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Thread: The Sir Bobby Robson Story

  1. #51
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    Two further league games followed, away at Derby and at home to Everton, which both resulted in comfortable wins for our side, 3-1 and 4-0 respectively, but unfortunately in the game at Pride Park, striker Mbokani had to come off with an injury, keeping him out for the next 3 weeks, his replacement Connor Wickham scored the last goal in the win over Everton, and looked determined to impress.

    A huge game up next, as Italian giants AC Milan travelled to Portman Road for the 4th game in Group G of the Champions League. The reverse fixture 3 weeks earlier resulted in a 1-1 draw, but we were unlucky not to nick a winner late on, and that gave us great hope going into the game. It was a very tight start to the game, with both teams being reduced to long shots which didn't trouble either keeper, although just after the half hour mark Milan took the lead. French forward Jeremy Menez beat Suchy down his right, and swung in a cross which Chamakh met beautifully to put the Italians ahead. The lead only lasted 7 mins though, as Suchy made up for letting the cross in for the opener, when he himself scored a header with a late run into the box, and the teams went in at half time at 1-1. We came out firing in the 2nd half, but Diego Cavalieri in the Milan goal was in great form, and I thought we'd never get a decisive 2nd goal, but with 8 mins left we took the lead through Cavani, a 3rd headered goal in the game. Milan pushed for an equaliser but we hit them again on the break, and Castro sealed a 3-1 win with a great strike which left us in the driving seat for qualification.




    We got our second 3-1 win in a matter of days, when we visited Sheffield Wednesday, with Connor Wickham scoring a 2nd half hatrick to seal the win. We travelled to Germany to take on Hoffenheim, and a draw would see us qualify for the 2nd group stage. Despite having 17 shots on total, only 5 were on target, and we were made to pay for our wayward shooting when Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak scored midway through the 2nd half to give Hoffenheim a 1-0 win, but we were still top of the table, and only required a point from the game at home to AEK Athens to qualify. We got back to winning ways when Spurs came to Portman Road, with Cavani and Wickham putting us 2-0 up, before Samba set up a nervy finish when he got sent off with 20 mins remaining, but luckily Spurs weren't threatening much and we held on to our 2-0 lead.

    The League Cup 3rd round pitted us against Championship side Plymouth Argyle, who were sitting 23rd in the table, and I named an under strength side to play them at home. Bentley put us ahead mins before half time, but Longas was sent off on the hour mark, but it looked like it didn't matter as with 90 mins on the clock we were still 1-0 to the good. That was until injury time, when Buzsaky scored with a volley. Onto extra time and there were a lot of tired legs, but just as penalties loomed, Bentley scored his 2nd and we scraped through to the 4th round where we would meet Aston Villa away. The trip to the City of Manchester stadium saw Mbokani return to the fold, but he had to make do for a place on the bench, as Wickham had been in fine fettle since replacing the Congolese striker. It was always going to be a tough game, and we went behind just before half time, when Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo scored from a free kick. I made 2 changes at half time, Mobkani and Wilshere replacing Wickham and Castro respectively, who both had been anonymous in the game. The changes paid dividends with us creating more and more chances but not taking any of them, until finally in the 89th minute the 2 subs combined as Mbokani turned in a cross from Wilshere to give us a valuable point.

    A draw at home to AEK Athens would see us progress to the 2nd group stage of the Champions League, and we made no mistake with a comprehensive 3-1 win over the Greek side, with Mbokani scoring a hatrick on his first start since returning from injury. Milan beat Hoffenheim 3-2 in the other game, to ensure their qualification as well, all be it in 2nd place.




    A long trip to the North East to take on Sunderland saw our recent good form in the league continue, as we grounded out a 1-0 win thanks to a 1st half goal from Cavani that saw us move upto 4th place in the table, 4 pts behind leaders Fulham who also had a game in hand on us, but in a lot better place then were we had been 6 weeks ago.


    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 12:58 PM.

  2. #52
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    After an indifferent start to the season, we were beginning to find a bit of form, with only one defeat in our last 14 games, away at Hoffenheim, and we extended our run with a 1-0 win at home to Alex McLeish's Wolves side, Stephen Ireland with the solitary strike. The 2nd Group Stage of the Champions League pitted us against Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Cagliari, with Real Madrid overwhelming favourites for top spot, but I thought we could get 2nd place, and qualification for the quarter finals.

    Our first game was at home to the Italians Cagliari who had overcome a difficult 1st stage group containing both Man Utd and Bayern Munich to make it this far, so a difficult side for sure. Cagliari lined up 4-5-1, with the lone striker out on his own, with the emphasis on the midfield to protect the defence, and they would be more than willing to escape Portman Road with a point. In the early stages we found it hard to break them down, but shortly before half time a cross from Hutton found Walcott in the box to give us the lead going into half time. The 2nd came midway through the second half, Mbokani with a powerful header, after a fine ball from Gonzalo Castro on the left, and we started the Group stage with a fine 2-0 win, but we were only 2nd in the group as Real Madrid had beat Shakhtar 3-0 at home.




    The Reebok Stadium was our next destination, and always a diffcult place to go, and that's how it turned out, with the game finishing 1-1, with a goal from Cavani 12 mins from time sparing our blushes from defeat, although there was some bad news, as captain Michael Johnson picked up an injury, ruling him out for the next 3 wks. The 4th round of the League Cup was another tough game, and with the competition not one of my main priorities for the season, I named an understrength side to face the Midlands side. As it was, the team I named was good enough to get the job done, with goals from Vallejo and Romaric securing a 2-0 win. With injuries to Johnson and now Cavani, I had to change formation for the visit of Liverpool, and we lined up with the same 4-1-2-2-1 that served me well at Fulham, with Tengarrinha shielding the defence, and Longas and Ireland pushing from midfield to support Mbokani. Talking of formations, the Anfield's side was very strange! 3 DMC's sat in front of Liverpool's back 4, with just a Left and Right midfielder and one striker offering anything of an attacking threat. We dominated the game from start to finish, restricting Liverpool to just one shot on target, unfortunately for us that shot resulted in a goal for Torres, and Reina was in magnificent form to prevent us scoring, our 1st defeat in the league for 2 and a half months.

    I decided to stick with the 4-1-2-2-1 formation for the long trip to Ukraine to face Shakhtar, the idea to keep it tight at the back, and hit them on the break. It worked a treat! After yet another Shakhtar attack broke down, we countered quickly through Longas, who in turn found Walcott, who's first time ball found Mbokani with acres of time, to slot the ball past the keeper. The second half was more of the same, with Shakhtar having the bulk of the possesion but not threatening and we escaped with the 1-0 scoreline. The tough games kept coming with a trip to former side Fulham who were in the middle of a bad patch, slipping down to 3rd in the table, but with players like Pedro, Van Persie and Canales in their side, a daunting task all the same. Fulham had the bulk of the possession for the entire game but we had a similar amount of chances each, however, it came down to taking chances and this is were we had the advantage. Castro gave us a 1-0 lead at half time, and further goals from Mbokani and Longas gave us a fantastic 3-1 win.




    I stuck with the weakened side for the League Cup quarter final at home to Hull, and once again they were good enough to overcome the Championship side, goals from Anders Due and Stefan Maierhofer, which set up a Semi Final against Tottenham. With the injury to Johnson and me keen to stengthen the squad for the long season ahead, I was pleased to announce the new signing of 30 yr old Momo Sissoko from Sunderland for 2.3m after his contract had become unprotected. He made his debut in the next game against Burnley in a comfortable 4-2 win, with a hatrick from Mbokani and a couple of assists for the debutant Sissoko. Our last game before Christmas would be the trip to Old Trafford to take on Man Utd. The game welcomed the return of captain Michael Johnson, but unfortunately it wasn't a happy return to the team for him, as we went down 2-1, with a late consolation goal for ourselves through a Wickham penalty 10 mins from time.


    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 01:00 PM.

  3. #53
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    The festive period wasn't too kind to us, as our first game after Christmas would see us make the difficult trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on 4th placed Arsenal, who were on equal points in the Premiership as us, but our superior goal difference saw us sit above them. With captain Michael Johnson short of fitness, Momo Sissoko took the DMC position as we lined up in the familiar 4-1-2-2-1 I was employing in difficult away games, with the onus on Longas and Ireland to push from midfield, and wide men Castro and Walcott providing plenty of chances for the in form Mbokani. Arsenal themselves lined up 4-4-2, but for a couple of early chances which weren't too concerning, it was us who were in command of the first half. We got our rewards when the head of Sissoko got on the end of a Cassani free kick to hand us the lead, and minutes later Mbokani doubled our lead out jumping the flapping Fabianski in the Gunners goal. A 2-0 lead at half time was a great achievement from my side, but I warned against complacency as Arsenal were bound to come out flying in the 2nd half, and that was exactly what they did. Eduardo and Vagner Love both went close, but Joe Lewis was outstanding for us, protecting our two goal lead, and a late strike from Ireland sealed a wonderful 3-0 win.




    From the highs of North London, to the lows of Suffolk, as despite battering Derby from pillar to post at Portman Road, we couldn't make the break through, and we dropped two important points in a 0-0 draw, which also saw Walcott stretchered off with a pulled hamstring keeping him out for the next month. We got back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 win away at Swansea in our first game of the new year, with a brace from Mbokani and another goal for Sissoko. With the FA Cup one of my aspirations for the season I was hoping for a straightforward tie in the 3rd round, however, I was dealt quite the opposite, with an imposing match against defending champions Liverpool. The first leg at home saw both teams cancel each other out in a very tight game that finished 0-0. Back-to-back league games against Sheff Utd followed, with 2-0 away and 4-0 home scorelines in our favour, before the replay against Liverpool.

    In the build up to the game, Michael Johnson and Mbokani joined Walcott on the treatment table, not quite what I wanted before such a big game. Mascherano gave the hosts the opener on the half hour mark, whilst we were restricted to long range efforts that didn't trouble Reina. Chances went begging for both sides in the 2nd half, and with 90 mins on the clock we were as good as out. But nobody told Stefan Maierhofer that! Deep into injury time and everybody forward, the Austrian striker got on the end of a knock down from Samba, and cooly slotted the ball beyond Reina to send us into extra time. The leveller was a demorialising blow to Liverpool, and there was only one team in the game for the additional 30 mins, but with 4 mins left we were dealt a blow as former Reds midfielder Sissoko was sent off for a second bookable offence, but it didn't matter as the game went to penalties. The first 4 pens were all dispatched with ease until Agger missed for Liverpool, and Castro gave us the advantage. James Collins stepped up for Liverpool but he saw his spot kick saved by Lewis, and hero Maierhofer had the chance to send us through to the 4th round, which he duly did.




    Mbokani returned for the away trip to Notts Forest that saw another red card, this time to defender Fazio, but once again we left it late, with goals from Mbokani and Wilshere in the 88th and 90th minute giving us a 4-2 victory, which also saw us hit top spot in the league for the first time this season. With the League Cup low down on my radar I kept faith with the reserve side that had took me this far in the competition. The 1st Leg of the Semi Final against Tottenham would be played at White Hart Lane, and a brace from Wickham helped us to a decent looking 2-2 draw. We would face another Merseyside team in the 4th round of the FA Cup, with us running out 1-0 winners in a game we could easily have scored more if not for some woeful finishing, but it mattered little as Everton rarely attacked and we progressed to the 5th round.


    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 01:01 PM.

  4. #54
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    A trip to Ewood Park saw 18 year old centre back Tom McMahon make his debut for the club, in what I expected to be a difficult game. As it was we dominated the game, with Mbokani and Longas giving us a 2-0 half time lead. Within 10 mins of the 2nd half, Samba had extended our lead to 3, with a towering header from a Castro corner. Blackburn's Hungarian forward Zoltan Viniczai pulled one back for the home side, but before any thoughts of a late comeback could materialise, Mbokani got his 2nd of the game moments later, and we ran out 4-1 winners, but at a cost, with Stephen Ireland picking up a groin injury keeping him out for the next 3 weeks. A top of the table clash against Chelsea followed, with Cavani replacing the injured Ireland, and McMahon keeping his place in the side. A tight first half ensued, with both defences nullifying what little chances were created for the attackers, and it came as no surprise when we went in at the break honours even. The 2nd half could be no different to the first, with chances going begging for both sides, but eventually the deadlock was broke, and thankfully for us, it was Mbokani who gave us the opener. We were beginning to over run the London side, but we had to wait till the 88th minute before we put the game beyond doubt, when substitute Charalabidis scored a spectacular volley to give us 3 massive points.




    Another 2-0 win at home to Aston Villa with goals from Wilshere and Mbokani kept us top of the table, ahead of the Champions League resuming with a home tie against Spanish giants Real Madrid. Uruguayan Cavani gave us a dream start after 10 mins, and just before half time we doubled our lead through an unlikely source, right back Alan Hutton. In fact Hutton got another just after half time, and despite a red card to Sissoko late on, the win was never in doubt, and what a win it was.




    After 2 difficult games in the FA Cup so far, I was relieved to be handed an easier looking draw against Morecambe, although the game would be away. Despite ear marking the FA Cup as one of my aims for the season, I named a reserve side for the match, confident they would get the job done. My faith was repaid when we took a 2-0 lead, but we got complacent and allowed Morecambe to get level with just 10 mins remaining. Luckily we stepped up our performance again, and Wickham gave us the winner 5 mins from time. We flew out to Madrid in high spirits after our 3-0 demolition of them one week ago, but we came crashing down to Earth after just 5 mins, when we went 1-0 down, former player Xabi Prieto setting up Lisandro Lopez to hand the home side the lead. Real continued to have the bulk of possession but we stood resolute, and just as the full time whistle was about to be blown, Mbokani turned in a cross from Marek Suchy for his 25th goal of the season, and we had escaped with a valuable, all be it undeserved point, that confirmed our qualification to the quarter finals.

    A pulsating away game at Goodison Park saw us come back from 1-0 and 2-1 down, to run out 4-2 winners, Longas the Man of the Match with a brace and an assist to his name. The League Cup Semi Final against Tottenham was delicately poised at 2-2 ahead of the 2nd leg, and as the norm with League Cup games, a weakened side was announced. The team continued their good run in the competition with a first half goal from ex Spurs player David Bentley, scoring the only goal of the game, and we were through to the League Cup Final. A stubborn Sheffield Wednesday were defeated 1-0 at home, but a returning Stephen Ireland and left back Marek Suchy both got injured in the last 15 mins, Ireland with a repeat of his groin injury although my physios informed me he wouldn't require surgery for the time being. With our passage to the Quarter Finals already confirmed, the match against bottom side Cagliari was a bit of a non event, with a bore draw the final result, and with Real Madrid beating Shakhtar 2-0 away, they would join us in the draw for the quarter final, although we still have one group game to come, at home to the Ukranians.


    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:21 PM.

  5. #55
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    With us still involved in all four competitions we were entered into this season, the games were coming thick and fast, and were becoming a real test on my squad, although we kept on pulling off the results. The FA Cup Quarter Final at home to Sheffield Wednesday came 3 days after the goalless draw against Cagliari in Italy, and a good number of my first choice XI were short on fitness for the game, so the likes of Tengarrinha, Vallejo and young left back George Thomas (given his debut) were given a run out. There was no concerns about the match itself however, as Mbokani kept up his fantastic scoring record with a hatrick to give us a 3-0 win, and a place in the Semi Finals.




    With qualification for the Champions League Quarter Finals already confirmed, I could have been forgiven for fielding an understrength side for the final group game at home to Shakhtar, but with Real Madrid only one point behind, and with an easy looking home game against bottom side Cagliari, I fielded my strongest side, determined to hold on to top spot. The decision paid dividends as we were 3-0 up by half time, thanks to a double from Mbokani and a first ever goal for centre back McMahon, and that's how it finished after 90 mins. Real Madrid won 1-0 but it weren't enough for them to go above us. Our opponents in the next round would be familiar opposition in AC Milan, who we played in the 1st Group Stage, also pipping to top spot by a sole point.

    A difficult trip to White Hart Lane followed, but we were on a roll now, and we overcame the North London club 2-1. The League Cup Final was finally upon us, as for the 2nd game in succession we would face a London club, in the shape of Arsenal. I decided to stick with the 2nd team that had done so well in reaching the final, and it also gave a chance for my first team players to get some much needed rest, with the Champions League Quarter Final and the FA Cup Semi Final against Chelsea the next two games. Eduardo handed the Gunners the lead after just 10 mins, but we equalised through Longas just before the half time whistle. After the break both teams created very little, and it was no surprise when the game would go into extra time, with just 5 shots on target in the 90 mins by both sides. Unfortunately, we never showed up in extra time, and Eduardo gave Arsenal the winner after 104 mins, heartbreak for my side, but a great achievement in them getting this far.



    The 1st Leg against Milan would be at Portman Road, so we needed a good win to take to the San Siro in two weeks time. A full strength side was named, and straight from the off we took the game to the Italians. A number of chances went begging in the first half hour for us, but on the half hour mark captain Michael Johnson scored his first of the season to put us 1-0 to the good. 5 mins later, one became two, as Castro scored from long range, and we were well on the way to that good win I craved. I expected a backlash from Milan in the 2nd half, but they offered very little going forward, and must have been willing to play out the 2-0 result as that's how it ended, but Sissoko would miss the next two weeks. The now injury free Stephen Ireland would make his return for the FA Cup Semi Final against Chelsea at St James' Park, and despite a few replacements we had the best of the game, Walcott terrorising the Chelsea left back, and setting up our 2 goals as well as a host of other chances, as we ran out 2-1 winners.




    Our first league game for nearly 4 weeks saw Sunderland make the long trip south, and we were looking to carry on our good form. However, the game was heart breaking stuff. Despite bossing the game from start to finish, we hit a brick wall in Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon, and just as I thought I'd have to settle for a point, Kieran Richardson scored in the last minute from a free kick, there first shot of the entire game! I was demoriliased, but we had to pick ourselves up for the trip to Molineux. Castro scored after 35 mins, and just as it looked like 3 deserved points, once again we were hit by a late goal, El Hamdaoui scoring 5 mins from time.

    The 2nd Leg against Milan was a huge game after the disappointment of the last two, but we equipped ourselves well, and were unfortunate to go into the break at 0-0. The opening goal came within 15 mins of the second half, Brazilian right back Rafinha scoring for the home sides, and all of a sudden it was game on. Thankfully Mbokani scored 13 mins from time, and the final whistle blew, confirming a 1-1 draw and a 3-1 agg win. We would face title rivals Liverpool in the semis, meaning 3 games in a row against the Merseyside club (one in the league) in little over a fortnight's time. We finally got back to winning ways in the league with a routine 3-0 win away at Burnley, but we had let 1st place slip after the 2 previous games.



    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:28 PM.

  6. #56
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    With just one month left of the season, I asked the squad for one final push which would ultimately bring silverware to Portman Road, in one form or another. A home game against Bolton was next, and as I expected they were stubborn opposition. An injury to Theo Walcott after just 6 mins certainly didn't help (ruling him out for the next 3 weeks), and it took till the 71st minute till we finally beat Gary Inglis in the Bolton goal, Edison Cavani with the strike, and that solitary goal gave us the 3 points. Next up was the first of 3 consecutive games against Liverpool, the 2 legs of the Champions League Semi Final sandwiching a league tie at Anfield. The 1st leg would be played at Anfield, and we made a terrible start, finding ourselves a goal and a man down within 7 mins, and the plan was now damage limitation to ensure we still had a chance come the 2nd leg in 7 days time. Despite Liverpool dominating the game, they couldn't find a second goal, and they would take a 1-0 lead into the 2nd leg. Would it be enough?

    We stayed in Liverpool, as 3 days we would play them again, this time in the league, a massive 6 pointer that will have a huge bearing on the league, with a win for either side making them overwhelming favourites for the league. It was yet more misery for my side however at Anfield, Torres opening the scoring after 9 mins, before two goals in quick succession from Wheater and Torres, giving Liverpool a 3-0 lead after just 18 mins. We managed to pull one back after half time, but Torres completed his hatrick in the final minute, and we were wll beaten 4-1. We were now 2 pts behind the Merseyside club, and we would need a stroke of luck to retain our Premiership title. Our 3rd and final meeting against Liverpool would hopefully give us a chance for a win over them, although morale was at an all time low in the dressing room, despite the chance of making history and reaching the Champions League final. To make matters worse, a number of first team players were short on fitness, and some of the squad players would have a chance to impress, and one inparticular took that opportunity with both hands. Connor Wickham, in for top scorer Mbokani, levelled the aggregate score after 27 mins, turning in a cross from Castro. Midway through the 2nd half, and it happened again, Castro beating his man and finding Wickham to double our lead, and put us ahead in the tie. We continued to impress, and we were unlucky to score just the two, but we won 2-0 and were through to the final, to face giants Barcelona.

    The FA Cup Final was finally upon us, with Manchester United our opponents. I was able to name an unchanged side from the Liverpool game, and I kept faith in the same players that took us into the Champions League Final. It was a nervy start from both sides, as is usually the case in finals, but just as the referee was about to blow for half time, England striker Wayne Rooney scored with a neat finish inside the penalty area, a cruel blow just before the break. Our response came immediately after the break, Gonzalo Castro levelling the scores from a free kick, and we were now in the ascendence. Shots from Wickham and Ireland were turned round the post by Julio Cesar in the last 10 mins of normal time, and we would go to extra time. With a couple of tired legs, Mbokani replaced Wickham, and his brute strength troubled the United defence. During the 1st half of extra time, Chris Smalling brought down the Congolese striker, and the referee pointed to the spot. I had to look away when Madjid Bougherra stepped up, but he was as cool as you like sending the keeper the wrong way to give us the lead. Mbokani ensured the cup was ours with a bullet header in the 2nd period of extra time, and one of my aims for the season was in the bag, with a very good chance for the other in a couple of weeks time.


    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 01:03 PM.

  7. #57
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    With the FA Cup in the bag, we still had the chance of adding the Premiership and Champions League to the trophy cabinet, although we would have to rely on a massive slip up from Liverpool to claim the league. Our last 3 league games were all at home, which was nice seeing we would need maximum points to stand any chance of the title. First up was former club Fulham, who were chasing a CL place, so dangerous opponents indeed. Unfortunately, with the FA Cup Final just 2 days previous, and the bulk of my team having played 120 mins, I had to name a completely changed side. The game got off to a frantic start, Longas twice going close, but the deadlock was finally broke a minute before half time, Clint Dempsey getting on the end of a pass from veteran Spanish midfielder Xavi. With no option for all out attack in the second half we took the game to Fulham but Jan Mucha was equal to everything, and we couldn't find an equaliser, never mind two. We were now 5 pts behind Liverpool with two games to go, league practically over.

    The league was over in our next game against Man City. With my first team back to fitness I thought we would dominate the game which we did, but once again we met a brick wall in the shape of Daniel Marcio Fernandes, not the first time the Portuguese keeper had thwarted me. With the final league game just three days before the CL Final I named a complete 2nd team, with not one of my expected starting XI for the final in the matchday squad. It wouldn't be an easy game though, as for the second time in 8 days we would face Man Utd, keen for revenge after beating them in the FA Cup Final. With the pressure now off we played superbly. David Bentley gave us an early lead with a header from a Wilshere corner, and he had a free kick tipped over the bar later on. Despite starting the game just one point behind us, and the chance of overtaking us for 2nd, Man Utd seemed not to care about being a goal down, offering very little in the way of an attacking threat. Their first shot on target came 5 mins from time, but it was a tame shot, easily gathered by Lewis, and despite failing to add a second we were never in danger of losing our 1-0 lead. The win confirmed our 2nd placed finish, 5 pts behind champions Liverpool.




    The CL Final, quite possibly the biggest day in Ipswich Town history, and a win for me would allow me to move on to the England job, when it became available. Sissoko, Cavani and Cassani would all miss the game through injury, but I was still happy with the team I named, Alnwick, Suchy, Bougherra, Samba, Hutton, Charalabidis, Johnson (C), Ireland, Castro, Walcott and Mbokani, in my favoured, 4-1-2-2-1 formation. Barcelona's team was formidable though, Ashley Cole and Dani Alves pushing on from full back, Sergio Busquets anchoring the midfield with Anders Iniesta and Ronaldinho supporting a front two of Ibrahimovic and Bojan, luckily Messi was injured for the game. Mbokani had an early chance for us, reacting to a through ball from skipper Michael Johnson, but it was easily saved by Luis Garcia in the Catalan goal. Things took a turn for the worse though after 19 mins when right back Alan Hutton picked up his second yellow of the game, and we would have to play the rest of the game with 10 men. 5 mins later we were a goal down, Bojan slotting past Ben Alnwick, after initial good work from Iniesta. Even with an inferior number of players we were still creating chances, Ireland getting on the end of a knock down from Mbokani, but shooting over. More bad news came on the stroke of half time, Theo Walcott had picked up a thigh injury and his part in the final was over. The 2nd half was one way traffic, Barcelona creating chance after chance, but still it remained 1-0, and I took one last role of the dice, sending on Wickham and Maierhofer on as we resorted to a 3-4-2 formation. It mattered little though, as Barcelona kept hold of the ball and we would have to accept defeat.




    Previous Teams

    Fulham



    As can be seen from above finished 5th in the table just outside the CL places. In the Champions League they went out in the 1st Group stage, finishing bottom to Ajax, Shahktar and Villarreal. Lost in the quarter finals of the FA Cup 3-1 away at eventual runners up Man Utd, and in the League Cup lost 2-0 away at Wolves in their opening game.
    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 01:03 PM.

  8. #58
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    14 days after the defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League Final, our last game of the season, I announced our first signing of the summer. The player in question had only started 5 times that season for his club, making 13 sub apps but still scored 5 times, and I acted quickly to agree an 8m fee for 30 yr old Wesley Sneijder from Arsenal. Just days later and Arsenal made a bid for former player Jack Wilshere, and despite not wanting to sell the young midfielder, he became unhappy when I rejected the bid, and I had no choice to move him on to the Gunners, also for 8m - a 5.8m profit on the player in just one season at the club. With the squad now one left sided midfielder light I had to find a replacement. Ex Real Madrid, Man City and Milan player and current Brazilian international Robinho was that replacement, joining from Seville in a 10m deal.




    We also looked light up front, with Mbokani and Wickham my only out and out strikers, with Forlan and Maierhofer both now in the reserves, while Cavani was being deployed behind the striker. We picked up a real bargin with Federico Macheda arriving on a free after his contract expired at Manchester United, and I was over the moon to pick up a player of his calibre without spending any money, and at just 23 with his best years ahead of him. Another player joining for nothing was Atalanta goalkeeper Simone Colombi who arrived on a bosman to add competition between the sticks, with Joe Lewis, Ben Alnwick and Robert Green already at the club. Algerian centre back Madjid Bougherra had agreed to join Spurs when his contract became unprotected, so I was on the look out for another centre back. I acted quickly, and Argentine and Villarreal defender Gonzalo was that man, once again for a fee of 8m. Iker Munain became our third 8m signing arriving from Athletic Bilbao, and at 22 also has a bright future ahead of him. French right back Abdoulay Konko was our final signing, arriving from Sevilla for 2.3m.




    I was more than happy with the squad for the season ahead, hopefully my last at Portman Road.
    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:32 PM.

  9. #59
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    Our first game of the season would be the Charity Shield against last years Premiership winners Liverpool. We played Liverpool a massive 7 times last season, winning just the once, drawing twice (both in the FA Cup), and losing the other 4 games, including last years Charity Shield, so on the surface we looked slight underdogs for the match, but having strengthened the squad significantly in the summer I was confident of a result. Brazilian forward Robinho got us off to a good start after 20 mins, getting onto the end of an Iker Munain through ball to put us 1-0 ahead. The lead didn't last long though, Fran Merida equalising 6 mins later, keeper Joe Lewis failing to keep hold of a Fernando Torres shot and the Spanish midfield reacted quickly to the blunder. Chances went begging for both sides in a very open curtain raiser for the season, and we would go into the break at 1-1. Young French winger Thierry Faivre gave Liverpool the lead after 62 mins, Lewis once again guilty of bad keeping, misjudging a cross from Jesus Navas. With us now chasing the game I brought on Castro and Wickham hoping to find a reply but Liverpool stood resolute, and for the 2nd year in a row we would lose the Charity Shield to Liverpool 2-1.




    I kept faith with Joe Lewis in goal for our first Premiership game of the season, a difficult one away at Chelsea. Kalou handed the home side after just 2 mins, yet again Lewis at fault, and mins later Lewis was badly placed for a shot from Tevez, luckily the post coming to our rescue. I had no choice to replace Lewis, Simone Colombi coming on to make his debut, and straight away he was called into action, tipping over from Essien. We were providing some offence of our own however, Munain going close, before Mbokani played in Walcott, who made no mistake with his low shot beyond Rhys Taylor, in for the injured Petr Cech. Just before half time I had to make another substitution, Munain picking up an injury which would rule him out for the next two weeks, Stephen Ireland taking his place behind Mbokani. We bossed the second half, but any shots we did have were off target, and of little harm to Chelsea, and we would have to settle for a point.

    We wouldn't have to wait too long for our first win of the season though, Macheda firing a 2nd half brace in a home tie against Man City, minutes after coming on for the out of sorts Mbokani. A long trip to Leeds in the league followed, and it weren't a happy trip, Keogh and Patulea giving Leeds a 2-0 lead, before Sneijder grabbed a consolation in the 90th minute. With only 4 points from a possible 9 we needed to stop dropping points already, starting with our next game against Swansea, once again from home. We really turned on the style in Wales, running out easy 3-0 winners, Robinho, Sissoko and Mbokani the scores, which gave us the 3 points. The Champions League Group stage draw saw us pitted again Lyon, Maribor and Rapid Vienna in the 1st Group stage, not a bad draw indeed, and we made a good start in our first game away at Lyon, recovering from going 1-0 down to winning 2-1, Sneijder and Castro securing the win. Another tough league game at home to Arsenal awaited us on our return from France, but we were able to make it 3 wins on the bounce, a win that saw us move into 2nd place in the league, behind early pace setters Manchester United.




    Our good form continued when Rapid Vienna were the visitors to Portman Road, Stephen Ireland with the only goal, with the Austrian side showing more resistance then I thought they would, but already we were 3 pts clear at the top of the Group, with the other 3 teams all on 3 pts. A very one sided match away at MK Dons saw us have a massive 23 shots on goal, but only two resulted in a goal, one for Macheda and one for Sneijder, and we would leave the Stadium MK with a 2-0 win, but one that could quite easily have been more, although it did see us take top spot in the league. An early scare away at Maribor didn't last long, as despite going 1-0 down from the spot after just 6 mins, a penalty of our own levelled the scores before the half hour mark. The 2nd half was one way traffic, Castro, Bentley and Ireland all finding the net, and thoughts of qualification were already running through my mind, but I dare not share that with the players.


    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 01:05 PM.

  10. #60
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    After a bit of an indifferent start to the season, we were on a good run of form that saw us win our last 6 games in all competitions, taking command of our CL group, and hitting the summit of the Premiership. Two further wins followed, both at home in the league, first Stephen Ireland scoring the only goal against Wolves early on, and a 2-0 win over Notts Forest with goals inside the first half hour from Macheda and Muniain, which saw us keep top spot in the league, although our rivals were right on our tail.




    A trip to Goodison Park is never an easy game, and last years game was a classic, with us rallying from going 1-0 and 2-1 down, to win the game late on 4-2. This season it was our turn to put our head in front, Walcott springing the offisde trap before slotting the ball past a helpless Jan Mucha in the Everton goal. Robinho doubled our lead shortly before half time, Walcott turning provider this time, and at the break we were 2-0 to the good. We had to be careful of an Everton fight back, and when El Hamdaoui pulled one back it set up a nervy finish. Everton changed to a 4-3-3 formation looking for an equaliser, and brought on veteran Brazilian striker Adriano in search of a leveller, but we digged in deep and saw out the game, and the 3 points to go with it. A routine 3-0 win over Maribor at home secured our qualification from our 1st Group stage, with the remaining 3 teams battling it out for the other qualification place.

    A returning Mbokani helped us to a 2-1 home win over Wigan, which really should have been more, if not for a world class performance from the Wigan keeper, but it was enough for us to remain in 1st place. With qualification ensured in the CL, I made 8 changes to the side who had defeated Wigan for the visit of Lyon. With our minds on the league, and Lyon still aiming for qualification from the group, it was no surprise when we fell a goal behind from ex Liverpool striker Djibrill Cisse, although it was short lived, with Macheda keeping up his good scoring record with the equaliser on half time. We fell behind yet again, this time from the penalty spot, 8 mins after half time, but once again Macheda was the saviour, scoring late on to salvage a point, which resulted in Rapid Vienna progressing to the next round after they beat Maribor 1-0 away.

    A trip to former stomping ground Craven Cottage proceeded two meetings with Manchester United. First to London, and a tough game, with my former side sitting 5th in the table. Norwegian centre back Brede Hangeland gave the Cottagers the lead after 17 mins, but exactly 17 mins later we were level, through unlikely goal scorer Marek Suchy. Apart from the 2 goals, there was very little goal mouth action, and the second half was a very drab affair with only the sending off of Sissoko being the only thing of note. Despite just receiving the one point, our closest rivals still remained behind us, but with 2 games in hands on us now. So to the first of our two encounters with Man Utd, the first in the League Cup at Old Trafford. With the League Cup at the bottom of my list of priorities, it was an under strength side that took the field. It looked like it wouldn't matter after just 14 mins, when right midfielder David Bentley gave us the lead with a spectacular volley. The home side hit back quickly, Hulk scoring from close range moments later, and then Rooney giving them the lead just before half time. After a bright start to the game, we were being dominated, and in the second half we were consigned to running round trying to get the ball back, as United kept possession and ran the clock down. We had one last gasp effort though, Cavani trying his luck from long range only to see his shot crash back off the post and we were out.

    Just 3 days later we would have another crack at Man Utd, however, this time it would be in front of a packed Portman Road, and a full strength side, minus the injured Konko at right back, with Hutton acting as his replacement. It was our turn to dominate proceedings, Sneijder pulling the strings in midfield, creating chance after chance for the front 3 of Robinho, Mbokani and Walcott, but all of them went begging, and at half time it was 0-0. It didn't remain goalless long, De Rossi driving at our defence from midfield, and we paid the cost for standing off him, as his long range shot found the bottom corner, and we were 1-0 down. Muniain and Cassani came on for the disappointing Robinho and Hutton, but they too couldn't get a foot hold in the game, and we had to curse our poor finishing in the 1st half, as we lost for the second time against Man Utd in 3 days, and one that saw them leap above us in the league, and us fall to 2nd.


    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:37 PM.

  11. #61
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    So after the disappointment of losing at home in the league to title rivals Manchester United, we had to return to winning ways, and quick. Luckily we didn't have to wait long. Having already guaranteed finishing to of our first Champions League Group Stage table, I once again fielded an understrength side for the trip to face Rapid Wien, the other team from the group who had ensured their place in the next round. We left it extremely late to get the win, but 3 goals in the last 10 mins from Johnson, Wickham and Ireland gave us the victory.

    Despite having Robinho sent off after 15 mins for a push on Marvin Emnes, we overcame Derby County at Portman Road 2-0, in a game we could quite easily have won by a bigger margin. The 2nd Group Stage draw would see us pit our wits against Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Standard Liege, and it was the Dutch team we would face first at home. After good performances in the last two games, Stephen Ireland kept his spot in midfield, and it was he who gave us the lead after 11 mins, with a great run from midfield, and an equally good long range shot. Just before half time the lead was doubled, heading home a Gonzalo cross, what the centre back was doing up there to cross I don't know, but I didn't care. It continued to be a one sided game in the 2nd half, with Mbokani and Ireland both bagging a brace, although the 4-0 win was marred by injuries to full backs Konko and Suchy.




    Two tough trips in the league were up next, but we were on a roll. Ireland continued his superb recent form with the opener after the half hour mark, with another shot from distance. Iker Munain then found the net, once again another long ranger out foxing the Villa keeper, and we had comfortable lead going into half time. The expected fight back from the Midlands side failed to materialise, and Mbokani really should have added a 3rd late on, but his header came crashing back off the bar. If the game against Aston Villa was easy, the trip to Ewood Park was like scoring in a brothel with a blank cheque book.

    A hatrick from Mbokani, and goals from Wesley Sneijder and Gonzalo Castro completed a 5-0 mauling of Sam Allardyce's men. We soon came crashing back down to Earth though. A trip to Dortmund started well with Mbokani giving us the lead after 14 mins, but within a minute the scores were level, and that's how it stayed till half time. The 2nd half was a disaster though. The home side could easily have had 3 or 4 as our defence went missing, but they did score twice to consign us to a 3-1 defeat, leaving us 3rd in the until February when it resumes with a double header against early pace setters Standard Liege. With morale low in the squad I feared for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur, who after a bad start to the season, were beginning to move up the table, and were currently 7th, after a pulsating 5-3 home win over Bolton. I needn't have worried, as within half hour we were 4-0 to the good, which saw a 7 minute hatrick for Mbokani, although Spurs got a consolation in the 2nd half.




    Even though we had 4 league wins on the bounce since losing to Man Utd, the Red Devils hadn't dropped any points either, so going into our away game with 3rd placed Liverpool we remained 2nd. Before the game I would have took a point, but I kept them thoughts to myself as I gave the team talk before kick off, with Michael Johnson instructed to keep a keen eye on Steven Gerrard in the midfield. Thankfully Fernando Torres was on his way back from injury and could only find a place on the bench, with Julio Baptista the lone striker for the home side. As to be expected it was a cautious start from both teams, with most of the came being played in the middle of the pitch, although both Sneijder for us, and Javi Martinez for Liverpool went close. The goal did come though, and it was Dutchman Sneijder with it, after turning in a cross after a good cross from Castro. With time running out for an equaliser, Liverpool brought on Torres in one last throw of the dice, and it paid dividends when he rose above our defence to head home a cross from Jesus Navas.

    There was some good news however, as two days later Man Utd were demolished 3-0 at White Hart Lane, that saw us snatch 1st place in the Premiership, all be it on goal difference.
    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:39 PM.

  12. #62
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    Our last game before Christmas would see a tough trip to Eastlands to take on Man City, who somehow found themselves languishing in 10th place. It didn't take long for the opener, Spanish full back Iker Fernandez sending in a cross for Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo to nod past a helpless Simone Colombi, to put the home side 1-0 up. The City fans weren't celebrating long, as just 4 mins later, Micah Richards received his marching orders after pushing over ex team mate Robinho. They had more reason to be happy within quarter of an hour of the sending off, French full back Abdoulay Konko with the equaliser, getting on the end of a ball from Castro. With the game 11 v 10, it was no surprise we had the best of the game, but we ran into a brick wall in the form of Brazilian keeper Fabio, not for the first time a Man City keeper would thwart us, and probably not the last.

    Despite the dropped points, we actually extended our lead at the top of the table, as Man Utd lost 2-1 at Swansea Another big game followed on Boxing Day, but Chelsea must have had too much Turkey or maybe just an off day, as goals from Muniain and a brace from Mbokani sealed a fantastic 3-0 win, a belated Christmas present for the Portman Road faithful. We got further good news as Man Utd once again failed to win, playing out a 1-1 home draw against rivals Leeds, which made our lead at the top now 3 pts.




    Consecutive wins over Bolton (1-0) and Leeds (5-1), preceeded the start of our FA Cup venture, and as defending champions, I wanted to do well in the tournament, and not lose possession of the trophy. With this in mind, I sent a full strength side to Underhill, to take on Championship side Barnet. It was one way traffic throughout the 90 mins, with Muniain getting the opener after 9 mins. Despite our domination we only made sure of the win in the very last minute, Mbokani with the goal ensuring qualification to the 4th round. Back to league business, and Sunderland came and left Portman Road with their tale between their legs, even if a red card to Muniain did spoil a routine 3-0 win for us, which kept the gap at 3 pts.

    A trip to Molineux saw an opening 10 mins of action, followed by 80 mins of none! With 2 goals and a sending off, it was a fast start to the game, but after we had Joe Lewis sent off for a foul, and the subsequent penalty dispatched with ease by Ebanks-Blake, I thought it would make for a very open game, however it weren't to be and once again just one point seperated us and Utd. If our away form was indifferent, our home record was as good as ever. Within a week, Swansea had been battered 4-0, in a game which could easily have been 9 or 10, and the FA Cup 4th round saw us demolish Aston Villa 4-1, with all the action in the 2nd half, including a hatrick for Mbokani.




    Once again we failed to collect the 3 points from an away trip, this time drawing 1-1 away at Notts Forest, with Mbokani continuing his fantastic scoring record this season. We left it late to record a win over MK Dons at home, a free kick from Sneijder and a penalty from Muniain in the last 10 mins, finally securing the victory. A trip to Wigan finally saw us record our first away win since the start of December, although it weren't easy. German u21 striker Alexander Brunner gave the Latics the lead early on, and it took a half time team talk that turned the game around, with Muniain, Macheda and Sneijder scoring second half goals to give us the win, and keep us at the top of the league, all be it by just the one point.


    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 04:08 PM.

  13. #63
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    February saw the Champions League start once again, and a double header against group leaders Standard Liege would get us underway, and it was former Liege striker Mbokani who inspired us to a 3-0 win, scoring the opener and setting up the other two for Muniain and Konko, which saw us take top spot in the group. The FA Cup 5th round saw a difficult trip to Bramall Lane to take on Championship side Sheff Utd, and it was a nervy 90 minutes. With most of the team that defeated Liege short of fitness, I had to make a fair amount of changes, and it was the home side that took the lead in the 2nd half, with Scotland stirker George Clarke with the strike. It looked like we would be heading out, but with five minutes left on the clock a speculative shot from Longas found the top corner, and we would live to fight another day.

    The trip to Belgium to face Standard Liege was blighted by the news of an injury to Theo Walcott, ruling the England internationalist out for the next month. It mattered little however, as we dominated proceedings from start to finish. Spanish midfielder Iker Muniain gave us the lead after just 6 mins, and despite Keirrison equalising for the home side, we were never really troubled. Despite our superiority we couldn't find another goal to re-take the lead. With time running out, we were rewarded with a free kick on the edge of the box, and Dutch maestro stepped up to curl it into the net. We made sure of the 3 pts ten minutes from time, when Samba powered in a header from a Sneijder corner, and we were looking good for qualification to the quarter finals.




    A return to league action saw Everton come to Portman Road, with them looking for a good finish to season to hopefully sneak a European place. Our home form had seen 11 wins on the bounce since losing to Man Utd back at the end of October, and we extended our run of home wins, with Robinho and Muniain with two goals in the first half hour handing us the victory. The replay against Sheff Utd saw yet another triumph in front of the Portman Road crowd, but it wasn't easy. Once again a weakened side was named, and it was the Blades who managed to get the opener after 7 mins. Macheda levelled moments later, and young Spanish midfielder Vallejo gave us the lead after half time, and when Macheda slotted in his 2nd I thought the game was over. Sheffield Utd had other ideas however, and an 88th minute goal from Andrew Walsh set up a very anxious last few minutes, which saw them hit the crossbar with the very last kick of the game, but we had made it through to the quarter finals.

    Our away form had been letting us down the past few months, but that was all to change with a trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal. The Gunners rearguard couldn't handle the physical presence of Mbokani from the first whistle, and by the game was over I bet they were sick to death of him. His first goal came courtesy of a ball over the top from Michael Johnson, and him unleashing a first time shot that smashed into the net. On the stroke of half time he got on the end of a cross from Robinho to double our advantage, and he grabbed his hatrick in the 88th minute, after a poor clearance from Arsenal keeper Craig Gordon.

    We booked our passage into the Champions League Quarter Finals after securing the required point in a bore draw at the Amsterdam ArenA against Ajax, that doesn't need any further comments, so I won't It was another quarter final that greeted us on our return to England, with Everton making their second trip to Ipswich in as many weeks. I decided to stick with the side that had got me this far, and they didn't let me down, recording a 3-0 win, with goals made in Italy, first from full back Cassani and then a brace from Macheda, which set up a Semi Final appointment with everybodys favourites, Manchester United.

    Despite qualification assured from our Champions League group, I didn't want Dortmund to come through with us, especially after they beat us quite convincingly in Germany. With that in mind, a full strength side was announced for the tie, and it was a great game for the neutrals with plenty of goals. Two 1st half goals from Muniain gave us a 2-0 advantage at the break, but it was the 2nd half that saw more action. Forster pulled one back for Dortmund, but we responded immediately through Mbokani. He didn't have to wait long for a second himself, converting 12 mins later. The German side managed to pull one back, but we were never in danger of conceeding any more, and with Standard Liege beating Ajax 2-1, it was the Belgians who joined us in the quarter finals.




    A returning Theo Walcott scored in a 4-0 win over former club Fulham at Portman Road, that saw us now 6 pts ahead of Manchester United in the race for the title.


    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:44 PM.

  14. #64
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    A massive 6 pointer away at Man Utd was up next, and a huge bearing on where the Premiership crown would be heading come the end of the season. A win for us at Old Trafford would move us 9 pts ahead of our nearest rivals Man Utd, and with just 7 games left of the season, a fantastic opportunity to have one hand on the trophy. However, victory for the home side would move them to within 3 pts of us, and heap the pressure on us for the run in, so all to play for. To the game itself, and in the opening exchanges, both sides were finding it hard to get a foot hold in the match, with misplaced passes from both teams. Just as the first half was coming to the end, the opening goal came. After a rare Man Utd attack broke down, Hutton pushed forward from his full back spot, and after skipping past the challenge from Evra he sent in a cross, that Mbokani met perfectly to send the ball past Ben Foster, and put us 1-0 to the good.

    Unfortunately we didn't hold onto that lead for long, Toni Kroos levelling the scores with a low drive from the edge of the box just 2 mins into the second half. Despite a poor 5 minutes at the start of the 2nd half, we were the better side, and Robinho and Walcott were both guilty of missing good chances to put us back in front. With seconds left of the game, we had one final chance, a free kick 25 yards out from the Man Utd goal. Sneijder stepped up to take it, curled it up and over the wall, leaving Foster helpless, but it wasn't to be as the ball crashed back of the upright, and we had to settle for a point in a game we really should have won.




    For a change a cup draw was kind to us, as we were pitted against Fenerbahce in the Champions League Final. The Turkish side had some good players like Ozil, Neymar and Mario Gomez, but they weren't Barcelona, Valencia or Man Utd who I could have been drawn against. We needed a good start in the home leg which was up first to take into the return leg in two weeks time, and a good start is exactly what we got. Mbokani put us ahead within the first 10 mins, and he had made it 2-0 eleven minutes before half time. The Congolese striker completed his hatrick just after half time, and substitute Connor Wickham grabbed a late goal to make it 4-0 on the night, and a huge task for Fenerbahce to qualify for the semis.




    The big games kept on coming with the FA Cup Semi Final against Man Utd, to be played at the Emirates Stadium. I kept faith with the 2nd team that had got me this far, and they didn't let me down. Stephen Ireland grabbed the first of the match on 10 mins, following up a shot from Longas that Foster couldn't keep hold of. After the break former Utd striker Federico Macheda doubled our lead, and he should have made it 3-0 moments later, but Foster pulled off a spectacular save to keep the deficit at two. Hulk pulled one back in the 89th minute, but it was too little too late, and we were through to the final, were we would face Leeds, who overcame my former side Fulham on penalties, with the Cottagers missing their last 4 pens!

    We returned to league duty for the home game against Aston Villa, and our good form continued, with Theo Walcott and Michael Johnson scoring either side of half time to hand us a 2-0 win, but the gap at the top was still 6 pts as Man Utd overcame Blackburn 2-1. That lead at the top changed after the next game, but unfortunately it decreased, as we could only draw 1-1 away at Derby, despite dominate proceedings, and coupled with another 2-1 win for Man Utd against Tottenham, our advantage at the top was now 4 pts.

    We made sure of our progression to the semi finals of the Champions League, with a 2-1 win away in Turkey, with Mbokani grabbing a brace to see us through 6-1 on aggregate. A hard thought win over Blackburn at home followed, with Macheda getting the only goal of the game, but the gap remained at 4 pts, with Utd recording a 3-0 win over Bolton. With United away at rivals Liverpool, it was a great chance to extend our lead at the top. However, our game away at Sunderland didn't go to plan as we fell behind to a Darren Bent goal after half hour, and with the game 0-0 at Anfield, there was just 3 pts behind ourselves and Man Utd. We got a life line when Macheda came off the bench to equalise with 2 mins left on the clock, but Sunderland would have the last laugh, Bent getting his second of the game with the last kick of the game. To Anfield, and the game finished 0-0 with Liverpool missing a penalty halfway through the second half.

    So with 3 games left of the season we had a 3 point lead at the top over Man Utd. Our remaining league fixtures would see us face Liverpool at home first of all, followed by two away games at Spurs and Bolton, whereas Man Utd would play city rivals Man City at home, before finishing off with 2 away games of their own against Chelsea and Leeds, so it looked liked going right down to the wire, although our goal difference was much greater than our challengers.


    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 04:09 PM.

  15. #65
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    The Champions League had just four teams left, ourselves, Man Utd, Valencia and CSKA Moscow, and guess who we drew?! The first leg would be at home so we needed a good win to take to Old Trafford. We got off to a great start after just 9 mins, skipper Michael Johnson getting on the end of a Sneijder free kick, and his powerful header beat the motionless Ben Foster. 11 minutes later and our lead was doubled, with the free scoring Mbokani getting his 40th goal of the season, turning in a slide rule pass from the impressive Iker Muniain who was operating in the hole. Another late run into the box from the Spaniard saw Darren Fletcher clip the heels when he was about to pull the trigger, and the referee had no choice to point to the spot. Muniain dusted himself off and stepped up to take the penalty, but Foster was equal to it, and at half time we went in at 2-0 to the good, although it could easily have been 3. We weren't to be denied a third though, as once again Muniain would be the provider, this time setting up Abdoulay Konko for the full backs 3rd goal in the competition. We had chances for a 4th, but we had to make do with the 3-0 scoreline, something I would have took in a second before the game.




    A tough game at home to Liverpool followed, but our home form had been impressive this season, and if our away form was as good, we'd probably have been crowned champions by now. I was able to name an unchanged side for the game against 3rd place Liverpool, but even though they had no chance of the title, we couldn't rely on them dropping their performance. It was another great start to a game, with Mbokani finding the net after 14 mins, but only after Muniain had once again missed a penalty, with the Congolese striker alert to the rebound. 5 mins later and we had another, Mbokani with his 2nd of the game. The Liverpool heads had clearly dropped, and we went in for the kill. We didn't have to wait long as Sneijder turned in a low cross from Konko, and the result was academic from there on in. With Liverpool chasing the game, we kept hold of possession, probing for another opening, but Liverpool were alot more organized in the second half. In fact we were hit on the counter attack, Kaka with a stunning effort from all of 30 yards, that saw Joe Lewis rooted to the spot. However, we weren't in any danger of conceeding again, and we had a valuable 3 pts. At Old Trafford, John Terry scored the only goal of the game for Man Utd in the Manchester Derby, so the gap remained at 3 pts.

    The return leg at Old Trafford was next, and with a 3-0 lead from the first leg, I was confident of our progression, although saying that, this was Man Utd we were talking about! I expected the "Red Devils" to come out firing right from the off, and that's exactly what happened. Hulk and Rooney were combining well in the early stages, and both went close to getting the opener, with only the frame of the goal and a great save from Lewis keeping the score deadlocked on the night. After the initial 20 mins though, we were coming into the game more and more, Muniain and Mbokani both missing great chances for us, and we went in at the break all square at 0-0. We had 45 mins to hold on, and barring a miracle we'd be in our second consecutive CL Final. The second half was a near carbon copy of the first, with Man Utd dominating the early proceedings, but just like before we began to get a foothold in the later stages, and it was us who finally got an overdue goal, Muniain making up for his penalty miss in the 1st leg, with a neat front post finish. It was a knockout blow to United, and the last 20 mins were a snore fest as we knocked the ball around, toying with the home side at times, until the inevitable final whistle, and we were through! Valencia would be our opponents after they overcame CSKA 5-4 on agg, after hitting back from a 4-3 defeat in the 1st leg away from home.

    The FA Cup Final was a chance to secure the first trophy in a potential historic treble, and we travelled to Wembley in high spirits, but which team don't on FA Cup Final day! I'd like to say the game was a real classic, with the game swaying back and forth, but sadly I couldn't, as after 6 minutes the games was spoilt with an unnecessary red card. Mercifully, it was to Leeds defender Paul Caddis, but even the most hardcore Ipswich fan would say it was no more than a booking. It was one way traffic from there on in, Macheda heading in a corner from Longas, and Sissoko scored with a long ranger on the stroke of half time. We were never threatened by Leeds, with only one wayward shot all they could boast, but their keeper had a fantastic game as he was rightly awarded the man of the match award, when we threatened to post a cricket score after the sending off. The first trophy of the season was in the bag, with hopefully two more to come!




    Our away form had been patchy all season, with just 7 wins from our 17 games on the road, but we would have to change that if we wanted to win the Premiership, with our final two league games both away from home. A trip to White Hart Lane was up first, and with Tottenham fighting my former club Fulham for a Europa League place, it had the makings of an excellent game. Once again we started poorly and we fell behind after just 3 mins, Ross Wallace with the early strike. We were really at sea in the first half, and I was grateful to make it to half time just the one goal down. We didn't fair any better in the second half, so with time running out, I made some changes, Macheda and Ireland coming on for Sneijder and Mbokani. The substitutions paid dividends almost immediately, with Macheda levelling the scores on 72 mins. It got better just 3 mins later when Muniain curled in his 15th of the season, and we held on for a valuable 3 pts. Events across London though gave us course for celebration as Chelsea held Man Utd 1-1 that confirmed our status as Champions!


    Heading back to Portman Road!


    With the league ours, and the CL Final just 3 days away, I fielded quite possibly my worst XI for the long trip to the Reebok Stadium, with the likes of Robert Green, Diego Forlan and Stefan Maierhofer all named in the starting lineup, with a combined age of 106 between the 3 of them, and with them all out of contract in the summer it was a chance for them to say goodbye to the Ipswich faithful. Quite remarkably it was the Austrian who made me think again about casting him to the reserves, as the 33 year old scored a fantastic 2nd half hatrick in his only game of the entire season, which set up a 3-1 win, that saw us finish the season with a total of 89 pts, 7 pts ahead of Man Utd who drew 1-1 again, this time at Elland Road.




    Up next the Champions League Final, live from the Estadio Nacional, Lisbon.
    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:47 PM.

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    Rebecca Keys: So here we are again, 12 months after losing 1-0 to Barcelona in the Champions League Final, Ipswich have another chance of winning European football's greatest prize. In their way stand Spanish side Valencia, who have just finished 4th in La Liga. Here are how both teams made the final.

    Mandy Gray: First a look at Ipswich, who topped their 1st Group Stage, going unbeaten in their 6 games against Lyon, Rapid Vienna and NK Maribor. It was a tougher test in the 2nd Group stage, as they faced Borussia Dortmund, Ajax and Standard Liege, but a 4-0 win over Ajax in their first game set them up nicely, as once again they topped the group, although they did lose one game, 3-1 away at Dortmund. The Quarter Final draw was quite kind to the Suffolk club, as they would play Turkish side Fenerbahce, and a 4-0 win at home in the 1st leg, made the result academic, as they went through 6-1 on agg. The Semi Final draw was not so kind, as it would be an All English clash between Ipswich and Man Utd. With the Portman Road side at home first, a good result was needed, and a 3-0 victory was just that. It was nervy at times for Ipswich in the return leg, but after weathering the storm, Iker Muniain scored a killer goal, that knocked the wind out of Man Utd's sails and Ipswich were through to a second consecutive Champions League Final.

    Rebecca Keys: Fantastic stuff indeed from Ipswich, but their opponents Valencia also did well in making the final, and this is how they did it. Qualification from the 1st Group stage containing Valencia, Genoa, Nantes and Dinamo Zagreb was always going to be a tough task for any of the 4 clubs, and that's how it proved, with Genoa topping the group, with Valencia 2nd, with just 4 pts seperating 1st place from 4th. A nicer looking 2nd group stage saw them qualify in 2nd once again, behind CSKA Moscow, but ahead of Liverpool. They drew the short straw in the quarter finals as they faced defending champions Barcelona, but despite losing the 1st leg away 2-1, a 1-0 win at home was enough to see them sneak through on away goals, at the expense of their fellow Spanish side. A fantastic Semi Final 1st leg away at CSKA Moscow saw them come back from 2-0 and 3-1 down, but they ultimately did lose 4-3. They made no mistake in the 2nd leg though, as they recorded a fine 2-0 win that saw them make their 2nd ever Champions League Final.

    Mandy Gray: This really has the making of a great game, with some fantastic players on show. For Ipswich the goals of Mbokani are always important, with the striker netting 13 times in just 12 appearances in the competition, but the service he receives from Muniain and Sneijder is so important, and if Valencia can stop them two, Ipswich will find it hard to score. For Valencia, skipper David Silva is their talisman, but they also have players like Cazorla and Capel, who can both cause havoc from the wide areas, and the full backs of Ipswich will have to be on their toes.

    Rebecca Keys: Well the team news is in, so let's look at the two sides.





    Rebecca Keys: Both going 4-5-1 Mandy, and the big absence for Ipswich is left back Marek Suchy, who for the 2nd year in a row will miss the Champions League Final. That's got to be tough on the lad?

    Mandy Gray: It will be tough, but I'm sure he'll be willing on his fellow players. Concerning the tactics, it was as we expected, with both playing their favoured 4-5-1 formation, although Ipswich's is more attacking, and don't be surprised to see the trio of Robinho, Walcott and Muniain and sometimes even Sneijder, swapping positions, which will be very hard for Valencia to manage. For Valencia, as mentioned the majority of their goals come from the wide areas, and with the great creativity of both Capel and Cazorla, Cassani and Konko will be very busy this evening.

    Rebecca Keys: Predictions Mandy?

    Mandy Gray: A tough game, but I think Ipswich will take it, and I expect goals, so I'll go for 2-1.

    Rebecca Keys: Interesting stuff Mandy. Well kick off is fast approaching, so we'll hand you over to Martina Tyler for the coverage.
    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:50 PM.

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    The match gets underway


    11th minute: Ipswich receive a free kick 30 yards out from goal after Cazorla fouls the advancing Cassani. Sneijder takes the free kick, but Valencia get the ball away and hit on the counter through Silva. The Valencia captain tries to pick out the supporting Capel, but the Spanish internationalist overhits his pass and the attack breaks down.

    16: GOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLL! Mbokani rises above the Valencia rearguard and heads in a cross from Cassani, who dispossed Bruno on the edge of the box.




    17: Valencia almost hit back straight away, when a Veloso free kick comes crashing back off the bar, and Gonzalo clears the ball up field. So close to a quick equaliser for Valencia.

    18: Powerful running from Mbokani is only ended, when Alexis brings down the striker on the edge of the area, leaving a great chance for Sneijder from the dead ball.

    19: GOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLL! Sneijder's free kick proves too hot to handle for keeper Ellegaard, and he can only push the ball into the path of Ipswich captain Michael Johnson, and he makes no mistake doubling his sides lead.




    30: Quick play in the Valencia area involving Muniain and Robinho, is only stopped when a 1-2 between the pair is intercepted by Bruno, when the Brazilian was primed to pull the trigger. Valencia really up against it at the moment.

    37: A rare Valencia attack sees Silva go close, but his header goes over the bar after initial good work from Bruno to get the cross in.

    43: GOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLL! Right Back Abdoulay Konko strikes before half time, heading in at the far post from a Muniain cross.



    45: END OF THE FIRST HALF


    (Back to the studio)


    Rebecca Keys:
    So Mandy, a great first half for Ipswich, with Valencia creating very little, is there any way back for the Spaniards?

    Mandy Gray: It will be hard, but a game isn't over till it's over, and we all remember the 2005 Champions League Final between Liverpool and AC Milan.

    Rebecca Keys: Indeed we do Mandy. The 2nd half is about to begin, so it's back to Martina Tyler in the commentary box.




    The whistle for the 2nd half is blown




    50:
    Saivet feeds Capel, but after skipping past a couple of challenges, but he hits his shot wide, when it looked easier to hit the target.

    53: Another good chance for Valencia as Dominguez finds himself one-on-one with the Ipswich keeper, but Joe Lewis stands tall, and saves the midfielder's strike.

    60: Just as it looked Valencia were getting back into things, Robinho puts the ball into the back of the net, only to see the linesman to flag. Replays show it to be a poor decision, and immediately people blame UEFA's incompetency in not appointing Sian Massey as lineswomen, not thinking that an English official can't feature in a final when an English team is in it.

    72: Robinho almost gets his name on the scoresheet again as his shot comes back off the post, and Alexis kicks the ball up field.

    76: Stephen Ireland and Gonzalo Castro replace the tiring Wesley Sneijder and Iker Muniain, as Ipswich look to close out the game.

    78: The half fit Juan Manuel Mata and attacking full back Adriano come on for Bruno and Dominguez as Valencia go 4-4-2 in search of some late goals.

    86: Adriano does well to get past Cassani, but his cross is too high, and keeper Lewis makes an easy claim.



    90: THE FINAL WHISTLE IS BLOWN, IPSWICH HAVE WON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE!!!





    So a magnificent treble for Ipswich, and I was now free to move onto the England job whenever it became available, and with the European Championships in the summer, hopefully I won't have to wait long. I've arranged one signing for Ipswich already though, with Hatem Ben Arfa arriving from Marseille for 1.4m. Leaving the club are a number of players who's contracts are up, but have been of great importance during my tenure, so I give my best wishes to Julio Arca, Diego Forlan, Stefan Maierhofer and Romaric.


    Previous Teams

    Fulham


    Stuart Pearce remains as manager and this season guided "The Cottagers" to 7th in the Premiership table, meaning Europa League football for the club next season. Talking of the Europa League and they won it! They faced AC Milan in the final, and an early goal from Kevin Doyle gave them a 1-0 win, so the European Super Cup will pit my current team and my former side! They also faired well in the FA Cup, reaching the Semi Final before losing on penalties to Leeds after a 2-2 draw, seeing just one of their 5 pens find the back of the net. The League Cup also saw them go out to Leeds as they lost 3-0 at Elland Road at the Quarter Final stage.
    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 04:13 PM.

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    After a remarkable season resulting in a magnificent treble for the club, I decided to head to the European Championships to scout a few players, so I jetted off too... Scotland and Wales Thanks to patriotic betting reaching an all time high, and with the tournament practically on home soil, Steve Bruce's England started the competition as favourites. First they had to navigate their way through a group consisting of themselves, Italy, Turkey and Austria.


    England v Italy

    First up was on paper England's toughest game, but they had beat the Italians 3-1 in Rome just a few months earlier, so confidence was high in the squad. Our very own Joe Lewis and Michael Johnson were in the starting line up for England, while Theo Walcott and Mattia Cassani made the bench for their respective nations.

    It was a bad start for England straight from the opening whistle, with Italy going close twice, before De Rossi did score, heading home a corner in the 13th minute. England hit back after falling behind though, and good work from winger Ashley Young set up some magnificent chances for the front two of Wayne Rooney and Gabriel Agbonlahor, but they were both guilty of missing fantastic opportunities to equalise. Things got worse moments later, when Lazio midfielder Graziano Colombo sprang the offside trap, and slotted the ball past the oncoming Joe Lewis, and at half time the scoreline read England 0 Italy 2. England made just the one substitution at the break, with Walcott coming on to replace the disappointing Aaron Lennon.It didn't do the trick though as the Italians stifled the winger, and as Italy played keep ball for the remainder of the match, the game petered out, and England were off to a bad start.




    England v Austria

    England now had two must win games if they wanted to qualify for the quarter finals. England made just the one change from the team that capitulated to Italy, with Joe Cole playing his last tournament before retirement replacing Aaron Lennon on the right of midfield. Things didn't get any easier for England, when Rapid Vienna's Daniel Beichler handed Austria the lead after just 6 mins, after Glen Johson was caught in possession on the edge of the box. The lead was short lived though, as Agbonlahor levelled the scores just over 10 mins later, and the Aston Villa striker put England in front on the half hour mark, and they went in at half time 2-1 to the good. Just after the 2nd half got underway, Andrew Driver came on for his debut replacing Ashley Young, but the first thing the Leeds winger would see is Austria equalising through PSV's Erwin Hoffer. England weren't to be denied the three points though, as Rooney popped up in the 75th minute, and Agbonlahor grabbed his hatrick in the last minute, for a much needed 3 pts.




    England v Turkey

    It was the exact same 11 for England as they took on Turkey, and a win was required for England to progress. Once again though they fell behind to a 6th minute striker, and before there was 20 mins on the clock, Arda Turan had made it 2-0. England were fighting for survival and a complete fluke got them back in the game, with Joe Cole in possibly his last ever game getting the credit for some pinball action in the 6 yard box from a corner. 2-1 became 2-2 on the stroke of half time, when a stonewall penalty was converted by Wayne Rooney, and somehow England were back in it. That joy was short lived however as Turkey re-took the lead, striker Senturk with a powerful header from a free kick. 8 mins later and they had their 2 goal cushion once again, Senturk once again on the scoresheet. It was all one way traffic now, and centre back Cetin Servet added a 5th, and England were well and truly out. Theo Walcott replaced Joe Cole but it was futile, and it ended 5-2. Results elsehwere though, meant that it was Austria who qualified along with Italy.







    Italy would make it to the final, where they were beat 2-1 by Spain, with Iker Muniain scoring the winning goal in the last 10 mins.





    Having failed to qualify from the group stage, Steve Bruce was sacked as England manager, and without any hesitation I applied for the vacancy.
    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:56 PM.

  19. #69
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    England Appoint New Manager






    England have acted quickly in finding a replacement for Steve Bruce, who was sacked following a poor European Championship, with Sir Bobby Robson named as the new man in charge. Sir Bobby Robson leaves his position as Ipswich Town manager after four years with the Suffolk Club, after completing a historic treble with the club just last season.

    In them 4 seasons, Sir Bobby Robson won the Champions League, two Premiership titles, two FA Cups and the Championship. Before managing Ipswich, Robson was at Fulham, were he won the Champions League, two Europa Leagues, the Premiership, the Intercontinental Cup and the League Cup.

    Sky Sports News understand Sir Bobby Robson beat off competition from Fulham and ex England u21 manager Stuart Pearce.
    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:56 PM.

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    Sir Bobby Robson was appointed England manager just two days after England had been knocked out of the 1982 World Cup, taking over from Ron Greenwood. Robson failed to qualify for the 1984 European Championships, with a loss against Denmark principle to this, although this defeat would be Robson's only loss in 28 qualifying matches with England. This resulted in Sir Bobby Robson offering his resignation in favour of Brian Clough, however this was turned down by the FA, and England went on to qualify for the 1986 World Cup to be held in Mexico.

    Thoughts of Mexico 1986 immediately turn to one thing, that of course being that cheating, fat, druggie Maradona. England started the tournament poorly, with captain Bryan Robson picking up a shoulder injury forcing him out of a second consecutive World Cup, and they struggled to qualify from a group containing Morocco, Poland and Portugal, with England finishing 2nd to Morocco. Paraguay were England's opponents in the 2nd round, where a Lineker brace and a Beardsley goal set up a 3-0 win. It was in the quarter finals England faced Argentina, where Maradona scored a brace, first with the infamous "Hand of God" and 5 mins later "The goal of the century." England pulled one back late on through Lineker, but the dream was over for another tournament.

    Robson's England dropped just one point in qualifying for Euro 1988, which included an 8-0 thrashing of Turkey, however at the Championships themselves, England fell apart, not qualifying from their opening group stage, which included the Netherlands, USSR and the Rep. of Ireland, with the first two making the final, with Marco van Basten's fabulous goal helping the Dutch to a 2-0 win. Once again Robson handed in his resignation, only to find it once again rejected by the FA.

    So to Italia '90, and Robson's final tournament as England boss. Once again Holland and Ireland were in England's group with Egypt completing it. This time England finished top, drawing with Holland and Ireland and beating Egypt 1-0. Narrow wins over Belgium (a David Platt 119th minute goal to win 1-0) and Cameroon (two Gary Lineker penalties, one in extra time to win 3-2) saw England make the Semi Finals, were they would face West Germany, in that memorable evening in Turin. After a tight first half, Brehme gave the Germans the lead in the 60th minute, but a Lineker equaliser on 80 mins took the game to extra time. Gazza's tears and Waddle's near miss set up penalties, where first Pearce and then Waddle missed, sending West Germany through to the final where they would beat Argentina 1-0. England lost 2-1 to hosts Italy in the 3rd place playoff.

    My job as England manager will be to win a tournament, be it the European Championships or the World Cup, with the World Cup of 2010 my first opportunity to do this.
    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 04:16 PM.

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    On taking over the National Team, I made my intentions clear to the media, it had been too long since England had won an International tournament (Le Tournoi aside ), and I was here to rectify that. My first chance of landing that elusive Championship would be the World Cup in 2010, which would be held in South Africa. Getting to the World Cup would mean overcoming Iceland, Ireland, Latvia and Poland in our qualifying group, and I fancied our chances of doing just that, with our first game in 42 days time in Riga, Latvia.

    Looking at the squad that had performed so terribly at the Euros, I couldn't understand how they had capitulated so badly. The likes of Rooney, Walcott and Ashley Young were all right at their peak, and skipper Steven Gerrard was still a great player even at 36 years of age. Having said that, there were a few players who didn't deserve to be in the squad, and so when it came to announcing my squad for the games against Latvia and Poland, I made a few changes.


    England squad for the games against Latvia and Poland


    Goalkeepers


    Joe Lewis - My number 1 at Ipswich, and England's Goalkeeper before I took over, and I saw no reason to change that.


    Joe Hart - Moved from Man City to Swansea early in his career, and is now at Sheffield Wednesday. One previous cap to his name, and despite playing in the Championship, a very talented keeper.


    Ben Foster - Man Utd's regular keeper has 5 caps to his name, and also a very capable stopper if required. The oldest of the 3 keepers, but only 33 and in the best shape of his career.


    Verdict: A very tough choice for the jersey, but Joe Lewis gets the call for the time being, with Joe Hart acting as backup on the bench.


    Defenders


    Leighton Baines - Still uncapped, but the 31 year old will be my first choice left back. Takes a mean free kick and I have high hopes for the Everton defender.


    Gary Sawyer - England's first choice left back for the Euros, the Aston Villa full back has 5 caps to his name, and will provide good competition for Baines.


    Michael Dawson - Spurs centre back and colossus in the heart of defence. I'm blessed with an abundance of great defenders and Dawson will be there or there abouts when the lineup is announced.


    Chris Smalling - Chelsea defender and another looking to make his debut for England. A towering centre back who should prevent the majority of aerial attacks.


    Curtis Davies - Now at Man City, Davies is yet another defender with great talent.


    Tom McMahon - Young defender who was with me at Ipswich, and despite his age - just 19 has wonderful positional sense and a tackling machine. Another waiting for his first cap.


    Wayne Reeves - Uncapped Wolves centre half, was on my radar when at Ipswich, and at 22 has a very bright future.


    Glen Johnson - 68 caps to his name brings some much needed international experience to a cap-light looking defence. Still with fantastic ability, the Liverpool right back will also be my first choice no. 2


    Micah Richards - A fantastic alternative to Johnson if required, more defensive minded than his fellow right back, Richards can also fill in at centre back if required.


    Verdict: A backline of Baines - Dawson - Smalling - Johnson should start against Latvia, but there is wonderful strength in depth in defence, and they will all have to be on their toes to keep their place.


    Midfielders


    Ashley Young - Versatile midfielder, the Everton winger has 67 caps to his name, and should find himself in the starting lineup, but on which flank remains to be seen.


    Aaron Lennon - The speedy winger has also been a stalwart for England the past few years, achieving 61 caps in that time. Another who can play on either wing, his fast feet should terrorise many defences.


    James Milner - Yet another versatile midfielder, Milner can play all across the midfield, but will probably find his time operating in central midfield.


    Steven Gerrard - The most experienced in the camp, with a record 137 caps for England. Still a fantastic player, the Standard Liege midfielder will captain the side.


    Jack Wilshere - Once at Ipswich, now back at Arsenal, the 24 year old has finally been called upto represent his country. Can play either on the left or centrally, and has great vision on the ball.


    Michael Johnson - My captain with Ipswich, the ex Man City defensive midfielder has 20 caps to his name, and with a lot of attack minded players in the midfield, should add some balance to the midfield.


    Marvin Elliott - The second Wolves man in the squad, 31 year old Elliot has been in England squads for the past couple of years, and the box-to-box midfield is a great option to call upon if needed.


    Stewart Downing - Man City Left winger, not played as much for England as his talent warrents, at 32 he still has great delivery, and should create plenty of chances for the strikers.


    Verdict: A very experienced midfield quartet of Young - Johnson - Gerrard (C) - Walcott can boast a staggering 263 caps between them, and once again there are some wonderful reserves if needed.



    Strikers


    Wayne Rooney - England's all time record scorer, with 71 goals from 123 caps, the Man Utd foward is still just 30 years of age and right at his peak.


    Gabriel Agbonlahor - Has formed a feared strike partnership with Rooney at International level, the Aston Villa front man has a decent scoring record himself for England, with 31 goals in 61 apps.


    Andy Carroll - Another Villa striker, the giant Geordie is yet to represent his country, but his aerial ability and brute strength should strike fear into many defenders.


    Darren Bent - A goalscorer anywhere he's been - except England. Has only managed one solitary goal from 21 caps, and some have doubts about his mental strength and ability at International level, but will be in the squad for the time being.


    Connor Wickham - The 23 year old had been in the last few England squads, but never got the chance to get on the field, and is still in search of his first cap. Despite being behind Mbokani and Macheda at Ipswich, he scored some big goals for me at Portman Road, and with not many alternatives to choose from, he makes it in as 5th choice striker.


    Verdict: The Rooney - Agbonlahor partnership will continue to impress, and I have a great option with Carroll on the bench, who can unsettle any defence.


    As you can see, and in the words of that great manager Mike Bassett,





    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 07:59 PM.

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    aa Latvia v England


    So as mentioned earlier, my first game on charge of England would be away in Latvia, that would kickstart our qualification campaign for the World Cup in 2010. It was a warm summers evening in Riga, and we were greeted with a hostile atmosphere even though there were only 9,486 fans inside the stadium, just 14 short of a sell out, but with a very experienced squad I knew we'd be able to handle the crowd. Just before the game, central defender Michael Dawson picked up a knock in training, so Curtis Davies took his place in the team, and right winger Theo Walcott was also absent, Aaron Lennon taking his spot as we lined up in our 4-4-2 formation.




    Latvia's 5-3-2 formation said all about their intentions, to soak up pressure and try and catch us out with maybe a counter attack or from a set piece. The first chance of the game fell to Michael Johnson after 9 mins, when good work from Agbonlahor found the Ipswich midfielder on the edge of the box, but the Scouse midifielder could only hit his shot wide of the post. A minute later and we were dealt with an injury blow, Aaron Lennon the victim of a crude challenge from behind, and the winger was stretchered off with Man Utd's James Milner replacing the Spurs man on the right of midfield. It weren't long before we went ahead in the match though, as 6 mins after the injury, debutant Leighton Baines smashing the ball in the net after being teed up by skipper Gerrard. It was all one way traffic from then as Milner and Rooney both went close, but an inspired performance from Latvia keeper Maxim Uvarenko kept the score at 1-0 as went in at the break. Mere minutes into the second half, and Latvia were reduced to 10 men, Cauna finally being sent off after pushing Gerrard to pick up his 2nd yellow card, his first recevied for the tackle on Lennon. Ten mins later and our lead was doubled, and once again it was left back Leighton Baines with the strike, after a great solo run found the Everton full back inside the 18 yard box, and another fierce drive rifled into the net. With the game all but over, the last half hour didn't see much action and with a tough home fixture a few days later against Poland, we took our foot of the gas, and would start our qualification group with 3 pts.






    England v Poland



    It was yet another warm evening when we took on Poland in a near sell out crowd at Wembley. I made just the one change from the team that beat Latvia, Theo Walcott coming in for the injured Aaron Lennon, although Michael Dawson was still missing. Poland themselves lined up 4-4-2 and would be playing their first game in the qualifying stage, so I was aware they'd be looking to start with a good result, but equally I was looking for yet another dominating win. Straight from the first whistle we took it to Poland, Baines went close from a free kick, Agbonlahor and Rooney combined to great effect but Fabianski pulled off a miraculous double save, although our best chance fell to Chris Smalling on the stroke of half time, with the towering centre back climbing above the Poland defence from a Baines corner, but saw his header crash off the bar, and the whistle blew for half time shortly after. With us commanding the first half I saw no need to make any changes, and told the players that Poland would conceede sooner or later. It was another quick start to the second half, and Poland were caught napping as first a neat finish from Agbonlahor, and a spectacular drive from Gerrard saw us 2-0 up within 4 mins of the second half. Poland were desperate to get into the match, but our passing was superb on the night, and they were chasing shadows for much of the 2nd half. It looked like a second successive 2-0 win, but a minute before full time substitute James Milner latched on to a spilled ball by Fabianski, and right on the whistle for full time another Baines corner provided a great opportunity for Curtis Davies, and the Man City defender nodded it home for the fourth of the night!


    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 08:20 PM.

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    Iceland v England


    The big games kept on coming as we travelled to Reykjavik to take on Iceland, searching for a 3rd consecutive win in our World Cup Qualifying Group. There were a few changes to the squad, Leighton Baines would miss the game after picking up a calf strain while playing for Everton, so St. Johnstone's Jonathan Grounds took his place in the squad, with Gary Sawyer starting the game in Baines's absence. Dawson was still missing so Fulham's Anton Ferdinand would be his replacement, and after a poor start to the season Stewart Downing was dropped from the squad, with Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere looking for his first cap. Glen Johnson would be the 3rd injured defender to miss out, with Craig Gardener of Aston Villa taking his place. To the game and we made a quick start and scored an early goal, Rooney creating the chance for Ashley Young and the Everton winger made no mistake slamming the ball into the net for the first of the game, however six minutes later Young would come off injured, allowing Wilshere to make his debut. Despite all our domination we couldn't find a second before half time, and so we went in 1-0 at the break, but in firm control of the game. We didn't have to wait too long to double our lead in the second half though, Gerrard's corner finding the head of Chris Smalling and the Chelsea defender nodded in from close range, totally unmarked. 2 became 3 just after the hour mark, Micah Richards marauding down the right flank, and delivering a peach of a cross onto the head of Gabby Agbonlahor, and once again Iceland would conceede from a header. With tiring legs and the game beyond doubt, James Milner and Craig Gardener came off the bench, and it was the latter who almost grabbed a 4th on his debut, but this was one header that wouldn't find the back of the net.




    With three wins from three, it was no surprise to find ourselves top of the table, and as expected our nearest challenges would be Ireland, who we would take on at Wembley in our next qualifying group stage match, with the game scheduled to take place at the end of March.






    aaPortugal v England


    My first real test as England manager would see us take on Portugal at Wembley, 4 days after our comprehensive victory over Iceland. The Iberians could boast the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Joao Moutinho so it promised to be a tough game for sure. I made just the one change from the side that took the field in Reykjavik, Andy Carroll making his international debut in place of Gabby Agbonlahor, Ashley Young had overcome the knock that forced him off after just 9 mins in Iceland. The game was to be expected.. tough! Neither side could get a foothold in the first half, and only a couple of chances were registered in the first 45 mins, Ricardo Quaresma with the best one, but he saw his shot blocked by Michael Johnson. If the first half was dull, the start to the second was anything but, after Andy Carroll received his marching orders after 2 mins, petulantly kicking out at Pepe. Despite the red card we started to play more as a team, with the tireless Rooney operating up front on his own, and the Man Utd forward saw a fierce 25 yarder tipped over the bar by the impressive Rui Patricio. Minutes later however the Portuguese keeper could only watch, as a neat through ball from Michael Johnson found the winger inside the area, and a clinical finish gave us the lead. Connor Wickham came on for Rooney for the remaining 10 mins, but he saw little action, as we ran down the clock to seal a big win.


    Last edited by AMC; 24-08-16 at 08:11 PM.

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    N'Zogbia set for shock England call









    Reports today suggest that French born Charles N'Zogbia will be included in todays England squad for the games against Ireland and Latvia next month.


    The Wigan midfielder has played his entire career in England, and the winger's application for British citizenship came through at the start of this season. Sources close to the England camp say that National manager Sir Bobby Robson has been impressed with the wide man's pace and trickery, as well as his direct play.

    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 04:19 PM.

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    Robson says no to N'Zogbia

    England manager Sir Bobby Robson has announced his squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers, and the biggest shock sees no place for Wigan midfielder Charles N'Zogbia, who many sources claimed would be named in the squad, after the French born winger was granted British citizenship and made himself available for selection by England.



    (Picture took after the games)


    In total there are 4 changes to the squad that took on Iceland and Portugal, with Leighton Baines overcoming his injury that ruled him out of them games, with Gary Sawyer making way. Arsenal's Scott Dann was enjoying a good season, and the centre back was rewarded with a place in the 26 man squad, as Wolves Wayne Reeves dropped out having found first team football a challenge so far this season. Michael Dawson had also returned from injury, but his lack of first team football at Man Utd, saw Anton Ferdinand keep his place. Midfield was kept the same, and there was one change up front, with Ipswich's Conor Wickham being dropped from the squad, with Wolves Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in line for his international debut.

    England have 3 games in the next month, two home World Cup qualifiers against Ireland and Latvia, and a friendly against Croatia in Zagreb.

    Last edited by AMC; 06-03-12 at 04:20 PM.

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