Championship Manager

Mid 90's Milan - Part 9

Written by Dave Black @cm9798

Hello! Welcome to the final edition of Mid 90s Milan. So far, we’ve been ruddy brilliant. We’re just a few points away from securing the Serie A title. The Champions League final will see us take on Man Utd. Before all of that though, we take on Brescia in the second leg of the Coppa Italia. That’s Italian for Italian Cup. We’re 2-0 up from the first leg, I like our chances.

Brescia are a Serie B team. Not even a very good one, they’re 17th out of 20. I already ran through their squad in the last episode so I won’t again but this is a dour encounter. We are very poor, it’s 0-0 for 89 minutes before Brescia score a consolation. A bad result and probably the dullest cup celebration ever.

Still, a cup is a cup.

There are just four games to go and we’re 9 points ahead. Even we would struggle to throw this away.

Away to 17th placed Reggiana looks like a great opportunity to seal the title. However, our goalkeeper is dismissed after two minutes and we’re behind to the penalty. That’s bad. Then Desailly gets sent off for a professional foul and they score the penalty. That’s really bad. It’s soon 3-0 and then Boba commits a bad foul and we’re down to 8 men. Crikey, talk about choking. We lose 5-0. One of my worst days in management.

Juventus lose 4-0 and only Parma winning stops us winning the title in the worst of circumstances.

I’d rather win the league at home anyway. Fiorentina smashed Juventus 4-0 a week ago so I could think of better opponents. Batistuta, Oliveira, Rui Costa and er, Francesco Baiano will be out to get us. We only need a point.

It’s dire. But it’s gritty. We’re falling over the finish line but nobody says you’ve got to cross the line standing upright. 0-0 brings us the title – the Italian way.

Well thank goodness. All we have to do is survive the last two league games without getting injuries before the Champions League final. Davids and Albertini are already injured, plus the filthy trio who are suspended from a few weeks ago. Oh and Savicevic. He’s banned too. He has 29 assists this season, by the way. We’re away to Parma, who are 2nd. Thank goodness we already have this sewn up.

We’re actually brilliant for 80 minutes. Costacurta scores twice from set pieces and it’s vintage us. Then we concede two in the last 10 minutes and it’s annoying but pointless.

We finish at home to Juventus. I tell you what, I’m really pleased this didn’t go down to the final two games. Our battered side are hanging tough and even when we go behind to Moreno Torricelli, George Weah equalises and then pops up with a late winner to finish the domestic season on a high.

Our first win of the night. We end up being 10 points clear, I don’t know what all the fuss was about.

One final game then and it’s the Champions League final. Savicevic and Albertini are ruled out through injury but otherwise we’re full strength.

Man Utd are without Giggs and Beckham due to injury but oddly have opted to leave Scholes and Solskjaer out of the 16. Chris Armstrong has been signed from Spurs and makes the bench.

The final is in the Nou Camp where Man Utd have some history…albeit in the future.

It’s a bit of a basketball match to begin with, end to end only without the scoring. Then on the stroke of half time, we let Denis Irwin head in from a free kick. Where to start with that? We’re struggling but the introduction of Dugarry from the bench pays immediate dividends. No wonder Steve Bruce signed him. Roberto Baggio curls in a free kick 7 minutes later – they should make a game about his free kicks. It’s a momentous night. CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE.

It hasn’t always been vintage but we’ve got the job done. The treble. Let’s take a look at some numbers.

Weah ended up running away as top scorer, not really sure why Maldini outscored Baggio and the entire midfield. Savicevic and Baggio were assist machines whilst Maldini and Desailly were our top performers.

That’s it from me. What a journey we’ve been on. Thanks for putting up with me and I’ll hopefully see you around. Bye for now.

A word from the #WeStreamFM Team: It’s been a pleasure to have Dave contribute to our website, many of us have been fans of his work for a long time and we look forward to working with him again in the future. Thanks Dave.

Make sure you’re following Dave on Twitter: @cm9798
His website:
His books: The World According to Championship Manager 97/98 | The World According To Championship Manager 01/02

Mid 90's Milan - Part Eight

Written by Dave Black

Hello! Welcome back to Mid 90s Milan. This is the penultimate episode as we’re about to enter the month of April. The business end of the season will see us look to push on towards the Serie A title whilst competing in the latter stages of the Coppa Italia and the Champions League. Here’s how the table looks:

Fresh from getting the manager of the month award for March, we welcome Bologna to the San Siro. They’re missing star man Kennett Andersson so it’s Igor Kolyvanov up front. Who you ask? This Russian striker won’t be on many people’s radars but he was a star man for my all conquering Coventry team in play by mail in the 90s. This one goes out to you, KJC Games.

Oh, the game. It’s dull. We’re sort of lucky to get a 0-0 draw. Not ideal but when news filters through that Juventus have lost at home to Atalanta it’s a good day afterall.

Time for a famous Thursday night as Bayern Munich roll into town for a Champions League semi final. We’ve got an immediate break – both of their goalkeepers are banned so Rizzitelli the striker is in goal. That’s got to help.

It’s an impressive squad but having a striker in goal will undermine it somewhat.

Rizzitelli makes a few saves early on but eventually Boban scores and Savicevic heads a second. Thomas Struntz takes over in goal and makes more saves than Rossi, who is beaten by Christian Ziege. We win 5-1, it probably should have been more but either way, I think we’ll be in the final.

From Thursday night frolics it’s back to the Sunday shift. Juventus conquerors Atalanta provide the opposition but we have none of the problems our rivals did. Future Juventus man Filippo Inzaghi scored twice in that game but he has a much quieter day here and we win 4-1. Baggio’s free kick in the first minute set the tone for the day and despite a brief setback, it’s an easy win.

It’s another few weeks out for Costacurta. Baresi’s old limbs will have to keep going.

The Coppa Italia final is over two legs. That’s really annoying. Anyway, Brescia are 17th in Serie B and really shouldn’t be in the final. They have a great banter squad though, including flying left winger Andrea Pirlo, a defender called Manfred Binz and Bismarck. What I like about Bismarck is that he simply signed from the J League. No details given.

Yes, he was named after Otto von Bismarck (according to Wiki). He’s actually got caps for Brazil and never played club football in Europe.

The game itself you ask? Routine. One hand on the cup.

Back to league action now and Napoli are our visitors. They’re 8th and bang average. Weah opens the scoring and although Napoli level for three minutes, Desailly converts a penalty. I don’t know why the computer chooses him for the pens, it’s not a manager choice (which is stupid).

9 points clear with four games to go. I like those odds.

Off to Munich now then and Bayern’s two goalkeepers are still banned. For goodness sake lads. Rizzo starts in goal but Struntz and Helmer both take stints in goal. Weah takes matters into his own hands and plunders a hat-trick and although Bayern show admirable courage, they never look likely to overturn a huge deficit. We’re in the final!

Man Utd gave Ajax a good thrashing too. They’ll be a tough opponent in the final for sure, Cantona is averaging 8.88 in European matches which is quite fearsome.

It doesn’t tell me where the final will be played other than it being a neutral venue. That rules two stadiums out at least.

That seems like a good place to finish. We’re well set for the treble. We’re odds on for two parts of that and then there’s the Champions League. Here’s the table:

I’ll be back next week to draw a line under what has been quite a successful journey. How did Milan make such a mess of things with this squad? It turns out everything is easier on Championship Manager. See you next week!

Mid 90's Milan - Part Seven

Written by @cm9798

Welcome back to Mid 90s Milan! I’ve loaded up CM2 Italian League to try and correct Milan’s woeful 96/97 season and so far we’re doing quite well. It hasn’t been without stress – some big beatings threatened to ruin Christmas but the ship has been steadied. We sit top of Serie A with a 3 point cushion. We’ve got a Coppa Italia final to look forward to and soon a Champions League quarter final clash with Barcelona.

All of that lands me the manager of the month award for February. Will it be a curse as we head into March?

A home game with Vicenza doesn’t really seem like appropriate warm up for Barcelona. Albertini and Costacurta remain out but we should have plenty in our ranks. From the off though we are poor. Sloppy in fact. We also seem intent on throwing in some big challenges. Desailly is booked for one before Weah goes in dangerously on their centre back and it’s a red card. Uh oh. With over half the match to survive I’m not optimistic but if anything we are better with 10. We push hard but Mondini is equal to everything. Eventually, Savicevic beats him with a header. Relief, rejoice.

Lazio and Juventus both drop points and the cushion is 5 points.

The Champions league quarter final is played on the Thursday. Was that a thing? Who knows. I’m amused to see Luis Enrique is “just” a central midfielder here, he would be upgraded to the ultimate utility man for 97/98. Ronaldo however will probably destroy poor old Rossi.

We’re no further forward in terms of selection so it means Baresi will be tasked with dealing with Ronaldo. Please, not a foot race.

We get a Champions League classic. Two teams at the top of their game duke it out and swap great goals. A Weah solo run gives us the lead but Stoichkov chips in a leveller. The Bulgarian puts his side ahead with a curling free kick before Boban scores from 25 yards. Maldini wins it from a corner. Advantage Milan.

We’ll do it all again in two weeks. First though, we’re off to Sampdoria.

You may remember from a few updates ago, I am fascinated by Sampdoria’s squad. Sebastian “don’t call me Juan” Veron is a striker, who is on the bench. Dunga is in midfield with Mihailovic and up front is Roberto Mancini. He’s a star player but has only 4 goals in 15, so I’m not worried.

We start like a train and that goal machine Maldini strikes from a set piece. Mancini equalises for a minute but Savicevic heads us in front. Mancini then scores from 25 yards to make it three goals in as many minutes, surpassing the number of goals scored in most Serie A matches in the 90s. We’re not finished yet either. We’ve lost two to injury but the sight of our own blood only serves to rile us up.

Mancini strikes from distance again just after half time as Rossi waves it in. Sav equalises but Simone scores a late winner. Just call us the entertainers.

Lazio are humbled 5-1 by Vicenza and the lead is 8 points. The pressure is off heading into the second Milan derby of the season.

Ganz, Djorkaeff and Zanetti are all out injured. They have spent £6m on Dario Hubner though and he partners Zamorano. Weah is banned (and also injured) whilst Eranio’s injury is timed well with Albertini’s return. Both he and Costacurta are less than 100% but they are needed.

Inter score with their first and only shot on target. Festa – who I called a clown during the preview a few updates ago – heads in from a corner. It looks like being a vintage Italian defensive display as we struggle to make a clear chance but Maldini pops up on the back stick to head us level late on. That’s three in three for the captain, scoring when we need him to most.

Lazio continue to drop points and Juventus win to move into second. The gap though is still 8 points.

Rossi is called into the Italy squad. He’s 32, uncapped and averaging 6.29. Oh Italy.

Weah’s back for the return leg with Barcelona. It continues where it left off, a slugfest. Both teams are landing heavy blows and with the score at 3-2 on the night, Pizzi takes the metaphor too literally and judo throws Albertini. He’s off, Weah scores from the resulting free kick and that’s that. Maldini scores for a 4th consecutive game to seal it – his 9th of the season.

Rossi’s injury gave a chance to 23 year old Pagotto. I don’t want to alarm anybody but in 2007 je tested positive for cocaine and was banned from football for life. Although this was reduced, he was 41 by the time it expired. Thankfully Rossi will only miss a week – but it does cost him his place with Italy.

Some big scores there but we’ll face the only team who scored more than us – Bayern Munich. Oliver Kahn will be suspended but they’ve signed Frank De Boer and Slaven Bilic. More on them next week.

The Internationals pass by without further injury incident, a miracle in itself. We finish March with a trip to Roma. They’re 10th and Balbo is out injured, so hopefully we can get away from the capital with the points.

Albertini scores but departs injured before half time. A torn hamstring will end his season, a huge shame. We look likely to hang on to all three points but a late goal from Del boy means we have to settle for a point. Juventus win to cut the gap to 6.

Albertini’s 7 goals and 13 assists will take some replacing. There are only 7 league games to go but with at least two Champions League games to come plus a two-legged Coppa Italia final there’s plenty of work to do. With the rate we get injuries we’re never far from a crisis.

Join me next week for the penultimate episode. April has a busy schedule for us. Not only do we face Bayern twice but there’s both legs of the final as well three Serie A games to negotiate. Some would say it is a pivotal month. Arrivederci!

Mid 90's Milan - Part Six

Written by @cm9798

Welcome back to Mid 90’s Milan. Last week, we may have crossed over from 96 to 97 but it aged me far more than one month should. Some heavy defeats and some equally industrial tackling left us bruised in every sense. Progression in the Champions League was secured but a future clash with Barcelona has us worried.

We did at least battle back to top the table, but there’s a long way to go. Too long.

We start this episode with a home game with bottom club Cagliari. They class Ramon Vega as a star player, which may go some way to explaining their plight. Another star player is Roberto Muzzi, but he has only managed 3 goals in 21 games. We have Savicevic and Dugarry back from long term injuries on the bench. We actually have a clean bill of health for the first time ever.

This one goes pleasingly to form. The only disappointment is we only score twice from 18 shots – but then again, future Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Marco Pascolo was in nets for them, so what can we really expect?

Juventus draw at home to Udinese so our lead is up to 3 points. A tremendous weekend.

Just three days later and we face Udinese in the cup semi finals. It is two legs but with the first leg at home, a big lead would be preferable. Star striker Marcio Amoroso is injured and they’ve decided to bench Bierhoff, but it doesn’t stop them taking the lead. George Weah though is starting to come into his own. He heads an equaliser before slotting a pen for 2-1. Savicevic gives us breathing space before Udinese turn to kill mode and cost us three players. Our clean bill of health didn’t last very long. Weah completes his hat-trick and we are left to count the cost of success.

Six weeks for Costacurta is the big news. Just a week for Savicevic and two for Boban.

Manager of the month for January! That makes up for that difficult December.

It’s soon apparent why Udinese decided to kick us to death. We’re off to face them in the league right now. As well as the three injuries, Desailly and Panucci are suspended.

Albertini goes off injured (sigh) and on comes young Ambrosini. Weah is running wild giving us the lead with a mazy run and finish but a header from a corner equalises. Weah scores with a header himself to put us back in front but then Ambrosini is sent off for a hack at Thomas Helveg. Francesco Coco then gets injured and I’ve used all my subs so we’re down to 9…

Weah completes his second hat-trick of the week against this opponent and despite a late Bierhoff free kick and a lot of pressure, we hold out.

Well done George lad. Six weeks out for Albertini but an International break gives us a few weeks to get some off the treatment table.

Maldini gets injured for two weeks playing for Italy. For goodness sake.

Can anybody play left back?

Quite the pickle. It’s bottom club Verona today, so we should win. It’s a disjointed performance, with 33 year old Galli at left back but a screamer from Boban and a late header from Weah secures the points.

Juventus can only draw 0-0 with Perugia. Five point gap!

It’s the return leg of the Udinese match and although we are 4-1 up they are comfortably ahead on the kill count. Coco and Desailly are back for us which is a relief. Vierchowod can barely manage one game a week at his age, two would be a serious risk. What’s important is, no more injuries! Davids even seals a late win on the night but it’s a comfortable progression.

We’ll play Serie B side Brescia in the final. More on them in April.

Our last game of February and indeed this update takes us to Perugia. They’re actually up in 7th and have had some success against sides you wouldn’t expect this season, beating Juventus and Inter. I can see why. We can barely get a kick and thoroughly deserve to lose. Food for thought.

The only plus from a miserable Sunday is Juventus losign 1-0 at Vicenza. Lazio won 4-0 and move into second as our nearest rivals.

There’s still 11 games to go and March is shaping up to be a pivotal month. Two matches against Barcelona, the Milan derby and tough games with Roma and Sampdoria. You won’t want to miss that so please join me next week to see how we get on. Tata for now.

Mid 90's Milan - Part Four

Written by Dave Black @cm9798

Welcome back to Milan in 1996. I set about trying to reverse their disastrous season and so far, I’d give myself a B+. October was bittersweet for us. Our home form continues to keep us afloat. Our Champions League campaign has picked up momentum. We’re still in the Coppa Italia. This is all good. However, we lost the Milan derby, got humbled in Vicenza and we haven’t won an away game since September 29th. Thankfully, our next game is at home to Roma.

Although we are second you’ll notice Roma are nowhere to be seen. They are actually 13th, a disappointing season that plumbed new depths in their recent UEFA Cup exit to Middlesbrough. Star striker Abel Balbo is injured, but oddly Brazilian centre half Aldair has 7 goals in 14 games. A 19 year old by the name of Francesco Totti is filling in for Balbo, I don’t think he’ll amount to much.

Simone is in great form at the moment. He was man of the match in the Champions League win over Juventus and he picks up where he left off with two headed goals here. Savicevic also weighs in with two, though goal machine Aldair briefly has us worried. 4-1 probably flatters us but if the front three are clicking, I’m all for it.

Panucci will be missing for a month. We get a lot of injuries.

Napoli managed to win 3-2 at Fiorentina so we’re still chasing. We actually play Napoli next in the cup replay. If the first game was dull, this one certainly wasn’t.

We’ve drawn Ancona, the only Serie C team left in the competition, in the quarter finals. That could have been worse.

Bologna is our next destination as we attempt to correct our dodgy away form. We get the first goal for a change as Davids scrambles one in from a corner. Savicevic goes off injured and we can’t find a second goal despite spurning a hatful of chances. I await the sucker punch that never comes. It’s a win!

Three months out for Savicevic is definitely not a win. He’s got 16 assists to his name already. Added to his seven goals that means he has played some part in 23 of our goals which is exactly half of our overall total. His replacement, George Weah, only has one goal. But away to group whipping boys FC Croatia is probably as good an opportunity as you could hope for to kickstart your season.

A dull first half is soon forgotten when Maldini heads in a corner. Baggio curls in a second and the icing on the cake is supplied by Mr Weah when he rams in a rebound from a free kick. An easy win and two away wins on the spin. Our spot in the last 8 is secured.

Atalanta are the visitors to the San Siro and that means future Serie A legend Filippo Inzaghi lining up against us. They’ve seen the future and signed Otto Konrad from Salzburg – who would in fact move to Roma in real life.

The last thing we need is another key creator to go down. But a bruised thigh takes Roberto Baggio out of the game after just six minutes and means we’ll be without him for two weeks. Sigh. Luckily he’s replaced by French International Christophe Dugarry, our strength in depth is scary really. Anyway, Simone’s 11th of the season and a Boban free kick has us on the road to three points before that goal machine Weah seals the deal.

A good day is made even better by news of Napoli’s loss at Juventus. No shame in that of course but it does mean we are back in top spot.

Yet another cup game now and the Coppa Italia Quarter finals are over two legs. Why? Seems a little unnecessary. Costacurta whole heartedly disagrees and gets sent off after two minutes for a dangerous challenge. That’s a bit stupid but the fact my players’ bones are made of chipsticks is starting to wear thin. Davids is the next to go, pulling a hamstring and facing a month out. We’re 3-0 up by the time Dugarry tears his ankle ligaments. That’ll be a couple of months off. We win the match but it’s more of a war. We’ll see them for the 2nd leg next month but I might be better served putting out the reserves.

I’m awarded manager of the month for November. That’s probably fair, we have been excellent. We have somewhat of an injury crisis though and our next game is Napoli away. If we’re going to hold on to top spot we’re going to have to find a way of not playing Jesper Blomqvist.

We managed a 0-0 draw at Napoli in the Coppa Italia game so the same here would be the perfect start to December.

I’ve reverted to a 4-4-2 as I am down to two forward players in the absence of Dugarry, Savicevic and Baggio. At least the divine ponytail will return in about a week, the other two won’t been seen again in 1996. Boban and Eranio are on the wings with Albertini joined in central midfield by young Ambrosini. It might work.

It bloody is working. Weah and Simone combine for the opener before our flying Liberian is wiped out by goalkeeper Di Fusco. It’s a red card and when Weah converts the penalty, the result looks secure. However, it’s soon 2-1 and Desailly sees red for throwing an elbow. We manage to shut the game down with a series of defensive moves but a win is a win. An important win.

That’s better. The squad is in tatters but we’ve opened a small lead at the top. The squad is at breaking point and I can see why Fabio sought pastures new. On the other hand, it’s a resilient set of lads who have gone the month of November unbeaten.

Join me next time as we cross over into 1997. We’ve kept the treble hopes alive but our physio is busier than ever. See you next week.

Mid 90's Milan - Part Three

Written by Dave Black @cm9798

Welcome back! We’re up to episode 3 of Mid 90s Milan and so far, we’re getting by but only just. Trying to find the right formula for this star studded squad is easier said than done. We are however top of the Serie A table after five games and frankly, that’s all that matters. It’s a home game with Perugia to kick off October – an easy game on paper but they just toppled Juventus, so we can’t afford to be slack. We’re always kind of slack.

Perugia have two names of particular note. Marco Negri sits on the bench – he’d go on to score a lot of goals in his first season at Rangers before injuries curtailed that. They also have an 18 year old Ivan “called me Gennaro” Gattuso who has an aggression stat of 11 and therefore I can only assume is a complete unknown at this point. A rather bigger threat is a certain Massimiliano Allegri. The current Juventus manager is a star player for our visitors and is valued at £7.5m. We best keep an eye on him.

As for us, well I’ve had enough of Blomqvist’s subpar efforts so Stefano Eranio is in. Baggio gets us off to the perfect start, the divine ponytail meets a cross in the fifth minute and everything is good. As usual a second goal doesn’t follow and we are soon pegged back. Just after half time though and future Derby man Eranio gets on the end of a great ball from Baggio and it looks like our usual shoddy approach will scrape us through. Michel Kreek has other ideas though. He bends in a gem of a free kick (the text really sold it to me) and it looks like we’ll have to settle for a disappointing point. Substitute Dugarry has other ideas though. He drives a long range effort home in injury time. If playing poorly and winning is a sign of a good team, we’re unbelievable.

One more game to get through before the International break and we are without Boban, who stubbed his toe. Marcel Desailly has also broken a cheekbone to get himself two weeks off. They join Davids, Maldini and Costacurta in missing the trip to Vicenza. Wow.

Our hosts don’t have the most star studded of squads. They’ve spent £1.8m on Steve Lomas from Man City and he starts in the centre of their midfield. Right. The less said about our side the better. The centre halves are 37 and 36. Coco is a clown. Eranio and Blomqvist are either side of a midfield three. I don’t have a lot of hope for this.

We’re 2-0 down at half time. Vierchowod has looked every one of his 37 years of age. He scored an own goal and nearly gave away a pen. Lomas has ran the game. I need to do…something. Blomqvist has a 4.

What to do? Reiziger comes on to play centre back and Ambrosini, just 18, is on for Blomqvist. It’s soon 3-0 and I just want to go home.

The International break is a chance for us to lick our wounds. Quite literally in several cases. Maldini recovers to play for Italy but he gets injured at the hands of Wales. Another two weeks of Coco.

Still, we’re able to field Costacurta and Boban for the visit of CSKA Sofia in the Champions League. I rather foolishly said anything other than 12 points for the two games against CSKA and FC Croatia would be a failure. Thankfully this is not the banana skin it might have been.

We’re still on home turf for the clash with Sampdoria. Their squad is full of stories. Sebastian Veron (missing his Juan) is a 21-year-old striker, normally partnered by current Italy manager Roberto Mancini. He’s injured which is a relief as he’s a star player. Sinisa Mihailovic is classified as a left winger but still has 20 for set pieces. They’ve spent £1.2m to bring Dunga over from the J League. The Brazil captain is in midfield with Christian Karembeu. We are unchanged!

A tight game is opened up when Savicevic gets taken out in the box and Albertini does the rest. Veron might be missing his Juan but none of his ability as his measured chip levels things up. Savicevic smashes home a free kick and Panucci seals the points. Routine in the end, with the usual mid game struggle.

We trail Napoli on goal difference only but we go up against them next – in the cup. It’s an awful draw for a third round tie. I’m not really sure why Napoli are doing so well, their squad is unremarkable. Ayala and Cruz are a good centre half partnership but their star man appears to be Caio Ribeiro. He starred in the FIFA Youth Championships in 1995 which prompted Napoli to buy him, but he was rubbish for them. Just like this cup tie. It’s a replay. The only good news is that Desailly returned to the starting 11 whilst Davids got 20 minutes from the bench.

That’s big news because it’s the small matter of the Milan derby next. Maldini returns on the day of the game. I don’t care how unfit he is, he’s better than Coco. Inter’s squad is magnificent. Pagliuca is unbelievable between the sticks whilst penalty king Paul Ince lines up in midfield. Zanetti, Berti, Winter, Zamorano, Djorkaeff…the list goes on. They also have Gianluca Festa, which looks like an opportunity to me.

We are nominally the away side as we share the San Siro. I can see we’re in trouble from the first whistle. Ince is unbelievable and Zanetti ends up playing the perfect 10. We’re lucky to only lose 3-2. The front three were barely in the game and that’s a major concern. On the plus side, Davids made a big impression off the bench and Weah, also a sub, set him up. He’s been the biggest disappointment so far.

Well that stings. The last action of October comes against Juventus in the Champions League. We owe our fans not only for the derby shitshow but for losing the reverse game earlier in the group stages. Our task is made easier when Schottel commits a cynical foul on Simone and is dismissed. Albertini blasts the pen over the bar – it’s not my fault, I quite literally can’t select any set piece takers. Desailly heads in from a corner and Simone finishes a one on one. Good. The game is petering out until Del Piero pulls one back and it’s a mad final ten minutes. The woodwork is struck by both teams several times and I’m grateful to Desailly finishing the game with a burst forward from open play for no real reason. We had 23 shots to their 5, 15 on target. Peruzzi is the best but we still beat him three times. I need a lie down.

We are looking well placed to go through but Juventus haven’t done their side of the bargain. They’ve let CSKA make this a three horse race and I have limited time for that, especially as we need to go to Bulgaria yet.

We’re just one point off the top but it’s still fairly early days.

Join me next time to see what November has in store for us. Hopefully we can reclaim top spot and get through in the Champions League but in reality is will probably be more injuries and 4’s from Jesper bloody Blomqvist. Goodbye!

Mid 90's Milan - Part Two

Written by Dave Black - @cm9798

Hello and welcome back to Part 2 of Mid 90s Milan. We got the 96/97 campaign off to a gentle start in part one, the star-studded squad showing glimpses of promise in my first few games in the dugout. The aim is to outperform Milan’s rather terrible real life 96/97 season, which will involve getting out of the Champions League group stages.

We really should manage that. CSKA Sofia and FC Croatia not only represent excellent European breaks but anything less than 12 points from those four games will be a failure. We also have to contend with Juventus, in what I assume was an administrative oversight. Sadly for us their squad is every bit as impressive as ours. They’ve added Delli Carri, Schottel and German International Dieter Eilts to an already stacked squad and it sickens me to my very core.

Edgar Davids is back for us. He will of course go on to play for Juventus and also Inter Milan. There’s no loyalty in Italian football. Take Christian Vieri. Sure he’s at Juventus now, but he would go on to play for both Milan’s, Lazio, Sampdoria and Fiorentina. Oh and Atalanta twice but that’s less irksome. Naturally he opens the scoring on his way to a perfect ten rating. We knock on the door but find Angelo Peruzzi there on six occasions. Boksic then scores a sucker punch second before Davids leaves on a stretcher.

Not an ideal start to the European campaign but easier matches lie ahead. Davids won’t be involved for a while.

That’s annoying. Not to worry though, we’ll shuffle the pack for the visit of Lazio.

Lazio have a really fun squad. The line is lead by Casiraghi, who will go on to cause Phil Babb to slide groin first into a post in years to come. For some reason they have seen fit to spend £8m on Peter van Vossen to partner him, leaving Signori on the bench. Signori is one of my favourites from the old Serie A on Channel 4 days. Young Czech International Pavel Nedved has an exciting future ahead whilst Alessandro Nesta marshals the defence. He is however partnered by Paul Okon whilst they have spent £3m on Jody Morris from Chelsea. I…don’t know why.

It’s a tight game with few clear-cut chances in the first half. Desailly heads in from a free kick though before Simone adds a second. That should signal the end of the game but Nedved scores from distance just a minute later. Simone adds a second and then Albertini wraps it up. Four goals in ten minutes, who said Serie A was dull?

Boban picked up a bruised thigh so he’ll sit out the midweek trip to Cagliari. Our midfield options are dwindling so Desailly is back in there with Baresi reinstated into the back four. Savicevic also starts ahead of the disappointing Weah. Cagliari class Ramon Vega as a star player, as is soon to be Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Marco Pascolo. Both are injured, which I guess helps.

Simone scores from Savicevic free kick after just three minutes and it looks like beign one of our easier away days. We tread water for a bit though, making the odd chance but nothing clear cut. Losing Maldini early on is less than ideal as Reiziger has to play out of position at left back. Honestly, this lot drop like flies. Bressan equalises in the second half and I throw on Dugarry and Weah to try and save face. Dugarry obliges. Phew.

A month without Maldini. The only other left back in the squad is 19-year-old Francesco Coco, who would go on to play for Barcelona and Inter yet failed a trial for Newcastle after failing to impress in a friendly against Yeading. I wish that was a lie.

Still, Boban is back as Udinese roll into town. They have Olivier Bierhoff who scored the winner for Germany in the Euro 96 final. We’re not at our fluent best but I’m starting to wonder if we ever are. I’m not 100% sure these lads even come to training. They just turn up on a match day and hope somebody does something clever. It takes 70 minutes but Savicevic goes on a mazy dribble before finding the corner. It’s not for lack of trying, 9 shots on target is not a bad effort but just one goal. Surely we should be getting more from this attack?

Back to the elite European club competition now as we welcome the imaginatively named FC Croatia. I expect nothing less than a win but Costacurta departs on a stretcher after four minutes. Sigh. It turns out to be a twisted knee that will only see him miss a few weeks. Baggio scores a delightful chip but as usual after that there is a lot of huff and puff but the Croatian house will not blow down. Typically, they then equalise just after half time. That seems to shock us into life and three goals in four minutes win us the game.

CSKA Sofia drew 1-1 at home to Juventus. Maybe I’ve underestimated them?

With Costacurta now joining Maldini on the treatment table I’m left with no choice but to bring Desailly back into defence. Albertini will play in the centre of the midfield three and I’m going to gamble with Dugarry on the right side. It’s probably a bit deeper than he’d like to play but he’s done well whenever he has come on there. Also, he isn’t Jesper Blomqvist. Verona are 17th so our trip there does not fill me with dread.

Maybe it should. A scrappy game sees set pieces galore and most of them end with a Verona head directing the ball towards our goal. Rossi is keeping us in it. By half time they’ve had 10 shots to our 4 and they smell blood. Eventually, one corner too many for us to defend leads to De Vitis giving them the lead. Time to tinker. Dugarry has a 5, so that hasn’t worked. Coco has a booking so he’s off for Weah whilst Blomqvist is on for Dugarry. It’s a back three of Desailly, Baresi and Panucci with Boban on the left of midfield and Blomqvist on the right. Albertini holds the centre whilst Savicevic and Baggio play off Weah and Simone. Immediately, Savicevic scores a screamer to undeservedly pull us level. He then plays in a free kick which Panucci meets sweetly and it’s 2-1. Reiziger replaces Baggio and we see out the last half hour. Easy this management lark…

That brings September to a close. We are top after five games. Juventus just lost 3-1 to Perugia so even with their game in hand, they won’t overhaul us. But we’ve played five games. There will be problems ahead.

Join me next time to see how October goes. It looks like being quite a month as we face Napoli, Inter and Juve across three different competitions. See you then.

Terry's Journey

Written by TerryWorldOrder

The year is 1984. The home computer boom is in full swing and at Christmas I was gifted my first computer; a ZX Spectrum 48k. I was 12 years old and I had no idea what to do with it, but I was just told this machine would be the future. 

Going back to school after that Christmas was different. We were not trading cards to fill some sticker album, or swapping an unwanted gift an Aunt had bought us for a stick of chewing gum; we were exchanging computer games. Within a week we had a found a way to copy the games via everyone’s new best friend – the kid in school whose father had the Hi-Fi with dual tape decks.  

To many of you, this concept will sound mind boggling, but back then computers didn’t have hard drives. Games came in cassette form and we loaded them into the computer via a tape deck. This was a primitive system where piracy was rife and even more popular than the phone number of the girl at school who everyone KNEW would snog on the first date. 

It was during one of these schoolyard exchanges where I was handed a cassette with a game on it that started a 35-year love affair - Football Manager. 


The game back then was a very simple concept. Put the players in a pre-set formation and buy the best players from a very small database. There were terrible graphics of a football pitch with basic one-colour sprites moving back and forth to try and represent how the game was being played out. The game flashed ‘GOAL’ when you scored and omitted a dull beep when a chance was missed. This may sound boring, but back then it was all we had and let me tell you, it was addictive as hell. 

Fast-forward to 1987 and I’m now the proud owner of the massively improved Spectrum 128k personal home computer, along with the new football management game Brian Clough’s Football Fortunes. I can’t remember too much about the game itself, as it was certainly one to forget. It unfortunately failed to re-create the magic of Kevin Tom’s Football Manager. Your team was given a total score for both defence and attack, which then went straight to a vidi-printer for the match results. This element of the game created the suspense and was extremely underwhelming in single player mode, but in dual player mode and whilst playing against friends, the surprise of the results made the game come to life. Another thing to mention about this particular game was that what you played on the screen via the software could be replicated with an accompanying board and playing cards. 


Moving on to 1992 and I had upgraded to the fantastic Amiga 500. Whilst searching for a football management game to play, I read a game review in one of the Amiga magazines from one of their game specialists. He was comparing Premier Manager with Championship Manager. He claimed Premier Manager was the better and more enjoyable game, simply because Championship Manager was an out-of-date concept based on numbers alone. Being a trusted reader of this publication and on the strength of this review, I rushed to the local computer store and bought a copy of Premier Manager. The game forced you to start in the conference, build the team up and progress through the leagues. The in-game part was excellent and it even showed little animations running to a goal and shooting. Once your player had taken the shot, either a keeper seemingly coming out of nowhere would save the attempt, or if you were lucky, a GOAL animation would flash on the screen. The game was a multiplayer and matches ran at the same time on the same screen. However, the navigation around the UI manager desk was frustrating and really killed what little love I had for the game overall. 


During this period I was at college and as luck would have it, one of my classmates had an Amiga too. He would frequently come to college with a selection of games for me to borrow. One day he brought in the original Championship Manager. I remember having reservations, remembering the review I had read, but I gave it a chance and I’m glad I did. The UI was easy to use and you could pick your own system, including tactics and formation. It’s safe to say I was in football manager heaven! This was the game I had been searching for and Premier Manager was binned quickly and without regret. I also cancelled my subscription to that Amiga magazine! That life lesson has stuck with me to this day. Since then I have never trusted any one single review and I’ll search for a consensus of a product if I’m not able to test it myself.  


It’s fair to say that after this my college friend struggled to get his Championship Manager disks back. For weeks I delayed handing it back. I kept giving lame excuses like “nah, I’ve forgotten it” or “I had no space in my bag” or the classic “my friend wants to play it”. Eventually I had to cave in and reluctantly gave him the box, conveniently forgetting to put the disks back in. It bought me another week of precious game time to play my new favourite game. I was hooked, addicted - more so than the original version of Kevin Tom’s Football Manager. It meant I had to go out and buy it for myself, although when I told my mate he informed me that the new version of the game would be out in about a month. 

 I decided to wait and although it felt like an eternity, I eventually owned the new and improved Championship Manager 93. Normally I do not read game manuals unless it’s for control systems, but I read this manual from cover to cover, even before I put the disk in. To this day I still remember some of the strategy tips from that manual, how they described the styles of football and how best to use the players attributes to fit them in those styles. Because of that manual I still believe a player with high flair is a luxury player that often cannot be afforded in the English game and how there are hidden values for each player that you the manager must discover. Just because you have bought somebody with a high finishing attribute, he might not be a consistent goal scorer. Maybe he has a history of injuries? Maybe he hasn’t been played in the correct system that complements his strengths? 


Moving forward to the present day, it’s fair to say I have played enough versions of Championship Manager/Football Manager games to qualify for a FA coaching badge, a UEFA Licence and a brown envelope from FIFA. Whoever writes my obituary needs to simply state ‘Terry played Football Manager’. I rarely play the game now just to win trophies. I have served my time, doing the 30 years saves in previous versions where my club have honoured me with a bronze statue and a stadium named after me. Did I get knighted in one version? Or did I make that up? At this point I really can’t remember, but I’m sure I was gifted a donkey in a Spanish save once. 

There is so much to do in Football Manager now, it really is a far cry from the simplistic versions that first enthralled me. It’s moved on and evolved. It’s grown up. You can create a tactic and win things whilst delegating tasks to your backroom staff in the background. Alternatively, you can micro-manage everything with incredible attention to detail, from tailoring training to fit your tactic, to mentoring your youth players. However you play the game and to whatever level of expertise you have, it still is a rewarding experience. 

Personally, the reason I still play Football Manager 35 years on is the drama this game can create. Nothing will twist your emotions like FM. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry, all in the same session. It will make you throw your arms in the air. All logic will be abandoned and you will be so disgusted with your players that will shout expletives at a screen to dots that can’t hear you. You share your club’s highs but despair at the lows, vowing to turn it around and transform their fortunes. That is the magic of Football Manager - everything from scoring that crucial last minute winner, to changing your tactics and putting 10 men behind the ball with 5 minutes to play. It’s what I love about the series and I know its what you do too. After all, that is why we play it. Just one more game. 

My 35 years of playing football manager have been a journey. The evolution from the feel-good early versions to the complete in-depth game that SI has passionately created, always be thankful that they have, because there truly is nothing like it. 




Mid 90's Milan - Part One

Written by Dave Black (@cm9798)

As you may know, I spend a lot of time playing CM9798. The game itself has been in my life for over 20 years and I’ve been blogging about it for 4 years. I find the whole CM2 series to be the most familiar and the easiest to play. There’s also loads of different versions of it released between 1995 and 1997. Allow me to deploy CM2: The Italian Leagues. 

This doesn’t sound like a big deal and it probably isn’t really but basically there were many versions of CM2 (96/97) released across Europe. I’ve got my grubby mitts on the Italian League version and also the three Scandinavian releases – Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Whether I feel the need to bestow them upon you at some point remains to be seen. 

You may also recall Eidos/SI released a couple of multiple foreign league games with the database from the 1995/96 season. Don’t worry, we’ve got them too. It’s going to be a wonderful retro time for months to come. 

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I’m hoping the Italian version of CM2 has the same match engine as the British CM2, which allowed you manage in England or Scotland. But not both. The ability to run multiple leagues followed in 97/98 but it’s nice to see how it all came together. The date is August 1st 1996. I am manager of AC Milan. 

Why AC Milan? Let me tell you a story. 1995/96 was a great season for AC Milan. Fabio Capello’s side breezed to the Serie A title, finishing 8 points ahead of closest rivals Juventus. Such was the Italian way back then, the success was built on a solid defence, conceding just 24 times in 34 games. George Weah finished as top league scorer with a mighty 11 goals as an attack which had added Roberto Baggio didn’t really gel as Capello would have hoped.  

Milan had won the Champions League in 93/94 and been runners up in 94/95, so winning Serie A also meant a return to the Champions League for the 96/97 season. So why am I here? This is hardly a crisis club. 

Fabio Capello left to manage Real Madrid in the summer of 1996 and it was basically downhill from there. Oscar Tabarez (current Uruguay manager) and Giorgio Morini were tasked with steering the good ship Milan into the Champions League with a raft of new signings, such as Edgar Davids, Jesper Blomqvist, Michael Reiziger and Christophe Dugarry but it was an unmitigated disaster. A Champions League group stage exit in December cost the pair their jobs and Arrigo Sacchi came in to save the day. In the end, Milan finished 11th just 6 points from safety. So let’s try and beat that. 

Admittedly that is quite a low barrier but my first task is to try and find the best way to set up this ridiculously good squad. I’m not surprised Jesper Blomqvist wasn’t up to much but the others are all very good. If this plays out like the British CM2, there are shed loads of goals to be had. Baggio, Weah and Simone can all play as far as I’m concerned. 

Savicevic is wanted by Man Utd. He’s worth £7.5m so if they stump it up I’ll probably sell him. His injury proneness is 20 and I have limited time for that. They regard Denis Irwin a star player, inexplicably. Real life top scorer (in Serie A) Filippo Inzaghi is at Atalanta. He of course got a move to Juventus off the back of his golden season so I’ll keep an eye on how he does. They have Lentini so that can only help. 

We only have £3.5m to spend which is probably fair as the real life transfers in on the four mentioned earlier will have left the coffers a bit empty. 

We barely have time to learn the language before we are thrust into Italian Charity Shield action, or the SuperCoppa Italiana if you prefer. I’ve opted for a 4-3-1-2, which may change but as we lack wingers and have lots of central midfielders, here we are. Davids picks up an injury the day before the game so Desailly is in central midfield. 

Fiorentina are without Batistuta but they have Oliveira and Rui Costa, plus future Derby man Francesco Baiano. My future Derby man, Stefano Eranio, is only a sub. 

Dead easy this. Simone heads in before the break and Maldini and Desailly do likewise after the break. We’re strong from set pieces. Stefan Schwarz gets one back but he’ll go on to play for Sunderland so he can have his fun whilst he’s young. A trophy in the cabinet. 

My good mood is immediately tempered by a stinker of a Champions League group. I’m sure we shouldn’t be allowed to get Juventus. There’s only 4 groups back in these days though so the top 2 will advance and we’re more than capable of that. 

The fun bus moves onto Vicenza away in the cup. They’re in Serie A too so it might not be all that easy.  

I take it back. That wasn’t the banana skin I anticipated. Napoli in the next round though is a bit rough. 

All of that is enough to get me manager of the month though, so a reasonable start to life in James Richardson-town 

My final act of this update is to open up our Serie A campaign away at Piacenza. They have Massimo Taibi in goal and it’s obviously one of the games Fergie watched as he makes many saves, a fact which gets more annoying when Luiso puts them in front. Our performance is disjointed, there are 5s all over the player ratings and changes are needed. Dugarry and Savicevic are thrown on and the pair combine with just two minutes left to help snatch an equaliser. We press for the winner but Taibi holds firm. It’s not a good result but it’s better than a defeat. 

An oddly timed International break makes this a good time to make my exit. I’ll be back next week with the first few months of the season. From what I’ve seen so far, I’ll be very surprised if we are as bad as the real life side but it is me in charge, so don’t rule out any disasters just yet. Arrivederci.