2001: An Ace Squad-yssey – Part 28: A fitting finale? | @NTR9798

Hello again! and welcome to the finale of the 2001/02. Can Nicks bunch of CM01/02 legends fittingly secure a domestic and European double in the season that they’re famous for? Here’s Nick with the latest…

We start at Parma, and deservedly lead 2-1 at half time. Tsigalko makes it three just before the hour, and we run out 3-2 winners despite Jesper Blomqvist giving us a late scare. A massive win in the title race.

This is nice as always, but it doesn’t mean anything to me unless we’re top of the league.

Prutton is the latest training ground casualty…

To Europe, where we face Real Madrid in the champions league semi finals. Real strike early, but it’s level at half time, and we lead shortly after. Souped-up Wilfred Bouma equalises, before the shite in real life Kiko gets the winner. The two away goals are handy, and hopefully Contreras’ injury is a bad one.

The score line against Piacenza flatters us slightly, as they have plenty of chances and threaten enough to force Frey into a man of the match display, but three points are in the bag, and we keep the pressure on the old lady.

Napoli have been tricky in the past, and now own Brian Laudrup and Totti, so I’m expecting a tough one. Nikiforenko gets an early settler, and Tsigalko makes it 2-0 just before half time. Selakovic makes it three, and we make it through ninety minutes without conceding.

The second leg with Real Madrid rolls around. Hofland is suspended, so Klompe starts, and Contreras is thankfully still injured for them. We’re two up at half time, and they’ve not had a shot on target. They only manage two shots in the second half, and Said rounds things off with a quarter of an hour left, and we’re into our second successive champions league final.

Man Utd await in the final after beating Ajax…

We’re 1-0 up on Bari at half time, but it should have been two, but for Madeira missing a penalty, which sure enough comes back to bite us. Nikiforenko then makes the most of a defensive mix-up, and we squeak what should have been a comfortable win in the end.

Another double injury blow. These are massive losses at such a crucial time in the season. F*ck!

Another month, another manager of the month award, but we’re still not top…

Our penultimate league game is away at Empoli. It’s a worrying first half as we waste five shots on target, but Super Sergey puts us ahead just before the hour, and we see it out. Napoli manage to hold Juve, which puts us top with one game to go!!!

And that game is a tough one away to Milan. We have a far superior goal difference to Juve, so all we have to do is win and the title is ours.

We lead at half time through the seldom-seen Cherno Samba, but two Milan goals in the space of a second half minute break our hearts, as Juve beat Bari to snatch the title from right under our noses. For f*ck sake!

So as much as it pains me to see it, here’s the final table. I’m absolutely gutted to have lost the title in that manner, but I learned from my time in Bilbao trying to overthrow Barcelona, that if you keep plugging away, your reward will eventually come, so we’ll be back…

Roma’s return to Serie A was short-lived, and this time they take Fiorentina down to Serie B with them. Cremonese, Udinese, Lecce and Foggia will replace the bottom four next season…

All is not lost however. We won the European Super Cup, and World Club Cup, and now have the champions league final to play against Man Utd, so it could be a lot worse…

Tsigalko is only fit enough for the bench, so Samba keeps his place after his goal in Milan. The game is close all the way through, but neither side can break the deadlock, and it goes to extra time. But today is our day, and magic Madeira fires in a free kick to win it, and we’re champions of Europe again!!!

In the other leagues, Aston Villa win the premier league, Arsenal land the FA cup, Newcastle secure the league cup, Juventus win the Coppa Italia, Barca are La Liga, champions again, Atletico Madrid lift the Copa Del Rey and cup winners cup, and Sampdoria the UEFA Cup, while Spain beat France to lift the World Cup.

And here are those all-important (or pointless, depending on which way you look at it) player stats. Madeira had a disappointing season by his extremely high standards, but Tsigalko more than made up for it. Super Sergey Nikiforenko was a revelation, and I’m kicking myself for not giving him a chance sooner.

At the Italian awards, Madeira is the football writers player of the year, Tsigalko the Serie A top scorer, and strangely I’m the Serie A manager of the year, although I suspect it’s down to the champions league win rather than our league exploits…

So there goes another season, and just to recap, so far we’ve won the Serie B, Coppa Italia, two champions leagues, the European super cup and the world club cup, so that just leaves the Italian super cup and that elusive Serie A title left to win. I’m no quitter though, so I’ll be straight back next week ready for another season. Ciao for now!

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