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[FM2005-] A Healthy Wave of Nostalgia

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Posted (edited)

So I've decided on my save for the summer and maybe beyond. In essence I'm gonna go back to the first edition of Football Manager in 2005, pick a club and then work through until FM2019 with that club. Aim is to win the domestic league and the main continental competition in every version of the game with that club. 

 

So, first off I've picked Real Madrid. I know, boo, hiss, everyone hates Real. But I wanted to go back and have the chance to play with the team of Figo, Zidane, Beckham, Ronaldo, Raul, Morientes, Casillas etc. Let's face it Real in the 00s have a high nostalgia factor which I want to cash in on. That and it provides me with the opportunity to test out this format for a save and see if it's enjoyable and successful. 

So in real life 2004-05 was not a successful season for Real Madrid. It was that period when the Galacticos had lost Makelele and appeared to forget what the word "defence" means. They finished 2nd in La Liga. Juventus knocked them out in the last 16 of the Champions' League and Valladolid knocked them out in the Copa del Rey. This was also the peak of Florentino Perez sacking managers with Jose Antonio Camacho and Mariano Garcia Remon both losing their jobs before Wanderley Luxemburgo saw out the season. 

Here's my squad:

GKs
Iker Casillas
Cesar

DEFs
Walter Samuel
Jonathan Woodgate
Raul Bravo
Alvaro Mejia
Francisco Pavon
Ruben (on loan at Albacete)
Michel Salgado
Roberto Carlos
Borja
Ivan Helguera (can also play CDM)
Santiago Hernan Solari (can play pretty much anywhere on the left flank)

MIDs
Albert Celades
David Beckham
Figo
Guti
Zinedine Zidane

STs
Fernando Morientes
Raul
Ronaldo
Michael Owen

So... definitely an interesting, talented yet slightly unbalanced squad. With those 4 strikers I'm gonna have to go with 2 strikers. Only picking one of those 4 to play at a time would be a serious offence against football. Plus when doing a nostalgic save like this one I like to try to do something similar-ish to the formation they would actually have played. So some variant of 4-4-2 seems logical. I eventually settle on a 4-2-2-2 with Casillas in goal, Michel Salgado, Samuel, Helguera and Bobby Carlos as a back 4, Zidane and Celades (not ideal) as a midfield two, Becks and Figo on the wings and Morientes (who's even better in the game than I'd have expected him to be) and Ronaldo up front. The general style of play is gonna be quick, high-tempo attacking football 

 

Next up I think about signings. Being Madrid I get a nice budget of £33 Million to spend. Which I swiftly spend on Mark van Bommel (to deal with the Makelele issue and replace Celades in the starting line-up), Rafa van der Vaart (to provide depth if Figo or Becks get injured) and Manuel Pablo (as he fell out with Irureta at Deportivo and I needed a RB behind Salgado. As it is Manuel Pablo is actually good enough to be rotated with Salgado instead of being his replacement if he gets injured). 

Sadly van der Vaart got injured before the season started until early November but, other than that, the opening months of the season saw a few niggles but no massively serious injuries. Oh, except for the fact that Woodgate was automatically injured on the game. Which is definitely realistic. 

Please feel free to enjoy, follow the thread and comment below. Any and all reminiscing about 00s football is welcome. Yes even Big Sam's moustache. 

Edited by sjg11

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From the Start of the Season until 27th October 2004

The season starts with a tie against Bosnian side Siroki Brijeg in the Third Qualifying Round of the Champions' League. This was a comfortable tie as we won 4-0 in Bosnia despite Salgado getting sent off after 15 minutes with goals from Owen, Zidane and a brace from Raul. The return leg was equally straightforward with another 4-0 win, Roberto Carlos, Celades, Zidane and Guti providing the goals. We drew a tricky CL group with Chelsea, Ajax and Bayer Leverkusen likely to provide a stiff test of my Champions League credentials. 

La Liga
Athletic Bilbao 1-3 Real Madrid (Raul, Owen, Salgado)
Real Madrid 4-0 Espanyol (Roberto Carlos, Figo (2), Owen)
Sevilla 3-4 Real Madrid (Roberto Carlos, Zidane, Morientes (2))
Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia (Helguera, van Bommel)
Deportivo 0-0 Real Madrid
 Real Madrid 4-0 Osasuna (Zidane, Morientes, Guti (2))
Numancia 1-2 Real Madrid (Zidane, Morientes)

Overall an excellent start to the league campaign. Our home wins have largely been fairly routine so far, with the most interesting game being the win against Valencia where they did, to their credit, manage to frustrate us for a while before Helguera opened the scoring for us. Our other home wins have been very routine. 

Bilbao gave us a test at San Mames on the opening day, taking the lead before we equalised in 53rd minute and then turned things around to take the points. 

The Sevilla game was almost a nightmare for us. Their forward Antonito scored a first half hat-trick with only Bobby Carlos replying for us. Fortunately I brought Morientes off the bench and he scored a brace to help to turn the game around with an 88th minute winner giving us a 4-3 win. 

The Depor game was a fairly dull game but I was pretty happy with a point at Super Depor. Or at least super enough Depor. 

The Numancia win was fairly standard. 

Table
1. Real Madrid- 19
2. Barcelona- 16
3. Valencia- 16
4. Villarreal- 16
5. Deportivo- 14
6. Atletico Madrid- 13
7. Athletic Bilbao- 13
8. Real Betis- 13
9. Mallorca- 12
10. Real Sociedad- 10
11. Osasuna- 10
12. Zaragoza- 9
13. Malaga- 8
14. Levante- 6
15. Getafe- 6
16. Albacete- 4
17. Racing Santander- 3
18. Numancia- 3
19. Sevilla- 2
20. Espanyol- 1

Champions League
Group A
Chelsea 2-3 Real Madrid (Raul Bravo, Samuel, Ronaldo)
Real Madrid 3-0 Ajax (Figo, Zidane, Morientes)
Real Madrid 4-0 Leverkusen (Pavon, van Bommel, Ronaldo (2))

The wins against Ajax and Bayer Leverkusen were fairly routine but the win against Jose's Chelsea was a great game, with both sides having over 20 shots on goal. Surprisingly, my defenders decided it was their day to produce a moment with Raul Bravo and Walter Samuel both scoring. Still, a great result and we should be in a position to progress to the Second Round from here. 

1. Real Madrid- 9
2. Chelsea- 4
3. Ajax- 4
4. Bayer Leverkusen- 0

In other news, we draw Leganes in the 1st round of the Copa del Rey

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November 2004

La Liga
Real Madrid 8-1 Getafe (Figo, Morientes (3), Raul (2). Owen, Guti)
Real Sociedad 1-1 Real Madrid (Beckham)
Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona (Morientes, van der Vaart)

Only three games this month as we had to miss a round of league games to face Ceuta in the Copa del Rey (which puts us one round of league games behind everyone else). We started the month by having our way with Getafe, we were 5-1 up within 25 minutes in this one and things didn't really get any better for Getafe from there. Still, they at least managed a consolation goal so... yay for them? 

The Sociedad game was extremely annoying. Becks put us in front before Ronaldo decided he wanted to collect two yellow cards and get himself sent off. Nihat then equalised for them before Becks also decided that an early shower with Ronaldo sounded like fun and decided to join him. We still managed to escape with a point but I was... displeased afterwards. Things may have been thrown around the dressing room post-game, particularly since the two of them were suspended for the Clasico. Thankfully I have many good strikers and van der Vaart was fit again to replace Beckham. 

Speaking of the Clasico, we got the win we needed. Morientes scored an absolutely amazing goal in the first half to put us 1-0 in front before van der Vaart converted a Figo cross at the back post to double the lead. Samuel Eto'o pulled one back for them but it was too little too late. 

1. Valencia- 28
2. Real Madrid- 26
3. Deportivo- 26
4. Barcelona- 25
5. Atletico Madrid- 25
6. Villarreal- 23
7. Real Betis- 22
8. Mallorca- 19
9. Real Sociedad- 17
10. Levante- 16
11. Zaragoza- 16
12. Athletic BIlbao- 16
13. Malaga- 11
14. Espanyol- 10
15. Osasuna- 10
16. Getafe- 7
17. Sevilla- 6
18. Racing Santander- 6
19. Albacete- 4
20. Numancia- 3

Annoyingly that missed round of fixtures has allowed Valencia to technically overtake us but we'll leapfrog them if we win our game in hand. A nice little pack is starting to form in the league with only Villarreal and Betis anywhere nearby among the likely mid-table teams. The other interesting thing that happened this month was that Sevilla sacked their manager, Joaquin Caparros and have not as yet replaced him. Not really surprising given that they're a decent team who are currently in a relegation battle. 

Champions League
Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Real Madrid (Zidane, Owen)
Real Madrid 5-0 Chelsea (Beckham (2). Figo, Morientes, Zidane)

We lost in Leverkusen for our first competitive defeat of the season. A red card for Santiago Solari didn't help matters but to be honest we were 2-0 down at that point so I'm not sure it made a huge amount of difference. Still, I don't like losing and I don't like sloppy red cards so I was a bit irritated. 

But we made up for it against Chelsea. To be honest our performance wasn't as emphatic as the scoreline suggests but our finishing was strong with Figo and Beckham (twice) scoring nice finishes from outside of the box to put us 3-0 up inside of 20 minutes. From there the game was pretty much a formality with Morientes and Zidane adding some further gloss to the scoreline. 

1. Real Madrid- 12- QUALIFIED
2. Chelsea- 7
3. Ajax- 7
4. Bayer Leverkusen- 3

And that puts us through in Europe. Which is very nice. We still need to go to Ajax to finish off the group but there's a good chance I'll play my reserves for that one to be honest. Besides, as an Arsenal fan, contributing to Chelsea being knocked out of Europe will give me a sense of great pleasure. 

Copa del Rey
Leganes 0-5 Real Madrid (Samuel, Figo, Ronaldo (3))
Ceuta 0-5 Real Madrid (van der Vaart (2), Raul (2), Owen)

Not much to say here. We were playing two Second Division B teams. We are much better than them. We absolutely thumped them as a result. We face Mallorca at home next which may at least pose a bit of a challenge. Maybe. 

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December 2004

La Liga

Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid (Zidane, Ronaldo)
Real Betis 0-3 Real Madrid (Roberto Carlos, Morientes (2))
Real Madrid 2-0 Levante (Beckham, Morientes)
Real Madrid 3-0 Atletico Madrid (Ronaldo, Morientes, Raul)
Zaragoza 0-4 Real Madrid (Morientes (4))
Albacete 1-2 Real Madrid (Zidane, Morientes)

Overall a pretty good month in La Liga. 

We started with a frustrating game at Villarreal. Zidane and Ronaldo put us 2-0 in front before Roger scored twice in the last 10 minutes to snatch a point for them. I was... a little bit irritated after this one. 

We then got a bit lucky against Betis to be honest. They started as the better side although Roberto Carlos did put us in front. Fortunately they then had a man sent off and the rest of the game was very comfortable. 

Levante was a fairly routine home win. 

The game against Atletico was an excellent performance in our first Madrid derby as we really made life difficult for them and kinda overwhelmed them at times. 

Morientes single-handedly destroyed Zaragoza in our next game. To be honest they were pretty poor. 

Albacete were actually surprisingly tough opposition. Morientes' winner only coming in the 89th minute. They equalised after Zidane had given us the lead in the first-half. 

1. Real Madrid- 42
2. Barcelona- 38
3. Valencia- 36
4. Deportivo- 33
5. Atletico Madrid- 33
6. Villarreal- 31
7. Mallorca- 29
8. Real Betis- 28
9. Athletic Bilbao- 25
10. Real Sociedad- 23
11. Malaga- 23
12. Zaragoza- 22
13. Osasuna- 20
14. Levante- 17
15. Espanyol- 13
16. Getafe- 13
17. Sevilla- 9
18. Racing Santander- 8
19. Albacete- 5
20. Numancia- 4

Deportivo and Atleti have fallen off the pace this month leaving us, Barcelona and Valencia as the serious title contenders at this point with Depor, Atleti, Villarreal, Mallorca and Betis looking like the serious contenders for the extra CL place. Relegation is likely everyone from Espanyol down at this point. Michael Laudrup is the new Sevilla manager. Overall, not going too badly so far. We've lost our game in hand this month by the way. 

Champions League
Ajax 2-5 Real Madrid (Guti (3). Owen, Raul)

Our reserves had a really good day against Ajax, going 5-0 up in the first-half. Annoyingly Raul Bravo decided that he wanted a red card to allow him to remember the match so got sent off. Still they only got two back in the second half for a very strong performance. 

1. Real Madrid- 15- QUALIFIED
2. Chelsea- 10- QUALIFIED
3. Ajax- 7
4. Bayer Leverkusen- 3

Annoyingly that result put Chelsea through but you can't have everything in life. We play Liverpool in the Second Round which would not have been my ideal tie. 

Nothing happened in the Copa del Rey this month but I got given an extra £40 Million to spend in the January window to spend. Which has allowed me to bring in Steven Gerrard to further enhance my midfield options. And to potentially allow me to go to a 4-2-3-1 in tough away games towards the end of the season. The fact it takes Liverpool's best player away from them before we play them in the Champions' League is, of course, an added bonus. 

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January 2005
La Liga
Real Madrid 5-1 Racing Santander (Ronaldo, Morientes (2), Raul (2))
Malaga 0-1 Real Madrid (Zidane)
Real Madrid 5-0 Athletic Bilbao (van Bommel, Raul (2), Gerrard, Owen)
Espanyol 2-1 Real Madrid (Morientes)

We started the month with a home game against a poor Santander side which was, to be honest, about as easy as you'd expect it to be. My forwards effectively saw it as an opportunity to see who could score the most goals. 

Malaga posed a reasonable challenge next but Zidane scored the only goal of the game to settle the issue. 

Bilbao was another surprisingly straightforward win. The most notable thing here was Gerrard scoring his first goal for the club. 

Annoyingly our unbeaten league record finally came to an end at Espanyol. They won 2-1 thanks to fluky deflection and Casillas hitting the ball at their striker, Morientes pulled one back but it wasn't enough. It's annoying when you have 20 shots on goal and they win 2-1 having only had one shot on target in the entire match. Anyway, it happens to the best of us. But I was kinda starting to get excited about a potential Invincibles season until this one. 

1. Real Madrid- 51
2. Barcelona- 47
3. Valencia- 40
4. Deportivo- 39
5. Atletico Madrid- 38
6. Mallorca- 38
7. Villarreal- 38
8. Real Betis- 35
9. Zaragoza- 33
10. Malaga- 33
11. Real Sociedad- 30
12. Athletic Bilbao- 26
13. Osasuna- 24
14. Levante- 23
15. Espanyol- 22
16. Sevilla- 20
17. Getafe- 17
18. Racing Santander- 10
19. Numancia- 7
20. Albacete- 5

So Valencia have fallen off the pace (and back into the top 4 race to be honest with you) leaving, predictably, myself and Barcelona to compete for the title. We hold a four point lead but we still have to travel to the Nou Camp so I'm definitely anticipating a close end to the season. It could go all the way this one. 

The top 4 looks extremely interesting as upper mid-table is currently seriously congested. Valencia have moved back into a serious top 4 battle and Zaragoza and Malaga have potentially played their way into contention. It's gonna be interesting to see how that finishes by the end of the season. 

By contract, the relegation battle looks like the bottom 3 are very likely to go down. Numancia and Albacete are likely doomed but MAYBE Santander can overtake Getafe and claw their way to survival. Naturally this is all only relevant if I fail to win the league or the CL this season and I have to do another year before moving on to FM06. In other news and, to be honest, fairly unsurprisingly, Albacete sacked their manager Jose Gonzalez this month. No replacement has been announced just yet. 

Obviously there was no CL action this month so we move onto the Copa del Rey. 

Copa del Rey
Real Madrid 3-0 Mallorca (Beckham, Raul, Manuel Pablo)
Mallorca 3-2 Real Madrid (after extra time) (Beckham, Raul)

So, I made a couple of changes for the home leg against Mallorca but kept a solid team on the field and we won pretty comfortably with goals from Beckham, Raul and Manuel Pablo securing a comfortable lead to take to Mallorca. 

So, naturally, I'm sat there thinking that a 3-0 lead against Mallorca should be fairly easy to hold onto. Plus I remember that the last time I played my reserves we beat Ajax 5-2 in Amsterdam in what was a very impressive. So I put my reserves on the field and sit back for a relaxing 90 minutes of action. 

Within 10 minutes we're 2-0 down. 

We manage to play a lot better as the game goes on but they still get a third goal to force extra-time. Fortunately we finally managed to look like a competent football team once extra-time started and Beckham and Raul scored the goals to send us to the quarter-finals. Where we draw Barcelona. 

Real Madrid 5-0 Barcelona (Samuel, Zidane, Raul (3))

Only the first leg has been played so far but this may well have been our best performance of the season. To be honest we could have scored a few more in this one and Barca could have had no complaints. Raul in particular was outstanding, netting a hat-trick. 

I fully intend to play my reserves at the Nou Camp now. 5-0's effectively tie over. When I post back here later and Barca have won the second leg 6-0 feel free to hold that one over me for a while. 

No more transfer news currently. 
 

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February 2005
La Liga
Valencia 0-3 Real Madrid (Raul Bravo, Morientes (2))
Real Madrid 2-0 Deportivo (Samuel, Ronaldo)
Real Madrid 1-0 Mallorca (Raul)
Real Madrid 9-0 Numancia (Samuel, Beckham, Gerrard (3), Ronaldo, Owen (3))
Osasuna 0-4 Real Madrid (Woodgate, Figo, Owen, Zidane)

We started this month with a tricky trip to Valencia. After our defeat at Espanyol I was concerned that this result may seriously knock our momentum. Fortunately we responded with a magnificently professional performance, Raul Bravo opening the scoring before two Morientes goals sealed the win. More importantly, Barca lost at Sociedad which allowed us to open up a bigger gap between them when I'd entered the weekend concerned that the gap would close to just one result. 

We then had a routine home win against Deportivo with Samuel and Ronaldo providing the moments to give us another three points. 

Mallorca provided a surprisingly stubborn opponent and only a single Raul goal proved the difference between the sides. Fortunately we ground out the win and Barca lost at Osasuna to extend the gap again. 

Our next game was against Numancia who were, frankly, about as bad as the scoreline would suggest. Beckham, Gerrard and Owen scoring brought back nostalgic memories of what the Golden Generation could have been. 

We then thumped Osasuna with Jonny Woodgate opening the scoring from a corner before we ran riot in the last 20 minutes as Osasuna tired. 

1. Real Madrid- 66
2. Barcelona- 56
3. Valencia- 52
4. Mallorca- 48
5. Villarreal- 46
6. Real Betis- 45
7. Deportivo- 42
8. Atletico Madrid- 41
9. Zaragoza- 40
10. Real Sociedad- 38
11. Malaga- 34
12. Espanyol- 31
13. Osasuna- 31
14. Levante- 30
15. Sevilla- 29
16. Athletic Bilbao- 27
17. Getafe- 21
18. Racing Santander- 20
19. Numancia- 9
20. Albacete- 6

So... I don't want to jinx it but I THINK that we've probably won the league at this point. That weekend where we beat Valencia and they lost to Sociedad has likely proved crucial. This will hopefully allow me to rest a couple of players before key CL matches during the run-in. 

The race for a CL place is looking interesting after a poor month for Deportivo and Atleti. Deportivo have still got a couple of games in hand so are still in the race but Atleti may well have blown it already. The long shot bids from Zaragoza and Malaga have also not really come to much. 

Down at the bottom, Santander had a great month to seriously close the gap on Getafe. It's starting to look like a straight fight between those two for 17th although watch a Bilbao side who are currently in free fall and are having a really poor season. 

Champions' League
Liverpool 1-1 Real Madrid (Beckham)

A free-kick from David Beckham put us in front at Anfield during a first-half where we looked comfortably on top of things. Annoyingly Liverpool came out strongly in the second half and Ivan Helguera lost Milan Baros allowing him to equalise for Liverpool. Still, I'll take a draw and an away goal back to the Bernabeu for the second leg. 

Copa del Rey
Barcelona 4-3 Real Madrid (Raul, Morientes (2))

I rested a couple of players for the second leg of this one but I made sure we had enough firepower on the pitch to prevent another nervy game like the Mallorca game in the previous round. Raul put us in front but Barca came back to lead 3-1. Morientes came off the bench to make it 3-2 and we both traded goals in injury time to make it 4-3. 

We'll face second division Celta Vigo in the semi-finals which will be played in April. 

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March 2005
La Liga
Real Madrid 4-0 Sevilla (Woodgate (2), Raul (2))
Getafe 2-1 Real Madrid (van der Vaart)
Real Madrid 1-0 Villarreal (Raul)
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Real Madrid (Ronaldo (2))

We started the month with a comfortable win against Sevilla. For some reason every corner we had seemed to be resulting in a chance for Jonny Woodgate and, to be honest, he should have had a hat-trick. Raul scored a couple as well. 

We then went to Getafe and started the game on top until Beckham decided he fancied a red card. We actually took the lead but Getafe scored twice in the last 20 minutes to take the points. 

Villarreal then came to the Bernabeu. They actually proved to be a very stubborn opponent but a Raul goal early in the second half proved the difference between the two sides. 

We finished the month with a win in the Madrid derby. They took the lead before a brace from Ronaldo gave me three more points. 

1. Real Madrid- 75
2. Barcelona- 66
3. Valencia- 59
4. Real Betis- 55
5. Villarreal- 52
6. Mallorca- 52
7. Deportivo- 47
8. Real Sociedad- 45
9. Atletico Madrid- 45
10. Zaragoza- 42
11. Malaga- 40
12. Athletic Bilbao- 35
13. Sevilla- 35
14. Osasuna- 35
15. Espanyol- 34
16. Levante- 31
17. Getafe- 28
18. Racing Santander- 21
19. Numancia- 9
20. Albacete- 8

So, it still looks like the title will be heading to the Bernabeu this season but still enough games left that I cannot afford to completely relax. 

The top 4 race has changed a lot over the past month. Deportivo had another poor month and wasted their game in hand so are probably out of the running and Valencia are far enough ahead that they should get third. Which leaves Betis, Villarreal and Mallorca competing for fourth. 

Down at the bottom, the gap between Getafe and Racing Santander has re-emerged. Bilbao sacked Ernesto Valverde and brought in Felipe Minambres and this led to a resurgence which has moved them back into mid-table. Albacete then brought in Valverde but they still look doomed. In fact them and Numancia look so doomed that I'm not even convinced that they'll surpass Derby's point tally from the Prem in 07-08. 

Champions League
Real Madrid 2-2 Liverpool (Morientes, Ronaldo) 

So.. we're out of the CL on away goals which is irritating as I thought we had a real shot at the Treble here. I got my tactics wrong here. I expected Liverpool to do what most teams do at the Bernabeu and cower on the edge of their own 18-yard box and hope to keep it at 0-0 and snatch a lucky late goal to win it. 

Instead they really pressed aggressively and they were leading 2-1 before I was able to adapt to it through a pair of screamers from Alonso and Cisse. We managed to pull one back through Ronaldo but it wasn't enough and Liverpool go through. Really frustrating but it happens and to be fair I set the team up badly so I can have no real complaints. 

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April 2005
La Liga
Real Madrid 3-0 Real Sociedad (Samuel (2), Zidane)
Real Madrid 4-0 Real Betis (Melli (og), Samuel, Morientes, Figo)
Levante 1-3 Real Madrid (van Bommel, Morientes, van der Vaart)
Barcelona 4-1 Real Madrid (Samuel)
Real Madrid 4-0 Zaragoza (Manuel Pablo, Ivan Helguera. Gerrard, Morientes)

We started the month with a comfortable win at home to Sociedad. Samuel opened the scoring with two goals from corners before Zidane finished them off. 

The Betis game was also fairly routine with a Melli own goal giving us the advantage before Samuel, Morientes and Figo finished them off. 

My Dutch contingent had a field day at Levante with van Bommel and van der Vaart scoring. Morientes scored again to complete things. 

If we'd beaten Barca at the Nou Camp we would have won La Liga. Sadly Henrik Larsson scored four times in a 4-1 win. Samuel responded for us but there was no stopping Larsson. 

We then slaughtered Zaragoza which isn't surprising as they're a fairly average team. Barca also drew at Sevilla meaning that we secured La Liga. Which will at least me with a good enough first season. 

1. Real Madrid- 87- C
2. Barcelona- 74
3. Valencia- 72
4. Real Betis- 67
5. Mallorca- 64
6. Villarreal- 60
7. Deportivo- 59
8. Atletico Madrid- 52
9. Zaragoza- 49
10. Malaga- 49
11. Real Sociedad- 47
12. Sevilla- 43
13. Osasuna- 42
14. Athletic Bilbao- 41
15. Espanyol- 37
16. Levante- 34
17. Getafe- 34
18. Racing Santander- 28
19. Numancia- 9- R
20. Albacete- 8- R

So we confirmed our place as champions this month. To be honest it had been pretty comfortable since February. 

The final CL place is between Betis and Mallorca now. Barca have secured their place in next year's competition and, with four games left, Valencia just need another point or any dropped points from Mallorca to secure their place. 

Santander are fighting for their lives and are looking to catch either Getafe or Levante who have been sucked into it. Sadly for Santander their manager jumped ship to PSG leaving them managerless for the moment. 

Copa del Rey
Celta Vigo 0-2 Real Madrid (Raul, Ronaldo)

We had the first leg of our Copa del Rey semi-final and we got a great result as we dominated Vigo with Raul and Ronaldo sealing a comfortable win in Galicia. We should be able to see it through from here. 

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May 2005
La Liga
Racing Santander 1-3 Real Madrid (Ronaldo (2), Solari)
Real Madrid 4-0 Albacete (Figo, Zidane, Morientes (2))
Mallorca 2-1 Real Madrid (Ronaldo)
Real Madrid 3-0 Malaga (Guti, van Bommel, Morientes)

We finished the season fairly strongly with 3 wins and a defeat to Mallorca. The wins against Santander, Albacete and Malaga were fairly routine. The Mallorca game was one where they played better in the first half to take a 2-1 lead and we just couldn't find an equaliser despite a few good chances in the second half. 

1. Real Madrid- 96- C
2. Valencia- 80
3. Barcelona- 78
4. Real Betis- 75
5. Mallorca- 73
6. Villarreal- 72
7. Deportivo- 69
8. Atletico Madrid- 61
9. Real Sociedad- 53
10. Sevilla- 52
11. Zaragoza- 50
12. Malaga- 50
13. Osasuna- 45
14. Espanyol- 44
15. Athletic Bilbao- 43
16. Levante- 35
17. Getafe- 35
18. Racing Santander- 34- R
19. Albacete- 12- R
20. Numancia- 12- R

Overall the story of this season is that, led by a charismatic figure and a true tactical genius, Real Madrid majestically swept to the title eclipsing the pretenders from Valencia and Barcelona. 

Entertainingly, Barca lost their grip on second place on the last day of the season after a defeat to a Numancia side who only won twice all season and were genuinely dreadful. To be fair Albacete weren't much better. 

Betis clung on to get fourth, winning an awkward last game at Osasuna to seal it. Their fans will be delighted to have an adventure in the Champions' League. 

At the other end, Santander were seven points off Getafe and Levante with three games left and almost pulled off a great escape but couldn't quite complete it on the final day despite defeats for Levante and Getafe. 

Copa del Rey
Real Madrid 3-0 Celta Vigo (Samuel, van Bommel, Canobbio (og))

Overall a fairly comfortable win against Vigo. Samuel and van Bommel gave us a 2-0 advantage before Canobbio scored an own goal for them to send us through to the final against another Galician side, Deportivo. 

Real Madrid 5-0 Deportivo (Ronaldo (3), Woodgate, Raul)

The story of this game is that Depor had a lot of possession but left their defence exposed against a Ronaldo-Morientes and then a Ronaldo-Raul strike partnership. This, frankly, played right into Ronaldo's hands and he tore the Depor defence to shreds, bullying their CB Martin Demichelis. Overall a comprehensive victory against a good team and a great way to seal a domestic double. 

I think I've assembled a pretty awesome team here at Madrid. I feel like we're gonna be serious contenders for the CL next year and that's where my focus will lie. That Liverpool tie still grates with me, we should have seen that one out. Oh well, an end of season round-up will likely come later this evening. 

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End of Season Round-Up Club Football
Champions' League
Group A
1. Real Madrid- 15
2. Chelsea- 10
3. Ajax- 7
4. Bayer Leverkusen- 3
 

Group B
1. Juventus- 14
2. Liverpool- 7
3. Celtic- 6
4. PSG- 5

Group C
1. Banik Ostrava- 12
2. Barcelona- 9
3. Rosenborg- 9
4. Panathinaikos- 1

Group D
1. AC Milan- 14
2. Bayern Munich- 12
3. Young Boys- 5
4. PAOK- 2

Group E
1. Arsenal- 18
2. PSV- 10
3. Porto- 5
4. Rangers- 1

Group F
1. Manchester United- 16
2. Olympiakos- 7
3. Hajduk- 6
4. Fenerbahce- 6

Group G
1. Roma- 11
2. Anderlecht- 10
3. CSKA Moscow- 6
4. Werder Bremen- 5

Group H
1. Inter Milan- 12
2. Valencia- 10
3. Lyon- 9
4. Club Brugge- 4

Round of 16
Liverpool a 3-3 Real Madrid (still a bit bitter about this one)
Banik Ostrava 1-4 Bayern Munich
AC Milan 3-2 Barcelona
Chelsea 2-1 Juventus
Olympiakos 4-5 Arsenal
Roma 7-4 Valencia
Anderlecht 2-4 Inter Milan
Manchester United 4-3 PSV

Quarter-Finals
Bayern Munich 3-1 Liverpool
Chelsea 2-5 AC Milan
Roma 1-4 Arsenal
Manchester United a 4-4 Inter Milan

Semi-Finals
Bayern Munich 3-4 AC Milan
Arsenal a 2-2 Manchester United

Final
AC Milan 0-3 Arsenal

The group stages were generally fairly predictable with a couple of exceptions. The most notable exceptions were reigning champions Porto and a talented Lyon side being eliminated in the first round. The most entertaining story of the round was Banik Ostrava finishing ahead of Barcelona in Group C. Which, as this save's Madrid manager, I am compelled to laugh at and deeply enjoy. To be honest I'm not sure that Barca are even better than Valencia on this save at the moment. 

The Last 16, as it is so often, was when the competition really got interesting. We had our... mishap against Liverpool. Juve fell to Mourinho's Chelsea. Valencia's defence were unable to stop a rampant Roma attack. Barca were comfortable seen off by Milan. Olympiakos almost caused an upset against Arsenal. 

In the quarter-finals, Bayern produced a great performance at Anfield after a 2-1 win at the Allianz to progress. Arsenal and Milan comfortably beat Chelsea and Roma respectively while Man United managed to stop an Inter comeback to knock them out on away goals. 

After a 2-2 draw at the Allianz, Milan won 2-1 at the San Siro to progress to the final at Bayern's expense. Arsenal managed to sneak through on away goals against United who produced a great performance at Old Trafford which almost ended Arsenal's journey. 

The final was... surprisingly comfortable. Robert Pires produced a magnificent performance, scoring twice and getting an assist for Reyes (RIP) to secure Arsenal their first Champions' League crown. 

In the UEFA Cup, Porto beat Auxerre 2-0 to secure a third European trophy in as many seasons. 

English Premier Division
1. Arsenal- 84- C
2. Liverpool- 78
3. Chelsea- 70
4. Newcastle United- 69
5. Manchester United- 67
6. Aston Villa- 64
7. Blackburn Rovers- 64
8. Tottenham Hotspur- 55
9. Manchester City- 53
10. Bolton Wanderers- 51
11. Everton- 49
12. Birmingham City- 47 
13. Middlesbrough- 47
14. Southampton- 47
15. West Bromwich Albion- 47
16. Portsmouth- 43
17. Norwich City- 37
18. Fulham- 36- R
19. Crystal Palace- 32- R
20. Charlton Athletic- 29-R

Arsenal won a second successive title which, combined with a win in the CL, contributed to a mightily impressive season for them. 

Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle finished in the remaining CL places. Manchester United, despite being good enough to reach the semi-finals of the CL were incapable of qualifying for next year's edition and are stuck in the UEFA Cup. They will be joined by a Middlesbrough side who retained the League Cup and a Norwich City side who won their first ever FA Cup in the final against Aston Villa. Blackburn were probably the year's biggest surprise package, staying in the top 4 race for most of the season under Mark Hughes. 

Fulham, Crystal Palace and Charlton form a trio of London clubs who drop down to the Championship. They will be replaced by Sunderland, Leeds United and Burnley. 

German Bundesliga
1.  Gladbach- 69- C
2. Bayern Munich- 62
3. HSV- 56
4. Werder Bremen- 55
5. Freiburg- 55
6. Bayer Leverkusen- 53
7. Bochum- 53
8. Schalke 04- 52
9. Borussia Dortmund- 45
10. Wolfsburg- 44
11. Stuttgart- 43
12. Hertha Berlin- 41
13. Rostock- 39
14. Bielefeld- 38
15. Kaiserslautern- 37
16. Hannover 96- 36- R
17. Nurnberg- 34- R
18. Mainz- 30- R

The Bundesliga saw a surprise winner as Gladbach upset the odds to claim the title. Bayern will be disappointed at missing out on the title for the second year running but their CL run will somewhat compensate for that. HSV will also be playing in the CL next season. 

Reigning champions Werder Bremen narrowly miss out on a CL place. They will be joined in the UEFA Cup by surprise package Freiburg and German Cup winners Stuttgart. 

At the other end of the table, the automatic relegation places went to Jurgen Klopp's Mainz side, Nurnberg and Hannover. There's no relegation play-off yet. They will be replaced by 1860 Munich, Koln and Ahlen. 

Italian Serie A
1.  Inter Milan- 81- C
2. AC Milan- 69
3. Juventus- 64
4. Lecce- 61
5. Fiorentina- 58
6. Atalanta- 58
7. Roma- 55
8. Palermo- 55
9. Lazio- 51
10. Sampdoria- 50
11. Chievo- 50
12. Cagliari- 48
13. Parma- 47
14. Messina- 46
15. Livorno- 46
16. Udinese- 44
17. Brescia- 42
18. Siena- 38- R
19. Bologna- 38- R
20. Reggina- 32- R

Inter Milan won Serie A for the first time since 1989 in a triumph in their first full season under Roberto Mancini. Italian Cup winners Milan, Juventus and an impressive Lecce (seriously how?) side completed the top 4. 

Both of the Rome clubs had desperately disappointing seasons although Roma do manage to qualify for the UEFA Cup alongside Fiorentina and Atalanta. 

Siena, Bologna and Reggina were relegated to be replaced by Verona, Torino and Perugia. 

French Ligue 1
1. Monaco- 90- C
2. Marseille- 74
3. Lyon- 63
4. Sochaux- 63
5. Lens- 62
6. PSG- 60
7. Bordeaux- 57
8. Auxerre- 55
9. Lille- 54
10. Strasbourg- 52
11. Nice- 51
12. Bastia- 49
13. Metz- 49
14. Rennes- 48
15. St. Etienne- 46
16. Caen- 40
17. Ajaccio- 40
18. Nantes- 37- R
19. Istres- 34- R
20. Toulouse- 33- R

Monaco followed up their CL final in 2004 with a romp to the title in 2005. Their Argentine duo of Saviola and Crespo took them to new heights. Marseille and Lyon will join them in the CL next season. 

Nantes, Istres and Toulouse are replaced by Le Havre, Dijon and Niort. 

Liga Segunda
1. Celta- 99- P
2. Ejido- 96- P
3. Real Valladolid- 88- P
4. Cadiz- 85
5. Elche- 81
6. Sporting Gijon- 73
7. Gimnastic- 72
8. Alaves- 64
9. Murcia- 64
10. Recreativo- 61
11. Almeria- 61
12. Xerez- 56
13. Cordoba- 53
14. Terrassa- 51
15. Salamanca- 44
16. Lleida- 41
17. Cuidad de Murcia- 40
18. Tenerife- 38
19. Pontevedra- 38- R
20. Malaga B- 29- R
21. Ferrol- 27- R
22. Eibar- 15- R

In other news, Celta, Ejido and Valladolid will be moving up to La Liga to provide some fresh meat for my forwards to chew on next season. 

I'll have an international round-up coming at some point over the next day or two. 

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Summer Transfer Window and August 2005
So, as it turned out there wasn't actually a lot of international news to speak of. The interesting points to note were that Canada beat Brazil to win the Gold Cup in Kansas City and Argentina beat Brazil on penalties to win the Confederations Cup in Germany. 

So, in the transfer window, we made a few alterations to the squad. I brought in Wesley Sneijder for £10 Million and I brought in Alessandro Nesta for £27 Million. In terms of outgoings, the major news is that I let Michael Owen go to Milan for £19 Million. Largely I've been trying to revamp my midfield so I have more youth and depth to it (hence the signings of van der Vaart, van Bommel, Sneijder and Gerrard) to give me more tactical flexibility. My initial squad was extremely talented but it was kinda striker-heavy which meant that I could only really function if I played two strikers. Now I can happily play two strikers but I also have the option to switch to a 4-5-1 if the game demands it. And if I don't have to have two strikers then I don't need to have 4 amazing strikers in my squad so I'm comfortable getting rid of my weakest striker to strengthen other areas of my team. 

Super Cup
Real Madrid 4-0 Deportivo (Figo, van der Vaart, Ronaldo, Portillo)
Deportivo 0-2 Real Madrid (Raul (2))

Overall we romped to victory in the Spanish Super Cup as we once again showed Deportivo not to mess with us. They actually played quite well at times at the Bernabeu but we hit them on the break and they made some sloppy defensive errors to allow us to gain a comfortable victory. Portillo, now my 4th choice striker, came off the bench and netted a goal at the end which was nice for him as the guy who's effectively replacing Owen in my squad now. 

In the second leg we were very comfortable and Depor didn't really cause us many problems. Raul scored a brace to secure a win for us and guarantee another trophy. 

The only other news this month was the Champions' League Group Draw. We got Monaco, Hamburg and HJK Helsinki which is a group which we should qualify from reasonably comfortably. 

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September 2005
La Liga
Ejido 2-5 Real Madrid (Ronaldo (3), Morientes, Raul)
Real Madrid 7-0 Levante (Ronaldo (3), Zidane, Raul, Morientes, Gerrard)
Real Madrid 3-0 Mallorca (Raul (2), van Bommel)
Espanyol 0-2 Real Madrid (Samuel, Ronaldo)
Real Madrid 5-0 Athletic Bilbao (Samuel, Sneijder, Gerrard, Ronaldo (2))

Overall... it's pretty much been a perfect month in the league. We've won every game scoring 22 goals and conceding 2 with 4 clean sheets in 5 games as well. 

We started our season at newly promoted Ejido and, to their credit, after 30 mins they were 2-1 up. Fortunately Ronaldo then equalised and from there there was only going to be one result as we ran riot and had our way with them. 

We then played a fairly poor Levante team at home and won 7-0. Ronaldo getting his second hat-trick in 2 games as my supporting cast effectively contributed to the destruction of Levante. 

Mallorca were a little bit more stubborn and it took us a while to break them down. We then added a couple of late goals to add some gloss to the scoreline. 

The Espanyol win was more comfortable as we were 2-0 up by half-time and never really looked like letting them back into the game. 

Finally we dealt out another thrashing to Bilbao in a game where 4 of our 5 goals were scored from corners. 

1. Real Madrid- 15
2. Barcelona- 11
3. Zaragoza- 10
4. Villarreal- 9
5. Deportivo- 8
6. Sevilla- 8
7. Celta Vigo- 8
8. Malaga- 8
9. Mallorca- 7
10. Real Betis- 7
11. Real Valladolid- 7
12. Atletico Madrid- 7
13. Levante- 6
14. Real Sociedad- 5
15. Valencia- 5
16. Ejido- 5
17. Getafe- 5
18. Osasuna- 4
19. Espanyol- 2
20. Athletic Bilbao- 0

I guess the only real downside this month is that I've played a clutch of teams who are, frankly, a bit crap as shown by their position in the table. Other than that though it's hard to see how the month could have gone better as the title race may well be down to me against Barcelona already. 

Champions' League
HSV 1-4 Real Madrid (Ronaldo (4))
Real Madrid 5-2 Monaco (Nesta (2). Raul, Sneijder (2))

Hamburg away was a game which actually looked a little bit tricky on paper. Ronaldo put us in front but, when they equalised, the game looked like it might live up to my fears. Fortunately Ronaldo scored another goal shortly afterwards. And then he couldn't really stop scoring as he completely tore the Hamburg defence to shreds. He's had a pretty solid start to the season. 

Monaco were next and a pair of Nesta goals put us 2-0 up. Annoyingly they pulled it back to 2-2 thanks to the only screamer that Sebastien Squillaci has or will ever score and a goal from Hernan Crespo. Shortly afterwards though Raul headed home a Sneijder cross to make it 3-2 before Sneijder added a couple of goals in injury time to seal it, including a great curling finish into the far corner. 

1. Real Madrid- 6
2. Monaco- 3
3. HJK Helsinki- 1
4. HSV- 1

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October 2005
La Liga
Sevilla 2-0 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 1-1 Zaragoza (Morientes)
Getafe 1-9 Real Madrid (van der Vaart, Morientes (4), Ronaldo (3), Gerrard)
Real Madrid 3-1 Valencia (Morientes, Ronaldo (2)

Overall a mixed month in La Liga. We started with a poor performance at Sevilla and they deservedly took 3 points from us. I maybe rotated a few too many players for this one with an eye to our midweek CL game. 

We then had a frustrating game against Zaragoza which we probably deserved to win but only took a point from. Morientes put us in front before they equalised with about 30 minutes left. Try as we might, we couldn't find a way through them to snatch a winner. 

We then absolutely slaughtered Getafe as Morientes and Ronaldo destroyed their defence, both of them netting hat-tricks. 

Finally we had a game against Valencia that was extremely nervy. It took 80 minutes for Morientes to open the scoring and, for those 80 minutes, their keeper, Canizares, had been excellent. Ronaldo then added a second goal before Ivica Olic pulled one back for them. Ronaldo then finished the scoring in injury time with a third for us. 

1. Barcelona- 23
2. Real Madrid- 22
3. Zaragoza- 20
4. Real Betis- 16
5. Deportivo- 15
6. Sevilla- 15
7. Atletico Madrid- 14
8. Malaga- 14
9. Levante- 13
10. Valencia- 12
11. Osasuna- 12
12. Villarreal- 11
13. Celta Vigo- 11
14. Getafe- 11
15. Mallorca- 9
16. Real Sociedad- 7
17. Real Valladolid- 7
18. Espanyol- 6
19. Ejido- 5
20. Athletic Bilbao- 3

So, some of my hubris from the last month proved sadly misplaced as we stuttered at the start of the month allowing Barca to overtake us. Zaragoza are the only other side who are in touch at the top currently. 

At the other end of the table, keep an eye on BIlbao who are really struggling and have sacked their manager, Felipe Minambres, replacing him with Uruguayan coach Victor Esparrago. Beyond that the table is still fairly congested right now. 

Champions League
HJK 1-4 Real Madrid (Beckham, van der Vaart, Ronaldo (2))

This was a fairly uneventful game as we secured the expected routine win over HJK Helsinki. Van der Vaart had a great game and capped it off with a goal. 

1. Real Madrid- 9
2. Monaco- 4
3. HSV- 2
4. HJK- 1

Overall a win at home to HJK in my next CL game will put me through. The main question in this group is going to be whether Hamburg or Monaco finish in second. 

Copa del Rey
Real Valladolid 2-4 Real Madrid (Sneijder (2), Gerrard, van der Vaart)

Valladolid proved a stiffer test than I would have wanted in the first round of the Copa del Rey. Still, we did enough to win. They actually went in front and it took us a while to break them down until Sneijder equalised. It didn't take long after that for Gerrard to put us in front. At this point I relaxed a bit... and they immediately equalised. Fortunately Sneijder made it 3-2 before van der Vaart came off the bench to complete the scoring and send us through to a second round tie against Ceuta. 

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November 2005
La Liga
Real Madrid 3-0 Osasuna (Samuel, Raul, Morientes)
Deportivo 1-1 Real Madrid (van der Vaart)
Atletico Madrid 3-3 Real Madrid (van der Vaart, Morientes, Gerrard)

Not a good month in the league. 

We started with a routine win over Osasuna with goals from Samuel, Raul and Morientes providing us with 3 useful points. 

After that we faced a testing trip to the Riazor to face Deportivo. Van der Vaart put us in front with an excellent goal but we conceded a sloppy penalty and Diego Tristan equalised. Morientes then missed a big chance to take the points at the end. 

We then had our first Madrid derby of the season. For an hour we were dreadful and Javier Arizmendi put them 3-0 up. I changed shape a bit and we scored 3 goals in 4 minutes to pull it back to 3-3 but we couldn't find a winner and it was more dropped points for us. 

1. Barcelona- 32
2. Real Madrid- 27
3. Zaragoza- 26
4. Deportivo- 22
5. Atletico Madrid- 21
6. Valencia- 21
7. Malaga- 20
8. Real Betis- 19
9. Sevilla- 18
10. Osasuna- 15
11. Mallorca- 15
12. Getafe- 15
13. Villarreal- 14
14. Levante- 13
15. Celta Vigo- 11
16. Real Valladolid- 10
17. Espanyol- 9
18. Real Sociedad- 8
19. Athletic Bilbao- 7
20. Ejido- 6

Well, I believe we can recover this and win the title. Our record of 8 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat is still a solid record and draws away at Deportivo and Atleti are not disastrous results. But Barcelona have only dropped 4 points in 12 games and are really on a roll at the moment. Our next game is at home to Barca and that is a huge opportunity for us to close the gap. I believe we have the quality to take this title but we need to remain focused and not let the 5-point gap get to us. Still plenty of games left to play. 

Elsewhere in the league, Zaragoza are still floating around dangerously and everyone down to Sevilla will still be dreaming of European football next season. 

Down at the bottom, I expect the bottom 7 and Getafe to be in the fight for at least a while longer before potentially clawing themselves out of it. Like I said above though still a long way to go in this season. 

Champions' League
Real Madrid 2-0 HJK (Gerrard, Portillo)
Real Madrid 3-0 HSV (Raul Bravo, Gerrard, Morientes)

I made a couple of changes and we still netted comfortable wins against Hamburg and HJK Helsinki. This guaranteed us progression and top spot in the group so I can begin planning for the last 16 already. To be honest it's not been the most interesting group ever so far. 

1. Real Madrid- 15
2. Monaco- 7
3. HSV- 5
4. HJK- 1

Copa del Rey
Ceuta 0-6 Real Madrid (Sneijder (2), Portillo, Morientes (3))

Not much to say about this one. Ceuta are a weak Second Division side and we kinda slaughtered them. My attack did what my attack tends to do against inferior opposition and proceeded to rip them to pieces. We face another Second Division side, Alaves, in the Third Round which will begin in January. 

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December 2005
La Liga
Real Madrid 6-2 Barcelona (Nesta, Samuel, Figo, Ronaldo, Morientes, Raul)
Real Sociedad 1-5 Real Madrid (Ronaldo (2), Morientes (3))
Real Madrid 1-2 Real Betis (Raul)
Malaga 2-3 Real Madrid (van der Vaart, Morientes (2))

Overall this was a good month with one particularly irritating blip. 

We started with the first Classico of the season in a game we desperately needed to win to close the gap between ourselves and Barca. Fortunately we produced one of our best performances of the season and absolutely slaughtered them with 6 different goal scorers getting in on the act. They were actually 2-1 up for a spell thanks to 2 Samuel Eto'o but once we got back to 2-2 we ran riot and absolutely destroyed them. Crucially this may well give us the head-to-head advantage if this title race comes down to that. 

We then travelled to struggling Sociedad and did what we tend to do struggling sides and slaughtered them. Ronaldo got a brace and Morientes got a hat-trick to seal a comfortable three points. 

Annoyingly Betis then beat us at the Bernabeu. We probably created enough chances to get a point and maybe even win the game but they counter-attacked effectively and managed to take three points. For the record this is the first time that anyone's managed to take a win from the Bernabeu in this save. 

Finally we faced a testing trip to Malaga which was made even trickier once they scored in their first attack. It took a bit of time for van der Vaart to equalise and it led to a long nervy wait until Morientes scored the brace that secured the win. They scored a penalty to pull one back in injury time but it wasn't enough to stop us from collecting three precious points. 

1. Barcelona- 39
2. Real Madrid- 36
3. Real Betis- 34
4. Zaragoza- 31
5. Valencia- 30
6. Deportivo- 29
7. Malaga- 27
8. Atletico Madrid- 26
9. Villarreal- 26
10. Sevilla- 24
11. Osasuna- 23
12. Mallorca- 21
13. Getafe- 18
14. Levante- 16
15. Celta VIgo- 15
16. Espanyol- 13
17. Real Valladolid- 13
18. Athletic BIlbao- 11
19. Real Sociedad- 8
20. Ejido- 6

So, we close the gap on Barca to three points with us having the advantage on head-to-head. I'm anticipating a close fight between us for the rest of the season. Betis are the only other side in touch at the moment. 

The top 4 race looks interesting at the moment, with everyone down to Villarreal definitely still dreaming of a potential shot at the CL next season. 

At the other end of the table I'd suggest that everyone from Levante down will be seriously worried about relegation. Getafe look like they have enough to survive at the moment. Ejido are the only side who are starting to get seriously cut adrift at the moment. 

This month also saw Jose Maria Amorrortu sacked as Real Sociedad manager. No replacement has been announced currently. 

Champions' League
Monaco 1-4 Real Madrid (Raul (2), Ronaldo (2))

I made a few changes for this one and we ran riot at the Stade Louis II as Raul and Ronaldo (who came off the bench) securing a surprisingly comfortable win against a decent Monaco side. 

1. Real Madrid- 18
2. Hamburg- 8
3. Monaco- 7
4. HJK- 1

So we progress along with Hamburg who went through thanks to our win in Monaco. 

Annoyingly we once again topped our group and will face a tricky last-16 game against Bayern Munich. As an Arsenal fan I have... experiences of facing Bayern in the last 16 of the CL. None of these experiences have been good. I fully expect to somehow see a front three of Lewandowski, Robben and Ribery tear my defence to shreds. 

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January 2006
La Liga
Real Madrid 6-0 Villarreal (Morientes (2), van der Vaart (2), van Bommel, Gerrard)
Real Valladolid 0-6 Real Madrid (Morientes, Ronaldo (3), Sneijder, Raul)
Real Madrid 4-1 Celta Vigo (Nesta, Raul, Morientes, Zidane)
Levante 1-1 Real Madrid (van Bommel)

Yet another month which isn't bad but isn't amazing either. Or, let me rephrase that. Another month with three excellent performances followed by us dropping points in a frustrating way. 

We started by battering Villarreal. To be fair for an hour this one was tricky but after Gerrard put us 2-0 up on 58 minutes we ran riot and slaughtered them. 

We then travelled to Valladolid and did the same to them. Ronaldo was magnificent, tearing their defence apart to allow us to gain a very impressive three points. 

Vigo were next and it was 1-1 until Zidane scored in the 71st minute which, once again, preceded a period where we went on a rampage and tore Vigo to shreds. 

Finally, we travelled to Levante. Van Bommel put us in front but we never looked comfortable and they equalised with 5 minutes left to snatch a point. 

1. Barcelona- 48
2. Real Madrid- 46
3. Real Betis- 39
4. Zaragoza- 36
5. Sevilla- 36
6. Atletico Madrid- 34
7. Deportivo- 34
8. Malaga- 34
9. Valencia- 34
10. Villarreal- 32
11. Osasuna- 28
12. Mallorca- 24
13. Celta Vigo- 21
14. Athletic Bilbao- 21
15. Levante- 20
16. Espanyol- 20
17. Getafe- 19
18. Real Valladolid- 16
19. Real Sociedad- 14
20. Ejido- 9

So it's gonna come down to a close race between us and Barca to decide the title this season. I'll give them credit, they've seriously improved on last season's showing and I expect them to be right up there for the entire season. We can win this title though, our goal difference is almost 30 goals better than theirs is. 

The top 4 race should be interesting with the entire top half of the table still very much involved in it. Sevilla had an excellent month which allowed them to move right back into contention. 

The relegation battle should also be fun, to be honest mid-table is only really made up of Osasuna and Mallorca. Bilbao had a good month to allow them to put at least some daylight between them and the drop zone but Getafe have been dragged right back into it. Sociedad need a new manager quickly and Ejido are probably doomed but are at least better than Albacete and Numancia were last season. 

Copa del Rey
Real Madrid 4-0 Alaves (Raul, Beckham, Sneijder (2))
Alaves 0-1 Real Madrid (Pavon)

Zaragoza 1-0 Real Madrid 

Our tie against Alaves was the procession that you would expect it to be. 

We drew Zaragoza in the quarter-finals. They snatched a 1-0 win at La Rosaleda to set up an interesting game at the Bernabeu in the second leg. That game is followed by a trip to Mallorca for me in La Liga so I'm not sure how seriously I'm gonna take it. I've got a lot of fixtures next month so we'll know a lot more about how this season is progressing in my next update. 

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February 2006
La Liga
Mallorca 2-2 Real Madrid (Nesta, Sneijder)
Real Madrid 3-1 Ejido (Ivan Helguera, Raul (2))
Real Madrid 6-0 Espanyol (Samuel, Nesta, van der Vaart, Morientes (2), van Bommel)
Athletic Bilbao 2-2 Real Madrid (van der Vaart, Morientes)
Zaragoza 1-2 Real Madrid (Figo, Morientes)

We started the month with a trip to Mallorca, a ground where I'm yet to win on this save. And my weak record there continued as Mallorca went 2-0 up fairly swiftly. Nesta pulled one back in the 80th minute before Sneijder scored a potentially priceless equaliser in injury time. 

Ejido at home was the definition of routine as we went 3-0 up within 25 minutes. They pulled one back but it was too little too late for Ejido. 

Espanyol was, once again routine as Samuel and Nesta put us 2-0 up fairly swiftly. From there we slaughtered them as they were unable to deal with our attacking prowess. 

I've had a few frustrating games this season but the Bilbao game may have topped that list. They had 3 shots on target, two of which were free-kicks from range and both of which went in to give BIlbao a 2-1 lead after 30 minutes. Morientes equalised but, despite creating numerous good chances, we couldn't find a winner and we dropped two more points. 

We did, however, net a strong win at Zaragoza. David Villa put them in front but Figo equalised and Morientes found a winner to seal three potentially precious points. 

1. Barcelona- 61
2. Real Madrid- 57
3. Sevilla- 49
4. Real Betis- 49
5. Valencia- 46
6. Zaragoza- 43
7. Malaga- 41
8. Deportivo- 38
9. Villarreal- 38
10. Atletico Madrid- 37
11. Osasuna- 34
12. Mallorca- 34
13. Athletic BIlbao- 28
14. Celta Vigo- 25
15. Levante- 24
16. Getafe- 24
17. Espanyol- 21
18. Real Sociedad- 20
19. Valladolid- 17
20. Ejido- 9

So... the gap has closed between us and Barca. But we're still in the race. We NEED to have a really strong month next month though to really put some pressure back on Barca. 

The top 4 has become more interesting. Sevilla's exceptional run of form has continued and they're now the favourites in a race that only really includes Valencia, Betis and Zaragoza now. 

At the other end of the table, a strong run of form from Bilbao has moved them further away from danger but everyone from Vigo down is still fighting for their lives. Except for Ejido who are doomed. 

Champions' League
Bayern Munich 1-6 Real Madrid (Gerrard, van der Vaart, Morientes (2), Zidane (2))

We may have had an iffy month in La Liga but we then travelled to Munich and produced our best performance of the save so far as we ripped them to shreds at the Allianz. We were 5-1 up before half-time due to a flurry of brilliant attacking play. The Arsenal fan in me found this result extremely cathartic. 

Copa del Rey
Real Madrid 0-0 Zaragoza

Sadly we are out of the Copa after failing to break Zaragoza down, ensuring that we will not be retaining the Copa del Rey this season. 

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I've enjoyed reading your story, some great names in there, although I can't help but think it would help massively to have some screenshots rather than just words?  Just to break it up a bit.  Definitely not a criticism as I'm enjoying it but it's just walls of text and some might be put off a bit

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AFCON 2006 Egypt
AFCON also happened during January and February and here's what happened:
Group A
1. DR Congo- 6
2. Mali- 6
3. Morocco- 3
4. Tunisia- 3

Group B
1. Nigeria- 6
2. Ghana- 6
3. Guinea- 6
4. Togo- 0

Group C
1. Egypt- 7
2. Senegal- 6
3. Algeria- 4
4. Libya- 0

Group D
1. Ivory Coast- 7
2. Burkina Faso- 4
3. Cameroon- 3
4. South Africa- 3

The holders and the runners-up from the last AFCON, Tunisia and Morocco, were both dumped out at in Group A after impressive showings by DR Congo and Mali. 

Guinea were deeply unfortunate not to qualify from a tough Group B as Ghana knocked them out on goals scored. Adebayor's Togo were knocked out but were never embarrassed. 

Algeria failed to progress from Group C, as a draw with Egypt and a defeat to Senegal meant their win against Libya wasn't enough to take them through. 

Burkina Faso were the tournament's main surprise package as they progressed despite losing 7-2 to Cameroon in their second game. They actually went 2-0 down to South Africa in their final game before an exceptional come-back allowed them to claim a 3-2 win. 

Quarter-Finals
DR Congo 3-5 e Ghana
Mali 2-2 p Nigeria
Egypt p 2-2 Burkina Faso
Senegal 1-2 e Ivory Coast

None of these ties were settled after 90 minutes. 

Ghana assumed they were through to the semi-finals after they went 2-0 up against DR Congo. Congo, however, fought back to make it 2-2. Ghana then made it 3-2 and Congo had a man sent-off so, once again, Ghana assumed they were through. Inevitably Congo then equalised again to force extra-time before Ghana finally put the tie to bed. 

Nigeria looked comfortable holding onto a 1-0 lead against Mali before Seydou Keita banged in an injury-time free-kick to force extra-time. Nigeria then went in front again early in extra-time but Mali came back again to force penalties. Nigeria won the shoot-out. 

Burkina Faso almost caused another shock against Egypt. Egypt took the lead with a penalty from Mohamed but Burkina Faso came back again to pull it back to 2-1. Mido then headed in an equalised with the last attack, keeping the hosts in the tournament after extra-time and a penalty shoot-out. 

Senegal took the lead against the Ivory Coast but, as the game progressed, Senegal faded and the Ivorians came on strong with Didier Drogba and Romaric scoring the goals that took them through. 

Semi-Finals
Ghana 2-1 Ivory Coast
Nigeria 2-0 Egypt

The semis were less exciting. 

Ghana took a 2-0 lead against the Ivorians and managed to hold off an Ivorian come-back after they pulled it back to 2-1. 

Egypt kept their game against Nigeria goalless for 80 minutes but goals from Victor Agali and Kanu gave Nigeria the win. A red card from Hossam Ghali on 89 minutes didn't help Egypt's cause. 

Final
Nigeria 2-1 Ghana

Ghana took the lead but they failed to stop a strong Nigerian come-back as Nigeria secured their third AFCON crown in Cairo. Ghana had actually won the meeting between the two teams in the group-stage but were unable to stop Nigeria in the Final. 

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16 minutes ago, dap1987 said:

I've enjoyed reading your story, some great names in there, although I can't help but think it would help massively to have some screenshots rather than just words?  Just to break it up a bit.  Definitely not a criticism as I'm enjoying it but it's just walls of text and some might be put off a bit

Yeah I know, annoyingly the Print Screen button on my copy of 05 doesn't work so I'm stuck with text for the moment. Or at least the Screenshots folder which is meant to be there has disappeared as I've re-installed the game so the Screenshots have nowhere to go. Hopefully when I move onto 06 I'll be able to actually start using screenshots to break things up a bit. 

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March 2006

First off, the Print Screen button in-game has started working again so screenshots are now gonna be provided in future updates! 

La Liga
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So we started the month with a home game against a dangerous Sevilla side. We had one of our good days and proceeded to absolutely slaughter them with Ronaldo's hat-trick a particularly impressive touch. 

More importantly, Barca lost 4-1 at Betis to close the gap to one point. 

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We followed that up with a home game against Getafe that was the definition of routine. One thing I've noted about 05 and older versions of the game is that you get a LOT of goals from corners. Walter Samuel has scored 18 goals in the save so far which is a useful and reasonably reliable source of goals throughout a save. Definitely an avenue to look at for anyone still playing these older versions of the game. 

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Osasuna provided a stiff test in our next outing. Ronaldo gave us a lead just before half-time but Roman Weidenfeller produced a great performance in goal for them. Fortunately, Morientes came off the bench to score two late goals to give us the three points and destroy any lingering nerves. 

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We finished the month with a fairly routine win over Deportivo. The most interesting thing to note about this one was another Samuel goal. 

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More importantly though, as we were beating Depor, Barca lost 2-1 to Celta Vigo. This puts us 2 points ahead of them in the league but we do still need to visit the Camp Nou. To be honest, looking at the number of goals we've scored this season and the difference in goal difference I kinda feel like we deserve to be winning this title but football is a sport where things like that can and do happen. 

Elsewhere, Betis looking a really good bet to finish in the top 4 again this season but after them Zaragoza, Valencia, Sevilla and Malaga look poised to launch a late challenge. 

At the bottom, Ejido still look doom and Valladolid are only just staying in touch after a potentially priceless 3-2 win over Sociedad in the month's last matchday. Getafe, Levante and Espanyol look to be the sides most likely to slip into the bottom three. Caretaker manager Loren remains in charge of Sociedad and will hope to guide them to safety in the final stretch of the season. 

Another thing to note is my manager name up there in the top right. It's the name of the guy who managed Madrid in RL that season, or at least the default manager on FM. I'll be doing this throughout the save to add a bit of flavour to things as it helps with the whole nostalgia thing. 

Champions' League
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Meh, we were 6-1 up here so I'm not too fussed about losing the return leg. Of greater importance is that we draw the holders Arsenal next round which contributes to what will be a seriously testing month. 

So, what do you guys think? Did this work better for you than just text? Or would you prefer me to go back to the great wall o' text? 

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April 2006
La Liga
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We started the month with a tricky trip to Valencia which was far less comfortable than the scoreline might suggest. Ronaldo put us in front but Valencia could easily have earned an equaliser before Morientes wrapped the game up. 

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Next up was the Madrid derby. Overall, a fairly routine win even if they did have a spell after Estoyanoff's goal when they threatened to make things interesting for us. 

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Malaga at home were our next opponents and we kinda swatted them aside. One of those days where our attack clicked and we looked unstoppable. More importantly, Barca drew 0-0 at Sevilla to extend our lead to 4 points. 

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We then went to the Nou Camp in what was a huge game in the title race. Fortunately, Ronaldo was sensational, scoring a hat-trick and proving a menace to the Barca defence all game. Morientes then came off the bench to add some gloss to the scoreline late on. To give them some credit they did well to fight back to 2-2 ad there was a spell when they looked like they might snatch but, overall, it wasn't enough for them. 

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We finished the month with a home game against Sociedad. To be fair they proved to be surprisingly stubborn opponents given the poor season that they're having but a Wesley Sneijder penalty gave us three points. In other news, Barca slipped up again, losing 2-1 to Espanyol to increase our lead to 10 points. 

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So, overall, we've probably sealed the title this month after Barca's collapse. To be fair, comparing our two goal differences... I think we're better than Barca are and I think we've played better than them this season. 

Betis still definitely on course for a top four spot and it looks like one of Zaragoza, Sevilla or Valencia will join them as Malaga fell to pieces this month. 

At the other end of the table, Valladolid still just about staying in touch with the others. A poor month for Getafe sees them slip into the drop zone and they'll be looking to catch Sociedad, Espanyol or Levante to survive. 

In managerial news, Vicente del Bosque was appointed as the new Sociedad coach. Javier Irureta left Deportivo and Antonio Lopez replaced him and Pepe Mel was sacked by Ejido. 

Champions' League
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This was a frustrating one. It was a very even tie between, in my view, the two best sides in the save (maybe Milan might make it a top 3) and, credit to Arsenal, they sneaked it in the end. We delivered a great performance at Highbury to take a 1-1 draw to the Bernabeu but they hit us on the break twice and we couldn't turn it around despite a late Morientes consolation. 

So we'll spend at least another year on FM05 as I still need to win the CL. 

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Hey guys, just an FYI for anyone following this but I'm away until Saturday so expect my next update then. I'll try to come up with a few updates then to make up for it. 

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May 2006
La Liga
VWfDHS.png

We started with another testing trip, this time to Betis. Fortunately Ronaldo had one of those days where he becomes an unstoppable force of nature and we slaughtered a very good Betis team. Morientes also added his now customary goal off the bench. This win secured us a second successive title after Barca's slip-ups at the end of April. 

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Next up was a trip to Villarreal was was significantly more comfortable than it could have been due to early goals in both the first-half and the second-half. Ronaldo netted another goal. 

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A game against struggling Valladolid... pretty much went the exact way you'd expect it to. Ronaldo scored four goals for the second time this month. 

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We finished the season with a trip to Vigo. Morientes and Sneijder gave us a comfortable first-half lead before they pulled one back in a fairly relaxing second-half. 

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Overall, our League campaign was excellent. 140 goals scored. A goal difference in triple figures. 96 points and another comfortable lead over Barcelona by the end of the season. Barca were better than last year but didn't improve enough to take the title. 

As anticipated, Betis fairly comfortably remained in the top 4. Sevilla had a poor month which saw them drop out of contention for the final CL place fairly swiftly and Valencia beat Zaragoza at the Mestalla, the result that effectively confirmed them another year of CL football. Zaragoza had an excellent season but didn't have enough to take a CL place. 

At the bottom, Espanyol, Levante and Sociedad picked up the wins to secure safety. Valladolid never really looked like staying up and Getafe's end of season collapse proved fatal to their La Liga status. Josu Uribe was appointed as the new coach for relegated Ejido this month after a terrible season for the newly promoted side. 

I'll be back with an end of season update later today. 

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End of Season Review
Champions' League 2005-06
Group Stage

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The group stages contained no major shocks. 

In Group A, Ajax once again failed to get past a duo of talented sides in Inter Milan and Liverpool. Juve and Newcastle comfortably topped Group B with no real issues. Group C was a more open with German champions Gladbach bringing up the rear. Banik Ostrava almost replicated their excellent run from the previous season but Celtic and CSKA Moscow eventually went through. Barca failed to top their group again as they progressed alongside Marseille. 

Betis were unlucky to be stuck behind last year's two finalists and were predictably eliminated. Bayern failed to finish ahead of Porto but still progressed in Group F. I romped through Group G and Hamburg won a close battle for second with Monaco while Chelsea and Valencia comfortably topped Group H

Second Round
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Barca and Inter met in the tie of the round. Barca had won the first leg 3-1 before Inter went 3-1 up at the San Siro. To their credit though Barca fought back to 3-3 and a late Inter goal on the night was not enough to take them through. 

Celtic were not good enough to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Newcastle, ending a decent European adventure. 

Juventus and Liverpool comfortably saw off CSKA Moscow and Marseille respectively. 

Arsenal inched out Valencia despite a 1-1 draw at Highbury in the first-leg and we slaughtered Bayern. 

Hamburg beat Porto despite falling behind in the second leg after a 2-2 draw in Portugal and Milan proved to be too good for Chelsea. 

Quarter-Finals
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Let's conveniently avoid discussing Arsenal dumping us out and focus elsewhere instead. Newcastle pulled off one of the greatest results in their history as a 2-0 win at home after a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp saw them into their first Champions' League semi-final. Liverpool failed to penetrate Juve's defence and suffered as a result while AC Milan predictably saw off Hamburg. 

Semi-Finals

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Both these sides followed the same result with the Italian side winning 2-1 at home in the first-leg before securing an excellent 2-0 win away to progress to the Final. Juventus ensured that they gained 4 wins from 4 against Newcastle after beating them twice in the group stages as Newcastle's fairytale run continued. AC Milan gained revenge on Arsenal for their defeat in last year's final and will hope to win the trophy this year after coming so close last year. 

Final
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In the final, Juve's defence proved crucial as they stole an early lead through Carlos Tevez and then successfully repelled Milan's attackers for the remainder of the match. Milan lose their second successive Final. To be honest this was not a classic Final with only 3 shots on target in the entire match. 

The UEFA Cup saw Werder Bremen stage a late come-back to beat Middlesbrough 2-1 in the Final, Middlesbrough successfully repeating their remarkable RL run to the UEFA Cup Final. 

Premier League
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This was a very interesting season in the Premier League. Arsenal finished on top after a close race against Chelsea and Liverpool with Arsenal eventually taking the title on goal difference from their London rivals. Aston Villa had a remarkable season to finish 4th ahead of Manchester United (now managed by Steve Bruce) and CL semi-finalists Newcastle. 

At the bottom of the table, West Brom, Birmingham and newly-promoted Burnley went down. Leeds and Sunderland both successfully survived in their first season back in the top flight, Leeds looking particularly competent in their first year back. Everton, Manchester City and Blackburn also had notably good seasons and, despite reaching the UEFA Cup final, Middlesbrough almost got relegated to the Championship. Charlton, QPR and Wigan are promoted to the Premier League for next season. 

Villa completed their remarkable season with a 2-1 win over Blackburn in the FA Cup to go with their top 4 finish while City beat Liverpool 2-1 in the League Cup Final to qualify for next year's UEFA Cup. 

Ligue 1
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Monaco retained the title in Ligue 1 but without being as emphatic as they had been the previous season. Lyon and surprise package St-Etienne gain the other CL places. Le Havre were the only newly promoted side to survive this season. 

Metz, Dijon and Niort went down with Metz slightly unfortunate to go down with 43 points. They will be replaced by Nantes, Guingamp and Istres. 

Bundesliga
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After Gladbach's surprise win last year, Bayern seriously reacted by romping to the title. Bochum (how?) and Leverkusen taking the other CL places. Gladbach dropped down to 13th and almost went down as did UEFA Cup winners Werder Bremen, who had won the Bundesliga only two years earlier. 

Wolfsburg went down along with newly promoted 1860 Munich and Ahlen while the other newly promoted side, Koln, finished comfortably in mid-table. Nurnberg, Hannover and Duisburg replace them. 

Serie A
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AC Milan seem determined to come close but never win anything in this save as Inter secured a second successive title under Roberto Mancini. CL winners Juventus finished third and Parma took the other CL spot. 

Atalanta went from a 6th place finish to relegation and are joined by Livorno and Chieve as all three of the newly promoted sides stayed up. Torino in particular had an impressive season. Ascoli, Genoa and Modena replace them. 

Liga Segunda
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In other news, we'll joined by Cadiz, Sporting Gijon and Racing Santander next season. Also of note is that Numancia managed to achieve a double relegation after their relegation from La Liga last season. 

My next update will cover the 2006 World Cup. 

 

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Great updates mate, really enjoyable read and even better with screenshots now. :lol:

 

I found some old CMs/FMs during a clean out over the weekend so think I'm going to have a bit of a play around with them if I can work out how to install on my PC! 

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10 hours ago, dap1987 said:

Great updates mate, really enjoyable read and even better with screenshots now. :lol:

 

I found some old CMs/FMs during a clean out over the weekend so think I'm going to have a bit of a play around with them if I can work out how to install on my PC! 

Haha no problem, I aim to entertain, it's nice to see that someone's following along. 

In my experience CM3 is pretty unproblematic. CM4's difficult and FM05 is difficult. There's something I did to get FM05 to work and I cannot seem to retrace my steps to figure out what it was. If I manage to do so I'll post it here. It was something to do with uninstalling a Windows Update that interfered with the game. Cannot precisely remember the details. 

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10 hours ago, dap1987 said:

Great updates mate, really enjoyable read and even better with screenshots now. :lol:

 

I found some old CMs/FMs during a clean out over the weekend so think I'm going to have a bit of a play around with them if I can work out how to install on my PC! 

Initially I'd suggest trying stuff like launch it in Compatibility Mode or Run as an Administrator and if that doesn't work let me know and I'll see if I can chase it up for you. 

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World Cup 2006
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So the Group Stages of the World Cup kicked off. Group A was pretty uneventful, Togo and Saudi Arabia had their moments but, unsurprisingly, Argentina and Italy proved to be too good for them. 

In Group B, South Africa never looked like going through and England were fairly comfortable. Mexico managed to sneak an undeserved point against Belgium in their opener but were largely unimpressive and Belgium deservedly progressed. 

Portugal were the tournament's first major casualties in Group C. Despite beating Paraguay 3-2 in a great opening match they failed to beat either Australia or the Koreans, condemning them to elimination. The Aussies played some great stuff in the tournament and Roque Santa Cruz was the main player guiding Paraguay through. 

Turkey were comfortably the best team in Group D. China, Trinidad and Colombia all gained wins against each other but Colombia were fortunate to sneak through on goal difference after a poor set of performances. 

Brazil were also fairly unimpressive when progressing from a tricky Group E. Serbia, as they tend to do, largely flattered to deceive, and Ireland did enough to sneak through despite losing 2-1 to a decent Finland side in their final match. 

The Ivorians and the Czechs were comfortably better than their opponents in Group F. Japan were particularly disappointing in the tournament and Canada did well to bounce back from a 5-0 thumping at the hands of the Ivorians in their opener. 

Denmark looked excellent in Group G, particularly when thumping Germany 4-1 in their second match. Germany really could have been eliminated here but managed to progress after Nigeria and Morocco failed to gain a victory. 

Group H was interesting. France scraped a win against Bahrain and Bulgaria comfortably saw off the Welsh. Bulgaria then also beat Bahrain. The Group really turned when France met Wales and Danny Coyne produced an exceptional performance to help Wales to a 2-1 win. The French then thumped Bulgaria 6-0 meaning that a last-minute Bahraini own goal gave the Welsh a 1-0 win and progress to the Second Round on goal difference. 

 

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The first game was the least interesting as Belgium failed to pierce a traditionally stubborn Italian defence in a 1-0 defeat. 

Argentina against England was a classic. Argentina took an early lead before a red card for Ledley King after 15 minutes really gave them the advantage. When Argentina doubled their lead it looked like game over but England fought back to 2-2. Walter Samuel almost immediately put Argentina 3-2 in front with a header from a corner and they then finished England off with a fourth on the counter-attack. 

Australia were excellent for 45 minutes against Colombia but a Juan Pablo Angel goal right at the end of the first-half turned the game in Colombia's favour and they pushed on to progress. 

Turkey and Paraguay traded goals early in the second half of their game before a goal in extra time sent Turkey through. 

A Jan Koller hat-trick allowed the Czech Republic saw off a Brazil side who completely failed to live up to expectations. 

An early Irish goal almost took them through but Didier Zokora equalised late on and the Africans pushed on to progress. 

Wales almost continued their run after twice coming back from behind against Denmark. Eventually Jon Dahl Tomasson won it in injury time and the Danes progressed. 

Finally, France comfortably disposed of a poor Germany side through an early Patrick Vieira goal followed by a good defensive performance. 

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Italy were surprisingly eliminated by Turkey. When Nicola Legrottaglie put them in front on 71 minutes it looked they would progress but then... err... well... the Turkish keeper Rustu equalised from a free-kick before Kaloglu Sinan won it on 81 minutes. 

Argentina and Colombia traded early goals before an Argentine goal from a penalty followed by a Colombian red card looked to have ended the tie. Colombia, to their credit, fought back to 2-2 from Fabian Andres Vargas and held on for penalties. However, Argentina won the shoot-out. 

David Trezeguet thought he had put France through with a 44th minute goal but Marek Heinz equalised with an injury time penalty. Heinz then scored again in extra-time and, despite a red card for Jiri Jarosik, France couldn't find an equaliser and went out. 

Finally, the Ivorian adventure ended as they crashed out on penalties after a 1-1 draw against Denmark. 

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The semis were fairly boring in comparison to the last two rounds. Turkey progressed due to an injury time goal from Arif Erdem and Argentina comfortably saw off a fading Czech team. 

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The Final was also a bit of an anti-climax with a Fernando Cavenaghi goal on 39 minutes netting Argentina their third World Cup trophy. 

 

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Pre-Season to September 2006
In transfer news, I gained Ashley Cole and Vincent Kompany as new signings. Going out the door were Santiago Solari, Jonathan Woodgate (in part exchange for Cole) and Albert Celades. 

We started this stretch of games with the Spanish Super Cup against Copa del Rey winners Valencia. 

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Well I'll give Valencia some credit. Until we went 2-1 up in the first leg this was a difficult tie and they looked like they might even win it. Sadly for them once we took that advantage we kind of romped home to seal another title. 

La Liga

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We started our League campaign with a very comfortable win against a poor Sociedad side who really didn't turn up. Once we got the first goal the floodgates opened and we romped home. 

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Sevilla proved a decent opponent in our second game but, to be honest, we always looked like we'd take the points. Beckham and Ronaldo the two goalscorers. 

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Osasuna did not play anywhere near as well as Sevilla did but almost managed to sneak some undeserved points against us. Fortunately van der Vaart equalised and Ronaldo scored from a corner to gain another win. Sneijder added a consolation in injury time. 

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So overall a good month in La Liga. We are one of only four teams with perfect records alongside Levante, Valencia and Barcelona. 

In managerial news, Benito Floro left Mallorca shortly before the season started and was replaced by Cadiz's Marcos. Cadiz are still managerless. 

Champions' League

I drew a group of Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool. I think we've gone beyond a Group of Death there. Maybe the Group of Being Armed with a Twig while Being Chased by a Pack of Hungry Lions. I mean like seriously? There's a group of Bochum, Parma, Wisla and Red Star somewhere in this tournament. 

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I'm gonna be honest we were actually a little lucky to win here. Ronaldo went on a run past a few Bayern defenders to open the scoring and Fernando Morientes took advantage of a Christian Chivu error to double the lead. Bayern looked dangerous on the break but didn't do enough to take the points. 

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This on the other hand was an exceptional counter-attacking performance as we tore Milan to shreds multiple times on the break and sealed a surprisingly comfortable win. 

1. Real Madrid- 6
2. Liverpool- 6
3. AC Milan- 0
4. Bayern Munich- 0

Looks like it'll be us and Liverpool progressing so far but, in this group, I'm not gonna take anything for granted until things are finished. 

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October 2006
La Liga
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We started the month with the season's first Classico and once again we had our way with Barcelona when they went to the Bernabeu. To be fair they actually managed to make a game of it for an hour this year which I believe is the best they've actually done in the save. But it was comfortable for us, particularly when Morientes added a couple of goals off the bench. 

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We then went to a Levante side who had started the season pretty well. Fortunately Ronaldo was in the mood and we tore them to shreds. 

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I sent out my reserves for this one and Guti came into the side to bag a couple of goals in a 3-0 win. This one was over before half-time. 

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We then travelled to Gijon who are pretty poor. And Ronaldo did what Ronaldo tends to do against poor teams. 

Champions' League
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We then travelled to New Anfield to face Liverpool. And we continued our bad record against as Djibril Cisse became Messi for 90 minutes. Chris Kirkland also seems to become weirdly good whenever we play them. 

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Well we were superior for pretty much the whole match. But once again Kirkland was amazing and Cisse turned into Messi so we dropped two points. Liverpool are becoming a bit of a bogey team. 

1. Liverpool- 10
2. Real Madrid- 7
3. AC Milan- 6
4. Bayern Munich- 0

This is gonna get tricky... 

Copa del Rey
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Our Copa del Rey campaign started as we swatted aside Eibar in the First Round as we tend to do against inferior opposition. 

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I love a good nostalgia save. Great to see some legendary names. 

Nice job

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22 minutes ago, kidthekid said:

I love a good nostalgia save. Great to see some legendary names. 

Nice job

Thanks, I appreciate the following. Yeah I'll admit that a big part of the reason why I picked Madrid was simply because of the legendary names I either had already or could bring in.

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November 2006
La Liga
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We started the month with a home win against Malaga that was the definition of routine due to a pair of Ronaldo goals. 

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This,,, was a deeply frustrating game. We battered Santander and really should have won this one by a few goals. But we didn't take our chances and they scored with their only chance all game to snatch a point. 

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Casillas was abysmal here and may have cost us a point. He really should have saved both of their goals. I'll give Betis some credit though, they were defensively excellent all match. 

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Ronaldo did his thing and we took three points away from Galicia. 

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To be honest not our best month in La Liga and we actually fall behind Barca who have won every game except for the Classico so far. The title race is pretty much down to the two of us already. 

Elsewhere in the table, Betis, Atleti and Valencia look like the main challengers for a top 4 spot while the bottom three look to be in a significant amount of trouble already. Still very early in the season though. 

Benito Floro also came in as Cadiz manager last month but I forgot to mention it in my last update. 

Champions' League

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Bayern played their reserves and we largely proved to be too good for them in a comfortable victory. The other result was also important as Liverpool beat Milan 3-2 at the San Siro which ensures that I will be progressing but also ensures a second place finish. As long as we don't get Arsenal in the next round I'll probably be able to manage but it's still a little bit frustrating. 

1. Liverpool- 13
2. Real Madrid- 10
3. AC Milan- 6
4. Bayern Munich- 0

Copa del Rey

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We had a fairly routine win against Gimnastic in the Copa del Rey. Universidad Las Palmas are our next opponents. 

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December 2006
La Liga
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We started the month with a frustrating draw against Atletico. If my forwards had been in the mood we could have won about 3 games with the number of chances we created but it was not to be. 

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We then went to San Mames and thrashed Bilbao. Walter Samuel scored two early goals and the floodgates opened from there as we produced one of those performances where we look unstoppable. 

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Espanyol are a pretty poor side and our forwards had a bit of a field day against them here. A bit irritated that we didn't keep a clean sheet but such is life. 

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I'm not too disappointed with a point at the Mestalla and to be honest we didn't do enough to win the game. Valencia played well and could even have won after Olic scored before van der Vaart netted a late leveller to rescue a potentially useful point. 

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We finished the month with a fairly routine win against a declining Deportivo side. Raul and Morientes were the goalscorers. 

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At the end of the month things are pretty close between us and Barca. This title race will definitely be decided in the next few months. 

The Champions League battle still has Atleti, Betis and Valencia as the main contenders but Villarreal and Malaga are also lurking with intent just outside the top 4. 

Relegation looks like it will be between the bottom six currently but Mallorca and Sporting Gijon already look like they could be in serious trouble. 

In other news, Javier Aguirre was sacked as Osasuna manager this month. 

Champions' League
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We finished the group with a comfortable win over Milan in a game that ended up being pretty meaningless. 

1. Liverpool- 16
2. Real Madrid- 13
3. AC Milan- 6
4. Bayern Munich- 0

We face Bayer Leverkusen in the next round which is not a bad draw considering that we finished second in our group. 

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January 2007
La Liga
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We started the month with a trip to a struggling Zaragoza side that proved to be fairly fruitful. They gave us a decent game for an hour but when Morientes put us in front it was game over for them and we secured the points. 

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Our trip to Villarreal was nowhere near as routine as the scoreline may suggest. Villarreal were definitely in this game until Beckham put us 2-0 up and then Sneijder added a third to add some gloss to the scoreline. 

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We ended the month with a frustrating game at Sevilla where we created enough chances to take the three points and their goal came a little bit out of nowhere. Oh well, it happens. 

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If we win our game in hand we overtake Barca! But then again our next game is at the Nou Camp so we could easily lose our recently gained advantage if we lose there. Valencia look like a good bet for top 4 and a battle may well develop between Atleti and Betis for that final spot. 

At the bottom, Mallorca and Sporting Gijon look doomed. Currently it looks like it may well come down to a battle between Celta Vigo and a Levante side who have been in awful form for the final relegation place. 

This month also saw a lot of managerial changes. Luis Sanchez Duque was appointed at Osasuna. Fernando Vazquez was sacked by Celta and replaced by Emilio Ferrera and Victor Munoz was sacked by struggling Zaragoza. 

Copa del Rey

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Our games in the Copa this month started with a tie against Universidad Las Palmas which was the definition of routine. 

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Atletico, predictably, proved to be far more challenging opponents. To their credit they were actually set to go through until Sneijder put us 3-2 up early in the second half. From there we successfully romped to three points. 

In other news, I made a couple of sales this month, with Ivan Helguera leaving for Valencia for 6.5 Million and Raul leaving to Milan in exchange for 25.5 Million along with Andrea Pirlo and a young winger called Federico Piazza. I wasn't planning to sell Raul but I felt like that was too good a deal to turn down for a 29 year old who is very much a backup player for me. Plus adding Pirlo in allows me to add another name to the save. 

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February, March and April 2007

A slightly longer update from me today as I've had time to play the game but have not had time to write an update over the last couple of days. 

La Liga
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We started this run of games with the second Classico of the season which proved to be a deeply frustrating game as we probably deserved to at least get a point. Sadly Barca won though to open up a lead at the top of La Liga. 

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We then travelled to Mallorca, a ground which has been a major bogey ground for me so far in this save considering that I still haven't won there. And predictably this was another defeat there. 

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We then hosted Cadiz in a game which proved to be fairly routine and uneventful as we always looked like we'd take the three points. 

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We then hosted Levante. Due to fixture congestion I decided to rest some people before this one. I swiftly regretted that decision as we failed to break down a struggling Levante team and dropped two crucial points. 

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We then hosted Sporting Gijon, who really are completely useless. The victory was as routine as you would have expected it to be. 

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This was possibly the most frustrating game we've played all season. We dominated this game and Sociedad had one shot on target all game, which was a 35 yard free kick from Arteta. Naturally it went in and we dropped two more points. 

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We then produced a good performance in order to net a good win at Malaga, van Bommel and van der Vaart providing the goals. 

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Celta then travelled to the Bernabeu and the resulting win was nice and routine. 

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Osasuna them came to the Bernabeu. Unfortunately for them, Ronaldo was in the mood for goals. To be precise, he was in the mood to score 6 goals. Osasuna went back to Pamplona with their tail between their legs. 

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Ronaldo came to Santander. Ronaldo scored a hat-trick. Three points went back to the Bernabeu. 

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Betis came to the Bernabeu and played well. Ronaldo was also injured for this one ensuring that this was a hard fought win, van Bommel and Gerrard being the two goalscorers. 

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Bilbao came. Bilbao were conquered. Three points stayed at the Bernabeu. 

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Ronaldo was Ronaldo. We slaughtered Espanyol as a result. Morientes also came off the bench to add his obligatory goal. 

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This was another frustrating game. Valencia had two shots on target, both of which went in while we created numerous chances but didn't finish them and dropped two more points as a result of that. 

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Sadly it looks like Barca are probably gonna win La Liga this season, a 7 point gap may be unassailable at this point in the season. 

The CL race looks more interesting with Valencia, Villarreal, Sociedad, Atleti and Betis all still serious contenders for a CL place next season. 

Sporting Gijon are down and Mallorca look set to join them. Osasuna currently occupy the last relegation place and will be looking to overtake either Levante or Celta Vigo to secure another season in La Liga. 

In other news, Victor Fernandez took charge of Zaragoza. Claudio Ranieri was sacked by Valencia and replaced by Cruz. Michael Laudrup was sacked by Sevilla and replaced by Enrique Estebaranz. 

Champions' League
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We started with a comfortable win over Leverkusen at the Bernabeu. Sneijder put us in front before Walter Samuel scored from a corner to double that advantage. 

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When Franca gave Leverkusen an early lead, I was concerned that they may launch a comeback. Fortunately the comeback never materialised and the game kind of petered out after Leverkusen received two red cards. 

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Alright I complain a lot about dropping points in games which I have dominated where the opposition gets a lucky goal and snatches a draw or a win when it's undeserved. Well here I have to acknowledge that Juve should have put this tie to bed in the first 80 minutes of this match. They battered us. Admittedly I had 4 or 5 players who were either injured or tired but still. Two Olivera goals were the least that they deserved. But then something happened. Morientes found himself through on goal on 80 minutes. He scored what was our first chance all match. Then we won a corner. The ball came in and bobbled around the box a bit before Wesley Sneijder prodded the ball over the line to snatch a completely undeserved draw. 

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An early Ronaldo goal put us at ease in the home leg. From there we recorded a fairly comfortable and routine win. 

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So we faced Arsenal in the semi-final and... honestly I have no idea how to describe this game. Ronaldo's performance was simply sensational. I don't know how many of you guys have seen the goal but it was like that famous Ronaldo goal where he beats 3 or 4 opposition players before scoring happening 4 times in the same match. The Arsenal defence just could not handle him. To Arsenal's credit they kept coming at us and scored 5 goals themselves, including a come back from 5-3 down in the last 10 minutes with goals from corners from Sol Campbell and Edu. But this was Ronaldo's night. Honestly the best performance I have ever seen from an individual player either in RL or on FM. 

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We then slaughtered them in the second leg. To be fair the game really ended when Lehmann had to take Ronaldo out in the box (after Ronaldo went on another run deep into Arsenal territory). He got a red card and, although the initial penalty was saved, van der Vaart converted the rebound and the tie was over from there. We face Inter Milan in the Final. 

Copa del Rey
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We're still very much in the tie against Valencia in the semi-final of the Copa del Rey. Annoyingly though we were 2-1 up at half-time and couldn't see it out for a win or a draw. Still a late penalty from Ronaldo keeps the tie very much in the balance. 

 

 

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May 2007
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We started the month with a surprisingly comfortable win at a poor Deportivo side. Every time we broke on them we looked like we could score and they completely failed to deal with our attack all game. 

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We then moved onto a very comfortable win against Zaragoza. To be fair they proved to be stubborn opposition for 70 minutes before Ronaldo added a second and the game went away from them. 

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We then proceeded to have one of those frustrating games where we create loads of chances but fail to finish them off. This result pretty much gave Barca the title as it put us 4 points behind them with 2 games left. 

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We then lost to Cadiz in a game where I played my reserves in preparation for the CL final in midweek. Cadiz are better in the game than you would expect them to be so playing my reserves was always likely to prove dodgy. 

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We ended the season with a tame, meaningless 0-0 draw against Villarreal. Not really much to say about this one. 

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So, overall, Barca took the title (Boo!). The top 4 race was eventually won by Valencia and Villarreal and Osasuna failed to catch their rivals to survive. They go down along with Mallorca and Sporting Gijon. 

Champions' League
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We won the Champions' League! 

Overall this was a surprisingly comfortable final. Nicolas Burdisso conceded the penalty from which Sneijder converted. Ronaldo then did what he does best and doubled the lead before Sneijder added a third just after half-time. Adriano pulled one back but Inter were never really in this game and never looked like taking the trophy. Ironically this makes it the third year in a row in which a Milan club lost the CL final. It also means that we will be moving to FM06 after my end of season update. 

Copa del Rey
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We overturned the deficit in the Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia. Bernardo Corradi gave them an early lead but we turned the game on its head with two goals just after half-time from Fernando Morientes and Andrea Pirlo. Guti added a late third to send us through to a final against Barcelona. 

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The final against Barcelona turned out to be an excellent game of football. Albert Luque put them in front in the 1st minute before Roberto Carlos equalised. Van Bronckhorst then put them back in front before two Ronaldo goals in 10 minutes put us in front. Walter Samuel finished the game off with a goal from a corner. 

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End of Season 2006-07
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In Group A, French champions Monaco once again failed to reach the last 16, as they fell to reigning champions Juventus and Fenerbahce. Group B was the Group of Death and we went through along with Liverpool. Valencia were knocked out after losing both games against PSV, allowing them to progress along with Bayer Leverkusen. Arsenal and Anderlecht comfortably saw off Benfica and Celtic. Betis couldn't quite get past CSKA Moscow as Chelsea topped Group E. In the easiest CL group ever, Parma progressed along with Wisla Krakow. Ajax were knocked out again, this time by Lyon and Barcelona while Inter Milan and St. Etienne were considerably better than Kobenhavn and Club Brugge. 

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The Last 16 didn't see many upsets. PSV knocking out Liverpool was a surprise as was St. Etienne's victory over Chelsea. Parma were another surprise quarter-finalist after beating Lyon. Juve, Inter Milan, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Barcelona all saw off weaker opposition relatively comfortably. 

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The tie of the round saw us knock out Juve as a comfortable win at the Bernabeu followed an undeserved draw in Turin. The other ties were fairly straightforward as Arsenal, Inter and Barca saw off PSV, St. Etienne and Parma respectively. 

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The semi-finals were both excellent ties. Our tie against Arsenal was a goalfest which was described in detail above while Inter got revenge on Barca for knocking them out of the CL last season by winning both legs of their tie here. 

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The final proved to be a surprisingly comfortable win for Real Madrid as we secured our tenth CL crown. 

AC Milan beat Manchester United 1-0 in the UEFA Cup as they finally managed to win a European final after losing successive CL finals. 

Premier League
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Manchester United secured the Premier League title in their first season under Hector Cuper. In a close title race, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal completed the top 4. Middlesbrough rebounded from a dreadful League campaign in 2005-06 by finishing 5th. At the other end of the table, Wigan and QPR were out of their depth while Sunderland lost a three way battle with Leeds and Bolton for survival. They would have been replaced by Sheffield United, Brighton and Birmingham City if we were to continue with FM05 for another season. 

Coventry City, Championship strugglers, stunned everyone by beating Premier League champions Manchester United 2-1 in the FA Cup final while United did manage to win the League Cup after a 2-1 win over Charlton. 

Ligue 1
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Monaco secured their third successive Ligue 1 title. PSG and Marseille took the other CL places. At the other end of the table, Ajaccio, Strasbourg and Istres went down to be replaced by Sedan, Angers and Nancy. Lyon had a notably poor season, only finishing 7th and missing out on CL football. 

Bundesliga
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After nearly getting relegated last season, Werder Bremen completely turned things around to secure the Bundesliga title as Bayern once again failed to take the title. Koln were the season's main surprise packages, finishing 3rd and claiming a CL place. Hamburg had a dreadful season but avoided relegation as Kaiserslautern, Duisburg and Hannover fell through the trap door to be replaced by Cottbus, Wolfsburg and 1860 Munich. 

Serie A
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AC Milan won Serie A after a close title battle where only two points separated the top 4. Sampdoria proved to be a surprise package, finishing fourth to qualify for the CL. At the other end of the table, Messina, Ascoli and Udinese went down to be replaced by Bologna, Chievo and Siena. 

Liga Segunda
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If the game had continued for another season, the three teams promoted to La Liga would have been Alaves, Real Valladolid and Tenerife. 

So that completes the FM05 portion of the game and we'll move onto FM06 shortly, possibly tonight and maybe tomorrow. I'm looking forward to continuing to routinely defeating Barcelona for however long this save goes on for. 

 

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Hey guys, good news is I have FM 06 installed and ready to go but I’m away this week so will resume then.

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52 minutes ago, sjg11 said:

Hey guys, good news is I have FM 06 installed and ready to go but I’m away this week so will resume then.

How did you do it?  This thread made me want a retro save and I've tried FM05, 07, 08 and 09 on my PC and none of them will install properly!  I think 05 installed but then wouldn't open when I tried to play it! 

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2 hours ago, dap1987 said:

How did you do it?  This thread made me want a retro save and I've tried FM05, 07, 08 and 09 on my PC and none of them will install properly!  I think 05 installed but then wouldn't open when I tried to play it! 

Have you tried running 05 as an administrator? Also surprised there are issues with 09, once the games run on Steam I don’t usually have an issue with them...

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9 hours ago, dap1987 said:

How did you do it?  This thread made me want a retro save and I've tried FM05, 07, 08 and 09 on my PC and none of them will install properly!  I think 05 installed but then wouldn't open when I tried to play it! 

I second this. It broke my heart not to be able to play FM05 again. I loved the end to end madness. Also having Henrik Larsson at Barcelona.

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17 hours ago, sjg11 said:

Have you tried running 05 as an administrator? Also surprised there are issues with 09, once the games run on Steam I don’t usually have an issue with them...

Yeah I tried everything with 05, I even downloaded the patches because it said you had to and installed them ... i got quite excited when it installed ok and then when I tried to open the game ... nothing :( 

 

I expected 09 to work too, even from the disc but it didn't 

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There is something else you can try with 05 but I bookmarked the details on my home computer and I’m abroad right now. I’ll put the details up here when I get back to England. 

05 is definitely different to modern FMs. I love the end to end madness, trying to play possession football in 05 is largely pointless. That and the ridiculous number of goals from set pieces. Walter Samuel was a very reliable source of goals for me on 05. 

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4 hours ago, sjg11 said:

There is something else you can try with 05 but I bookmarked the details on my home computer and I’m abroad right now. I’ll put the details up here when I get back to England. 

05 is definitely different to modern FMs. I love the end to end madness, trying to play possession football in 05 is largely pointless. That and the ridiculous number of goals from set pieces. Walter Samuel was a very reliable source of goals for me on 05. 

Keep us posted. It would be Christmas come early if I could play 2005.

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Good news, managed to find a bit of time this afternoon this afternoon and look at the problem and I have found the solution I used. 

The issue is that this solution will only work if you're not using Windows 10. 

Effectively a lot of games in the mid-00s used a programme called SafeDisc. Windows deemed that this programme was unsafe so they blocked it in 2015. The good news is that if you're using Windows Vista/7/8 you can try the solution mentioned below: (or just delete Update KB3086255 as I did. I would not necessarily recommend deleting updates as a general rule but I did it on my desktop and old games now run and it still works BUT I cannot guarantee the same result on other computers). 

https://www.pcworld.com/article/2985806/windows-vista-7-8-update-prevents-some-old-cd-rom-games-from-running.html

The above will work if you can install the game but can't play it on an older operating system. This is normally the thing where you click on the icon on your desktop and nothing happens. 

If you have Windows 10 the bigger issue you will have is that the programme is embedded into the operating system rather than simply being an update. There are some possible solutions if you have Windows 10 mentioned at the bottom of the above article but I do not believe that an updated version of the mid-00s FMs without SafeDisc exists as that is what you would need for it to be compatible with Windows 10. There is another solution mentioned but I have NO idea how to do it so someone else with more technical expertise would have to figure it out. 

As for games not installing, something which I sometimes finds works is to open Setup manually. Just go on "This PC//This Computer". Then right click on the icon of the game there and open the Program Files. There should be a way to open the installer manually there and that often works to kickstart and older game. 

So... yeah by all means try that as it worked for me. 

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FM 2006 Overview

Alright time to move onto FM2006 then. 

In real life, 2005-06 was a troubled season for Real Madrid. They finished the season in 2nd place behind Rijkaard's Barcelona but they only finished two points above fifth-placed Sevilla and they could have lost their CL spot that season. They were knocked out in the last 16 of the CL by Arsenal and Zaragoza knocked them out of the Copa del Rey in the semi-finals. Wanderley Luxemburgo started the season as Madrid manager but was replaced mid-season by Juan Ramon Lopez Caro. The database I'm using has Lopez Caro in charge so he's who my profile is based off. 

Here's the squad I'll be using this season:

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So... overall our squad... has gotten substantially worse from FM05. Casillas in goal is fine and Diego Lopez is an improvement on Cesar as a backup. 

My defence has been weakened through losing Walter Samuel and Jonny Woodgate's long-term injury. Roberto Carlos and Salgado will be my starting full-backs with Sergio Ramos and Ivan Helguera as the CBs. Woodgate may come in for Ramos when he's fit. Cicinho is a good backup for Salgado while Raul Bravo should prove a competent back-up for Roberto Carlos. Francisco Pavon is also there to play CB if I have an injury crisis. 

My midfield... is worse. I've lost Figo and Albert Celades and gained Antonio Cassano, Thomas Gravesen and Julio Baptista. Figo was my best AM on the wings at the start of the last save and, honestly, I think that this squad needs a narrow midfield. Beckham can't really play as a RAM and I have no LM for a flat 4 in midfield. Gravesen is also my only DM and I am... unconvinced about his ability to be a key player for my squad. Moreover, I have no real depth in midfield and I only have a transfer budget of £700,000 so I have no real way of bringing in enough depth to shore up that section of the pitch. 

My forwards are Ronaldo, Raul and Robinho with Cassano and Baptista also able to play there. Overall, Morientes is massively overrated on FM05 and I've also lost Owen so I think I'm also weaker here. At least to begin with I'm going to try to play with 2 strikers and see what happens. 

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So... tactics. I TRY to stay trueish to what a team played in real life (unless I think their starting formation is really, really stupid). Madrid at the time played with 2 strikers and 4-4-2 is listed as Juan Ramon Lopez Caro's default formation in the game. But... I don't have a LM and I'm not gonna be able to bring someone in who is up to Madrid standards with my transfer budget. So I think a 4-3-1-2 stays trueish to Madrid of the period without forcing me to play lots of people out of position. I may well switch it to either a diamond or a narrow 4-2-3-1 (I DO have some decent CAMs in my squad, probably the main area of improvement from last year) if I need to as winning games takes priority over flavour for me but we'll see how it goes. 

As for my Team Instructions, I think they're fairly self-explanatory. My strategy tends to be press high and fairly aggressively at a quick tempo while moving the ball forward fairly quickly and moving players forward fairly quickly. Again I'm unconvinced by this squad so I may play more conservatively, particularly away from home. But at least to begin with this seems sensible.

I'll return with an Update once I've gotten a few games under my belt. I'll admit that I'm not that positive about the upcoming season, this was the peak of Rijkaard's Barca and it was the nadir for Perez's first spell at Madrid. I imagine this will be reflected in the game and I would honestly be delighted if I won La Liga this season. The CL seems a LONG way away right now. 

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August and September 2005
La Liga

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We started our season with a really poor performance against Deportivo. They were good value for the win as we failed to build on an early goal from David Beckham. 

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This was a fairly routine win over Alaves as we dominated, took the lead through a Zidane goal and then held on after a red card for Michel Salgado. 

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This... was a deeply frustrating one. Robinho put us in front before Ewerthon equalised with a goal out of nowhere. They then had two players sent off but we couldn't find a winner. A red card for Cicinho did not help our cause. 

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This win against Sociedad was pretty routine, particularly after Julio Baptista put us in front. Cassano then doubled the lead to make things comfortable. 

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We then gained a magnificant win in the save's first Classico. Baptista and Raul produced the early goals to give us a 2-0 lead before a pair of defensive errors allowed Barca back into the match. Fortunately, Zidane then produced a magnificent win to secure three priceless points at the Nou Camp. 

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So... not a terrible table for us so far. We are 5 points behind Valencia but they'll fade at some point in the season. The important thing is that Barca have had a terrible start to the season and we're 5 points above them. Too early for seeing who the main challengers and lemmings are going to be at this point. 

Champions' League
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We produced an excellent performance at home against Udinese in what was a routine win. We were 3 goals up after 20 minutes and things were extremely comfortable from there. 

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This was an annoying one as Matt Moussilou scored a screamer with their only shot on target and we then failed to break Lille down for the remainder of the match. 

1. Lille- 4
2. Real Madrid- 3
3. Porto- 2
4. Udinese- 1

Still, draws in the other two games in the Group mean that we are still in a good position to qualify for the next round despite that defeat in France. 

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In other news I've made some small tactical amendments during the month. Firstly, I've switched tackling down to Easy as this game seems to produce a lot of red cards. Secondly, I play in a less Attacking style away from home after some irritating early away results. 

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