Welcome back! Season 2 of the “no purchase” challenge with Newcastle, where I’m putting an emphasis on bringing youth players through to try and support Shearer and co. After winning the FA Cup in season 1, you would be forgiven for thinking it would be all downhill from there, but surprisingly it’s been above average. That said, it’s barely October, so still plenty of time for disaster to strike.
Derby at home is a nice gentle start.
After we ruthlessly dismantled Portadown in the first round, Dinamo Moscow is an all together tougher draw. The fixture is played on a Thursday with a trip to Old Trafford in the offing two days later, so some squad rotation is needed.
Chris Woodcock is coming on nicely. His late intervention puts us is a strong position ahead of the trip to Moscow.
Old Trafford and I’m getting a little bit sick of Paul Scholes. What a nuisance.
Gudjonsson’s record at Old Trafford is obscene.
The League Cup gives us a tie against Leeds who knocked us out in the semi finals last season. They’re flying high in 2nd with John Hartson doing the business for George Graham, though what “the business” is will later be debated in court.
Bottom line is we thrash the tits off them. Revenge!
Aaron Hughes becomes the latest youngster to make his mark.
Blackburn are also dismantled. We’re cooking on gas at the moment.
Even in Russia when I take another risk by playing a shadow side and Woodcock adds two more. He’s only 18 but he’s already a hated man in Russia.
Who is Chris Woodcock? His stats are sensational, even if he can’t pass or run but my can he head. Also, set pieces? Who is this guy?
There’s an interview with him here but if that’s not your style, here’s a picture of him. The least footballer looking man of all time:
So this was an eye opener. Let’s get back to 1998 quickly. It’ll be Sporting Lisbon in the quarter finals but that won’t happen until March.
Anfield is our next reward and bloody hell we’re 2-0 up. Bloody hell it finishes 2-2. Nuisance Paul Ince equalises with the last kick of the game. I would have liked those points.
That seems to mess with us a little bit and after the International break we host top of the table Tottenham. Despite taking an early lead we concede to Gary Mabbutt and Nicola Berti. Incidentally if you are at a loose end find the episode of the Quickly Kevin podcast with James Richardson and just listen to him say Nicola Berti. Sensational.
Chelsea have sacked Gianluca Vialli and his replace is Roy Hodgson. Shearer piles on the misery.
December arrives and our daily tiny chocolates power us to a mighty 1-0 success against Bristol Rovers in the League Cup. Gudjonsson is once again the brightest of a young team and a win is a win.
The last 8 draw could have been worse. We’ll re-visit this later in the update.
We’re going through a bit of a spell where goals are hard to come by. Kevin Pressman is having the game of his life but the boy Woodcock climbs off the bench to finally down 10 man Wednesday. Hinchcliffe dismissed for terrible banter with Daniel Mann followed by some poor analysis where he somehow claimed Brighton were the better team.
Highfield Road is a much missed stadium, fair to say things haven’t really gone to plan for Coventry since leave it behind. Gillespie and Speed make sure we take 3 points from them in a dress rehearsal for the quarter final.
Southampton away though has always been a disaster. The Dell. I hate the Dell. We’re ahead, we’re behind, we’re level for a minute, we’re grateful to Big Al getting us level late on. It’s 2 points dropped.
That leads us into Christmas where Kestbaia offers to host our Christmas do. Everybody gets the shits – mostly defenders, for some reason, which gives us a selection headache.
Luckily West Ham are the visitors and they are poor at best.
We’ll finish with two cup games. 1999 dawns with a tricky trip to Millwall. Woody thrives in tricky situations.
It’s Spurs away in Round 4 which is a terrible draw for us. Spurs are 2nd and flying so I’m not looking forward to that.
The League Cup quarter final with Coventry ends up being a frustrating affair until Speed finally breaks the deadlock. Darren Peacock looks to have sealed our passage but former Magpie Darren Huckerby makes us sweat.
As ever we get the hardest available draw. We’ll fancy beating anybody over two legs.
Just a sneak peak at how the squad is developing. A lot of the young lads are starting to come to fruition. Pinas is thriving. Hamilton and Watson are wanted by Man Utd and Steve Howey is wanted by Arsenal despite never playing. Albert is interesting Ajax and I have sold Rob Lee to Derby. That man deserves to play.
We’re 7 points off the top but it’s looking like a bit of a 5 horse race.
When we resume next week we face a trip to Sunderland for the derby and then we welcome Leeds to SJP for a match we really need to win. You won’t want to miss that so I’ll see you next Wednesday for more of the same. Bye for now!