Who remembers the Anglo-Italian Cup? Of course you do! It may have been retired in 1996 but we’re bringing it back. What’s more, there are two places in this year’s CM Cup up for grabs. All week we’ll be bringing you clashes between the best England and Italy have to offer…as long as they aren’t in the top division. Let’s get down to business.
We’ve got a lot to get through so I’ll keep the format brief. The tournament is made up of the 16 teams above – they are the three relegated Premier League teams in 96/97 plus the five highest from Division 1 who weren’t promoted and the four relegated from Serie A plus the four highest failures in Serie B.
What I like about this tournament is that it’s a bit quirky. The teams from the same nation don’t play each other, so although there are groups of 8 each team will only play four games. The highest placed team from each nation in each group will go through to the semi finals. Spicy.
The only thing left to do was to select our competitors. Over 50 applicants came in on Twitter and I drew 16 at random, who we then drew out of the hat on episode 2 of the podcast which of course you all listened to. Just in case you didn’t, here’s how it worked out (with Twitter names):
Those of you who listened will notice we have a Pescara substitute – Dean stepped in when Luke unfortunately had to drop out. Let’s take a look at the squads…
Sunderland – @malte_sven
Statistically, Sunderland are the strongest English side in the competition after finishing 18th in the Premier League the previous season. With a large stadium, they usually end up doing rather well a few seasons in but manager Joey will have to find success from Quinn & Phillips. Peter Reid managed…
Ipswich – @danpsport
Dan has a fairly average squad. Ipswich are a bit of a yoyo club in the game, not helped by best player Kieron Dyer usually moving on within a matter of days of a new game. We’ll not have that problem here so we’ll see how the Tractor boys get on.
Port Vale – @DCFC_Crossbow
I was amazed Port Vale had a good 96/97 because they are ruddy awful in 97/98. They’re relegation candidates as it turns out the likes of Ian Bogie and Gareth Ainsworth aren’t up to much. James has been a long term follower of the blog though so we wish him well – even that might not be enough.
Nottingham Forest – @TomJMitcham
Relegated in 96/97, Forest have top striker Pierre van Hooijdonk, and by that I mean he went on strike. They also have the owner of many bow ties Kevin Campbell, Chris Bart-Williams (bow tie status unknown), Steve “went to Euro 96 and Matt Le Tissier didn’t” Stone and known pest Ian Woan. It’s a banterful squad with the potential to do well.
Pescara – @Emsonite
Filling the role of Denmark 1992 is Dean. To catch you, a different manager was originally cast in the role of Pescara but he was unable to commit to this competition so was a late drop out. Deano here stepped in to handle Pescara, who finished 6th in Serie B. I know very little about this squad or indeed Dean but it went well for Denmark didn’t it?
Ravenna – @JacobClear
Sorry Jacob but Ravenna are statistically the worst side in the tournament. They finished 8th in Serie B which consigned them to this misery. Jacob sends me DMs early in the morning about his team which I like to think means he’s been up all night planning. Something doesn’t sit right with me when one of the star players is a left back.
Chievo – @MarcBurrage
Chievo finished 7th in Serie B so they’re as average as it gets in the grand scheme of things. I don’t know loads about this squad, Marc is a nice chap though and isn’t that really all that matters?
Perugia – @RonnieDogChris
Chris has dropped out of automatic qualification after 3 terrible showings. Sorry mate. Fair play though, like a past his best snooker player here he is trying to qualify to get back in the big time. He’s got Perugia, but don’t be fooled by the presence of Mark Emmers. It’s the bad one. And yes that’s Marco Materazzi, 9 years before getting better acquainted with Zinedine Zidane’s forehead.
Sheffield United – @footballacumen
Andrew was one of my first Twitter followers back in the day so I was pleased to see his name come out of the hat. Sheff Utd are an odd one, the classic 8th place written all over them sort of squad. McGrath, Stuart and Saunders are getting on in years but still very useful. Dellas is excellent long term too. It’s a solid squad, not many weaknesses in my view.
Middlesbrough – @thetynter
I think another Andrew has one of the best draws though. Middlesbrough are blessed with the gift of Merson, the tactical nous of Townsend and who can forget Festa the clown? Oh and Branca. It’s a very good team which has the potential to go all the way.
Wolves – @VIPBWFC
Viren has drawn Wolves, who have one of the best centre halves in the competition in Dean Richards. They also have former England International Steve Bull and future MBE Jason Roberts. Then there’s Freedman, Froggatt, Goodman…perennial nuisance Kevin Muscat. I could go on.
Portsmouth – @brolly_a
This Portsmouth team is not strong though. Poor old Aidan has to deal with John Aloisi and the brilliantly named Fitzroy Simpson. It would be a tremendous achievement to get anywhere with this team, prove me wrong Aidan!
Verona – @SpinSwimSam
Sam has the brilliantly named Hellas Verona. They’re a strong defensive side but don’t have many strikers. A bit of an unknown quantity.
Cagliari – @paulos1976
The Cagliari squad is full of banter strikers. Dario Silva played for Portsmouth towards the end of his career although he tragically lost a leg in unrelated circumstances. Bernardo Corradi went to Man City for a bit. Muzzi is very good. I think Paul will do well here.
Genoa – @Nikolai_9798
Nikolai is Mr Tactics. Never have I met a man with such a commitment to trying out new tactics. One day I’ll ask him to write up his findings in some sort of dissertation style overview. Anyway, he’s got Genoa and I’ve received about 5 re-workings of his plan for this set of fools. They came 5th in Serie B so I guess they are the strongest of the Italian sides, in
Reggiana – @twentyfiveyears
Reggiana clearly hate strikers. They love defenders. They have more goalkeepers than forwards. It’s a ludicrous squad that was relegated from Serie A with 19 points. I hope for Lawrence’s sake they improved over the summer.
There we go then, all 16 runners and riders are in the starting blocks and raring to go. See you tomorrow where we’ll start with 8 matches from Group A!