Run Forest, Run – Part 4: Forest Stump

Matt is back in the future but still the past. Confused? Nottingham Forest are on the rise and that’s all that matters. Catch up with part 3 here

Hi, welcome back to the final part of Season 1 of my experiment to make Nottingham Forest great again by taking the managerial hotseat 8 seasons into the game. At the end of Part 3 we had been knocked out of the FA Cup, and seemingly my only remaining chance of silverware, but some good results and a tight league meant we were sitting at the top.

We re-join the action with the transfer deadline cut off looming and I still feel we need an extra bit of class and maturity to finish the season strongly so I make a cheeky bid for 32 year old Spanish maestro Julen Guerrero who is turning out for 2nd Division Sheffield Wednesday you may remember.

Before Julen can deliberate on my attractive offer, we overcome 19th placed Millwall 5-3 at The Den.

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Not sure where to start with this – a turgid first half but the game explodes in the second. With Lizarralde getting injured, I throw on young Scottish keeper Jim Coughlin, but it may as well have been Jim Leighton as this guy fumbles two crosses and Millwall are right back in it until Kaye and then Debbah secure the points.

Lizarralde is out for a month, so I think I should seek out an experienced keeper for the run in too.

The problem with simming 8 seasons into the future is that you struggle to notice decent players unless they are obvious regens such as George Weah or Japhet N’Doram so knowing who to trust is a tricky thing. Luckily, I see Antti Niemi on a free and offer him a chance.

After the international friendly break, some good news!

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This guy is, I think, a regenerated Dennis Bergkamp with a slightly amusing name

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I’m pleased to see neither are described as ‘former international’ so must be life in them yet.

Both go into the squad for the visit of Sunderland. The Black Cats did us 4-1 earlier in the season, but they’ve slipped to 16th in the table, so we smell blood and revenge.

Niemi starts in goal and I decide to rest Ascencio for Guerrero.

I’m not sure where to start with this match! 4 goals inside the first 10 minutes and interesting debuts for my new/old boys. Niemi concedes 4 goals, but gets an 8 rating, whereas Guerreo gets a 7 for scoring a goal, helps in setting up 2 goals, and gives away a penalty and gets booked.

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Wolves pick up the first silverware of the domestic season, Copacabana at the double to see off Gordon Milnes City.

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I make one more signing on deadline day, and I’m pretty sure this guy is the regen of Non-flying Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp, welcome to Nottingham Tw-Inge.

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Coincidentally, next up is Bergkamps former club, Arsenal, who lie in 4th in the table and who beat us 2-1 in the first meeting. Twinge is on the bench for this one.

It’s a poor result, and although Twinge comes on for the last 25 minutes and sets up a few chances, it’s a day in North London to forget.

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It’ll be a replay of the 1970 final in the FA Cup

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Next up its 5th placed Man Utd, who you’ll recall I was pleased to draw with earlier in the season, but we go one better this time out, Fisher getting a priceless winning goal and Niemi smothering a Whelan shot in the 90th minute.

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Next up it’s highflying Everton at Goodison and the game is all set up in 3 crazy first half minutes. Double Bogie in the second half settles the game in our favour, we’ve bounced back. Lovely stuff.

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We have 4 games left in the league, leaving the table looking like this….

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It’s all about Watfords games in hand now. They’ve even added Ryan Giggs to their ranks – a snip at £2m.

On Easter Monday, 2 days later, I make wholesale changes to my knackered squad and it’s paying dividends until Cannavaro gets himself sent off and they score from the resulting free kick.

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This allows Watford to jump 2 pts and 2 games in hand ahead of us, and they stretch even further ahead after the international break, beating Man Utd 2-0 at Old Trafford, leaving the table looking like this as we’re away to 13th place Hull while Watford face relegation threatened Spurs at home.

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We’re without the suspended Debbah and the injured Kaye in defence and I’m struggling to remember the last time Rubini scored a goal, so shift Nelo upfront with him. A loss here and a win for Watford and it’s all over for the title for us.

The first half makes me want to go home and pull the duvet over my head for a week. We rally in the second half but O’Neill’s second sinks us and I await confirmation of Watford’s fate…

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Watford win 2-1 and seal the title. It’s all about 2nd place now and the Champions League.

Over in Italy, AC Milan wrap up the Serie A title.

I try to raise the heads of my weary troops 2 days later when we face bottom club Blackburn on the May Bank Holiday as we are only 1 point ahead of Man Utd and Arsenal in 3rd and 4th respectively.

So of course we lose 2-0 and concede our first goal to Hennigan, the striker I sold on to make way for Debbah and Rubini. Luckily, Utd only draw 1-1 with Leeds, and Arsenal get hammered 4-0 by 19th placed Millwall. Everton’s 6-1 demolition job on Newcastle lifts them to 4th.

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In midweek, Inter Milan beat Real Madrid 2-1 to lift the UEFA Cup and Watford beat Blackburn to seal their relegation. Going into he final round of games leaves the table looking like this…

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I’m second over Man Utd by virtue of goals scored. With 2pts separating 2nd and 5th, its all to play for and I know I need to win, and match or better Utd’s result to secure 2nd place and Champions League football at the County Ground next season. Sheff Utd stand in my way.

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I decide to watch the Man Utd/Millwall games as a rare treat and an Allen-Bak penalty is all they needed to secure a 1-0 win and 2nd place temporarily. So I know I just need to win to secure 2nd spot, so here goes nothing.

Faith is restored through a Debbah Treble and Robert Jarni-Jnr goal and we end the season in 2nd place, although 60 goals conceded is shameful!

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The £9.75m prize money is very welcome and will go towards a new goal keeper in the summer and bolstering our defence.

Deportivo secure La Liga with 4 games to go and Liverpool finished 10h in Division 1, missing out on the playoffs by 4pts.

Man Utd suffer defeat in the Cup Winners Cup final to FC Porto, but their place in the competition will be taken by Leeds who beat Division 1 Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup Final, Chris Woodcock getting both goals for Leeds.

AC Milan comprehensively beat old foes Juventus in the Champions League final 3-0 to do the treble after beating inter Milan 3-2 on aggregate in the Coppa Italia.

It’s also a double blow for Chelsea as they lose the Division 1 playoff to Burnley, who join Ipswich and Bolton in the Premier League next season.

Lazio managed to return to Serie A, finishing a close 2nd behind Piacenza in Serie B whilst Espanyol finished 2nd in La Liga.

Of course it’s World Cup year, but of my team, only Rubini has been called up to represent Argentina

Man Utd have a point to prove with their latest signing

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Meanwhile Watford strengthen their squad with the £350k signing of Edgar Davids from Sao Paulo whilst I battle Barcelona to sign free transfer Arno Splinter. I lose that battle as Splinter doesn’t want to talk me and I pass up the option of Jardel on a free as he’s 32 and significantly overweight.

At the World Cup, England crash out at the group stage with 1 pt and without scoring a goal. All fingers pointed at Noel Whelan. Brazil also fail in a group containing Tunisia, Nigeria and Slovenia. Rubini’s Argentina struggle through at the expense of Germany but fall to Sweden in the quarter finals.

The semi-finals are Italy/Sweden and Bolivia/France, with France trouncing Italy 5-0 in the final and no headbutts to be seen, with Sweden securing 3rd place.

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I expected Lippi to be in trouble after Englands group stage catastrophe but it seems a bit harsh on Van Gaal after losing in the final!

So that’s the end of our first season at Forest and on the whole it has to be a success, but I’m feeling a little disappointed at no silverware and having led the league, our falter at the final hurdle hurts.

I’m off to get to work on the summer transfer options, must check to see if Richard Wright has a relegation clause at demoted Blackburn, see you next week for the start of Season 2 and our European odyssey.

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You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

1 thought on “Run Forest, Run – Part 4: Forest Stump

  1. Pingback: Run Forest, Run – Part 5: All The Leaves Are Brown | CM 97/98

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