Greetings and welcome back to the Brits Abroad. Have a brief absence last week to celebrate this great game turning 26, we head back to Portugal looking to win the whole lot this time. That cup final defeat still annoys me. Anyway, we’re also World Champions as England but qualifying for Euro 2004 is about to get underway. To the games!
Something I would like to do is improve the pool of players I have available for England, as outside of the first 11 and a few subs, we’re relying on people like Chris Holland. So I’ll sell Chris Holland and replace him when possible.
You might remember we signed Robbie Fowler in the close season and he is our only new face. The two legged Portugese Charity Shield is half way to being ours thanks to the unlikely figure of Richard Rufus.
Another nuisance is Andy Cole, now very much surplus to requirements since Fowler joined Owen, Gallen and Bridges. We make a £6m loss on him but he’s gone. A World Cup winner, of course.
The league season gets underway with a comfortable win over Academica. Fowler opens his account but he’s seemingly got his work cutout to catch Richard Rufus in the goal scoring charts.
A tricky draw – Juventus will take some bettering but we’ll find a way I’m sure.
Good to get the annoying trip to Chaves out of the way early doors but we get at them early and the game is practically won at half time. It finishes 4-2.
England’s qualifying campaign takes us to Holland, which is an awful draw as they’re very good. Redknapp briefly gives us hope but Reuser wraps it up for the 10 men.
Austria seem our most likely rival for the playoff spot.
Remember when you won the World Cup Dave? No, us neither.
Back to Portugal and a 4-2 win over Vitoria Guimaraes keeps our momentum going. Gallen is starting to show some form.
A tough trip to Juventus starts off the campaign and when Zidane heads into his own goal, I’m starting to think we might get away with at least a point. Inzaghi has other ideas, plundering a hat-trick in 7 minutes and a total of 7 yards. Del Piero adds gloss. A big problem.
We brush that off with another Gallen double, Boavista the latest to feel his wrath.
The Supertaca is ours! Bridges seals the victory over our closest rivals.
We are shipping goals at an alarming rate. I suppose the only positive is we are generally outscoring the opposition but as we saw in Italy, it’s not always the case.
We get our Champions League defence up and running at the second attempt as Sparta Prague fall victim to Gallen.
A quick detour to Wembley for England vs Andorra where Fowler nets five first half goals in a mighty performance. Scott Minto is the other goalscorer, no doubt a quiz question for years to come.
Just a few days later and the boys are back in action at home to Atletico club de Portugal, a newly promoted side. We get four, we concede our customary two, life goes on.
A clean sheet! You boys must bad.
CSKA visit from Bulgaria and again get a couple of goals but our five get us onto 6 points. Juventus have the perfect 9 out of 9 and our home game with them will be crucial.
Tirsense are another newly promoted side but they give us a mighty scare. Thankfully Fowler treats them like the common Andorra and we sneak the points.
Alverca is a small stadium but they can’t rival us and we run out comfortable 2-0 victors.
Let’s look at all the tables. At home, things are great.
In Europe, we’ve got a bit of a job on
England are still in the very early days of qualifying but a bit like Benfica’s Champions League group, our home game against Holland next year will make or break us.
It’s good to be back. The aim is to win everything but we’re going to have to do very well to get the better of Juventus. That’s our next match so I’ll see you next week to see how it went.
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