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Thread: The County Championship

  1. #601
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    I was just trying to think outside the box of teams in red and white and had gone down in the leagues.

    Some proper dross in that squad, especially up front. Time to bring in Hopkins

    Usual mixture of useless youth and some decent ageing players but typical that your best ones are moving on.

  2. #602
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    They were only down for a year so I guess they have had Premier League TV money previously.
    They spent 35m over the course of the last season and recouped 46m so a bit of profit.

    Have only made a profit of 1.4m in the year so far. Last year it was an 18m loss!


    Yep. Showing promotion as its end of season but before season update so I'll please the board without having to do anything.

  3. #603
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    Definitely a busy summer ahead if you're to do well next season.

    Schmeichel should be good for another 2-3 seasons, although I'm not sure any of the others are Premier League standard. A couple of half decent defenders but I think you need more depth in this position. Midfield and up front are disaster areas, though. Just as well that you've got plenty of money to spend. It looks like a cup's your best bet for the time being.

  4. #604
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    June/July 2021

    The early days in a new club are always a bit weird. A time to get your feet under the table. Meet back room staff and behind the scenes people and working out how you are going to take the club forward. I was lucky that I have time to assess the squad and try and make changes before the season begins in August.

    I met the cleaning lady, the tea lady, the groundsman. Southampton really did have a great setup behind the scenes so I was really surprised by the standard of players that they had. There were a few players that had obviously been loyal when they went down and stayed but others had been replaced by players that either weren't good enough or had come for a pay day. I needed to bring Premier League quality to the side.


    Matches and Roundup

    And boy will I need to make some changes, there are very few players that I would be looking to keep if I could write a blueprint on what players I wanted at the club. The question was, would I be able to shift the players I didn't want. And would I be able to find players to fit the way I wanted to play.

    I started early by picking up a striker. It wasn't the one you might think but a 28 year old striker from Rochdale. Don't worry. Rochdale are a mid table Premier League team now. He had scored at least 17 goals in each of the last four seasons, 20 in the season just completed and had a career total of 168 goals in 288 games. He set me back a hefty 9.5m but I think I will be happy with his input.

    He would be the replacement for Juanmi who departed for Villarreal and Vitolo who moved to Barcelona.

    My number one striker target looks like he will not be joining me as he has done in the past. Bids reached 20m for one Andy Hopkins but Stoke were not budging. They just would not entertain the thought of selling. It looks as though the Hopkins/Fatz adventure is over.........For now!

    I did sign a Croation centre half on a free who was probably better than what we had already but still not a world beater.
    Then as June turned to July we signed a Senegalese international to be in the defensive midfield position. He had been plying his trade in France and I felt he would fit well.
    He was closely followed by an Icelandic international to play further forward in the midfield. He knew English football well after spells at Reading (twice), Swansea and West Ham.

    Then on the 18th July, happy days.
    My constant bids had obviously unsettled Andy Hopkins and he was transfer listed by my successor at Stoke, Brendan Rodgers. A new bid was duly placed.

    This news came on the same afternoon that I made my biggest signing of this pre season. A former Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona, Zenit, Porto and Arsenal striker. A man who had played 149 times for his country. Yes, age was not on his side but I wagered he would still have the quality to help me out. If only for a season.

    Mr Hopkins arrived just three days later, for 4m.

    I was now very well stocked in the forward positions.



    Transfers

    IN -

    Wes York - 9.5m


    Jozo Simunovic - Free Transfer


    Idrissa Gueye - 2.5m


    Gylfi Sigurdsson - 7.25m



    Luis Suarez - Free Transfer


    Andy Hopkins - 4m





    OUT -

    Juanmi - 25.5m


    Vitolo - 6.75m


    Jack Stephens - Bosman



    A decent enough start to the rebuild. I am now fully stocked in the forward positions with Hopkins, Suarez, York and Wright. I'm overstocked in DMC with Gueye coming in and Westwood and Friebel already at the club. Central midfield looks good now with Sigurdsson joining the ranks.
    Before the season starts, I need to have a good look at the full back positions and at centre back. And maybe another central midfielder. I also need to shift some dead wood as well. A lot of the squad are young so understandably not many want to purchase outright but they could go on loan. Would be great if I could shift the wingers off the books though.

    After the mini spending spree, the clubs bank balance sits at 161.2m. The board will allow me a huge 141m of that in transfer fees.

    Could be a big month ahead as I finalise the squad and start the Premier League season.

  5. #605
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    "I met the cleaning lady, the tea lady, the groundsman. Southampton really did have a great setup behind the scenes" – is that what really constitutes a good setup?!
    • Shame Hopkins not joining – is he pissed about it?
    • Yessssssssssss – Hopkins plays up and you get him for a FIFTH (?!) of the price you were willing to pay – is that correct?! Word on the street is you’ll be done for “tapping up”
    • Wes York looks VERY average for the money – guess you’ve gone for him proving it but I reckon you could get an 18 year old with similar attributes!
    • Jozo is a fine signing
    • Idrissa should be your DM beast!
    • Yessssssssssssss – Gylfi
    • Suarez
    • 25m for Juanmi – wahahahahahaha – bet you are laughing all the way to the bank with that
    • 7m for a 31 year old Vitolo is good business as well!
    • Crazy transfer balance still left!

  6. #606
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    Actually reading back, I forgot to finish writing that part. There was going to be more.

    With York, I couldn't ignore the amount of goals scored in previous seasons. He'll do a job. He has dropped down the pecking order a bit now with Suarez and Hopkins coming in. I can't not play Hopkins can I!

    Was pleasently surprised when I saw the Juanmi fee. It was arranged before I arrived so happy to pocket the cash. Vitolo as well come to that.

  7. #607
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    This story is the ultimate slow burner but an epic one at that. Nice one ebz

  8. #608
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    Will hopefully be getting quicker.

    Less write up's more screenies.

    I will finish a story!!

  9. #609
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    Some good business so far. York doesn't look much but if he's consistently finding the back of the net in the Premier League, he's got to be worth a punt. Suarez should also give you more bite up front (pun intended). Gueye and Sigurdsson should both be good signings.

    I think there's still work to do to turn Southampton into serious trophy contenders but you're on the right track.

  10. #610
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    Definitely some suspicion of tapping up of Hopkins there

    Nice to see you're both reunited again though. It does add to the story

    Not too impressed with York's stats but you do seem to find good scorers so sure it'll be worth the fee.

  11. #611
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    I was relentlessly bidding for him. Started at 6m and went up to 22.5m in the end. They rejected them all. I just gave up. Didn't even look to see if he was unhappy or not. Was a pleasant thing to see when the transfer list news came through.

  12. #612
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    Great to see Hopkins sign and with Suarez and York in the door too that's the attacking department sorted, defence needs quite a bit of work though

    Hopefully you can shift Feghouli and the other wingers, while Bonaventura is on a hell of a wage as well so no surprise if he goes as well.

  13. #613
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    August 2021

    My first matches as Southampton manager would come this month and I would get the first glimpses of whether the work I have done over the summer have paid dividends. Still time though throughout the month to see if I can get more business done to improve the side.

    Matches and Roundup

    The first bit of business was actually the conclusion to a deal done in July. We had to wait for the Home Office to grant a work permit but after they did I was very happy to confirm the signing of a very versatile Mexican defender. The fans seemed very happy that we were able to pull off the deal as well.


    He was swiftly followed to the club by a veteran head to marshall and mentor the central defenders at the club. A man of immense experience but we'll have to see how many games I can get out of him.

    Midway through the month after much deliberating, I signed another centre back. Just 26 years of age, he has already amassed 86 international caps. But after many years playing for Atletico Madrid, there must be a reason they firstly allowed his contract to run down and secondly, why no one else was interested in signing him. If nothing else, he's a countryman of Mr Suarez so that should help him settle on the South Coast a little quicker.
    He almost immediately left us to go and help his country win a World Cup Qualifying match. I was surprised Suarez did not go as well but he did not appear to be part of the squad. That was something I was happy about. I caould do without my 34 year old striker having to go half way round the world all the time. It'll keep him fresher for me.
    He was however only one short of 150 international caps so I did hope he would get picked at some point.

    At this stage of the month, there was another deal in the fire which would be huge for the club but we were just not making any inroads in the negotiations. I was not put off though and continued pressing for a successful conclusion.

    Before that could be looked into again though, the first game of the season came around. My debut as Southampton manager and it took me essentially, home.
    To St James' Park and encounter with a former side and my boyhood club, Newcastle United.

    The team that had come up as Champions as Southampton finished 2nd were back in the top division but they had a problem. Petr Cech, the keeper I had brought to the club, had departed to become player/coach at Czech club Teplice. They had not replaced him. In fact, when I looked back, they had not bought a single player since I left the club. That made me feel both sad for them but also in a weird way, quite proud that the squad that I had assembled when there, was strong enough to progress on and win the Championship title with no investment.

    They were down to 18 players in the whole squad and that made me feel better about my Saints debut. They still had good players but not a massive pool to pic from. I felt we had a chance.

    I however could only now worry about my own team. Cahill was injured so not considered. The rest of the side looked strong, certainly going forward. The bench looked a little thin in places and it certainly told me I was short in the full back positions still, especially left back.


    I stood in the changing room and decided, after much deliberation over the pre season to hand the captain's armband to new signing Diego Reyes. I sent out the team and hoped for a positive result.

    It took us just 15 minutes to get going and the first goal of my Southampton reign went to Oliver Norwood.
    Better was to come as Jose Simunovic came up from the back for a corner and powered a header home for a debut goal.
    Not to be outdone, Gylfi Sigurdsson also scored on debut to make it very comfortable and all within the first half an hour.

    There was no further goals as we wound down the game for an excellent opening day victory.

    Spoiler!



    A fantastic opening day win and only topped by my previous club Stoke who won 5-0 to go top of the table. Now it was time for my home debut and a game against West Ham. It was noted in the media that I had not selected Jose Maria Gimenez for the season opener. There was a reason for that. I wanted him to see from the sidelines how different playing in England's top flight would be to playing in La Liga. The speed, the intensity, the contact.
    He had seen. He had told me he was up for the challenge and I trusted that and he was selected in this one. I wanted him to play his first game in front of our own fans as well so that if things did not go well, he would not have to endure ridicule from opposition fans.
    He came in for Ben Turner. The rest of the side was unchanged.

    We again scored early and it was a first Southampton goal for Luis Suarez from an Oliver Norwood through ball. We were not able to confirm our superiority until late in the game when Norwood got on the score sheet himself to confirm the three points. It was comfortable. It was a clean sheet. I couldn't have really asked for more.

    Spoiler!



    Even though we won and had a 100% record, we actually dropped a place to 3rd on goal difference but I was not fussed about the table at this stage of the season. I wouldn't look until things had shaken out around the October/November stage when I would know more where teams were placed and how they had been fairing.

    Despite not making a squad so far this season, Drew Wright was called up to the England squad. This would have been off of his form of last season but I was happy for him.
    We drew Swindon in the League Cup 2nd Round which presented a good opportunity to progress to the Third Round. And we completed a deal for another centre half. A 27 year old ball playing defender with England experience. I was now probably overloaded on centre backs so Harlee Dean was placed on the transfer list.

    The next game would be away at Arsenal. Who had started slowly and lost both their opening games, conceding 8 on the way. I would not be taking them for granted though. They still had a good side. The likes of Bellerin, Mustafi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere and David Silva were sure to cause us problems.

    I once again went in unchanged. Sigurdsson and Moses were not fully fit but I gave them the start and would utilise the bench. We had to start solid and build from there.

    They played us off the park for the first half an hour of the game and we were lucky to only be 1-0 down. We wethered the storm until the hour mark when I made my first change. Gylfi was replaced not by another midfielder but I asked Wes York to play deep and make runs forward from midfield. It was a big ask and I don't think he expected to be asked to play centre midfield when he joined the club but I wanted to try something and hoped he could help me pull it off.
    He was not able to and in fariness was poor. I can't hold it against him, playing out of position. They added a second late on and we were handed a defeat for the first time in my tenure.

    Spoiler!








    With the matches done for the month, I could concentrate on transfer dealings. I had seen that over the course of the three games that both Gylfi Sigurdsson and Victor Moses tired quickly whwn starting so I looked at a midfield option. He was a worldwide name, a name that struck fear into defences, a man that had multiple Champions League wins to his name, a scorer of outrageous goals a man who had scored a career total of 500 goals in just 620 games. He was also his countries most capped player as well as top scorer. He did not have age on his side at 36 years old but he would still be one of the best players at the club.
    On the 31st August 2021, I confirmed the free transfer signing of.........

    Spoiler!



    Transfers

    IN -

    Diego Reyes - Free Transfer


    Gary Cahill - Free Transfer


    Jose Maria Gimenez - Free Transfer


    John Stones - 4.1m




    OUT -




    So the season started in earnest and we made a decent enough start to life in the Premier League. I was certainly not expecting a clean sweep. I wasn't expecting 2 wins either. I thought we would need more time for the team to bed together but most of them hit the ground running. Some still need some adjustment time. Traore, Gimenez, Hopkins, they haven't started the season well and will need to step up to keep their places.

    We had one home game and it yielded an attendance of 35231. From a ground capacity of 43189, that's not too bad a start but I hope to see them increase.

    Finances took a mini hit this month. Just 1.81m came in but outgoings amounted to 13.56m, a loss of 11.75m.
    We do though still have a bank balance of 153.1m and a transfer fund of 132m.

    Cup adventures start next month and we continue to size up the squad in the league games to try and find the best players for the first XI.

  14. #614
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    Well the defence has certainly been improved. Some great signings there!

    Shame about losing to Arsenal but good start either way. Norwood the pick of the bunch so far? Hopkins playing well but not scored yet.

    Nice addition to add screenshots, btw

  15. #615
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    • Do you always play same formation in this story regardless of players at club? I think so?
    • Suarez and Hopkin as a strikeforce!
    • Big shout in giving Reyes armband – does he speak English?!
    • Easy opening day
    • Another clean sheet and 2 MOM in a row from Norwood!
    • Wes York – we were not convinced and that was as a striker – harsh him been put into midfield
    • Bit of a lesson against a strong sounding Arsenal (but not even in top half even with them winning that
    • WOW – Ronaldo! How much wages he on?
    • Cahill great experienced signing. Stones looks good and should develop further. Not sure Gimenez much cop though

  16. #616
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    Well the defence has certainly been improved. Some great signings there!

    Shame about losing to Arsenal but good start either way. Norwood the pick of the bunch so far? Hopkins playing well but not scored yet.

    Nice addition to add screenshots, btw
    Norwood has made a great start and is probably the best on form and contribution so far.
    Bang on. No goals for Hopkins yet but is getting decent ratings. He needs goals to stay in though.
    Screenshots have been added to hopefully get me updating more often as there's not as much writing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Redknapp69 View Post
    • Do you always play same formation in this story regardless of players at club? I think so?
    • Suarez and Hopkin as a strikeforce!
    • Big shout in giving Reyes armband – does he speak English?!
    • Easy opening day
    • Another clean sheet and 2 MOM in a row from Norwood!
    • Wes York – we were not convinced and that was as a striker – harsh him been put into midfield
    • Bit of a lesson against a strong sounding Arsenal (but not even in top half even with them winning that
    • WOW – Ronaldo! How much wages he on?
    • Cahill great experienced signing. Stones looks good and should develop further. Not sure Gimenez much cop though
    Yep. Always default 4-1-3-2.
    Decent strike force I think but as mentioned, Hopkins will need to start hitting the net soon to keep his place.
    Reyes has basic English. Didn't even think of that.
    Great opening day win. Unexpected.
    Norwood been the star so far.
    The reason for putting York into the midfield was because Gylfi had had the most shots up until that point in that game. I thought it might transfer across. It did not!!
    Ronaldo is setting me back 60,000 a week. He will get games.
    Cahill's stamina means I will need to rotate at the back. Stones and Gimenez will allow me to do so.

  17. #617
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    Cahill should certainly help the defence, not sure on Reyes at all though (marking 10, tackling 12, positioning 13), and Gimenez even less so.

    Cristiano Ronaldo is still class though, the fans demand a front two of Ronaldo and Suarez

  18. #618
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    They may just get it.

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  20. #620
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    September 2021

    Four league games to be played this month. Points to be earned. First team spots up for grabs also.

    Matches and Roundup

    Annoyingly, Gylfi Sigurdsson picked up a twisted knee on international duty at the start of the month. Andy Hopkins scored his first ever international goal and Cristiano Ronaldo was captain and scored as his country won as well. Everyone came back buoyed up and I hoped we would be able to take that into our next fixture, Chelsea away.
    The day before that game, Sofiane Feghouli left for Blackburn which took 90,000 a week off the wage bill.


    To the casual observer, it looked as though Chelsea had made a slow start to the season as they found themselves 9th but I was not taking any indications from that. They had in fact played only two games so far, both of which were at home and they had won one and drawn one.
    It was going to be a stern test.
    All I wanted was to see the players go out and do well. I wanted to see that what we were working on on the training ground was getting through to them. I hoped we could pick up a result but it would be a long shot. But if we played well, we could take that forward.


    We hit the ground running, we were playing well. We even took the lead not once but twice but Chelsea's strength came through as they overpowered us in the second half.
    But I was proud of the lads, they had done well and it meant that I had something to work on going forward. Being out to close teams down , close games out.

    Spoiler!



    There was a full week from that defeat until the next game but that next game would be a very significant one for me. Southampton would be at home at St Marys but we would be hosting none other than Stoke City, my former club.
    I looked forward to welcoming them. They had made a perfect start to the season as they had won 4 from 4 and sat top of the league.
    They had made a few changes to the squad that I had left behind. Obviously Andy Hopkins had followed me but Charlie Austin had also gone. They had been replaced by lots of new faces. Cristian Barbut, Jordan Ibe, Britt Assombalonga, Will Hughes, Kieran Trippier and Dominic Solanke had come in amongst others for an outlay in the region of around 100m.
    Some of those names couldn't even get in the side but Stoke were bang in form. We had to try and stifle them. Cut off the supplies to the forward men and try and make home advantage work for us.

    Jose Maria Gimenez had not made the best of starts to his Saints career so he dropped out in favour of John Stones. Andy Hopkins had not been hitting the net either and I really considered leaving him out but I figured that if he was going to come good, he was going to do it against his former side.
    Cristiano Ronaldo made his way to the bench though so if it wasn't working out, I had an option to bring on.

    Once again, we started well and were on top. We were looking to assert our authority but just couldn't make the breakthrough. Then we were hit by a sucker punch just before half time to go in one down.
    At the break, Simunovic was withdrawn from centre half after a poor 45 minutes. I was looking at making another change as the hour approached and taking off Hopkins. He had played well and was linking play well but I signed him to score goals and he wasn't doing that. Just as I was about to pull the trigger though, Luis Suarez picked up a through ball from Gueye to power home.
    I could hold Ronaldo back no longer though and went ahead with the change.
    Oliver Norwood got his now almost obligatory goal soon after Ronaldo came on before we extended the lead through Moses. Suarez got his second to wrap up the win.

    Spoiler!



    Stoke had only let in two goals in four games before meeting us. We scored 4 against them. All in the second half after falling behind. We had given them a lesson. I was in shock. The team came together and really showed me that they could put games to bed. The old trouble was it seemed, the same old trouble I had always had. We were great at home but away from home, the way we played was too open and we would get caught out.

    But I was just focused on that Stoke win and the upcoming fixture which would take us into League Cup action against Swindon Town.
    That meant, despite a cup being my best chance of winning a trophy here at this point, a lot of changes to the starting line up.

    Eight changes saw the fringe players get a game including Gary Cahill coming in for a debut.


    It was a simple walk in the park. The game was effectively over by the 20 minute mark when we went 2-0 up. By half time, Victor Moses had a hat trick and we were five up. We stepped off the gas in the second half and turned it into more of a training game but we were comfortably into the next round.

    Spoiler!



    I was looking to bring Jose Maria Gimenez back in until he succumbed to a pulled hamstring in training. He obviously didn't travel to Manchester City for our next league fixture but the side changed again with some players coming back in.
    The big news was that for the first time, Ronaldo and Suarez were paired in attack.
    What we needed to concentrate on though was our frailties away from home and trying to stay tight at the back and not conceding.
    I'd take a 0-0 becasue then I could be confdent we could play well away. If we scored, then that would be an added bonus.

    Once again, as has happened before, we were the team on top. We didn't really need to concentrate on the defensive side as City only had one shot in the first half but it was 0-0 at half time.
    One thing that was evident was, despite still having an excellent footballing brain, Ronaldo didn't have the legs to last 90 minutes anymore.
    He was replaced with 9 minutes to go by Wes York. Who promptly went and scored me a winner on the stroke of full time!


    Spoiler!








    Transfers

    IN -




    OUT -

    Sofiane Feghouli - 1.5m



    So despite having four games scheduled before the League Cup draw, we still only played four games in the month. Three league and one cup. Chelsea was a tough one but we obviously learned quickly and scored four against Stoke followed by five in the cup. A high scoring month and a decent one overall.

    Two home games bringing attendances of 38207 and 29778. Decent increase on the league attendance and just under 30,000 is pretty good for the first round of the cup.

    3.93m was the monthly income with outgoings being 6.44m, a loss of 2.5m.
    We do though still have a bank balance of 151.5m and a transfer fund of 130m.

    Cup adventures start next month and we continue to size up the squad in the league games to try and find the best players for the first XI.

  21. #621
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    • What nationality is Hopkins?
    • Where was Ronaldo v Chelsea? Horror show from Kasper in that game!
    • Wow – Stoke made some fine signings!
    • Confused again why Ronaldo can now only make a spot on bench?!
    • Norwood - hat a fantastic win over your old side! Even more so given they were 4 from 4
    • Easy v Swindon and great for squad players to get game time
    • Wes York with the winner – and how we doubted him before!
    • A very solid start and good getting rid of Feghouli

  22. #622
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    Not much to get excited about in terms of under 30s but the oldies are goodies.

    When he gets the ball, he takes the piss, he wears the shirt of Matt Le Tiss, Luis Suarez SOUTHAMPTON’S GOAL MACHINE.

  23. #623
    Apart from the Chelsea comeback, great results there and flying high early on in the League.
    wow 2.5m loss, got a screenie of your players wages please?

  24. #624
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    Just those few mins after half time spoiled what would have been a fantastic month, but still some good wins and up there in the table. Good to have Feghouli's wages off the books as well.

  25. #625
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    Ronaldo is like 38 years old, Redders

    Good month apart from the Chelsea defeat. York looks like he could be a tidy player and the 'new' Hopkins. Shame the man himself isn't exactly banging them in.

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