Hello Champers. Let’s kick off this Bank Holiday episode by acknowledging man we are trying to emulate… Congratulations Neil Warnock on guiding Huddersfield to safety in this seasons Championship, with a game to spare. Let’s hope he retires for good this time?!
To mark the achievement, I’ve added another ‘Houdini’ challenge to the spreadsheet. Looks like another trip to the Division One basement, Champers!
(As Colin still has a game to play and not officially retired, I’ll update the total games required to match him next time.)
Right. Back to AI and CM97/98. Niall Warnock’s Leeds are twenty games into the 2008/09 Premier League season and, remarkably, find themselves ten points clear of Sunderland. Can the deadly duo of Davide Trezeguet and Patrick Kluivert keep the #DirtyLeeds train rolling forward?
Relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday manage to hold us to draw after our evergreen Italian Stallion gives us a half hour lead.
We start our FA Cup campaign off against a plucky Bolton side at the Reebok. We lose Tony Adams’ regen David Valentine early on, but it makes no difference to the result.
One cup run commences as another is ended. Brentford knock us out in extra time of our League Cup Quarter final. At least we can focus on other competitions, right?
Our mini stutter in the league goes on, as Spurs cancel out a first half Kluivert goal. Spurs smashed us 0-3 at Elland Road, so I guess shows progress.
Back the the drawing board… the positive is, we come from behind to equalize this time out. That’s six dropped points since the restart.
We are given a tough draw in the FA Cup 4th round against our league rivals Sunderland. Franny Jeffers loves scoring against us, and bags a brace. Fortunately, we score three.
Thankfully we manage to transfer some cup form into the league. Villa are swept aside and score after I make my obligatory triple 60th minute substitution. Trez nets his fifth in three games.
Our veteran full back Vagner quietens the St. James’ crowd before a late goal from Andriy Shevchenko levels things.
We are drawn away to Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round, and seem to be in control of the tie. 1 goal up, with Liverpool carrying two injuries, and Nigel Quashie bags a late equalizer to take the tie to a replay.
We are drawing a lot this episode. Leicester are bottom of the league, and we are still top. Sometimes it goes that way.
Liverpool are defeated at Elland road in our FA Cup replay. Leonardo’s regen Adilson scores the late winner to avoid more extra time. Big Nige scores again but to no avail.
There was no need for the players to travel back to Merseyside, as three days later the same teams face off in Leeds again. This time we score four, with Trez netting a hatrick. Nicky Butt – somehow on the Liverpool books – scores a consolation.
The lads score five more in our third home game in a row. Norwich take an unlikely lead and lads respond by humiliating the Canaries. Delia won’t be ‘avin that!
With ten games to go our lead is stretched to 14 points. It means we can lose four and still have enough points… This is going to happen, isn’t it?
Where to start with this FA Cup tie. Fiery. John Barnes really got his Argyle side motivated, and we fell into the #DirtyLeeds trap. We’ve another replay incoming.
The AI must be lazy. Pairing league opponents with cup opponents for the second game in a row. The Leeds faithful show Argyle what a hostile atmosphere looks like and Barnes’ men are overawed.
Trez sets a record.
We easily beat Wolves to move 17 points clear of Man Utd and Arsenal. Three more wins will be enough!
FA Cup Quarter Final replay time… More red cards – this time Henning Berg’s regen. We battle with ten players for most of the game and score late to break Argyle hearts. Cup magic indeed!
We’re not give much time to dwell as three days later are send to Old Trafford for the Semi Final. It take five minutes to get in front, and then after a Juan equalizer Kluivert scores just before half time. We manage the game out and are in the FINAL!
Arsenal show their efficiency in a ‘six pointer’ at Highbury. No matter – they are playing catch up and we just need to win three games.
Lads! We better not balls this up! We are crawling towards the finish. We need a win.
Maybe the lads are getting stage fright. Its Chelsea’s turn to apply some pressure, as they comfortably win 2-0.
A narrow win at Forest follows. We have nine shots, two on target, and one manages to sneak in. Phew.
The win means we are twelve clear with four to play. We just need 1 point.
CHAMPIONS! Relegation-threatened Derby hold out for a draw, but it’s enough to secure the title with three games left to play!
It’s a brilliant achievement – thanks to the deadly duo of Kluivert and Trezaguet. I think having no European commitments helped.
The final three games we beat both ‘Boro and Man Utd 1-0 and end the league campaign with a 2-2 draw at Bolton.
Here’s the final table;
Now for the FA Cup final, and chance at the DOUBLE. This is my second attempt at lifting the FA Cup after falling short with Leeds in 2007. We play Division 1 side Crystal Palace, and I have my strongest team available. Rebrov may feel hard done by as he’s been the cup specialist. No time for hard feelings!
We lost Zivkovic and Kluivert early to injury so Haaland and Rebov are on the pitch by 18 minutes. Palace take the lead on 33 minutes through my ex-Argyle front man Freddy Asprilia. Freddy makes it 2-0 to palace on 56 minutes and I’m forced to take a desperate measure… On 58 minutes Goalkeeper Hughes comes off and I go all out attack.
It nearly works. Giuly nets one back on 72 but that would end the contest.
It’s a shock defeat, and another FA Cup final loss for Niall. The lads can still look back with some pride over the course of the season.
Here’s the final stats; Trezeguet the stand out performer scoring 30 goals and helping with 14 assists. You may recall, he hit his 30th goal on 14th March, and didn’t score in the final 2 months of the season… [Ian Walling is Robbie Fowler’s regen who was on loan in Division 3].
Here’s the spreadsheet with Premier League title added; We’re up to 639 competitive games played.
Join us next time as Niall is given a dilemma ahead of Season 13…
Until then, enjoy the long-weekend!