CM9798 Academy – Part 21: A change is as good as a rest

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope 2019 is full of great things for you all.

Here in 2004, things are a bit tetchy down the Academy. We’re struggling to make much of an impression on the Premier League and find ourselves down in 16th. I keep telling myself the team can only get better but the reality is, they will probably leave when that happens. Nevertheless, let’s see how we get on.

Here’s where we re-join the action:

prem bottom S7 Nov

Our trips to West Ham have rarely ended well and sure enough, Eyal Berkovic has us under the cosh after just 6 minutes. It’s 3-0 just after half time and a real rout is on the cards but McBride pulls one back and fortunately it gets no worse.

3-1 west ham

The International break should at least let us get sorted out but all it does is give Gifton Noel-Williams the chance to score his 40th and 41st goals against us. That might be an exaggeration but I feel like he gets at least 3 a season.

2-1 man city

New blood is needed. Caccavale arrives on the premise that he is quick and can pass but weak as a kitten i.e. the polar opposite of the other defenders I have.


Sal Asaba is just another right back. I only have one so this seems prudent.


Back to the action and Everton away looks like going the same way as so many other games when we’re 1-0 down. Dan Eggen though handballs in the box and as he disappears down the tunnel Jimmy Fran puts away the spot kick and Billing takes the points. That’s more like it.

Everton 1-2

The League Cup at this stage is even more pointless than ever. There’s no reward for winning it and despite Jimmy Fran’s best efforts, I won’t lose any sleep over our exit. Alexander will be a miss though.

3-2 arsenal

Billing is finding his goal touch at last and his double against Palace is wonderful news. Chesney Hawkes does pull one back with their one and only shot on goal but it’s still a win. Phew.

2-1 palace

Sheff Utd away is really one of our worst fixtures. Steffen Iversen always scores and today is no different. It’s a sad loss where we barely register a shot.

sheff utd 2-0

Boxing Day though is the worst of the worst. A 4-0 hammering. I just don’t know what to do.

4-0 spurs

Gulp. Into the bottom three we go to end the year. Liverpool are doing well.

PL Bottom new year

Boro might be in the First Division but they’ll doubtless give us a problem in the FA Cup. Colomba’s early goal is welcomed and we are doing more than hanging on but they get the equaliser and we’re thankful to be in the hat for round 4.

1-1 boro Fa

Derby at home looks a fairly even game in terms of the table but it’s another nightmare. Carr-Lawton, who starts at Burnley and has an England cap, sees us off in style.

Derby 1-3

Change is needed. Not in the dugout, no. The defence is just too weak for this formation. The other formation which did well in the testing was 4-2-3-1. We have the players for it, I think, and really it can’t be any worse. Can it?

formation change

It’s the FA Cup replay so a good time to test it. McBride, for one, absolutely loves it. Boro are brushed aside.

5-1 boro

Newcastle away is another graveyard for our results and to be 2-0 down inside 8 minutes really sums us up. Formation change or not, this was bad. It finishes 3-1.

3-1 toon

Liverpool in the FA Cup and Billing, who seems to have really benefited from the change, opens the scoring but Perry gets sent off. Idiot. Liverpool soon level and lead just before half time. Billing hauls us level but Fowler looks to deal us the knock out blow. Billing completes a hat-trick to take us to Anfield in the replay. Liverpool, winless at domestic league level, continue to amaze.

3-3 FA Cup

Oh look, great success for one of our graduates. Off he goes to Inter Milan to supply Ronaldo.

Falco to Inter

Back to our ridiculous situation and January is rounded off with the visit of Bolton. We’re 1-0 down and just as I’m starting to wonder if this was all a bad idea, Gazza junior turns up with a fishing rod and some chicken. We’re soon level and we go on to win 3-1. Yeah!

3-1 bolton

The replay with Liverpool then and a tense game is 0-0 at half time but I remind the lads one of these days we have to get better and hell, win the FA Cup we could play in Europe then you’ll all get better offers. We win 4-0. Roy Evans, somehow, remains Liverpool manager.

4-0 liverpool

Derby away in round 5 is an awful draw.

Will that spur us to a win at Elland Road?

2-0 leeds

No. No it won’t.

Eep. Still in the bottom 3 with 14 games to go although it is goal difference keeping us below Lancashire duo Bolton and Blackburn. Liverpool are remarkably bad.

table 24 games

Scoring goals had always been our thing but even that seems to have stopped now. 29 is still more than most of the bottom half but the goals against will probably prove to be terminal to our chances of staying up. I’ve missed this.

It’s nice to be back but please do join me next week to see if we can escape this relegation fight with our top flight status intact. I had so many hopes of progressing this season I think we may actually be worse. Bye for now.

Remember to come back in the week as Andrew and Rob will be here with a new series each.


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