Greetings and welcome to the middle of three episodes of our latest short story. I’m investigating if Real Betis are good enough to win La Liga or if Oli, Alfonso, Jarni and co are just easy pickings for the big clubs. So far we’re doing ok – in the hunt for the top spot and safely through to the Cup Winners Cup quarters.
Up first in this episode is a tricky looking trip to Zaragoza. Thankfully our attacking unit is operating at capacity and despite a late wobble, it’s a hard fought win.
As an aside, you may recall Glenn Hoddle resigned after losing the playoff first leg to Scotland. Well on the eve of the second leg, England have appointed Scotland’s Kenny Dalglish. Brilliant.
Scotland win 1-0 and 4-0 on aggregate. Hoddle takes over at Newcastle.
We hold a lead over Celta so I’m happy to rest a few for the return match. Celta keep going to the end and equalise on the night but we’re still through where we’ll face Merida over two legs…
…who we actually play in the league, right now. It’s a tight affair but Alfonso gets the job done.
We’re keen to avoid an equally tense affair a week alter and three goals in 3 minutes give us a 3-0 win over Racing Santander. Stick to banking.
Celta at home next and it presents a second opportunity to make my Moulin Rouge gag. It’s less funny when both centre halves get sent off and we somehow score with 9 men. Celta should be ashamed. A bigger problem will be that both centre halves will sit out a game in a few weeks.
We are coming in to some great form though. Tenerife get what is known in Spain as a “full on twatting” including an Oli hat-trick. Momentum means a lot in football, apparently. Thanks to the International break, the two centre halves sat this one out but it made little difference.
Moulin also had to miss the cup game with Merida but a 1-1 draw is fine. We’ll take out chances of beating them at the Benito.
We’re irresistible at the moment though and Oli in particular is in the form of his life. His value is at £16.75m, which is pretty much as good as it gets.
Compostela are next and my good mood is ruined by Alfonso departing after just 9 minutes. Cuellar steps up to the plate and scores twice. Depth is a nice thing to have.
That brings us to the half way stage and we’re top of the pile, 5 points clear. This couldn’t be going any better.
Without Alfonso I am a little concerned for the 2nd leg of the cup game, especially when we are 1-0 down early on. Oli equalises though and once Merida are down to 10 it becomes a more routine evening and we’ll see Real Madrid in the semis.
Oviedo are next and even without Alfonso we still rack up another 4 goals. This is quite some run of form.
The ultimate test though is our trip to the Bernabeu without Alfonso. Cuellar stands in again and gives us an early lead befor Mijatovic levels. We aren’t overawed though and an entertaining game ebbs and flows but neither side can find a winner. We’ll take that!
Unfortunately being good means there’s a lot of interest in our stars. Cuellar, Oli, Fernandez and Solozabal are all subject to bids. All are rejected.
I would like some centre half cover though and despite our finances being described as poor I spend £1.1m on Henk Fraser of Feyenoord.
Espanyol dare to take the lead against us but soon get smashed to bit by an 11 minute onslaught. When we’re good, we’re very good.
Still our run goes on. Valencia away should be a tricky one but they can barely lay a glove on us.
Valladolid are next to feel our brute force. Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, Sean Devine scores twice.
Salamanca are more fodder for us to brush aside but losing Colding for 6 weeks is a potential problem. Finidi has to play right wing back and it just makes us more attacking.
Mallorca are our final league opponents of the update and a ridiculous game sees Nadj sent off after 1 minute. Oli misses a penalty after three minutes but then he goes on to score a hat-trick. Mallorca get 2 goals back but we hang on.
13 wins and a draw. That’s some going. Yet we’re still only 4 points ahead of Barcelona, who we will have to visit in the final update next week.
Unfortunately the final game of the update sees us fall to our first defeat since the 3rd game of the season as Vicenza come from behind to defeat us in the first leg. We’ll have a job on to turn that around but we’ve been strong at home.
It’s looking promising on this one, we fell short in the Kaiserslautern challenge but we’ve been unbelievable here and if we can avoid defeat against Barcelona then I’ll start to believe. Do join me next week to see if we can settle this discussion once and for all.
Catch up on the interview with Championship Manager legend Cherno Samba here