“Brian was my idol. From day one, I loved Brian.” Neil Warnock on Brian Clough when asked about rival club Nottingham Forest.
Welcome back, Warno-brothers! Last time out young Niall Warnock won promotion with Kidderminster to Division 1 – with two tasks ticked off, it means it’s time to pack our bags for the next challenge!
Here’s the updated taskmaster spreadsheet;
Right, it’s back to Division 2… and the perfect job has come up.
Relegated Nottingham Forest are the perfect foil. They have a Division 1-ready squad, though nothing in the bank, and a frustrated fanbase yearning for the glory days of Ole Big ‘Ead! It’s also the perfect rivalry story.. Big Brother takes Notts County up, so little brother will do it with their city rivals!
It’ll have to be regen schoolboys to start – a way of earning cash and signing freebies. We start by bringing regen centre half Simon Middlemiss. I have deduced is one of recently-retired Steve Bould, Gary Mabbutt or Martin Keown… We bring in the Hristo Stoichkov regen Radoslav Milisev; a Columbian International regen Luis Edison on loan, Neville Southall’s regen Andrew Mardon; a regen left back Robert Bryan; a regen midfielder Ian Reeves and.. finally.. One to tickle the Forest fans, Nigel Clough’s regen Nicky Haworth!
This is how we will line up for the opening game of the season, replicating our final formation at Kidderminster. Van Hooijdonk has to be the focal point. Right? I put faith in Mardon in goal as Big Nev is a beast and a hope will be solid!
So far as openings go.. this is a damp squib. At least we kept a clean sheet against Bristol Rovers.
Sounds like the fans were also turned off by the fixture..
The League Cup brings some early joy for Van Hooijdonk who nets a hattrick. Preston, playing in the same league as us, give us a nice buffer for the second leg.
The lads remain in Preston for three days, as we return to Deepdale in the league. Clough Junior opens his Forest account at the end of the first half. We do well to level the game but concede late to lose. Note the diffence in attendances… They must love a mid-week cup tie in Lancashire!
This is painful. Preston reverse the 3-1 first leg and we are forced to watch the worst, most terrible penalty shootout in ChampMan history. Balls.
We get our league campaign underway with a 2-0 win at Mansfield. It’s after I tweak the formation a little.
George Ndah takes 4 minutes to show me I’ve made a mistake leaving him out of our early games and stand-in winger Joe Humphrey scores on his first start.
We follow with a 2-1 win at Fulham, and new-boy Lee Hendrie joining regen winger Derek Marquis (great name) on the scoresheet. Hendrie joins from Aston Villa for a tribunal-led £750k. He’ll play on the right side of midfield. Marquis – who can play AM/F L/R/C – will play on the left. No idea who Marquis’s grandfather player was, but he’s certainly versatile!
It’s off to Gigg Lane, and Bury next. The revised formation seems to be working as Ndah scores again in a 2-0 win. No idea what Danny Dichio is doing in our box conceding an OG?!
Our winning form continues with a 2-1 win at Gillingham. George Ndah is finding his feet, whereas Van Hooijdonk has fallen off the wagon. Clough junior scores from the penalty spot to show the lads how it’s done.
Clough junior scores again against Crewe, as the lads shake off their slow start to the season and commence an ascent to climb the table. We’ve now reached top-six and playoff places.
The lads score three second half goals at the City Ground against Chester. We fall behind but respond well. That’s six wins on the bounce, and three in three for young Clough.
After the Chester game we welcome our first familiar face…
Esteban Cambiasso – who can play left sided or central in defense, anchor and/or midfield – has not played a game since we left Kidderminster. It’s a no-brainer to bring the ex-Real Madrid man in for peanuts.
I also have an offer accepted for transfer-listed Nick Barmby. I love this man, and would carry him to Nottingham personally if it would help lure him to the City Ground. Unfortunately the board and my valuations are somewhat different. Bar Stewards!
Our winning run continues with a comfortable win at Wrexham. It’s good to see Van Hooijdonk back on the scoresheet!
We draw Swansea and Exeter in the Windscreen Shield group stages. I opt for a strong team as Swansea are dispatched 3-0 in our opening game. Maybe Van Hooijdonk is a cup specialist?
Back in the league a strong first half performance was enough to put Bradford to bed. This run really is extraordinary!
The League Manager’s Association clearly think so too! Cheers, lads.
Last game of this episode, and our versatile ‘marquee regen scores two to seal the win at Torquay. We get lucky with this one, as Brown sees Red on 19 minutes, gifting us a chance of asserting our authority on the game.
The win puts us in the automatic promotion places and starting to pull clear of 7th place already. We’ve got work to do to catch up with Stoke, though maintaining our form will help!
Join us next time, as we play through the middle-part of the season and try to bring in some familiar faces to bolster the squad.
Until next time, Colin!