Hello! Season 8 is here and not only have the Academy got another season of Premier League football to look forward to, they will also play in Europe for the first time. This might be as good as it gets.
For such an occasion, we’ve added a massive 1348 new seats. There’s over £50m in the bank, we may as well spend it on something.
How do you ready a squad for a European campaign? Well…
As expected, Caccavale is out. The idea of a defender that could pass was a dream too far for us.
Alan Shearer junior is here. That can only help.
As is Duncan Ferguson, or Little Dunc as I will call him. Get it in the mixer.
I don’t know who Peter Putney is but he’s the Caccavale replacement. He’s right on the border of the upper age limit but that’s fine.
With Alexander banned for his red card towards the end of last season he actually partners Hool for the opening game, away at Leeds. We’re sticking with the 4-2-3-1 that we finished last season with.
We actually lead – twice – but have to settle for a draw. It’s the usual carnage fest as we lose Putney to injury, Heritage is dismissed in conceding a penalty and McBride picks up a three month injury in the act of giving us the lead. Where to start with that.
It is a good result though, you have to say. A home game with Everton is a good chance to build on that…or lose to a Dominic Matteo strike.
Hull away and this is more like it. A backs to the wall, ground out 1-0 win with Billing scoring. Lovely Gareth.
Bolton at home should be a good chance to get some momentum but it’s actually pathetic. Bolton dominate from start to finish and our injuries continue to mount up. Young Toby Hammond, in for the injured Guevara, departs early doors and you could drive a bus through our midfield. Former player Gerard Lyttle scores too. A bad day.
Yay we’re off to Innsbruck.
In the immediate future though it’s the less glamorous surroundings of Villa Park. Rojas, a Bolivian striker, has a field day with poor old Willi Serena in goal and even Shearer junior’s first goal for the club can’t improve my day.
He does look like securing us a point against Tottenham but then…urgh. Why do I bother?
Sheff Utd away is probably my least favourite fixture on the calendar based on our form there and with Iversen up front, another loss seems inevitable. Finney equalises and we’re on top but Iversen scores from 30 yards. A dagger through our fragile hearts.
Nevermind. We can forget all of that for our first ever European game. History has told me that the quality of opposition is poor at best so I can blood some of our young stars. They don’t disappoint, a 4-0 win for the kids giving us one foot in round 2.
It also means the first team are rested and ready for Man Utd’s visit. That went well.
Though not as well as our trip to Selhurst Park. When does drizzle become a downpour? Chesney Hawkes is at it again and when Norris from Coronation Street is also in on the act, we’re staring the bottom 3 in the face.
We do at least enjoy another win over Tirol Innsbruck. Little Dunc opens his account but the defence remains leaky at best.
Oh sweet lord send help.
Our league form is in tatters so I’m afraid it’s back to three centre backs and boring the opposition to death, hoping to steal a goal from somewhere.
It doesn’t really work out that way but little Dunc arrives from the bench to give us the lead. As usual we can’t hold on but he’s there again three minutes from time to bundle in a corner and give us a reasonable Saturday night for once.
As ever though, disaster is just around the corner. Signori re-gen is off to Perugia.
Naturally a 1-0 home loss follows.
The trip to Deportivo couldn’t come at a worse time but fundamentally this is a chance to blood the kids and give us a brighter tomorrow. That’s assuming they stay long enough to see tomorrow. The kids do well and Sal Asaba, the backup right back, equalises in the second half. Good work children.
McBride returns from his 3 month injury to give us the lead at Upton Park but that just seems to anger West Ham who go on to win with minimal fuss. SIGH.
Maybe the League Cup can provide us with some joy? It’s another youthful team which trails despite dominating and then leads until the closing minutes. As usual though there’s a twist and it’ll be extra time. We get the job done having had 30 shots on the Rochdale goal to their 9. Bloody hell.
Sunderland are our next visitors and with Hool banned I decide now is the time to go balls out the bath. Finney and Billing start and it’s back to 2-3-1-2-2 or whatever you want to call it. Alex Lawrie, who has been sensational this season and averages 7.92 despite being part of a defence that actively finds ways to concede goals, gives us the lead with a header from a free kick and when Shearer junior and Billing put us 3-0 up, it’s time to dance. They get one back but who cares? Clean sheets are overrated.
Hmm. I think I’ll have to find more game time for Adam Lukic. He’s been on loan until this season but if he’s getting in the Under 21 squad he must have something about him. Lawrie is in the full Scotland squad too, a fine reward for his progress.
Sadly that’s the only progress we’re seeing as we sit 18th after a third of the season. Man Utd are the real entertainers.
There’s the big game with Deportivo to come next and then it’s back to trying to find ways to stay in the league. The problem with re-gens is that they are very inconsistent so you’ve almost got to keep shuffling them around on a hunch and just hope for the best. Do I keep attacking and hope for the best? Or try and grind out the results? It’s a tough one as our goals against column is always pretty ugly so maybe we should just throw caution to the wind. I’ll have a think about that and I’ll see you here next Sunday for that Deportivo game and much more madness from the winter months.