Welcome to another season of Retirement Home carnage! Last season, we had to call in younger, fitter help to complete a great escape and keep ourselves in the First Division. That has left us with some decisions to make ahead of the new campaign. Do we go back to strictly over 35s only or do we keep the carers around to try and make us more competitive?
Firstly though, I’ll never stop recruiting old but lovable players. Firstly, Slaven Bilic arrives to partner fellow countryman Igor Stimac.
The rarest old players to sign are attackers, which is why we’ve had Mick Quinn leading the line for 8 years. Alexander Mostovoi will provide some much needed impetus to our attack.
The dilemma I have is that we are £2m in debt. So whilst I could sell the young lads, if we find ourselves in deep trouble again I won’t be able to dig myself out. I’ve decided to compromise – Weaver stays indefinitely, Fellenger and Cockerill are on the transfer list just in case anybody wants to buy them.
The opening day of the season sees us host Millwall but Cockerill and Proctor are banned. This is what we go with:
Young Fella gives us the perfect start but we are soon pegged back. It’s not a great result but who knows how it’ll be in the context of the season.
The League Cup has been nothing but a nuisance to us pretty much throughout my time in the Retirement Home but being drawn against fellow Division 1 opposition seems to spark something in us. Mostovoi is amongst the scorers as we rout Coventry, 4-0 in their own back yard. The shame.
A win over West Ham raises my optimism levels. They’ll be in the promotion mix and we could have won more comfortably if Mostovoi could take a penalty.
The return leg of Coventry is a chance to rest a few and 0-0 is absolutely fine by me.
A two month injury for Valery is less good but we’ll just have to find a way.
Meanwhile Rotherham are happy to pay us £1.1m for young Cockerill, the centre half who was bang average. That’s a lot of Chuckle Brothers.
A good haul on season ticket sales coupled with that sale actually puts us in the black for the first time in a few seasons. Retirement Home bills are expensive.
This is more like it. A home defeat to Plymouth. Just when you think you’ve turned a corner…
Mostovoi is my best player by a distance and he looks to have grabbed us a point at Bradford, somewhere we traditionally get thumped year on year. However Stimac forgets where he is, handles the ball and as he trudges down the tunnel, the penalty is dispatched. Boo.
Seeing as Cockerill is off I technically have space for one of my three under age players. In an attempt to at least pretend to play by the rules, I’m signing this 34 year old. He’s quite spicy and my theory is he turns 35 in the next 12 months so he’s in his 35th year. You’re not buying that are you?
Guess who scores again? Burnley can’t handle him.
We’re quite solid defensively, probably something to do with no longer having a geriatric in goal. 0-0 at the Dell.
We edge past Brentford. This side is determined, I like it. Crespo is playing as a wing back but his set pieces are generally on point too.
Yes, that is Stan Lazaridis. Kidderminster are a pain in the hoop, causing us all a lot of Aggborough. They win 2-0 and any optimism is flawed.
Or is it? I’ve said before our star seems to be aligned with Bristol Rovers and the lads put together one of their more entertaining performances to win 4-2 at home.
The Micker’s still got it. He steps in to take on 3rd Division Lincoln and they can’t handle him. The return leg should be a formality.
A miserable defeat at Port Vale is pretty much on our report card every season. Nothing to see here.
We also normally get brutalised at Walsall but today…things are different. Mostovoi must be Russian for Most Useful Player as he nets twice with Fellenger and Poyet in between. Woo and yay.
A draw away at top of the table Ipswich is a promising result. We’re actually fighting for these points now which hasn’t always been the case.
Grossi scores for the first time in a long time to seal our passage through to round 3. Our reward? Arsenal away.
Carlisle. We’ll never beat Carlisle. A dull game sparks to life on 79 minutes when they score and we equalise from kick off. Phew.
We finish with promotion chasing Palace visiting the Bungalow and bloody hell, we’re on fire. Michael Duberry’s injury probably helps but Fellenger’s hat-trick sets up a 4-0 home success. My, my.
That puts us 10th in a very tight table. If we can find some consistency…stop it. Let’s not get carried away.
The better we do the more guilty I feel, but then it’s no fun scrapping for 21st every season. Let’s see what next week brings. We’re finally getting somewhere.