International Series: Three Lions – Qualifying

Hello and welcome to my new blog “Three Lions.” In this Blog I will take over England and try to recapture the nation’s high spirits and feelings from Euro 96. What a wonderful time that was for us all!! Three Lions was the anthem of the summer which was full of hope, excitement, ecstasy & ultimately heartbreak. I am going to try and rekindle all of that in this blog.

On CM9798 you can take over any nation from the 3 leagues you have selected (if England is one of your selected leagues all the Home Nations are available) by entering the name of the current manager. In this case we enter our name as Glenn Hoddle and we are now in charge of England.

As we start the game, we get a list of opponents from the FA who we will play in friendlies in between the last few qualifying games and the run up to the World Cup.

Some tough games in here and it will really give us a good indication of where we are going into the World Cup.

I feel like England are in transition at the moment from Euro 96. So I’ve tried to mix youth with experience.

So, this is the team and the setup I go with. It’s the classic 2-3-1-2-2 which has served us all well in various saves.

Our first game will be a friendly against Belgium. Luckily Belgium don’t have the amazing array of talent they have these days however they are still a strong side.

Solid start to life in the top job. The first half is end to end and both teams have good opportunities to take the lead however we go in to the break goalless. In the 2nd half we come out all guns blazing and a Scholes shot is blocked but Owen is on hand to finish coolly. Darren Eadie had a good game which was pleasing to see.

The press reacts with careful optimism of my first game in charge. The fans loved our attacking intent and are looking forward to the next game already. All in all a good start.

We lose Le Saux for 4 months which a massive pain as he’s pretty much our only decent left back and we have important qualifiers coming up against Moldova and Italy. I call up a very young and raw Kieran Dyer who will be backup for Phil Neville. Teddy Sheringham is back from injury and also gets called up. I felt Owen wasted a lot of chances in the Belgium game and wanted another option up front.

Here is the team for the qualifier against Moldova.

Total domination which was the expectation from the fans. We take the lead when Wright plays through McManaman who slots the ball into the bottom corner. Shortly after we have a corner which is headed on to the post by Pallister and Wright scores from the rebound. Then annoyingly Moldova carve us open and score a really good goal. In the second half we turn it up a notch and especially McManaman who scores two more goals, another assist for Pallister as well. Pallister finally gets his reward for hitting the post twice by scoring with a powerful header. Ian Wright grabs a late second goal and it caps a routine win.

The Press are oozing admiration for our attacking play and McManaman is all over the back pages for a magnificent performance.

The Fans are loving this new attacking England team and there seems to be a feeling in the air that this team might just do well.

The result leaves the qualifying group looking like this

Italy have just hammered Georgia 5-0 in Georgia which is a fairy ominous sign. We play them in the final group game. In Rome. Win and we are going to France. Lose and it’s a playoff.

Here is the team.

Fowler comes in for the injured Sheringham which is the only change I make. Tony Adams is fit enough for the bench.

The pubs are packed to the rafters and there is a huge tension in the air. Can this new attacking England team beat one of the World’s best teams? Let’s see how we get on.

We are truly truly awful!! After 6 minutes Del Piero goes off injured which I believed was a good sign for us. It wasn’t. Ravanelli scores with every touch as we are ripped open time after time after time. We are 3-0 down at half time and 4-0 down after an hour. I change formation and bring on Owen, Eadie and Adams and we score within 5 minutes thanks to Ian Wright. Ravanelli kills off the revival 2 minutes later.

The fans are pretty unimpressed to say the least. Most of the travelling fans leave early and decide to take their frustrations out by trashing Milan. Our performance is that bad it actually takes the headlines over the violence in the press.

The only thing we can do now is hope for a generous draw in the playoffs.

It’s literally the worst draw I could have hoped for. I’ve played CM9798 for a very long time and Denmark win the world cup quite a lot. Which is weird I know but very true.

Tony Adams comes in to replace the injured Pallister as the 1st leg comes round at Wembley

As expected, it’s a tough game. We are absolutely savage with our tackles and Adams is lucky not to be sent off in the first minute. We get to the 25th min and Campbell decides to have a go at getting sent off when he brings Andersen down in the box and he escapes with a yellow. Andersen converts the pen giving Denmark a vital away goal. In the second half we play better and Fowler equalises after Wright’s shot is blocked. Schmeichel was bloody imperious except for that slip up. We now need a win in Denmark to progress.

The fans and the press have already lost faith after a disappointing draw at home. We need a win to get them back on board.

We stay with the same team for the 2ng leg in Denmark. We have to win to advance to France (not Sorry!!)

This team!! This bloody team! From the pain of Milan to absolute ecstasy in Idraetsparken. WE ARE GOING TO FRANCE!!!!. We completely destroy Denmark. 7 mins in Fowler scores a delightful goal and he doubles his tally 10 minutes later thanks to a McManaman through ball. Ian Wright then scores another tap in from Beckhams cross. In the 2nd half we have a 20-minute 3 goal blitz as Fowler completes his hattrick with Beckham and McManaman adding goals to their assists. It’s a magnificent night for English football. God save the Queen and Three Lions are being belted out not just by the travelling fans but in all the pubs and bars up and down the country.

The Press the next morning are telling the story of how the English defeat the Vikings and have set our sights on Paris. Robbie Fowler is hailed as the second coming for his wonderful hattrick. National Pride has been restored!

Join us next time as we prepare the squad with a series of friendlies and pick our squad for the World Cup. See you next time!

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