2001: An Ace Squad-yssey – Part 6

Welcome back for the 6th and final part of season one with the Aces. We left part 5 with the Aces having already won the Serie B title but with one league game remaining, so let’s get straight on with the action…

There’s some good news for eight of the Aces, as West, Aghahowa, Frey, Hofland, Selakovic, Lundén, Bakircioglü and Källström all get World Cup squad call ups for their countries, which are all well-deserved.

The final game of the season arrives, and with the title safe and rock-bottom Foggia’s relegation already confirmed, I make nine changes to the team. The only players who keep their places are Tsigalko and Madeira because I don’t want to get in the way of their goal-scoring competition.

The last time we faced Foggia, they took a point off us in a frustrating 2-2 draw, so it will be nice to get the win this time around and finish the season on a high. If we get at least five goals, we’ll have scored 100 for the season.

The match starts quietly and we’re denied a penalty on 25 minutes, but Moukoko opens the scoring in the same minute, and Tsigalko puts us 2-0 up 10 minutes later and in doing so, pulls himself level with Madeira on 25 goals for the season. It remains 2-0 until half time.

Foggia have been threatening a bit but we’ve been keeping them at bay so I decide not to make any changes at the break. We start the second half brightly and I’m starting to believe that we can get three more goals to reach the hundred mark, but sadly it’s a dull 45 minutes and nothing of note happens as it finishes 2-0, and the players embrace each other and are presented with the hard-earned trophy in front of our own fans beneath a sunny May sky.

So here’s confirmation of the final table. We won the league comfortably in the end by 9 points. We were the top scorers by some distance and also conceded the second fewest goals and finished with a goal difference of +57.

We’ll be joined in Serie A next season by Cagliari, Padova and Genoa, in place of Udinese, Lecce, Empoli and Bari, who have been relegated from the top flight.

AC Milan won the Serie A thanks to a 2-0 play-off win over Juventus after both teams had finished level on points. Manchester United won the English premier league, with 1994/95 champions, Blackburn finishing runners-up, Barcelona beat their El Clasico rivals, Real Madrid to the La Liga title, but Los Merengues did get some silverware as they beat Juventus 2-0 in the champions league final.

Now to check on our loan stars, and a Cherno Samba goal wasn’t enough to save Wigan’s Division 2 play-off hopes as they lost the final 3-2 to Blackpool.

However, he still had a great season, scoring 19 goals in 40 games, which is incredible for a player who’s only just turned 17 years old.

Our other loanee, João Paiva didn’t have quite as productive a spell, but he still managed a few goals in the Spanish Segunda Division for Leganes.

Let’s take a look at the stats now because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a good stat?

We’ll start with average ratings. Most of the squad managed at least 7/10, and those who didn’t were the ones who didn’t play a lot. It’s always hard for the wingbacks to get good ratings with the 2-3-1-2-2 formation, so I’m pleased that Duff and Victory managed to both get over 7. Frey had just under 7, but hopefully that’s just down to the fact that we were good at the back and he didn’t have much to do. Our top performer was Aghahowa, closely followed by Selakovic.

Next it’s goals scored, and our main strike pairing of Madeira and Tsigalko finished all-square on 25 goals each, which bodes well for the future, and the three players who occupied the winger positions scored 10 or more goals each, with Källström chipping in with 7 goals from central midfield.

Madeira was the most generous player with 14 assists, and Tsigalko had one less, so it’s nice to know my strikers are as selfless as they are ruthless. The two wingers, Aghahowa and Selakovic contributed well and it’s also nice to see a good supply coming from the wingbacks Victory and Duff.

It’s a testament to our defence that they picked up 14 of our 26 man of the match awards, with Frey getting 6 by himself.

The naughtiest in the class was our skipper, Taribo West, who tops the disciplinary points table on 24, but it was nice to see that his partner, Hofland get only half that amount, and N’Diaye kept his cool while protecting the back four.

Lastly it’s the values, and the good news is that 16 of the squad have risen in price and 12 have dropped. Selakovic is still the most valuable Ace, while Aghahowa has the biggest price increase, going up by just over £4.5m, and the next closest were West and Källström, who both rose by £1.2m. The biggest fall in value was Frey, who dropped by £1.2m.

Values at start of season
Values at end of season

So that’s it for season one, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and it seems that so far, the Aces of CM01/02 can cut it in CM97/98, and I’m very relieved that no non-promotion release clauses will be activated this summer because next season will prove a far bigger test.

So while some of the Aces are off to the World Cup and some off on their holidays, I’m going to sit back and enjoy the CM Cup and think about writing season two of Basque Boys, as well as making classic squads of course. See you soon!

Remember to download Nick’s CM0102 expansion pack here!

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