Merry Monday to you! Rob Tait is here to kick the working week off with the latest from Sao Paulo, where we’ll find out the answer to the question “what happens if Robbie Fowler gets crocked?”
We have made a good start to life in Division 1, winning 12 games and leading Bielefeld by five points. Our first opponents of the update are Danish side Brondby who are captained by Australian international Harry Kewell. Things are looking good at half time as we go in 1-0 up, they look even better just after half time when Brondby have Nielsen sent off for a professional foul but we can’t capitalise and their captain gets a goal against the run of play, two points dropped in this match and our first draw of the season and to top it all off Pirri is out for a month.
Up next it’s our Brazilian counterparts Vasco da Gama, Bobby Robson guided them to consecutive promotions but retired from football at the end of season two. Gordon Milne replaced him but it’s not going well for him or them as we put on quite a show.
A rare week gap between our next fixture in the Netherlands. We bombard FC Twente’s goal and it’s only our lack of accuracy that stops us scoring more goals, still 3-1 is a good away win.
From the Netherlands we head to Austria to play against Austria Vienna in the League Cup 3rd round. Our ex stopper Florian Prunea is in goal but he had no chance, Molnar makes the most of a rare start, Christer George and Marc Emmers are also on the score sheet.
Our reward is another League Cup game against Ajax, they beat us last year so it will be a test of how far we have come.
Up next are Leeds, despite Radebe being sent off after 20 minutes Nigel Martyn is in fine form and it looks like the 140,000 plus fans are going to go home disappointed. Fowler was having a poor game so Nevland is brought on in the 72nd minute and does the business two minutes later, super sub!
Off to Greece for our next match, we can’t score despite getting a penalty, fortunately Panathinaikos score for us and it’s enough, not a great match but sometimes you have to win ugly.
After Denilson’s penalty miss I give Robbie the responsibility for the next game against Cologne and what do you know, we get a 23rd minute penalty that he slots home. Denilson gets a goal from open play and Robbie rounds it all off in the 58th minute.
Some bad news before our next game, Robbie’s out,he tore his groin muscle, must have been all the extra penalty practice in training. Christer is going to get an extended run up top with Denilson.
Norwegian side Stromsgodset pose little threat, Robbie is not missed in this one as Joao, da Costa and captain Onopko get the goals.
Back to the Morumbi for the last game of November against Bolton. It all falls apart for them when Mark Fish gets sent off after 40 minutes and Christer George gets a goal just before half time. Calton Palmer tries to rally his troops at half time but Christer can’t be stopped and Joao adds another just before the end.
The first day of advent is a real avent at the Morumbi as Ajax come to town for the League Cup 4th round. Last season we lost this exact same fixture away from home 2-3 and this match looks like going the same way big Al Shearer scores for Ajax to make it 0-1 at half time. da Costa gets the equaliser just after the break and it looks like it will go to extra time or a replay (I can’t remember what happens when you draw after 90 mins). I’m still none the wiser because Denilson scores a thunderbolt in the 86th minute and we go through, finally beating premier league opposition! Little odd that less people came to watch Ajax in the cup than Bolton in the league, never underestimate the draw of Calton Palmer.
It’s another “big” match on Saturday as we host Bielefeld, they convincingly beat us 1-3 in the first game of the season but we’ve come a long way since then. Christer and Denilson with the goals as we reverse the score line from the opening day.
A trip to Spain next as we play Kieron Dyer’s Zaragoza. We dominate possession but it looks like it will count for nothing until Denilson scores the vital goal.
The final game before Christmas day is against Stuttgart, we put on a real show for the near 140,000 fans, the front four all on target.
After eating Turkey the day before we head to Turkey on Boxing day to play Besiktas. The bald eagle scorer of that great World Cup goal for Bulgaria Yordan Letchkov gets a goal for them but it is nothing more than a consolation. Christer keeps scoring, I’ve got a tough decision to make when Robbie comes back.
New Years day and it’s another Dutch side in another cup competition. FA Cup third round day away to premier league side Feyenoord. We are living it up in the year 2000, doing to them what we did to Ajax, as we ease into the 4th round. 2-0 is generous to them, their keeper Zsolt Petry with the MOM award.
It’s a quick flight back to Brazil for a Monday game on the 3rd January against Frankfurt. The travel affects them more than us and Denilsons and da Costa provide the goals.
Two days later and another game, three games in five days is tough but league rivals Bologna are brushed aside in the League Cup Quarter Final. Bobby Baggio’s side only manage one shot on target as da Costa and Christer get the vital goals.
The fourth game in seven days is one step too far for us, Strasbourg keeper Alexander Vencel is in fine form and we can’t find the net. Gerald Baticle get’s the only goal as we lose our fourth league game of the season.
The final game of this update and our 30th league match is against Bryan Robson’s Corinthians side. They have had our number a few times since this adventure started, but not today. Denilson’s third minute strike is enough to get us all three points.
The league table after two thirds of the season looks good for us. It has proved tougher than last season but barring a collapse of mammoth proportions we should be good for promotion. We are also still in both cup competitions with a League Cup Semi Final and FA Cup fourth round to look forward to.