2001: An Ace Squad-yssey – Season 3, Part 8 | @NTR9798

Happy Friday! Nick may have rebranded but he’s still here with his 01/02 Aces. How will the season finish up?

Hello! and welcome to the final Friday of the season with the CM01/02 Aces. I have just 2 matches for you this week plus a statistical round-up of the season before we embark on an exciting new project next week…

Last week we crashed out of the UEFA Cup after a 5-1 quarter-final drubbing by Atletico Madrid, and after being top of Serie A with 4 games remaining, our title hopes were all but ended after defeats to Inter and Juve. We did however manage to exact some revenge on Inter by beating them in the Coppa Italia final.

We begin with Bari at home. The title is still mathematically possible, but we’d be relying on Inter losing both matches. We take the lead with half an hour remaining but the visitors strike late to take a point and the title is officially Inter’s after they beat Genoa.

I pick up the April manager of the month award but it’s probably largely down to our cup win rather than our league form.

We finish away at 3rd-placed Atalanta. We’re 4 points clear of them, so 2nd place is secured and I field a 2nd string, most of whom have barely played this season, so my expectations aren’t high. I’m pleasantly surprised as we lead 2-1 at half time thanks to goals from Hersi and Moukoko. The hosts have a goal disallowed on 64 minutes before goals are exchanged in the final 5 minutes, and we end the season with a win.

We scoop a cool £5.4m for finishing runners-up (another club record), and will be playing Champions League football next season.

It’s frustrating to finish 8 points behind Inter after being in the mix for the majority of the season but hopefully the boys will learn from this and come back better next season.

Udinese, Verona, Sampdoria, and Cagliari will replace relegated foursome Vicenza, Piacenza, Fidelis Andria, and Brescia. There is however no immediate top flight return for Roma, who were relegated last season.

So here’s a roundup of the stats, starting with average ratings. Besides Klompe and Hersi, who only played a handful of times, Tó Madeira was our most consistent regular, followed closely by Isaac Okoronkwo.

I think it’s rather fitting that after his real-life passing, Maxim Tsigalko finished as Serie A’s top scorer this season with 32 goals. Rest in peace, Maxim.

The assists are as you’d expect, with both strikers providing for each other and a good supply coming from super Swedes Källström and Selakovic on the flanks.

The boy from Belarus also picked up the most man of match awards, and a special mention goes to Okoronkwo, who came in for Taribo West and made one of the centre back spots his own.

The disciplinary points always make for interesting reading, and Tsigalko also tops this table somewhat surprisingly, although N’Diaye and Selakovic aren’t far behind.

Lastly we have the values. Of the 28 players, 19 values increased, 8 fell, and 1 didn’t change. The biggest riser was Tsigalko, who went from £2.4m at the start of the season to £8.5m at the end, the biggest drop was by Aghahowa, from £8.25m to £6.25m, and Pinheiro was unchanged at £325k.

Now a quick look at how our loan stars did, starting with Said, who had an encouraging spell at Udinese with a great average rating and a couple of goals.

Chiotis made a few appearances for Empoli. Hopefully his low average rating was because he had little to do rather than playing badly.

Robben made the most appearances out of our loanees and impressed for Cagliari, with 8 goals, 9 assists and a good average rating, all of which excite me.

Bakircioglü made quite an impact in half a season at Atalanta, where he managed almost a goal every other game and chipped in with a few assists.

Nikiforenko spent the season at Como, where I hope he took some time to admire the lake in between scoring 6 goals, assisting 4, and amassing a whopping 24 disciplinary points!

Lastly it’s Paiva, who had his annual loan spell in Spain. He didn’t feature much for Logrones, but scored a couple of goals. Hopefully he will show his potential soon.

In England, Man Utd won the premier league and beat Liverpool 3-1 to lift the League Cup, and Wimbledon beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the FA Cup final.

In Spain, Jose Camacho produced the mother of all shocks by guiding Real Zaragoza to the La Liga title, while Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-0 to win the Copa Del Rey.

In Europe, Juventus defeated Barcelona 3-2 in the Champions League final, AC Milan won Cup Winners’ Cup final 1-0 against Bologna, Tottenham hammered Espanyol 5-0 in the UEFA Cup final, and Bologna beat Barcelona 4-3 in the Super Cup.

Barcelona lost 3 finals this season, but did manage to get some silverware as they beat River Plate 5-2 to win the World Club Cup.

Attentions now turn to Euro 2000, where a few Aces were called up to represent their countries. Hofland was called up by Holland, Frey by France, Madeira by Portugal, and Selakovic, Lundén and Källström by Sweden.

France emerged victorious, beating Germany 1-0 in the final. Neither Hofland or Frey featured, but the latter did receive a winners’ medal. Madeira started all 4 of Portugal’s matches and scored 3 goals. Källström started all 5 of Sweden’s matches and scored 1 goal, Selakovic started 4 and scored 1, and Lundén made 1 substitute appearance.

So there goes another season of hybrid antics. The Aces are no doubt improving, and now have their first piece of silverware under their belt, which can only be a good thing. Let’s hope that the end of season update brings a rise in ability levels and that we can have a better crack at the title next season. Join me next week for an exciting new project, which I know you’ll love. Ciao!

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