Dons Roll the Dice

It’s fair to say season one went far better than I could have imagined. I turned up at Aberdeen, replaced most of the squad with CM legends and strolled to the title despite two of those legends leaving on transfer deadline day. Yes, it’s fair to say the only way from here is down.

But first, the main perk of winning in the Scottish League is that you enter the Champions League with access to riches Scottish clubs can normally only dream of. Except Rangers, they’re pretty flush…for now. Anyway, the negative is we have to enter the Champions League at the preliminary stage

CL Draw

That doesn’t leave us long to prepare and get some fresh blood in. I secured the signature of blog-friend Bjord Heidenstrom during the World Cup

heiden signs

Add to that young Robbie Keane who will be going out on loan, it’s good to know that if a Devine situation happens again I’m not left without anyone.

robbie keane signs

A striker for the here and now is most important and I’m delighted to land Nevland from Man Utd.

Nevland signs

He arrives on the day of the first leg, but it’s two of my title winners who get the job done

CL qualifier

The away trip though is a great time for not just the Nev but the whole of Aberdeen. Just hope for an easy draw in the final qualifying round

CL qualifier L2

Sadly though another has flown the nest. Darren Young started complaining last season and as he won’t sign a new contract, it’s no surprise he nips off to Rangers at the first opportunity.

Young to Rangers

Silly boy. Still, some people would rather go to Ibrox than face Henry, Trezeguet and friends

Aberdeen draw Monaco

Bloody hell.

Monaco squad

Still, at least John Collins is leaving. That’ll help. Also, why?

Ince to Barcelona

You know I don’t think they need Paul Ince. Arsenal have managed to snare another England International though

shearer arsenal

Shearer nearly always signs for Man Utd so this is a bit of a surprise, but Ferguson isn’t one to be denied. He spends £6m on…Steven Pass.

S Pass Man Utd

I’ve never been happier to be in Scotland, away from this madness. Speaking of which, our domestic season gets underway with a draw, which I’m quite pleased with having been two down inside 15 minutes.

opening day draw

That is just the prelude to the main event. Aberdeen welcome Monaco to Pittodrie and I’m sure it’ll be a wonderful experience.

These boys though. A famous night in front of a strangely not full stadium

2-1 Monaco

The problem is, Monaco will be rampant at home. That away goal might be crucial.

Or it could be the greatest night of my managerial career

0-0 in Monaco

We’re in the groups! Our reward is Ajax, who I know a thing or two about, but also two clubs I’ll fancy taking 12 points from

CL Group

We’ll revisit our European tour later.

Back on the domestic front and after a couple of draws to start the season, the first win is a welcome one, if not without incident.

1st win

Ridiculous scenes. Though not as ridiculous as the Nev netting five times away at Dundee.

nevland 5

It’s official though, Celtic are not a threat.

4-0 celtic

THIRTY-FIVE shots. Celtic were lucky to get nil.

There’s a hint that Rangers are on the wane

rangers ayr

However it turns out first division sides have built an unbreakable forcefield around their goal, as we find out in the semi-finals

SF pens

Yes, their keeper saved those three pens. I didn’t want to win it anyway.

Still, we might not be able to beat St Mirren but Ajax…

win over ajax

We even managed to draw in Amsterdam earlier in the group

2-2 with ajax

We look well set to make it through, we’ve plundered goals against Zabrze and FC Croatia in the two meetings so far, so let’s hope for more of the same here.

CL group 4 games

A few other bits and pieces. Marc Emmers is paggered

emmers 3 months

That’s given an opportunity to young Ricky Gillies, who has recovered from whatever massive injury he sustained last season. Likewise Martin Lauchlan, who you may recall as the 16 year old whose pelvis we shattered in training, is back and playing left wing back after Young left.

It’s not all good news though. My suggestion that Rangers are on a downward spiral couldn’t be more wrong

rangers defeat

Losing your keeper after two minutes is less than ideal.

Jim Leighton left, somebody actually paid for him

Leighton leaves

I pinched Hearts’ goalkeeper to make sure we have backup for Dida

hogarth signs

And despite things generally being as good as they could get, some people are never happy

Page bigger clubmulryne exit

Good luck finding another Champions League club. Let’s look at what happened to two others who chased the glory

mainwaring career

Devine Nov 98

Having said that, Chelsea are at least top of the table

prem top nov 98

Looks like Dalglish has scrubbed the entertainment out of Newcastle.

We are not top of the SPL. So maybe Devine has a point?

SPL table Nov 98

Long way to go yet. We’re going to win the Champions League anyway…

See you next week.

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And the NEW…

Hello there, and welcome to the end of season one. My Aberdeen side, or the Disco Dons as I like to call them, are doing rather well. So well that we reached the end of March top of the Scottish Premier League and just as it looked like we were going to coast to the title, Rangers decided to activate the big club release clauses on our best two strikers. Sure, that just provoked Chelsea into bidding for Sean Devine, where he ultimately went, but Mainwaring went to Rangers and that bugs me a huge amount. Anyway, the only way to get over that is to win the league and be a hero. But who the bloody hell is going to score my goals?

We manage to eek out a win against Dundee United with young Robert Dunn climbing off the bench to nick the three points. At this stage, it doesn’t matter how we do it

2-1 Dundee Utd

That puts us 11 points ahead with 21 to play for. Even with no strikers, I like those odds.

29 played 4th update

A win at Hibs with goals from Tomlinson and Emmers moves us a step closer, but it’s an Old Firm double header that follows. Firstly, it’s Rangers in the cup…at Celtic Park.

Did they really need to buy my forwards?

scottish cup SF

A rare off day from the lads and we won’t be winning the Scottish Cup, but I’ve got my eyes on a bigger prize.

Celtic visit Pittodrie…

Aberdeen 4 - 1 Celtic

They are, simply put, not currently a threat. Henrik Larsson can’t do it all by himself.

The table looks pretty nice now. 13 points ahead, 15 available. One more win and the title is heading to Aberdeen

31 played

It’s Motherwell who stand between us and the destiny I set out to achieve a month ago

Motherwell aren’t very good.

3-0 Motherwell champions

Weeeee are the Champions, my friend. With four games to spare!

Champions 32 games

Lovely stuff. I’d say we’ll be playing in the Champions League next season, but the Scottish Champions have to negotiate two preliminary rounds before reaching those lucrative group stages, so I won’t be sewing on those Champions League patches just yet.

Speaking of which, the calibre of teams in the semis is pretty disgusting

CL sf results

Hopefully none of those four lie in wait in said Preliminary Rounds…

We do still have to go to Ibrox, and having learned the lesson of the cup semi, I switch to a 5-3-2 for the tricky away trip – John Curtis paying for himself in moments like this

Rangers 0 - 1 Aberdeen

Martin celebrates by pointing to the ‘Champions’ patch on his sleeve whilst standing in front of Andrew Mainwaring, sitting in the stands for Rangers as he’s not deemed worth of a spot in the match day 14. Martin’s a good lad so I can’t bring myself to tell him that Mainwaring will get a winners medal too having played most of our matches.

A routine win over St Johnstone rounds off the season and the table shows us to be 20 (TWENTY) points better than Rangers. Well, I wasn’t expecting that.

scots PL final

Dundee Utd pipping Celtic to third is quite something too. St Johnstone had a strong season.

The Scottish Cup is an Old Firm affair and Celtic claw back some pride thanks to Jay-Jay

SCottish FA Cup final

Meanwhile south of the border, Arsenal are the champions!

Prem top final

Whilst in, er, Belgium, Standard Liege won the league

Belgian league final

Barcelona took the Champions League glory, some guy called Guardiola getting on the scoresheet.

CL Final 98

The English FA Cup final saw a surprise win for Blackburn, who can be very happy with their third placed finish and Cup win.

English FA Cup final

All that leaves is the 1998 World Cup. England and Ireland both made it through the groups only to lose in the last 16 to Austria and Norway respectively. The semi-finals saw 10 goals scored…

Brazil 4 - 0 Argentinaitaly 5 - 1 austriA

So it’s Brazil vs Italy in a repeat of the 1994 final…only this time, Italy won.

wc FINAL

Sad for Dida, I would have liked a World Cup winner on the books and I doubt Maldini will fancy the move. Anyway, awards time

ME. And Phil Mulryne.

Scottish Awards

Whilst over in England…Man Utd players win the awards but none of the trophies. Standard.

English Awards

That’s the first season in the books, and it’s fair to say we have overachieved slightly. Still, the hard work is only just beginning – we’ve got the Champions League to try and dominate, whilst maintaining our Premier League crown is not going to be easy against the resources Rangers have. I’ll be back next week with the start of season two, and it’s not a bad draw in the first round…

CL Draw

See you soon.

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Young and Stupid

Welcome back to Scotland, where my Aberdeen side are just starting to put cats amongst pigeons. Not big cats, but they are sizeable enough to have the Old Firm worried. Maybe not Rangers, but Celtic were so scared they sack Wim Jansen and brought in Mark McGhee. Walter Smith remains unmoved. But it’s January 1998, and another harsh Scottish winter is upon us. Phil Mulryne celebrates with a very late equaliser against Dundee Utd

1-1 Dundee Utd

Last time out you may remember Darren Young was starting to get itchy feet. We can get him a powder for that but instead he asks politely to leave. The youth of today.

Young twisting

I remind him that he’s going nowhere, and that’s the bottom line because Dave Black says so. The wrestling gags may continue (I’m aware they are from a different era but I’m sticking to the material, ok?)

Meanwhile the smack is layed down at Celtic Park

Celtic 2 - 3 Aberdeen

But as Celtic hit rock bottom, suffering a late calamity at the hands of Jonathan Gould(ust), this is the first sign that we’re a real threat now. Sean Devine is good but Brian O’Neil, whoever he is, is Mr Perfect

player ratings

I often feel you get into an absolute peak zone with this game, where you can do no wrong – even going 1-0 down to Hearts just seems to spur us on to score 4 goals in 7 minutes after a lovely half time cuddle revitalises my team.

hearts 2 - 4 aberdeen

Well, would you look at that…

top after 24 games

There’s 12 games to go and we’re in the driving seat. Unprecedented scenes at Pittodrie.

Celtic push the boat out to bring Jay-Jay to Celtic Park. I hope he likes being midtable in the SPL.

okocha to celtic

Meanwhile we’ve got a date with their good friends Rangers. This will be a true test of our current form

Aberdeen 4 - 0 Rangers

I bet Marco Negri regrets missing that pen. That seemed to shock us into life and we went bananas with three goals in 10 minutes. We’re unstoppable.

I don’t think so Blackburn.

Blackburn in for Young

Pleasingly I am able to reject it despite him having the dread big club release clause. Take that, Blackburn’s beliefs.

Seeing as we’re doing quite well, I decide to treat myself to something new and rapid. Not a car, but the next best thing

gillespie signs

He’d made literally no appearances for Dalglish at Newcastle and at £925k, he’ll be a huge asset. Other than the fact that he keeps sneaking off to gamble, he’s a walking assist. Except he doesn’t walk, he bloody sprints. He’s a difference maker.

We’re even still in the cup, which hasn’t been that difficult in all truth

SCottish Cup Quarter finals

It’s Rangers in the semis. Unfortunately we lose Ricky Gillies, who joins Lauchlan and Billy Mac on the “might be put down” table we keep around these parts. Why are all these young midfielders being maimed?

Gillies injury

So with 27 played, and just 9 games to go, we’ve opened up an 8 point lead!

27 played

Nothing can stop us now, it’s like that bit in every Bond film where it’s apparent he’s going to win. We’re Roger Moore, we’re Sean Connery…

chelsea mainwaringchelsea devinemainwaring to rangersDevine to Rangers

We’re George Lazenby.

With the dreaded big club release clauses in play, I can’t reject the offers. Still, I’ll try and make the best out of it and get Seb Rozenthal in exchange. It’s deadline day afterall

devine picks chelsea

I hate you Sean.

Hopefully Mainwaring goes there too, I can’t stand to look at his stupid face

mainwaring to rangers agreed

You little shite.

Still, it’s not like we’re losing much

Devine record

AM record

Don’t panic. At times like this, I like to turn to our lord and saviour, the big JC. He’ll know what to do

JC signs

But no striker can be signed at such short notice and we’re doomed to go to the end of the season with young Martin leading the line. Tomlinson can move from AM to upfront I guess – it’s a good job I signed Gillespie.

Martin stats

I could always switch to the 4-2-3-1 that we covered over the summer, but the other formation has done so well, it’d be silly to change it up now. Wouldn’t it?

new formation

Not sure. Gillespie is injured for the visit of Dundee Utd in the first game since the great departure, hence John Ritchie finding himself selected.

I know I said I’d do the rest of the season in this update but I’m at 700 words and I need to have a lie down to compensate for the loss of those two jerks. They had the chance to be part of something special and instead they’ve ditched us so close to the finishing line. I’ll show you, you’ll see!

See you next week for the finale, I think we might have done enough already but who knows. We’ve still got to go to Rangers, but you know, to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. Woo. I’ll try and cut out the wrestling jokes next week, I can already feel your collective eyes rolling. If you smell what I’m cooking…

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Transfer Merry-Go-Round

Welcome back! My Aberdeen revolution is off to a slow start, though there have been positive signs. However, my plans to overhaul the squad with CM legends has been slow to come to fruition thanks to nobody wanting to buy my players. A minor setback. Here’s the state of play in Aberdeen as we re-join the action

squad start of update 2

Not much room for manouevre, with a full squad and I’m running out of youths to release without feeling the unhappy tut from the boardroom. I’d pretty much sell anyone. Even Dean.

Offer for Windass

I’m sure he’ll have a lovely time at Man City. Meanwhile, Sean Devine is his replacement

Sean Devine signs

The one in, one out policy continues as finally my haggling over Stephen Glass pays off

Glass sold

Oh my how it pays off. That’s more than double his value and now, Zoidberg has the upperhand. In comes Father Mulryne

Mulryne signs

Just call me Mike Ashley, signing a replacement for a fraction of the original sale. Lovely stuff. On the pitch, my new look squad is tested by the visit of Rangers

2-1 Rangers

Sean you absolute lad. Well except for missing the penalty, that would have been nice. Still, shots fired at the supposed favourites. The good times continue to roll as, incredibly, somebody offers money for Eoin Jess

Jess leaves

What a wide array of clubs. Fair to say Jess divides opinion. With a squad space to fill, I decide to shore up the defence with good old Rob Page

Page signs

I tell you what mind, Dunfermline are absolutely awful. My new look side score 6 to make up for the woeful 1-1 draw on the opening day

5-2 at Dunfermline

That’s 10 games in the bag and we’re on the coat tails of the Old Firm, though quite what Dundee Utd are doing at the top I’m not too sure. They’re unbeaten!

table 10 games

That is until they turn up at Pittodrie

Dundee Utd first defeat

Devine is worth every penny. It’s not long after this that the Dundee Utd manager leaves to go to Leeds, presumably seeing that it’s all downhill from here, as the mighty Aberdeen continue the charge. Celtic are torn a new one

3-1 Celtic

Whilst Gazza is torn a new leg. He’ll miss World Cup 98 for entirely different reasons this time.

Gazza injured

Celtic are the first to blink, sacking old Wim Jansen

Celtic sack Jansen

He’s replaced by Mark McGhee, who did at least play for Celtic in the 80s. Got to love that continuity

McGhee in at Celtic

Motherwell pose no danger to us, they are merely a feast for Devine to gorge himself on. Young Tomlinson has also started to become useful playing in one of the two attacking midfield positions. What are we creating here?

Aberdeen 4 - 0 Motherwell

Sadly, young Martin Lauchlan won’t play much further part for the foreseeable future. It does raise serious questions about what we get up to in training that we’ve managed to shatter a 16 year old’s pelvis. It’s probably best not think about it.

Lauchlan pelvis

As we start to gather some traction, there’s always some little turd who thinks they can do better

Young bigger club

To be fair, Darren Young has done quite well since signing with the WWE. We await Liverpool’s bid with interest.

The trip to Ibrox should be a good indicator of where we’re at, but we actually get slapped around a bit, which is appropriate for Boxing Day. In all honesty, we were lucky to get nil.

Rangers 3 - 0 Aberdeen

Still, as 1997 becomes 1998, things could be a lot worse. At the half way stage we’re 2nd, though Rangers are threatening to run away with it. The defences of St Johnstone and Dunfermline are sources of great amusement to me.

League January

We’ve had a huge turnover of players, as handily indicated by the below graphic:

Signings in January

As you can see I went back to raiding Partick Thistle. We’re sorted for life based on Partick Thistle youth players.

signings Out january

How did we manage to get £5.5m for Stephen Glass? Actually the day after Villa signed Glass, John Gregory got sacked. I’m sure it wasn’t your fault Stephen (ps. it was.)

It looks very familiar back home, Man Utd and Arsenal leading the way. Boo.

prem top 98

Meanwhile, my decision to load the Belgian league remains a questionable one

belgium 98

With all that in mind, it’s only January 98. I’ve knocked myself out of sync by doing a first update that ended in August rather than October. Nevermind, next time I’ll do the remainder of season one in some sort of bumper update. Can Aberdeen keep the pace? Or will Darren Young complain so much it upsets everyone? See you next week…

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NEW SAVE: North of the Border

We’re all about business here at CM9798.co.uk, and with the 20th anniversary celebrations behind us I decided it was time to go back to a more traditional save. I don’t have a time frame in mind for how long this will last, we’ll just go with it.

Friend of the blog and bundle winner S4ooter gave me this idea. He took over at Hibernian and was doing quite well before his team was picked apart by big club release clauses. So, to cut a long story short, I’m going to try and take a team for Scotland and firstly break up the Celtic/Rangers stronghold which is actually just starting, but the two sides are so far ahead of everyone else in terms of squad and budget by 1997/98 they are about to dominate for years to come. Rangers are particularly strong, with Brian Laudrup, Gazza and Marco Negri, whilst Celtic have Henrik Larsson and, er, Regi Blinker. Clearly, Celtic are more vulnerable than Rangers, but with only one Champions League place available in Scotland, nearly is nowhere. Well it’s the UEFA Cup but that doesn’t fit into a cliche. Who to be?

Aberdeen starting squad

Why? Why not. Motherwell were 2nd in 94-95 but they have a 14000 seater stadium and are managed by the delightfully named Harri Kampman. Hibs have been done and are managed by Alex McLeish, so I’d rather leave him in place. Aberdeen have Dean Windass, whereas none of the others do. That’s what it comes down to. I’ve loaded the English, Scottish and Belgian leagues. I fancied a change. I don’t think I’ve ever loaded the Belgian league.

The squad has a ludicrous 5 goalkeepers and one more Mike Newell than any one squad needs. I’m resigned to losing Stephen Glass, who has a big club release clause but is valued at £2m. Glass went to Newcastle in real life and had a wand of a left foot but was, if you’ll allow me to quote Shakespeare, soft as shite. I’ll gladly take the money and set about signing all the usual lads who we know and love. Let’s face it, they are vital to success in this life or any other. I think I’m going to play 2-3-1-2-2 because it was insane but it suits my squad. Ideally Young and this Kiriakov chap can be the wingbacks, then we’ll sign 9 others. Pretty much everyone else can leave. Except Dean.

This is a good start

emmers

With Leyton Orient reluctant to sell our mate Heidenstrom, I turn my attention to stealing all of the good youngsters from Partick Thistle. It’s like taking candy from a baby, if you have to pay over £500k for three of them

signings

There are others from Partick who I will be back for, but we have a staffing issue in that nobody wants any of the current idiots so I’ve had to release a load of them. The board are not happy. I also got greedy and asked for £3.3m for Stephen Glass, then when I got offered it I said no. They’ll be back. They always come crawling back. It’s annoying because Rob Page agreed to join but the money to buy him was coming from the Glass sale.

I’m trying to sign Dida, but as he’s taking ages to mull over whether he wants to play in Aberdeen for £8k a week, I’m left with a choice of a 39 year old or a 34 year old between the sticks. Leighton has 81 caps for Scotland, which is very commendable, but he has a stamina of 1. Instead I opt for 26 year old Michael Watt, who has 20 for shot stopping and positioning. Frankly, that’s all I ask of him.

At home to Dunfermline sounds like the type of game you’d want to start a season with

game 1

Their manager is called Bert Paton. That sounds like a pun on something but I think it’s just a silly name. It’s going to really annoy me only having three subs, I have a whole squad of signings to pick from. Anyway, Watt fumbles a ball into the box and we’re 1-0 down on 55 minutes. I bring on young Ricky Gillies because he can take a set piece and low and behold, Dodds (on for the injured Jess) equalises. We batter them, mustering 24 shots at goal, but it finishes 1-1. Their keeper takes home man of the match.

Dunf 1-1

We’ll look back on this and laugh. I’m not sure when, but at least we made a shed load of chances. Maybe Windass isn’t the goalscoring machine I had him pegged as?

Dida joins shortly afterwards, ironically Leighton is called up to the Scotland squad which raises serious questions about their youth policy. We’re £700k lighter though and Stephen Glass has become a £3m millstone around my neck. Just leave mate.

It’s a home tie to Queen’s Park in the Scottish Coca-Cola Cup, one of the few tournaments carrying the title sponsor in the game. Starts for Dida, Gillies, Martin, Dodds and Tomlinson result in a 4-1 win, young Martin netting a hat trick. Why can’t we play Third Division opposition every week? Premier League Motherwell await us in round three.

cup tie 4-1

Hang on a minute…

Glass

He played the perfect 10 against Queen’s Park and that has rocked Birmingham into action. At £4m I can buy all sorts of crazy buggers. There are Premier League clubs interested though…

board veto

You what?! Should have thoiught of that sooner. Poor Steve Bruce.

Hibs are the next visitors to Fortress Pittodrie (give it a chance) and I decide to bring back Windass and Mainwaring. They reward my loyalty in the best possible way

4-1 hibs

I have £1.4m in the bank, a full squad of 32 players but I can see the finish line in this transfer dance. Glass leaves for £3.9m, in comes Pagey and Sean Devine for a combined whatever amount, then we just watch the magic happen. I would love Heidycakes too but Leyton Orient seem intent on keeping him around.

The Motherwell cup game arrives and an unchanged team wins 3-0. That’s four home games played in a row, so typically we’re in at the deep end and an away trip to Celtic Park just two days later.

A truly filthy affair

celtic 1-0

Considering we had old man river in goal from 36 minutes, this was a tough result. Johnson blazed over the pen and Celtic won with their only shot on target. Ho hum.

I’ve prattled on far longer than I usually do so I’m going to give you a break now until next week. I’ll be trying to peddle Stephen Glass if you need me. Toodles for now.

We’re back on Tuesday with Matt Porter’s Stockport Diaries. Catch up with the previous episode here