Good morning! Welcome to another end of season write-up for the Retirement Home. As the curtain comes down on season 14, we have an unusually high amount of unsettled issues for the old lads to resolve. Firstly, we shouldn’t get relegated or even be in the scrap. So that’s nice. Secondly, we’re still in with a chance of defending the FA Cup. Finally, we are ludicrously still in Europe, the Cup Winners Cup quarter final will see us takes on Nantes and this week, I promise there’ll be no Take That gags.
We start with that FA Cup defence as we welcome Newcastle to the Bungalow. What I can only hope is the son of Scott Sellars does us a solid with the earliest of red cards and although Solskjaer gives us the lead, we can’t hold on. Lambourde bows to the pressure and handballs in the box to earn himself a red card and Newcastle a penalty, which David Bowey converts. We’ll replay in the Toon in 10 days.
It means we can stay for a while in the North East as we have to travel to Sunderland but once again we save our best for this game and end up 3-0 ahead by half time. They miss a pen but do eventually pull one back too little too late. Good.
A thoroughly useful trip to up north is rubber stamped by a 1-0 win at St James’ to put us in the quarters where we’ll face Sheff Wed. Tacchinardi managed to get two yellow cards in the space of about 7 minutes after coming on.
We end this North East-a-thon with the home league game against the same opponents, it ends a draw. I’m fine with that.
Hopefully it sets us up nicely for the Nantes double header, though it looks like we’ve finally met our match in this competition as they steam into a 2 goal lead. Solskjaer briefly threatens to make it interesting but Karoglan scores again and we’ll have a mountain to climb in two weeks.
The FA Cup quarter final is next and it’s a hard-fought draw. I fear that is our chance gone.
The lesser spotted Kevin Gallen is the hero against Ason Villa, climbing off the bench to salvage a point after a 3 minute double-salvo threatens to hand us a rare defeat.
Walsall get the treatment. 3-0 up inside 32 minutes I can withdraw some of the key men ahead of the showdown in France.
I tell the lads that it’s all down to this. Lose this and you’ll have to pay for your next holiday, do you really want that? The motivational speech works a treat and we end up winning 3-0. Nantes even have a late goal ruled out to save us all extra time before Taccy gets his now customary cards.
Arsenal in the semis. A few of the lads are upset as I promised them another holiday and London apparently doesn’t count. Ungrateful.
Deadline day is here and despite nobody wanting to sign my players, I can’t resist adding yet another non-EU veteran to the ranks. Welcome Claudio Reyna.
Oh look we drew 0-0 with Sheff Wed again.
A quick check of the schedule and..ffs. Thanks, the FA. I’m pretty sure even our current FA would do more to help us than this.
So the old lads have to be rotated and funnily enough we can’t handle one of the country’s best teams. Our grip on the FA Cup has finally been loosened.
The next night the lads host Arsenal and unfortunately slip to a late defeat. That’s going to hurt but we’ll have the second leg to redeem ourselves.
A knackered squads loses to Leeds.
An angry squad thrashes current champions Middlesbrough. They’re even below us.
Man City top the table and yet…
We’re in fine form going into that second leg and there’s a definite twinge in the under-carriage when Zola gives us the lead on the night. We need another and that doesn’t change when Jimmy Rice (a great name) equalises. Zola gets a second yellow, idiot, and Helmer picks us off on the break. No Cup glory for us this year.
Obviously we beat them in the league. Fernando Couto is 41.
Well look at us in 7th. If we can sneak into the top 6 we could play in the UEFA Cup. I’d like that and I mention to the lads there are more free holidays on offer.
Already relegated Leicester are not a problem.
Soon to be relegated-if-they-don’t-sort-themselves-out Wolves are also edged past.
6th! With a game in hand. Win that and with our goal difference, we can keep our passports in an accessible but safe place.
Blackburn are also already relegated and it’s not hard to see why.
We’ll go to Anfield on the final day. They need a point for the league, we need a point for the UEFA Cup. Guess what?
We got it!
They got it. What a time to be alive!
Solskjaer did most of the heavy lifting, hurrah for him.
Oh no, not Danny Coyne.
The awards show a few surprising things. Firstly, Brian Flynn is Arsenal manager. He just retained the Cup Winners Cup. Steve McManaman is player-manager at Everton. Lastly, 38 year old Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won the golden boot.
Lopez retires, sick of my J-Lo gags. I tried to offer him a bumper new contract but he said his love doesn’t cost a thing. thing. thing. I’m not sure why he repeated the last word but anyway, he’s retired.
I actually forgot Flo was on the books. Goodbye.
Moises too, thanks for making up the numbers for 5 a side.
Overmars calls it a day. He was good for a bit.
Jens has been a loyal servant having joined for the first Premier League campaign. He leaves with my best wishes.
Do we need that many new seats? We could end up back in the lower leagues at any point, I can’t really overstate how much of a bloody miracle the last few years have been.
But I believe in miracles, to paraphrase Hot Chocolate. We’ll be going on another European cruise next season, this time to wherever the UEFA Cup takes us. To put things in perspective, Barcelona just failed to get promoted from the Segunda. See you next week for season 15, I’ve got recruiting to do.