Evans above

The 98/99 season has drawn to a close, and Roy Evans is being hailed as some sort of guru. Here’s how the final months of 98/99 panned out.

Transfer Window

The March deadline arrives and Man Utd have one final push at retaining their title by signing this legend, but will it be enough to see off Liverpool and Blackburn?

ThuramLeague Cup

The first silverware of the domestic season (forget about the Charity Shield) goes to Evans’ men, with a comfortable 2-0 win over 1st Divison Middlesbrough. Simon Bochenski, signed from the lower leagues, nets at Wembley which is a mighty rise to stardom.

LC Final 99Liverpool are still competing on two other fronts, but they have assembled a squad that has strength in depth (and Gordon Durie)

FA Cup

I’ve got to fancy my chances of getting to Wembley but my Wimbledon team come unstuck in extra time after a 2-2 draw, ending up losing 4-2 to Martin O’Neill’s Leicester. Liverpool meanwhile reach a second final and will be strong favourites to win the cup…

Cup semis 99…which they do with a narrow win over Leicester

FA Cup 99It’s two out of two for Evans but can he finally bring the Premier League title to Anfield?

Premier League

Blackburn are coming on strong as we saw in the previous update, Keegan’s attacking style landing some heavy blows

7-0However, it’s not enough and the title heads to Merseyside for the first time by one point – a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa seals it for Liverpool.

Prem top halfMy form with Wimbledon tailed off badly after the semi final, winning only once in the remaining 12 games. Devine, who now captains Ireland for some reason, had a goal drought and Nevland wasn’t much better. Nobody is keen to join Wimbledon so I’m officially seeking new challenges, though keeping the job on until I can jump ship.

Another manager who fancies a change is Neville Southall, ashamed of his Stoke side’s pathetic attempt to stay up. Southampton aren’t much better, but Bolton put up a big fight to no avail

prem bottom half3 wins all season leads to Nev packing his bags

southall resignsEurope

Real Madrid dominate La Liga, losing only 2 games all season on their way to 96 points, whilst PSG win the French League. The Champions League semi-finals throw up an all French affair, which Monaco sneak on penalties

CL 99 semisMan Utd miss out on playing in their own final as it’s held at Old Trafford, but Barcelona prevail on the night against Monaco, despite Barthez’s efforts

CL Final 99Middlesbrough win division 1 and are promoted along with Birmingham. Everton win the playoffs meaning they only suffer one season outside of the top flight. So, as the curtain comes down on another season, here are some awards

Prem top scorers 99Robbie Fowler takes the golden boot again after another prolific season, firing Liverpool to all of the domestic titles.

99 awardsBig Nev is available on a free transfer since his resignation from Stoke, but he’s 41 so he’ll almost certainly retire. Speaking of retiring, this legend calls it a day

SBR retiresHe leaves Valencia having finished third in La Liga, established as the best of the rest after the big two.

However, it’s soon decision time as Auxerre offer me the job. Auxerre have just finished 4th in Ligue 1 – is it time to make good on my promise to take on the French League?

Auxerre

Party like it’s 1999

Kevin Keegan’s return to the Premier League may have been the headline of the last update, but it’s been a strange old three months as we approach the final (Paul) furlong on the 1998/99 season.

1999 starts with another Anfield legend is on the move, this time young Michael Owen is used as bait by Liverpool so they can land…Riccardo Scimeca. I can’t explain this. Roy Evans has bought Gordon Durie, 32, and obviously prefers him to somebody who would go on to score 40 goals for England. Whatever.

scimeca swapA slightly more sane transfer sees World Cup winner Paulo Sousa join Real Madrid. Seeing he turned down Barcelona and Real Madrid shows just how good Sousa is at the moment.

Sousa MadridAs we’ve reached March, the cups are reaching their finale, so let’s have a look at who is on course to win what.

LC Semis 99Starting with the league cup, Kevin Keegan’s Blackburn blow a 2-0 first leg lead and get turned over at Anfield to put Liverpool in the final. You would expect them to face Man Utd in a re-match of last season but Bryan Robson’s Middlesbrough pull of a huge upset to win on penalties and book their place at Wembley. With Marco Branca banging them in, Boro are well clear at the top of Divison 1.

Meanwhile in the FA Cup, we’ve reached Semi Final stage. A kind draw saw the mighty Dons drawn at the lowest ranked team left in the tournament.

FA QF 99

With Norwich brushed aside, I’m left crossing my fingers I draw anyone except Liverpool. Fortunately, the draw gods are on my side and it’s Leicester

FA SF 99Hopefully Nevland and Devine can get us a nice day out at Wembley. Finally, the Champions League has an all French Semi-Final

CL SF 99Man Utd went on to win the treble in real life but the best they can achieve is a double, as Boro actually knocked Man Utd out of the FA Cup too. The league though is taking a very interesting turn, it’s a three horse race for the title.

prem top 99prem bottom 99

The Keegan factor has Blackburn right back up at the top of the table, 4 years after winning their first Premier League title. Brian Little has Aston Villa up in 4th, whilst new boys Sunderland are the surprise package up in 7th. At the bottom, Stoke & Southampton look doomed but any one from 4 could join them.

The Dons are ticking over, as you can see from the losses column we’ve become very difficult to beat but could do with turning a few of those draws in to wins. Chris Casper has the nerve to leave for Celtic, the “big club release” clause in his contract meaning I have no option but to move him on for £1m, though Kenny Lunt has arrived. Nevland is the club’s top scorer, with 16 goals to his name. Devine has 12.

For a change, here are the top average ratings of the season so far. Southall has played 26 games, so for an average of 8 he makes A LOT of saves. He’s also their manager.

top average ratings 99Join us next time as we wrap up the 1998/99 season – will it be Liverpool celebrating a treble?

Home for Christmas

Season two is rattling along nicely and as we reach the half way point, the managerial merry-go-round is back in full swing.

West Ham are going through managers like Big Sam goes through chewing gum, as Frank Lampard Sr is dismissed

lampard sr sackedTo add to the indignity of it all, Frank Sr is replaced by Tony Gale, which at least means we shouldn’t have to hear his commentate.

It’s one of the most open Premier League seasons in years, although this weekend must have been a thriller for Match of the Day with just the six 0-0 draws.

0-0You may notice Chelsea are third in this snippet, but their form takes a turn for the worse including a 3-0 defeat the mighty Dons. It’s not long before player manager Vialli is given his P45 and the musical chairs music starts up.

vialli sackedWith Vialli sacked I try to get the Italian legend in on a free transfer but he wants nothing to do with Wimbledon, and why would he? Chelsea set about replacing him and decide only one man is suitable for such a role. Step forward…

hodgson to chelseaGreat times for Roy who will have an opportunity to earn his shot at managing his country where it really matters (hmm). Anyway, the Blackburn ship is now rudderless so where do you turn? Bring in the perm!

keegan to blackburnAs predicted back in update 1, Keegan finds himself back in the big time, making him the most popular Yorkshireman in Lancashire. I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on. Meanwhile, after I derided Brian Little in an earlier post, he’s making Keegan’s old team look totally shoddy with an absolute blitzing

villa 6-1The way it’s going, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dalglish is out of work very soon. Over in Italy, Roberto Baggio copies his real life transfer and joins Inter Milan, rejecting a fairytale return to Juventus

roberto baggioAt Wimbledon, things are going pretty well. In the top 6, we’ve definitely improved from last season and the partnership of Nevland & Devine is proving pretty effective. Here’s how the table sits at the half way point:

prem 98 half way topprem 98 half way bottomFinishing in the top 6 will be the aim, though we’re still a little bit goal shy, as if the front 2 don’t score there aren’t many goals elsewhere. Even the top marksmen in the league aren’t prolific

top scorers 98And finally, here’s the managers of the month to date – a gentle reminder to us all that George Graham is at large during this era.

MOTM 98

Gross Transactions

The World Cup is behind us and Portugal’s surprise victory is a distant memory. Welcome to season two.

It’s a slow summer, a World Cup hangover is evidently in place and teams keep their cash to themselves, for a while. At Wimbledon, it’s fair to say things peaked with the signing of Rio before the World Cup, and I have to settle for poaching Man Utd’s youth again, this time Erik Nevland arrives to partner Sean Devine. Feel those season ticket sales increasing.

It gets to the week of the season and Barcelona move to buy one of the most valuable players in the market, Ortega making the move. Ominously, he turns down Man Utd meaning they are in for a striker to partner Alfonso. Still, they are obviously very serious about replacing Erik Nevland.

barca sign ortegaOther than Newcastle signing Gareth Southgate, the season starts and everybody is happy. Liverpool must be strong favourites after keeping hold of Fowler, however this could change it all:

shearer man utd5 days after missing out on Ortega, Fergie comes looking for Shearer again and this time, the answer is yes. Remarkably Man Utd have got him for cheaper than they could have done a few years earlier, but that’s a major injury for you. Alfonso & Shearer as a partnership is a fairly terrifying prospect.

There’s finally some managerial movement for the first time in a while and not yet Lord Sugar coins a catchphrase and fires Christian Gross

gross sackedSpurs poach Gordon Milne from Birmingham, who in turn bring back the mullet and give Gerry Francis (former Spurs manager) the job, so we’ve gone full circle. Liverpool respond to Man Utd’s spending by getting their own cheque book out to bring Henrik Larsson to the Premier League a few years ahead of schedule

henrik to liverpoolInteresting that Newcastle tried to take him to replace Shearer. Anyway, none of those transfers have a patch on this next one, future Fulham man Legwinski is off to the Bernabeu!

legwinski madridBy the end of September, things are starting to take shape. The Wimbledon squad has had a few changes, but there’s a lot of the standard squad in there still.

Dons squad 98Yes, that is a very young Robbie Keanie out on loan, and somebody actually wants Carl Cort. George Graham rolls back the years and takes manager of the month for September. Here’s the tables after 10 games

98 table top half98 table bottom halfGood old Stoke, though when your player/manager is Neville Southall you’re taking a huge risk. Just look at these stats…

southall GKUntil next time..