Basque Boys – Part 36: Gerry and the pace-setters | @NTR9798

Happy new year to you all! and welcome aboard the final season of Basque Boys. Last season was epic, as we retained our La Liga title and won the champions league! This season’s aim is tick the last box and win the World Club Cup, but what else can we win in our swan song year?…

We begin with good news, as once again, no one retired, which means that all the players from original squad who are still here will complete the journey with me.

Alkorta, Gonzalo, Karanka, Mendieta, and Luis Perez all sign new deals, which seems a bit pointless as this is the last season, but hey-ho.

First to depart is Lopez Rekarte, who joins Celta. He was a bit-part player, so it’s no great loss…

This chap is our second summer signing after José Felix Guerrero. He’s the regen of former Antandec player, José Maria Alonso Txema…

We’re in three finals without even kicking a ball… We’ll face Uruguayan side Defensor Sporting in the World Club Cup…

Blackburn in the European Super Cup…

And Barcelona in the Spanish charity shield…

Time for one final pre-season tour then, and it’s three more basque sides…

The second string ease past Bermeo, with four from Gonzalo (Salinas), and a hat trick for Babs (Loinaz) among the goals…

Izarra fair slightly better, very slightly…

And Mensajero are last to the slaughter. Babs is on fire, but I’m going to have to watch Carreras (Zubizaretta), that’s two red cards in a handful of appearances…

Glenn Hoddle is sacked by England, will I get a call?

This happens the next day, maybe the FA have already identified their man…

To the first of those three finals then, and it’s a standard thumping at the Nou Camp, but the two away goals could be handy…

We absolutely dominate the return leg, with no fewer than twenty four shots at goal, but the usually-shite Gregory Coupet has a blinder, and we can’t get that killer second goal.

Spain plump for my old mate Jupp…

And then this… As flattering as it is, I’m committed to the Basque Boys, so it’s a no…

This is the squad to start the season. Guerrero and De Diego are the only arrivals, both for free, and Lopez Rekarte the only sale. I’ll see who becomes available on my shortlist, but how do you improve officially the best club squad in Europe?!

Valladolid are first up this season, and after a frustrating start and an early penalty shout, it’s a comfortable win, even with ten men for almost an hour after Karanka gets Karanky.

You could have given me a hundred guesses at who would be named Real Madrid manager, but this would never have been one of them…

A trip to the isle of Mallorca is all done and dusted inside half an hour. Seeing my two strikers on the score sheet is nothing new, but De Pedro has scored in four straight matches…

After I turned them down, England go for LVG, so he and Jupp will now do battle on the international stage…

While Barca are considering their options for the heir to King Louis’ throne, we take full advantage of their dugout being empty, with Laslandes helping himself to a treble.

The champions league groups are drawn, and once again I’m not too disappointed…

Prince Jose succeeds King Louis…

Laslandes hits hat trick number two in as many games as we destroy Tenerife in their own back yard. Maybe having ten men brings the best out of us…

What else is new?…

Injuries and suspensions mean that I’m forced to play a makeshift back three of Alkorta, Guerrero, and Mendieta against Oviedo, but it holds up well, and limits them to just one shot on target, with Arenaza’s early strike decisive.

We kick off our champions league defence against Croatia Zagreb. It’s a much closer game than I anticipated, but we emerge victorious, even after a late disallowed goal.

Back in the league, we lead against the run of play at Atletico, but are made to pay in the second half. I’d have settled for a point, but the annoying little mole’s late winner is harsh…

The blip is only brief though, and we’re straight back to winning ways against Sevilla. Arenaza or Laslandes have scored in every game so far this season, and they’re both on target today. Mateus is still no mate-to-us.

A midweek trip to Ukraine follows, and the Kiev is cooked after a nice comfortable win to keep us on maximum points and top of the group before facing Real Madrid next.

Speaking of Real Madrid… It’s Another year, and another crap Copa Del Rey draw. It seems we can’t keep away from them…

Last up this week, Celta Vigo. We make hard work of them, but 35 year-old Rafa Alkorta shows that there’s still life in the old dog, by putting on a defensive masterclass to protect our 1-0 lead right up to the final whistle.

So here’s the table. El Gel has clearly made an impact at Real, and we trail his unbeaten men by three points after eight games. Barca haven’t got off to a great start, but there’s a long way to go, so it could all change.

That’s it from me for this week, it’s been emotional knowing that we’re in our final season, but tune in next week for our second final as we try to win the last piece of our silverware puzzle, the world club cup. There’s also five (yes five) games with Real Madrid to look forward to. Adios!

1 thought on “Basque Boys – Part 36: Gerry and the pace-setters | @NTR9798

  1. Hi Nick! I started a new game with Athletic Bilbao and in my first season, made a few signings (Jose Guerrero, Bakero and De Paula), at the end of the first round i was in second place with 44 points, just one behind Barcelona, but the new year of 1998 started with a lot of injuries and the team started to drop in form and finished in 5th place with 69 points. In the UEFA Cup, i was knocked out in the Third Round and in the Copa del Rey reached the semi-finals before being knocked out by Real Madrid.

    Then, in Season 2 i made some good signings, especially from Real Sociedad (Alberto, Pikabea and Imaz), Mendieta from Valencia and Lekumberri from Compostela, the latter to play as a left-back. The performance in the Uefa Cup and the Copa del Rey was really to forget, being knocked out at the first round of both competitions. However, the performance in La Liga was much much better than the previous season, leading the league right from the beggining for the majority of the season, even though there was a slight dip in form in mid-season, the title race looked more exciting than ever, between Athletic, Barca and Real.
    On matchday 34, it was probably the game which decided the league, in a very tight contest i managed to win at the Camp Nou 1-0 thanks to a Bakero goal and jumped to the 1st place with a two-point lead from Real and four from Barcelona, with 4 games to go. The last 2 games were the most difficult ones, a Basque derby away against a good Real Sociedad side with the best player in the league (Mutiu), though i won this match with an 85th minute goal in a game which the win could have fallen to either side.
    At last, the very final game of the season, a home match against Merida that was having a good season, finished 8th and had won the clash in the reverse fixture. A nervy game seemed to be ending 0-0, the title seemed to be escaping at the final game of the season, until the 80th minute when Carlos Garcia scored, gave us the win and consequently, the title.
    In fact, with 85 points i was lucky and benefit a lot from Real and Barca below-par performance in the league (one of them uses to finish with more than 90 points), although Barca won the Champions League in that season. With the luck on my side, by winning La Liga in Season 2 i managed an achievement very difficult to beat on another occasion.

    Started season 3 with high expectations, however it kicked-off with a blow after a Super Copa defeat against Valencia. The performance in the league never looked good, with many highs and lows and i started to focus on the main goal, the Champions League. With 15 points in the group stage things looked good, then a quarter final contest against Porto was the best possible, with a 4-1 away win and a 1-0 win in a 2nd leg that looked like a friendly match. The semi-finals seemed to be a lot harder with Sporting Lisbon, Barca and Real Madrid as possible opponents. The draw meant a clash against Los Merengues, but despite having Guerrero injured for both legs, the Basque willingness prevailed with a 1-0 home win and a 2-1 away win.
    That meant an-all Spanish clash in Seville against mighty Barca, with the league already lost as we ended in a miserable 7th place, with Guerrero facing a race against time to be fit for this decisive match of the season. As the game arrived, Guerrero was only 75% fit, nevertheless i took the gamble and decided to play him, our best player had to be in the starting XI. The outcome was as i predicted, a tight game, in the 1st half we were slightly better and had some chances. After the break, Barca started on the front foot, had more chances but couldn’t score, then midway through the 2nd half Guerrero was replaced, the gamble didn’t pay off as the match was still 0-0 and extra time came.
    I realised that the most probably outcome of this match would be decided by penalties, but suddenly in a quick counter-attack, the rebound fell to Exteberría and GOAL! We were leading 0-1, decided to switch to a 5-3-2 formation and it worked, Barca didn’t have so many chances and the match ended. Against a stronger team and all the odds, we won the Champions League!
    After this memorable win, the season would end with the Copa del Rey Final against Real Madrid, what it looked to be a tight game, it was the opposite. In a brilliant 1sh half display, Real thrashed us and won the match 4-0, the 2nd half was a mere formality and they totally deserved to win the Copa.

    Now, Season 4 would be the most challenging one, having 6 trophies to fight for. Let’s see how it goes…

    https://imgur.com/a/QWTcgaD

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