separated by two points and hard-charging Everton in fourth place, we could see a very interesting title run.

Down at the bottom, it looks like two clubs (Arsenal and Norwich) are already gone, while two teams are fighting to avoid the last relegation spot.

Ready? Let's do it.

***

Round 30

Manchester City break their three-game winless streak by picking up a 1-0 win over Leeds at Maine Road. Mike Sheron is the goalscorer, and Leeds’ lousy second half form continues. They drop to seventh place with the loss.

Sheffield United are also back to winning ways after losing three straight – they go to Highbury and lay a beating on Bruce Rioch’s Arsenal side. How’s this appointment working out for you, Gunners fans? Dion Dublin scores twice for the Blades, first two goals for his new club, while the third comes from a Martin Keown own goal. Nigel Winterburn scores for the home side in defeat and the team is booed off the pitch.

Liverpool had made their way up to second last week but they’re immediately knocked back down to third following a 2-1 loss at home against Aston Villa. Veteran Cyrille Regis scores both goals for Villa, his first two of the season. Steve Whitton scores for Liverpool in his first appearance since his move from Ipswich.

Everton continue to rack up wins and just won’t go away – they keep a grip on fourth place by beating Manchester United 2-0 at Goodison. Tony Cottee has rarely made the headlines this year but he hits both goals for the Toffees.

Down at the bottom, Norwich surprise Nottingham Forest with a 1-0 win, thanks to an Efan Ekoku goal. The win helps them move in on Crystal Palace and Chelsea, as both teams could only pick up a draw from their fixtures. Palace grabbed a point at Blackburn, while Chelsea are held to a scoreless draw by Ipswich.

Round 30 Table: Man City 60; Sheff Utd 57; Liverpool 56; Everton 52

Chelsea 33 / Crystal Palace 28; Norwich 26; Arsenal 19

 ***

Top Scorers

15 – John Fashanu, Wimbledon

13 – Alan Cork, Sheff Utd

11 – Kerry Dixon, Southampton

10 – Ian Rush, Liverpool; Peter Beardsley, Everton; Teddy Sheringham, Tottenham

9 – Brian McClair, Man Utd; Nick Barmby, Tottenham; Ronny Rosenthal, Liverpool / Sheff Wed

 

Division One Update!

Derby 56; Glenn Hoddle’s Swindon 52 / Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle 50; Peterborough 48; Oldham 47; Wolves 46

 ***

Turkey vs England

World Cup Qualifier (Group 2) 

Chris Woods; Paul Parker (Nigel Clough 45), Stuart Pearce, Tony Adams, Des Walker; Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle, Paul Gascoigne, Ian Crook; David Hirst, Dalian Atkinson (Tony Dorigo 85)

 

A depressingly poor match played in a hostile atmosphere, but England held their nerve and were able to emerge from Izmir with a 2-0 win, thanks to goals from influential midfielders Peter Beardsley and Paul Gascoigne.

Beardsley, one of the best players in domestic competition has been a revelation in an England kit over the past year and followed up his four-goal performance against San Marino by bossing the game and nodded in a cross from Ian Crook to give England an early lead.  Gazza followed it up in the second half, heading home a clever pass from Dalian Atkinson. It wasn’t pretty, but Graham Taylor will still feel positive about it – job done, for now.

***

Round 31

Back from the internationals and into domestic action.

Normally we start a fixture roundup with a look at what’s happening at the top or the bottom of the table. This time, though, we’ll start with a mid-table fixture in which the result blew us away. Manchester United travelled to Blackburn and got absolutely mullered. Rovers set a new Premier League record for the biggest margin of victory, winning 6-0. Colin Hendry and Paul Stewart each grabbed one, while Stuart Ripley and Mike Newell each claimed two apiece. So much for United being league champions.

The title still might go to Manchester, though, as City seem to have shaken off their little wobble in form and are back to their winning ways. This time they beat Tottenham 2-0 at home through goals from Fitzroy Simpson and Niall Quinn. Sheffield United keep pace, just three points back, after they beat Aston Villa 3-0 at Bramall Lane. Alan Cork scores another one, as does Glyn Hodges, and Steve Staunton put one in the wrong net.

Liverpool have suddenly gone a bit off the rails in the past couple of weeks. After nosing in to second, they’ve dropped their second straight, this time losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Palace’s home form has really started to ramp up and it just might be enough to save them at this stage. The team their chasing, Chelsea, also seem to be getting more consistent – they pick up a point this week in a 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday.

Last round we pointed out that Everton were quickly becoming the division’s form team, which of course means they lose this week, going down 2-0 to QPR at Loftus Road. Les Ferdinand has come nowhere near expectations so far this year but he gets both goals in the Rangers win.

Round 31 Table: Man City 63; Sheff Utd 60; Liverpool 56; Everton 52

Chelsea 34 / Crystal Palace 31; Norwich 26; Arsenal 20

 ***

Round 32

Peter Reid will have an interesting post-game team talk to give. The Manchester City player/manager got sent off in the second half of the leaders’ contest against Norwich and they paid for his sins. Daryl Sutch was the hero, scoring twice and potentially blowing the doors on the title race wide open again. Norwich 2-0 Manchester City is a stunning result.

The team best-placed to capitalize on City’s loss was Sheffield United, who were away to Everton. We put the pundits curse on Everton last week by pointing out that they had hit fine form, but they recovered well and were well-deserving of a 2-0 win over the Blades. Who else but that man Peter Beardsley was in the goals, as was Barry Horne.

Liverpool couldn’t get a result, either – they ran into a Blackburn offense that is firing on all cylinders right now. Rovers follow up their trashing of Manchester United last week with a 2-1 win over the Reds at Anfield. Mike Newell has been the talisman for Blackburn in the past month or so, and he scores again, as does ex-Liverpool man Paul Stewart.  

At the bottom, Arsenal pick up their second straight draw, this time 1-1 at home to QPR, but they remain 14 points off safety with just six games left to play.

Crystal Palace’s recent form lead some to believe they just might be able to escape but their form on the road is still an issue – they lose 1-0 to a smarting Manchester United. Chelsea, who are on the other side of the line, pick up a point in a 1-1 draw at Wimbledon.

Round 32 Table: Man City 63; Sheff Utd 60; Liverpool 56; Everton 55

Chelsea 35 / Crystal Palace 31; Norwich 29; Arsenal 21

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Run-in

 With just a handful of games to go, it’s time to compare the run-ins for the teams competing for the title and to avoid relegation.

 

The Title Contenders

Man City 63 points, 1st: Liverpool (H), Forest (A), Arsenal (H), Palace (A), Everton (H), QPR (H)

Sheff Utd 2nd, 60 points: Forest (H), Man Utd (A), Tottenham (H), Leeds (H), Ipswich (A), Southampton (A)

Liverpool 56 points, 3rd: Man City (A), Coventry (H); Chelsea (A), Sheff Wed (H), Forest (A), Wimbledon (A)

Everton 55 points, 4th:  Leeds (A), Palace (H), Southampton (A), Norwich (H), Man City (A), Chelsea (A)

The games in bold are against other title hopefuls. The first key game is Manchester vs Liverpool at home – anything other than a Reds win and they are probably out of the hunt. Everton will probably need to win out to have any chance of lifting the title, but they finish with four of their last five games against teams either in the relegation battle or a fellow title contender.

Who will win? Manchester City

 

The Battle to avoid relegation

Southampton, Tottenham and Ipswich are all on 40 points, and probably safe with just one more point. 

Chelsea, 17th 35 points: Arsenal (H), Tottenham (A), Liverpool (H), Blackburn (A), Villa (H), Everton (H)

Crystal Palace, 18th 31 points: Tottenham (H), Everton (A), Sheff Wed (H), Man City (H), Leeds (A), Ipswich (A)

Norwich, 19th 29 points: Coventry (A), Leeds (H), Blackburn (A), Everton (A), QPR (H), Man Utd (H)

Arsenal, 20th 21 points: Chelsea (A), Blackburn (H), Man City (A), Forest (H), Wimbledon (A), Sheff Wed (A)

This could be over quickly. If Spurs beat Palace, Norwich don’t beat Coventry, and Chelsea beats Arsenal, I think the bottom three spots will be confirmed. After taking a deeper look at the schedules I can’t see any of the bottom three escaping. However, Chelsea have a few tricky fixtures and could very easily stumble across the line.

***

FA Cup Semi-Finals

Crystal Palace might be mired in a fight for survival (and looking destined to be relegated) but they’re going to be competing in the FA Cup Final after a 2-1 win in extra time over Peterborough. The Eagles’ hero is John Salako who scores both goals. John McGlashan scored for the Posh in a losing effort – after their cup heartbreak in both the League Cup and FA Cup, I’ll be rooting for them should they make the Division One playoffs.

In the other semi-final, a goal from Welsh defender Gavin Maguire puts Division One Millwall into their first ever FA Cup Final. Mick McCarthy’s side defied the odds to beat Premier League club Ipswich in their semi-final at Villa Park. It is Maguire’s first ever goal as a professional and one that is destined to make him a Millwall club legend.

***

Graham Taylor’s England squad have been making good progress in their attempts to qualify for World Cup 94 but face a tricky game against the Netherlands at Wembley in a couple of weeks’ time.  Here is the squad Taylor has picked to try and help him navigate the game.

Goalkeepers: Chris Woods, Sheffield Wednesday; Tony Coton, Manchester City

Defenders: Paul Parker, Manchester United; Matt Jackson, Everton; Stuart Pearce, Nottingham Forest, Tony Dorigo, Leeds; Tony Adams, Arsenal, Steve Bruce, Manchester United, Dave Watson, Everton, Gary Pallister, Manchester United

Midfielders: Chris Waddle, Sheffield Wednesday; Scott Thomas, Manchester City; Ian Crook, Norwich; John Barnes, Liverpool; Paul Gascoigne, Lazio; Peter Beardsley, Everton; Nigel Clough, Nottingham Forest; Matt Le Tissier, Southampton

Attackers: David Hirst, Sheffield Wednesday; Alan Shearer, Blackburn; Les Ferdinand, QPR; Ian Wright, Arsenal

***

Round 33

When the final whistle goes at Maine Road, a sense of shock washes over three ends of the ground: This is going to happen, isn’t it?

A 2-1 win for Manchester City probably marks the end of Liverpool’s title hopes and moves Peter Reid’s side one step closer to the Premier League crown. Goals for the hosts came from two young midfielders, Garry Flitcroft and Scott Thomas.

In Sheffield, it’s all starting to slip away, too, as Sheffield United were held to a 0-0 draw by Nottingham Forest. The gap is now 5 points to Sheffield, 10 points to Liverpool, and 11 points to Everton, whose 1-0 loss to Leeds is the final nail in their coffin.

In the relegation fight, there’s a wild one at Stamford Bridge. Each team ends the game with ten men after Ian Woan and Anders Limpar are sent off, and one goal. The single point doesn’t really help either team: Chelsea are going to be looking over their shoulder, while Arsenal limp closer to having their relegation confirmed.

Crystal Palace look set to capitalize on any wobble from Chelsea – they win again at Selhurst Park, 2-1 over Tottenham, their fourth straight home win. Simon Osborn and Chris Amrstrong score for Palace, while Nick Barmby gets the goal for Spurs who aren’t yet safe, either.

At Highfield Road, Norwich are showing they may not be dead yet – they pick up a point in a 1-1 draw against Coventry to remain six points back of Chelsea.

Round 33 Table: Manchester City 66; Sheffield United 61; Liverpool 56; Everton 55

Tottenham, Ipswich 40; Chelsea 36 / Crystal Palace 34; Norwich 30; Arsenal 22

 ***

Down in Division One, Derby are closing in on the title – they’re seven points clear of second-place Swindon and eight points up on Newcastle and Barnsley. Oldham and a surging Middlesbrough occupy the last two playoff spots.

 

As we head into April, Crystal Palace Manager Steve Coppell is awarded Manager of the Month. His team has won four straight home league games, as well as an FA Cup Semi-Final, but they’re likely still going down. Blackburn forward Mike Newell is a good choice for Player of the Month.  

 

Up Next: The League Cup Final, and Arsenal’s Relegation(?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome aboard, Argento!  Happy to have you following along, and glad you’re enjoying it (other than Norwich’s woeful performance)

===========================================

We’re in to the business end of the season and that means it won’t be long before domestic and European silverware is on the line. Let’s take a look at all the final match-ups.

Coca-Cola Cup: Manchester United vs Coventry

FA Cup: Crystal Palace vs Millwall

UEFA Cup: Dnepro vs AC Milan

Cup Winners’ Cup: Olympiakos vs Dinamo Bucharest

Champions League: Marseille vs Benfica

The first trophy to be handed out is the English League Cup. 

 

1993 Coca-Cola Cup Final

Manchester United vs Coventry

Wembley Stadium

For United, it’s been a case of underachieving all year – a pre-season favourite, they’ve never been in legitimate contention and have had to watch their noisy neighbours stand at the top of the table all year. United have been bolstered by the performances of Brian McClair, who has been their best player and top scorer with ten league goals. McClair, Eric Cantona and David McEnroe all scored two goals in United’s route to Wembley.

For Coventry, their season has been a tale of two halves – fighting relegation in the first half, then following the signing of Graeme Sharp from Oldham, their fortunes turned around completely. Sharp began scoring goals at will, Bobby Gould was named Manager of the Month in February, and now the team looks like it will be safe in mid-table. Although he only made three appearances in the League Cup run, Sharp’s three goals from three games makes him the top goalscorer for Coventry. Micky Quinn, Micky Gynn, Roy Wegerle and John Williams all got two along the way.

The Road to Wembley:

Man Utd

Round 2, 1st Leg: Oxford 0-2 Man Utd (Ince, McClair)

Round 2, 2nd Leg: Man Utd 2-1 Oxford (McClair, Giggs)

Round 3: Man Utd 2-0 Portsmouth (Hughes, Cantona)

Round 4: Man Utd p0-0 Sheff Wed  (United win 4-3 on penalties)

Round 5: Man Utd 1-0 Leeds (McEnroe)

Semi Final, 1st Leg: Wimbledon 0-1 Man Utd (McEnroe)

Semi Final, 2nd Leg: Man Utd 1-0 Wimbledon (Cantona)

 

Coventry

Round 2, 1st Leg: Burnley 0-1 Coventry (Williams)

Round 2, 2nd Leg: Coventry 2-2 Burnley (Gynn, Williams)

Round 3: Coventry 2-0 Watford (Gynn, Quinn)

Round 4: Coventry 3-2 Millwall (Borrows, Robson, Wegerle)

Round 5: Man City 2-3 Coventry (Sharp x2, Wegerle)

Semi Final, 1st Leg: Coventry 0-1 Peterborough

Semi Final, 2nd Leg: Peterborough 2-3 Coventry (Billing, Sharp, Quinn)

 

Lineups:

Man Utd: Peter Schmeichel ©; Gary Pallister, Denis Irwin, Paul Parker, Steve Bruce; Darren Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, Paul Ince, Lee Sharpe; Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes

Subs: Gavin Peacock; John Hendry

Coventry: Steve Ogrizovic ©; Brian Borrows, Phil Babb, Peter Billing, Sean Flynn; John Williams, Peter Atherton, Stewart Robson, Micky Gynn; Graeme Sharp, Roy Wegerle

Subs: Micky Quinn, Peter Ndlovu

Alex Ferguson’s team sheet yields a couple of surprises as David McEnroe and Brian McClair don’t make the match-day squad. Instead, there are rare starts for Lee Sharpe and the manager’s son, Darren Ferguson. Bobby Gould picks his strongest possible squad: Richard Jobson is cup-tied, which means there is a big opportunity for Sean Flynn.

 

In the match, both teams start slowly with few chances between them. The best chance falls to Stewart Robson but the Coventry midfielder blazes wide. Mark Hughes comes closest for United with a long-range volley but Ogrizovic is able to make an easy save from 20 yards out. The teams return to the dressing rooms scoreless with little to choose between them.

In the second half United start well with Cantona, Ferguson and Giggs all getting chances, but the game turns when Steve Bruce delivers a crunching tackle on Graeme Sharp. Both men end up leaving the pitch: Coventry’s talisman having to be taken off on a stretcher, and Bruce through a straight red. With the numerical advantage, Coventry begin to gain the ascendency but are unable to find a goal. The game moves in to extra time.

In extra-time, Coventry are able to find a breakthrough. A sweeping long ball from Brian Borrows is knocked down by Roy Wegerle and substitute Micky Quinn runs on to it and knocks it past a diving Peter Schmeichel to give the Sky Blues the lead! With no offensive options on the bench (where was Brian McClair!) a tiring United squad offered little for the rest of the way – Quinn came close again, but one goal proved to be enough.  The whistle blows and Coventry City has won their first ever League Cup! Bobby Gould’s side will play in Europe next year, a tremendous achievement.

 

Final Score: Manchester United 0-1 Coventry (Bruce red; M. Quinn)  

Man of the Match: Micky Quinn, Coventry

Coventry win their first ever League Cup

 ***

Round 34

Scenarios: Arsenal will be relegated if they drop points to Blackburn or Chelsea win at Tottenham.

 

Look away, Gunners fans. You’ve known this was coming for a while but now it’s official. Arsenal are relegated. To survive another week, Arsenal would have had to beat Blackburn and hope for Tottenham to beat Chelsea. Neither of those things happened. Arsenal could only manage a 1-1 draw at Highbury while Chelsea picked up a huge 1-0 win at White Hart Lane.

It’s nearly game over for Norwich, too, as they’re now eight points back with four to play. They could only manage a 2-2 draw against Leeds at Carrow Road and they’re firmly behind the eight ball now.  Crystal Palace had some hope but their 2-0 loss at Everton makes it look far less likely they’re going to survive now. Billy Kenny and Peter Beardsley grabbed the Everton goals, and Palace are now five points back of Chelsea.

At the top of the table, it’s a week the two leaders will want to forget. Manchester City are turned over 2-0 by Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, and Sheffield United are beaten by the same score at Old Trafford. The Blades were put under the gun thanks to an early red card and goals from Gary Pallister and Guy Whittingham helped United get past their Wembley disappointment. The gap between first and second remains five points, but Sheffield United’s inability to gain points might be the end of their chances.

League Cup champions Coventry were suffering from a bit of a hangover and got beaten 1-0 by Liverpool at Anfield to pull the Reds within seven points but we think it’s still a bridge too far.

Round 34 Table: Man City 66; Sheff Utd 61; Liverpool 59; Everton 58

Tottenham 40, Chelsea 39 / Crystal Palace 34; Norwich 31; Arsenal (R) 23

 

Edited by King Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"When the day is long,
And the night, the night is yours alone.
When you're sure you've had enough,
Of this life, well hang on."

:(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry, Chris – everybody hurts sometimes…

Author’s Comments:  With Arsenal’s relegation, we have our first real butterfly effect moment. I wasn’t expecting to have to face one of these so quickly, but this seems like the right time to explain how I’ll handle major things like this.

For any “big club” (loosely defined as today’s Big Six + Everton), I’ll continue to track their progress through regular updates no matter how far down the pyramid they might fall. Once we get into later iterations of the game with multiple playable leagues, I’ll keep an eye out for any similarly-noteworthy stories (e.g., Fiorentina getting thrown out of the league, Atletico Madrid in the Segunda Division) and provide intermittent updates. 

============================================================================

Round 35

Scenario: Norwich will be relegated with a loss against Blackburn combined with a Chelsea win over Liverpool and Tottenham picking up at least a point against Sheffield United.

We start at Ewood Park for two reasons: first, to see whether Norwich can avoid relegation for a week, but also because there’s a new Premier League record set. First, the record, and it goes to an unlikely recipient – Blackburn midfielder Stuart Ripley becomes the first player to score a goal in five straight Premier League games when he hits the net in the second half. (We expect this record to be broken several times on the CM2 engine – ed). That should be a reasonable indicator that things didn’t go well for Norwich – Blackburn’s 2-0 win meaning the Canaries players walked off the pitch knowing their days as Premier League players were numbered.

Chelsea have secured their spot in the Premier League for next season after they pull off a surprising 2-0 win at home over Liverpool. Robert Fleck has been a dynamo for the Blues in the second half of the year, his goals probably kept them in the league, and he is on the scoresheet again today, along with Damian Matthew. For Liverpool, that is officially the end of their title chances.

At Bramall Lane, Sheffield United beat Tottenham 2-0 (I’m noticing a theme here – ed) which means two things: one, the Blades’ title hopes aren’t dead yet, and two, Norwich will live to see another day – however, they’ll need to win out and hope Tottenham don’t pick up a point.

At Maine Road, Manchester City beat the now-relegated Gunners, by (wait for it...) a 2-0 score to move one step closer to the title. Goals from Mike Sheron and Scott Thomas secure the three points for the champions-elect.

Round 35 Table: Man City 69; Sheff Utd 64; Liverpool, Everton 59

Tottenham 40 / Crystal Palace 34; Norwich 31; Arsenal 23 (R)

 

Down in Division, it’s congratulations to Arthur Cox and Derby County who clinch the Division One title and will be joining us in the Premier League next year. There are just three points now separating second through sixth.

***

Run-in Review

Man City, 69 points: Crystal Palace (A); Everton (H); QPR (H)

Sheffield United, 64 points: Leeds (H); Ipswich (A); Southampton (A)

City could win the title as early as this week with a win over Crystal Palace and a Sheffield United loss at Leeds.

 

Tottenham, 17th, 40 points, -6 GD: Man Utd (A); Coventry (H); Blackburn (H)

Crystal Palace, 18th, 34 points, -15 GD: Man City (H); Leeds (A); Ipswich (A)

Norwich, 19th, 31 points, -18 GD: Everton (A); QPR (H); Man Utd (H)

A Tottenham point or a dropped point by Norwich would relegate Norwich. Crystal Palace could be relegated if they lose to Man City and Tottenham pick up a point.

***

Round 36

Scenarios: Man City will win the Premier League title with a win at Crystal Palace and a Sheffield United loss to Leeds

A Tottenham point or a Norwich dropped point would relegate Norwich. Crystal Palace can relegated if they lose to Man City and Tottenham pick up a point.

 

First Half action

Manchester City are 45 minutes away from winning the Premier League title! They lead Crystal Palace 1-0 thanks to a Keith Curle goal, while Leeds are 2-1 up at Sheffield United.

Elsewhere, as we look around the grounds, it looks like curtains for Norwich who are scoreless with Everton, and with Tottenham still level at Old Trafford, Crystal Palace are also 45 minutes away from relegation.

Half Time Scores:

Crystal Palace 0-1 Man City (Curle)

Everton 0-0 Norwich

Man Utd 0-0 Tottenham

Sheff Utd 1-2 Leeds (Dublin; Speed, Whyte)

 

Second Half

The headlines come at Selhurst Park where Manchester City are Premier League Champions! Up 1-0 at half time, City get a second half goal from Niall Quinn to put the result beyond doubt. City absolutely dominate in the game: Palace barely get a sniff, and it’s a deserving title for Peter Reid’s side, who have clearly been the class of the league this year.

The City result renders the happenings at Bramall Lane meaningless but Sheffield United end up falling 3-2 to Leeds. Frank Strandli scored in the second half to put the game beyond doubt for Leeds, and while Dion Dublin scored a second to cut the lead to one goal, it wasn’t enough.

With the title situation all sewed up, all eyes were on the happenings in the relegation fight. And fight was the appropriate word to describe the second half at Goodison Park. The Canaries took the lead thanks to an Efan Ekoku goal but then Ruel Fox got sent off for a reckless tackle on Peter Beardsley. Darren Wassall was also sent off and the nine men couldn’t hold out for the full 90 minutes – a late goal from Tony Cottee ensured the game ended 1-1 and Norwich are relegated.

Up at Old Trafford, it was obvious that only one of the two teams had something to play for. Tottenham dominated Manchester United, generating eight chances to just one from United. Ultimately, they couldn’t find a goal, but the scoreless draw ended up being enough to ensure Spurs’ safety. Crystal Palace are relegated.

Round 36 Table: Man City 72 ©; Sheff Utd 64; Liverpool, Everton, Leeds 60

Crystal Palace 34 (R); Norwich 32 (R); Arsenal 26 (R)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Relegating Arsenal by beating Sp*rs at the Lane almost certainly makes up for the rest of the season for Chelsea fans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha ha – I thought you might enjoy that.

 As a (largely) impartial viewer, Chelsea were one of the clubs I was most interested in tracking because I felt like it had some of the biggest opportunities for divergence points (mostly related to the Abramovich takeover, of course). Really curious to see what happens for your lot!

=======================

Round 37

Time to see who is already on the beach! The truthful answer is that nearly everyone should be. Realistically, there’s nothing to play for in the Premier League any more, apart from the Golden Boot. Right now, John Fashanu’s 16 goals leads the way, with Alan Cork on 15 and Peter Beardsley on 13.

Beardsley’s Everton are beaten 2-0 by Manchester City after a Tony Cottee red card put them on the back foot. Alan Cork’s Sheffield United explode for four goals in a 4-1 win at Ipswich, but Cork is kept quiet – the goals going to Andy Scott who hit two, Jamie Hoyland and Glyn Hodges. John Fashanu was also kept off the scoresheet in Wimbledon’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal so it’s status quo heading in to the last week.

Round 37 Table: Man City 75 (C); Sheff Utd 67; Liverpool, Everton, Leeds 60

Crystal Palace 37 (R); Norwich 32 (R); Arsenal 29 (R)

 ***

There is a lack of drama heading in to the last round of the Premier League but Division One is absolute madness. Five teams are still battling for one promotion spot and are only one point apart. Oldham and Barnsley are on 60 points, while Newcastle, Swindon and Tranmere are on 59. The biggest game is Swindon vs Oldham – if Oldham win they go up. Barnsley are home to West Ham; Newcastle is at Cambridge and Tranmere is at Leicester.

 

UEFA Cup Final, 1st Leg

AC Milan vs Dnepro

The good old days of the two-legged European finals! There should be a noticeable gulf in class between a Milan side in its golden age and the unfancied Ukrainian side. Sure enough, Milan put their opponents to the sword at the San Siro – goals from Demetrio Albertini and Dutch legend Marco van Basten Fabio Capello’s side a 2-0 lead heading back to the Ukraine. Dnepro’s fans might hold out a faint hope but we think this one is done.

Before the last round of Premier League action kicks off, the Player and Manager of the Month awards are handed out and it’s sweep by Manchester City. Peter Reid is the obvious choice for Manager of the Month—his third award of the year—while winger Rick Holden picks up the Player of the Month honour.

***

Round 38

Wimbledon’s John Fashanu ends the year as the Premier League’s top goal scorer. He hits the only goal of the game in the Dons’ 1-0 win over Liverpool to finish on 17 for the season. Alan Cork and Peter Beardsley, the two other men who were in with a shot at finishing top scorer, both failed to find the net.

The Final Table

1)  Manchester City – 73
2)  Sheffield United – 68
3)  Everton – 63
4)  Leeds – 63
5)  Liverpool – 60
6)  Manchester United – 58
7)  Nottingham Forest – 54
8)  Aston Villa – 54
9)  Sheffield Wednesday – 53
10) Blackburn – 52
11) Southampton -- 51
12) Wimbledon – 50
13) Queen Park Rangers – 50
14) Coventry – 47
15) Tottenham – 45
16) Chelsea – 45
17) Ipswich – 43
------------------------
18) Crystal Palace – 38
19) Arsenal – 32
20) Norwich – 32

Down in Division One, it’s Oldham who eke out the second promotion spot, beating out Barnsley on goal difference. Oldham’s 1-0 win at Swindon ensured Joe Royle’s side would be going up regardless of the other results. In the playoffs, Barnsley will face Swindon while Newcastle will take on Tranmere.

*** 

1993 Cup Winners’ Cup Final

Dynamo Bucharest vs Olympiakos

Wembley Stadium, London

I think we’re going to pretend that this game never happened because surely no one will want to remember it. The Cup Winners’ Cup Final is a dour affair with neither team really wanting to push forward and take any chances. Predictably and perhaps mercifully the game ends in a scoreless draw. I’m sure most people would have jumped at the opportunity to skip the 30 minutes of extra time, but they also solved nothing, and the Cup was to be decided by penalties. In the lottery of penalties, it was the Greek side who emerged victorious, winning 4-3, and claiming its first ever European title.

Dynamo Bucharest 0-0p Olympiakos  (Olympiakos win 4-3 on penalties)

 

Up Next: The FA Cup Final, Champions League Final, and the Playoffs…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Out of interest, what team are you managing and how did they do for the season, because I am currently managing Chesterfield and after seven games I am off to a shaky start with only one win from my seven with me being eliminated in the league cup.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This will be another breaking down the fourth wall moment, Hawk: I played this season as Scarborough. We finished third in Division Three and lost the playoff final against Shrewsbury.

I won’t know my team for the second season until I refresh into the new year. Whoever I end up with will be replacing Cardiff City, who were relegated out of the Football League (there’s another Butterfly Effect moment for you…)

 From a tactic perspective, I’ve always found it easiest to play with a standard 4-4-2 and to adjust my playing style to offset the other team’s style. I’ve also found success with a 4-2-4 but only in patches – it’s never translated to anything consistent.

==============================

1993 FA Cup Final

Crystal Palace vs Millwall

Wembley Stadium

I’d love to know what odds the bookies would have put on this match-up in the final. Regardless of who wins, England’s representative in the Cup Winners’ Cup will be a Division One team. Crystal Palace were relegated from the Premier League.

Palace’s struggles have been well documented throughout the year – they were a constant in the relegation zone, and even a distinct up-tick in form, one so good that it won Steve Coppell a manager of the month award, couldn’t get them out of trouble.

Millwall have been a mid-table team for the last three quarters of the season. They never seemed to have been in any trouble this season, ranging between 8th and 13th in the league table throughout the second half of the year. Their star player this year has been Welsh international midfielder Malcolm Allen, but the FA Cup campaign has belonged to Carlton Fairweather, who has scored 5 times.

The Road to Wembley:

Crystal Palace

Round 3: Slough 0-1 Crystal Palace (Bowry)  

Round 4: Crystal Palace 0-0 West Ham

Round 4 replay: West Ham 0-1 Crystal Palace (Sinnott)

Round 5: Crystal Palace 1-1 Sheff Utd (Sinnott; Rodger OG)

Round 5 replay: Sheff Utd 1-2 Crystal Palace (Cork; Newman, Williams)

Quarter Final: Crystal Palace 3-2 Sheff Wed (Thomas, Armstrong, Salako)

Semi Final; Crystal Palace 2-1 Peterborough (Salako x2; McGlashan)

 

Millwall

Round 3: Millwall 2-0 Bangor City (Fairweather x2)

Round 4: Leicester 1-2 Millwall (Allen, Fairweather)

Round 5: Millwall 1-0 Everton (Fairweather)

Quarter Final: Millwall 3-1 Coventry (Allen, Fairweather, Byrne)

Semi Final: Ipswich 0-1 Millwall (Maguire)

 

Lineups:

Millwall: Kasey Keller; Keith Stevens, Ian Dawes, David Thompson, Colin Cooper; Ian Bogie ©, Martin Allen, Etienne Verver, Phil Barber; Ian Benjamin, John Byrne

Subs: Tony Cunningham, Carlton Fairweather

Crystal Palace: Nigel Martyn; Lee Sinnott, Simon Rodger, Eric Young, Eddie McGoldrick; John Salako, Geoff Thomas ©, Simon Osborn, Paul Moran; Chris Armstrong, Paul Williams

Subs: George Ndah, Nigel Jemson  

There’s no place in the Millwall side for top scorer Carlton Fairweather but it doesn’t seem to matter as it’s Millwall who jump out into a first half lead, thanks to a goal from Malcolm Allen. Before the half is over, Palace pull it back to level with a Simon Osborn goal. At the half it is 1-1.

In the second half, the game appears to swing in Millwall’s favour after Eric Young is sent off with a straight red for a brutal tackle against Phil Barber. Despite the numerical advantage, Millwall can not take advantage and after 90 minutes the scores remain level.

In extra time both teams begin to tire, and the game opens. Down a man, Crystal Palace take the lead with a Paul Williams goal but a marker from John Byrne evens it up again 2-2. With penalties looming, Paul Williams latches on to a Geoff Thomas pass and bundles it past a helpless Kasey Keller to give Palace a 3-2 win in extra time!

Geoff Thomas, who was forced to watch Manchester United lift the cup three years before as losing captain, raises the FA Cup in celebration – Crystal Palace win their first ever major domestic trophy.

Final Score: Millwall 2-3 AET Crystal Palace (Allen, Byrne; Williams x 2, Osborn, Young red)

Man of the Match: Paul Williams, Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace win their first FA Cup.

 ***

UEFA Cup Final, 2nd Leg

Dnepro vs AC Milan

For all intents and purposes this one was over before it even kicked off, a vastly superior Milan team holding a two-goal lead after the first leg. The second leg is all Milan, as well, with Capello’s squad logging an unbelievable 77% possession. Ultimately, all that counts is the score, though, and Dnepro end up winning 1-0 against the run of play. A Franco Baresi own goal late on gave the Ukrainian side some hope but they were never able to threaten for a second.

2-1 on aggregate the final, and the Rossoneri win the 1993 UEFA Cup!

 

In the Division One playoff final, Barnsley take on Newcastle with the last spot in next year’s Premier League on the line. On a man-for-man basis, you would back Kevin Keegan’s side to go through, but first half goals from Simon Sturridge and Gary Fleming give Barnsley an overwhelming 2-0 lead.  Michael Johnson sees red for the Tykes which allows Steve Watson to pull one back for Newcastle, but the equalizer never comes and Barnsley are promoted!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...