Alive & Kicking – Part 1

Please welcome back Matt_C_Wills to the blog squad. Our man has been in the editor again but who is he bringing back from the past this time?

For me, CM9798 saves and blogs always need a challenge – something to drive the quest – it might be dragging Cantona out of retirement, seeing how the Italia 90 squad would fare at France 98, or could a team that had never won anything, win something?

However, sometimes, inspiration can just come from one photo. This photo:

A mock team photo by Sky Sports to launch the Premier League in 1992 – all founding members represented – but it got me thinking – could you make a team in CM9798 with these players?

Well, yes you can, but should you and would they be any good? That is the challenge I face.

In the photo we have:

Back Row L/R – David Hirst (Sheff Wed), Lee Sharpe (Man Utd), Tony Daley (Villa), Vinnie Jones (Chelsea), Mark Wright (Liverpool), John Wark (Ipswich), Tim Flowers (Southampton), Tim Sherwood (Blackburn)

Middle L/R – Ian Brightwell (Man City), Ian Butterworth (Norwich), Hans Segers (Wimbledon), Andy Pearce (Coventry), Carl Bradshaw (Sheff Utd), Gordon Durie (Spurs), David Hillier (Arsenal)

Front L/R – Gary Charles (Forest), Andy Ritchie (Oldham), John Salako (Palace), Andy Sinton (QPR), Gordon Strachan (Leeds), Pedro (Everton)

22 players, all 5 years older than in the photo is not enough for a squad in the Premier League, so stretching the premise and using the accompanying promo video (see at the end it’s a cracker) I add in Grobbelaar, Darren Anderton, Anders Limpar and Paul Stewart – with me taking on the guise of Peter Reid as manager.

I then go the whole hog and sign up Sky Sports Pundits Chris Kamara and Charlie Nicholas.

The only player I had to create was Ian Butterworth, but everyone else was in there, bar Kamara, Wark and Nicholas, all lingering under ‘retired’ status – but not anymore!

So, we have replaced Wimbledon in the Premier League, play at the Sky Sports Arena and have £7.5m in the bank but that’ll not be touched – I’ll be making no signings.

There’s not much quality here and I had to tinker with the database to remove long term injuries from Lee Stuart Sharpe and ‘Dazza’ Anderton, but here’s how I intend to line up.

I have no idea how this is all going to play out – injuries will make or break me!

To get to know my squad, I set up some not too taxing friendlies…

The lads cope well with the varying quality of opposition and it is a good chance for team bonding. Each evening in the pub, John Wark reminds us that he once played with Pele.

However, friendlies mean nothing and we kick off our league campaign against Coventry. It’s perhaps too early to talk about ‘must win games’ and ‘six-pointers’ but you have to look at teams like Coventry as a chance to get points on the board.

David Hirst gave us a great start, but a second half collapse is a disappointing beginning.

It’s our first proper run out at the Sky Sports Arena against Everton who have been busy in the South American Transfer Market.

Salako on target and Hirst’s second of the season almost gives us 3pts but for Garivia’s equaliser.

Arsenal away next and when you score 3 at Highbury, don’t expect to be stuffed….

Why does it always Wreh on me?

Bruce Grobelaar has conceded 11 goals in 3 games – get well soon Tim Flowers.

We play out such a dull 0-0 against West Ham in our next game I don’t even want to show it, but Hans Segers at least gets a clean sheet.

We are worse in our next game, conceding two goals in the same minute – worrying.

That Coventry game is definitely looking like a six-pointer now.

Things can only get better against Leicester….

….oh. Ffs. Tim Flowers is back and played both those games….

My lads show some steel in our next game though, Juke Box Durie’s double dragging us out with a point. That’s 3pts from a possible 21. It’s going to be a long old season I think…

Many managers might be tempted to rest a few players when playing a lower division team in the League Cup, but not me – we need a win from anywhere and we scrap a 2-1 advantage against Tranmere away. Evergreen Aldo getting their goal.

A win is a win, and it lifts the mood in the squad and we roll over Barnsley at home for our first league win in 8 attempts. Rupert Murdoch will be pleased.

Ian Butterworth good value for his man of the match.

Better is to come at Stamford Bridge though…

After Hughes gets his marching orders, Limpar climbs off the bench and scores late to make it 3 wins on the bounce.

I fancy us to make it 4 in a row at home to Crystal Palace, but Bruce Dyer cancels out Hirst and we have to settle for a point.

All of this excitement leaves us hovering over the drop zone with a quarter of the season gone

I never expected to be a point above Arsenal. Their game in hand might be a problem.

Looking on the bright side though, we’re only 2pts away from mid-table.

We’ll finish up this part with the 2nd leg clash in the League Cup against Tranmere and 6,742 people see a right humdinger of a match.

We may not have survived had Aldo not got his marching orders.

We’ve got Swansea away in the next leg.

So, what have I learnt from these 11 games and 5 friendlies?

Well, don’t put together a squad based on a 5 year old publicity stunt and expect great results for a start.

I think we’ll struggle more if Hirst or Durie get injured, or god forbid I have to play Grobelaar in goal.

Keeping this Premier League team in the Premier League is now the aim, hopefully you’ll join me next week to see how we get on.

Catch me on Twitter

Here’s the link to that glorious promo-video

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