2001: An Ace Squad-yssey – Part 21: Aces Low | @NTR9798

Hello there! Nick has left his Spanish Villa, and flown to Italy to continue his quest to find out if the legends of CM01/02 can cut it in CM97/98. They’re about to start season four, fresh off the back of a second place finish in Serie A, and a Coppa Italia win, but can they build on that? Over to Nick…

Before we begin, I’ll quickly recap on what this blog is all about. Basically, I created a squad of CM01/02 legends, using their exact 01/02 stats, and the aim is to see how far they can go in CM97/98. So I present, the CM01/02 Aces…

The Aces’ fan base is growing following the cup win and champions league qualification, so the board act accordingly…

After finishing runners-up to Inter last season, we’ll have to get past Anderlecht to make it to the champions league groups…

But before that, it’s time for some of pre-season friendlies. I like to play teams who own CM97/98 legends, to give my players an idea of what it takes to make it in this game, and we start with a win over Erik Nevland’s Derby…

Next up are Danish side Vejle, who own everyone’s favourite Icelandic regen, who goes by the name of Kristjan Thorvaldsson in this particular save. It’s another narrow win.

Our Coppa Italia defence starts away at Foggia.

We were due to play a third friendly, but had to cut the tour short for the Anderlecht tie, and this is how we line up. Nikolai’s “VVV” served me well in Basque Boys, so I don’t need to look any further in terms of tactics for now…

Robben and Hersi impressed out on loan last season, so I’ll be giving them more game time this year, so they both start. Hersi and Madeira both grab braces as we smash the Belgian champs in their own back yard, what a start!

The first loanees of the season are Kennedy Bakircioglü and Tonton Zola Moukoko, who join Napoli and Udinese respectively.

Next up is the Italian charity shield against inter. We dominate a frustrating match, but can’t beat an inspired Pagliuca, and end up quite literally paying the penalty…

In the second leg with Anderlecht, they start brightly, and have an early goal disallowed. But another brace for Madeira and one for the boy from Belarus send us into the champions league proper…

We’re dealt this group, not the easiest I’m sure you’ll agree…

Cup time, and Foggia aren’t as much of a walk in the park as I was expecting, but Tsigalko finally scores with his seventh shot at goal and we’re through for a trip to the capital…

Our league campaign begins at home to Atalanta. It’s a wasteful start from us, but despite two disallowed goals, we still come out on top to get our first points on the board.

Back to Europe we go, and it’s an unexpected draw against a Dinamo Kiev side that didn’t have many greys. These weren’t the team I was expecting to cause us problems…

Meanwhile back in the league, poor old Verona are on the receiving end of the backlash from the frustration in Ukraine…

Our perfect start in the league ends after the third game, as a super keeper performance and an injury to Hersi compound our misery…

Hersi’s dreadful luck with injuries continues…

It’s more dropped points at Genoa, who didn’t have a single shot on goal. Our cause isn’t helped by Said, who walks like an Egyptian down the tunnel after his red card.

Next in our champions league group are Man Utd. Samba’s in for the suspended Tsigalko, but only lasts an hour before getting injured. Thankfully his strike partner is on the ball, and Richard Wright’s red card helps.

Cherno’s fate is revealed, and it’s not good…

Our record against AC Milan is poor, and it doesn’t show any signs of improving today, as the usually-solid Frey gifts them a win with an own goal as we put in a Duff home display.

Things seem to be going ok at Udinese despite Okoronkwo’s dismissal, but we then proceed to surrender our lead by conceding two late goals, and it’s a second defeat on the bounce.

Last up are Cagliari at home, where I’m hopeful of getting back on track. My optimism is somewhat naive however, and it’s a third straight loss after another injury and late goal.

The medical team deliver the verdict on N’Diaye the next day, and it’s really not good. To top things off, Hofland gets injured in training as well, so that’s two of my three first-choice centre backs out injured. Fantastic.

So as starts go, this has been pretty horrific to say the least. It started well, but three defeats in five league games sees us hovering just above the relegation zone. It’s early days of course, but will the board afford me the time to turn things around? One thing’s for sure – if it was 2022, I’d be sacked now, so let’s hope our board have more patience than those of the modern game…

So there ends our first catch up with the Aces. There’s plenty of work to do to try and haul ourselves out of this mess, but with games against Fiorentina, Parma, Lazio, Juventus, Inter and Napoli all coming up next week, it doesn’t get any easier. Ciao for now!

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