Greetings, bonjour and so on. We’re back in Portugal, who utilise neither of those greetings but you join us at an exciting time nevertheless. The aim is to retain everything, add the Portuguese cup to the list and get England well on their way to Euro 2004. It is at this point that I realise I have not paced this season’s bloggings very well. Strap yourselves in, there are many games.
Firstly though, a departure. World Cup winners Stephen Clemence is off to Ipswich. He was a stop-gap to beef out my England squad but now I have identified a replacement.
A less than convincing win here as Page gets sent off. I feel like that happens at least once a season.
Here is the previously mentioned Clemence replacement. He’s alright, but better than Clemence (and 10x the price).
Big game in the cup as we head to Porto. Owen gives us an early lead but Mielcarski earns a replay which will be at our gaffe.
Phil Neville is available. £2m for this sort of versatility (ask KOTR just how versatile) cannot be passed up. Welcome aboard.
The cup replay goes to plan. Into the semis…
Avoiding Sporting is a double edged sword. If we play them in the final at our stadium, we will lose. It’s some sort of bug which we sort of proved last time but I’m sure it’ll happen again.
Gallen sees off lowly Atletico.
A slow first half against Pacos Ferreira is soon forgotten thanks to Mr Reliable T2. Rufus and Bridges add the gloss and we set ourselves up nicely for Ajax.
This is not a good result. It means we have to go to Amsterdam and either not concede or score at least twice. That’s not an easy task.
Another rough performance, this time at Tirsense, sees us win very late on.
The semi final is easily negotiated. The best news of all is that the final is indeed at Sporting’s stadium, which heightens the chance of us winning, hilariously.
Oh ok then.
Duberry, Neville and Staton are in for prospective debuts.
Rinse and repeat, a below par performance sees Macca pinch a win.
Back to the top of the table with 8 games to go. The goal difference is not a comfortable lead though.
Well, what do you know? We go to Amsterdam, score twice and don’t concede. Easier than expected.
Some big scores, our Portugese friends putting down a marker. Anybody but them.
Austria away is a little tricky but not for these lads. They’ve got the bit between their teeth right now. Fowler is lethal in an England shirt.
Another iffy performance sees us leave the Pints town with three points.
Off we go across the city for the first leg and a good defensive display is undone when Page misplaces a pass late on and Leandro pounces. That’s going to take some overturning without an away goal.
Braga dig deep after conceding early. Fowler goes off with a hamstring, Owen comes on and scores with his first touch. Redknapp eventually settles it.
Yippee they’ve blown it again. Chaves are 4th, to be fair.
Icelandic regen hero will play no further part for a while.
We go to Porto and find ourselves 3-0 down inside 28 minutes. Jardel needs moving along, surely somebody else could do with him by now? Anyway we get two late consolation goals which actually might help if goal difference is a factor. Not a good day though.
5 games to go and it’s now a three horse race.
Back to the main problem which is overturning a 1-0 deficit against Sporting. A poor first half sees us manage 1 shot. It’s time for some home truths at half time and after explaining that we’re not meant to like these guys we come out on the old raw meat diet and pressure an own goal. Own and Bridges do the rest. Yay!
Juventus edge past Liverpool, so we’ll meet our group stage foes in the final.
…at their stadium. Hopefully that works against them.
Another crucial league win. This should have been a lot healthier but a flurry of missed chance and a late consolation make it look like a tense afternoon. It wasn’t, I’m stress free. Honest.
Sporting get battered but take what could be a crucial point.
Southgate’s domestic season is over. We play Holland in June, hopefully he makes that.
Macedonia are brushed aside. It will be the Holland games that decide our hopes.
Cup final time and a point is proven. It’s at Sporting’s ground and they’re hopeless. 5-0 away from home against this lot sees us regain the Portugese cup. It’s definitely a thing.
Two days later we meet in the league. They can have this one, I’ll back us to win the three remaining games.
Porto are in striking distance.
It shouldn’t matter. Our last 3 games are very winnable. Tricky Trev steps up here.
And again here. He’s single handedly sorting this out.
One game to go!
First though it’s Turin and any nerves are calmed by Kevin Gallen’s 1 minute goal from a Scott Minto cross. Champions League retained again!
The last domestic game of the season is an easy one thanks to Fowler’s early goal settling our nerves. We’ve done it again!
League winners! You get £340k for winning the Portugese league. I got more than double than for selling Steve Haslam.
One more chapter in this, the longest of updates and it’s a big one for our hopes of qualifying for Euro 2004. England vs Holland, and it’s live. Robbie Fowler is banned so it’s Owen and Gallen from the start.
We’ve had worse days…
An interesting offer. Everton know what my demands are.
One more game…in Andorra.
Mr Reliable gets to take the match ball home. Tony Thorpe do do do do do do. I’d be surprised if we didn’t qualify from here.
That will have to wait to be rubberstamped next week. First though, awards.
We win the fair play again which is incredible as I swear our centre backs were dismissed regularly. Mind you, it is Portugal, where anything goes.
That wraps up mega update. If you stuck with it, well done. If you skipped to the end, I admire the grift. Have a great week, next week we’ll begin what I hope to be the final season as we try to retain everything and win Euro 2004. Bye for now.