Greetings and welcome to the final part of Plug in Baby, the series where I’ve used the same tactic for every single game as a homage to the Championship Manager series. I’ve actually really enjoyed it, mainly because I can blame the tactics if things don’t work out and not my selections. There are just 6 games to go and sadly no further cup exploits after our quarter-final exit at Wolves. I had set a target of the top 7 but with games running out, we are troubling the Champions League spots.
You can find the first part here.
It is with great anticipation then that I welcome Chelsea to the KP and I am immediately boosted by the news that Chelsea are missing many of their strikers. So much so that Izzy Brown starts up front. Wow. We’re a bit tentative at first but after halftime I tell them to just go for it and we win 4-0, as is our custom.
Even Niasse scored. That’s a great result and the cats, or foxes in this situation, are very much amongst the pigeons. Or whatever foxes eat. It’s going well, is what I mean.
Off we go to Arsenal then as the fixture list continues to be brutal. I’m desperate for Vardy and Long to return but Vardy is close but not close enough so on we go. This is a ding-dong battle. Arsenal lead for less than a minute before Iheanacho draws us level. Darmian hits the post and the battle rebounds in off Cech’s head for to give us the lead but we can’t hold on until halftime as Lacazette pounces again. ‘sakes. The second half is dull. So very dull. Until Aubameyang scores to put us 3-2 down there are no highlights, and in fact, no further highlights follow. This is a blow.
Still, we’re in a good position. A home game with Newcastle should see us back to our old ways. Right?
It started so well. But we were nervous and I fear the pressure of the situation is starting to tell. We couldn’t find a second goal and despite Vardy emerging from the bench for the final 25 minutes, Newcastle equalise from a corner and that messes things right up.
Off to Brighton then to try and put things right. We’re still 4th, but the games in hand for others makes it complicated. All we can do is worry about our own results. And believe me, I am worried.
Hemed gives them the lead but after a half-time rollicking Chilwell equalises and then a late penalty is converted by the ice cool Adrien Silva. Everything is going to be fine.
In the 92nd minute, Izquierdo pops up on the back post to equalise. I am Keegan at Anfield in the 4-3. I am empty.
It’s a tough one to take, obviously. Those 2 points would really have helped.
West Brom at home then and we’ll just have to keep going. Okazaki and Iheanacho give us a two-goal cushion but Matt Phillips reduces the arrears. Iheanacho and the returning Ayew look to have settled it but Phillips pulls another back. Shane Long gets a goal off the bench on his return and Oliver Burke rounds off a stupid game with another in stoppage time. Burkes indeed.
Vardy has been atrocious since his return and Shane Long put him to shame with his cameo. Obviously, that promise of Champions League football doesn’t wash with him. The reality is, we are in the box seat as Arsenal travel to Man City for their game in hand. Pep’s got this.
You fucking what? That’s a kick in the pods.
We head to the last game at Bournemouth knowing a win might not be enough. We’re 5th and we need a win plus an Arsenal failure. I’m starting to believe in miracles as Darmian, who has been excellent on loan all season, gives us the lead.
Sadly a three-minute double salvo kills us. Vardy plays a 5.9 and we actually end up 6th. It’s above what I expected but having come so close, it’s a killer.
What a shame. At least we’ll have the Europa League, right?
Great. West Brom went on to win the Carabao Cup, which is bad enough, but look at the state of the FA Cup final
I’m not even going to wait around to see who wins it. What a state of affairs.
Some brilliant performances, I can hardly complain about most of the squad, to be honest. Nastasic was probably the one disappointment but he’s wanted by PSG so if I were to carry on, I’d be collecting their oil money as soon as possible.
All of that lead to some nice awards for the players
So there you go. Kelechi is a hero to everybody. He was joined in team of the season by Darmian and Jordan Ayew, which is particularly nice as I signed both of them.
Adrien Silva, the real heartbeat of the team, says he’s willing to stick it out one more year amidst interest from Man Utd and Mourinho. He sees how close we were to something incredible. Jamie Vardy meanwhile…
With that, my experiment has come to a close. We did so well but just ran out of gas. I guess in hindsight I would have found a better way to rotate the squad, I’ve no doubt the injuries suffered around February/March really did for us in the long term even if Okazaki was brilliant and Niasse was…bearable. I would never have predicted Jordan Ayew being quite so brilliant though which just goes to show the tactic was outstanding. It was a lot of fun to try and I’m sorry we couldn’t sneak a top 4 place.
It’s the World Cup now but I’ll be back in August with some more retro Championship Manager. Bye for now.