The Survival Challenge – Part 1

Well hello there. It’s been a couple of months since the Ajax save concluded and I’ve spent most of the last two months planning the 20 year anniversary of this great game, and it’s fair to say some ideas are better than others. But luckily it’s my site and there’s not much filter between bad ideas and what gets published. So, to my first brainwave of the summer.

Here’s what I did, you can feel free to also do this if you want to play along and send in how you get on.

  1. Create a new save. Any league(s)
  2. Add yourself as a manager of somebody like Doncaster. They always do terrible and start without a manager anyway. Or be Wales. They’re always on a hiding to nothing.
  3. Go on holiday. Either literally or in game.
  4. Wait until it gets to February-ish. Return from holiday
  5. Take over the team bottom of the Premier League/any league of your choice.
  6. Keep them up!

You’re basically in the lap of the gaming Gods as to how much of a challenge this will be, but I’ve loaded three leagues on the basis that at least one of the 11 divisions on offer will offer a team in distress.

So, where am I pitching up?

Table Feb 26th

12 games to make up a 10 point gap? Only 21 goals all season? Goodbye Steve McMahon, I’m in the dugout now.

What hav I got to work with?

Inherited Squad

Fraser Digby is a decent keeper, Mark Walters has an England cap and George Ndah will be a future Premier League player. He has 10 goals this season, but nobody else has more than 3. Finney, the other striker, has 2 in 36. You don’t have to be Dave Bassett to figure out where the problem lies.

I don’t have time to get anybody in before my first match, Oxford away. They’re 10th and perhaps more worryingly, it’s a fierce rivalry. Defeat here and the low confidence of these players could be absolutely shattered.

I’m opting for my trusty 5-3-2. It’s never done me wrong. Incidentally this screenshot was taken in minute 1, it wasn’t just a really average performance from everybody!

First game

Oxford batter us and take an early lead in the 9th minute through Nicky Banger. They don’t stop. Digby makes some top saves and the woodwork bails us out a few times. We’re short of centre halves (Culverhouse banned, MacDonald suspended) so we actually have two full backs in there with Seagraves. They are manful. Or lucky. We survived to half time for the loss of just one goal.

Shortly after the restart, we’re still getting pummelled, big Kevin Francis is having a field day so I decide attack is the best form of defence. Off comes Cuervo, Robinson becomes a centre half and Peter Holcroft trots on. 8 minutes later, we’ve equalised. A scrappy goal from a corner where (Justin) Lee Collins rams in the equaliser. Then it’s back to being battered, but the lads are strong, and we pinch a point.

1st game result

Undeserved? Yes. But it’s something to build on. The table remains bleak.

Still, now we have a week to dive into the transfer market. We have £100k to spend, which won’t help a great deal, but I’ve released some guy who is out of contract in 3 months and useless, so we have 3 spaces to fill. I’m very happy with business.

3 signings

Wicks is a top young centre half who will do more than a good job here. Clinton Morrison is very young but he’s got potential, whilst Graeme Tomlinson is a community favourite but I’m not sure if he’ll hit the ground running at this level. He’s dynamite in Division 3.

The man with the fixture computer has definitely read the narrative. It’s Norwich away next, and we go to Bradford in a few weeks.

before norwich away

For the trip to Carrow Road, which we really must not lose but ideally win, I have three better centre halves to call upon, and I opt for Tomlinson to partner Ndah with Morrison on the bench.

team vs norwich

It’s a minging game. Norwich must 3 shots, none of which are on target. We double that, but also without testing the keeper. Then a super sub arrives and unleashes one from 30 yards

Morrison winner vs Norwich

Carrow Road isn’t exactly packed out but those who have made the trip are rewarded with an injection of renewed hope. The great escape is on!

after norwich game

A 0-0 draw with 3rd placed Forest in my first game at the County Ground is a solid if unspectacular result. The defence has certainly stood in my games so far and we’ve just nicked goals on occasion. Here we are though, off to Valley Parade in another 6 pointer.

It’s a day Swindon fans will never forget

bradford 0 - 5 swindon

Paul Jewell’s Bradford have the proverbial nightmare and Tomlinson puts them to the sword. We were better in every area. The table looks a lot healthier already

after bradford

Tomlinson is out for 2 weeks and his absence is certainly felt at home to table toppers Wolves, a 1-0 defeat where we manage a solitary shot. Digby picks up man of the match for keeping it respectable. Crewe and Norwich both win, undoing our good work of recent weeks.

On the face of it a 1-1 draw at 8th placed Man City is a good result. However, when Norwich go to Wolves and win 3-1 and Crewe have taken 7 points in 3 games, that optimism is starting to fade away

after man city

With 7 points, probably more likely 8 with goal difference, to make up in just 6 games, things are looking bleak. Here’s our last 6 games:

last 6 games

Stoke and Reading are 16th and 15th respectively, so there are possibilities there. But Birmingham and Charlton are 4th and 5th, so they may well prove to be fruitless trips. Bury are 19th before we finish with playoff chasing Sheff Utd. I strong suspect we are, to coin a term, boned.

Join me next time to see if we can pull this one out the fire. Toodles for now!

Last week I spoke to CM9798 legend Bjorn Heidenstrom. Catch up with that here


6 thoughts on “The Survival Challenge – Part 1

  1. Good luck sir!

    Did you tried my tactic?

    I didn’t play the game for more then 5 years, but because of you, now I am it playing again.

    The game is slow on my computer, not sure if is possible to speed it up

    We should do a challenge 🙂

    Try again

  2. Nice to know 🙂

    I have a quiz for you about the game:

    1) What is the best player when you play only the English league is sometimes/always not in the game?

  3. Pingback: Saving Vale from Fail – Part 1 | CM 97/98

  4. Just tried this with the bottom club in Spanish 2nd division. Squad is terrible and missing players – took off holiday mode in Feb right in the middle of transfer embargo! Nightmare!

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