France 98 – Part 2

We’re reaching the business end of the tournament now, with the final group games upon us. There have been shocks, thrashings and a Juan Veron hat-trick. It’s the game that just keeps on giving, so let’s get back to it.

Group A

This games happens, which I can’t even begin to pick the bones out of:

brazil jamaicaMarcus Gayle, you may recall, began his season missing a penalty for me so it is delicious irony that his season finishes on a similar note. It’s not enough for Brazil though as Argentina beat already qualified Norway to progress, and the curret World Champions are out

Group B

France beat Australia top top the group but Nigeria beat Yugoslavia to send the Socceroos through. Finidi George got the Nigeria goals, Ipswich fans.

Group C

Germany beat Morocco 1-0 and end with an ominous 100% record and 0 goals conceded. Romania beat South Africa but it’s Morocco who go through on goal difference.

Group D

Portugal beat Scotland 2-0 and Spain draw 0-0 with Paraguay. Scotland are through!

Group E

Denmark put another 5 past Iran, both Laudrup’s on the scoresheet alongside a very young Jon Dahl Tomasson. USA beat Japan to advance alongside the Danes.

Group F

England reach new levels of ridiculousness, drawing 2-2 with Switzerland. Russia draw 0-0 with the Saudis, which remarkably puts England through on goals scored.

Eng SwitzGary Pallister becomes the people’s champion.

Group G

Both de Boer’s score helping Holland beat Chile 3-2. Mexico’s failure to beat Tunisia means the Dutch go through with Chile.

Group H

Italy beat Cameroon 1-0 and Colombia repeat that scoreline against Sweden, meaning both the Italians and Colombia go through with 7 points.

Here’s how all  that breaks down:

GroupsThe knockout stage draw is eagerly anticipated, but it’s rough news for England with Euro 96 fresh in the mindLast 16France seem to be finding their form, as the Dutch have a good old fashioned capitulation, but when you pick Ed de Goey over Edwin van der Sar you get everything you deserve.

france 6 - 1 hollandMeanwhile, the country goes into meltdown as this happens:

germany 0 - 2 englandMorocco are turning into the surprise packages, defeating Switzerland on pens. Scotland are put out by Denmark and Italy thrash Norway. Chile edge past Australia and we have our quarter finalists.

QF drawThis is as far as England go though, losing 1-0 to the Portugese. Rui Costa gets the goal. It’s a bleak day for the hosts as well, Argentina coming from behind to send France out. Denmark thrash Morocco and Italy ease past Chile. Semi final time.

SemisIt’s heartbreak for Argentina as Portugal beat them on penalties. To be honest, I really didn’t expect Portugal to get this far but hey ho. Denmark beat Italy 1-0 thanks to a Panucci own goal and we have a Denmark vs Portugal final. Obviously.

Denmark are strong because they are coming off the Euro 92 win, so many of their players are strong. The Laudrup boys are particularly good so I make them favourites. Italy win the third place playoff on pens, meaning Argentina have lost consecutive shoot outs. Batistuta was among those who missed.

The final is here, and what a white hot game it is:

WC finalDespite Schmeichel getting man of the match, he can’t stop enough penalties and that’s it, Portugal are the World Champions! A team who didn’t actually qualify for France 98, sacre bleu

After the obligatory announcement that Japan will host the 2002 World Cup (sorry South Korea), it’s time for this event, which as a child would mean it was time for a glass of ribena and a game of Tekken, but nowadays I’ll swap for Alt+Tab (and a glass of ribena)

messageThere’s some ridiculous end of season awards, good old Kevin Pressman taking the PFA Player of the Year award, despite Robbie Fowloer plundering 51 goals.

season 1 awardsThanks for reading, we’ll be continuing with season 2 in the coming days.

France 98 – Part 1

The first season has reached it’s close and amidst all the transfer activity, there’s a World Cup to be won. Of course, in real life, France triumped in their home tournament with the infamous ‘Where’s Ronaldo?’ final but in general, it was a great tournament with many memorable moments. Can Zidane reproduce his final heroics? Will England take a chance on a young Michael Owen? Is Eileen Drury in the game? Let’s see how it unravels.

Group A

The curtain raiser for the tournament sees World Champions Brazil take on South American counterparts Argentina, which is a very tasty way to kick off a tournament. Of course the game isn’t clever enough to bother with separating nations in the same federation, so yeah, Brazil vs Argentina, deal with it.

Brazil vs ArgentinaSome great names in there. Anyway Ronaldo is off and running and both sides will be happy with a point. The other teams in Group A are Norway and Jamaica, massive party group all in all. Everybody beats Jamaica but remarkably Norway repeat their success from reality with a stunning win against Brazil. Oyvind Leonhardsen the man writing his name into history

Brazil NorwayWith Argentina taking apart the Reagge boys 4-0 (to go with Norway’s 3-0 beating of them), Norway have qualified and Brazil are left sweating on qualification. They will surely beat Jamaica but they need Norway to beat Argentina.

Group B

Here we find hosts France, paired with Australia, Yugoslavia and Nigeria. Djorkaeff and Deschamps turn over Nigeria to get les Blues up and running but a 0-0 draw with Yugoslavia leaves the group in the balance. Australia beat Nigeria to send the Nigerians out, and Australia join France with 4 points. Yugoslavia, with 2 points, will have a good chance of qualifying if they beat Nigeria.

Gorup B 2 gamesGroup C

Group C is where we find Germany, in a kind group with Romania, Morocco and South Africa. The Germans, with Jurgen Klinsmann leading the line, ease through with a game to spare whilst Morocco are well placed to join them after beating South Africa and drawing 0-0 with Romania. What a dull group. Next.

Group D

Group D is pretty nasty, neighbours Spain & Portugal go up agaisnt each other long with Paraguay and Scotland. For those interested, here’s what Scotland have gone with:

Scot 98The old big Dunc and Ally McCoist strike force will worry Spain and Portugal. Scotland come from 2-0 down to draw With Paraguay (big Dunc at the double) whilst Portugal beat Spain 1-0. Scotland then make me look a fool by beat Spain 1-0 through that man Ferguson again with Andy Goram getting man of the match for a string of saves. Portugal and Paraguay draw 0-0 so Scotland top the group with a game to go. Can Scotland break their hoodoo of never making the second round?

Group E

History is repeating itself in group E as USA face Iran, this time winning 1-0. Denmark and Japan complete group E, Denmark proving they are still quite the force by putting 5 past Japan. The Danes beat the USA and Japan beat Iran, so it is a straight fight between USA and Japan to join Denmark in the knockouts. The highlight of this group so far for me is finding a very young Thomas Gravesen

gravesenGroup F

VINDALOO! England are here, along with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland. It’s a tame group but Glenn Hoddle doesn’t believe in the exuberance of youth and picks a very experienced squad

england 98Don’t think many will have seen the recalls for Barnes & Pearce, though Batty and Ince are still in there to miss penalties later on. Anyway, Switzerland beat Saudi Arabia and England face Russia in probably their toughest game of the group. Graeme Le Saux grabs an equaliser which should turn out to be a good result.

rus 1 eng 1Disaster strikes though as England labour to a 0-0 draw with the Saudis, and the Russia/Swiss games ends in the same result. It’s a great day for TV audiences everywhere as the final game of the day, in group H, also finishes 0-0. Are England heading out at the first hurdle?

Group G

The Dutch are the star name in group G, though they are immediately on the back foot after losing to Mexico. A nervous 1-0 win over Tunisia gets them back on track, but Chile beating Mexico means the group is tight heading into the final fixtures.

group GGroup H

Beaten ’94 finalists Italy are the favourites here, paired with Colombia, Cameroon and Sweden. Italy see of Sweden 2-0 thanks to Enrico Chiesa and draw with Colombia, so the Italians will be confident of progress. Colombia, with everybody’s favourite hairdo Carlos Valderrama in midfield, beat Cameroon and look set to join them in the last 16.

In part 2 we’ll find out who gets through, and more importantly, if Glenn Hoddle regrets assembling the cast of Dads Army for his trip to France.

End of season 1 – Everyone’s a winner (except Everton)

The 1997/98 season hurtles to a finish quicker than Neil Ruddock running down a hill, and with everything still up for grabs it’s an exciting end to the first season.

First things first, topically we’ve reached transfer deadline day. Back in 1998 there was no Jim White or shouting in general, there was just a Friday in March where there was to be no more business and that was that. Clubs had 8 months to refine their squads in fairness, so there was no need to panic with 2 months to go.Just a polite notice to let you know.

Deadline dayAnyway, Man Utd decide they need to sell an ageing Andy Cole to First Division Notts Forest and replace him with the world’s most valuable player

Alfonso man UtdThere’s little else of note and we’ll break down the remainder of this post into the various competitions in chronological order

League Cup

Lge cup final 98It’s a nightmare day out at Wembley for Man Utd, getting destroyed by Roy Evans’ Liverpool team. Paul Ince lifts the trophy against his former club.

Premier League

Manchester United retain their title, with great ease in the end, whilst Liverpool take the 2nd Champions League spot ahead of Dalglish’s Newcastle.

prem season 1 topAs you can see, my plucky Dons side finishes 9th behind Brian Little’s Aston Villa. I’m more than happy with that given the club’s size, or lack thereof. Wenger’s Arsenal fall very short of their real life accomplishments of the double, although Ian Wright has a great Easter Monday

Wright 5The bottom half of the table throws up some surprises. Crysal Palace, my landlords don’t forget, get relegated to nobody’s great shock, but established Premier League sides West Ham and Everton also face the drop

prem season 1 bottomEverton I’m particularly surprised at, they are usually a bit of a force in a few seasons. Their squad is getting on a bit though. I have every intention of stealing Rio Ferdinand from West Ham, let’s just make that clear right now.

The FA Cup

You may recall from a few entries ago that the Dons had made it to the FA Cup Quarter Final – well we went one step further with a win at Spurs.

FA CUp QF ResultsSadly though that’s where it ended, a beating off Arsenal at Anfield (Cup Semis weren’t at Wembley back then, which I’m all for) ended my involvement. The Gunners went on to beat Liverpool at Wembley in the final, so I suppose they were half as good as real life.

FA Cup Final 98The Champions League

Parma, flush with Crespo, Thuram and the like beat Man Utd in the semis to set up a final with Real Madrid. The Spanish giants prove too strong though, although they do lose Davor Suker to a broken ankle, meaning he can’t win the World Cup Golden Boot as the real life version did.

The UEFA Cup

Liverpool complete a sort of double by winning the UEFA Cup. Clearly Liverpool backed the wrong man by picking Houllier over this giant of the game.

UEFA cup Final 98

There’s also the now defunct Cup Winners Cup, which Vicenza win but it is of little interest. Barcelona win La Liga, and Monaco win Ligue 1.

So that’s that, season one is over and the World Cup is on the way. Crystal Palace decide enough is enough and sack Steve Coppell, appointing Trevor Francis instead. There’s still time to do some poaching though, and I move quickly to get young Rio on the books.

Rio inI’m also in for Heskey, released as per his contract by Norwich, but pathetically I forget my squad is full and Heskey opts to join Fulham, who have just won division 2. I can’t explain that one either. Silly Emile.

heskey fulhamNext time, I’ll cover World Cup 1998 blow for blow and prepare for the 1998/99 season. Until then though, here’s the final manager of the month tally

Managers of the months 1998

December – March: Career choices by Emile Heskey

The winter months are flying by, and whilst the Spice Girls are topping the charts, West Ham decide to spice up their life by sacking Harry Redknapp just after Christmas.

harry sackedIt’s particularly bad news for Harry as Frank Lampard Senior (a relative of Harry’s) is appointed to take over. West Ham are 19th as it stands and heading for division 1.

The league cup semi finals reach their conclusion, which is topical, but it does throw up a tasty final between Man Utd and Liverpool.

league cup semis

For some reason, Emile Heskey decides the way forward in his career is to swap 12th placed Premier League Leicester for 16th in Divison 1 Norwich. It’s a very odd move from a player who has huge potential ability on this game, but that’s all part of the fun. Note to self: Activate Heskey’s non-promotion release clause in 3 months

heskey to norwich

Elsewhere the FA Cup gets under way but the main shocks are Stockport taking out Dalglish’s Newcastle and Coventry putting 5 past high flying Leeds. Brian Little has turned it right round for Aston Villa, they’re up to 8th which I think says more about John Gregory than it does about Brian Little.

The Dons are still muddling along in mid table, but are through to the FA Cup Quarter Final. In an attempt to add more goals, Nick Barmby has been snapped up for £800k but he is awful. I don’t know what I expected but as you can see from his average rating, he will never add to those 10 England caps.

barmbyMan Utd top the pile as we reach March, with the end of the season in sight there’s still all to play for. Here’s the FA Cup Quarter Final line up:

fa cup QF 98

Road to World Cup 98

England make Baddiel and Skinner proud by being strong in Rome again, battling to a 0-0 draw. Sadly nobody has informed them that they actually needed a win due to Italy’s results not mirroring real life. So it’s a playoff for Glenn Hoddle’s men, but what’s the worst that can happen?

England IrelandI predict a riot.

Meanwhile Aston Villa blink first in the managerial merry-go-round, sacking John Gregory and rolling back a year to re-appoint Brian Little. I don’t know why either.

It’s November so time for another serious injury, this time Figo somehow breaks his pelvis – presumably doing a bicycle kick in an advert for Just for Men. Still got it.

figo injuryEngland see off Ireland over two legs and they’ll be very happy with the draw – Russia, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland. Yes please.

Meanwhile, a true gent is back in football, as well as being the background to the game he’s back in La Liga

SBR ValenciaThings have turned right round for the Crazy Gang, sitting in the top half of the table as we reach the end of November. The highlight is a 3-1 win over Aston Villa (no wonder they sacked John Gregory) as Sean Devine nets a hat trick. Newcastle and Bolton are also seen off 3-0 in an exceptional October, spoilt only by an extra time exit at Sheff Wed courtesy of a Ritchie Humphreys double (obviously). It’s not enough to earn manager of the month though as Chelsea player-manager Vialli gets the nod. Sadly Jason Euell gets done in training (presumably Vinnie) and either medical facilities have come a long way in 18 years or Euell’s leg is in bits

Euell injuryNovember is fractured (sorry Jason) by the international games mentioned earlier but a series of draws keep us in the top half. As we’re almost half way through, here’s some stats

Nov motmPremier League –

Nov topnov bottom halfFinally top scorers. some huge names in here. And Derek Lilley

Nov top scorersWe are now on twitter! Follow @cm9798

Gould, Silva & Dons

Every now and again this game does something out of the ordinary that raises a chuckle. Obviously Bobby Gould got his marching orders, the poor sod always does, but Wales decide to bring in former Brazil manager Carlos Alberto Silva

Wales manager

I’m all for it as it allows me to bring out this delicious pun of a post title. There is a World Cup at the end of the first season (which can make for a good short term game if you have a few hours to kill) but Wales won’t be in it.

This game also loves a long term injury, poor Sir Les is the victim this time

Sir Les

Sol Campbell signs for Atletico Madrid, whilst Edgar Davids fast forwards and signs for Barcelona several years ahead of schedule. The Spanish League has a September deadline which sees a flurry of activity before they all save up for Christmas (or something).

Meanwhile things at Wimbledon have improved slightly, though not much. I’ve brought in CM stalwart Robert Page to shore up the defence along with Man Utd academy hero Chris Casper. I’ve raided the lower leagues for Sean Devine of Barnet to score the goals and snapped up a couple of youth prospects too for good measure. After 10 games, we’re a healthy 16th (4 points clear of relegation) and through to the next round of the league cup after knocking out Wolves. The highlight of the season so far is this win at Highbury:

arsenal dons

Mulryne is already my new hero. Quick check on the manager of the month awards, some great history in here:

september 97

Great to see Nigel Spackman killing it at Sheff Utd, I’m sure you’ll agree.

During a riveting 1-0 win over West Ham I noticed another player I forgot to mention in an earlier post who is still playing now. A fairly obvious one but even at a young age CM had him pegged (except the right midfield lark)

lampard 97

The night ends with Tony Pulis being dismissed by Gillingham. Could have done us all a huge favour if that happened more frequently. England are about to go and play in Rome for World Cup qualification, so hopefully Baddiel & Skinner won’t need to re-write Three Lions 98 but you wouldn’t bet against it.

Until then…

The Crazy Gang

Wednesday 16th July 1997 – a date we’ve all seen hundreds of times. It really should be renamed CM day as this is when it all kicks off.

Inspired by the recent documentary about the Crazy Gang, Wimbledon are my team of choice. I’ll be playing a 3-5-2 so let’s see what I’m working with.

wimbledon 97

What a set of luminaries in there! With £7.5m in the bank though, I could snap up some decent options. Let’s look at the transfer market:

Market 97Doing the old “based anywhere” with no restrictions, Perez Alfonso is the world’s highest valued player. Ironically in real life this kid got his move to Barcelona and was average at best. Incidentally Alan Shearer always starts with a lengthy injury, as per real life, which was a massive problem for a Newcastle fan like me, but that’s realism for you. I’ll go for the old “interested foreign based approach” which is what I assume real clubs would do. Optimistically, I’ll bid for the well known CM legends Teddy Lucic and Ibrahima Bakayoko, even though neither are keen. I’ll also try and tempt Matt Le Tissier, but he’s out for 2 months with a broken arm.

Predictably, Tiss turns me down with 2 days but, hold on, what’s this?

keegan vallodolidKevin Keegan returns to management, just 7 months after walking out of Newcastle. From previous experience, he will end up at about 15 different clubs during the course of this game though usually he ends up with some big jobs, so watch this space.

Anyway, we hit August and Kieron Dyer rejects everybody to sign for Spurs from Ipswich. Dyer was a considered a D/M RL in 1997, but I suppose he did make his England debut at right back. Meanwhile even Steve Bould is rejecting me, I need to find some wingbacks. Man Utd win the charity shield as both teams decide to field strangely under strength teamsCS 97You have to laugh at Poyet getting MoTM for a splendid 65 minutes. Meanwhile, Liverpool splash £6m on Dion Dublin, which I think we’d all have like to seen in real life. Having said that, Dublin finished 97/98 as the joint top scorer so we’ll see who’s laughing. Chelsea get over their Charity Shield blank by spending £4m on Duncan Ferguson. It must be the year of the target man.

Before I know it, the season is here, and I have no reinforcements. It’s soon apparent that nobody in the squad has a set piece stat higher than 12, and we are Wimbledon for crying out loud. A Nigel Martyn-inspired Leeds beat us 1-0, Gayle having a pen saved by the England sub keeper.

first gameFortunately there’s no tranafer window as such so I can fix Wimbledon as I go along. Rome wasn’t built in a day you know. Disaster strikes as Sullivan gets injured for a week, and Paul Heald is useless in a 3-1 home defeat by Derby. Ekoku nets but when your keeper gets a 5, you are ruined. Phil Mulryne signs following the game though, at £650k I have no doubt he’ll be worth more in a few years. Importantly, he can take a set piece so that might help. The international break is upon us, and Bobby Gould somehow survives, but more importantly it gives me time to try and sort out this mess.

Getting started

What I love about this game is that you rarely get the same pattern twice. Sure, certain things always happen, like Howard Kendall getting the Wales job early on after Bobby Gould gets the sack, but the rest is a mystery.

To be clear, here is my starting position:

The database has been patched, much to my annoyance, so it is slightly updated from the default you would get out of the box back in the day. The differences are minimal but some transfers are updated, e.g. Andreas Andersson at Newcastle. Some players seem less likely to move too, such as Rio Ferdinand who normally can’t wait to get out of West Ham.

There are several players in the database who have retired, who I’ve made available on free transfers, such as Bryan Robson & Diego Maradona. I don’t know why.

The player histories for Lionel Perez and Eric Cantona are in the database but the players aren’t. Cantona retired surprisingly at the end of the 96/97 season so he was already in the database. Perez’s absence is inexplicable to me but regardless, I’ve created both and they are ready to party.

The patch means that the old £50k wagecap is gone, if your club is rich enough you can offer up to £100k per week for a player. Remember, this is 1997.

I think there’s less than 50 players in the game who are still actively playing. Robbie Keane, Ian Harte, Rio Ferdinand and Francesco Totti are just some examples. Speaking of Totti, here he is 18 years ago:

totti 97

Wanted by Inter & Parma, I’d say that boy will have a bright future.

You can only run three country leagues, so I’ve gone for England, Spain and France. I’ve included France as it’s a league I’ve never really dabbled in, but this game might be the time for that to change.

Finally, the most important point, I’ve decided to begin as Wimbledon. This is long before the MK Dons came on the scene and ruined everything, and they are still a Premier League club. Let the nostalgia commence!

Welcome to the past

The year is 1997. Manchester United have retained the Premier League, and Borussia Dortmund have pulled off a huge shock to win the Champions League. Arsene Wenger is getting his feet under the table at Highbury and Barcelona have appointed Louis van Gaal to replace the great Bobby Robson. Paul Merson swaps the Premier League for Division 1 Middlesbrough and Eidos Interactive release CM97/98, the sequel to the very popular CM2.

This game has been installed on my various computers/laptops for coming up to 18 years now, and although the series is still running and releasing the equally addictive Football Manager series, nothing can beat the pick up and play values of CM97/98 – in fact the only version that has come close for me is CM01/02.

CM97/98 is available as freeware these days, and runs on a Windows machine using Dosbox. The big plus of this is that those long waiting time that plagued my life as an 11 year old are now a thing of the past, not to mention tabbed browsing. This is a game that Eidos, very cleverly, made available without the need for a CD, so once it was installed it could be played regardless. This was to drum up popularity before the release of CM3, which was the next leap forward in the series.

This resulted in years of playing this game, often with friends, and a mild addiction. On an old machine, I got through 23 seasons, which included winning the World Cup with Ireland (or Eire, as the game names them) as well as various other club successes. My current long running game has seen me take Altrincham, a club only promoted to the football league at the end of season 1, and thus starting with no players, all the way up to Premier League and Champions League glory. Importantly, this saw me achieve the top spot in the hall of fame.

At last

At last

Which brings me to this blog. I wish I had blogged the Altrincham experience as it was quite interesting, particularly some of the managerial movements. For example, Joe Kinnear has exploits that match his real life lies, so maybe this is where he got his delusions from

JFK - Inter Milan

JFK – Inter Milan

So, sit back and enjoy sporadic updates from the past as I pick a new league to try and conquer