2048/49 End of Season Review
This season we wanted to improve on last season and win every competition available. With many of our key players at or passing their peak, it was now or never for this generation, and they came up trumps! We didn’t make it easy for ourselves, but people only remember the results, not how they were attained, and I’m sure the results of this season will live long in the memories of our fans, and in the club history books!
Premier League (stats)
This season was hard on the players, with their ageing legs, and stability in the first eleven was hard to come by thanks to the need to rotate. We won the league on the final day, with the lowest points tally in the Premier League for 20 years – 91 points. Manchester United and Arsenal were snapping at our heels from day one, and finished second and third respectively, both on 88 points. The league has changed so much, with traditional top clubs Chelsea and Liverpool now Championship clubs, and Manchester City only a top 4 club as opposed to genuine title challengers. Clubs such as Oxford and Huddersfield are now challenging for Europa and Champions League spots while the likes of Fulham have been down into the lower echelons of the football pyramid before bouncing back to the top League.
Champions League (stats)
Our group consisted of Athletic, Porto and Hannover. I expected Porto to be the real challenger for the group’s second qualifying position, but Athletic were surprisingly strong, and even managed to take three points from us. They beat a good Porto side 4-0 in the final group game to seal qualification in second place behind us.
We drew PSG in the first Knockout round, and they put up a real fight at home in the first leg, with us leaving Danilo Park with three away goals, but having also conceded three goals. The second leg was much more satisfying, a 3-1 win sent us through to face Valencia. We were again away to begin, and took a 1-1 result back to the Reynolds Arena, knowing our fate was in our hands and that we had control with the away goal and playing at home. Six goals without reply sent Los Ches packing.
RC Lens beat Man City in the other quarter-final, and so they were our semi-final opponents. I expected a bit of fight, a bit of something from a side that is supposedly one of the top clubs in the world based on reputation, but a first leg roasting, which saw Anthony Hewitt score 5 goals on the way to a 6-1 win, as well as a player-resting 3-2 win away in the second leg makes me wonder quite how the reputation system works…
The final was against a club in which there are no doubts about their reputation: Barcelona. Or at least that is what I thought. Turns out that last seasons La Liga winners finished 8th in the league, and their squad is looking devoid of both youth and talent. The first half was scrappy, with neither side able to establish their style of football even when the deadlock was broken on 23 minutes by Rogers for the Towners. The game still looked like anyone could win it until Barcelona’s ex-Town Right Back Ahmed Abdel Gawad was sent off for a second yellow just before the half time whistle. The second half was as exciting as the first was boring. The town attacked Barcelona’s ten men mercilessly, and goals from Beckham, Davenport and Hewitt gave us our fourteenth Champions League win!
FA Cup (stats)
A relatively easy run in the FA Cup saw us into the final against Newcastle, played just a few days after our away game against RC Lens. A 2-1 victory makes the game seem much tighter than it was, as we destroyed them but just couldn’t finish our chances.
Capital One Cup (stats)
For me, this cup is now just a pain in the arse, so I use it to blood youth and give them games. Another win, though the final was interesting, ending 2-2 after 90 minutes, but three extra time goals killed off a tired City side.
Club World Cup (stats)
This cup is just another excuse for me to play some kids. We’ve never lost a CWC game, and we didn’t break tradition this season.
UEFA Super Cup
It’s a friendly, in my eyes, though it produced another piece of silverware – not that the board care for it.
What I wrote about the Super Cup applies here too! Lazy, sure. But why bore you with details of a ‘competition’ that no-one cares about?
Three in, and at last, in positions we were desperately short in. Sean Clarke is a 4.5* PA left back who is also accomplished at wing-back, which is very handy considering my future tactical plans, which is also why I’m also excited to see a DR/WBR come through in Cameron Brown, who has 4* potential and will provide backup for Craig Reynolds. Kevin Mallett looks to be a solid rounded centreback with 4* potential who can also fill in at SW, though only if desperate as he doesn’t really have the attributes for it.
It will be all-change next season with a change of formation to incorporate a Libero, wing-backs and a ‘false nine’. I anticipate the sales of a few players, such as club legends Glen Daly and Duncan Friar as they won’t fit into the new system and their ability is dropping quickly now due to their ‘advanced’ age. Just those two alone contribute £190k to the wage bill, which will be a welcome chunk off. With a few youngsters now on the fringes, as well as the new radical change in formation, I’m not expecting us to continue our world dominance.