Hello! It’s that wonderful time again where we enter the final part of a season. In blogs gone by, we’d call it squeaky bum time and it would start in March. Here in Holland, the time for arse clenching begins in January because the calendar is not well weighted. Is that relevant? No. However, the Retirement Academy have a lot of clenching to do with every trophy still up for grabs. All or nothing? Some? We write our own narrative here. Let’s remind ourselves of the table:
With 5 points to make up on Ajax we can’t really afford to slip up very often. We need to get at least one result better than Ajax before we play them, where of course we’ll have to win also. MVV away is not particularly difficult especially with a red hot Micker sorting things out and we move on to more testing matters.
Huge midweek clashes here as 3rd face 2nd whilst under performing Feyenoord host Ajax. It could be our first steps.
It’s looking pretty dicey when AZ take the lead but with 78 minutes on the clock their goalkeeper takes out the Micker and Hoogy slots the pen. He then heads in the winner and the turnaround is complete.
Feyenoord do us a favour. It’s on.
Sparta have messed us up before but they have no answer this time. Well, they have an answer but it’s not enough. We win 2-1. Phew.
Arsenal bid for Samways. We have to accept but the silly sods have a full squad, so he stays. We’ve been quite lucky a few times with these bids.
It’s a hard afternoon on Valentine’s Day but everybody’s love interest the Micker scores the only goal and we win. Losing Watt and Ruudy junior in a minute is less than ideal but we hang on.
Veendam lead and look good for it but at half time we introduce Samways and go all out attack – with sexy results. The juggernaut continues.
Unfortunately so does the Ajax train. Ham Hock scores twice, which takes AZ out of the race completely but we are at least within striking distance.
9 games to go…
Pints Cup time and Groningen are no problem for us. The last four awaits.
We’ve avoided Ajax but it’s Roda again.
Willem II are second and we’re without Betterton, Watt and the Micker. Koen takes the gloves unsurprisingly but I take a punt and put Stimac in for Watt which allows me to play Samways and Hoogy as strikers. Somehow, nobody scores. At all. We had a brief glimpse at Ajax but it’s now back to 5 points.
We get an even closer look at them next in the Champions League. Watt is back but Micker is banned in this competition too, the filthy man. Gilles De Bilde gets the nod and it turns out, he can fix it. Ham Hock equalises but we aren’t deterred and go on to win 3-1. Eyes on the prize.
Shocker is it?
We knack NAC to keep our league title wheels turning.
Ajax beat Sparta who I assume played their Under 5’s. 7 to go.
Micker’s back once again from his ill behaviour with a double as Utrecht are downed like the common pint.
6 games to go and Ajax are due at fortress Bungalow in four games time.
They’re actually visiting us right now for the return leg and I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that they are considerably better than us, the good news is they can only win 2-0 and we go through on away goals. We’ll miss that rule when it’s abolished in 12 years.
Hajduk Split please
Pints Cup again and our old foes Roda are downed by Quinnidi George. A great win and I wonder who we’ll face in the final….
Urgh. Them again.
The Champions League is all of a sudden very much on the agenda. Hajduk are probably beatable. We edge past them at home.
Such is our form even the usually tricky trip to Roda is a walk in the park. Just a tremendous unit.
Get your Freek on.
Somebody enjoyed the result too much…
Well it’s a defining week. The two biggest sides in Holland, a Champions League semi final away trip but also….Den Haag at home.
A ruthless start. De Bilde is in for the stricken Micker and the only blot on a good afternoon is Watt’s injury. That happens a lot these days.
Lovely Willem II. We’re in the box seat…
All we have to do is go to Feyenoord for crying out loud who made this fixture list AND BREATHE. 2-0 down back to 2-2 thanks to Hoogy in the last minute.
OH HELLO again.
Ajax fail to take advantage. We’ve still got to face them abut a draw will do now.
Speaking of which, a real ding dong tussle in Split sees us get the draw we need to make the final.
It’ll be a Rombouts reunion in Germany. On my birthday, no less.
Right, Ajax time. What is it about them and Ham? Will there be any other side meats? Micker climbs off the bench to equalise, cradling his poorly wrist no doubt but it’ll be well enough to hold a pint later.
It’s in our hands completely now.
Oh Micker. Rest up and be back for the Champions League final.
De Bilde has been an excellent stand in for the Micker and he seals the win at Heerenveen. This is the type of place we used to struggle. Not now.
We’re on that hill again.
Vitesse isn’t the easiest. Ajax have it tougher. If we draw, they need to win by 7 goals.
A tired performance, we can only draw 0-0. Surely the ham squad won’t win 7-0?
They didn’t! It’s over!
40 beats 36. Goal difference sees us win the league…by the barest of margins!
We have two weeks to recover before facing Ajax in Rotterdam. It’s a tight game and a rare 0-0 after 90. Ajax get a penalty which I can see from here was harsh. Never a penalty. Bak-Jensen scores and we’re facing defeat. On comes Samways for an exhausted Ruudy junior, everybody is punted forward and Samways converts from a corner. Uncle Vinny would be proud. To penalties…
We both miss our first efforts but nobody expects Hamming to blast one over the bar. Oh my. I’ve put a lot of faith in the old lads here, but De Bilde and Popescu score. Good lads. It comes down to Michael Laudrup against his former club. He’s got the experience and more importantly, the bottle to send Buffon the wrong way. WINNERS.
Look at him, I’m delighted for him.
Popescu’s season is over. He’s been a good addition and better than Bento.
Despite what I said earlier, Bento starts the Champions League final. Degryse is banned and I decide Uncle Bulgaria is the man for this job. It’s his second appearance of the season and his third in two years but my word he puts us 2-0 up after assisting the opener. Sometimes it just works. Ventola pulls one back, then Querella and Gauvin exchange goals in the same minute just for the sake of it. We hold on. WINNERS.
I bet you are.
Uncle Bulgaria. Technically sound, physically shot.
The Micker, a model of consistency.
Off the ball and shooting will always prevail.
Here’s the squad at the end of the update. Alan Fettis has departed on a free transfer.
He will be replaced by 36 year old Rustu. A sensible goalkeeper…
We’ve also got Juninho! What a treat.
Awards time and Mousey wins the journalists award.
I should think so. We won everything.
Confirmation of the full awards
Nobody retires! This lot have a death wish.
With that, I think we’ll bring this save to a close. It’s been a long road but once you win everything and retained the Champions League, I have nothing left to prove. We set out with the task of overhauling Ajax and we’ve done it – in every competition, we knocked them out.
(Weird how the seasons which ended in the playoffs only show the playoff results)
Some names here. Remember Boaty! Ian Rush’s regen had spells at Lazio and Juventus but is now back at West Ham, ironically with Michael Twiss.
What a journey. This save didn’t really hit the heights of the Retirement Home and it may well have been too samey. I had to finish it once started but I’ll be leaving the concept saves for a while, I just want to play the game normally for the first time in a few years now. That’ll be next week. Thanks for sticking with it, onto the next one!