By Tim Penfold
Well, what else did you expect us to do with no footy to write about? We need something to keep this website going, so it’s fallen to me to write about possibly my favourite subject – Championship Manager 01-02.
A few technical points on this – I’m using Championship Manager 01-02, but running a version that takes both the database and the year back to 1998. This is available on https://www.champman0102.co.uk/.
So we’ve gone back in time to 1998-99. Bradford City are establishing themselves as a team to watch outside the top flight. Geoffrey Richmond’s leadership, combined with some good managerial choices, has taken them up one division and now they’ve spent big on a push for the top flight.
They’ve made a controversial and inexperienced choice for manager though – no, not Paul Jewell. Me. And I have decided to only sign players who have played for Bradford City in real life, which does limit my options somewhat. No CM legends for me – I just have to hope that some of the players we signed in real life are better in the game…
We’ve got a limited coaching and scouting setup (I got rid of the ones that the game generates at the start), but a decent ground. And the squad, as most of you may remember, is quite good.
It’s a bit short in terms of midfield cover – especially as I’m going to play a diamond – but otherwise everything looks good. I have an excellent keeper and a decent backup, some very good centre backs and my front line looks superb.
I have so many decent strikers that I may as well cash in on one. As a result Rob Steiner is sold for 250k. Meanwhile, I reinforce the coaching staff with one of our more infamous keepers, as well as persuading Gary Walsh and John Dreyer to be player/coaches. Sadly, Stuart McCall doesn’t seem to want to be a player/coach yet.
I then sign a couple of promising youngsters who City didn’t get until much later in their careers – Graeme Lee joins for £65k from Hartlepool while Paul McLaren costs £75k from Luton – this should hopefully sort the issue of defensive midfield cover, though he’s not great.
I have one pre-season friendly against Peterborough, which is mostly a scouting exercise, and I make bids for Adam Drury and Matty Etherington. The game itself is a walkover – the front 3 of Mills, Blake and Edinho run riot.
Peterborough are happy to let Drury go, and he joins for £250k. They’re putting up much more of a fight on Etherington though, so multiple bids go in. I also line up another midfielder, making a bid for a young Gary Jones. Imagine him and McCall in the same midfield…
I don’t get any of the midfield reinforcements by the start of the season though, so I go into the game against West Brom a bit short of the squad I want.
The line up for the first game is Walsh, Wright, O’Brien, Dreyer, Jacobs, McCall, Beagrie, Whalley, Blake, Edinho, Mills. Darren Moore is missing through injury but otherwise there aren’t many difficult calls.
We get off to a flying start – Lee Mills heads in a Jacobs corner after just six minutes, and Robbie Blake doubles our lead with a volley from a McCall pass just three minutes later. After that it’s the Gareth Whalley show. He dribbles past three players to make it 3-0 after just fourteen minutes, then repeats the trick – it’s 4-0 after just twenty minutes!
The game calms down a bit after that, but we get a fifth in the second half – a Mills header is cleared off the line, but Mills unselfishly passes the rebound to Blake who can’t miss. What a start!
After such a good start, what can go wrong?
Gary, why? How could you? Preston aren’t even First Division!
The second game is away at Barnsley, who are managed by John Hendrie and looking for a quick return to the top flight. Our team is unchanged.
Barnsley do take an early lead when Eric Tinkler heads in a free kick, but the lead does not last long – Edinho crosses, and Robbie Blake finishes. Shortly afterwards Wayne Jacobs swings across a corner and John Dreyer heads us into the lead.
We dominate, but don’t kill the game, and in the second half Barnsley equalise through van der Laan. Plenty of good things about the performance, but a lot of frustration as well.
Next up is a League Cup game against Northampton. Darren Moore is back, but Lee Mills and Gordon Watson are injured and I decided to rotate the team. Adam Drury, Ashley Westwood, Paul McLaren, Jamie Lawrence and Paul Bolland all come in, while Gareth Grant and Isaiah Rankin start up front.
Despite the rotated side, it’s a comfortable win. Grant converts a Lawrence pass to open the scoring, and Rankin heads in a Bolland cross for the second. Paul McLaren makes it three before half time after Northampton’s keeper drops the ball, and that’s that. We go through to round two, where we are drawn at home to Norwich.
We miss out on Matty Etherington – Peterborough are asking for too much money. He’s got a clause in his contract that allows him to leave if they don’t go up, so I might take another look next summer.
Our next game is a trip to St Andrews to face Birmingham. We restore the rotated players to the lineup, but Rankin keeps his place as Mills is still injured.
It’s a tight first half, but right on half time Edinho picks up a pass from Gareth Whalley, runs past two defenders and scores. The second half is also really tense until we kill the game in the 80th minute – it’s Edinho again. Andy O’Brien heads in a Jacobs corner in the last minute to put some gloss on the scoreline.
We end August with a home game against Port Vale, just two days after the trip to Birmingham. Lee Todd and Jamie Lawrence come in for Wright and Beagrie as a result, while Lee Mills is fit again and comes back in for Rankin.
Mills clearly has a point to prove against his old club and scores after just three minutes. We add a second just before half time when a Jacobs corner isn’t properly cleared, allowing Edinho to cross for Moore to head in. Vale fight back in the second half and pull a goal back via Tony Naylor but Whalley seals all three points late on.
We end August top of the league and flying. I win manager of the month, and Lee Mills wins player of the month. It’s a good start, can it continue?
Categories: Championship Manager