Hello and welcome back to the fourth and (maybe) final instalment of Potless FC – a team of players with empty trophy cabinets. We left Part 3 with Palace 2nd in the league, into the semi-finals of the FA Cup and in the final of League Cup, powered by the goals of Stan Collymore and Beppe Signori.
It’s the League Cup Final where we pick up and our opponents are Blackburn Rovers.
Their squad doesn’t cause me too much concern, especially with Tim Flowers and Chris Sutton missing with injuries.
It’s my favoured starting 11 and a real chance for these players to get their hands on some silverware.
Nigel Martyn gets injured in the 10th minute, so on comes Shaka to keep nets and its Stan the Man at the treble with Hendry being shown an early bath. Captain Le Tissier climbs the Wembley Steps to lift the League Cup trophy. Marvellous, these boys have done it!
Anything from now on is a bonus.
Well that certainly is a bonus and another tie with Blackburn in the cup.
We have no trouble seeing to Blackburn once more and it’ll be another trip to Wembley to face Liverpool in the FA Cup Final.
Back in the league and the highs of our cup exploits are matched by a low at Chelsea. Flo always seems to be involved somewhere and it’s a disappointing defeat and a rare blank from our strikers.
That lose sees us slip 4 pts behind a consistent Man Utd and with their game in hand, they might take some catching.
We get a chance to gain some ground however when we travel to Old Trafford and we are rampant and not even having Nigel Martyn sent off with half an hour to can stop us.
We’re not as energetic in our midweek game at Leicester but Stevie Stone gets us all 3 pts late in the game.
As the European cups reach the business end, it’ll be Lazio vs Atletico Madrid in the Eufa Cup Final.
In the European Champions League, it’ll be Barcelona vs Man Utd
And making up the Cup Winners Cup it’ll be Betis vs Nice. Nice.
Our league exploits rumble on, but we stutter against Coventry and Big Oggy in goal plays a blinder for a shut out. Big Oggy was contemplated for my squad until I remembered he won the FA Cup in 1987.
Signori’s hot streak seems to have dried up, which is a bit of a worry.
Thankfully though, we still have goals elsewhere as we beat Arsenal by the odd goal in 7.
The table makes great reading with a few games to go, but Man Utd have 2 games in hand, but at least we have confirmed a place in the Champions League for next season – who would have imagined that at the start of the season?
Which makes it all the more disappointing when we capitulate away to Newcastle and I reckon that’s any outside chance of the title gone.
Beppe’s form is definitely a worry as he is given a 5 rating. Maybe I should have given Lee Clark and Rob Lee a chance against their old club?
Blackburn claim some small element of revenge on us by sharing the points
All of which confirms Man Utd as being unreachable and the title is theirs.
In the Eufa Cup, Lazio prevail
We finish off the league at West Ham and a comfortable 2-0 win, but still Beppe isn’t scoring…
While Betis are Cup Winners Cup Winners.
Confirmation of those final league placings:
In the end Utd made it comfortable and the 1 point gap shows their class, but to finish 2nd, and another 11 points clear of 3rd place, is one heck of an achievement. 92 goals scored and 48 against gave fans value for money!
At the bottom, Leeds slip out by 2 goals and Southampton and Barnsley join them.
So, our adventures this season will finish in the FA Cup and a date with Liverpool.
Liverpool go for a very attacking formation, but there’s no place for Fowler through injury
There’s no surprises in my line-up, it’s been great so far. I put Signori on direct free kicks and penalties to give him every chance of finding his hot streak once again.
McAteer and Collymore mention something about suit colour for the day of the match but it all goes over my head.
The first half is a fairly even affair, with Stone and Berger trading goals before Wright is sent off and Collymore puts us in front just before the break
And that’s how it stays throughout the second half. A gruelling season comes to a delightful end.
Man Utd need two penalties to pick up their second European Cup a year ahead of schedule.
With France 98 looming, we have a few players in the England squad.
Stan’s partner Beppe gets his suitcase ready too.
England make it out of their group but fall in the 2nd round to Brazil. Nigel Martyn the villain instead of David Beckham.
Nigel plays all 4 games in goal, while Stan never gets off the bench and Steve Stone doesn’t get anywhere near it, leaving England’s World Cup campaign a bit of a damp squib.
Signori and Italy however make it all the way to the final for the second tournament in a row, but succumb to Germen efficiency.
So, what a season for Potless FC. An amazing amount of goals steered us to 2nd on the league and two domestic trophies, but I’m just left wondering what would have been if Signori hadn’t lost his mojo?
However, you can’t really complain about that goal return – 38 is pretty good going, only to be bested by Stan Collymore
There’s plenty of goals through the rest of the squad too, but to have a strike duo score 84 goals between them in a season is amazing and just shows that these players were a little bit unfortunate to not win a major trophy in real life.
In reality, the season was the story of a settled squad – I rarely made any unenforced changes as I didn’t want to upset their rhythm and besides, who would start with Neil Shipperley and Kaven Davies up front through choice?
Speaking of real life, you may recall back in Part 1 that I was trying to find out which retired players had their player histories in the database?
Well I created George Best, Stanley Matthews, Marco Van Basten and Paul Lake, and of those 4, only Paul Lake’s history was in the game:
Unfortunately, he suffered relegation with Leeds.
As for Marco Van Basten, he was snapped up by Juventus and it was a goal laden season for him for both club and country. Juve won Sere A, but lost in the Semi’s of the Champions League and the Quarter Finals of the Coppa Italia. For Holland, his goals could only get them as far as the World Cup Quarter Finals.
George Best had a fairly decent season with Rangers and even got himself back in the Northern Ireland squad at the age of 52….
….but he wasn’t the only old-timer turning out for his country as Stanley Matthews went to the World Cup with England. Maybe that was their problem. He’s 83 for Pete’s sake.
End of Season awards and Beppe takes a personal trophy, so too Kieron while Stan is confirmed as top scorer
While over in Spain, Sonny outscores them all!
Thanks for following my exploits with the nearly men who became winners.
If there’s some appetite for it, I’ll discuss with Dave following up with a second season and European exploits – maybe it will get Signori firing again.
In the meantime you can follow my Kevin Keegan Challenge exploits on Twitter – @Matt_C_Wills
Bye for now!
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