Hi, I’m Bob Wilson, and I’d like to welcome you to Champions League Manager 97/98. This promises to be an absolute feast of football, with some of the greatest ever European club sides going head to head to find out who really is the champion of champions. So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Nick, who can explain it all in a bit more depth…
Thanks Bob… Hello and welcome! I hope you enjoyed season 3 of the CM01/02 Aces, but now it’s time for something new. Many of you will have seen my classic squad tweets over the last 12 months or so, and this got me thinking, what if 10 of these squads were thrown into a league together? who would come out on top?
So then I had to think of which teams to include. I wanted to use as many players who were on the CM97/98 database as possible, so this naturally led me to 90’s champions league winners.
I didn’t want to use the same club twice, and luckily for me there were different champions league winners pretty much every year during the 90’s, the only exception being Real Madrid, who won in 97/98 and 99/00, so this meant that I had to skip a year and include Bayern Munich 2000/01, but what’s a year between friends?
So what teams are in? Well I’m sure most of you will have seen my tweet on Wednesday and will already know, and to the die-hard football fan I’ll be stating the obvious, but they are; Red Star Belgrade 1991, Barcelona 1992, Marseille 1993, AC Milan 1994, Ajax 1995, Juventus 1996, Borussia Dortmund 1997, Real Madrid 1998, Manchester United 1999, and Bayern Munich 2001.
After a bit of tinkering in the editor, I replaced all the Scottish premier league teams with this lot, and I now present to you one of the most beautiful sights you are ever likely to see in CM97/98…
Each squad has 23 players, and I have adjusted all of their ages to what they were when their team won the champions league, so in theory, all the players are in their prime. I have also made all the relevant countries EEC members, so that all clubs can field any team they want without having to worry about foreigner restrictions, this was mainly to aid Red Star, who’s whole squad were foreigners.
Some players were lucky enough to play for more than one of these classic sides, and for those players, I have put them at the team they represented first. For example, Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps are at Marseille as opposed to Milan and Juventus, and Christian Panucci and Clarence Seedorf are at Milan and Ajax rather than Real Madrid etc.
Unfortunately, not every single player I needed was already in the database, so I had to create a few. For some of them, I was lucky that they were on the CM2 European leagues databases, which Mr. Black very kindly sent me. For players who were not on any retrospective databases (there weren’t too many), I had to just input their personal details, give them the average ability rating of their team, and let the game decide their stats.
Anyway, I’m sure you’re already tired of me rabbiting on, so let’s get on with introducing the teams, starting with Red Star Belgrade 1991. The stand-out players here are Sinisa Mihajlovic, Vladimir Jugovic, Robert Prosinecki, and Dejan Savicevic. This was the team I struggled with the most in terms of players in the database, so I had to create Rade Tosic, Goran Vasilijevic, Goran Juric, Ljubisa Momcilovic, and Dragisa Binic.
Next up are Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona 1992, who have considerably less Dutchmen than future squads of Louis Van Gaal’s. I managed to talk Ronald Koeman and ‘keeper Angoy out of retirement, and the side also includes Richard Witschge, Michael Laudrup, and Hristo Stoichkov. There’s plenty of Spanish talent including Zubizaretta, Miguel Nadal (uncle of Rafa), Bakero, Amor, Goikoetxea, a young Pep Guardiola, and his now sporting director at Man City, Txiki Beguiristain.
From 1993 we have Marseille, with the trio of Barthez, Desailly and Deschamps, who will all go on to become stalwarts for their national team for years to come. There’s also firepower from Rudi Völler and Alen Boksic. For this team I had to create 5 players. Boli and Omam-Biyik had full stats available from a previous database, but Olmeta, Casoni and Durand only had ability ratings available, so their stats are random. These are my tip for the competition’s dark horses.
The first Italian entry is AC Milan ‘94. Iconic captain, Franco Baresi has dusted off his boots and is joined by compatriots Panucci, Maldini, Costacurta, Donadoni, Albertini and Simone among others. There’s some added flair from Zvonimir Boban, Brian Laudrup, Jean-Pierre Papin, and West Ham legend, Florin Raducioiu. Daniele Massaro, the man who scored a brace in the 1994 final was the only player I had to create, but fortunately his full stats were on a previous database.
Flying the Dutch flag are Ajax 1995. This is pretty much the Dutch national team of the 90’s with the likes of Finidi, Litmanen and Kanu thrown in for good measure. The only absentee is the great Frank Rijkaard, who unfortunately wasn’t on any of the previous databases, and I thought a player of his class deserved better than to have random stats. Still, they shouldn’t miss him too much with a squad of that quality, and Rudi Völler’s hair should stay saliva-free.
The second Italian side are Juventus 1996. A few of this team were still with the Old Lady in CM97/98, so I didn’t have to start completely from scratch, and although they’re without Zizou, Vladimir Jugovic and Didier Deschamps, they have gained Paulo Sousa, Gianluca Vialli, Fabrizio Ravanelli, and Crystal Palace duo Attilio Lombardo and Michele Padovano, which should still make them a force to be reckoned with.
We now come to Dortmund 1997, the first of two sides managed by Ottmar Hitzfeld, and they start CM97/98 as defending European champions. This team took next to no editing as most of them remained at the club the following season. They welcome back Paul Lambert from Celtic (on the patch), and Karl-Heinz Riedle from Liverpool. They perhaps lack width, but still possess enough quality from the likes of Kohler, Sammer, Ricken and Möller to mount a title challenge.
Now for the team who required absolutely no editing, Real Madrid 1998. They have been robbed of Christian Panucci and Clarence Seedorf, who will be a massive loss to them, but they have gained Zé Roberto back from his loan at Flamengo (on the patch). Over half of this squad were also part of the victorious Real squad of 2000, so there’s definitely a winning pedigree in this team and they should be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
The only English entry are unsurprisingly the treble-winning Manchester United side of 1999. This team also required very little editing, and the additions of Stam, Blomqvist, and Yorke should make a side that almost always wins the premier league in season one even better. They have a couple of aces up their sleeve in Curtis and Nevland, who barely played that season in real life, but are legends in CM97/98. They will surely be one of the favourites.
Last but by no means least are Ottmar Hitzfeld’s second side, Bayern Munich 2001. This is one of only two sides where I had to make the players older, and many of them were at Bayern in 97/98. They gain some defenders in Sagnol, Linke and Andersson, Sforza in midfield, and some attacking options in Sergio and Salihamidzic. Sadly, Owen Hargreaves was in the Bayern youth ranks in 1997, so he’s not on the database, but he’d have probably been out for the season injured anyway, so every cloud…
I originally intended on taking control of one team and blogging it, but when I pitched the idea to Dave, little did I know that Andrew (a.k.a. @KingOfTheRooks) pitched an almost identical idea at almost the same time, so we agreed that it was too big a sign to ignore, and that we would invite the rest of the blog team to take part and each manage a team, because after all, lockdown is all about friends and family coming together, right?
So I’ll welcome Bob back for the draw. Bob will draw the teams and I’ll draw the managers…
Bob – “7” Nick – “I thought you were Bob Wilson, not Len Goodman!” Bob – “Haha, no this is strictly football” Nick – “Haha good comeback Bob, number 7 is Philip, and he’ll manage number 1 – Barcelona 92”.
Bob – “Number 9” Nick – “number 9 is Matt, and he’ll take control of number 9 as well – Juventus 96”.
Bob – “Number 2” Nick – “That’s Dave, and he’ll be be managing number 6 – Milan 94”
Bob – “Number 4” Nick – “That’s me! And I’ll be in charge of (please be someone good)… number 2 – Real Madrid 98” Bob – “Pleased with that, Nick?” Nick – “It could have been better, but it could have been worse, so I’ll take it”
Bob – “Number 10” Nick – “10 is Andrew, and his team will be number 7 – Bayern Munich 2001”
Bob – “Number 6” Nick – “Nathan, and who will he be managing?… number 3 – The defending European champions, Dortmund 1997”
Bob – “Number 3” Nick – “Number 3 is Zak, a fellow Cornishman of mine, and he will be taking the reins of number 5 – Marseille 1993”
Bob – “Number 8” Nick – “That’s Ross, and he’ll be managing number 4 – Manchester United 1999, as a Leeds fan he’ll love that!”
Nick – “Only 2 numbers left Bob, which is it going to be?” Bob – “Number 5” Nick – “Number 5 is Dean, he’ll have either Ajax 1995 or Red Star Belgrade 1991… and it’s Ajax 1995”
Bob – “So that leaves last but not least, number 1” Nick – “So the last manager out of the hat is Rob, and he’ll be managing the last team, ball number 8, which is Red Star Belgrade 1991. Back to you, Bob”.
So that concludes the draw, and starting on Sunday there’ll be a post each day with two of the managers giving the lowdown on their teams and hopes for the coming season, starting with Rob and Philip. The matches will be played/recorded on Tuesday evenings and then uploaded to YouTube within a couple of days and the blog will be published every Friday.
I hope you’re all looking forward to this, I know myself and the rest of the blog squad are! See you on Sunday!